It seems to me that every cloth diapering mom blog I’ve visited has had nothing but good things to say about their choice of washable diapers. They share how eco-friendly they are, and how much money they save in the long term… but never have I read a single complaint.
Well, I for one feel the need to set the record straight. Cloth diapering is not fun. It is a chore, and is definitely not the easy option. However, it is something that is so worth the extra effort in my opinion. So here is the world of cloth diapering, from my point of view…
17 Reasons Cloth Diapers Stink!
1 It Might Not Make Sense for Newborns
I have never been able to cloth diapers for my newborns. They simply wet way too often. My little ones seem to have super sensitive skin, ’cause it doesn’t take much at all for them to break out in a terrible rash.
I try to rotate cloth and disposable diapers as my baby gets a little bit older, just to save money.
Once my babies are around 3 months old, I begin trying to cloth diapers exclusively. When Xia hit six months old, I refused to buy another disposable diaper. Freebies are always welcomed though!! My reason for cloth diapering has nothing to do with saving the planet (though it is nice to know that I am not creating more waste), for us it is all about savings.
2. It’s Not Always Convenient
Cloth diapering is not always convenient. Carrying a soiled cloth around in your diaper bag until you are able to get home and wash it isn’t fun. They do make cute waterproof bags you can zip your wet ones up in… but it’s a plastic grocery bag for me. Not exactly odor proof.
I don’t have a huge stash of cloth diapers, so it’s a load of laundry every day. My 8 mo8-month-oldy girl is going through about 18 diapers per day.
3. There’s Still Diaper Rash
To fight diaper rash, I’ve found that Almond Oil works really well at protecting the baby’s bottom from the moisture in soiled diapers.
I’ve also noticed that rinsing the diapers in 1/2 c. of white vinegar before drying them works wonders at removing the ammonia in the cloth which causes the irritation. I don’t use store-bought wipes either. No matter how “gentle” they say they are, they always cause a rash.
Cloth diapers are generally considered better for a baby’s skin but that’s only if you’re good about changing them often. They are less absorbent than disposables so you have to change them often – if you don’t, diaper rash is going to be an issue.
4. You Might Have Trouble Getting Help
Other people are not so willing to help change a diaper when they see that it’s a cloth one. It’s not that bad, people!
5. They Can Be Stinky
The urine smell in the nursery can be hard to disguise. I put my wet diapers in a diaper pail, but if they sit there for a few days the smell gets very strong. Washing daily helps tremendously.
Plus you’ll need to wash them in full loads for optimal environmental friendliness. And who really wants to wash poopy diapers with anything except other poopy diapers, anyway?
When you wait for eight to ten diapers to pile up before cleaning them, there’s a good chance that they’re going to build up a serious stink.
6. Solids – Uh Oh!
Once baby starts eating solid foods, the poops are not as easily washed out. No longer can you simply toss the diaper into the washer. First, you have to dump and swish in the potty to get all of the solids off. So not fun. A diaper sprayer attachment is very helpful though!
7. Fashion is Different
Oh, and you can forget about those adorable little flare leg jeans you got for your baby. They are NOT going to fit over that bulky diaper. Trust me. It’s not happening.
Cloth diapers can be cumbersome, and while there are fitted diapers that aren’t quite as bulky as the voluminous bloomers you’re probably used to seeing, they are all considerably larger than regular disposables. Add an extra size to your baby’s outfits to be safe.
8.You May Want to Start Small
If you’re thinking about trying cloth diapering, you may want to start small. Cloth diapering isn’t for everyone and it’s not a good idea to invest in dozens of cloth diapers only to find out you don’t want to use the diapers you spent hundreds of dollars on.
Start with just a few diapers and then see if it’s something you like and can handle. If you don’t like them, no worries! It’s not for everyone.
If you do decide that cloth diapers are the way to go, you’re going to need a lot of them. You’ll need at least 20 to use them full-time.
9. It’s Not Always the Most Eco-Friendly
Regular disposable diapers get a lot of flack for not being eco-friendly, but cloth diapers might not be as good for the environment as you think, either.
In fact, some studies have shown that the environmental impacts of using reusable diapers can be even higher than disposables depending on how they are laundered.
For the ideal low impact to the environment, you would wash your diapers in full loads, without a dryer, and then reuse them on a second child. Doing this might reduce our carbon footprint by about 40%!
However, the reality is that few of us actually wash cloth diapers in this way, instead washing them in half-loads with a tumble dryer.
Therefore, if your primary goal in using cloth diapers is to improve the environment, you may want to rethink your aspirations.
10. They Can Be Tough to Find in Stores
Note that I said tough – not impossible.
You might have a harder time finding cloth diapers in stores near you than disposable ones. However, you can also buy them online from retailers like Glowbug, Grovia, and of course, Amazon. Be sure to check reviews so you know what you’re getting for your money!
Remember that it’s not just the cloth diapers you’ll need to buy but additional equipment too.
You will need a cloth diaper pail and cloth diaper pail liners (often these are different from what you’d use for disposable diapers, like a Diaper Genie). You should also get a travel wet bag to store the dirty diapers when you’re on the go.
I also recommend buying a diaper sprayer. This attaches to the interior of your toilet and can be used to spritz lingering poop (pleasant) off the dirty diapers.
If you’d rather not spray the poop off with a sprayer, you can get a diaper liner. These serve as barriers between your baby’s bottom and the diaper, catching the poop so you don’t have to spray.
11. They Have a TON of Snaps
If you thought baby onesies were bad with all the snaps, you have another thing coming in cloth diapers, my friend! And that’s if you get pocket diapers. If you get traditional cloth diapers then you have to pin them, which in my opinion is even more aggravating than dealing with the snaps.
The reason why there are so many snaps on cloth diapers is because this is how they are held together. The snaps bring together a waterproof outer layer and an inner “dryness” layer and together form a pocket in which you stuff an absorbent pocket diaper insert.
12. Your Laundry Routine Might Be Different
If you don’t mind an extra load or two of laundry per week, then cloth diapers probably won’t be that big of a hassle for you. However, it’s important to note that it’s not just extra laundry you need to do, but laundry that’s somewhat different in nature, too.
Laundering cloth diapers requires a different type of detergent. You may want to switch to a heavy-duty washing machine and detergent to make sure they get clean. Again, you’re not going to want to wash these dirty diapers with the rest of your laundry!
You’ll also want to implement a solid regimen when it comes to removing stains. As with any kind of fabric, cloth diapers do stain. You can use a spray to get out the stains (or even sit the cloth diapers in the sun – the sunlight works wonders in removing stains).
13. Easier Toilet Training
This is purely anecdotal but I’ve talked to many mothers who say that using cloth diapers has made it far easier for them to potty train their kids. When children wear disposable diapers, they never really feel how dirty or wet they are because the diapers contain sodium polyacrylate. This is a chemical used to help keep disposable diapers dry.
While it’s beneficial in preventing diaper rash and other problems, it can be problematic when it comes time to toilet train young kids based on how wet or dirty their diapers feel. If they don’t know they’ve soiled themselves, how are they supposed to tell you to get them to the potty?
14. More Comfortable
Some parents also say that their little ones started sleeping through the night when they gave cloth diapers a try. That’s likely because they didn’t have disposable diapers scratching at their sensitive little bottoms all night!
They do need to be changed more often, again, but this can be beneficial in some ways.
15. They Don’t Leak As Much As You’d Think
Another common misconception about cloth diapers is that they have a tendency to leak. Believe it or not, they’re actually mostly leak-proof. You can use cloth diapers overnight and you’ll only need to change a cloth diaper once every three or four hours before they need to be changed.
Just make sure you buy cloth diapers that actually fit your child. You might have to size up or down, tighten the leg fastening, or add an extra liner if you’re having issues with leaks.
16. There is a Learning Curve to Putting Them on Baby
You may find that Dad and Grandma hesitate to put cloth diapers on babies because they go on a bit differently than the disposables. However, I wouldn’t say that they’re difficult to put on by any means. Just different. Whether you’re using cloth diapers with snaps or velcro closures, just know that the process is different – but not necessarily harder.
17. They Might Not Last for More Than One Child
If you use cloth diapers, don’t expect them to get through all of your kids. The elastic stretches out, the leg holes get loose, and they get stained. These might be a one-time investment for each kid but you might not be able to reuse them.
3 Reasons You May Want to Give Them a Try
- They Don’t Contain Any Chemicals
If you’re trying to raise your child with as few chemicals and unnecessary additives as possible, then you may want to consider cloth diapers. Disposable diapers contain all kinds of nasty ingredients, like polyacrylate, perfume,, and chlorine. Chlorine, in particular, can strip away protective bacteria from the skin and change the pH balance of your skin – not great news for abibes, who already have sensitive skin to begin with.
This can lead to skin irritations,dryness, and – you guessed it – diaper rash. Some studies have even found that an increase in respiratory problems and childhood asthma can be linked to babies wearing disposable diapers. Even staph infections and things like fever and vomiting can be tied to these carcinogenic chemicals.
2. Diaper Services to Save the Day
If you aren’t sure whether you want to commit to all the extra laundry involved in cloth diapering, then know that you can always pay a bit extra for a diaper service.
A diaper service brings away your dirty diapers every week and then washes them for you before dropping them back off. It can cost around $80 per month, so if saving money is your primary goal in using cloth diapers, then this may not be worth it.
However, if the baby’s health and the health of the environment are what you are concerned about, then I’d say a diaper service is worth the money.
3. You Don’t Have to Go All or Nothing
We tend to be a bit cult-ish when it comes to our devotions to either cloth or disposable diapers but you don’t have to go all in. You can give cloth diapers a try and only have your baby wear them at certain times – like only when you’re at home or only at night, for example.
Don’t feel like you have to commit right away. Give cloth diapers a try and see how you feel!
Cloth Diapering – Yay or Nay?
Even with all of these inconveniences associated with cloth diapering, I am still glad we do it.
There is something about wrapping your delicate baby’s bottom with something soft and natural, as opposed to crinkly paper and plastic, that feels really nice.
Cloth diapers are convenient in that you never run out. You won’t have any uh-oh-I’m-out-of-diapers-and-can’t-get-to-the-store moments. You might have to wash one up, but you won’t ever be completely out of luck. This is especially helpful in emergency situations.
And you just can’t beat the savings. When we were rotating cloth and disposables, it was costing us about $40/month to diaper a baby. It would have been double that had we not used cloth at all. Now that we are exclusively cloth diapering, that’s money in our pockets!
I realize that one extra load of cloth diapers a day adds a little bit to our power bill, but I haven’t noticed a huge difference.
Anyways, that’s my take on it! Yeah, they are messier, a bit bothersome, and a little more work, but cloth diapers have been a blessing to our budget.
What about you? Do you use cloth diapers? Why or why not? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!
updated 09/23/2021 by Rebekah Pierce
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.