I like to describe myself as an avid cloth diaperer. It was probably one of the biggest decisions I made when it came to raising my baby before he was born. I think both kinds of diapers have their uses and I do use disposables at daycare, when we are on vacation and when I am just not getting enough sleep to even think of doing more laundry. I do try to use cloth as much as I can and I have convinced our daycare to let me bring my son in wearing a cloth diaper and then they just put it in a wetbag for me to pick up at the end of the day. Maybe one day they will just give in to me, I am trying to change the system one diaper at a time, hehe. I plan to have quite a few cloth diaper posts since I have plenty of money saving tips when it comes to CDing but I thought I would start out with my own personal Cloth VS Disposable Pros and Cons lists to help moms and dads make an informed decision when it comes to diapering.
Cloth Diapering Pros
- They are better for the environment (There is definitely some opposition to this, which isn’t a surprise considering the massive amounts of $ these companies make selling their single use diapers. I tried to do as much research as I could and I came to the conclusion that cloth is indeed much better for the environment, I will probably write a whole separate post on this)
- They retain a lot of value and can either be re-used for your next children or re-sold for 50%-150% of their value. (Believe it or not some used diapers can go for more than retail since they are considered collectable or are just really hard to get your hands on, i.e. Goodmamas or Ragababes).
- They are much cheaper to use! Even if you don’t re-use or sell. Lots of websites out there do the calculations for you but expect to save anywhere from $500 to $3000 on your first and even more on your second/third and fourth.
- The materials used to absorb liquids in cloth diapers are usually cotton, bamboo or hemp as compared to a chemical “baby dry” gel in disposables.
- They are more breathable and generally cause less skin irritation (My son has never had any serious rashes and all I use with my cloth wipes is water. I don’t use any diaper cream either, which equals even more savings)
- You never need to drive anywhere when you run out of diapers because you never run out (sometimes you just need to do more laundry!)
- They seem to hold in poop much better, in my case I almost never had a blowout.
- With your purchases you can support small business or work at home moms instead of Proctor and Gamble or Kimberley Clark.
- It is a proven diapering method used for hundreds of years, where as disposables have only been mainstream since the 80’s
- The patterns are really cute and the fabrics are very soft to touch!
Cloth Diapering Cons
- You need to do more laundry (I currently do a diaper load every 3-4 days)
- They are bulkier under clothes
- They generally don’t have the same absorbency for liquids as disposables, so you need to change more often.
- You are using more water and energy to wash and dry them. About the same amount of water as 5 toilet flushes a week. Your energy use can be drastically reduced depending on your cleaning routing. I have an HE washer and hang them to dry so I feel like this is a fairly small impact.
Disposable Diapering Pros
- Have better absorbency with less bulk
- lighter weight
- Trimmer under clothing
- No laundry required, just throw them in a diaper genie that wraps them up in even more non biodegradable waste so they don’t smell up your garbage?! (yes I know, that was communicated with some bias, sorry)
- They are generally more accepted by current Canadian & America society (this helps with babysitters, daycares etc)
- Less potential for user error
Disposable Diaper Cons
- A lot of non biodegradable waste (lots of research out there on this topic)
- Expensive (Even worse is that they hold NO resale value once used)
- Aren’t as good at containing poop, everyone I have talked to has lots of “blowout” stories
- They are not made of natural materials (Our dog ate one of my nephew’s dirty diapers and she was sick and pooping weird absorbent gel pellets for a week)
- The manufacturing and distribution of this product consumes a lot of energy and chemicals
- There is a lot of packaging involved that gets land-filled
- Some children have major skin irritation issues from the chemicals
- You need to be constantly buying them (keep in mind popping out to buy things becomes 100x harder with a baby)
- They aren’t cute. You never see a disposable on a baby in magazines or tv commercials unless it is for the diapers themselves (they always have some beautiful cotton cloth diaper on)