Are Cloth Diapers Too Much Extra Work?

Cloth diapers have become pretty popular in recent years There are tons of styles to choose from and many parents rave about them. But many fear that they’re a lot of work. Are they really worth all the trouble, the extra laundry, rinsing in the toilet? And what about leaks? And stinks?

I’ve been using cloth diapers on my daughter for about a year now and I can tell you that for me these things are really not a problem. It’s just not as bad as you might think.

For starters, the extra laundry really isn’t that much. Yes, you’ll be doing a load every 2-3 days. One load of cloth diapers. They’ll need an extra rinse cycle to be sure the detergent gets out, but they only use 1/4 the amount of detergent a regular load uses. The diapers should smell clean after washing.

You can dry cloth diapers outside in the sun (I strongly recommend this if at all possible) or in the dryer. The sun does some nice natural bleaching as well as saves energy, making it a generally good deal. Hanging the diapers out is certainly some extra effort compared to just throwing them in the dryer, but if you have the time it’s really not so bad. I find they stay freshest this way.

If you put them in the dryer, dry them on hot for most brands. You can check with your particular brand to be sure of care instructions.

But what about solid wastes? Aren’t they a pain?

Strictly speaking, even with disposable diapers you’re supposed to put the solids in the toilet. I think most packages even say that, although I don’t know that many parents obey that part, and that’s why this seems like such a big deal with cloth diapers.

For the most part solids shake out pretty well, especially as baby gets older. For wastes that are on the runny side of solid I like a diaper sprayer, which is a simple attachment to the toilet. No dunking required. Other parents just use some toilet paper to wipe the excess out.

And leaks?

On the whole, I’ve had less trouble with leaks with cloth diapers with this baby than I did with disposable diapers and my two older kids. We use bumGenius 3.0 cloth diapers, and they really don’t have a leak problem if you care for them properly and change the diapers regularly. Any diaper will leak if you leave it on the baby too long.

I would also say we’ve had very few blowout poops, which is something to be dreaded. It can just be an individual baby thing, but she’s had some impressive outputs at times, so I don’t think it’s that.

If leaks start to be a problem it’s time to strip the diaper to be sure that you don’t just have a buildup problem.

So do cloth diapers stink?

They can, sometimes. But that generally means that your washing routine isn’t quite right. Maybe you use too much detergent. Maybe they need to be stripped, which is a special wash of cloth diapers using original Dawn dish detergent and hot water, plus extra rinses because that Dawn can be a bit hard to get completely out. Be careful with this if you have an HE machine, because Dawn most certainly is not low sudsing!

Some parents also use tea tree oil to help with stinks. Bio-Kleen Bac-Out is another popular solution to stink issues. Just spray it on the diapers as you drop them in your bucket. It’s an enzyme cleaner and is very effective.

I know, this is sounding like a lot of effort. It’s really not that bad. Baby care in general is a lot of effort. At least with modern cloth diapers you aren’t fussing with pins and such. Some brands go on the baby in ways that are very similar to how disposables go on. It’s simple.

Just think of all the advantages. Over time cloth diapers tend to be cheaper than disposables. They’re less wasteful. You can even use them for more than one baby. Many babies get less diaper rash with cloth, and you can’t forget to note how many cute styles there are in cloth diapers.

And best of all, many cloth diapered babies potty train younger! The slight inconvenience of laundry is much offset by the potential to be fussing with diapers in general for less time in my opinion.