3 More Reasons That Cloth Diapering is Easier Than You Think

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Last week, I began to dispel some commonly held myths about cloth diapering.

I began with two of the biggest myths, that cloth diapering is more expensive and that it is more disgusting. The reader response was fantastic and I think that you will find the comments section extremely valuable to take a read through.

{As well, the cloth diapering $75 gift certificate giveaway is still going for a few more days… go get entered!}

Today I want to continue on with three more myths, that cloth diapering is more time consuming, more inconvenient, and only for hippies. Au contraire, my friends!

Cloth diapering isn’t more time consuming

Over the years, I have found that cloth diapering fits more and more seamlessly in with my regular routines and I hardly even notice that I’m doing it.

Here is the time that I consistently spend on cloth diapering my little ones (yes, I still have one in diapers full time, and one at night time only):

  • Regular diaper changes and then putting that diaper in the pail. Every day or two, I add on maybe 2-3 minutes to do a toilet “swish” with a poopy diaper. (But, I don’t have to spend extra time messing with a Diaper Genie, or taking garbage bags out to the trash)
  • My wash routine consists of throwing the load into a rinse cycle (no detergent), then turning that cycle into a hot wash cycle (with detergent). It takes me about 5 minutes total, to set up both loads and give my pail a quick rinse. I do this 2-3 times a week, so maybe 15 minutes a week in total.
  • Hanging my diapers to dry takes about 5 minutes or less, again 2-3 times per week. So we’re talking 30 minutes weekly (absolute maximum) for my wash and dry routine.
  • I don’t fold or carefully put away my diapers. I dump all the diapers and inserts into a large basket, and the cloth wipes into a small one beside it. That’s it. It’s the easiest load of laundry I do!
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No, doing laundry won't become your life.

When babies are very small, it is slightly more time consuming but hardly. The tasks are still the same, but you might do laundry more often (which happens anyways with a newborn).

I have found that because each component I mentioned is such a simple and quick task in and of itself, I can easily throw on a load while I wait on the phone on hold, or when I have 2 minutes before we need to run out the door, or when I’m waiting for a child to finish going to the bathroom or getting their shoes on.

As with any other common mothering tasks, all of these little things just become part and parcel of our daily and weekly routines. I have never felt cloth diapering to add a burdensome weight onto my schedule. Even when I was diapering my third baby as a newborn (with the extra wash that entails) and caring for two other young children, it still felt like the least of my worries

Cloth diapering isn’t more inconvenient

When my firstborn was a baby, I held off on cloth diapering during outings for quite a long time, continuing to use disposables for going to church, to a friend’s house, to the grocery store, etc.

I’m not sure why I thought it would be more difficult, but I did. When I finally got over it and gave it a try, I was thoroughly relieved to find that it was no more trouble than anything else.

So long as I brought the necessary diapers with me, and a bag of some sort for bringing them home with me, it was just as easy as doing a disposable change. Sometimes easier because I didn’t have to seek out an appropriate garbage for disposing of the diaper (ever been to a home without children where they couldn’t fathom what to do with a dirty diaper, so you ended up carrying it home anyways?).

etsy wet bag

I found this adorable wet bag at Etsy shop Snuggy Baby (lots of other great designs, too!)

A few ways to make cloth diapering even more convenient:

  • I used to use a ziploc bag way back in the day, but now I use a zippered, washable wet bag which I love. It gets tossed in the wash and keeps my diaper bag totally free of stink.
  • As I mentioned in the last post, rather than a diaper pail that needs the occasional scrub, try using a larger washable hanging wet bag which simply gets added in to your diaper wash.
  • Use pocket diapers, which do up with either snaps or velcro very similarly to a disposable diaper. I’ve taught my babysitter to use them, my hubby doesn’t mind, and the grandparents haven’t found them complicated either. Additionally, if you pre-stuff (add the insert) before you leave the house, you just tuck the one piece into your bag, rather than dealing with a separate diaper and cover while you’re out.

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Image by Radio Saigon

Cloth diapering isn’t for hippies only

I suppose it depends on your definition of hippie. In my opinion, I am far from a “hippie”, despite all of my natural leanings. I live in a middle-class suburb, drive a minivan, use a cell phone and a MacBook, do not own a long flowing flowered skirt, have only 2 piercings and shoulder length hair, and I can’t stand Bob Dylan.

That said, I do buy plenty of traditional, wholesome and naturally-raised food, as seasonal and local as possible. I keep my home free of toxins in my cleaners and in my beauty care routine. I do my best to reduce waste. I have an organic garden in my backyard (but no chickens or goats… yet). I cloth diaper my babies because I think it’s gentler on them, the earth and my budget.

Living more sustainably isn’t an option that’s relegated to hippies any longer.

Green is the new black, and though I started this natural-living blog as somewhat of a lone ranger, these days everyone from big-city yuppies to high school kids to small town folk to my grandma are starting to learn that natural and sustainable living is for everyone.

Cloth diapering has really expanded to a wide-variety of people, far beyond the stereotypes that we might think of. And with the wide range of options available for cloth diapering, there’s something for everyone:

  • Hybrids like gDiapers (part reusable, part disposable) for those wanting something more ecological yet not prepared to go all the way with cloth
  • Pocket diapers and all-in-one diapers that function and fit very similarly to disposables- super easy for dads, babysitters, grandparents, everyone.
  • Traditional cloth diapers like fitteds with covers, or even simple prefolds with covers. Cheaper to buy and more like what mom or grandma used to use.
  • Truly sustainable diapers made with textiles like organic hemp, bamboo and wool, 100% natural for baby’s skin and for the earth.

Come clean, fellow hippies (just kidding!), do you find cloth diapering more inconvenient or time consuming?

For those not sold yet, I would love to hear your questions and concerns about cloth diapering, which I will do my best to answer in next week’s post!

Top image by simplyla. Image of old-fashioned scrub board by CedarBendDrive.

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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Comments

  1. You are a hippy…

  2. We have cloth diapered since day one and we’re now at toddlerhood. Cloth diapering is so easy, and so convenient. It did take a couple of times to show the grandparents and daycare how to snap a FuzziBunz, but now they are all on board and we cloth diaper 100% – no matter where we are or who our son is visiting with.

  3. I’m definitely interested in cloth diapering. We were planning on doing it with our firstborn, but then someone gave us a year supply of diapers so it got put on the back burner. We’re currently expecting, and I’m thinking maybe cloth diapers wouldn’t be that bad. But, my question is, what kind should I get? Are the cloth diapers at Target/Wal-Mart and Gerber rubber pants good? Or are there alternatives out there that would work out better? Plus my son has a bit of a sensitive stomach and I don’t want to feel like I’m constantly playing with poop. lol

  4. I used cloth diapers with my first baby from the start. I loved that I never had poop leaks with them (every time she pooped in a sposie, it leaked) and it wasn’t inconvenient to use them, even travelling. As she got older though, I had trouble getting them clean. I SERIOUSLY tried everything out there. There were so many times I had to rewash, and even rewash again, to get the ammonia out, and sometimes that didn’t even work. When my 2nd baby was born, there was the opposite problem, poop leaked out of every brand/kind I tried, plus he has such sensitive skin I had to change him immediately when he was wet – which was constantly and even then he was still getting diaper rash. For me, with the washing issues (using so much water & trying many different detergents/wash methods,) all the different types/brands of diapers I had bought (even making my own,) the CONSTANT changing because of wetness (and needing a large supply of diapers because of that,) having to use diaper cream which isn’t supposed to be used with cloth, not having anywhere to hang them to dry, and having all the poop leaks were just not worth it. I kept using cloth wipes, though, because every brand of wipes irritated my son’s skin, but then I started having trouble with the washing machine stinking from them. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. That was it for me. I really hate when people consider using sposies the lazy way out, because I put a ton of effort into getting cloth to work. I really wanted it to work & would try again with #3 if I could figure out how to get them clean without having to rewash all the time. Maybe I need a new washing machine. But then, that certainly wouldn’t make cloth inexpensive, would it?!

    • It may not be the best thing for the environment, but we use Calgon now, and it has made a HUGE difference. Our water in Kentucky is really hard, harder than I had any idea of, and I tried everything: vinegar, baking soda, borax, etc! Calgon not only did away with the diaper funk but finally got my husband’s shirts to stop stinking. I was about to throw them out and start over I was so frustrated. We use liquid Calgon (bought at Kroger) for the laundry, and it also got rid of the saop scum in the dishwasher that caused us to buy a new one before we figured it out (powdered from Amazon). If something more natural had worked I would have rejoiced, but dishes are my least favorite thing in the whole house and when we had to rewash more than half of each dishwasher load, it was time for another solution.
      You’ve probably had #3 long before now, but I thought I’d share.

  5. I used disposables on my first two children and switched to cloth for my third. I have loved so many things about it, but am still having to tweak my laundry routine almost a year in. I will get rid of diaper rash and then it comes back again. I am beginning to get frustrated but still love so many things about cloth. And I think it really is easier than people think. I love dumping the poop in the toilet instead of wrapping it up and taking it out to the garbage can in the garage. And I LOVE that I am not spending extra time scrubbing poop out of my daughters laundry. It stays in the diapers. Excellent!

  6. I have four kids (5,4,2,6months) and have used disposables with all of them. It never crossed my mind before I had #3, and I honestly didn’t know anyone who used them. I heard some about it and read things about it before #3, but decided against it. And now with #4, I don’t want to shell out for them because this is probably our last baby. If I had known more earlier, I might have considered it more, but even so, I’m not sure. The grossness factor is my main objection. I just don’t like dealing with poop. Wiping a bottom is one thing, but cleaning out diapers in order to throw them in my washer – that’s just nasty to me. And also, I do not like the idea of washing all my other clothes after washing poopy diapers. I’d have to do extra rinses, etc. before washing clothes. (Which would also cut down on the cost benefit.)

  7. Mrs Deaton says:

    Does anyone know the figures for hot water costs? It seems most people are saying they only do a reg hot wash cycle after a very short pre-rinse. On a local diaper service site they say they wash in hot for 60min after rinsing. It seems like the cost of hot water could add up pretty quickly and I am trying to decide if it is cost comparitive to using a service. It seems like using a cloth service company would make it the very best of both worlds, but I want to be frugal as well. What are mamas of newborns really spending in energy costs with cloth when weather does not permit line drying?

  8. We have cloth diapered both our children. We cloth diapered our second child from birth and first after the first month. It has been easier, more affordable and more convenient.

    We actually put our daughter in disposable diapers a few weeks ago for the first time to get rid of a nasty rash. I didn’t realize what a pain in the butt disposables were. They were hard to change in the middle of the nights (tabs were hard to find), they didn’t hold as much in them and they smelled up my entire house – yuck! They felt uncomfortable and had a weird smell to them.

    I am so glad we use cloth diapers on our children. I also find the diaper folding to be somewhat therapeutic.lol!

  9. Natashya Newman says:

    For those of us who don’t own a washer or dryer, would this actually be cost efficient? If I did one load of diapers every other day plus regular laundry, it would cost me $13 a week, not to mention depleting our dedergent three times as fast. Would cloth still be cheaper? I really like the idea but living in an apartment building with a shared washer/dryer I’m not sure how it would even out. Definitely interested in more details!

    • @Natashya Newman, Hi Natashya I don’t have children yet, so I have no diapering experience, but I make my own laundry detergent and I’ve been practicing sewing diapers. I think it would definitely be cheaper if you switched to cloth diapers and homemade detergent. Heres my recipe:
      1/7 bar Zote soap (14.1 oz bar 99¢ at my Walmart)
      1/2 cup Super Washing soda
      1/2 cup Borax (a color safe bleach alternative)
      1/2 cup baking soda (optional for deodorizing)
      Grate soap and melt it in 4cups of water on the stove on medium heat. Do not boil. In a big pot or bucket put 1 gallon plus 3quarts of hot sink water and powders. Pour the melted soap water in the bucket. Stir about 2 minutes Let it get overnight and its ready the next day. It seperates easily so you have to shake it before pouring it each time. I use 1/2 cup per normal load of laundry. Makes 2 gallons. It costs me .01¢ per load of laundry because the boxes last for several batches and I buy the ingredients at Walmart. You can use other soap or all natural soap from the health food store, just use about 2-4 oz depending on how strong it cleans. God Bless you :)

  10. I managed to cloth diaper my twins (though some times I’m not sure how, lol). But I’m so glad I did. I’ve used disposables at different times, but they have given the girls a lot of problems. The biggest reason I did it was how much money we saved. I calucated it up on the blog. Any time I was tired of using cloth diapers I would just think of how much money I was saving our family.

  11. I’m currently 30 wks, 4 days pregnant with twins, and have decided to try cloth diapering when they are born (hoping they stay put for AT LEAST 6 more weeks!!). Just wish I had done cloth diapering with my daughter, 5 yrs ago! A few years back I heard a news report of babies getting chemical burns from disposables and said that if I ever get pregnant again, I’d go the cloth diaper route!! Luckily, I never had that experience with my daughter, but it was enough for me to decide cloth going forward! We ordered our first batch of cloth diapers in bulk the other day (www.sunbabydiapers.com)…will try them out first, then decide whether to buy more from them or get another brand.

    Thankfully I have a few friends who have ‘been-there-done-that’ with cloth diapering, and they are giving me wonderful advice. For instance – not every cloth diaper will work for/fit your baby. On some babies, BumGenius works great…but on others, they leak. So I was told to buy a few of each different brand to see what will fit best on my babies, when the time comes. And typically, twins are born smaller…although at the rate I am going, and with my family history, they’ll probably be close to normal size at birth!

    I am however, still learning, and the babies havent even arrived yet (although, they did attempt to come sooner, at 26 wks, but after 2 days in the hospital and meds to stop the contractions, Im doing better, thank God!!).

    I’m thankful for sites like this, where Moms can read about cloth diapering, as well as get other Mom’s opinions based on their experience. Everyone that I have told thinks I am crazy for wanting to do cloth diapering and that its going to be so much more time consuming, etc. We shall see!! I’m also considering handwashing them…but Im not sure what kind of time I will have with twins :)

    Anyways – have any Moms out there heard of sunbabydiapers before?? They seem to be a really good price for cloth diapers (one size) sold in bulk.

  12. I used disposable diaper when we go out, but at home I find cloth diaper more convenient to use because I just wash it then dry it, and it can be used again. It is less expensive and my baby is more comfortable wearing it. In addition, the fact that the more I used cloth diaper the lesser I contribute on diaper waste to the environment.

  13. My 21-month old has been cloth diapered since birth and I love doing cloth, for all the reasons you’ve mentioned. It saves us money and I don’t mind doing the laundry. My biggest issue with cloth so far is that my baby is a little chubby and we use prefolds…trying to find pants that fit over everything is a real challenge. Maybe I’m the only one with that issue, but I’ve started sewing customized pants for her. I know we could switch to trimmer dipes, but we already have a full stash of covers and prefolds and don’t want to reinvest at this point. Still, cloth is the choice for us.

  14. Love this series! You’ve convinced me. I will be cloth diapering my future babies.

  15. I’ve tried both and I don’t find it more inconvenient than disposables. I’m certainly glad we don’t have to lug a hug garbage bag of diapers to the road anymore. I’d rather just toss something in the laundry.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    I’m still new to cloth, since my first born is only a 14 weeks. I’ve completely converted my convenience loving husband to cloth. As a working mom who loves her heels and drives an evil SUV/crossover, I’m far from a hippie, but the cost, convenience and sheer cuteness of cloth diapers has me addicted. I love that I have no pangs of guilt changing my daughter ten to twelve times a day in her early months. She peed in the diaper I just put on her 30 minutes ago? Who cares? I have to wash them anyway! For me, covers & inserts (at this stage, I love Babee Greens newborn inserts) are the best because the inserts take very little room in my diaper bag when out, and if I match the cover to her outfit, I can keep the same cover through most of the day (until a poo hits). I bought pockets because they are much easier for daycare–they don’t have to check to be sure the insert is fully tucked into the cover. I do wash every two days & let the covers dry overnight–but as my stash has grown, I’m stretching to three days in the next week. My friends are curious about this choice, and still hold these old fashioned images of pins and pails–poor things! I’m not looking to criticize anyone’s decision, laundry is not a big deal for me, but it may be for others–but since I keep getting questions, I’ll bet a few convert to try the cloth in the next few months. Great post Stephanie!

  17. I always wanted to use cloth but I couldn’t figure it out completely and, of course, I did not know anyone who used them. I have some FuzziBunz that I used with my youngest during potting training. If I had used them when mine were infants, how would I handle a poopy diaper? I could replace the insert but there is still poop on the inside of the diaper. I don’t understand how the inserts are more helpful seeing as most infant diapers are poopy. I would really like some insight into the actual steps in dealing with wet or poopy diapers. Do you toss the whole wet bag in to the laundry open or zipped up? I have lots of questions!

    • Elizabeth says:

      @Laura, Hi Laura – My daughter is only 3.5 months old, so this might not be super helpful about the poo since she’s not on solids, but we just put here poopy diapers in the wet bag with everything else and wash it with the rest of her diapers. Wetbag is unzipped–and we usually roll the bag inside out into the washer opening so we don’t touch the diapers. We do a cold prerinse (no detergent), followed by a hot/cold wash with Tiny Bubbles detergent. So far, I’ve only had a tiny bit of staining on one cover which I put in the sun on my back porch for a few hours and it was gone. If you have a pocket diaper (i.e. FuzziBunz), then you put the entire diaper in the wet bag or pail–wet or poopy. if you have an insert with cover, when wet, we put the wet insert in the wet bag/pail, wipe the cover if needed, put a new insert down & snap up the cover. If it’s a poopy diaper, we put the whole diaper–insert & cover–in the wetbag/pail for washing.

    • @Laura, We just used (he’s now potty trained) a wet bag hung in his room and if there was a poopy diaper and it was solid I’d dump it in the toilet and throw it in the bag. If the poop was loose and not something that could come off the diaper clean I’d throw it in the bag that way and wash as normal. I NEVER pulled the insert out of a diaper, everything just got dumped in the washer. The inserts will come out when washed a couple of times. I used a simple canvas bag as my “wet bag” and dumped the diapers out of it and threw it in to be washed with the diapers.
      I washed a cold load first then a hot load then a hot rinse. Then dry in a dryer on low heat or hang on a line.

    • Mom of 4 says:

      @Laura,

      If you are using a pocket diaper (like fuzzibuns) then the whole diaper goes into the laundry after each use – just the the stuffing out and toss. Some diapers use a waterproof cover over top of an absorbent part (prefolds, fitteds, flip, etc). With those the wet/dirty part gets tossed in the laundry, but the waterproof cover is usually still clean and can be reused.

      Wet diapers or diapers with newborn poop get thrown in the laundry and washed every 2-3 days. Poopy diapers (once they are eating solids) are quickly swished in the toilet to get the chunk out and then put into the laundry.

      Hope that helps!

  18. A lot of you are mentioning that with cloth there aren’t leaks…. It is true that I don’t have any poop blow outs with my cloth diapers (I use Fuzzi Bunz), but for some reason, my son often gets wet clothes when wearing cloth and I have to change his clothes. He is 4 months old. For this reason I use Disposables when I am out. Does anyone have any tips on keeping your baby’s clothes dry when using a Fuzzi Bunz cloth diaper. Am I doing the snaps too tight?

    • @Lydia, I’ve never used Fuzzi Bunz but I also had occasional leaks but mine were due to a heavy wetter and me not changing him quick enough. He could really only wet the diaper once and be ok. We did have major leakage due to some family not snapping his diaper tight enough and he’d pee right out the top of it or the side of it which of course soaked his clothes.

    • Genevieve says:

      @Lydia, I find my son sometimes get wet around the sides of the snaps on his onesie, but that hapened with my older son in sposies too. The fabric presing into the edges of the diaper can wick it right out of the diaper onto the clothes instead!

    • @Lydia, I’ve never used that type either but maybe do try laying another liner in there if its a heavy wetter issue that should help.

  19. I have a 5-month-old who I’ve been cloth diapering for 4 months. I do spend more time than you on the wash, but that’s because I stuff them and put them neatly away so that they’re ready for the next go round. But I don’t spend time stuffing them while changing the diaper… no, no… I don’t want any tee-tee messes while I dilly dally! Haha. But still with two cloth diaper loads a week, this adds about 30 minutes to my diaper experience. No big deal in my book. It’s just a part of my day, just as doing laundry, dishes, vacuuming, etc. And WE DON’T HAVE BLOW OUTS IN CLOTH!! That’s huge! Well worth my time to stuff diapers just so I don’t have to waste my time, stripping my baby and the car seat, washing the car seat, giving my baby a wipes bath – all while out and about! Yes, these 30 minutes are well worth my time!

  20. Stephanie, I agree with you on all five points of why cloth diapering is easier than most people think it is! My son is almost 11 months old and we have been so happy with our decision to go the cloth route. My sister had a baby around the same time that I did, and she thought I was crazy when I told her I was going to use cloth. Now, 11 months later, she has seen how all-around beneficial and simple it is, and she wishes that she would have invested in cloth too!

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