Your 6 Biggest Cloth Diaper Questions, Answered
Your 6 Biggest Cloth Diaper Questions, Answered
July 13, 2021

Your 6 Biggest Cloth Diaper Questions, Answered

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Your 6 Biggest Cloth Diaper Questions, Answered.
Your 6 Biggest Cloth Diaper Questions, Answered

From different diaper styles to how to put together a wash kit, there are more things to consider when it comes to cloth diapering than will we or won’t we. And if you’re the kind of person who thrives on product research, all those options can make the decision feel kind of overwhelming. If you’re thinking about cloth, but have found you have more questions than answers, here’s what you really should know before taking the plunge.

Q: How Bad is the Poop?

A: One of the first things parents ask when weighing the pros and cons of cloth diapers is…how bad is the poop? Regardless of whether your baby is fed formula or breastmilk, all newborn poop is water soluble (which means your cloth diapers can go straight into the wash without pre-rinsing). So if you decide to cloth diaper from birth, the answer is…really not that bad. At least at first.

Once your baby starts eating solids, there will be a bit more mess to clean up. But you’ll be dealing with that poop one way or another (babies still need to be wiped!). That said, if you’d like to avoid some of the work that goes into cleaning your baby’s diapers, disposable liners can be helpful for removing solids (just flush the poop and toss the liner).

Q: What If I Pick the Wrong Kind?

A: If you’re trying to sort out the best kind of cloth diaper for your family, here’s a spoiler: there is no perfect cloth diaper. There are upsides and downsides to every style, from the cost per diaper to how the diaper gets washed, and we go into detail about all of that right here (or if you’re starting from square one, you can check out our basic cloth diaper anatomy guide to get a better sense of how cloth diapers work in general).

One thing you should know? Cloth diapers are a lot easier to use than they were when you were a baby. For example, many cloth diapers (like this one from Charlie Banana) are now made to fit your baby from birth to potty training, so you’ll only need one set to get you through the diapering years (and you can use them with multiple babies). And with most modern cloth diapers, there is no pinning or folding involved.

Q: Can I Take Cloth Diapers to Daycare?

A: Daycare can be a sticking point for families who are considering cloth diapers. Because of the extra work involved in cleaning them, many facilities won’t accept them. But there are a few ways to make it work. One option is to make it as easy as possible for your daycare providers to say yes to cloth. Supply a wet bag along with your baby’s cloth diapers and ask your care providers to “dispose” of the dirty diapers in the wet bag the same way they would toss a disposable diaper in a trash can. Then you take the whole bag home at night for the dirty work.

If your daycare isn’t open to this idea, another option is to use disposable diapers at daycare and cloth diapers at home (when it comes to the environment and your wallet, there’s no such thing as too small of an effort!).

Q: How Often Do I Have to Do Laundry?

A: The biggest difference between cloth diapers and disposable diapers is what happens when you take the diaper off. While newborn poop can go straight into the wash, once your baby starts eating solids, you’ll need to rinse off anything that isn’t pee before your diapers can go into a washing machine (if you’re not hand-washing). You can get a detailed overview on how to do that here.

As for how often you’ll need to do laundry? That depends on how many diapers you end up with. New babies go through an average of 6-9 diapers per day. So if you have 15-18 diapers in your kit, expect to be doing laundry every other day. If you set yourself up with closer to 20-25 diapers, you can get away with doing a load of laundry roughly twice a week. In general, though, you don’t want to let cloth diapers sit for longer than three days. Things start to get kind of stinky after that.

Q: How Gently Do I Need to Wash Them?

A: Washing cloth diapers isn’t too different from washing anything else that you want to last a long time. Eco-friendly detergent is recommended, and you’ll want to steer clear of fabric softener, because it can actually decrease the absorbency of cloth diapers. If you have hard water, avoid too much extra rinsing because the minerals can cause build-up and, again, make your cloth diapers less absorbent.

When it comes to drying, a general rule of thumb is to avoid putting anything waterproof in a dryer—aka the outer shell portion of your cloth diaper. The heat can break down the waterproof materials, making them less effective. (Luckily diaper shells tend to air dry pretty quickly.) But inserts can be washed like any other towel or washcloth in your home.

And if you don’t have a full load of laundry when it comes time to wash your diapers? Just throw them in with some of your other workhorse linens, like cleaning cloths and rags.

Q: What If I Decide It’s Just Too Much?

A: There’s no rule that says you have to go all-or-nothing on cloth diapers. In fact, there are plenty of ways to take a hybrid approach from the jump. For example, you can use cloth diapers part time (say, while you’re at home) and disposable diapers when you’re out and about. Or you can use cloth diapers with disposable inserts and liners for easier cleanup.

Another thing to remember is that cloth diapers are a popular second-hand item, so there is a strong chance you’ll be able to re-sell your baby’s diapers once you’re no longer using them.

Cloth diapers don’t have to be intimidating. Like any other aspect of new parent life, it’s about figuring out what works best for you—and then giving yourself permission to change the game as you go.

This article is sponsored by Charlie Banana. Babylist’s free site, apps and emails are made possible by our sponsors. We limit our sponsored content to relevant partners that offer products and services we believe in and use ourselves.

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