- Billions (seriously, billions!) of disposable diapers are consumed every year in North America and end up in our landfills.
- A disposable diaper is estimated to take anywhere from 250-500 years to decompose.
- Cloth diapers require significantly less raw materials, water and energy to produce compared to disposable diapers.
- Let's look at an example: Consider a baby that uses diapers from newborn to age 2.5. Based on 8 diaper changes a day, at an average cost of 25 cents per diaper, the cost of using disposables is over $1800! Full-time cloth diapering can start from as little as $300 for economical prefolds & covers.
- Cloth diapers can be used with multiple children, multiplying your savings!
- Believe it or not, cloth diapers can have excellent resale value. There are many local swaps and Facebook groups for buying, selling and trading gently used diapers.
- Cloth diapers come in a variety of fibers, both synthetic and natural, including cotton, bamboo and hemp.
- All are free from chemicals such as dioxins, sodium polyacrylate and Tributyl-tin, that are found in disposable diapers.
- Cloth is breathable and comfortable for baby's delicate skin and can also reduce rashes and irritation as a result of chemical or fragrance sensitivities.
Cloth is Cute!
- Forget boring white - modern cloth diapers are super stylish and come in a range of fun colours & prints!
Cloth Diaper Types
All-in-one (or AIO) diapers are a one-piece reusable diaper with the absorbent material sewn right to the waterproof cover, making them the most similar to disposable diapers. They are easy to use and often the most popular with daddies and daycares.
All-in-two (AI2) or hybrid diapers are a two-piece diaper system with a removable absorbent insert that lays in or attaches to a waterproof cover. When the insert is wet, simply toss in the diaper pail and replace with a new one. The cover can be reused until soiled.
Pocket diapers are another two-piece system where the absorbent insert is placed into a pocket opening within the waterproof cover. The top layer of the pocket is a stay-dry fabric, usually micro fleece or microsuede, that allows moisture to pass through but keeps baby feeling dry. Once stuffed, pocket diapers resemble all-in-ones but allow you to customize inserts or add absorbency for naps & overnight.
One size diapers are designed to grow with your baby and can often fit from 8-35lbs. Snaps or adjustable elastics are used to adjust the diaper's rise and leg openings to give baby a perfect fit as they grow.
Fitted diapers are shaped like a typical diaper, are made from absorbent material, and fastened with snaps or aplix. They are very breathable but require a cover to make them waterproof.
Prefolds are rectangular diapers made of absorbent fabric divided into thirds, with more layers in the middle third where the most absorbency is required. They can be folded and fastened with diaper pins or a Snappi, and require a cover to be waterproof. Alternatively, the prefold can simply be folded into thirds and placed inside the cover.
Covers are used over a fitted or prefold diaper to make the system waterproof. Covers are usually made from synthetic polyurethane laminate (PUL) or thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), or can also be made from fleece or lanolized wool.
Cloth Diaper Care 101
There is loads (groan!) of talk about the ins & outs of how to properly wash cloth diapers. The truth is, the right wash routine for your diapers is the one that works best for your home and leaves your diapers fresh, clean and absorbent. A couple of things to keep in mind:
- Consider your washer type, water type and detergent type for best results.
- Refer to the manufacturer's instructions to ensure your wash routine won't void your warranty.
- Line drying your diapers will extend their life span, not to mention save you money on energy bills for your dryer and take care of our planet.
- Fabric softener is a big no-no with cloth diapers as it can cause buildup and repelling. Make sure that your diaper cream is cloth friendly, or simply use a liner to protect the fabric.
- Harness the power of the sun! Line drying your diapers on a sunny day is the safest and most effective way to remove stains and best of all, it's free!
- Make it even easier on yourself! A diaper sprayer and biodegradable disposable liners can make dealing with messes a cinch.
- Synthetic fabrics like microfiber and minky do not require prepping - simply wash once before using on baby.
- Natural fibers like cotton, bamboo and hemp need to be washed 3-5 times before use to remove natural oils and boost absorbency. Be sure to wash separately from your other diapers so oils don't redeposit themselves on fabrics. Keep in mind that natural fibers won't reach full absorbency until after 8-10 washes.
- ‘Stripping’ diapers refers to the removal of buildup from diaper fibers, most commonly oil buildup as a result of using diaper creams and fabric softeners.
- Facebook, Google and cloth diaper forums are filled with questions and advice about stripping diapers. With proper care, you should never need to strip your diapers.
- Check out a great article that addresses stripping and other laundering myths by our friends at GroVia here.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions, concerns or help troubleshooting your wash routine. We're here to help!