Think Cloth Diapers are Gross? Dispelling Misconceptions and Myths about Cloth Diapers

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Myths and Misconceptions about Cloth Diapers

I am a firm believer in that almost anyone can cloth diaper.

Don’t have much money? Don’t worry, you you can purchase an entire supply of cloth diapers for under $100.

Don’t have a washing machine? Don’t worry, you can make a diaper washer with a 5 gallon bucket and a plunger.

While I believe that anyone can cloth diaper, I also believe that a parent’s sanity trumps all. There are times in our lives that we simply need to do what is the most convenient. There are also times in our lives when we have the ability to do things that are a little less convenient in order to save money and reduce our footprint on the environment.

I am a stay-at-home mom. My husband and I have decided that it is important for our family that I be able to stay home with our children. When I learned about cloth diapering, I knew it was a way I could help my family save money and reduce our impact on the environment.

To dispel any misconceptions and myths about cloth diapers, and to help you decide if cloth diapering it right for your family, I polled my Facebook friends and compiled a list of real concerns and thoughts about cloth diapering.

Disclaimer: This blog post isn’t meant to tell anyone they must convert to cloth diapering. Rather, it is to educate. If after reading this, you decide cloth diapering is kind of cool, I’m fine with that. 🙂

Cleaning cloth diapers would be super gross. I don’t want poop going through my washing machine. 

To this I would ask, has your child ever thrown up on their clothes or their sheets? Has your kid ever had an accident in their underwear? Do you burn the soiled laundry, or do you wash it in your washing machine? I’m going to take a wild guess here and say that the vast majority of you probably wash it. 🙂 Baby diapers are no different. Modern washing machines are extremely effective at getting cloth diapers clean. As a testament to the fact that your washing machine gets rid of all the diaper yuckies, and that they aren’t transferred to your other clothes, you want to know how often an intestinal bug visits my house? No more than about every 18 months. No cases of cloth diaper poisoning here. 🙂

Washing and folding diapers just took too much time. Time I didn’t have with three other children running around.

It is possible to cloth diaper with multiple children on the loose, but you’re right, it does take a little extra time (about 5 minutes to wash, 20 minutes to fold–every other day) . Most diapers come in multiple parts. Check out my post on the types of diapers to familiarize yourself with the different kinds of diapers and how they work. If time spent assembling diapers post washing is a concern try All-In-One diapers. All-in-One (or AIO) cloth diapers are hands-down the easiest cloth diapers to use. If you want to go even one step easier, then choose diapers with hook and loop (Velcro) closures.

You’re going to want to make sure you have an adequate number of diapers so that you’re not having to wash and fold every day. This reader admitted that she only had a total of 14 diapers. When I started with a set of 18 diapers I bought used, it was just barely enough to give me a chance to catch my breath in between washings.

While it may not be financially possible for some people to buy a complete “stash” of diapers all at once, I’ve had friends say that they purchase one or two diapers every pay period and built up their diaper stash that way. You want to have enough diapers to last you two days with several more diapers available to be used while the other diapers are being washed. I recommend anywhere from 21 to 30 diapers.

Carrying poop with me everywhere when I’m out just doesn’t appeal to me. I’d rather toss them and be done.

Carrying poop with me everywhere while I’m out and about doesn’t appeal to me either. I think that would be pretty gross! You know what I also think is gross? A trash can full of stinky disposable diapers. We used disposable diapers our first child. We kept his soiled diapers in the diaper pail in the house…for, ohhh, maybe about five days or so. Oh the stench!

I actually don’t carry around a poop in my wet bag (a bag used for storing wet or dirty diapers). Instead I dump it in the toilet–I use flushable liners inside the diapers making it easy to toss out any messes–and then place the used cloth diaper into the wet bag. Later, when I get home I put the wet bag and the diaper in my larger hanging wet bag to await washing in the next day or so. Sure beats having dozens of poop filled disposable diapers hanging out and your kid’s bedroom. 🙂

Throwing the liner away seems just as easy as just tossing the entire diaper out. Disposables are more convenient for me. I can leave extras in the car and know that I always have a diaper if I’m out and forget to pack one.

True, flushing the diaper liner with poop inside is just as easy, or complicated, depending upon how you look at it, as throwing away and entire disposable diaper. But, if convenience were the only factor in cloth diapering, I believe very few people would do it. The reason most people who cloth diaper choose to do it is to reduce the amount of waste we are putting in our worlds landfills, and to save significant amounts of money.

To illustrate, did you know that, according to my conservative calculations, the average disposable diapered child will contribute approximately 5,412 diapers to landfills during their disposable diaper years (birth to 2.5 years). This converts to approximately 2 tons of waste. 2 Tons! In diapers alone! If your child doesn’t potty train until they are 3 years old you can add another 900 or so diapers onto that. If the earth had endless landfills I’d say, heck yeah! Bring on the sposies! But unless we want our children’s children to be living on piles of smoldering garbage, we need to rethink the way we use our resources.

As far as keeping extra diapers in the car, well you can do that with cloth diapers as well. 🙂

We tried cloth, but my son had eczema on his bum. Cloth was not nice to eczema, for us.

I actually dealt with eczema and cloth diapers with my middle son. He had eczema all over his body, and it was pretty bad. It took me a little while to figure out what worked best for him. The right moisture level is key to controlling eczema. Too dry=eczema. Too moist=eczema. I finally found a combination of things that work for middle son. I added an extra fleece liner to each of his diapers, I slathered his bum with GroVia Magic Stick at every diaper change, and I changed his diaper more frequently (about every hour and a half). I also put a disposable diaper on him at night time. Cloth diapering doesn’t have to be an all or nothing thing, folks.

Bottom line on this issue though, is do what works best for the health of your baby. If you can’t clear up the eczema on your kid’s bum and they do okay in disposables, then switch to disposables.

My daycare won’t use them so it’s a hassle to buy and store two types of diapers.

We purchase and store two types of diapers. Because we use disposables at night, I have a pack of disposable’s and then all my son’s cloth diapers. I buy a pack of disposables once every three or four months, and keep them in the same place I keep my cloth diapers. No less convenient than buying all disposable diapers.

The inconvenience, I think, may come in when it comes to washing cloth diapers when you’re only cloth diapering for a few hours each day. You definitely don’t want to go more than three days (I’d personally recommend washing every two days) in between washings. If you’re only using cloth diapers for a few hours each day, you’ll only be washing 6 to 10 diapers at a time. If you have a standard, non-HE, washing machine you may find this is not economical for you. And, I’ll be the first to admit, if I worked a full-time job outside the home, the last thing I would want to do at the end of a long day every other day is to wash and fold diapers. Some women do it, and kudos to them, but I would not be one of them.

It really all comes down to weighing your pocket book and your impact on the environment with your needs as a mother–nobody wants a bunch of crazed, sleep deprived mommies running around hysterical because they were trying to save the world by cloth diapering their kid. If, after educating yourself and dispelling any misconceptions and myths about cloth diapers, you decide cloth diapering is just not right for your family then no worries. We all need to do what works best for our individual families.

boy looking in window

Personally, I have loved cloth diapering my boys. Heck, I’d never have done it for 5 years if I didn’t love it. It has been a journey. Like anything meaningful, it hasn’t always been easy, but it has definitely been worth it.  Over the course of two children I’ve saved approximately 9320 diapers (almost 4 tons of waste) from being thrown in landfills. Not to mention I’ve saved my family around $1700. And, that makes me feel good. That has made it all worth it.


About Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom

Amy is mom to three, wife to one, and a sister and aunt to many. Her family is a former military family now settled in Lehi, Utah. Oh So Savvy Mom began as a way for Amy to share parenting and product advice with others. Just as she has evolved, Oh So Savvy Mom has evolved into a resource for Healthy Living for Families, Food, Parenting, and Family Travel.


  1. We've cloth diapered 5 now, so when this one potty trains that will probably be 20 tons or more of diapers kept out of landfills. A pretty amazing mental picture. The savings I've never really sat down and calculated. At least several thousand by now. Great post, Amy!
  2. While it may not be financially possible for some people to buy a complete “stash” of diapers all at once, I’ve had friends say that they purchase one or two diapers every pay period and built up their diaper stash that way. You want to have enough diapers to last you two days with several more diapers available to be used while the other diapers are being washed. I recommend anywhere from 21 to 30 diapers.