The Great Diaper Debacle

When I first heard about the option of cloth diapering, I was an immediate fan.

It’s better for the environment, it’s less expensive (disposables are no joke), and it feels better for the baby. From all around, it sounded like a win-win-win situation.

I mentioned it to my mom and she was all about it –usually she’ll go ahead and tell me when I have crazy idea- because I wore cloth diapers when I was a baby, too. From all of the things I’ve heard about it, I was totally on board, especially from moms I’ve talked to who cloth diaper their children. They’re serious fanatics about it.


So I started to read more about it to get more info,

and I became overwhelmed and well, a little grossed out.

There are SO many options out there. It’s kind of insane. The different brands, the pre-folds, the inserts, the covers… with all of the other books I’m reading, it was enough to make my brain explode. It made it seem like a LOT of extra work, and from what I’m expecting, a new baby already is a lot of work and responsibility… why add more chores to the mix?

Also, I started to think about actually cleaning the diapers. Something about having dirty diapers sitting around in a bag inside of a pail (even for just one day) raised a major sanitary red flag to me, and also the thought of washing said diapers in the same washer with our other clothes. [I know the washer sanitizes the bin too, but just thinking about our clothes going into the same machine gave me the heeby jeebies.] What was a going to do when we were out and about and the baby would inevitably have a dirty diaper to change? I’m not sure how I feel about walking around with all of that in a baggie in my purse, ya know?

I was really excited to ask Sabrina about cloth diapering last night, because I feel like it’s one of the things you can read about, but don’t truly understand until you talk to someone, actually see the diapers, and learn what the tricks are. [I wanted to ask my madre for more tips, and while she knows how to use them, she had a diaper service so didn’t have to worry about washing them.]

These are the diapers she has:


The Bum Genius organic.

I love the fact that they have so many adjustable snaps (so they’ll fit the baby for a long time), and they have the cover attached to the insert, so there’s not the extra task of stuffing the diapers. That right there made the entire cloth diapering thing seem much easier. So apparently I put the diaper in the washer on rinse cycle, run a hot cycle, then rinse again or something like that? Obviously I need to do more research.

I’m still not sure about:

What to do about having the diapers sit around until I wash them. [I’d imagine I’d have to do a diaper load every day?]

What to do with the diaper if you’re out and about.

How many to buy before the baby arrives. [What if the brand I like doesn’t agree with the baby for whatever reason?]

Some solutions we’ve discovered:

Using our old washer for diapers only. [We have an extra hook-up in the garage, so we’ll wash the diapers in there and all of our other clothes in our regular washer]

Using bleach-free disposables for a few weeks after the baby arrives to get into a groove before we start cloth diapering. We’ll probably use disposables for traveling, too.

It’s nice to have so many resources in the blog world, and I still have so much to soak up (pun?) and learn 😉

Did you or do you plan to cloth diaper? Any awesome tips or resources I should check out?

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  1. MMalloy on August 23, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Hi Gina…
    Love that you have done so much research and even reached out for info from friends. The thing I have learned about this debate is that most parents who use disposables will tell you 100 reasons they are better and the same with those who use cloth. Go with whatever makes sense for you guys. You will have so much going on that first month. Don’t let others judge you…or make you feel like one is better then the other.
    If you need to switch back and forth depending on what is going on…do it! I know that our LO gets bad rashes so I find switching to a disposable once a week and applying some powder or butter really keeps her happy!

  2. kristinp on August 23, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Two things:
    First, there is a great post with tons of info on cloth diapering at Navigating the Mothership
    Super clear and walks you through lots of issues and deals with many questions.

    Second, (and this is also in the above post, but I think it’s super awesome and wanted to point it out) there is a trial package you can get from Jillian’s Drawers that lets you try out a whole passel of different kinds of diapers to decide which one works best for the bambina and includes the option to return all of them if it turns out cloth diapering isn’t for you. Hooray!

    You are adorableness and good luck! 🙂

  3. Stephanie on August 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I’m not a mom, so definitely read my thoughts with a grain of salt:

    From the moms I know, I’ve heard that you can have a company come in and take care of the diapers for you, and I haven’t heard anything from them about washing them in the washer and mucking up other clothing (they pre-rinse them and then wash them all in one load, I don’t know if they then run the wash again to make sure there isn’t any residue).

    Most of them bring disposables with them when they’re going to be out and about (since you just can’t predict how many times you’ll need to change the little nugget – they like to keep everyone on their toes apparently!)

    It seems like it ranks up there with insurance companies and cell phone contracts – everyone likes theirs and hates the other one lol.

  4. Steph on August 23, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    I have used gDiapers on my son since he was about 3 weeks old. They have their pros and cons, but I mainly chose cloth for the cost benefits. I agree on the gross factor of letting them sit for a couple days. It stinks! I recommend using a wet bag for this, since you can zip it closed and it masks the scent. It’s an overwhelming decision….good luck!!

  5. Julie on August 23, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I’m not a mom, but I totally see where you’re coming from on the gross factor. Having once-poopie diapers in the same machine where I wash my clothes would gross me out too. Poop particles floating all around…ick.

    But to whoever does it, more power to you. You are a far stronger woman than I.

  6. Jenn P on August 23, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    I waffled back and forth about whether to use disposables or cloth for my daughter. I went in with the attitude that we’d use disposables for the first couple of months and then possibly switch to cloth. She started sleeping 10+ straight hours by the time we hit that mark, which cut down our daily diaper usage to 5-6 per day and all of a sudden, shelling out a couple hundred dollars for the diapers, liners, bags, sprayer etc didn’t seem like such a bargain anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I KNOW that we would have saved money over time (assuming that we used them religiously and didn’t fall back on disposables too often), but it just didn’t end up happening.

    I would definitely consider cloth diapering future babies. The things I would need to look into would be water & energy expenditures (both from a financial and environmental standpoint). 300+ extra loads of laundry per year and several extra toilet flushes per day would really accumulate over time!

  7. mary on August 23, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    If you want more mental justification for disposables, here’s my two cents–

    * Costco has good deals. And you’ll be spending less in other areas (restaurants, if you’re like me with a baby) so you can justify it by that, if it helps.

    * Life with a baby can be hard. Some convenience is worth a lot, especially that first 3-6 months (when the diapers are tiny anyway).

    * There are easier ways to help the environment, like drive a 4-cylinder car or a hybrid.

    * You sound serious about a sanitary house. I wouldn’t be keen on spraying out diapers.

    * Water is probably more precious in the desert than landfill space.

    * My MIL has hands knotted up by arthritis which she blames on rinsing diapers for 7 kids! Weak argument, but this is about justification!

    Bear in mind washing diapers was never a consideration for me so I never researched it at all.

  8. Ali on August 23, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    We did cloth diapers for the first year. (FuzziBunz)
    Once she started having bigger poops I stopped. Simple.
    They really were amazing and super cute and she never once has had diaper rash, so that in itself says a lot! Good Luck, whatever you choose will be great!

  9. Annalisa on August 24, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Hey Gina — my advice as a mom of a 3mo. old baby girl — WAIT to buy the diapers!! We bought 12 brand new BG 4.0s and my LO doesn’t fit into them right so they leak 🙁 We’ve tried them 3 times and since she has skinny legs, they leak out the sides. Lots of places let you do a trial run for next to nothing or atleast free 30 day returns. I bought mine all excited at 20 weeks (first baby purchase) and now I’m stuck with $200 in cloth diapers (hello EBay?). I think I’d like to try something else but honestly, I’m loving the 7th Generation disposables which are inexpensive through and subscribe and save.

  10. Tori on August 24, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    From an environmental perspective, I do SO admire those who cloth diaper, but just to play devil’s advocate on the financial issue, I have to say that I think a lot of the costs of disposables out there are pretty inflated. I saved my receipts from birth to fully potty trained and we spent a grand total of… $326.28 on disposable diapers! I should also note that every purchase was Pampers, so it probably could have been more if we had gone the generic route. I didn’t include wipes, because many cloth diapering parents still use disposable wipes. We saved money in a few key ways…

    1. We got some as gifts. That might sound like cheating, but most people walk away from baby showers with a few cases of diapers. Throw in a case here and there from our moms and that covered 3-4 months of overall diaper purchases. I included this because I think most new moms (at least those who register for them) get a pretty hefty amount of diapers from generous friends & family members.

    2. Coupons and bulk buying. I never bought a diaper without AT LEAST a $5 off coupon and always always bought in huge quantities. Manufacturer websites, and our local grocery store “Baby Club” were lifesavers. The savings over time are astronomical if you buy carefully.

    3. My son was partially potty trained by 16 months and fully potty trained by 18 months. I did some research during pregnancy about how the average age of potty training has more than doubled in the last 50 years (from 18 months to about 36 months) and decided that a little hard work combined with my stay-at-home mom status should make it possible to potty train faster than average. It did and it saved us a ton of money!

    Just thought I’d throw that out there!!

    • Tori on August 24, 2011 at 1:11 pm

      *** I meant to say that we probably could have saved more if we’d gone generic…***

  11. Bree on August 24, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I am not a Mom nor am I expecting, but I have thought about this. My neighbor uses cloth so we have discussed them quite often as they are out on the line drying in the spring/summer/fall. Just based on what she told me, they aren’t necessarily cheaper over the course of a year, and definitely not for the 3 month maternity leave time, and for me money is a big issue.

    Also, I will be a working Mom, so knowing that most day cares don’t allow cloth, I guess I haven’t given it a second thought. Finding a great day care will be my #1 concern. If it happens to allow for cloth (unlikely) then I think I will look into them at that time.

    Good luck with your decision!

  12. christine on August 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    I’m not a Mom but I’m an overly proud Auntie and my nephew uses cloth diapers. I was absolutely horrified about changing a diaper and about children in general but I’ve found I have NO problem changing his diapers and now that one of my friends has a baby with disposable diapers…I can say I really prefer the cloth diapers! They actually seem cleaner to me, they’re nicer looking, they are better for the environment, they’re cheaper (even once you factor in the water/washing costs), and they aren’t gross at all, even to this former baby hater who was afraid of even hearing the word diaper. He has various kinds but if I remember correctly the bum genius IS a favourite. you can keep the diapers in wet bags (they make many cute ones of different sizes and patterns) where you can also toss your cloth wipes if you use those. you just keep the bags zipped up and they do not leak or smell at all. you can keep a small wet bag in your diaper bag to put the dirty diaper in while you’re out. again, no smells or leaks. if you have enough diapers, you should not need to do a load of diapers every day. if your diaper inserts get any stains, you can just hang them or lay them in the sun and the stains will be gone…so natural. you shouldn’t use regular baby creams/lotions/diaper rash treatments with the cloth diapers but you can use coconut oil instead with them. also be careful of what laundry detergent you use. I didn’t read the other responses (sorry, no time) so hopefully I didn’t just repeat what everyone else said and hopefully this was somewhat helpful. congratulations, btw!

  13. hippierunner on August 24, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    I’m very hippie so I automatically say cloth. Also, I do have experience with both, since I’ve worked as a nanny for many babies. Cloth is not as inconvenient as you’d think. At home, throw the diaper in the washing machine and do a load once it’s full. Nothing gross about it! Believe me, you’re going to be getting ‘stuff’ in places you wouldn’t even imagine (your clothes, carpet, etc..that’s just part of having a kid), so just realize that and be relaxed about it. Make sure you do a ton of research about which diapers to buy, the ones I’ve dealt with have leaked more often than not. But it is totally worth it all to NOT be making a ton of trash. Even if you use disposable, you’d still have the dirty diaper sitting around somewhere..And when out and about, just carry a huge Ziploc baggie to keep the diaper in until you get home! Don’t be overwhelmed- you can do it!! 🙂

  14. Sara on August 25, 2011 at 1:39 am

    My husband and I will be cloth diapering our bebe. We will be using disposables for about a month or two, mostly because the cloth we have probably won’t fit her quite right immediately. We also went with BumGenius one size, but we got the pockets, not the all in ones. They are super easy though. Overall I have heard almost nothing bad about BumGenius (there are of course always going to be a few naysayers).

    I will probably get a small wetbag to carry with me when doing daily errands and then we also haven’t figured out exactly what we will do on longer trips. I’m hoping to not use disposables on them but, depending on where we go and what sort of washer and dryer we have available we might have to. No big deal!

    Also, I ordered when BumGenius was having a sale, buy 5 get 1 free. So we got a total of 18 diapers, which I’m hoping means I only have to wash every other day, or possibly every day for the first few months.

  15. Shan on August 26, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I debated cloth versus disposable for most of my pregnancy. My husband and I decided to start with disposables while we got used to life with baby and revisit the idea of cloth once things settled down. I was constantly talking to other moms to get their opinions and anyone using cloth seemed to rave about it. At 3 months we decided we needed to make a decision either way and I absorbed all the information I could from the internet, other moms, etc. After much thought we decided to take the plunge and go for the cloth diapers… and I couldn’t be happier!

    I went with the “Flip” diapers which are made by the same company as Bum Genius. I was sold on BG, but the store I purchased them from convinced me to go with the Flip and I am so glad I did. They are about half the price and allow for more flexibility. They come with a cover and insert so you only need to change the insert when she pees (you change the whole diaper when they poo). This allows for the cost savings as the cover is the most expensive part and you need about half as many covers as inserts with this system. They also have disposable inserts that you can use while travelling. The wet bags also work great for storing and masking the smell. I have 3 bags (a large one for her nursery and 2 smallers ones for when I am out). This way I always have one available if the rest are line drying. I line dry all the inserts, covers, and bags to conserve energy.

    The main reason I made the choice to go cloth is because it is more natural against my baby’s skin. Cost savings and environment came after for me, but are also HUGE advantages. I was nervous to switch because I was so used to the convenience of disposable, but honestly it wasn’t difficult at all! I’ll probably start cloth much earlier with my next one, but I don’t think I could have done it for the first month or two. You will be amazed at how much laundry you are doing once she arrives, but once you get used to it and start getting more sleep, washing the diapers will not be as overwhelming! Also, because my little girl was pooping after almost every feed at first, the “Flip” system probably wouldn’t have worked for me in the beginning because I wouldn’t have had enough covers.

    Good luck on your decision. I know how hard it can be! Just know that if you are commited to cloth it really isn’t that difficult!

  16. Megan on August 27, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    We’re totally main stream and used cloth diapers until my son started to potty train. We LOVED LOVED BumGenius, and your friend is right on about the organic ones that snap. Velco is nice when they are squirmy, but snaps last the longest. We have uber cute “wetbags” for the diapers while we are out and about, and we have a really large one for holding the dirty diapers until cleaning day. We washed ours every other day so we would have a full load, and it always worked out really well, and I didn’t get overwhelmed with it. My son was VERY difficult- Didn’t sleep, had terrible poops, cried all the time, was always underweight, etc (he had celiac disease :(), and I never once questioned cloth vs. posies. Disposibles are expensive, full of chemicals his little body def. didn’t need, and I would have to run to the store to get more or wait on instead of just tossing a load in the washer. If you’re able to nurse your LO, cleaning them is You’re going to love it. The bumgenius fit best once the babies hit about 8lbs, so we used posies at first. We never had a problem with fit, but many people don’t with one size Bumgenius. So many size options!!! Good luck!! We even preferred using cloth to travel 🙂

  17. Morgan on August 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    I’m impressed that you’ve even considered cloth. I am a younger-mom (22), and have a 9 month old that I cloth diaper. We did not start out cloth-diapering initially, although we intended to, we got a HUGE pack of Pampers as a shower gift, and our small daughter didn’t fit into the cloth diapers that we had. We started when she was a month old (when she finally fit into some of them!) and didn’t actually cloth diaper full time until she was almost 3 months old. I understand the reluctance with the washer issue, but it’s not that bad. I have no experience on formula-fed babies, but breastfed babies poo is liquid, and water-soluble, and washes out in the washer. Also, can I ask what you would do if you’re baby had a blow-out and got poo on his/her clothes? Would you throw them away? Would it gross you out too much to put them in your washer? Because it happens, and blow-outs (in my experience) happened more often with disposables or ‘sposies as they’re called in cloth diapering groups. Let me leave you with my experience with disposables, I was using cloth at home, but the pampers we had when we were out and about, as I didn’t yet have a wetbag. I changed my daughter’s diaper when we got to the store, and put the Moby wrap on, and put her in it. Walking around old navy browsing, I felt something fall onto my foot, and looked up (thinking the ceiling was leaking), then looked down to see poo leaking out of daughters diaper, down her leg, down my jeans, onto my sandal/foot. I’m not promising that cloth diapers don’t leak, but I find that they hold a lot more than disposables, and can be much cuter. If you don’t plan on having to bring 2-3 changes of clothes for your little one, as well as a change of clothes for yourself, then I would definitely recommend cloth! Good luck in your decision!

  18. Shea on August 27, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    I absolutely love cloth diapering. There are many “easy” cloth diapers available these days and you can always find a solution to fit your family’s needs. For me I loved having prefolds (and i will admit after 2 years of cloth diapering and 2 girls, I still only know one fold for my prefolds. But that one fold has seen us through breast milk poo that used to explode up the back of a disposable), snappis, and a good cover with gussets like these Thirsties ( from Green Mountain Diapers. But then my sister (who is a recent cloth diaper convert for baby #3) discovered these Cloth-eez Workhorse fitteds (, also found on Green Mountain Diapers, and I too fell in LOVE! All cotton makes for less chances of baby reacting badly, the “soaker” is sewn on in a way that makes it super easy to clean and dry faster, and of course they are simple and cute too. You say you want to use your old washer for your diapers, is it a top loader? Because I have found that using a top loader for washing diapers is ideal. I have 2 girls under 2 and we cloth diaper full time, the oldest made her way into cloth at 10 weeks because we just could not afford to buy disposables, my youngest has worn cloth on her bottom since day 1. We have used a little bit of every style out there and I know what works for us. We use a mixture of gDiapers ( which is a cloth diaper hybrid system, our Workhorse fitteds, some hemp prefolds, Thirsties covers, and wool covers. We use an old trash can, with a lid, and put our dirty diapers in there (I use a Bum Genius diaper sprayer to rinse off poop from my older daughter, and my younger daughter is exclusively breast fed so her poop is water soluble), we wash every 2-3 days. We do a cold rinse, a Hot wash (with soap, we use Tide original), and 2 full Hot cycles to rinse thoroughly because I have a front loader and it is stingy with the water. I line dry most of the time, because it is great for getting the stains out of the diapers and leaves them sparkling white. We use a waterproof bag called a “wet bag” that has a zipper or velcro for our dirties when we are out and about, and I will be honest, I just open it up and throw it in the diaper pail when we get home and let it go through the wash that way, the dirties get agitated out of there and I don’t have to reach my hand in. Cloth diapering is a way of life, but it also doesn’t need to be hard. Sometimes we just over-think it and that makes it seem scary. Good luck making your decision.

  19. Sarah on August 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Neither environmental nor cost considerations are quite as clear as they would initially seem in the cloth vs disposable diaper debate. You have to figure in the environmental (and cost) impact of cleaning the cloth ones. And there are relatively Eco-friendly disposable options. I found my favorite go-to environmental issues website helpful to educating myself on this issue. Here’s one of several links:

  20. Dominique on August 29, 2011 at 2:11 am

    My parents cloth-diapered my two brothers and I and when they were out and about, they just used disposables because it was easier–and less messy. Even though I’m far away from having a baby of my own, I really like the re-usable one above because they didn’t have those styles back in my newborn days. I’m pretty sure my parents just made their own with some cotton cloth pieces.

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