Reusable Cloth Diapers: What you need to know

A problem faced by the world today is the huge amount of disposable products which enter the global waste stream on a daily basis. There is a single use epidemic everywhere from coffee cups to sanitary products and it is killing our planet!! We need to do something about this and one great way is to start accessing reusable versions of the same products we know and love like diapers (or nappies if like me you’re from the UK). In this article we’re going to cover some cloth diapers available today and how the different types compare to help you make a switch, even if it’s only temporary 🙂 It’s always better to try eco-friendly life style choices out for a while to see if they are a good fit for you and if not don’t worry! There are plenty of other ways you can live green!

Why choose cloth?

Cloth diapers have been around for years, long before the disposable alternatives were invented and widely available. They were a big hit when they were first manufactured but after decades of use and millions of diapers it’s now becoming clear that this “innovation” has actually made quite a mess. This is where cloth sanitation has the advantage!

Here are some benefits:

  • They are much more eco friendly than disposable diapers
  • You can save a lot of money having a set of cloth diapers as opposed to buying packs of disposables
  • If you are using them with your growing children they can often be adjusted to stay comfortable and appropriate as they grow
  • Cloth diapers don’t contain harmful chemicals such as bleaches and chemical perfumes like many disposable brands do.

So as you can see there are many benefits to making the switch to the stitch! (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist that one). However, I am aware that making a big change in lifestyle is not necessarily the easiest thing. There are so many options and new phrases and ideas and it can all get very over-whelming!

Fear not fellow eco warriors, we’re going to break it all down so you can get all the relevant information to make your decision:)

Where do I start?

It can all be very over-whelming starting out in anything new but it helps to have guidance along the way 🙂

First of all there are several common varieties of cloth diapers to choose from:

  • Flats and Pre-folds
  • Pocket
  • All-in-ones
  • Hybrids

Each has their own benefits and you’ll find the right fit for you and your needs with a little trial and error so don’t worry about committing to the “wrong” brand or design as there is no one right way for everyone. Let’s break these down a little further so you can get a better idea of which design would suit your needs best.

Flats and Pre-folds are very simple. The oldest design by far, these are the diapers of antiquity used as long as the concept of diapers has been around! They are most commonly a piece of cloth or other fabric about the size of an average dish/tea towel that can be folded and clipped in place to suit any size. The modern variant then has a water-proof cover over them to prevent unwanted absorbency. Their main benefits are that they are easy to wash, quick to dry and inexpensive, however they do require more effort to use correctly than other designs as it is on you to do most of the design yourself to suit the situation.

Pocket diapers are a popular choice. These designs are composed of a waterproof exterior and inside pockets to place absorbent inserts. The main benefits of this variety are: they are relatively eco-friendly (depending on the inserts used), the insert system means that absorbency can be adjusted for individual needs making this variety more adaptable to the individual than other designs. The main draw-backs of these designs are that the inserts often have to be removed and replaced manually which can be unhygienic and unpleasant. One way to get around this is to use a Sleeve design variant which has a pocket in both the front and the back as some of these brands have been designed to allow the inserts to agitate out from the pockets when washed without manual handling.

All-in-ones are very similar to a disposable product in that they have no removable sections or inserts. These designs focus mainly on convenience as they can be thrown in the wash whole with little to no preparation or fuss. However due to their lack of flexibility they are not as versatile as some other designs and they can be expensive as you will need enough to keep on a rotation while others are being washed.

Hybrid diapers are also a popular choice due to their versatility. A hybrid diaper is usually made up of a water-proof “shall” or outer layer and removable inserts which can be secured inside the shell and removed when soiled. The inserts are then free to be thrown in the wash and if the shall has remained clean (which doesn’t always happen) then it can be used again without needing to be washed itself. The main advantages of this design are that they are eco-friendly due to the reusable nature of both the shells and the inserts and you don’t need to buy a huge amount of products to make this a practical choice unlike some designs.

What do you think?

There you have it, cloth care 101 🙂 Cloth diapers are an innovative solution to the pressure disposables are putting on our planet and they are a growing market with lots of variety and choice. Have you found this article helpful? We certainly hope so and we would love to hear from you in the comments below! Please tell us about your experiences with cloth diapering and if you have any tips feel free to share them and help others 🙂

Note: Whilst most of these designs and products are aimed at parents and children it should also be noted that there are also brands which cater to adult sanitation needs such as Protecta and Blankencare.