Yes, I use cloth diapers. No, I don’t wear Birkenstocks…

Or eat a whole lot of tofu or anything else really stereotypically “hippy-ish” (not that there is anything wrong with being a hippy!  I love me some hippies).  I also don’t soak those poop infested diapers in a wet pail, or have to fold squares of fabric and fasten them ever so carefully with safety pins that look anything but “safe” when headed straight toward your squiggling baby’s bum.  Again, nothing wrong with this old school method of cloth diapering, but what I’m saying is that cloth diapering has come a LONG way from those old stereotypes.  And, unfortunately, in this world that is run by the marketing and advertising dollars from big companies like Proctor & Gamble, I’m afraid that these are the images that are conjured up in most people’s minds when they hear the words “cloth diapers”.  I’m here to try to set the record straight… or at least tell why we chose to cloth diaper and how it’s working for us.  I’m not saying that it’s for everyone, but I think everyone with a baby owes it to themselves and their child to at least strongly consider it.

The first thing we heard from a lot of people, especially our parent’s generation, when we said we planned to cloth diaper was, “WHY???” ::insert confused, you must have three heads look here::  Because they HAD  to cloth diaper, and it wasn’t pretty.  Our parents were, well, they were butt ass broke when they had us and did not have the luxury of using the fancy schmancy disposables.  I have memories of my mom swishing dirty cloth pre-fold diapers (the kind most people use for burp cloths these days) around a toilet bowl to wash off the poop.  She has vivid memories, too.  I think that’s mainly why she was so confused as to why we would CHOOSE to do this.  I had to explain to her that while people still use pre-folds, there are so many more options out there.  And with the advancement of more efficient washing machines, wet pails and washing in the toilet are a thing of the past.

We chose to cloth diaper for a few reasons:

1.  The environmental impact.  I’m not really interested in getting into a debate over whether the water used to wash them is worse than the amount of time it would take cloth diapers to degrade in a landfill.  Here’s what I know/believe to be true – it can take up to 500 years for a diaper to degrade in a landfill,  I end up doing approx. three extra loads of laundry a week to wash diapers.  In my opinion, I’d rather use the extra water and try to make up for it in other ways by saving water elsewhere than send thousands of diapers to the landfill every year.

According to my own calculations, based on our personal diaper usage, we would use approx. 3,130 diapers the first year.  That’s based on 12 diapers a day the first month, 10 a day for month two and three and 8 a day for the remaining 9 months out of the year.  The following years we would use 2,880 each year.  I would also venture to guess that each diaper weighs close to half a pound when full  (on average), so that’s 1,565 lbs. of waste the first year and 1,440 lbs. each additional year we are responsible for that is not recyclable.  From what I’ve read and heard, it takes most boys in disposables about three years to potty train, so by the end of it, we’ve sent 8,892 diapers to the landfill, weighing in at 4,446 lbs.  (Please allow me to interject here that this is all very fuzzy math and I’m not claiming to be precise by any means… more of an approximation).  That is almost two and a half tons!!  Is that right?  Hold on… I have to go back and do the math again because, admittedly, this is the first time I’ve added this up and that just seems crazy…….  Yup… it adds up.  Holy shit!

We would be sending the equivalent of a baby blue whale calf to the landfill! And that’s just for one kid.  And contrary to the popular belief of many of those attending the RNC this week, we DO believe in global warming.  I guess this will be our way of making up to Mother Nature for the assholes chanting, “DRILL BABY DRILL” (excuse me while I gag a little).  Now, please don’t believe that you have to be a hyper ec0-friendly tree hugger to embrace cloth diapers.  We try our best to do our part, but we aren’t perfect by any means.  Sometimes lights stay on a little too long, sometimes not everything gets recycled, we couldn’t splurge on the non VOC paint for the new house, and I still drive a gas guzzling SUV that we can’t justify replacing right now (an impulse buy three years ago before I was hip to the save the earth movement), but using cloth diapers is an easy lifestyle choice for us, and something we can feel good about while working on improving on all those other little and big things.

Oh, and let me say that I personally believe that I would be replacing at least one of those loads of laundry with a load of baby clothes if we did use disposable diapers because every freaking time Kendall is in a disposable he has a crazy poop explosion that somehow manages to project shit up his back and damn near on his shoulders while simultaneously avoiding a large spot on his lower back.  Weird… weird and gross.  I have NEVER had a poop blowout in a cloth diaper, and can usually make it through a whole day in one outfit (unless it’s otherwise spit up on).

2. No yucky chemicals.  Seriously.  Diaper rash has to SUCK.  After my run in with contact dermatitis from the evil Always pads, I can’t imagine how awful a constant case of diaper rash must be.  And I had the coordination and physical development to be able to scratch my own ass.  Ugh.  Sitting around in a diaper, full of chemicals that are making you break out, screaming at the top of your lungs in baby talk, trying to make people understand that “WhaAAAhahaaaAAAA!!” really means, “Somebody stick a chopstick down my diaper and!” has got to be so infuriating.  Unfortunately, we can’t keep Kendall in cloth diapers all the time.  We travel about a week out of every month and haven’t quite mastered the art of travelling with a weeks worth of soiled diapers.  So for that week Kendall has to rock the disposables.  Without fail, each and every time, no matter the brand, they give him a diaper rash.  It kills me 🙁  I don’t have the time or the energy to do the research for you and link you up (although I had the best of intentions when starting this post), but I do encourage you to do some research of your own on what chemicals are being used in those freakishly absorbent disposables and some of the side effects that are now being linked to them.

3.  The money savings.  Though this isn’t as substantial as it could be right now since we are using a more expensive brand/type of cloth diapers, I anticipate it will grow as we either use the diapers on future children or sell them and re-coup some of the cost. Here is a breakdown of our costs so far:

Newborn size diaper rental package (read more about this in next entry) – $100 ($220 for rental – $120 store credit when returned)
Covers for NB size diapers – $60
19 One size diapers and two covers (for my two fitteds) that we will use now through potty training and hopefully on another child – approx. $400
24 cloth wipes (another way to save $$ and the earth!) – $16
2 small wetbags to put in diaperbag to carry soiled diapers back home – $30
1 large wetbag to put dirty diapers in between laundry loads – $18
1 step lid trashcan to hold wetbag and diapers – $13
1 spray bottle to hold solution of water and a few drops of baby shampoo to wet cloths for diaper cleanup- $1

Total – $638

(I will say that we do hope to add about 6 more diapers to our “stash” eventually, but we are getting by just fine on the diapers we have now)

Now, I know what some of you may be thinking.  That’s a lot of $$! But keep in mind that this is a one time expense that will last us for 2-3 years and hopefully through more than one child.  When we have Kendall in disposables, we find he does best in Pampers Swaddlers Sensitive.  Those run about $42 for a 180 pack of size 1s at Target and $42 for a 152 pack of size 2s and 3s.

(Okay, bear with me here… here comes some more math).  So for month one and two when he was in size ones we could have spent close to $154 on diapers for 3.7 packs of 180 (this is all based on my fuzzy math from earlier, using 371 diapers the first month and 300 diapers the second month).  He moved into size 2s month three, and I anticipate he would be a size two or three the rest of the year.  So that’s an anticipated cost of an additional $672 on diapers for the rest of the year (figuring we would use close to 16 cases of size 2s and 3s).  The total for disposable diapers alone for the first year would equal approx. $826.  That doesn’t even calculate in the cost of disposable wipes (and I’m not even going to go there because my brain just can’t compute this much information right now).  So, in the first year alone, we’ve saved $188, but we will be saving at least $800 each additional year we use the cloth diapers, for a potential total savings of approx. $1,800 for just Kendall!  That’s one hell of a way to start a college fund.

Certainly there are much cheaper routes for disposables than Pampers Swaddlers Sensitives, and I’m sure you can use coupons or buy in bulk online for more of a discount.  But to that effect, there are also much cheaper cloth diapering options.  I will talk about the types of diapers we use and the costs more in my next entry, but we chose one of the more expensive cloth diapers because we found them to be convenient and they fit our lifestyle.  However, as it turns out, people do still use those old fashioned pre-folds with covers and it’s a great, in-expensive option that has also come a long way since our parent’s generation used them.  First, the options for covers are endless.  No more nasty plastic pants.  Your kid’s butt could be the most stylish in the sandbox thanks to work at home moms who list their creations on websites like  Second, you don’t have to deal with those crazy scary diaper pins anymore!  Check out these Snappis! If you are really looking into cloth diapering to save major cash, this is the way to go.  For a great tutorial and wonderful pre-folds, go to

Okay, since this post is RIDICULOUSLY long, I’m breaking it up into two parts.  I will try to get the second half done this weekend where I will talk more specifics.  Feel free to ask me any questions and I’ll try to include the response either in part two or in the comments section of this post or the next.

4 months and 2 days old!

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  1. Thank you thank you thank you for posting this. I’m eagerly awaiting part two! I won’t bombard you with questions yet, since they’ll probably be answered in part two. 🙂

  2. You forgot reason #4 – cloth diapers are SO MUCH CUTER than disposables! I hate to admit it, but thats one of the main reasons I want to try and stick with cloth diapers. Yes, your reasons are BETTER, but I’m a sucker for cute.

  3. Thank you for this post. MH and I have been going round and round about this issue. I knew the benefits but yours is so well laid out, I’m going to send him the link. I totally want to CD and am committed to making it work. I can’t wait for part 2!!!

  4. Yea ! I was waiting for you to post something again. You know, we actually considered cloth diapers when James was born due to our horrific financial situation..but I decided to veto the idea when I heard the horror stories from our parents generation. I should have looked into it more…it appears to have changed alot.

  5. I am so pro-cloth diaper, it’s not even funny, and all my friends (including the hippyish ones) think I’m nuts for considering anything but disposable. I’m so happy to read this – in fact I will have to bookmark it for when we are lucky enough to see two lines, or a plus sign, or anything else indicating pregnancy. Thanks for posting! By the way, I have had the same gnarly contact dermatitis myself, also from an Evil Always Pad.

  6. Thank you so much for posting this info…I’ve really been wanting to do this and it’s great to get some first-hand insight…

  7. Can’t wait for part dos! Thanks for posting this. I’m due in Feb and my hubby and I are really interested in using cloth. Looking forward to finding out what brand you like–was it the first you tried or did you do trial runs on different brands? I’ve heard good things about BumGenius and gDiaper. Also, does the diaper pail stink up the house? Do you dump the poop in the toilet? What is the whole process? Sorry for all the questions!

  8. Jill,
    Thank you so much for posting this! I am interested to hear what diapers you use. I have been spending the last week researching (seriously I think I spent less time studying for college finals) and I’m even more confused now than I was before and I only have 6 more weeks to figure it out until I’m thrown into real life diapering! I don’t hug trees but the landfill factor is astonishing. Can’t wait for your next post 🙂

  9. Hey, thanks, your post convinced DH that if/when we have a baby, we should CD. Now, we just have to get our current laundry under control… 😉

  10. I have been considering cloth diapers on and off since we found out that we were expecting. But I have met nothing but resistance from DH and everyone else that I have talked to about it. At this point, we aren’t going to have the money to get going with cloth diapers (even if I could talk DH into it) before Carter gets here, but it isn’t something that I am completely counting out.

    So the part that DH is completely hung up on is what you do with the dirty diapers. He has this horrible picture of having to dump the poop into the toilet and that it will be completely disgusting. How do you guys “process” your dirty diapers?

    Thank you for posting this.

  11. Yea! I am glad to read about your cloth diapering, we are planning to w/our baby in a few months and so far people have been very supportive. I am so in love with the ones that I have already gotten and I look forward to completing our stash in the coming months. I hope that posts like yours encourage people to at least consider cloth diapers.

  12. I had a prof. in college who broke down how long it takes for things to breakdown in landfills. Because of new technologies with landfills, more airation, it taken a plastic diaper approximately 35 years to decompose. I teach this to my students, we do the math, if every woman in NYC had 1 baby…… and we calculate how many diapers. Bravo for calculating the weight too!!

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  15. Thanks for the article. I have thought about using Cloth Diapers when I have a child, and upon doing research found your article. I am a “modern hippy” at heart, lol. I know my friends will think i’m nuts for using cloth, but I just love the idea of it…

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  19. sorry… but i feel like you grossly over estimated the cost of diapering with disposables. my daughter is currently 16 months, and she wears size fours (the get more expensive per case the bigger in size they are). we use target brand, which have been great (no leaks, cheap, cute) and the size she is currently in come in a box of 124 for 17.50 (reg $20, but if you buy 2 you get a $5 gift card, which we put towards the next purchase)….. she goes through approximately 6 diapers a day. If you work out the numbers, that is just barely over $300 a year, and that’s for the size fours which we JUST started wearing. Maddy starts potty training on June 1st, and we plan to have her trained by 18 months, but even if she’s not… it would take almost THREE full years for the amnt of $$ you spent on cloth diapering to pay for itself.

    Now, I dont have anything against cloth diapering, and am actually strongly considering it for our next child for several reason, of which is cost…. we plan to have, God willing, 6 or more children, so in the long run cloth diapering would more than pay for itself. But still… your argument sounds less credible with such gross over estimates.

    Love your blog, this is the first time i have disagreed with you…. rock on!

    • Thanks for the feedback! I’ll be the first to admit that those were really rough estimates. At the time, though, Kendall was already super sensitive to disposable diapers and I wasn’t sure how he’d react to generics, so it was based off of the cost of the one brand I knew he could tolerate. I think I even mentioned that that cost could be much less if coupons and generics were used. I also wrote this when he was really young and going through many more diapers than an older baby was, so yes, my perception was a bit skewed. I really do appreciate you chiming in with your calculations.

  20. Great post! I know I’m way late to the game, but I just stumbled on your blog from
    I just want to jump in on the water issue. I am super keen on saving water, but it’s always helpful to remember the water used to CREATE the conveniences we love. Like the 5 liters of water it takes to create a single liter of bottled water. So yes, you’re probably using more water in your household by cloth diapering, but think of all the energy, resources, and yes, water, you are saving from being wasted in disposable diaper manufacturing!
    I’ve always wanted to cloth diaper and you are helping to reassure me it’s the right choice. Thanks!

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