Odds are, as soon as you tell your friends and family you are planning to cloth diaper, you will have the pleasure of hearing exactly how everyone feels about your choice. There are so many cloth diaper myths floating around, and many of them give people pause about the entire idea of cloth diapering.
In this article, we are going to debunk seven cloth diaper myths and discuss why each of them is untrue. Here are the top seven myths about cloth diapering:
- You can clean cloth diapers just by washing them in vinegar (or hot water, or…)
- They can be stripped by boiling them.
- Cloth diapering is complicated.
- You can’t cloth diaper older toddlers.
- Cloth diapered babies will never potty train.
- Cloth diapering is expensive.
- Cloth diapers need to be soaked between washes to remove solids.
We’ll start with the first cleaning myth because we hear this one so often.
1. You Can Clean Cloth Diapers Just By Washing Them In Vinegar (or hot water, or…)
I always wonder exactly how this one got started because a simple trial and error will debunk this myth QUICK.
What many people don’t realize is that modern washers, combined with hot water, do the majority of the work when it comes to washing clothes and diapers. That being said, it could possibly take you a few weeks or even months to notice that your clothes aren’t getting completely cleaned.
So, here’s the sciency stuff: Laundry detergent contains something called surfactants. Surfactants are made up molecules that attach to both water and dirt/grease. The agitation of your washer and the items contained within shake the dirt/grease particles into smaller pieces and the surfactants remove them from the fibers of your clothes or diapers.
Hot water will remove some of the dirt/grease on your diapers and clothing. Detergent will remove some as well. However, it is the combination of hot water, detergent and agitation that give you the trifecta of clean.
To properly clean your diapers, you need to add enough detergent to allow the surfactants to grab all of the ammonia, fecal matter and diaper cream particles from your diapers. In other words, no, a teaspoon of anything won’t do it.
Debunking the Myth
Because vinegar (or essential oils, or plain hot water, or anything else you’ve heard) contains no surfactant, it is not possible to completely clean your diapers using this method. There is NO replacement for laundry detergent.
2. They Can Be Stripped By Boiling Them
Unlike the first myth, this one does have a touch of background.
Modern-day washing machines and laundry detergent are a far cry from what they were even a few decades ago. Water quality, in general, has changed, and hundreds of laundry detergent options are readily available.
Before that was the case, there were other methods of caring for laundry. Boiling cloth diapers became popular, partially because the design and components of cloth diapers were very different and partially because the options were very limited.
Boiling is NOT an effective method of stripping your cloth diapers in any way. If you choose to boil your diapers, there is a very real and likely risk that you will destroy the elastics, delaminate your PUL (the waterproof layer of your diapers) and/or melt and destroy snaps, fiber content and more.
Need to remove buildup in your cloth diapers?
Debunking the Myth
Boiling your diapers won’t strip them, but it will harm them. Not only do you run the real risk of rendering your diapers unusable, but you will also void your manufacturer warranty too. Just say no to boiling.
3. Cloth Diapering Is Complicated
Again, another myth that has a touch of background.
Several decades ago, cloth diapers were constructed very differently. Long pieces of fabric had to be folded several times and pinned to create a diaper shape. Waterproof linings didn’t always work very well, the entire system was bulky, and washing was less than convenient.
However, modern cloth diapers have come so far and look almost nothing like what your grandmother probably remembers. All In One cloth diapers require only one simple step with no parts or pieces. They are the closest in concept to a disposable diaper, aside from washing it rather than throwing it away.
Hybrid cloth diapers have shells and soaker pads that snap together. As long as there are no solids present, simply replace the soaker pad, put the shell back on baby and go.
There are many different cloth diaper styles, and they are all significantly different from styles of the past. Modern cloth diapers are easy to use, easy to clean and easy to bring on the go.
Debunking the Myth
Learning about the current cloth diaper styles and visiting your local cloth diaper retailer will help you get a better understanding of how much cloth diapers have changed. Some may remember older styles that were slightly complicated, but modern cloth diapers are much improved and so simple.
4. You can’t cloth diaper older toddlers.
While it is true that until recently it was slightly more difficult, it is absolutely untrue that you can’t cloth diaper older toddlers.
Thirsties Size Three Duo Wraps will fit babies and toddlers 40-65+ lbs and are a great solution for diapering beyond 24 months. The Size Three Duo Wraps are designed in the same style and with the same features as the Size One and Two Duo Wraps, but with a larger weight allowance for older babies.
GroVia Toddler Sized Prefolds are also a great addition to the Thirsties Size Three Duo Wraps. Prefolds can offer the absorbency older babies need and also allow you to add a booster or two if needed. And because cloth diapering is so versatile, you can also choose to save your newborn or infant prefolds to use as extra absorbency for your older babies.
Debunking the Myth
More often than not, when we hear ‘you can’t…’ in reference to cloth diapering, it’s simply a case of misinformation. Cloth diapering is possible for a very wide range of developmental stages and body types with the right products.
#funfact I recently helped a client cloth diaper a baby goat. Yes, seriously. In other words, get in touch before you decide that there are limits to cloth diapering.
5. Cloth diapered babies will never potty train.
The best part about this myth is that in fact, the opposite is true. Cloth diapered babies are more likely to potty train earlier than those in disposable diapers.
The chemicals in disposable diapers pull moisture away from baby’s body so that they always feel dry. This is counterintuitive when potty training because if your baby doesn’t feel wet, they will have a harder time recognizing when they need to use the potty.
Babies who are cloth diapered will feel wet and will be able to build the connection between a wet diaper and needing to use the potty much faster. Cloth trainers are also a natural segway and will help baby to adjust to potty training more smoothly.
Debunking the Myth
Investing in cloth diapers and cloth trainers will limit your potty training struggles and help baby to make those important connections. Not only is it untrue that cloth diapered babies will never potty train, but they actually have a slight advantage compared to babies using disposable diapers.
6. Cloth diapering is expensive.
This is another case of the opposite being true. Cloth diapering gets a bad rep for being ‘expensive’ for two reasons: initial investment and misconceptions about long-term savings.
Your initial cloth diaper investment can range anywhere from $300 to $700, depending on the brands and styles you choose. Although this initial investment costs more than a single box of disposable diapers, consider your cost over time.
Using cloth diapers can save parents anywhere from $1500 to $3000 per child. Using the same cloth diapers for multiple children can double or even triple that savings, given that you will only make that initial investment once if you properly care for your diapers.
Cloth diapering can save parents thousands and many are even able to sell their cloth diapers once they are no longer using them. Many retailers accept used cloth diapers for store credit. Organizations like The Rebecca Foundation also accept used cloth diapers to later lend to families in need.
Debunking the Myth
When compared to disposable diapers, cloth diapers win the cost battle easily. Choosing disposable diapers can leave your family spending anywhere from $1800 to $3500, depending on your child’s age at potty training. Keep your long-term savings and expense in mind when deciding whether to use cloth diapers.
#protip You can build your cloth diaper collection slowly to help spread your initial investment over the course of several months. Many of our clients opt for gift cards in lieu of diapers for their baby showers or purchase a few diapers at a time for the length of their pregnancy.
7. Cloth diapers need to be soaked between washes to remove solids.
We hear this frequently in the boutique, and you will hear this advice from us every single time: don’t.
Do not soak your diapers between washes.
I’m going to take a second to express the seriousness of this advice. Drowning is the number one cause of accidental death in children between the ages of one and four. It can and has happened in tubs of water left unattended. Do not leave your diapers to soak between washes.
No, it doesn't matter if you choose a small bucket or large tub.
No, it doesn’t matter if you really really think your soaking water is out of the way of baby.
If you need a second reason not to leave your diapers to soak, consider that standing water with sopping wet diapers containing urine and feces is also a bacteria farm. This situation can cause stink issues, wear on your fibers and elastic and, for many brands, void your diaper’s warranty.
Let’s look at some alternatives. GroVia Bioliners are easy to use and help to remove solids without spraying or soaking. Bioliners are about half the thickness of a dryer sheet and lay on the inside of your diaper. Solids stay on top of your liner, liquids pass through to the absorbent material in your diaper, and then the liner can be thrown away.
If Bioliners don’t work for your lifestyle, you can invest in a quality diaper sprayer. Just spray solids off into your toilet and flush. Once the solids are removed, you can wash your diapers with your normal routine, no soaking required.
Debunking the Myth
A good wash routine, access to clean water and a quality laundry detergent are the only ingredients you need to keep your diapers clean. Bioliners and diaper sprayers are easy to use and effective methods of removing solids on your diapers. And because three is a magic number, I have to say it one more time.
Do NOT leave your diapers to soak between washes.
Many parents are turned off by cloth diapers simply due to misinformation or outdated information. In fact, we started this blog to ensure that we separate the good information from the bad whenever we possibly can.
I know it seems like your child will never potty train. (As I write this, my toddler is currently removing all her clothes for the sake of proving that she doesn’t need pants to leave the house. Trust me, I get it. I’m not even going to fight about the Superman costume her brother chose. No judgment.)
I know it can seem like you don’t need any more laundry. (Don’t even ask about my laundry situation. I mean… are they manufacturing more clothes in their rooms to later get dirty? I literally cannot understand.)
But, cloth diapering is easy, can save you money, and is more versatile than you think. Sometimes, you just need to ask a few questions, find the style that fits your lifestyle and get acquainted with parents who get it.
Have you heard any other cloth diaper myths? We’d love for you to share your favorite with us in the comments.