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Cloth Diapering 101 {Why Use Cloth}

This is the first post of a series I will be doing on how and why to cloth diaper.  Make sure you sign up for our e-mail list (over on the right) so you don’t miss out! 

Cloth Diapers

“EWWW!” Is that what you were just saying in your head when you read “cloth diapering 101”? I swear it’s not as gross as you think! In fact, cloth diapers have come a long way since our Grandma cloth diapered our parents. Promise! Before I get deep into my long winded post, I need you to understand that if you don’t cloth diaper, I am NOT judging you. I totally get it if it’s just not for you. I really really do. It is something that I am passionate about for my family. And I love sharing information about it.

To start off, watch the video below. This alone might make you start cloth diapering.

The Dirties on Diapering

And here is a short article on cloth diapering that sums up everything in a nutshell.

That article and video are what sold it for me. What sold it for my husband? The fact that you spend over $2,000 a year on disposable diapers and we could avoid that!

In short, cloth diapers are natural, better for the environment, save money, and they’re really cute! I actually think I need to join a cloth diapering anonymous group because I am ADDICTED! That’s right – my name is Ashley and I’m an addict.   Before we even started talking about starting a family, I started following a good friends blog. Homemade Mothering is crunchy, all natural and an all around awesome blog. Plus, Maureen couldn’t be a sweeter person. I originally started reading because I loved her recipes. Then, she started posting about cloth diapers because she had her first baby.  If you checked out her blog already you’ll see she’s come a long way! I feel like I’ve watched her grow over the years. She went from one baby to three AND she started her own cloth diaper company! It’s probably safe to say that Terra Baby is her 4th baby. I have yet to try these diapers, but there are no doubts in my mind that this is a well-made, adorable diaper.


  • It can take an average of 300 plus years for one disposable diaper to decompose and around 95% of ALL disposables end up in landfills?
  • Disposables create more than 50 times the amount of solid waste that cloth does, twice as much water just in the manufacturing process, and use up to 20 times more raw materials (like crude oil) also in the manufacturing process.
  • The frequency of diaper rash jumped up 70% when disposable diapers were introduced to the market. This is related to the chemicals in disposables and their absorbing power causing babies and toddlers to sit in a dirty diaper for longer periods of time.
  • A 1999 study briefed in the Archives of Environmental Health linked disposable diapers to asthma and eye/nose/throat irritations.
  • The plastic lining in disposable diapers has been linked to both testicular cancer and male infertility in several studies.


Sure, there are chemicals in a lot of things we use, but are you ok with them being up close and personal with your little ones body?

  • Dioxin~ a carcinogenic chemical linked to birth defects, genetic and metabolic damage. It is listed as one of the most dangerous and toxic of all the cancer-linked chemicals by the EPA and is banned in most other countries besides the US.
  • Sodium Polyacrylate~ a super absorbent polymer (SAP) that becomes a gel when wet that can cause skin irritations and allergic reactions as bad as fever, vomiting, and even staph infection. (Have you ever changed your babies diaper and seen little balls of gel? This is the culprit.) Sodium polyacrylate is the same substance that was removed from tampons because of its link to toxic shock syndrome.
  •  Tributyl-tin~ a pollutant that has been known to cause hormonal problems in both humans and animals in lab testing.
  • ” These chemicals used in disposable diapers – including chlorine bleach, petrolatum, perfumes, stearyl alcohol, cellulose tissue, sodium polyacralate — are not subject to government testing or approval. No one really knows the long term effects of keeping these chemicals so close to baby’s skin 24 hours a day for three years. It is known that the polyacrylate gel in disposable diapers steals moisture from baby’s skin, and studies strongly suggest that this chemical may cause asthma .” Homemade Mother

You spend an average of $2,500 on disposables per child (if potty trained by the time they are 3). If you use cloth you can spend $200-$1000 for an entire diaper stash (depending on what type of diapers you buy). This one time cost is truly an investment. Not only will you use it for one child, but if you have future children they can be use again and again. Believe it or not, most cloth diapers, if well-taken care of, hold their resale value! That means you can sell them.  On average, you will go through 4,000 diaper changes in the first year alone with just one baby. That is A LOT of trash and diapers!

Its harder to potty train toddlers with disposables because they aren’t able to feel wetness. This means its harder for you to feel if they are wet too. The first couple weeks after your baby is born you will probably be told to keep track of how many wet and dirty diapers your little one has. When BG was in disposables, it was sometimes hard to tell if she was even wet. I was so grateful for that little blue line when she peed. The day before my daughters 18 month doctors appointment she was asking to go potty on the toilet. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is! I was shocked. I did keep her in diapers still, but she would constantly ask to go potty. I really do believe this was partly due to cloth.

Diaper Decisions has some great charts that show how much money it will cost depending on what kind of cloth diaper you choose.

Diaper Pin also has a cloth diaper cost calculator to let you figure out how much you’re going to spend on cloth diapers.  I also like this site because you can compare it to the cost of disposable diapers. Diaper Pin is a great resource for reviews too. When I was first researching items I loved this website! I could look at everything from diapers to diapering accessories. Yes, there are accessories that go along with cloth diapers – creams, covers, liners etc.


Stay tuned for {Types of Cloth: Brands I like and my personal recommendations}

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  1. sharon says

    I just want to thank you for this video about cloth diapers verses disposable diapers. Yes, I’m one of the grandmas that used cloth diapers. I “emptied” and soaked, washed, dried, folded and reused cloth diapers for my 3 children and also held down a full time job. I also can say my children rarely had diaper rash. I wish the moms and dads would go back to using “cloth” if only to keep the “disposables” out of the landfills. Thanks again.

    • Ashley says

      Sharon, thank you for your comment! I think we live in a society now where people can’t be inconvenienced. It’s sad, but true. The cloth diapers nowadays only add 2 laundry loads a week, but to some that’s just too much! Like you said, it can be done even if you’re working full time. :)

  2. Indira Sespinosa says

    Diapers are made of cloth or synthetic disposable materials. Cloth diapers are composed of layers of fabric such as cotton, hemp, bamboo or microfiber and can be washed and reused multiple times. Disposable diapers contain absorbent chemicals and are thrown away after use. Plastic pants can be worn over diapers to avoid leaks, but with modern cloth diapers, this is no longer necessary.-*

    Remember to look over our own blog

  3. Carol says

    This was a great article! I used cloth diapers on my three children thirty years ago. I used the same diapers for all three and sold them at a consignment shop when my youngest was potty trained. I did hate the plastic pants and pins and now both those have been replaced by awesome alternatives, cute water proof covers with Velcro and rubber bungie clips to hold the diapers in place.


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