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Baby Cloth Diapers vs Disposable Diapers - Pros and Cons of Each

Updated on July 30, 2015
Time for a diaper change!
Time for a diaper change! | Source

Are Disposable Diapers Better?

Discussing the pros and cons of cloth diapers versus disposable diapers is a newer topic, as many years ago, there was no choice. Disposable diapers came around in the 1940s, although many mothers continued to use cloth diapers for many years after that.

The introduction of convenient, disposable diapers must have seemed a godsend for many mothers who were tired of dealing with messy, cloth diapers. Still, with renewed interest in cutting costs and reducing waste (pun intended) in the environment, cloth diapers are making a comeback.

A much better cloth diaper than the diapers of old....
A much better cloth diaper than the diapers of old.... | Source

Are Cloth Diapers Coming Back?

Many mothers used to make their own cloth diapers. I remember my mom’s homemade diapers, cut to fit, and then pinned on with huge safety pins. The cloth was thin, unlike the new, multi-layered cloth diapers of today, so it was necessary to then put a thick plastic panty over the whole thing to hold in everything that came out…so to speak.

How Does a Diaper Service Work?

Over the years, cloth diapers have improved, and there are diaper services that will even pick up dirty diapers and deliver clean ones. If you’re trying to save money by using cloth diapers, using a diaper service will defeat that purpose. Using cloth diapers can be much cheaper than using disposables—IF you launder the diapers yourself. Some mothers feel it’s worth the extra money to hire a diaper service or to simply buy disposables to avoid the hassle of dealing with cloth diapers at all.

How to Clean Cloth Diapers

For instance, if you don’t use a laundering service, you have to rinse the diapers and store them somewhere until you have a load to wash. How do you keep the smell away? Some mothers, after dumping out the contents, toss the soiled diapers into a large container of water and detergent to soak there until they have a load to wash.

For those who don’t have a washing machine at home, cloth diapers probably aren’t even an option, as you’d have to wash them by hand (gross) or let them smell up the whole room by the time you take them to a laundromat.

Going green with cloth diapers drying outside on the line!
Going green with cloth diapers drying outside on the line! | Source

Should You Choose Cloth Diapers to Go Green?

Another reason some mothers choose cloth is in an effort to go green. Disposable diapers don’t decompose. Imagine all those dirty diapers in a landfill! On the other hand, a lot of energy goes into continual laundering of cloth diapers, whether you clean them yourself or have a service do it for you. While considering the effect on the environment is important, there are other factors to consider.

Are Cloth or Disposable Diapers Better for Diaper Rash?

Some mothers claim that there is more of a chance of diaper rash with disposables because the fabric doesn’t breathe as well. Furthermore, since cloth diapers get soaked more easily, they have to be changed more frequently, which also cuts down on the chance of diaper rash. However, changing more frequently is a con, as cloth diapers have a reputation for drooping and leaking, more so than disposable diapers. There are other mothers, too, who report that their babies get diaper rashes with cloth, too, no matter how often the diapers are changed.

Today’s cloth diapers, though, have evolved from those of old. There are newer— more expensive—cloth diapers with high-quality pre-folds and Velcro covers. With these types of diapers, there are no droops, no leaks, and no need for safety pins. Quality cloth diapers may be an expensive investment up front, but they are becoming much easier to use.

Which Diapers Are More Convenient?

Another factor to consider is convenience. For working moms, there’s the time factor, and even if mom is committed to using cloth diapers, who is going to deal with the cloth diapers when mommy is away? There is a lot to consider when deciding between cloth or disposable diapers.

It seems that it all comes down to money, time, and tolerance. Which option is more affordable for you? Do you have time to mess with continually laundering cloth diapers? And can you tolerate dealing with the nasty part of cloth diapers? But can you afford continually purchasing expensive disposable diapers? Regardless of which camp you’re in regarding cloth versus disposable diapers, you can save on both types with Diaper Coupons at Shopping online with online coupons will help you save on diapers, diaper bags, baby wipes, and even nursery items. Peruse their site for your choice of diapers and any other items you might need for your baby.


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    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Good point, Marie! I'm glad you love cloth diapers. They seem the way to go for many. Using both may be best, depending on situations. Thanks for commenting!

    • profile image

      Marie Johnson 

      7 years ago

      I love cloth diapers! I still use disposables on occasion.

      We must also remember that disposables take resources like water and energy to make. It's not just the laundering of cloth that uses water and energy.

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Thanks, teaches. The newer cloth diapers ARE so different and improved, aren't they? so cute, too. Thanks for your comments!

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Cardisa--Nappies! How cute! That's neat how mothers in Jamaica do things. I can imagine the white diapers on the line. Very cool! And the blue soap--neat!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      Today's diapers are a great improvement over the old, white heavy cloth of old. They are really attractive also. I do agree with mom's effort to go green, what a great way to save natural resources, as one child can use a ton of diaper. Great topic and interesting.

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Great input, Almostnatural.I bet you'll have a great hub! I'm sure you'll figure it out. Thanks for coming by!

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      You're funny, fpher! I'm not that young either. haha. A good friend of mine says cloth has come a long way and isn't too hard anymore. I'm sure disposables are easier though. Wow, my mom worked full-time with 4 kids, too--not all the years growing up, but a lot of them. Thanks for the great comments!

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Great input, Millionaire Tips. You're right. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. Sounds like you found the right balance for your daughter. Thanks for the comments!

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      CC--A friend of mine says the cloth are pretty easy to deal with these days. Of course, you will have a little sewage to deal with--heehee. Thanks for coming by!

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Hey, jpcmc, whatever works best for your baby is the choice every parent should make, I think!

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      7 years ago from Jamaica

      In Jamaica most mothers don't have a washing machine and there is nothing as beautiful as seeing a line full of white diapers, we call then "nappies". We use what is called cake soap, a bar soap made specifically for washing white clothes. This soap has a mineral called "blue" which gives the blue colour to the soap and makes the diapers really white. I think it's the most economical way to go.

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Dzy--Great information. I'm glad you shared all that. It gives more info for moms to digest. Great story about your baby! Enjoyed your comments so much!

    • Almostnatural profile image


      7 years ago

      I liked your info and the way it was presented. We use cloth and disposable and I can see both sides. As far as a diaper service...I think it might almost save me money as recently I have had a hard time getting the diapers clean. We moved almost a year ago and I can't get my washing system right for this type of water. I am sure a super hot wash would be great, but I can't do that whereas a service could. So I rinse and rinse and rinse some more. Working on a solution, which will be in a hub I post soon.

      As far as "extra changes" "keeping baby drier" etc. We have perfected the "stuffing" in our diapers and he can go with an average of 4-5 changes a day. (he's 2) Would someone using disposables change their baby less? At school they change him just as often and he wears disposables there. 12 changes in a day for a 6 month old is pretty normal, cloth or disposable. As soon as the baby wets in a disposable, chemicals are activated. Who wants those sitting on their baby's skin? My son has not had a real diaper rash since we switched to cloth at 8 months. He does get a little red from the disposables at school.

      Lastly, HE prefers cloth. And he loves picking out what he is going to wear. (its going to be a nice lead in to picking out what underwear he wants to wear and not get wet)

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Great input, Ruchira. Thanks! I'm sure it's a very tough decision for many people. Lots of factors involved. Thanks for sharing it!

    • fpherj48 profile image


      7 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      My own personal experience? Well, Victoria....I did my first two babies on CLOTH......the 2nd. two on disposable.

      My opinion at this point? Money-wise, The cost of 3 doz. cloth diapers and a dozen plastic pants...diaper pail...the HOURS spent wringing, washing twice, rinsing twice....(special detergent, massive gallons of water, gas & electric....or MORE time hanging diapers on a clothsline outdoors....many more "changes"....more water flushing the toilet.......OR bulk quantities of generic disposables (or using coupons).....1-2-3 and presto, clean muss no fuss...i cannot imagine the young, "working" Moms, going back to the dark ages of cloth diapers.

      With my first 2.....I didn't work outside the home (You're too young to remember this, but June Cleaver did not have a job)

      After my 2nd 2....I worked full-time with FOUR darlings to mother.... The two younger ones were very lucky I remembered to diaper them at all..............UP++

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      7 years ago from USA

      I've used both, but it was many years ago, before the new-fangled cloth diapers. There were cloth diapers sold at the time, that had layers and were designed to make it more convenient, but still needed plastic pants to cover them. I found that washing them wasn't as bad as I had envisioned. I just washed a load every day or every other day. The machine did all the work anyway.

      The issue was getting the babysitter to use them often enough, I wound up switching back and forth to disposable because of the convenience. She said she would be fine using them, and did use them, but my daughter got a diaper rash. Disposable for the babysitter, cloth for me. It doesn't have to be an all or nothing situation.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      7 years ago from Western NC

      Great hub, as always, Victoria. I don't have kids, but I feel confident in saying I'd use cloth. I'm not looking forward to dealing with the "sewage" as DzyMsLizzy says (hehe), but I care deeply for this planet and hope that I can do my little part from filling up landfills with all those plastic diapers filled with crap. (hehe)

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 

      7 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      My baby uses lots of disposable diapers. In a day, she can use as much as 6-8 pcs. More than just the convenience, it keeps my baby drier compared to cloth diapers.

    • Victoria Lynn profile imageAUTHOR

      Victoria Lynn 

      7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      MsLofton--glad the hub was helpful!

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      7 years ago from Oakley, CA

      You have both sides of the argument well covered, but I fall on the side of cloth all the way. When my eldest was a baby, we did have to go to the laundromat, and no, it was not fun. However, she was susceptible to horrid, horrid diaper rashes that came out of nowhere, and needed prescription ointment to heal. That only happened with disposables, regardless of frequency of change.

      She was 2 and a half years old when the second one arrived. I never even tried to go for disposable, and by that time, we had our own washing machine.

      By age 3, after watching carefully, and without my realizing it, she had learned how to change a diaper. One morning, I overslept, and ran in to change the baby (then about 8 months old). I found the task already done, pins and all! And no screaming "stuck" baby had awakened me.

      You have to look at this: what lands in a diaper is sewage. Sewage is handled in water treatment facilities, or is pumped into a septic tank. With disposables, there are tons of raw sewage being dumped daily into landfills, where the contents can leach into the groundwater. The solid waste is supposed to be emptied into the toilet prior to disposal in the trash, but there are far too many moms who don't bother with this step.

      With the newer high-efficiency machines, and low-suds detergents, lower phosphates in the suds, there is less of an environmental issue with laundry.

    • Ruchira profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      good pointers for each of them, vicki.

      This was such a debatable hub and I liked how you ended a passive way asking our intelligent readers to make a choice and by giving them options from where to purchase either of them.

      PErsonally I would have loved to go with cloth diapers but, wish I had help to clean and scrub those dirty diapers 'cause it would have been good for the environment.

      But, landed up choosing the disposable diapers.

      voted up as interesting hub and sharing it across!

    • MsLofton profile image


      7 years ago from IL

      Great Hub, I have always wondered about cloth vs disposable diapers/


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