Whenever I suggest that cloth diapers could be particularly useful for people on a limited income (per a Huggies’ study, one in three US families is forced to cut back on basic essentials, like food, utilities or child care in order to afford enough diapers for their child), I get a version of this objection:
Low-income families don’t have access to washing machines and dryers – what are they going to do, handwash them?!? They don’t have time to be handling diaper laundry, working multiple jobs just to keep their children fed. Plus, many of the babies are in daycare where cloth diapers aren’t accepted.
What I’ve been dying to say is… “How about we let THEM decide?”
Because here’s the thing. I’m not sitting here trying to push cloth diapers on anyone. I’m simply trying to empower people to realize they don’t HAVE to be handcuffed to the purchase of thousands of dollars of worth of single-use items from Big Disposable companies. I want them to at least HAVE the information about cloth diapers SO THEY CAN DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES. Why would anyone object to that?
Some things to consider:
- Some low-income people DO have washers and dryers.*
- Some families would PREFER to spend time washing diapers – - even in laundromats, even in their bathtubs! – than being continually forced to earn and lay out more money for chemical-filled plastic single-use diapers.
- Some people are on a limited income because they are out of work – - so they may have TIME, but not money – time that could be spent laundering reusable diapers.
- With continuing demand, and continuing education, many daycares are opening their minds to cloth diapers.
- Handwashing diapers isn’t all that miserable.
* While I understand landlord and space restrictions, it IS interesting to note that an automatic washing machine could be purchased for as little as $350 (and a smaller, portable washer for as little as $50 – $200). Add those expenditures to your cloth diaper stash and you’re STILL spending less overall to diaper your child than you would buying single-use throwaway diapers.
So I’m going to continue to find ways to help low-income families find and use reusable cloth diapers. Join me at Diaper Aid Hub. UPDATED: Find more suggestions for helping low-income families.
Executive Director, Real Diaper Association