I love talking to people about cloth diapers. But I hesitate when people respond to my passion and enthusiasm with things like “Oh but you have to wash them. and the poop.” “Oh but there is so much laundry…” “Oh but they are too much work!” As RDA volunteers and cloth diapering advocates, how do we respond to reactions like this?
Usually I say something like “They’re easy to wash – just throw them in the washing machine.” or “It’s really not that much work.” But these answers aren’t telling anything useful or informative. This answer assumes that the person already understands the full range of modern cloth diapering options. Below I have constructed 3 simple statements and corresponding scenarios that you can summarize in your own words and experience for a truly honest and straightforward, simple yet informative, answer to any variety of the reaction “Cloth diapers are so much work.”
1. “There really is not much difference between how you change a disposable diaper, and how you change a cloth diaper.”
Scenario A: Your baby is wearing a disposable diaper. He pees and you change him. You throw the diaper in the garbage and put a new one on.
Scenario B: Your baby is wearing a cloth diaper. He pees and you change him. You throw the diaper into a wetbag/pail and put a new one on.
*The only word I changed was from “garbage” to “wetbag.” Not so different!
2. “‘Dealing with poop’ is not that gross.”
Scenario A: Your baby is wearing a disposable diaper. He poops and you change him. You dump the poop into the toilet (as advised on package) and throw the diaper away. Or if not solid you throw the diaper away.
Scenario B: Your baby is wearing a cloth diaper. He poops and you change him. You dump the poop, or if not solid you take 30 seconds to spray the poop off, into the toilet, and throw the diaper into your diaper pail/wetbag.
*The only difference here is that in the case of cloth diapers, you want to remove the poop. In either case, you are ‘dealing with poop’ because you do have to get the poopy diaper off and wipe the baby clean! The extra step of poo disposal really only takes a minute or less, and after doing it a few times, becomes routine and like second nature. It doesn’t feel like work, just part of changing.
3. “It is not ‘a lot of work’ to launder cloth diapers.”
Scenario A: Your baby is wearing disposable diapers. After 3 days your diaper pail is full and you throw away the full bag of dirty diapers. Then go out and buy more diapers.
Scenario B: Your baby is wearing cloth diapers. After 3 days your diaper pail is full and you throw them into your washing machine. Set your machine to rinse, wash, rinse. Scoop in a spoonful of detergent. After drying, you have a basketful of nice clean diapers for your baby to wear again!
*On the surface, washing dirty diapers seems a bit of a chore compared to tying up a bag of them, bringing the bag outside, then getting more. But realistically when you compare the two it does not actually take up that many more minutes of time!
Most people are not sitting on their hands and knees at the bathtub scrubbing. We are just turning a few buttons and then transferring to a dryer, then to a laundry basket. Then even if I wanted to carefully sort my diapers into their drawer I would only spend another 5 minutes (to lie inserts flat and stack them, snap up covers neatly in a pile). I would personally estimate the amount of time it takes me to do a load of diaper laundry at no more than 15 minutes total. Not very labor intensive and not taking up a whole lot extra of my time.
So next time someone says to you, “Oh cloth diapers… but they are just so much work!” you can say “Really? I cloth diaper and I think it’s just so easy!” and then you can go on to tell them just exactly why.
- Stacy Mojica, Low Country Real Diaper Circle Leader