Buying cloth diapers used has many advantages. Not only can you save quite a bit of money but you are also helping the environment by recycling. As great as buying used is, there are a few things to look out for.
First things first, where to find used cloth diapers.
- Social media sites. I personally use Facebook groups. Just a quick search of cloth diaper b/s/t (buy, sell, trade) or swap will elicit many results. The main advantage of using Facebook groups is the sheer number of people who use them. There are also groups dedicated to only selling a particular brand or you can join a group that is just with other people in your area.
- Kijiji/Craigs List. Online classified sites can be a great source of diapers. You are able to look just in your area which means no shipping charges.
- Mom 2 Mom sales. These are very hit or miss but you can get really good deals particularly at the end of the day.
- Used cloth diaper websites. There are two types; online consignment stores (I only know of one in Canada and two in the USA) and forums.
What to look out for when buying used.
Unless you are shopping at a used cloth diaper retailer, the process of buying used is buyer beware. There are a few things to look out for to help make a smooth purchase.
1) Pictures – The saying is true: a picture tells a thousand words. If the seller does not post a picture, there must be a reason why. Yes, we all get busy in our lives but, without a photo, how can you be sure the items are as described. Before I buy used, I make sure there are photos of the inside and outside of the diaper. The more pictures the better. Generally, if a seller provides multiple photos, the items will be in described condition.
2) Acronyms – Know the basic acronyms BN, LN, EUC, GUC, UC, MMAO and do not be afraid to ask the seller why they classified their diaper as good used condition. Unless you are dealing with a company, condition is applied by the discretion of the seller. What you consider used, the seller may think is excellent used.
3) Communication – If the seller does not answer your questions or will not describe the item in detail, do not buy. Back away. On the flip side, just because you inquired about a diaper does not mean you have to buy it. There will always be another one.
4) Payment – Unless you are meeting in person and paying cash, make sure you pay securely. Use Paypal (or similar) because if the transaction goes bad you have some recourse. Do not ‘gift’ the money.
5) Stains – I know stains can be gross but let me be the first to say: stains are no big deal. Unless the stain was caused by a diaper cream (which creates a water repellant layer) it can be sunned out. A good cleaning and a few days out in the sun and the diaper will look clean again. Buying diapers with some stains will save you money.
Always remember that when buying cloth diapers used, all original warranties are voided.
What to do with your used diapers once you get home.
Understandably there can be a certain ick factor when buying used cloth diapers. There are two ways I handle used diapers when I get them in.
1) I do nothing. This only applies to cloth diapers that are in their original packaging or come from some one I trust and know exactly how they have been used and cared for.
2) I strip the *bleep* out of them.
Like anything with cloth diapers, everyone has different ways to strip their diapers. My favourite method is to put the diapers in the sink (or bathtub if dealing with a large volume) with the hottest water that will come out of the taps. I then add some washing soda (1-2 tablespoons if in the sink or 1/2 cup in the bathtub) or one packet of RLR and stir, stir, stir for 5-10 minutes. If the diapers look particularly well loved, or I just don’t trust where they came from, I will add a small amount of bleach (nonchlorine bleach works, too) – 1 capful for the sink and 1/4 cup in the tub.
From the moment you were thinking about cloth diapering, everyone has said to stay away from bleach – but we are talking about something that will be placed next to your baby’s most sensitive areas. You need to make sure any yeast or ‘yuckies’ from the previous user are taken care of. However, I only use bleach for extreme circumstances.
I then let them sit in the water overnight (if using bleach only an hour or two), stirring occasionally. In the morning (or an hour’ish’ later if using bleach) drain the water, wring them out and put into the washing machine. You now need to get all of the washing soda out of the diapers. Do not add any soap. It may take a few cycles for them to be completely rinsed (when there is not more soap bubbles in the wash and the water is clear in the wash). I then hang up the diapers outside for a couple of days so the sun can work its magic and get rid of anything the washing soda/bleach may have missed. Bonus is that the sun will whiten your diapers, too!
My number 1 rule with buying used is TRUST YOUR GUT. If you are unsure or just have a ‘feeling’ something is not quite right, do not buy them. The right diapers will come.
Written by RDA volunteers Katrina and James Thom, owners of From The Stash which specializes in used cloth diapers.