There’s a reason why people opt for disposable diapers—they’re about as convenient as it gets. Your kid poops, you change their diaper, and then you simply throw the dirty one in the trash. But when you multiply that times 1,000, you suddenly realize that you’re not only paying a lot for the added convenience, you’re also impacting the environment way more than you’d like to admit. That’s where learning how to use cloth diapers can come in handy.
However, making a commitment to use cloth diapers, while admirable, is definitely not easy. If you can sign up for a laundry service to help do the dirty work for you, great. But even then, you’re still gonna need some extra support. Here are a few smart products that can alleviate some of the added stress—and stink—that comes with ditching those disposables.
Unlike back in the day when people would simply wrap a cotton cloth around their babies’ bum and then close it up with safety pins, now there are fancy snap-on outer liners you can use to keep the inner one hidden (and hopefully leak-free). These outer liners are designed to prevent leaks, stretch for a comfy fit and easy to rinse and wash. Some are all-in-one, with a built-in liner, and others (pocket style) need an insert. Depending on your baby, look for ones that can accommodate one or two absorbency liners for extra protection, particularly helpful for the overnight hours. All things being equal, we generally like to recommend the simplest option, which in this case is the bumGenius Freetime. It’s all-in-one, meaning no need to stuff liners, and like the other here, it will grow with your child from newborn through toddler years.
The pocket keeps everything in, but the liner is what your baby is actually peeing and pooping on. Some are washable and reusable; others, are disposable but also biodegradable, so you can choose what level works best for you. Either way, you’re taking steps to reduce your environmental impact. You’ll want to look for ones that are unscented and free of chemicals, preservatives and dyes. For those who are on the go with baby most of the time, we suggest the Bumkins Flushable Liners to make diaper changes simpler and less messy.
When you’re out and about and your baby needs a new diaper, you’re gonna have to find a place for the dirty one… this is where wet bags come in. They’re waterproof, easy-to-carry, and sealed with a zipper to keep odors locked inside. Bonus: these are also wonderful for stashing wet clothes and bathing suits! We like the Alvababy for its two pocket design — just in case some things are wet but not dirty or vice versa — but the other two wet bags here will get the job done.
Stainless Steel Trashcan:
Doing laundry every minute kind of defeats the purpose of trying to be more eco-friendly, so you’ll still need a place to stash all those dirty diapers until you’ve got a full load ready to go. Stainless steel cans do a much better job than their plastic counterparts of locking odors in, which makes them all the more appealing for cloth diaper users. Our recommendation is the Ubbi, because it works with any garbage bag, but all three pails below will minimize stink.
Washable pail liners:
Again, unless you plan on doing laundry every single day, you need to have a sanitary system in place to stash all those dirty cloth diapers in the interim. Pail liners are usually waterproof, anti-stink and washable, so you can just toss them in with the diapers for a good cleaning whenever you’re ready.
Strong, Yet Gentle Detergent:
While many parents opt for a laundry service when using cloth diapers, we know that’s not an option for everyone. And if you’re going to be cleaning all those diapers yourself, then you want to make sure you’ve got a detergent that is gentle enough for your baby’s sensitive skin but also strong enough to wash away all the inevitable stink and stains. Look for products that are hypoallergenic, or free of dyes, chemicals and fragrances. Our top pick here is Rockin’ Green’s Dirty Diaper detergent. It’s made to do battle with tough, stinky laundry while being gentle on baby’s skin.
Freelance writer/editor and contributor at MamasUncut. West Coast-based, East Coast-raised. Doubled down on the parenting gig last year, with two kids under the age of 3—plus a 2-year-old black shepherd/lab mix who thinks they’re actually his babies. A good day: run, bake, eat, repeat.
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