Cloth Diapers, Poetry & Words

WRITING & WORDS :: How I Quit Cloth Diapering (and Faced the Mama Mafia)

The cost of using cloth diapers vs the cost of using disposable diapers I quit cloth diapering.

There, I said it. The cat’s out of the bag.

Actually, I quit at the end of January. I’ve kept it a secret all this time. I’ve been careful not to talk about it. I’ve been careful not to post any photos of Aveline in which she’s obviously wearing a disposable.

Why did I hide it? Because I was afraid of the backlash. I was afraid of the Mama Mafia.

The Mama Mafia is brutal.

But this week, I made another decision. I decided I’m not going to be intimidated, nor am I going to make excuses. I’m going to be honest. Because truthfully? Cloth diapers are gross.

Before you stick your hand through your computer screen to grab me by the throat, let me say that again. Cloth diapers are gross. They just are. It’s a fact you can’t really argue with. You can downplay it and talk yourself through it in order to save money, but you can’t deny it.

I reached a point, nearly a year in to cloth diapering, when I asked myself, “Ok, how much money am I actually saving?”

And so The Great Disposable Experiment began. At the end of the trial period, here’s what I learned.

The Cost of Cloth Diapers vs. The Cost of Disposables

  • It cost approximately $5.63/week ($22.50/month) on electricity, water/sewer, and detergent to use cloth diapers.
  • It cost approximately $6.25/week ($25.00/month) to use disposable diapers.

And that’s not even counting the hundreds of dollars I spent purchasing (used, not new) cloth diapers.

A savings of $2.50/month? I quit cloth diapering.

Fellow mamas, let’s be brave. Let’s be free. I’m done hiding behind the mask of fear. My baby wears disposables. Now you know.

And you know what? I’m ok with that!

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52 thoughts on “WRITING & WORDS :: How I Quit Cloth Diapering (and Faced the Mama Mafia)”

  1. Marie switches back and forth between cloth and disposable. Everything in Moldova is scented and having babies with crazy sensitive skin, disposables there aren’t always a great option. I’ve never done the math, so it’s good to see how little you’re actually saving. I suspected it was very little :)

    {ps-seriously love you for this post!}

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  2. Me too! It wasn’t the gross factor for me, it was the time issue. I was struggling to run a home business and get all my usual laundry done, plus diapers. I kept running out of cloth and digging into my emergency stash of disposable diapers. So I finally gave myself permission to switch after about a year of cloth diapering.

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  3. I love this post.

    It’s true the Mummy Mafia out there waiting to pounce. I worked out cost before and it’s true you don’t actually really save money. If you were to add up the cost of them to begin with and for the say what 3 years you use them, I very much doubt there is a huge difference. Plus I had enough washing anyway [one of the reasons I stopped] without adding to it.

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  4. i don’t technically switch…i have a method…i refuse to cloth diaper in public. i just can’t bring myself to put a poop filled diaper in my bag until i get home. and i love you for admitting that you stopped cloth diapering. i gave up with addy but with mercy i am sticking it out because unfortunetely the cost of moldovan diapers are significantly more pricey. :-/ i will confess i have already found myself thinking about potty training! :-)

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    1. We’ve just started potty training Aveline (verrry sloooowly, but still), and Mercy’s just a little younger! ;) Go for it! ;) Your situation reminds me of my mom’s comment to me today, thinking of her cloth diapering days in Mexico and Yugoslavia: “We cloth diapered because we had to, not because it was cool!”

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  5. Good job standing up to the mafia. :) I cloth diaper and got a bit of grief for wanting to take disposables on vacation. So I took cloth. It was aweful. Three days in we bought a pack of Luvs and the rest of our trip was much more relaxed and fresh smelling! I’m still happy with cloth at home but I’ll never take them on a trip again.

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  6. I did the cloth diapers too. It didn’t last long for me. It is not easy when your child gets older and bigger. Don’t ever worry about what others may be thinking or doing. Each and every child is different and you have to adjust to whatever makes you and your child comfortable and happy. You have a very happy, smart little girl, so you must be doing something right ! :) :) You are a great mother!

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  7. Oh my gosh, can I just say I love this post?? I mean I have always thought the difference in price wasn’t that much but never really done an experiment or anything, but people who cloth diaper think they are earth mama or something. Anyway, I am the mom that is cheering you on! Go girl!

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  8. I cloth diapered baby #1 while on well water, and they hung dry and then I sold them. Huge monthly savings for me. BUT cloth diapers gave baby #2 a lot of skin irritation so I ditched them and ate the cost of disposable. I think the point is we all have to make the best decision for our family and situation and be okay with other people making different choices!

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  9. I did cloth (mostly) for child #1. Then when child #2 came along I said “Screw it!” and went disposable all the way.
    My main reason, the time factor. If you factor in the $ value of your time… well let’s just say that the cost of disposables ends up being way lower than the cloth.

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  10. I just love this post. So refreshing amidst all the pro-cloth diapering blogs that seem to be popping up everywhere! I can’t say I ever tried using cloth diapers on Emily – in my book, disposables are there for a reason… Why complicate life when there was such an obviously easy alternative?! x

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  11. Love your honesty!
    The only reason I use cloth is because I do Elimination Communication with my baby girl – so I will save some washing here and there. I used cloth with my son for a little while but it gave him instant rash, so I ease my conscience slightly by using the so called eco friendly disposable nappies… lol

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  12. Yeeeeeeep. My husband is a finance guy, so we worked through all the costs, the water,elect, the g diapers I wanted… It saved about $50 a year for the first child. Not worth all the poop interaction in my mind! At first i felt so self-conscious about not using cloth, but now I maintain it was one of my best decisions yet!

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  13. Hi Gina! I loved your post :) I just made the switch to disposables too, but I’ve been shy about it around my cloth diaper-loving friends! you’ve inspired me to embrace my decision with no guilt! those dirty diapers were just so much dirtier when all the new foods started! hope to see you in May!

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  14. Good on you for being brave :) I was actually thinking yesterday how much my confidence as a Mother has grown since I had my first baby. We first used cloth nappies for a year when my eldest was 2ish and my second was a newborn. Then we went on holidays and we kind of forgot about cloth until my third was born. At that point the middle child and the newborn went into cloth again and I have never touched another disposable since. I think that you have to go with what works for you and what you know is right for your family and it sounds like you’re doing just that! Thanks for popping by my blog :)

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  15. I meant to reply to this post for ages, no at last I have the time. It’s funny because I had planned on writing something cloth diaper related on our blog, but then didn’t get finished with it and I also thought I’ll just drop that topic all together. The truth is that we haven’t cloth diapered for months. (our little guy is 2 and a half, and we’ve been putting him on the potty for a while and I really really hope that now that the weather warms up, we can get serious on that subject). But the thing is, we live in a 3rd floor apartment with no dryer. We have limited space for clothes racks, the winters in Germany are very, very long and wet! And our downstairs neighbour thinks our washing machine is too loud (which is rubbish, but of course I think of her every time I put a load in the machine). So, just couldn’t stand all that extra washing during these long months and it was disposables all winter long… until now even. Now that we are seriously potty training I want to put more cloth on him again, because I want him to “feel” the wetness, as disposables always feel dry. I have never ever cloth diapered in public (while out and about) or while on holiday. And costs were never a reason why I chose to use cloth in the beginning (I don’t think we saved ANY money!)
    It was the chemicals and not knowing what is in disposables that convinced me that cloth is the best choice for the tender skin of a little baby as well as the fact that no human has ever lived long enough to see a disposable diaper fully decompose (I read an amazing article on cloth diapering in Mothering magazine that motivated me a lot to carry on!)
    So, these are just a few thoughts. I fully understand and respect your choice. As I mentioned, I never cloth diapered 100%, it never worked for me that way. And I find it weird that mums on the Internet (in certain blog-communities that is) think they have the right to judge any mother’s decision… What kind of diapers we choose has NOTHING to do with whether we’re good mamas or not, that is just crazy. You are an amazing mama and are doing a great job!!!

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    1. Finally I am responding to your excellent post! Yes, isn’t it strange that internet mamas think they know what is best for other mamas?! Every child and every family is different and there certainly is no single one-size-fits-all plan!

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      1. I felt the same way when I posted about our weeks worth of garbage a few months ago. Seperating out the disposable diapers from the other garbage made me have to admit to the internet at large that we don’t use cloth. I was proud that we only produced a small office garbage can worth of other garbage but was sad about the can full of diapers. Hopefully my youngest son will potty train quickly :)

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  16. I think it is great that you are being honest and I have zero problems with your diapering choice. The problem I do have is that while these numbers and comments might be true for you, they aren’t true for me. My water bill went up $3 a month with cloth. My electricity, maybe $1…I hang dry a lot of my stuff. I use disposables with my son and spent way more than you mentioned on them. It varies by where you live certainly (and how much your kid poops), but I don’t know anyone who only spent $25 a month on disposable diapers/wipes. I spent about $70 a month on them for my son. As for time- I do an extra 2-3 loads of cloth diaper related laundry per week. It takes me about 5 minutes to throw them in the wash and set the cycles. Another 2 minutes to put some items in the dryer and 2 minutes to hang things on a drying rack. I have pocket diapers so, add in 15 minutes every 3 days for stuffing pockets. Once my son was done breastfeeding, add in 2 minutes per poopy diaper to spray it. This adds up to not a whole heck of a lot…Plus, I multi-task. So I watch my favorite show while stuffing pocket diapers in the evening. As for gross- I find disposables to be just as gross. They stink… a lot. They create a huge trash bag that I have to take out. Plus I won’t run out of my cloth. I won’t have to run to the store and grab some in a pinch. So, I have no judgments about you using disposables, but I personally know I have saved at least $1500 cloth diapering my second child and the very minimal extra time it takes me is worth it to me.

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    1. “While these numbers and comments might be true for you, they aren’t true for me…” that’s exactly my point. :) Every one — every family, every child — is different. Whatever type of diaper each mama chooses for her baby is her own decision, and she shouldn’t feel like she has to justify it, defend it, or feel embarrassed about it. My overall message with this post (which is intended to be humorous as well as factual) is the following: however you decide to diaper, and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty! Thanks for stopping by, Anne.

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  17. I understand that disposable can work for you but I disagree that cloth diapers are gross. For me it’s more gross to store all those poopy diapers in your garbage (especially during summer time). How many times do babies/toddler really poop in a day ? And I don’t really mind using the diaper sprayer directly in the toilet. Poop really belongs there and not in the landfills. Time is more important than using cloth diapers? True maybe on your case but for me washing cloth diapers doesn’t take more than 30 minutes of time everytime I wash it. And I wash it only every 3 days. With regards to savings , don’t forget that cloth diapers can be reused even with your 2nd or third child. What could be more savings than that?

    We leave here in a country where there is a good disposable system (for now) . Where they send all our garbage away from us so that is really not gross. But think about those communities who live close to landfills. And hey, whether you are using cloth or disposable, you are not supposed to put your babies poop in the garbage! They need to be treated and disposed properly. And guess what most people who use disposable diapers don’t bother to flush most of the poop in the toilet!

    Here’s a link for everyone to read and get educated. And please don’t call us mama mafia! Mafia doesn’t educate others. :)

    http://www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=1189

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    1. Oh, I certainly do not define “Mama Mafia” as “parents who choose cloth diapers.” That’s not the focus of this at all! The issue isn’t even really cloth vs. disposable. “Mama Mafia” means mothers who, regardless of the topic at hand, belittle and scold others for choices different than their own.

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  18. I love this post! I don’t think I will quit on cloth anytime soon, but it is reaffirming my goal to live and let live. I’m still wondering how you managed to spend $5 a week on doing laundry and more important, how you managed to spend less than $7 in disposables when even getting coupons and sales (and a 75% discount once), my average spending on disposables was about $10/week.
    Remember, the most important thing is to keep your sanity and your baby happy and safe, and honestly, as much as I love cloth, disposables are not as bad as the cloth mama mafia makes us think.
    Still, I am less grossed with cloth, less stressed with cloth and much happier with cloth, don’t miss the stink, the blowouts and the tension of leaving a diaper longer cause I could not afford more than 4 diapers a day. To each her own.
    I hope your little one is out of diapers all together by now, and keep enjoying her and making your life a little less stressful.

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  19. Hi!
    I know this is a bit of an old post but wanted to comment. I recently tried cd on my toddler girl. I tried G diapers, GroVia, best bottom, thirsties, kawaii, etc. I’ve been using desposal for almost two years with her and she never ever had a blow out or any rash. But after two weeks of cd, for the first time in her life, she is having a rash!! Red bummy instantly. I have been careful to change her every two hours but still it’s coming back. Too sad because I was really hoping CD would be good for her. what I don’t get is that why cd people keep saying it’s better for the baby’s skin when it’s actually not!?! My daughter was much happier with disposal I must admit. Really too bad. I almost feel like the world of CD is a cult. Disseminating false facts about what’s so good about it.

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    1. It all comes out with what works for your baby, whether disposable or not. FYI, With cloth diapering, or even disposable , you are not supposed to change a baby every 2 hours. You need to change the baby as soon as you know they are wet. Also, some baby’s are allergic to polyester, there are a lot of cloth diapers not made of natural fiber when choosing cloth diapers you have to check as well what fabric it is made from.

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      1. Of course I know you change them when they are wet…every two hours meant to give you the idea I’m changing her frequently enough…I just think it doesn’t work so good for my daughter because she never had a problem with disposable. And I just have to admit they are simply better in many aspects. But I’m buying those Eco friendly ones because I know the bad impact on the environment…regret I wasted so much money on CD. Hoping if I have another child, I will do better with CDing and get to use them.

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        1. I always say, if something works, don’t change it. I started using CDs because disposables were not working for me. The most important thing is to be able to choose and take whatever is less stressful to you.

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          1. Idigia, I know, I don’t know what I was thinking. The world of cd just looked so sparkly to me lol Cute and Eco friendly. Kind of lost my rationality. Shouldn’t have made that move….

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          2. If you can’t handle cloth diapering you must be pretty weak. With the cloth diapers they have today and the sprayers it is very easy. It is also what’s best for the child. You all should be ashamed.

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          3. CD aren’t easy, depends on the situation. Ammonia removal has discouraged several moms and is a real challenge. I do hope like Sylvia that the reply was a joke, otherwise, you are just the very reason this post was created in the first place.

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