Have you, like many others, found yourself wondering if cloth diapers are a good choice for your family? With the increasing popularity of cloth diapers, it is not surprising that this question has become quite common among parents of young children. While there are a variety of benefits and drawbacks to this option, we want to ensure that parents and caregivers across the country are able to make the best, most informed choices for their families.
An Eco-Friendly Alternative
Every year in the United States, approximately 27.4 billion diapers are sent to landfills, creating 3.5 million tons of waste annually. According to a recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency, disposable diapers that end up in these landfills introduce harmful pathogens into the environment from the solid waste they contain. While the effects of these pathogens are still being studied, experts agree that these pathogens could be potentially polluting our drinking water.
By making the switch to cloth diapers, your family can reduce its carbon footprint and prevent an average of 2,200 diapers from going to a landfill each year. Cloth diapers are a sustainable solution to a serious environmental issue, and National Diaper Bank Network believes that cloth diaper options should be available to anyone interested, regardless of income or economic status.
An Affordable Solution
In a baby’s first year, they will require between 6 and 12 diapers each day, maybe even more in the early weeks. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, families spend an average of $936.00 per year on diapers, or roughly $18 per week. For 1 in 2 families throughout the country, this is an overwhelming expense. Utilizing cloth diapers is a great way to significantly reduce this financial burden. In fact, to accommodate this need, 1 in 6 diaper banks in the US are now offering cloth diapers.
Getting Started With Cloth Diapers
Cloth diapers are an eco-friendly alternative to disposable diapers that help families reduce the amount of money they spend on diapers over time. But despite the fact that cloth diapers help families save money in the long run, their initial costs can feel overwhelming.
Fortunately, the National Diaper Bank Network has a variety of cloth diaper programs that help families experiencing diaper need. These programs most often provide cloth diapers as loans, and the diapers are returned once the child no longer needs them. To ensure that families new to cloth diapers are set up for success, NDBN cloth diaper programs typically require clients to attend educational training on cloth diaper usage and laundering.
To apply for cloth diapers for your family, or learn more about cloth diaper options, check out our Partner, The Cloth Option.
How Do You Clean Cloth Diapers?
While there are many benefits to using cloth diapers, it is important to acknowledge that maintaining and cleaning cloth diapers can feel like a big challenge. Using cloth diapers does ensure that you will have extra laundry to deal with throughout the week. It is recommended that loads of cloth diapers are washed at least every two to three days, and individual dirty diapers are kept in a diaper pail or wet bag until they go in the washing machine. To help families minimize the extra effort and ensure their cloth diapers last as long as possible, we’ve developed these helpful tips:
- Choose a detergent that is the most effective for the type of water you have. Using an effective detergent can ensure that your cloth diapers stay in good condition over a long period of time.
- Do your best to prepare your diapers for the washer before they go in the machine. Quickly rinse them off or spray them down with water before putting them in the diaper pail or wet bag.
- Use a pre-rinse or “speed wash” cycle with cold water and without any detergent. This will help to loosen up any waste that was not initially removed.
- Use a regular warm to hot cycle and detergent to get the diapers completely clean. Baking soda can also help remove more difficult stains.
- Dry your diapers on either a low tumble setting or on a clothing line.
If you think cloth diapers are right for your family but aren’t sure what types to start with, click here for a helpful guide.
The National Diaper Bank Network advocates on behalf of babies and families suffering from diaper need. We want to ensure that every family has the necessary supply of diapers to keep all babies clean, dry and healthy. For some families this means using cloth diapers, for others it means using disposable diapers. Regardless of the choice your family makes, National Diaper Bank can help. To learn more about our diaper banks with cloth diaper options, and to find a diaper bank near you, visit our Member Directory.