The Challenges of using Cloth Diapers

The age-old feud of whether to use disposable diapers or cloth diapers continues relentlessly into the 2020’s. Whilst most of us may have settled into using disposable diapers, others may be on the fence; due to either being absolutely undecided whether to take the plunge to using disposable diapers, or purely confused on this basis. Without a doubt, cotton nappies do pose some considerable challenges. Some may also consider these challenges as a matter of fact, whilst other see these challenges as a thing existing only in myth and fable.


The Cloth Diaper Trial

It may perhaps be of worth, noting the potential challenges in using the iconic cloth diaper. Although some of us may have grown-up using cotton diapers ourselves as babies and we may consider these challenges far-fetched, considering these challenges may assist the  future generations in determining whether to consider moving to the usage of the disposable diaper or rather remain on the fence, continuing the cloth diaper challenges as we in our past have.


Cloth Diaper Care – Excessive amounts of Laundry

Should we assume baby outputs at least 3 or at most 4 times a day, this would mean perhaps 24 cotton diapers used a week. These would require laundering throughout the week. The level of laundering becomes in effect a full-time chore. This chore does not exclude the amount of time and the effort in ensuring the cloth diapers are safe enough to use and, in the condition,, which is appropriate for usage.


Night-time Nappy change

One of the issues with cloth diapers is the lack of absorption or stay dry capability, this is especially true when baby outputs at night. This requires immediate change once an awareness is created or would require constant checks throughout the night. Consideration would need to be given to this being how many nights will this be? or how many nights a week? Or a month for that matter?


Cloth Nappy Detergent

Cloth diapers require a detergent which demands being carefully balance between gentleness, yet whilst also being a truly effective detergent. The gentleness ensures that baby doesn’t suffer skin irritation due to the usage of a detergent too strong. The hygiene effectiveness requires that cloth diaper is sterile enough to ensure that the cloth diaper is clean and safe. Considering the volumes per day, volumes per week or volumes of cloth diapers per month, these detergents can work out to be considerably expensive.

Cloth Nappy portability

These cotton nappies often prove to be a thick material, on long distance travel this volume of cotton does add up. Thus, luggage volume then becomes an issue when in fact it should not be, once the disposable diaper option is considered. This may also pose for further consideration on international air travel where luggage capacity is limited, how is this then dealt with other than considering disposable diapers.


Outdoors – Nappy Hygiene challenges

On travel, the aspect of carrying and maintaining the cloth nappies can potentially reach nightmarish proportions. Consider outdoor camping as an example, where safe amenities (clean water) is not always accessible, how would cloth nappies be safely cleaned? This would indeed require that disposable diapers be the option to carry.


Baby skin irritation – rash

The usage of cotton diapers often presents clammy skin resulting in skin irritation and rash for baby. This has been found to be amongst the biggest issues whilst considering the usage of cotton diapers. The usage of eco baby diapers is however found to alleviate the discomfort experienced through the usage of cotton diapers. It also appears that the discomfort caused by cotton diapers may be totally avoided through the usage of eco baby diapers. It is also worth noting that cotton and other natural materials may go through the same process of manufacture, the end result is not necessarily the same and the experience with other natural materials other than cotton has been drastically different.



In some parts of the world, it’s been traditionally believed that there isn’t anything better than cotton. Assuming this may be potentially be true for adults this may not necessarily be so true for baby. Due to the challenges of absorption potential in cotton nappies, this follows through to as well lack in its ability to provide full comfort for baby. When cotton is measured against other eco baby nappies, it shows that more comfort is derived from these alternatives other than cotton nappies. Interestingly, it has also been found that bamboo nappies absorb upto as much as four times more than traditional cotton nappies.

Regardless of the type of intake or output of baby or age, cotton diapers do pose considerable challenges across the age range. Conversely eco baby diapers measure considerably better in absorption and therefore in comfort as well.


Baby Care – Safety

Cotton nappies has, like other eco baby nappies shown to be safe. Safety of the cotton nappy is however relative to what it is being compared with. Considering the aspects of absorption ability and comfort when compared to eco baby nappies we see that for baby the lower the occurrence of discomfort, the lower the occurrence of skin rash results in a much safer experience for baby. Thus, hygiene is placed as a safety measure considering that baby is sensitive to all and various considerations.


Diaper Care – Safety

The sight of cotton nappies being soaked in buckets at home raises alarm bells, not just for the reason of breeding an unhygienic environment in cotton nappies whilst in water, but as well the risk posed by buckets of water in a home where a toddler dawdles around. This is a definitive No! No!



Considering some of the aspects if not all should give rise to concerns regarding the current usage of cotton nappies. Yes, indeed cotton does feel soft, fluffy and naturally fresh, but once put to its desired use these aspects changes and these factors change. Key in this consideration is the safety and hygiene of the most important little person…Baby!

2 thoughts on “The Challenges of using Cloth Diapers

  1. Wendy Hines Reply

    I have 7 children. I used cloth diapers for the first 3. When baby #4 came, I was living in the country where I had a well and a septic system, making the extra amount of laundry a true challenge. I decided at that point that I had done my fair part for the environment, and switched to disposable diapers (not even the eco ones – they didn’t have those back then) without an ounce of guilt. Being a mother is challenging enough without having activists (many of whom have no practical experience) trying to pressure a decision to use cloth diapers when they may not truly be the best choice. Bravo on your article.

    • Ebie Post authorReply

      Thank You, Wendy, Nothing better than life experience as a teacher. This gives a great idea as to the challenges faced out there. Thank You!

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