Neither cloth nor disposable diapers have been shown to be healthier for babies. The choice depends on how much time and money you have to spend on diapers. If your child will be in day care, most centers only accept disposable diapers. Studies show disposable diapers keep the baby drier and help maintain a normal skin pH. To avoid problems when using cloth diapers, you have to change the baby more often and use diaper liners.
Wash cloth diapers two dozen at a time every two to three days. Presoak first, using your washer's highest water level and the hottest water. Launder with a hot wash and cold rinse. Any detergent labeled free of perfume or dyes will work fine. Don't use soap. It leaves a build‐up. As long as you presoak, you don't need to use chlorine bleach, which shortens diaper life. To remove stains, use chlorine‐free bleach or washing soda. If your baby is prone to diaper rash, rinse diapers twice, adding three‐fourths of a cup of white vinegar to the second rinse.
Don't use liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets. Your baby may have an allergic reaction to the fragrance. Fabric softener can also leave a waxy buildup on diapers, making them water‐repellent instead of absorbent. (For more details, see the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission web site on baby sleepwear, http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/slpwear.html.)
Remember, these are the basic guidelines to get you started. As you become more comfortable and have a set routine, you will have a better idea of exactly what you will need and not need.
This is one of a set of fact sheets called Planning for Baby. You may also want to see the series Children and Family Finances.
This fact sheet was revised from Planning for Baby – Consumer Issues by Hayhoe, C., Jamison, S. Dillard, A. F., and Chase, M.
Reviewers: Cristin Sprenger, Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, Augusta County; Kimberly Cardwell, Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, Spotsylvania County; Sheree Jones, Graduate Student in Apparel, Housing & Resource Management, Virginia Tech
Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
October 23, 2009