Disposable vs. Cloth

The great diaper debate: should you use disposable or cloth diapers? In our opinion, there isn’t much of a debate. When comparing disposable diapers vs. cloth diapers, the advantages of using cloth diapers clearly make them the more convenient, safer, and more affordable diaper choice:

  • Versatile
  • Reusable
  • Easy to put on and take off
  • Adjustable, more secure fit that keeps messes contained
  • Safer for baby’s skin
  • Eco-friendly
  • Cheaper

Below we dive into the details of why choosing cloth diapers is one of the best decisions you can make for your family.


There’s a common misconception out there about cloth diapers: they’re difficult to use and difficult to launder. In truth, modern cloth diapers are just as easy to change as disposables and just as easy to launder as a load of towels.

With hook and loop or snap closures, adjustable sizing, and durable materials, modern cloth diapers are both convenient and versatile. And they are arguably better at containing messes than disposable diapers, since they are designed with a more adjustable fit and stronger, thicker elastic at the legs and waist.

Washing diapers at home adds two to three loads of laundry per week, and you never have to worry about running out of diapers—and running out to the store to restock in the middle of the night! As one cloth diapering mother, Kate, explains in a 2011 blog post, “My husband will vouch for the convenience factor—he’s never, ever, had to run out and buy more diapers. We’ve never watched for sales at Costco on enormous boxes of diapers. We’ve never had a trashcan overflowing with non-biodegradable waste. He’s never had to drag an 80 lb. bag of poop to the curb. When diapers are getting low, we throw them (along with our cloth wipes and our washable diaper pail liner) into the cold rinse cycle and walk away. It’s that simple. No getting in the car, no putting baby into the car seat, no opening up the wallet. Just rinse, wash, dry, and voila! Fresh, clean diapers ready and waiting.”

Cloth Diapers Are Better For Baby’s Skin

It is safe to say that most of us would never consider paper underwear to be comfortable. Additionally, some parents are concerned by the thought of exposing their babies to the kinds of chemicals that are used in the manufacturing of disposable diapers, like dioxin, a byproduct of the bleaching process that is a known carcinogen. Though no research has demonstrated definitive causation between wearing disposable diapers and effects on the skin or other organs, there are concerns that gases emitted by disposable diapers might be associated with an increase in asthmatic symptoms in children. Families who look to reduce overall exposure to chemicals in their families’ environment choose cloth diapers for this peace of mind.

Ultimately, a baby’s skin is healthiest when it is clean and dry. Disposable diapers do an incredible job of keeping skin dry because of the Super Absorbent Polymer gel (sodium polyacrylate) they contain. However, between reliance on this absorbent capacity and their high cost, they tend to be changed less frequently than they should be. When cloth diapering, there’s no need to hesitate—each cloth diaper can be reused hundreds of time, so the cost per change doesn’t need to factor in.

Environmental Impact of Disposable Diapers vs Cloth Diapers

Twenty billion diapers are thrown away every year in the United States. The production, distribution, and disposal of these diapers leaves a staggering footprint on our planet. The average disposable diaper can take 500 years to decompose and contains petroleum, plastics, perfumes, wood pulp, and dioxins.

These components of disposable diapers are not materials that most ecologically conscious people want to throw in the trash. When a family chooses to use cloth diapers, they choose the peace of mind that comes from eliminating more than 6,500 diapers per child from our landfills. They also eliminate the greenhouse gases associated with the production, transportation, and distribution of disposable products, which happens over and over again.

Cost of Cloth Diapers vs Disposable Diapers

In a family home with access to a washing machine, it costs decidedly less to diaper with cloth than with disposables. Diapering a child in generic disposables costs $1,400+ over 2.5 years. With some premium or earth-friendly options, this cost can go to almost $2,500. A full-time cloth diapering system can cost as little as $300. The cost of cloth diapers comes upfront, but it relieves the recurrent stress over budgeting for disposable products on a regular basis. Choosing cloth diapers is cheaper overall, as well as easier on the monthly budget.