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Cloth Diaper Service vs. Buying Your Own

By Amalah


My husband and I are newlyweds and where I want a baby NOW NOW NOW, He prefers to wait at least a year to start trying. In the mean time I have been prepping by reading your blog! I noticed that you have a lot of great information about cloth diapers but there is one thing I am missing…Is there something wrong with the diaper service? My mom actually used the cloth diaper service for both me and my sister and this worked well because it is cheaper and you don’t have to wash the diapers yourself. Currently my husband and I live in a condo and something seems wrong with using the community washers to wash diapers and I really don’t want to get that up and personal with the poo. So are diaper services wrong???…If I use one, I guess I need those covers too huh???… If I missed where you already wrote about this, please point me in the right direction.

Getting Ready!!!

Oh my GOD, you PEOPLE. With the PLANNING. You make me look bad, you really do.

I seriously just woke up one morning (AFTER my SECOND baby was here, and had been here for a couple months), turned to my husband and said, “You know, I think I’d like to switch to cloth diapers.” Less than a month later we were fully stocked (with whatever other bloggers told me they used) and muddling our way through the soak and wash cycles.

I’m not saying we were right to be so impulsive and y’all are overthinking things, but…well, I guess I’m grateful I never spent months driving myself crazy with the cloth diaper planning.

That said, there is NOTHING wrong with a diaper service! It’s a great choice for many families. It’s easy, convenient and super environmentally friendly. Services tend to use less water and power overall than us wash-at-home households, and they all use environmentally-safe detergents that are free of phosphates and other crappy-for-the-world’s-water-supply chemicals. Yay for the planet!

Who should consider a diaper service vs. investing in their own cloth diapers? Obviously, people without their own laundry facilities — I’m sure there are many families that cloth diaper despite using a laundromat or community machines, but I admit I would probably not last long as one of them. Families planning on having just one child, as well, might find that the upfront costs of diapers that will only be used for one baby aren’t as attractive compared to families who are counting on using them again. Personally, while we’re on the fence about adding another baby to our family, I am pretty soundly sure I would use a diaper service for the first several weeks/months (until the baby really FIT into our one-sized diapers — I don’t care what anyone says, they are not cut out for the scrawny deboned-chicken bodies of teeny tiny newborns). Diaper services are also great for families on the fence about cloth diapering — a try-it-before-you-buy-it option — and the monthly fees can be prepaid by friends and family looking for the ultimate practical gift for parents-to-be.

Of course, there are both pros and cons to every decision, and this is no different. The cons of a diaper service are that many only offer simple prefold diapers, which still require an investment in diaper covers. (Some will give you a few free covers with your contract, or sell plain ones very inexpensively.) (Pro: Diaper cover options are endless and SO DARN FREAKING CUTE.) If you plan to have your baby in daycare, the diaper service diapers will probably not be an option, as the vast majority of daycares will NOT use prefolds, but demand all-in-ones or pockets. I’ve HEARD of some diaper services offering the fancier diaper systems, though my cursory research into what’s available in my area (hint: NOT MUCH) didn’t turn up anything like that. I’m sure it depends on your city/area though — D.C. doesn’t seem to have a huge demand for diaper services, so there’s all of ONE to chose from.

I’ve also heard, anecdotally, that the diaper service diapers can just plain suck, because they are as basic as cloth diapers get. There is nothing wrong with old-school prefolds — like you said, they are exactly what 99% of our mothers likely used — but there’s also no denying that cloth diapers have come a LOOOONG way since then. I’m not so very intimidated now, but I admit when I was getting started I was hooked on the idea of getting diapers that were as much like a disposable as possible.

But on the flip side, if you use the prefolds and like the prefolds, they are a very inexpensive option to buy for yourself, if you find that doing, say, one load of diapers a week in your condo’s facilities is totally doable. As your baby gets older and his or her toileting habits more predictable, your diaper costs could be next to nothing, with maybe the cheapest service option taking care of most diapers while you supplement on your condo building’s water bill. That’s a huge WIN, right there.

Also: Cloth Diapering 101, Part 2 & Part 3

If there is a question you would like answered by Amalah on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected]

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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