Posted by: Ticktock | November 12, 2008

Going Rogue on Cloth Diapers

Do you want to know the real deal on cloth diapers?  Probably not, but I’m going to answer it anyway, whether you like it or not…

It doesn’t matter that they are so good for the environment because they are so nasty; just the idea of them still sends shivers down my spine.  The thought of putting sewage stained fuzzibunz into my washing machine is so revolting that I can’t even bring myself to do it.  My wife wanted the cloth diapers, so she gets to wash them.  You would think I would be happy about that arrangement and that I would let life continue in domestic harmony, but I can’t let another “First Dude” give in to his crunchy “Alpha Wife” on this issue.

I’m going rogue.

First of all, we had to deal with the leaks.  Forgive me, but babies can fire off some salvos of mustard gas that even Saddam wouldn’t want to encounter.  Cloth diapers don’t really have an elastic leg, so any excess mess squirts out the sides.  It was a nightmare for Dads, like me, who change diapers by suppressing their gag reflex and trying to flood their minds with happy thoughts of glitter and rainbows.

Baby poop doesn’t always come out looking like a butterfinger bar.  Newborn poop looks like melted blacktop, then it looks like mustard, and finally, it starts to take shape… except when it doesn’t take shape and it looks like a Mississippi mud pit on a rainy day.  And then you have to wash it in your own private washing machine.  I can tell you the spin cycle on my machine is not spinning nearly as fast as my brain that can’t get past the contents of the diapers being cleaned.

And poop stinks, but for some reason we keep the dirty cloth diapers in the computer room where I’m trying to write blog posts.  Except I can’t write anything because my mind is starting to melt trying to block out my sense of smell while still writing with a minimum of intelligence.

So, what can you do if your wife insists on cloth diapers and you don’t want to block out the memories via shock treatment.  Well, I wish I had some of these answers when we started because now I have PTSD, or Poop Traumatized Stay-at-home-dad Disorder.

  • Get one of those sprayer things that hook up to your toilet.
  • Or, get a roll of those easy-flush liners that I’m only just now hearing about.
  • Use calgon fabric softener to wash out the ammonia and crystallized stench.
  • Dry your diapers outside
  • Get some kind of airtight container that can prevent odors.
  • Never ever make your babysitters or extended family change a cloth diaper.

Well, I hope I sufficiently scared any hipsters from glamorizing cloth diapers, and in case I didn’t, then at least you have some suggestions on how to stay sane.  Now I just need some suggestions for how to handle my wife once she sees this post.  She hates it when I go rogue.  🙂


  1. All I have to say Colin is… WUSSY! I’ll trade the cloth diaper mess any day for taking bag after bag of disposables out to the trash every day. Of course I’m the oldest of 8 kids, so I’ve been changing diapers since I was about 8 years old.

  2. Don’t hold it against me. It isn’t the first time somebody called me a wussy. 🙂

    I do change diapers all day long without complaint, but I’ve just recently started protesting the cloth version. I think all the poo is starting to get to me.

  3. Not to mention the fact that there isn’t any actual evidence to support the evironmental friendliness of clother diapers over disposable. Or any evidenced based health benefits for the child. It’s one of the stupid “you have to do this or else” parenting, Inc. things that gets shoved down your throat when you’re expecting.

    Go disposable.

  4. My wife and I decided to go cloth mainly for monetary purposes (as opposed to environmental). It cost us about $250 for 20 diapers and they are adjustable until the child is potty trained.

    They actually have elastic around the legs, so I’m not sure which versions you are using, but ours are great at keeping mess in. Now, I must confess that we’re still in the beginning stages (my girl is only 4.4 months), so maybe my opinion will change once things get messier.

    I’ll definitely keep you updated on the progress. Thanks for the insights.

  5. #1 – Try bumGenius. Really, they don’t leak out the legs.

    #2 – There are definitely environmental benefits. Waste reduction – one baby generates 1 ton of landfill waste in two years. According to a study just released out of Europe, you also get to brag about reducing your carbon footpring – line dry your diapers and wash in water under 150F and you’re saving 40% over the carbon emissions generated when disposable diapers are produced.

    #3 – My husband gets to enjoy life with me, the owner of a cloth diaper store, and he occasionally blogs about being a cloth diapering dad… this is one of my favorite things that he has written…

  6. I was wrong to say that my cloth diapers have no elastic around the leg. They just don’t seem to be as airtight as disposable.

    I’m skeptical of the claims that disposable are better for the environment. I agree with Jenn that one of the benefits of cloth is that they are eco-friendly (or at least until that fact is truly proven wrong). I also agree with Jeff that price is another positive benefit.

    Really, what it comes down to is that it psychologically bothers me, and we never bought the sprayer or the disposable liners. Either of those things would have made me feel a bit more easygoing.

  7. For economic reasons, my wife and I initially decided to use cloth diapers for our baby girl. That exercise lasted about five minutes.
    After spending a couple hundred dollars on the most advanced cloth diapers we could find (with liners and elastic around the legs) we quickly discovered that they just couldn’t contain our daughter’s output.
    Several messy incidents later the cloth diapers went back to the store and I bought the cheapest disposables I could find.
    They worked like a charm and in combination with a Diaper Genie (TM) virtually eliminated unpleasant smells.
    Since I do plenty of other things to “help the environment” , I don’t take a guilt trip for using disposable diapers.

  8. I have gone through all the different brands of diapers in the past nine months and time after time we return to Pampers.

  9. We do 50-50 – cloth diapers at home, disposables when we go out and overnight when he sleeps (we found that if we change his diaper in the middle of the night, he wakes up and cloth diapers just couldn’t hold as much as the disposables).

    The diapers we use are Mom’s Touch. My husband was the one that recommended I try using cloth diapers but I absolutely put my foot down when he was suggesting I use those square muslin cloth diapers that you have to fold yourself. He freaked out when I told him how much one Mom’s Touch diaper cost but I told him – I’m changing the diapers so I get to decide what I use.

    I think I would have passed out if we had to rely on the square muslin cloth diapers, but Mom’s Touch really isn’t that bad. My son seems to prefer wearing his cloth diapers to the disposables (he balks at the disposables sometimes and will ask to wear the cloth diapers), too so I guess they must be more comfortable.

    Oh yeah. I cheat with the cleaning of the diapers. We have a maid who takes them out the back to wash off the poop first (or what’s left after I dump the rest in the toilet bowl).

    I used to cringe at the thought of changing poopy diapers but after an episode of being elbow deep in poopy water (my son pooped into the bath water when he was barely a month old – twice), I think I got desensitised.

  10. The sprayer doesn’t solve the psychological problems, in fact it makes things worse. I know that imagining the poop swirling in the washing machine is a little hard to stomach. But the sprayer puts you face to face with the poop. And there’s the splatter factor. And then there’s having to haul the wet dripping poo water diaper across the house (even if you wring it out). I always end up wet and angry after rinsing poo diapers with the sprayer.

    I agree with the cost savings and if the environmental factor is your thing, well more power to you. But I agree with the main post. I am being traumatized by poopy cloth diapers in ways that thousands of dollars worth of therapy will never erase.

  11. We went straight for cloth, but the ones that have a separate waterproof cover. Liners are something we wouldn’t do without though. Many people have told us they had leakage problems with disposables that they no longer have since switching to cloth. That disposables weren’t that convenient once they factored in having to wash poo off them before they went in the bin. And that nappy rash was a major issue with disposables, but never occurred with cloth. All that and the massive cost saving and we didn’t even bother with disposables for general use.

  12. I’m having my first baby in about two months – we are going the cloth diaper route, but we are going to use a diaper service – no poopy diapers in my washing machine :o) It’s a little more expensive, but still cheaper than disposables.

  13. My wife and I bought cloth nappies but have ended up using disposables (a mixture of compactness for clothing and absorbtion issues) most of the time. She was sold on the idea that they were apparently better for hip joint development along witht the usual environmental spin. This is quite a good article on the topic.

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