Choosing gently used cloth diapers, Is it gross?Have you ever thought about how weird it is that cloth diapering parents are so willing to share diapers? We have no problem buying them used from strangers, borrowing from friends, using hand me downs, and sharing stashes. Why is that? I wouldn’t purchase used underwear from the Goodwill or a yard sale for myself and I’d even be squeamish about buying it for my children; but I have no problem with the idea of buying and selling gently used diapers. There are definitely some of us who prefer buying cloth diapers new, but most of us don’t think twice about checking out the latest stashes for sale or trade at Diaperswappers or checking out the “gently used” section of our cloth diaper retailer. Why is that?
While I was away on vacation (traveling with my cloth diapers), a good friend who was vacationing with us ran out of disposables. Granted, I had to do two or three loads of diapers over the ten days that I was there, but when that happened to her all I could think was, “Wow, I’m glad I don’t use disposables because I would have to drive 30 miles right now just to replenish them.” I wanted to spare her and her husband the hassle of driving so far out of town because they were already tired from the week and she was due with a baby very soon. So, I offered them what seemed like the most logical solution to me:
“I brought plenty of cloth diapers. You’re welcome to use them,” I said. She smiled kindly and responded,
“You know, that’s okay. My husband doesn’t mind picking them up.”
Later, one of them mentioned again that they were down to only a couple of diapers and they still hadn’t run to Walmart.
“Really, you can just use mine. You’ll save money on diapers and gas!”
“You know, all I can think of is that someone else pooped in them,” she responded candidly. “I just don’t think I can bring myself to use them,” she said, her face crumpled into a grimace.
“They’re clean,” I said, not getting her hint. “My friends and I use each other’s diapers sometimes. It’s really not a big deal.”
“Oh, now I’m thinking of multiple dirty bottoms in there. No thanks.” She smiled and I dropped it, but then I started thinking about how it’s probably weird that I don’t feel the way she does about cloth diapers. I think that way about stuffed animals bought at yard sales or the Goodwill, I think that way about bathing suits and leotards, and I don’t know that I’d be able to purchase a pair of used socks. I would be squeamish about using someone’s deodorant unless I was in a serious BO pinch and I knew the person really well. I don’t think I could ever bring myself to use family cloth, rather less the family cloth of another family. So why am I okay with used cloth diapers?
I don’t actually know the reason but I assume it probably has something to do with the upfront cost of cloth diapers. When diapers cost between $12 and $35 apiece and you know you need at least 12 of them in order to avoid supplementing with disposables, a slightly used diaper at a reduced price is a steal. You wash it in hot water, maybe with bleach, you sun it, and then think nothing of putting it on your baby.
Also, it doesn’t faze me that my child is wearing diapers previously soiled by their sibling, or that my child is wearing diapers previously soiled by himself or herself. I think that, in addition to saving money, I (we) have become so used to the idea of reusing something that used to hold human waste, that we don’t really care as much whose waste it was.
That said, the only used cloth diapers I’ve ever had were those from friends. I’ve actually never purchased a used cloth diaper from a stranger, though I have gotten over my germaphobia enough to buy used stuffed animals and bathing suits (which immediately go into the wash before even touching any surface in my home). I don’t think it’s because I’m squeamish about the poop or the pee that a diaper has previously held. I think in my case it is more about being sure that I have the highest quality diaper possible so I know it will last me as long as possible.
That said, lots of you stash up with used diapers all the time. I’m also guessing lots of you prefer to get them new. What’s your personal preference and why?