Monday, March 22, 2010

Using a diaper service vs. home-laundering cloth diapers

Occasionally, when parents are considering cloth diapers, they debate the merits of using a diaper service versus home-laundering cloth diapers. If your mind is already made up, and you’ve decided to go to the diaper service route, don’t worry, you have my blessing. When you use a diaper service, you still benefit from some of the advantages of using cloth diapers:

However, if you are on the fence about it, consider this my attempt to sway you towards buying and washing your own cloth diapers – what kind of self-respecting retailer would I be if I didn’t give it a shot? How else am I expected to keep myself dripping in diamonds and fur?

  1. Cost. The money you spend on a weekly diaper service will add up to more than what you would spend if you bought and laundered your own cloth diapers. When you consider it’s an ongoing cost (2+ years), and that you have to spend that money for each subsequent child, a diaper service will always cost more in the longrun. You buy your cloth diapers once, you keep them in good shape, and you use them over and over again until your husband visits Dr. Weiss.
  2. Choice. When you commit to a diaper service, you are committing to the diapers they will provide you with. Part of the fun of using cloth diapers (yes, it’s fun!) is the selection. Your baby’s diaper is an extension of her wardrobe. Aesthetics aside, sometimes different diapers suit different purposes. Maybe you’d prefer to use prefolds at home, but your daycare provider prefers pocket diapers. Whatever the case may be, home-laundering affords you the flexibility of choice.
  3. Convenience. You can wash your diapers whenever you want to. You’re leaving town on Friday to visit your in-laws for a week (*shudder*)? Wash up your diapers and take them with you. If you’re with a diaper service, you’re restricted to their delivery schedule.
  4. Frequency of washing. Most people who wash their own cloth diapers tend to wash them every 2-3 days (say it with me, people, it’s only a load of laundry!). Diaper services pick up soiled diapers once a week. The longer a soiled diaper sits, the worse it will smell.
  5. Lack of standards. There are currently no standards in Canada regulating how a diaper service must operate. When you wash your own diapers, you know how they have been washed.
  6. Lack of availability. Most major cities have access to a diaper service, however, if you live in a rural area, you may be out of luck.
  7. Maddy needs braces. Hardy har har. I’m just checking to see if you’re still paying attention.

That’s all I’ve got. If you’re lucky enough to live in Ottawa, there are two diaper services that service the region, The Diaper Service is located in Ottawa, and Sweet Peach operates out of the beautiful town of Perth. If you live in southwestern Ontario, Bear Bottoms has an extensive delivery area. Regardless of which route you choose, when you're putting your baby in cloth diapers, you're making a choice that's better for your baby, and better for the environment.


  1. We used Bear Bottoms with our daughter for the first 4 months - it was a very generous gift from my grandmother, who then funded our stash of cloth to wash at home. It was a great way to get us using cloth and convince the hubby it was do-able. Now with our 2nd baby on the way, I can't wait to start purchasing newborn fluffy cloth diapers! We are confident and comfortable with the cloth now. No need to go the service route this time.
    And your diaper trial package was a great way for us to transition from the service to washing at home!!

  2. FWIW, here's my experience:
    I used a diaper service when we were CDing full time. Our daycare provider won't use cloth so I bought a bunch of diapers to use at home. I was actually looking forward to the variety you wrote about. My reality is that the combination of hard water and HE washer is making cleaning my own diapers extremely difficult. We have ammonia stink in basically every diaper. My wash routine is cumbersome and I still end up with crunchy diapers (so it clearly still needs tweaking, plus, we're still having ammonia issues). Just about every time DH catches me doing a diaper load he comments that the energy I use washing the diapers is probably much more than what is used to make disposables. We won't be giving up CD any time soon, but there's probably a grain of truth to what he says, even if he's only complaining because we're almost out of hot water for his shower.

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