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Cloth Diapers are NOT Hygienic


Cloth diapers aren’t hygienic you know.  Home laundering cannot get them clean without bleach in every wash.  They are unsanitary and gross.  They smell and they harbor bacteria and poop stains.  What a cesspool of craziness you’re in for if you cloth diaper!

Anyone heard that before?  We sure have.  But let’s address this un-informed opinion shall we?

All parents clean poop regardless of your choice of diapering medium.  It’s kind of a reality of parenthood and poop inevitably gets on your hands no matter how careful you are.  How do you clean your hands?  Do you bleach them after each diaper change?  No, you use soap and water, the same way you use detergent and water to clean your diapers.

Do you wear disposable underwear?  No, you wear cloth ones and you wash them to get them clean.  Is that unsanitary?  Quite the contrary.  In fact, washing your dirty underwear is the definition of good hygiene no?  And do you need to sanitize your underwear after each use to ensure they are clean?  Of course not, adequate detergent and hot water does the job just fine.  So too for your diapers as long as you are using good detergent in the appropriate amount for your load size.

And while throwing out a poopy diaper may seem like the easiest way to deal with poop, what about baby’s clothing that gets soiled during the poo-explosions that are all too common with disposable diapers?  Do you throw their clothing away too?  No again!  You wash it don’t you, with soap and hot water, don’t you?  And all that soiled cloth clothing comes out clean and safe to use again doesn’t it?  Are we seeing a pattern here yet? 😉  Truth be told, those dreaded poo-explosions happen a lot less often or not at all in cloth diapers.  Cloth is much better at containing them.  True story. Blowouts are almost non-existent in cloth diapers.  That means less soiled clothing, and less poop on your hands and baby’s hands and the change pad and baby’s blanket…sounds cleaner all around to me.

And if common sense hasn’t won you over yet and made nay-sayers hang their heads in shame, let’s consider two last points regarding home sanitation of cloth diapers.  When diapers are being properly washed such that they absorb readily, contain no residue and don’t smell, then you are achieving clean, bacteria-free diapers.  Period.  If they were so un-hygienic, babies would constantly get rashes in cloth.  But in reality, babies in cloth get fewer diaper rashes all around.  No joke.

What about diaper rashes caused by yeast you say? Haven’t we always heard that this is hard to get rid of and that it will stay in your diapers and re-infect baby?  Well there is lots of great new research showing that your simple home wash routine kills yeast with nothing more than hot water (over 50 degrees Celcius).  This makes sense as when breastfeeding mothers get thrush (yeast infection of baby’s mouth and mothers’ nipples) your doctor or lactation consultant will simply tell you to wash your bras in hot water to prevent re-infection.  Not to throw them out.  Just wash them.  Same goes for underwear during a vaginal yeast infection.  So why do cloth diapers still have this bad reputation?

Finally, on a more personal note, we just recently ended up in the emergency room with our newborn when he was a few weeks old.  He had a very high fever and it was determined he had a urinary tract infection (UTI) causing him to be hospitalized on intravenous antibiotics for 4 days.  While there I asked every doctor, nurse and pediatrician that tended to us if there was any way our cloth diapers had contributed to or caused his UTI.  The reply? We were told that cloth diapers were most certainly not the cause, that cloth diapers can be better than disposables, and that sometimes disposables contribute to or cause UTIs.  And guess what?  In hind-sight, in the midst of 3 kids and postpartum sleepiness, I had put our newborn in disposables during the night for the week preceding his UTI.  Our other son, our oldest child, had also had a UTI as a young baby in the days before we discovered cloth diapers.  So, did disposables cause the UTI infections our boys experienced?  We’ll never know.  But none of our children have ever had infections in cloth. Go figure.

Perhaps wrapping human waste in plastic to fester in your bathroom garbage pail and then throwing it in a landfill instead of flushing it away down the toilet where it belongs is what’s not hygienic.



Author: splanchak

I am a WAHM (Work At Home Mom) to our precious kids, wife to a wonderful husband and owner of your online baby store Haven't tried cloth diapering yet? Come on over to the green side... But's addictive ;)

7 thoughts on “Cloth Diapers are NOT Hygienic

  1. u say that none of ur kids ever had a UTI while wearing cloth diapers but u were in the hospital with one for 4 days who had a UTI and wore cloth?!?! Total contraction which made me lose all faith in this article. Also, we don’t poop and pee directly in our hands, that’s what ur doing in cloth. Plus, what gets on our hands and underwear is minimal. It’s not like grab a wad of poop and run it on ourselves. And rashes aren’t only caused by poop particles. It’s by dry skin (which can be caused by cloth absorbing ur natural oils), laundry detergent allergy and sweat. It’s fine to have an opinion but at least don’t contradict urself, have science behind u and do more research.

    • Hi Jamie,
      Thank you for your thoughts. I’m not sure if you read through the entire article though? If you read through to the end, the times when our family experienced UTIs were after periods of being in disposables. Never have we had UTIs in our kids after wearing cloth. Not sure where you’re seeing the contradiction? Perhaps we should re-word it a little differently to make that more clear. This article was written from our personal experience and conveys the information we’ve received from speaking with multiple medical professionals including pediatric specialists, general practitioners and pediatric nurses. If you have some peer-reviewed scientific articles and research that you’d like to share we’d love if you could comment with the links so we can add the information into this article. That would be most helpful.

      With regards to rashes, you are correct, there are a great many causes of rashes in babies as we outline here. Any additional scientific articles you have to share with regards to bum rashes in babies would also be great to add to the personal experience we shared in our rash article 🙂

  2. I will be starting to use cloth diapers when our new baby is born in Sept. Though after reading your article on cloth diapers, I now know that the TITLE and first full paragraph were a sarcastic way of getting viewer’s attention, which I didn’t appreciate after reading. Great article, don’t get me wrong 🙂 though it really doesn’t work well as it makes me as a reader upset that a lot of viewers might not take the time to read all the way through and therefore have a bad opinion on cloth diapers. Just my thoughts.

    Montreal, Qc

  3. Interesting. Were your sons’ circumcised?
    Seem that mutilation of a boys penis is justified to protect him from a UTI. A curable infection versus harming a baby boy for the rest of his life.
    Seems no one ever talks about doing this to female and 90% of countries ban it for female and ZERO do if for males.
    Evolution put foreskin there for a reason to protect the penis. It’s attracted to the gland and sometimes takes till puberty to separate.
    When you mention UTI which women get far more than men ever do. It’s only responsible to mention that your son is intact and natural vs raw and harmed. And men almost never get yeast infection vs women that get them a lot.
    Cloth or disposable could work both ways depending on how the parents treat their children.

  4. Thanks for your comments on yeast. I was just saying the same thing “we don’t have to throw away underwear after a yeast infection – why all the concern with diapers”. I am researching whether to bleach or not during and after a yeast infection. I think I will not. All the diapers are 100% cotton prefolds. I think the synthetic pad type diapers may hold the yeast, but a study has shown that hot water and regular detergent eliminate yeast in the type diapers I have. Thank you again for your article.

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