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.