15 Disadvantages of Cloth Diapers (incl. Solutions)

cloth diapers

There are many known benefits to using cloth diapers. But, there are also many disadvantages of cloth diapers such as the initial costs and the initial learning curve. 

The good news is that these hurdles can be overturned with knowledge and practice.

1. Higher Upfront Investment

It is readily known that over time cloth diapers save money. Yet, before you can see these savings you need to build up your diaper stash. The cloth diaper problem is that you need to spend larger amounts of money upfront. Unlike disposable diapers that you can purchase weekly or monthly. 

This can be a potential problem as cloth diapers, and the accessories needed, do bring a higher initial upfront cost. Especially when building a full-time cloth diaper stash. 


Luckily, the best cloth diapers last. They are designed for re-using again and again. 

Depending on your budget, there are many ways you can overcome the initial upfront costs.

These include potentially buying when they are on sale, purchasing package deals at a discount. Or even, purchasing these diapers pre-loved for your little one. 

2. Some Learning Curve 

If you have not used cloth diapers before an issue with reusable diapers is learning how to get the fit and absorbency right. With different sizes available and designs being adjustable, there is a learning curve for all cloth-bottomed baby parents. 

You have to learn how to ensure that they remain clean for future use. How to ensure that the fit adapts and grows with your little one. These can potentially bring doubts and be seen as disadvantages. 


The solution is simple, like all aspects of parenthood, it comes with practice. The more you do it the quicker your confidence will grow. 

With many different cloth diapers available, all-in-one cloth diapers are the most like disposable diapers. Waterproof and absorbent they are ready for use and ease you into cloth diapering. 

3. Inconvenient When Traveling 

A potential inconvenience associated is changing cloth diapers on-the-go. 

Changing any diaper when out and traveling is never a fun experience but when you know that the diaper can not be disposed of, it can potentially be seen as a disadvantage. 

You not only need to change the diaper but also store and take the diaper with you until you are able to wash it. Which can be perceived as unhygienic or potentially a stinky task to undertake. 


To overcome the traveling cloth diaper drawback there are many tips that can be followed. 

The main pointer is when traveling with cloth diapers is that you are prepared. Having a waterproof diaper bag is needed. Simply place the used diaper in the bag until ready to wash. 

No leaks, no odor and travel ready, it is easy to incorporate within your diaper bag. 

4. Not Widely Accepted by Daycares 

Across different states are different laws surrounding cloth diapers and daycare. Although in the majority of states it is legal for them to use cloth diapers it is a personal choice of the daycare owner and staff. 

Potentially this can result in a reusable diaper problem. It may be that they have not used them before or they believe they are harder to use than single use disposable diapers. Leading to an issue with cloth diapers, and finding a daycare willing to use them. 


In order to overcome this potential issue and encourage them to use cloth diapers in daycare. You want to start off by asking the question and seeing if they are on board with cloth diapers from the start. 

If the daycare is hesitant, you can arrange a meeting with the manager and provide a demonstration, showing how easy cloth diapers are to use. 

5. Require a Lot of Washing 

Commonly perceived as a drawback of reusable diapers is the increase in your washing pile. 

Cloth diapers require multiple washes before use and continue to need washing between wears, potentially making this a cloth diaper disadvantage. 

Depending on the brand or style of diaper being used, an additional pre-wash may be required before the full wash. This can potentially be seen as a disadvantage as it takes longer to completely and thoroughly wash the diapers between use.


The solution to make washing cloth diapers easier and quicker, is to either choose a diaper that only requires one wash. Alternatively, hand rinse to ensure the bulk of the soiled mess has been washed away. Then pop it in the wash. 

A tip to make washing easier is ensuring the correct type of detergent. This will improve and speed up the washing process. 

6. Potentially Higher Water and Electricity Cost 

Once worn cloth diapers require being washed and dried before they can be worn again by your baby. 

Potentially a con of cloth diapers, is the cost associated with washing and cleaning the diapers between use. Due to needing to use more water and use the electrics to power the washing machine. 

It is worth keeping in mind that this is a regular requirement in order to use cloth diapers and to be mindful of the cost associated with keeping them in use. 


Although you are going to need to wash your diapers between wears. You can build up your washing pile of cloth diapers over 1-3 days. 

By doing this you will ensure that you are limited to a number of additional washes. Also hanging them out to dry naturally is another way to reduce the cost of electricity used to keep the cloth diapers clean. 

7. A Lot of Drying Time 

The majority of cloth diapers brands recommend air drying after each wash to keep them performing at their best. 

This potential con of reusable diapers is that air drying takes time. Depending upon the size of your stash this potentially disadvantage may become more pressing. As you will need them to dry quickly so they can be reused. 

Additionally, you need to have the space to be able to hang or put out the diapers in order for them to dry. 


The best way to overcome the potential problem of drying time, is to ensure that the diapers do not overlap. Having them spaced out will improve circulation and allow them to dry fast. Also, make sure that the diaper is flat. With AIO and pocket diapers, ensure that the absorbent core is removed. 

8. Too Many Styles to Choose From 

If you are new to using cloth diapers for your little one, it can potentially be unnerving knowing where to start and which style to use. This reusable diaper disadvantage comes from having so many choices. From all in ones, hybrids, pocket diapers, the old cloth diapers styled prefold and more there is a lot to consider. It may feel like a mindfield to enter into for some people.

Without firsthand knowledge or experience of these different styles, it can potentially put people off and prevent them from trying cloth diapers. 


To overcome the confusion surrounding the different types of cloth diapers and which will work best for your family, is through trial and error. 

Researching the different types will show you how they work and the different benefits of each style. From there buy one and see how you get on. You can add to your stash as soon as you find the ideal cloth diaper for you. 

9. Can’t Avoid Touching the Poop 

Unlike disposable diapers, you need to ensure that all solid messes are removed and the poop residue is rinsed away before washing. 

One potential disadvantage of reusable diapers is that you are needing to handle and potentially scrub away poop by hand. In order to ensure that the diaper will end up being thoroughly cleaned and to prevent the risk of staining. For some, this isn’t a task that they relish and the concept can be off-putting. 


Ultimately once your baby is on solid food the poop is easier to remove and less messy, instantly reducing the risk of getting it on your fingers. 

There are also many tools that can be used to make this process easier. Diaper liners are an ideal way to collect the poop and dispose of it without getting your fingers dirty. Also, diaper sprayers can be used for easy rinsing. 

10. Cloth Diapers Can Get Stinky 

Cloth diapers absorb the liquid and these bodily fluids can release an odor from the wee and poop. Unlike disposable diapers which get tossed away, this smell can linger in cloth diapers until they are washed. 

If the diaper hasn’t been washed correctly there is the cons of cloth diapers is that they still may smell. 

This can be disheartening and cause potential issues as you may not realize why they smell and not want to reuse them whilst they are stinky. 


To prevent stinky cloth diapers you want to make sure that you are storing the diapers in a diaper pail. That way you can contain any ammonia odors between washes. 

Also, it is important that you use the correct amount of detergent to ensure that the diapers are being cleaned properly. If the diapers aren’t washed correctly the smell can imbed itself in the fibers. 

11. Most New Cloth Diapers Require Prepping

Cloth diapers require prepping in order to ensure they offer maximum absorbency. This means that you will need to wash the diapers a number of times before using them to get them ready. 

This can potentially create one of the cons of reusable diapers as they require time and effort to be invested before using. Meaning that alternative diapers may be needed in the interim time whilst they are being prepared to be worn by your little one. 


If you are considering using cloth diapers for your baby the best idea is to prep cloth diapers before your baby arrives. 

If your little one is already here, there are other solutions that you can opt for to get your little one cloth diaper wearing as soon as possible. Such as purchasing them preloved where the prep has been done already. 

12. Some Cloth Diapers Require Stripping

Some cloth diapers, either before us or after being used so many times will require stripping. Due to build-up in the fibers, minerals and detergent residues can accrue. Impacting on the absorbency of the diapers and leaving an order. 

This can potentially be a disadvantage as it is recommended by diaper manufacturers to strip these diapers monthly to keep them at their best. It can incur additional costs to purchase materials to complete stripping in addition to time and water costs. 


When it comes to stripping cloth diapers it is a simple process. You can purchase laundry treatments that can be included within your wash cycles that will remove residue. Bringing them back to their optimum absorbency levels and leaving them extremely clean. 

Alternatively, you can make your own stripping additive, offering a low-cost option if you are on a budget.

13. Specific Diaper Creams and Detergents 

When using cloth diapers it is worth keeping in mind that you are not able to use just any detergents or diaper creams. 

This can potentially be disadvantageous as it does restrict the options within the market available. Without using the cloth diaper friendly diaper creams you can run the risk of straining the diapers. But, also impacting on their absorbency and ability to work properly. 

It is the same with detergents. It is important that you use a detergent that doesn’t cling to the fibers and impact on the diapers effectiveness. 


There are cloth-safe creams and cloth-safe detergents available. It is just a case of understanding which ones are compatible. 

A lot of cloth diaper companies sell their own range of detergents and creams that are fully compatible with the use of their diapers. There are also many types sold in stores. 

14. Not Convenient for Other Caregivers

Potentially you may find that it is challenging to bring other caregivers on board with using cloth diapers. They may not perceive them as being as convenient to use and warrant used diapers being stored for washing. 

It is worth keeping in mind that not all career givers will immediately be on board with going cloth. This may result in you needing to explain the benefits numerous times, demonstrating their effectiveness and showcasing their conveniences. 

It may also involve you conceding and allowing them to use disposable diapers if their minds cannot be swayed. 


To overcome the perceived inconveniences of cloth diapers, it helps if you have everything ready for the caregiver.

This includes bags to store soiled diapers, a stash of ready to wear diapers and relevant diaper creams. The simpler you can make it for them, along with a tutorial as to how to use them, the more willing they will be. 

15. Require More Effort Than Disposables 

Cloth diapers do require preparation before they can be used. They require washing and drying after use. Unlike disposable diapers you do need to consider and plan when you will complete washing your cloth diapers to ensure you don’t run out. 

It is worth keeping in mind that they do require you to make the time to make sure they are continually at their most absorbent. By completing the stripping process and using the correct products. 


Although you may think using cloth diapers requires a lot more work and effort, it isn’t necessarily as much more as you may think.

There are many ways to simplify the process. Such as placing a mesh wash bag in your diaper pail. That way you can lift all diapers out and place them in the wash without having to touch dirty diapers.


Laurel Davidson

Laurel brings her passion for parenting and years of problem-solving experiences to ParentingMode. She is the editor of ParentingMode, ensuring that the content is relevant and valuable to the readers. Laurel received her master’s degree in public administration with a certificate in economic development. She is a stay-at-home mom, raising two adorable kiddos, Aurora and Thomas. Laurel enjoys sharing her experience as a parent, traveling, and good food.

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