So Dry it Burns…

This post is part of the Real Diaper Facts carnival hosted by Real Diaper Events, the official blog of the Real Diaper Association. Participants were asked to write about diaper lies and real diaper facts. See the list at the bottom of this post to read the rest of the carnival entries.


Working in a baby store, I heard about the new Pampers from customers, and then from the news, well before our store started stocking them (we’re slow like that). I had hoped, based on all I’d heard about the “Dry Max” versions of the diapers, that maybe they’d be recalled or discontinued like the Infantino slings had been. Of course, a baby has yet to die as a result of disposable diaper use, so until then, look for new “Dry Max” technology in your friendly neighborhood useless baby product peddler.

Okay, so maybe I’m feeling a little disillusioned with my job lately, but that’s not really the point of this post. The point is that I am very uncomfortable with the presence of these new diapers in my store. In my section, no less. I credit cloth diapers with my son’s beautifully soft and rash-free baby bottom. I credit cloth diapers for helping me to pay off my car loan four years early. I credit cloth for allowing my son to fit his skinny hips into pants that are actually long enough to cover his legs. I credit cloth for the absence of poop sitting around our house.

That’s right. The absence of poop.

Here are my myths and facts about cloth diapers:

  • Myth: They leak.
    Fact: Nope. Because today’s diapers have elastic in the waist and legs, they fit so great that I have not had a single poopy blowout. My friends who use disposable diapers have been known to bring multiple changes of clothes with them every time they leave the house.
  • Myth: They stink.
    Fact:
    The chemical reaction between the urine/feces and whatever is in those disposable diapers is way worse. My cloth pail hardly ever reeks. True story: my husband and I were at a party at a friend’s house, and I was changing M at her changing station, where she had a regular trash bin with a flip lid for their dirty disposable diapers. My husband walked by after I had dropped a wipe in there and said, “Woah, what’s that smell… did our kid do that?” I said, “No, honey, that’s disposable diapers.” He then gave me a big hug and thanked me for getting him to use cloth in our house.
  • Myth: Washing them sucks.
    Fact: You don’t have to go down to the river and beat them against rocks anymore, guys. Diaper laundry is the best kind of laundry. Wash hot, extra rinse, tumble dry, stack (or toss in a random pile to be stuffed and sorted as needed, like I lazily do with my pocket diapers). There’s no folding, and even when I do the minimal amount required, it’s all the same, like towels. How easy is it to wash a load of towels?
  • Myth: Those fancy diapers are too expensive.
    Fact: You don’t have to buy the “fancy” ones. And seriously, even the higher end diapers save you money because you get to use them more than once. On vacation, we were having some absorbency issues and cover malfunctions, so we bought a couple packs of Pull-Ups. They worked well, and my son liked the designs that stayed or went depending on how long he could hold it, but once they’re gone, they’re gone. If I spend the same amount of money on a new cloth diaper, I get to use it over and over and over again until it’s held together with two threads and a prayer. Unless I sell it, and well, that makes it even cheaper.
  • Myth: Cloth is so inconvenient.
    Fact: When I run out of diapers, I run my washer instead of running to the store. When running to the store takes an hour or so with a little one in tow, laundry wins.
  • Myth: It’s gross to reuse diapers.
    Fact: My diapers get clean in the wash just like my sweaty shirts and stinky socks. It’s actually fun to have those diapers hanging around. They are incredibly cute, and diaper changes are easy because my son likes to pick out the diaper (or underpants) he wants to wear. Win-win.
  • Myth: The environment doesn’t care either way.
    Fact: Cloth diapers are indeed better for the environment. When one baby in disposables produces approximately one ton of diaper trash that goes to the already overtaxed landfills, it’s hard to see the argument in favor of disposables here. Does doing laundry also use energy and resources? Sure, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to that level, which doesn’t even take into account all the materials and resources used to manufacture those single use waste receptacles.
  • Myth: Super-dry diapers are good for baby’s skin.
    Fact: Breathable fabrics are good for our skin. Cloth diapers keep baby’s skin, lungs and whole body healthy. Cancer-causing toxins are part of the normal disposable diaper ingredients list. The chemicals and materials used in disposable diapers have been linked to asthma, infertility and a number of other health issues. The stuff that makes the diapers stay so dry actually pulls the good moisture from the skin, causing rashes, and in the case of the “Dry Max,” burns. My husband has severe sensitive skin, eczema and allergies, and my son is a lot like his daddy. So to help prevent him from developing some of the problems my husband has, cloth diapering was a pretty easy choice. And it worked. No rashes in 2.5 years in cloth. Not too shabby.
  • Myth: Don’t worry, those gel crystals are perfectly safe.
    Fact: I have no idea if this is actually true. All I know is that gel stuff in disposable diapers is icky and sticks to babies’ most delicate private areas. I have no idea what the stuff even is, except that it makes diapers absorb more wet than any baby can eliminate in a whole day of peeing, but I don’t trust it. And I don’t like it. And I don’t like wiping it off my boy’s junk.

I’m sure I could go on. The point is, Pampers and Luvs and Huggies and all those guys want you to keep buying their diapers because if you wake up and realize that you don’t have to spend so much money on glorified garbage, they’ll be out of business. They see cloth diapering mamas like me as a threat, and maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe they’ll figure a way to make a product that doesn’t expose our babies to toxic chemicals that may burn and blister them to the point that their poor little bottoms are scarred for life. Let’s hope some good comes from this carnival campaign, and disposable diaper manufacturers realize that if they want educated mommies to choose their product over the other options, they must do better. Fewer chemicals and sustainable materials would be a good place to start.


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7 thoughts on “So Dry it Burns…

  1. Heather says:

    I laughed out loud at this: “You don’t have to go down to the river and beat them against rocks anymore”. And towels? Easy. 🙂

    And this was a good phrase followed by some good pacing: “If I spend the same amount of money on a new cloth diaper, I get to use it over and over and over again until it’s held together with two threads and a prayer. Unless I sell it, and well, that makes it even cheaper.” (I’m married to an MFA grad. I sometimes can’t help myself.)

    Smiles at “glorified garbage”, too.

    And “They see cloth diapering mamas like me as a threat, and maybe that’s a good thing.” I love being part of the underground, keeping my money in the “mom” economy and sticking it to “the man” (“the man” being them corporations stealing all our money) by refusing to buy the stuff they like to tell me that I need. I AM a threat, dammit! 🙂

  2. Valerie says:

    I don’t like wiping that gel off my son’s junk, either!…Oh, and that gel is SAP, which is a banned ingredient in tampon production because it’s known to cause toxic shock syndrome–just what a baby needs on its delicate skin!

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