Washable Diapers vs Disposable Diapers

Disposable diapers can be used once then thrown away and forgotten about. Washable cloth diapers could last your baby a lifetime (well, until potty training), but are they worth the extra effort? What you decide to put on your baby’s bottom is up to you. You’re the parent and this is your decision to make. Here are just a few of the arguments for and against each type of diaper to help you reach a decision.

Disposable Diapers

The pros:

  • They’re disposable – they can be thrown away. All you need to do is scoop the poop into a toilet and then you can chuck the diaper into a bin without giving it a second thought.
  • The convenience – if you’re using disposables, you won’t need to carry dirty diapers around with you. Once they’re soiled, you can simply chuck them away and continue with your day a diaper lighter.
  • They can be more absorbent – many parents feel that disposable diapers are more absorbent thanks to the technologies used in their production.
  • They’re easy to find – you should be able to find your brand of choice at most supermarkets, allowing you to stock up easily.
  • You don’t have to wash them – some parents feel they have enough washing to do as it is without adding in an extra load.

The cons:

  • The environmental impact – a disposable diaper can sit in landfill for generations before it decomposes. They release harmful gases into the environment as they decompose.
  • The cost – your baby may go through 3,000 diapers during that first year of life (yes, you read that right). The cost can soon add up with disposable diapers.
  • They contain chemicals – disposable diapers contain chemicals that you may prefer to keep away from your baby’s skin.

Washable Diapers

The pros:

  • The cost – it is generally believed to be more cost effective to use washable diapers even when considering the cost of washing and drying.
  • They’re safe for your baby’s skin – you can buy organic washable diapers that contain no harmful chemicals or additives.
  • They can be used for additional siblings – if you have another baby in the future, you’ll be able to reuse the same washable diapers allowing you to save even more money.

The cons:

  • You can’t throw them away – after a particularly nasty diaper change, you can’t simply chuck a washable diaper in the bin. Instead you’ll need to wash and dry the diaper so it can be used again.
  • You’ll have to wash them – it may be just an extra load every couple of days, but it’s something you need to consider when deciding which diapers to choose.
  • The cost – though they are cheaper in the long run, washable diapers will cost you more upfront.
  • They’re not as convenient – if you’re out and about, you’ll end up with a little bag of dirty diapers about your person.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing

Some parents choose to use both disposable and washable diapers. This helps them to reduce their environmental impact whilst enjoying the benefits of disposable diapers on occasion. Some parents opt for disposable diapers whilst out and about but use washables at home.


Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.