If there’s anything all parents can agree on, it’s that babies go through a lot of diapers. I mean A LOT. Newborns go through like 10 to 12 a day (or more)! So if you’re a budgeter, like me, you were probably floored when you estimated how much you’d be spending on diapers.
One way to save some money on diapers is by using cloth diapers. And if you plan to have more than one baby, the savings just keep adding up. But if you’re on a tight budget, again like me, even that is a big expense. The commitment to cloth diapering can be scary when you look at the upfront investment.
The good news is that you can save big time by purchasing used cloth diapers. There are many ways to find used cloth diapers – ebay, facebook groups, craigslist, diaper swaps, garage sales, just to name a few. But before you do, here are some questions to ask.
5 Questions to Ask When Buying Used Cloth Diapers
1. What detergent was used to wash them?
This is important because many detergents have oils in them that bond to the cloth and decrease their absorbency. Also, harsh chemicals in detergents may not rinse clean and could irritate your baby’s skin. Hopefully a cloth-diaper-friendly detergent was used, but if the diapers were washed with a less-than-desirable detergent, don’t be too hasty to say no to purchasing them. Just know that you may need to strip them or wash them a few times before using them. Take that into account before agreeing on a price.
2. Were they washed or dried with fabric softener?
Fabric softener is a big no-no for cloth diapers. I bought some secondhand gCloths that reeked of fabric softener and had such bad build up that I had to strip them several times. If I had known beforehand that fabric softener had been used on them, I definitely wouldn’t have paid as much as I did. I didn’t know to ask the question – I just assumed the person wouldn’t have used fabric softener.
3. Were the covers typically line dried or machine dried?
The PUL on diaper covers breaks down much more quickly if the diapers are machine dried. If that is how the seller dried her covers, ask to see a the PUL. You will be able to tell how it has held up by how smooth it looks. If it is pretty smooth and shiny, it is probably still in pretty good shape. If it is more wrinkly and worn looking, they may still work fine but probably don’t have as much life in them as covers that have never been machine dried. This could be useful information if you are planning to use the covers for multiple babies.
4. Have they ever been stripped? If so, by which method?
Even the best cared for dipes are likely to need a good stripping now and then. If the diapers have never been stripped, take into consideration the fact that you may need to do this. If they have, you’ll want to know how it was done. There are some scary diaper stripping methods out there that may render the diapers full of chemicals or overly worn.
5. How many babies have they been through?
Cloth diapers and covers can last a long time, surviving several babies. But they do not last forever – especially the covers. If the diapers have been through a bunch of babies, just keep that in mind before you agree on a price. Also, think about how many babies you plan to use them on. If you are on your first baby and plan to have a large family, newer dipes may be better for you. If you only plan to have one or two babies, you might be able to get away with more worn dipes.
Do you have any tips for purchasing cloth diapers? Please share!
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