Should I Use a Diaper Service?

Should-I-Use-a-Diaper-Service

Sometimes I meet people who like the idea of using cloth diapers, but they are intimidated at the thought of washing them at home because (a) they don’t have enough time, or (b) they’re total wusses. I kid, I kid! Some people just don’t like the thought of dirty diapers in their washing machine. It’s completely sanitary, but I’m married to a germophobe, so I understand how those types of minds work.

Anyway, if you’re lucky enough to live in an area with a diaper service, you can have the best of both worlds! Cloth diapers without the responsibility of washing them? (I could totally go for that some weeks…) Read on to see if you should consider using a diaper service.

What is a diaper service?

Diaper services rose to popularity in the United States during World War II. At that time, many women began to seek employment outside the home, leaving precious little time for household chores. A diaper service is a professional cleaning service that delivers fresh cloth diapers to the doorsteps of its customers on a weekly basis and picks up the prior week’s dirty diapers.

Parents folding cloth diapers, 1947.

Parents folding cloth diapers, 1947.

Diaper services continued to grow in popularity until the mid-1980s, when the diapering trend shifted toward disposable diapers. Today, cloth diapers are making a strong comeback, but most families who use cloth diapers now choose to launder them at home. So you might be wondering…

Why should I use a diaper service?

Diaper services have a wide variety of customers. If any of the following describes your situation, then a diaper service might be a great idea for you:

  • You want to use cloth from the get-go but don’t want to buy a full stash of your own diapers until the baby has grown enough to wear “one-size” diapers. 
  • You’re a frazzled parent who just needs a break every now and then.
  • You have more than one child wearing diapers.
  • You don’t have a washer/dryer in your house or apartment.
  • You want some time to decide if cloth diapers work for you without buying your own first.
  • You and your spouse both work full-time outside the home.
  • You’re a celebrity and you like full service! (I can’t drop any names, but one NYC diaper service keeps fresh, clean diapers on a few celebrity baby bottoms.)

What kind of packages are available?

When diaper services first debuted, of course, flat diapers were the only option. Later, diaper services shifted toward prefolds. (Sidenote – this is why you hear some prefolds described as “DSQ” – that stands for “diaper service quality”. It means they’re workhorse diapers that are made to last, unlike the worthless stuff Gerber makes.)

clean-prefolds

Nowadays, the rental of prefolds still tends to be the most common set-up for diaper services – and of course, it’s generally the most economical service option as well. However, some diaper services have branched out to offer additional or upgraded options, including:

  • Rentals for diaper covers, wipes, doublers, pails, pail deodorizers, and other accessories.
  • Premium upgrades to fitteds, pockets, AIOs, or AI2s.
  • Delivery of eco-friendly, compostable diapers to use as a supplement for babysitters or other times when a more convenient type of diaper is desired.
  • “We wash your stash” – the diaper service comes by on a weekly basis to collect and wash your personally-owned cloth diapers for you.

How does it compare to the cost of disposables?

The cost of using a diaper service varies depending on region, type and frequency of service, and the number of children you have in diapers. In addition, a real comparison of the cost of a cloth diaper service to disposable diapers would have to include specifics regarding the brand of disposables that the parents would choose and whether they buy them with coupons or in bulk, and so on. I’m not about to bore you with a bunch of long, drawn-out scenarios and numbers.

Most of the diaper services who responded to my questions indicated that their customers are most likely paying just about as much for the diaper service as they would for disposable diapers. These customers appreciate the convenience of a diaper service and value the environmental and health benefits of using cloth diapers.

And in case you still want some actual numbers:

  • One diaper service noted that their most popular service consists of 75 cotton prefolds per week for $23 per week.
  • Another diaper service said that their most popular service includes 60 cotton prefolds per week, which costs $73 for four weeks.

However, families with multiple children in diapers can easily pay less for a diaper service than they would on disposables. This is because the service still only has to make one stop to pick up and deliver the diapers, regardless of the number of diapers a family is renting. The costs only increase slightly for the washing of the additional diapers being rented for a second (or third or OMG, fourth?!) child. 


Special thanks to the following diaper services who helped me bring you this information:

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