Cloth Diapering as a Working Mom

My cloth diaper posts have mostly been about the benefits of cloth diapering for the environment and for your wallet. But when it comes to the main reasons why cloth diapering is not mainstream, I’ve realized it comes down to two reasons. First is the lack of awareness that cloth is even an option. When people think diapers, they think Huggies or Pampers. There’s a reason why society has moved on from cloth sheets and safety pins, right? Well, partially… which leads me to the second point, that disposables have been so heavily marketed as more convenient, especially when our time as parents is already so limited.

This week is the 11th Annual Flats & Handwashing Challenge. The premise of the original challenge was to use flats and wash & dry them by hand. It’s now evolved beyond that to focus more on promoting cloth diaper awareness and how it can support “a wide array of life-scenarios.

I’ve found that most cloth diapering resources online are written from the perspective of a stay-at-home-parent, so I wanted to share a little more about what cloth diapering looks like for me as a working mama in tech, in the Bay Area. My husband also works from home, and my mother-in-law helps us watch our 10 month old son during the day, also at our home. Because our son is at home with us all day, we have been able to cloth diaper him.

Let me start of by saying that I recognize that I am extremely privileged to be able to be in the position where I can both work and raise my child from the comfort of my own home. The pandemic has brought one silver lining in that it has changed the way many companies now operate. Workforces are now distributed and employees are remote. While I know this is not the reality for most people, it is still the reality for many. If you have an office job or especially if you are in the tech community, you probably have been able to work remotely this past year. Our office jobs have shifted into a more flexible work from home environment. We don’t have to commute anymore. We spend more time at home. We’re doing home improvement projects. We’re multi-tasking. We’re running a quick errand or doing a load of laundry in between our work meetings. This ability to multi-task during my day to day has allowed me to do so much more during the day, including cloth diapering my son. If you have children still in diapers and are still at home* (I understand that some if not most daycares don’t allow cloth), my challenge for you is to consider trying it out for your family!

Here’s a little bit about our cloth diaper routine!

  • Our stash size is about ~30 diapers.
  • We change our son’s diaper every 2-3 hours. If there is only pee, we wipe him and change his diaper. If there is #2, we plop it in the toilet and use a bidet sprayer to clean the diaper. We then place the soiled diaper in the diaper pail (lined with a reusable diaper liner) located in our bathroom.
  • We wash our cloth diapers every other day, usually a full diaper pail’s worth.
  • We typically run 1-2 washes per load in the machine. It depends on load size and if diapers need a little more cleaning power (depends on detergent and/or additives. When we add a bit of cleaning enzymes, we usually only need to run 1 load).
  • We hang dry diapers for about 1-2 days. This works out great since we still have the other half of our stash to use.
  • Timing: I typically run a load of cloth diaper laundry either in the morning before my meetings start or evening after my son goes to sleep. Then whenever my husband or I can get to it (usually 2-3 hours after it’s done), we hang dry it on a laundry rack.
  • We typically gather up the dry diapers when the next load of diapers are ready to be hung.
  • Sometimes we fold them right after, other times we leave it to fold the next day.
  • Unlike regular laundry, cloth diaper laundry can be very therapeutic and a great mental and physical break from work! There’s something different when you know you are making an intentional choice apart from the norm that is making a difference for the environment or saving money for your family.

And that’s pretty much it! Cloth diaper laundry isn’t too different from running a load of your regular laundry at home. It adds about ~3 extra laundry loads to our week. If you’re able to do that while you work from home, I hope this raises some curiosity and moves you to consider cloth diapering too!

Interested in learning more about cloth diapering, but don’t know where to start? Check out Cloth Diapering 101: Where to start?