When I started in the cloth diaper community nearly 7 years ago, the industry as we know it was in its infancy. Many of the diaper brands that we know and love today where still a few years from hitting the market, while others where just starting to break out of work-at-home status and moved into warehouse-needed-now status. It was an exciting time for the cloth diaper community!
With the rise of the “modern” cloth diaper- we suddenly were using things like PUL, TPU, Microfiber, Suede cloth, Fleece, Bamboo and hemp….all fabrics that our grandmothers never dreamt of using on their little one’s bottoms. They were stay dry, soft, and colorful and helped propel the industry into a force to be reckoned with.
Unfortunately over the years, I believe that there has been a mis-representation about the life span of these modern cloth diapers. Marketing claims, mis-informed customer service representatives, and hopeful parents all say that cloth diapers will LAST from birth to potty training. Many believe that these diapers should last through multiple children (or owners) and still look new. While this mis-representation might seem harmless enough…..some might even say it’s just semantics… I have seen it begin to whittle away at the very industry that I know and love.
Here are a few reasons why:
- Customers have unrealistic expectations about the life span of their diapers, and may be inclined to bash manufacturers of diapers for not holding up to their promises.
- Manufacturers are replacing diapers that have long since passed their life expectancy, to keep customers happy. These replacements prevent them from having the funds needed to give raises, create new and innovative diapering products, or even keep their lights on.
- Store owners are replacing diapers long since their life expectancy to keep customers happy, cutting into already slim profit margins.
- Price increases will ultimately follow. Manufactures price their products taking into account the cost of making that diaper, paying their employees, and factoring in profit margins for retailers. But they may not have factored in the cost of making 2 or even 3 diapers into the overall cost structure. In order to stay in business, they may have to increase the cost of diapers overall to cover the costs of unnecessary warranty claims.
As a detergent manufacturer- we have a lot of customers that cloth diaper. It’s a great eco-friendly option for a lot of parents. Because of that, we spend a lot of our time understanding the science behind these “modern” cloth diaper fabrics- I have spent countless hours researching, talking to chemists, and fabric manufacturers about the pros and cons to these components and wanted to share some of my knowledge with you. So please, follow me this week as we de-construct the modern cloth diaper and talk about the realistic expectations we should be putting on our diapers and their life expectancy.