Why Cloth Diaper: Chemical Crackdown

You guys know I'm all about eliminating harmful chemicals from my life, and helping others do the same. Did you know; the law does NOT require manufacturers to disclose exactly what is used in disposable diapers? Or, that very, very little research even exists on the chemicals used in diapers? Much like the personal care industry, there are so many unknowns here and it is a scary world! There are multiple reasons why, after 6 months of disposables, I chose to cloth diaper Noah, and I had originally planned to talk about all of them in this post. But as I started writing, I realized there was so much to be said about chemicals alone!


I don’t have all of the answers when it comes to exactly what chemicals exist in which diaper brands – nor is that information easy to find, because like I said, that information is not disclosed by diaper companies. What I do know from research is that the following ingredients are commonly found in traditional disposable diapers:

  • Chlorine: Many disposables are bleached with chlorine, with the biggest issue being that the chlorine produces byproducts; Dioxins. Dioxins, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are extremely toxic & highly carcinogenic chemicals.
  • Sodium Polyacrylate: A super absorbent, binding material used to prevent leakages. It was removed from tampons due to toxic shock syndrome concerns, but besides that has virtually no research and has only been in the market for 2 decades.
  • Tributyl-tin (TBT): EPA says it is another extremely toxic chemical that caused hormone disruptions in aquatic organisms. American Institute of Biological Studies says it can trigger genes that promote the growth of fat cells.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, dipentene… none sound particularly great & all are suspected to cause cancer.
  • Fragrances, dyes, plastics, pesticide residue… all believed to be found in disposables with a wide range of adverse health effects. 

Most of us were put in disposable diapers as children (I was!!) and have yet to experience said health problems (or if we have, we wouldn't necessarily think: MUST HAVE BEEN THOSE DAMN DIAPERS I WORE)... which leads people to believe that cloth diaper users, the EPA, and anyone else “onto” the diaper industry is just full of shit (how fitting)! However, thousands of chemicals are introduced into the consumer marketplace every single year. Disposable diapers have changed over the years – whether safer or more hazardous – it is so hard to really know because we DON’T actually know the entirety of what’s in them, but I’m willing to bet it’s the latter. I get it: disposables work very well and they're super convenient. I think it's something like 95% of parents use them... it's not lost upon me that we're in the minority when it comes to diapering. Disposables are so absorbent and odorless… in fact, that’s what scared me. WHAT is in those diapers to make that possible? Is it safe?! Truth be told, the UNKNOWN of it all is what pushed me to opt for cloth.


Being a parent is hard work. There are so many options and decisions to be made every single day, and so many harmful chemicals everywhere we turn that did not previously exist. I never intend to point fingers, nor do I aim to shame moms who use disposable diapers, just as I don’t shame those using skincare products with some not-so-safe ingredients. We are all doing our very best and navigating this thing called "healthy living". I simply want to share what I have learned because it is important to me, and you don’t know what you don’t know. My goal is to provide information on health issues so that people can make educated, informed decisions. Knowledge is power, and when you know better, you do better… whether that be cloth diapering or not – whatever is right for you & your child, is right for you & your child. I didn’t start cloth diapering Noah until he was 6 months old and I dug a little deeper, so if you're thinking you do want to dive into the change, it's never too late. 


If you're interested in learning more about cloth diapering, stay tuned! Eliminating chemicals is only one of the reasons why I choose cloth, and I will talk about the other benefits in later posts. Plus, I will break it down so you can see just HOW to fit cloth diapers into your life... this is just the beginning! I promise, it’s ALMOST as easy as using disposables.

xo, Stephanie