If you’ve used cloth diapers on your child for a while, no doubt a potential convert has asked you, “Why don’t you just hire a service?” Surely having a company that specializes in cleaning soiled diapers and returning them, clean and fresh, back to you relieves you of the burden of at least one chore. Of course, it would be nice to hire a service that changes the diapers for you twenty-four/seven, but until that day comes one must wonder if the diaper cleaning service is worth it.
Those arguing for service are wont to point out advantages: it’s less wear and tear on your washing machine and water bill (though you do have to pay these people, so you’ll have to decide for yourself if you do save money), plus you can arrange a pickup schedule that best suits your needs. If you have no washer and dryer and must rely upon the neighborhood Laundromat, all the better. Good things to consider, yes, but one must also ask these questions:
1) Is there a diaper service near me? I just did a Google search for possibilities in my area and turned up a big zero. I found directories that chart diaper services around the States, but none within a decent distance of my home. Hiring out might be convenient, assuming I can find such a place. If you live in New York City, you’re more likely to find one, but Out of the Way, Idaho has her work cut out for her.
2) Are cloth diaper services really eco-friendly? Now, this statement doesn’t question the overall “greenness” of cloth, but let’s think about this for a moment. The service has to drive around town, picking up diaper at various homes, then delivering clean ones. When you really think about it, the gas and emissions expended become an issue. Of course, one could say “Hey, it’s one truck versus a dozen moms driving out to buy new diapers.” True, but if Mom orders cloth diapers online, and the postman is headed that way anyway, that helps.
3) What do you really get for your money? Will you get the prefolds and the diaper covers with a service? If covers are available, are they extra? If you have to leave on an extended vacation, can you pause your service without incurring fees?
4) Is there a minimum commitment? With many services, you’re required to agree to a set term of employment, be it a few months or an entire year. Let’s say you find a service that on the outset looks good but a few weeks in you’re not satisfied. Are you stuck with a signed deal? I’m not saying all diaper services are like this, but if you are serious about using one it’s important to know your rights should you decide to cease a relationship with them.
Should you hire a diaper service? Mothers experienced with cloth diapers can tell you that the time invested in changing and cleaning prefolds and covers doesn’t vary much as opposed to using disposables, therefore some may argue hiring a service is more of a hindrance than a convenience – after all, somebody has to be home to receive the new batch. However, the working mom may disagree, that there’s no time to run that extra load when the chore list is long enough as it is.
Ultimately, you should consider your lifestyle, location, and budget. Keeping a stack of cloth diapers on hand at home is the best way to introduce green practices to your family, so however you decide to handle cleaning should work out best for your baby and your bank account.