Many people will say that cloth diapers are more eco-friendly because you are using something once, throwing it into a landfill, and letting it sit there for the next 500 years to decompose. Others argue that the water and power used to clean cloth diapers has the same negative impact on the environment as disposables. Honestly, I’m sure both arguments are true to an extent. I plan to make cloth diapering eco-friendly for my family by hand washing and line drying the diapers. For busy families however, this isn’t always an option, and that’s ok! When I was a toddler teacher, I spent at least a third of my day (probably closer to half actually) changing diapers, mopping the floor, and picking up toys. I would come home, plop on the couch, and literally not move while my hubby would want to do something active since he had a desk job. Our place was also a mess because the last thing I wanted to do was think about cleaning when I got home. I get it. If hand washing isn’t for you then don’t do it. You’re not going to impress anyone by saying you hand wash your diapers. If anything people will look at you like you’re from another planet. (And in the off chance you do end up impressing someone by your hand washing, you might want to re-evaluate that person’s sanity!)
If you do decide to hand wash, or at least line-dry (that part doesn’t usually require extra work!), then cloth diapering is arguably more eco-friendly. You will probably use less water, your diapers will get clean faster since you don’t have to wait for an entire machine load of them to pile up, and the sunlight will naturally bleach your diapers to help keep stains at bay. Personally, hand washing will save me a few extra trips up and down the stairs to get to our apartment complex’s one shared washer and dryer. With hand washing, I can do it on my own time and not be worried that a neighbor is waiting to yank my wet things out the second the wash is done so they can put their dirty laundry into the machine (sadly, I speak from experience). Also, when your baby becomes a toddler, he or she can get involved by helping you to hang the freshly washed diapers. Children love to help out around the house. Anything you are doing, they want to do as well!
Bottom line: If you are doing cloth diapering solely to be eco-friendly, then consider hand washing and/or line drying. Otherwise, don’t stress yourself out.