Washable diapers, well worth it?

Washable diapers, well worth it?

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Disposable diapers are practical, but expensive and polluting. Conversely, washable diapers are machine. An economy for the wallet? Are they really more eco-friendly? Our answers.

What is a washable diaper?

  • In fact, it is at least two or even three layers: a piece of fabric, over which is put waterproof protective pants against leaks. A biodegradable protective veil is added, which is thrown with the stool.

How is she?

  • Mostly made of cotton (organic or not), polyester, bamboo fiber or hemp, sometimes with fleece or suede for the inner surface, the washable layer is made of soft fabric for the skin. Be careful, these materials do not always help keep your baby dry!

How to wash a green layer?

  • Machine, at 40 degrees C, add an antibacterial, type essential oil of tea tree. Before any first use, let the layer soak for ten hours and wash several without softener, so that it reaches its maximum degree of absorption.

How many are needed?

  • It all depends if you can wash a little, a lot ... and especially dry! The ideal? twenty layers.

Economical washable diapers?

  • The National Center for Independent Information on Waste (Cniid) made its calculations. For two and a half years disposable diapers, count about 5500 layers before your baby is clean. At 0,30 € the average price of the layer, the note is still 1760 €. In the trash, this corresponds to about one ton of non-biodegradable waste to be treated.
  • For the washable diapers, the addition is less heavy. Between the purchase of diapers, laundry, washing and drying, count about 900 €. The cost to the environment is lower, but not negligible: no waste, certainly, but a significant consumption of water and electricity. To which must be added the time spent!


  • Ademe, the French Environment and Energy Management Agency, decided at the end of 2012: whether washable or disposable, diapers have the same impact on the environment.
  • If the former reject less waste than disposable diapers, they are more greedy in water and energy. A statement already established in 2008 by a British study.
  • To limit their environmental impact, Ademe therefore recommends washing them in a high-performance machine (class A / AA), at full load and at 60 ° C, with detergents bearing an ecolabel, drying them in the open air, avoiding them. iron and use them for several children.

Maryse Damiens and Safia Amor