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Cloth Diapers in an Emergency

The renewal of hurricane season and active storms has made me reevaluate my emergency plans and preparations. I have given thought to water supply, food, batteries, important documents, and more…but with my decision to use cloth diapers exclusively, and the disappearance of the very last disposable diaper, I have new plans to make. Part of my preparation will no longer include picking up an extra pack of disposable diapers. It is important to me to find an environmentally safe emergency plan.

How will I wash my stash if we were to lose power and water? What happens when I run out of clean cloth diapers? Do I really plan on washing everything by hand with a limited water supply? Many questions began spinning through my head, and I realized I hadn’t planned for conditions without a washing machine.

In formulating my plan, I slowed down and asked myself the following questions:

  • How many diapers does my child use in a day?
  • How often will I wash diapers? (As a load, or individually?)
  • Do I have enough diapers to rotate clean/dirty diapers in time for them to be dry and ready?
  • Where will I wash the diapers? (In a bucket? The sink?)
  • Do I have extra needed accessories (diaper rash cream, laundry detergent, wipes, liners)?
  • Where will the waste water be disposed?
  • How will the process maintain sanitary conditions? (Hand-washing/disinfecting?)
  • How long will I be prepared to be without power/water?

My stash of cloth diapers includes mostly One Size Fuzzi Bunz and BumGenius, with a few Rumparooz, and Thirsties. I also have 3 Bummis Whisper Wrap Covers which I use with a Kissaluvs Hybrid One Size Contour (I really need to get more inserts!). I have enough diapers to last 3 or 4 days, but from experience realize that it is necessary to plan for a week or more in an emergency situation. My planning decision revolved mainly around the question of hand-washing diapers that I already have (counting on enough extra water to the supply to enable this), and/or finding an alternative solution. Standard disposables for me will be an absolute last resort, and I won’t stock them.

Kelly’s Closet offered me a very appealing solution: GroVia Bio-Soakers! With this option, I can reuse a cover multiple times and replace the insert as needed…without a significant water resource impact (I’ll only need to clean covers). I will always have my other cloth diapers and inserts, as additional options available in my emergency kit. Even if I ran out of Bio-Soakers (my first choice for avoiding a heavier wash load), I will still have a wonderful supply of fluff to wash and reuse. GroVia also makes Bio-Diapers, an alternative to disposable diapers that may be another option.

Cloth diapers are actually a perfect solution for emergency situations. Long before washing machines, cloth was THE only option, and mothers (and fathers) made it work. Granted, emergencies can be slightly different without a known unlimited source of water, but the same principles apply. Reliance on modern convenience is not necessary to making cloth diapers effective. The biggest added bonus is not having the worry of a panicked sell-out of all disposables at the grocery store…my cloth will always be right there.

I’ll be ordering some GroVia shells and Bio-Soakers to test drive this solution. In the meantime, I may come up with other ideas, but at least I’m on the right track for being prepared in an emergency with cloth diapers. Are you?

By Julie G.


  1. Ashley said...

    I also bought some grovia shells and bio inserts for this EXACT reason!

  2. LadyInBlue said...

    great thinking, and a timely topic for discussion.

    I'm wondering how hard it would be to get some flats and pins/snappi and throw them in your emergency kit. they would take barely any time to dry, and would be easy to hand wash. You would have to include covers, or use the ones you already have.

    I think I'm going to do that, actually. Next time I "need" to make an order, I'm gonna add some flats to keep in my earthquake kit.

    Thanks for the great idea!

  3. Meg said...

    I have had power outages lasting 7 days twice in the last 2 years. We do not have running water during outages (well pump). Both times I went with disposables. These products seem really interesting though- particularly if some emergency also kept us homebound for an extended period.

  4. Kelly said...

    Great Article and yes, very timely! I am so glad I don't have to worry too much about major emergency situations like hurricanes but it makes me think, "What would I do in an emergency for more than 2 days?"

    Thanks for the great post and making me stop and think

  5. Lynn said...

    we have city water that has NEVER been off in a hurricane…even when the power was out for over 2 weeks! we have a blade that chops up solid waste when it goes down the drain, so our flushing is limited. so these wouldnt be feesable for us, but they sound like a great option for others…esp. for those in the upcoming BLIZZARD weather! washing and line-drying, though, for hurricane season would work best for us. thanks for the post, though! 🙂

  6. Leilani said...

    Wow…great post. This is definitely not something that I've thought of–but something that I definitely do need to!

  7. star122802 said...

    I thought about this months ago. And since we use gdiapers I figured I would try out their flusables. So thats our choice for hurricane season.

  8. TEAM LINDSAY said...

    Yup, great solution! That's what we'll do too, since we already have covers and disposable inserts on hand for daycare (because they won't use cloth). However, FLIP disposable inserts are cheaper ($0.28 each as opposed to $0.40 each for the BioSoakers), just FYI…

  9. TEAM LINDSAY said...

    Also, gDiaper disposable inserts are $0.45 each for the M/L size…

  10. Katie L. said...

    Thank you for reminding me. I plan to keep ggiapers on hand, and looking into those biodiapers by grovia.

    …and maybe a bucket for washing.

  11. runningforme said...

    We just put our first earthquake kit together and I was hoping I wouldn't have to keep disposables in it. It's good to know there are easy cloth diapering solutions in an emergency. The ease of using biodegradable liners is a nice option too!

  12. Lynn said...

    i plan on ordering flats today. i had a dream last night igor was gonna hit us. my dad just informed me its a cat4 and expected to strengthen. itd be CRAZY if it hit. and our power would be OUT. now wish i couldve ordered sooner. wish i thought of emergencies in cloth sooner!

  13. StephanieU said...

    I ma glad I live somewhere were the chances of any natural disaster are almost 0. We could possibly get a small storm that would affect use for a day or two, but it would be a miracle if we were without power/water for more than 48 hours. So, no need to have any realy plans for us.

  14. I haven't had to use cloth diapers in an emergency yet, so I can't give you much input in that.

    I can, however, give you some GroVia input. I love my GroVia system! I've got three shells, twelve liners, and one doubler. We usually go through two shells per day (dirty diapers mess the shell up too much to keep reusing).

    GroVias are great on storage. They take up much less room than my pocket diapers do, and they dry more quickly, which are both very important when preparing for and living through an emergency.

    I think your GroVia hypothesis is going to exceed your expectations. Good on you for being so prepared!

  15. Kasper said...

    I thought of this at the beginning of the season. Keeping in mind when Ivan hit us we had no power for almost 2 weeks, I'm stocking flip disposables and lots of wipe solution. Our water stays running but we have to boil it,so that will make wipes intresting.

  16. Taryn said...

    Great post! It's good to know GroVia bio inserts are an option for cloth diapering…I will definitely be using them.

  17. Emily said...

    Love the soakers!!

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