SHTF Cloth Diapers

Come on, you knew it was coming, SHTF the fan brings on a new writer, and she’s FEMALE. Soon it won’t be anything but babies and kittens on here. :-D

Seriously though, sanitation is an important consideration, and if you’ve got fertile young people in your crew, or babies already embedded in the unit, diapers are going to come up.

Disposables – A certain well known survival site recently had a post, or a letter or whatever the heck it is he posts over there, claiming that disposables were the way to go, because, “who wants to do laundry during TEOTWAWKI.”  Two things I’ll point out with that train of thought; one, not having cloth diapers does NOT make the laundry problem go away.  If you don’ t know how to boil water and clean clothing during a SHTF situation, you are lacking as a serious prepper.  Two, wrapping the problem in a plastic diaper doesn’t really deal with the situation. So, you have poop wrapped in plastic, but now what do you do with that bundle of joy?  It’s all fine and dandy when the garbage service is running and those plastic wrapped fecal bombs get trucked off to some safely remote dump.  But, what if it’s not?  You can’t compost or otherwise break down that “disposable” diaper, in fact I don’t think they should legally be allowed to call something “disposable” if it takes longer than 10 years to break down.  Since the estimates I’ve seen online put the break down of disposables into the hundreds of years,  I’ll put forward the opinion that it’s not the best option as a strategy for managing waste on a doomstead.

Cloth – Some of you may have memories of gauzy rectangles,  big pins and plastic pants. Those are still around, as are the easier to use prefolds.  Diapers have continued to evolve and there are now whole categories of them that mimic disposables with their fit and ease of use.  (Look up “fitted diapers” and “All in one diapers.” )  I’ll focus here on prefolds, since that’s what I use and make.  Yes, make. THE best point in favor of cloth diapers is that you can make them yourself.  Prefolds are nothing more than a rectangle of a certain size with absorbant padding in a strip down the middle.

11 X 14 inches for newborn
13 X 19 inches for regular diapers
17 X19 inches for toddler diapers.


Materials that can be used include flannel, t-shirt material, towels and anything made of cotton or bamboo.  Keep your climate and diapering needs in mind as you make them, if you live in hot places, keep them breathable. Keep them thin if you line dry where sunlight and heat can be scarce.  Covers are still used to keep the wet contained. You can buy the laminated fabric (often called PUL, poly-urethane laminate) and with free/cheap patterns online you can make your own covers. Wool is also used to contain the wet, if you have a knitter in the family, my knitting skills aren’t to that point yet, so I haven’t used wool much, but it gets rave reviews.  If you make extra, you can sell or trade them; well made original diapers and covers often fetch high prices.

Planning – If the baby-poop issue is still a hazy maybe, your best bet is to pick an amount of time you want to be able to diaper a little one in an emergency, (ie. 48 hours) plan for 1 diaper every 2 hours and at least 2 covers a day.  4 pins would be the minimum, but they are handy to have around in general, and I think you could make 12 pins worth the storage space.  I would just go with a medium sized diaper for storage, since they’ll fold up for a smaller baby and fit a good span of youngsters.  If the youngster is a definite, you can plan the stash around different time spans, (ie. how long you want to go between diaper washing.)  Diapers can be useful for more than baby-care.  If you’ve got anyone ill or injured enough that they can’t leave bed, having a stack of clean absorbent cloths around could be essential.

Thoughts? Any specific cloth questions I can help with?

– Calamity Jane