Today’s disposable diapers are a blessing

Published 8:11 pm Saturday, March 22, 2014

I was reading an article about buying items in bulk, when there in the middle of it was an item that caught my eye and made me think way back in my life.

The writer mentioned buying some things in bulk was a good way to save money. One he mentioned was diapers – noting that disposable diapers are a great bulk buy.

He also added cloth diapering can be even cheaper – but it is not for everyone.

In the days when I was a young mother it was for everyone. Disposable diapers were available but only at the drug store, mostly for emergencies and not comfortable at all.

Besides, at that time no self-respecting mother would put her baby in disposable diapers!

Cloth was the standard for diapers, and most were of the Birdseye variety – that being the name of the type cotton. Gauze diapers were also available but not used as much as the Birdseye. All cotton of course – almost everything was 100 percent cotton.

A diaper was held on a baby with very large safety pins, one on each side. Diaper pins came a few years later.

Being cloth meant they had to be washed to be used again and again. First the dirty diapers had to be rinsed out (a nasty job), then soaked all night in water and some type of deodorizer (like soda) before being washed the next day in the washing machine.

Diapers had to be kept very white – it was a matter of pride for mothers. Dingy diapers were not looked on with favor.

I was blessed to have a wringer washer at the time. Washing diapers started with the diapers being wrung out by hand from the overnight soak before going into the actual wash.

They were washed with soap, something like Ivory Snow or Dreft – not detergent – this was way before detergents. They were wrung out through the two washing machine rollers, then rinsed through two waters to get rid of all the soap. If not, it could cause the baby to have diaper rash or chafing.

For rinsing, one either kept replacing the water in the washing machine or else had two tubs of rinse water nearby. Oh yes, diapers were washed all by themselves – not with the rest of the wash.

After diapers were washed, rinsed and wrung out again (thank goodness for those little rollers), then out to the line to be hung in the fresh air to dry. In the winter it was murder to hang wet diapers on the line and wait for them to dry. You haven’t lived until you have been slapped in the face with a cold wet diaper during a high wind!

If it was very cold they might freeze on the line instead of drying. On summer days they dried fast and had the most wonderful clean smell. 

While hanging wet diapers on the clothesline on very cold days (or anytime), I would try to imagine what a clothes dryer would be like. Once in a while somebody on TV would mention that dryers were being invented, but they were a long time in coming to the average household.

After the diapers came off the line there was still the task of folding them for use. They were folded small for little babies and bigger for larger babies. One could use the same diapers for babies from the time they were born until they were trained. That indeed was a savings for a family. The older they were and the more washed, the softer the diapers became. After a baby was too big for them, diapers still found uses around the house, anything one needed to use a soft cloth to accomplish.

It must be awfully expensive today to keep a baby in disposable diapers for two or three years, but believe me it is worth every cent for the convenience. With many mothers working, nobody has time to wash cloth diapers anymore.

So young mothers, be thankful for the modern convenience of disposable diapers that are also comfortable. You don’t want to go back in time to washing diapers even with the convenience of modern washers and dryers.

It makes me tired just thinking about it.

Retired Lifestyle Editor Bob Ann Breland writes a weekly column and may be contacted at bobann_b@ yahoo. com.