The Collapse of the Used Cloth Diaper Market

by Kelly · 11 comments

in A Frugal Family

I made the decision to cloth diaper my children when I was pregnant with my first baby: partly for crunchy granola reasons, partly for economic reasons, partly because I’m stubborn and wanted to be different from the mainstream French, and a little bit for the cute factor. Cloth diapers are better for the environment, easier on your pocketbook and not very well known in France (more on that in a minute). Plus, what’s cuter than a baby with a big ole’ cloth-diapered butt? Not much.

In almost any analysis on the cost of buying and using cloth versus disposable diapers you will find the ‘resale’ factor: the idea that you can offset your initial purchase by selling the diapers after you’ve used them with your kids. I estimate that I’ve bought 10% of my babies’ cloth diapers new, most of them were hand-me-downs, or bought second hand. After the birth of my second son, when I was convinced we were finished having children, I sold the great majority of my cloth diaper stock on Ebay and in doing so, recuperated their purchase price.

No more!

As of Summer 2007 (I’m not sure of the exact date), Ebay no longer allows the sale of used cloth diapers, considering them to be used undergarments and thus falling under the ‘mature’ rating. Auctions were cancelled and what was once a flourishing category, collapsed.

Many other sites have sprung up to fill the vacuum, but none of them get the same level of traffic as Ebay. Worse for me, most of them are in the United States. While cloth diapers remain an ‘alternative’ choice in America, in France they are considered ringard, or out-of-date and tacky. The market for them is very small and the resale value has plummeted.

So what are my options? Luckily, I managed to buy a lot of diapers in size 1 and 2 in early 2007. I got a good price on them and maybe by the time I want to sell them, another market will have opened up. Until then, I’ve posted the newborn size diapers that my daughter has already outgrown on another site and they’ve slowly been selling, one by one. I’m even considering listing a few on some US sites and bringing them with me on vacation to ship from there.

What about you? Where are you selling yours? And wanna buy some gently used, good condition newborn diapers and covers?


1 Sophie February 8, 2008

My significant other thinks they are tacky… Hoping to make her change her views.
In my opinion it’s an anti-consumerism move, which I am all about these days.

By the time we have kids, will her viewpoint have changed?! only God knows.

2 K February 8, 2008

We’ll work on her together…

3 Sophie February 8, 2008

LOL cool, but good luck she is the Normandie kind of STUBBORN!

4 CatherineL February 8, 2008

Sell them to a flood restoration company. We used to use loads.

Ebay are unbelievable – they allowed people to auction body parts and all kinds of other rubbish, yet they’re banning diapers?!

5 K February 8, 2008

Too funny, Catherine! They’re the newborn size though, so I doubt they’d soak up a small puddle!

6 Michelle Dawn February 8, 2008

I was lucky enough to find a lot of used diapers on a local used site (for dirt cheap I might add). Even if I don’t get a penny back they will have more than paid for themselves within a few weeks.

7 Hélène June 25, 2008

Thanks for the link to my site 😀

8 Carolyn August 10, 2008

When my kids were potty trained, we used them for rags.They were great for dusting.

9 Kelly August 11, 2008

Thanks for the suggestions Lin! There is, amazingly enough, a small but active population here that uses cloth diapers, so maybe I’ll give them away through them.

10 Lin August 11, 2008

You could donate them for charity, but in France, they may not get snapped up, so here are a few far out ideas…

Use them for stuffing. Make a quilt using them for the stuffing on the inside to make it soft and comfy. It could be a small one for naptime for your little one.

Use them for dust clothes and cleaning rags. They will last forever and are absorbent.

Dye them a variety of colors and then cut up in a variety of shapes. Mount them back together in a pleasing arrangement on a cardboard backing and frame it. Make a pretty wall hanging. No one will ever know it is diapers. It is now "art." It is a really pretty effect, too.

11 Charndra at Part Time Diaper Free! June 20, 2009

Great ideas, thanks! I was doing a bit of research on what to do with excess or used prefolds, and stumbled on your site.

Another idea is to convert them into training pants! The soaker area is ready made…

Here’s an ETSY shop who’ll do it for you!


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