When I told friends in Japan that I was going to do cloth diapers, they scoffed. “She’s naive. She has no idea about rainy season.” I’m sure that’s what they were thinking. Even I had my doubts, worried that I was about clod-water washes and my inability to source modern, hi-tech cloth dipes. But you know what, you CAN totally do cloth diapers in Japan. And I’m going to tell you how.
There are a few obstacles to using cloth diapers in Japan: sourcing the correct materials, combating damp drying weather, and the lack of hot water washers. I’m going to fill you in on all the tricks that I’ve discovered so that you too can sucessfully clad you baby in cloth diapers in Japan.
To cloth diaper successfully, you need a few basic pieces of equipment: cloth diapers (durrrrr), cloth wipes, a wet bag, and cloth diaper-friendly laundry detergent. But where exactly does one get all these items, hmmmm? HMMMMMM????
Cloth diapering is not nearly as popular in Japan as it is with the North American Crunchery. But it is not completely unknown. You can find basic flat diapers at some of the major baby stores. If you’re looking for something more glamourous than simple pre-folds, however, you can find that too. I’ve come across two wonderful online shops, Loopist and Dreamnappies. They sell the major brands of all-in-ones, pockets, diaper covers and swim diapers. Another wonderful resource for diapers is Etsy. Believe me, the cuteness of the wool diaper covers alone is almost enough to make me want to re-up my diaper stash (don’t worry, Mr. Chef, I’m holding back).
Dreamnappies and Loopists also carry cloth wipes, wet bags, and all sorts of sundry diapering paraphernalia. Look on Etsy for cloth wipes and wet bags. (Incidentally, I had a hell of a time finding a diaper pail suitable for cloth diapers. I finally found something that was okay, sort of, but it was always overflowing with dipes about a day and a half before laundry day. I waited over a year before I got a wet bag from Etsy. People, do not live by my cheap example. Get a wet bag today. It will change your life.)
Using proper laundry detergent is vital for successful diapering. You need to find a detergent that is full of hippie fairy dust and not chemicals. Specifically, you want to avoid dyes, fragrances, and optical whiteners and brighteners. And that’s kind of hard to do in Japan. Typically, I hand cary detergent on trips back from North America. But I’ve also ordered it online. And you can find cloth diaper-friendly laundry soap on iHerb.com.
Battling the Elements and Cloth Diapering
Most Japanese homes do not have a dryer. So using cloth diapers in Japan means that you need to get friendly with a good drying rack.
All-in-ones are not a good option in Japan because of longer drying times. Pocket diapers are a better option; they dry relatively quickly, taking only half a day in the height of the summer and maybe 36 hours in the damp and cold of the winter.
The secret, then, is to make sure you have a lot of diapers. I have 36. That’s enough to manage even poopy newborndom and still allow time for diaper drying. I use one size pocket diapers because I need so many dipes, it wouldn’t be practical or economical to buy huge quantities in different sizes.
Pro-tip: Some Japanese bathrooms have a handy laundry drying feature. Mine does. If I’m in a real pinch, I just set up a drying rack in the shower room, and then set my robot bathroom to drying mode. Hot air blows in, and I’m all good.
Lack of Hot Water Washers
So, here’s a funny thing: in Japan, washing machines that do hot water washes are, like, pretty much unicorns. But the good news is: they’re totally not necessary.
I wash my daughter’s dipes in cold water. And guess what. Nothing happens. They get clean. No biggie. I don’t notice any difference if I wash them in hot water when I’m visiting my parents. Also, to really sanitize a load, a washing machine needs to heat water to like 90 degrees Celsius (that’s 194 degrees for you imperial lovers.) Most washers wont even get that hot. So basically, this is a non-issue.
There you have it. YOu can totally move to Japan with Kids and do Cloth Diapers in Japan. Ta da!