Are Cloth Diapers From China Bad?

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Recently, I stirred up some confusion when I made a comment about Made In China clones.

The word that many skipped over is the key word–CLONES.

I don’t condone the reselling of a cloth diaper design that you did not design and yet claim you did.

I don’t condone using someone’s design without their permission.

I don’t condone the unscrupulous acts of Chinese factories who see a design without a Chinese patent and mass produce it for wholesalers to re-brand at their own accord.

However, I don’t have ANY problems with a US business seeking manufacturing oversees.

While some manufacturers choose to use factories outside of the US to keep their costs reasonable to the consumer, there are steps we can take to ensure that we are buying from a reputable company. For starters most manufactures are more than happy to address your concerns. A reputable company has visited the factory themselves and can explain to you what steps are taken to ensure that the employees are treated respectfully, paid an ethical wage, and work in safe conditions. Most owners care just as much as you do about these issues. ~Calley of The Eco Chic

My intent with this post is to help readers understand that whether a cloth diaper is made in China or not isn’t the real question.

I want you to realize that sometimes if a diaper “looks just like a Rumparooz” (or XYZ diaper) then it probably is a copy to some degree.

Which leads me to the next point, “aren’t all cloth diapers a copy of another brand? there are only so many options out there.” I’ve said this very thing myself before. I remember in 2006 or 2007 a big controversy over Fuzzi Bunz copies. I was so irritated that people were up in arms over where the pocket of a cloth diaper opened and how the snap alignment sat.

I agree that there are only so many ways a cloth diaper can be designed. The same can be said for a smartphone. I rolled my eyes a few months ago when I read about Apple’s legal team shutting people down and buying up patents like five cent candy to protect their iPhone design.

We take pride in our manufacturing and have yet to find the same standards met at any factory, world wide.  We have both used and visited our fair share of other factories in both the US and internationally, and our conditions have not been topped.


When a family choses cloth diapers, no matter the brand, they are saving over the cost and use of disposables.  However, some may chose to maximize their savings and consider a higher end cloth diaper, like the Rumparooz, out of their budget.  There is still a place for cheap cloth diapers in the market, as cloth diapering is a privilege that every family should have.  We know that the cloth diapering parent is very smart and they educate themselves thoughoughly on the types, style, care info, etc of cloth diapers.  We would ask that they also make it a point to research where that “cheap cloth diaper” is coming from.  The “clones” are being pumped off the assembly lines in China like wild fire.  We have seen our fair share of wanna-be-rumparooz.  It doesn’t matter if they copy the pattern right down to the stitch, or if they simple reproduce the patent pending features of the inner gussets, they are still copy cats. Or clones. The design is not their own, as much as they claim it to be and slap their label on it.  Is that $5, $8, $14 diaper supporting a family? Ethical wages? Beautiful working conditions? It isn’t even possible to source the materials, pay the quality manufacturing and import the product to the US for those prices, so Ill let you answer that question.


We spend months and years developing products that are unique and absolutely original.  It costs thousands of dollars to make sure that each product is thoroughly tested and meets and exceeds the standards of the CPSIA.  Clone diaper companies that import in small batches frequently do not get bothered about compliance and neither can they afford it either.  The cost to have a product tested, each production run tested no matter if it was the same product you made 6 months ago, contributes significantly to the value of the diaper.  When a diaper is more expensive the consumer does not always realize that extra security built into that price tag.

~Julie Ekstrom, CEO & President of Kanga Care

Working conditions in China are not fair and optimal. It isn’t a nasty rumor that Chinese factory workers are paid practically nothing, work ridiculously long hours without breaks and in conditions that are oftentimes unhealthy. Does this mean every Chinese factory is this way? No.

It is ultimately up to you the consumer to do your research before buying a product, any product. If your conscience is clear then buy it guilt free! There’s no condemnation in that!

The bigger question for me isn’t where the cloth diaper is made but the ethics around the product.

The ethical part of this equation is an obvious one, but another serious concern about “clone diapers” is the quality. As cloth diaper users, advocates and makers, we want and need brands to be of the utmost quality so that the industry and the product “cloth diaper” is positive and well represented. I have met many mothers who have purchased low quality diapers because of the attractive pricing, only to find that they under-performed and the families were left with no choice but to trash or give away the diapers as a result. These are families that were already on a budget and trying to save money by using cloth, but were then turned off as a result of poor quality brands that look like the rest. That breaks my heart to see, but it is the sad reality of the onslaught of “knock-off” brands dirtying the waters of the growing cloth diaper industry. As ethical consumers, we have a responsibility to make choices that not only benefit us, but that do no harm to others.~Amanda of The Eco Friendly Family

A similar analogy would be many of the multi-level marketing parties we’ve all attended at one time or another. Whether it be purses, Christian clothing or supplements; if you go to enough parties you begin to think you are seeing the same thing over and over.

I remember years ago when my husband and I were considering a MLM business and they kept saying “Do your due diligence!” I’m very glad they did because I discovered through my research that they weren’t what they made themselves out to be.

Emi of The Cloth Diaper Report adds to this saying,

Each representative is selling basically the same products at around the same price, and they are really representing the brand (or diaper factory in this case) rather than their own unique inventions.

This can be be deceiving to a cloth diapering newbie or other consumers who are not exposed to a high number of brands because they have different labels or minute differences so can appear to be different products. It is not a matter of whether or not you should support these brands, but rather making sure that consumers are educated and informed as to who they are supporting and what design they should expect when they are making purchases.

The truth is, credit lies with the one who designed it first. Then, if the original designer wishes to license out their design all is on the up and up.

Sure, I could provide you with a list of potential cloth diaper “clones” but my goal isn’t to blacklist brands or play sides. Simply realize that crazy things like copying someone’s design and pretending it is your own really does happen!

In summary:

  • I desire everyone to cloth diaper their children. If you can’t afford a Made in the USA pocket, all in one or fitted cloth diaper I will gladly recommend some excellent quality prefolds and flats. I’ll even tell you where you can buy an adorable Made in the USA cover or how to make one.
  • Buying Made In China isn’t evil.
  • There are cloth diapers coming out of China that are reproductions or slightly modified reproductions of US patented cloth diapers.
  • I love to support WAHMs. Even ones that move their production overseas.
  • No where in this post am I saying not to buy a cloth diaper made in China or even a clone/copycat diaper. However, I am encouraging you to give thought to your purchase.


Other resources (will be added to as articles come out):

According to Jenny


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About Autumn Beck

Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ. She began cloth diapering in 2005 and has experienced many joys and trials throughout the years. Autumn enjoys writing but would choose camping with her family any day!

View all posts by Autumn Beck

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36 Responses to “Are Cloth Diapers From China Bad?”

  1. Mikayla Fex Says:

    Thanks for the advice!
    It’s hard not to get caught up in the whole china fabricated diapers since many families are more focused on the price and upfront cost of the diapers, therefore not doing enough research.

    Reply

  2. Lindsay Says:

    Been thinking about this a lot lately, I really appreciate this article!

    Reply

  3. Mary Michaud Says:

    I’m afraid that avoiding “Made in China” has become more of a mantra or prejudice than anything. If a person is seriously interested in the ethics and work conditions of where their product was made, certainly research it – and in THAT case, I can understand being more suspicious of China. But. If most of your purchases are of products made in China, don’t get caught up in a fad scare against any particular product. Diapers are just diapers. They’re closest to clothes, perhaps. How many of your clothes are made in China? If someone personally is convicted against buying something made in China, I don’t have a problem with it. If they want to support WAHMs or have a particular brand they have loyalty for, go for it! If they want to buy made in USA only, I can understand that. But I think the whole scare against made in China with cloth diapers is more bigotry than anything else. And I’m surprised there’s not more outrage against the heavy markup in some of the rebranding than just placing an order for a product made out of the country.

    Reply

    • Mary Michaud Says:

      p.s. obviously, i’m not disagreeing with your article. just ranting against what you were addressing

      Reply

  4. Brooke Says:

    Great article. I see several good reasons mentioned as to why we should buy a diaper made in the USA instead of China. And I can see why many of us buy from China…the price are often time more affordable.
    As for the companies who design in the USA and produce in China, blame it on the inhospitable small business environment in the USA. So many ridiculous regulations and taxes kill small businesses. This is the biggest reason to suppport made in the USA.

    Reply

  5. Tessa Says:

    I have the same problem. I just Bought several Alvas and love them now though I’m wondering who they stole the pattern from. I’ll keep using them because my son is already 2 and close to potty training but won’t be ordering anymore. I was going to get some trainers from a co-op but now am scared to. I need some that is better than what you get from Walmart but now don’t know where to turn. I can’t spend $20-30 per trainer though. It was so much easier to decide with my first two because I used sposies with them. I was scared of cloth then. Now I’m addicted. ;)

    Reply

  6. Sarah O Says:

    I try to get as much from the US as I can, but look around, I mean clothing, cook wear, towels, bedding, cars, tools…. do you know where everything comes from? when it comes to diapers I aim for organics thats origins I know and trust. when itcomes to plastic covers I own 3 brands, one is from here, the others from china, I have found some places are nuce to work for there. It is really hard to buy 100% us when it comes to plastics. I also import from companys around the world through small companys in the us for quality we don’t make here. unless it is both made and sourced here its not all from here anyway. these days just so so much is imported

    Reply

  7. cecilia Says:

    Hi from spain. Great blog here!
    The real problemas with chinesse diapers is that are made in a country with no human and/or civil rights, with death penalty (well, as usa, but here in europe we arent very found of that, you know), with working children, occupied Tibet, zero respect for the enviroment ( as usa again!) and so and so…
    I like chinesse people and a lot are living now in my country. But i dont like buying chinessLe. Is very dificult, but at least we can choose not to do it whit our baby,s staff.its ourcall to do the right thing when consuming.
    Thank you all!

    Reply

  8. veera Says:

    I thank you for knowladge

    Reply

  9. tm Says:

    we strive to buy “made in usa” only. (which means we’re not buying much. we buy MIC/? second hand only and as needed.) i recently bought new dipes from a new usa cd company… website stated “usa product”. i thought “great. get our new LO usa dipes in cute colors”. after using a beloved wahm cd site, it arrives clearly stating “designed in usa, made in china.” has anyone else fallen for the “usa product” line only to find its MADE elsewhere? maybe its not a new marketing ploy but it really irritated me.

    Reply

  10. Elizabeth Says:

    It’s kind of like pirated movies and music, isn’t it? Sure, materials and production costs were there (such as the disk itself or in this case the fabric and elastic) but the content belonged to someone else. And, as with pirated music or movies, there was advertising and brand building that the cloner takes advantage of. If you read that a diaper is “just like a rumparooz” and understand what that means it’s because you’ve come in contact with Rumparooz and their marketing. Brand names have value, or copycats wouldn’t try to use them.

    Reply

  11. eb Says:

    I selfishly wish you would name names, although I understand why you can’t. :) I am just getting back into the CD-buying phase (pregnant with my third) and purchased about 80% of my stash 5-6 years ago. I can’t go back and change what I bought back then, but I am trying to make very conscientious choices this time around. Part of my motivation is that I just don’t need much, most of my older dipes are going strong after almost 5 years of use (between two kids), but I would like to buy a few special things for my new guy. If I can be more aware of where they are coming from and what to avoid, all the better.

    Reply

  12. Erin@TheHumbledhomemaker Says:

    Great article! I absolutely love my Kawaii, though! We are also low income (and were even lower when I started CDing). I started out w/ a loan from the Cloth Diaper Foundation (what a blessing!), and then slowly built my stash w/ mostly Kawaiis as well as a few seconds BGs. Honestly? My Kawaiis have held up better than my BGs!

    Reply

  13. Beth P Says:

    Could someone give some names of WAHM who sell diapers that are good quality? There are so many brands and unsure of where to go!

    Reply

    • Laurel Says:

      I buy mine from a friend of mine…she has a site set up the littlesandman.com wonderful quality!!! She designed me pocket diapers as well as some wonderful gusseted covers for my flat folds. She also has a fabulous ‘super diaper’ for overnight heavy wetters! She’s made cloth diapering so easy for me!!!

      Reply

    • Julia Says:

      Hello,
      I know a wonderful lady who has the best cloth diapers at a really good rate. Just email workmansmommy@aol.com.

      Reply

  14. Jenny Says:

    I, like Chas, also have a problem with American companies getting their manufacturing done in other countries. In addition to her stated reasons of the environmental safeguards being more lax in these countries (not that ours are really that great, either, but still better than where this lower-cost labour is being done) but also for economic reasons. One of the reasons that so many parents who want to cloth diaper can’t afford the big-name brands is because they were let go from their jobs so that those jobs could instead be done cheaper in other countries.

    Reply

  15. Krystal Says:

    I wish I could return my purchase of Alvas now. I just feel sonew to all tis. I started out with flats and two covers. Then I made some covers for my little boy and now they are not working well. I just bought 12 new alvas through a co op and then read your blog about it. Now, I am wishing I would have spent my money on wahm or USA products. But now i know. Next purchase will be USA even though it might cost more.

    Reply

  16. Nikki Says:

    I agree with some of what you have said. There are less inferrior products out there. The problem that I have is with the classification that all these lessor products come from China. I support my country, USA, in every way that I can but we too can make garbage. I have purchased several USA made diapers and some of them are garbage. I also agree and support you in saying that cloning or coping a diaper is wrong but as you also stated, only so many designs are popular. Did Huggies clone Pampers? I did enjoy the article but to be honest the issue I have is with the reference to the Chinese “sweat shops”. I’m sure you have never been there and seen these factories for yourself. Be sure not to blow it out of propotion. They are not as advertised. Most Chinese factories have above average working conditions and the employees are treated as well as most American employees. I have been there many times and seen this. I have also in all my 52 years never seen the employee dedication and job enjoyment like I have seen in these so called “sweat shops”

    Reply

    • Erin@TheHumbledhomemaker Says:

      I’ve also been to China and seen some very nice factories and happy employees. I guess you never know which factory a product comes from.

      Reply

    • Meghan Says:

      Agreed! Do what you want, as the article stated but I lived I’m Asia and I have never seen such dedication to work, whether it was the man at 7-11 (yes, they have those!) to the woman wrapping my glass products I bought at their dollar store. The work ethic is freaking amazing! But then Asia is an ancient culture with very different values than the Western world.

      Now, there are places of exploitation for sure. But when you are discussing China it’s never going to be apples to apples simply because it’s a communist country with a different way of doing things and thinking. We are talking about a country that 60 years ago had hundreds of thousands of their people starving even though they were growing plenty of food but giving it to the state instead. That’s a simplified summary for sure, but the point is it’s a completely different culture. And I don’t mean like the difference between Germans and Brits. It bigger and deeper than that.

      Anyway, do as you will. :)

      Reply

  17. Chas Says:

    I DO have a problem with the US seeking manufacturing overseas. It’s not only just a matter of workers’ welfare, but also a matter of environmental damages. Manufacturing process in other countries are not just cheaper because of cheap labor. They are cheaper because companies don’t need to spend millions of dollars to clean up the pollution caused by their manufacturing processes or on methods of prevention. I don’t even want to know how much pollution comes from the production of PUL overseas. All of the waste products likely just get dumped into open water, which is, in many places, used for drinking without treatment.

    The problem with China cheapies (of anything) isn’t just one of workers’ rights. It’s a problem much bigger than we could ever realize, but we stopped those types of practices in the US 50 years ago or more.

    Reply

  18. Leah Ellis Says:

    Thanks for this blog. I’ve been surprised a couple of times after ordering products I thought were made in the US or Canada that arrived with a Made in China label. Also by brands that people are obsessed with like Sloomb that are, or were previously Made in China, & they aren’t cheap! Please correct me if I’m wrong about that, but this is what I see online:
    sustainablebabyish longies are made from öko-tex certified wool yarns and … öko-tex certified wool yarns & dye, made in a socially and environmentally responsible knit house in China.

    Looks like they believe the factories they use to be of high quality.

    I I prefer WAHM, & have found some at very reasonable prices, but I believe in free trade & allowing markets to compete, & consumers to make their own choices.

    Reply

  19. Mish Harvey Says:

    I totally wish my whole stash could be Made in USA. However, as the saying goes, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” My first few cloth diapers were given to me second hand; some bumGenius made in Egypt and some Grovias made in China, and one Kissaluv Made in USA. But when it came time to put my husband’s money out for it (we are low income, and I do not work to take care of our autistic toddler), I purchased from alvababy.com. Because it was the difference between getting 4 or 20 diapers for $80. Now I have a stash, now every once in a great while I can spend some extra money on a USA diaper (Green Humbug was my first, and they are local to me!). I also ran a six month fundraiser to get my autistic child an iPad; which I know the working conditions are not ideal, but the fact of the matter is what is best for my son: there are apps on the iPad that they do not make for android tablets yet.

    Reply

  20. Brandy Says:

    Loved your thoughts, Autumn!

    Reply

  21. Amanda Says:

    This very issue weighed heavily on my mind, so I de-stashed all of my non-USA made diapers with the exception of the old style BumGenius AIOs that were made in Egypt (I just can’t do it. They’re my favorites among all my favorites,and they started out from an American WAHM business). I decided that I would rather spend more money buying from American workers, thereby putting my money back into my nation’s already-shot economy. I agree with you that everyone should CD their child if they want to, but I personally couldn’t sleep well knowing that I wasn’t fully supporting my own countrymen and women in my quest to CD.

    Reply

  22. Cindi Says:

    wonderful article. loved every word. i for one think it’s a shame that affordable manufacturing can’t be found here in the US, however it is good to know that their are reputable manufacturing places in other countries that help ease the burden of cost when we are making purchasing decisions. this issue goes beyond the cloth diaper industry. all consumers should be aware of working conditions and the ethics of the factories that produce the products being bought. we all have a choice, we should at least choose wisely.

    Reply

  23. Kristen Says:

    Thank you for this article. I only recently discovered some of these cheap options when searching online, and have been debating whether or not I feel it is okay to buy them. While I like a good deal I certainly don’t want to knowingly support a practice that cannot pay it’s employees adequately given the extremely cheap prices they sell their product for. I appreciate your opinion. Thanks so much!

    Reply

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