Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Guide to Buying Used Diapers; Should you? What are the risks?

There are all sorts of reasons why moms and their families choose to use cloth diapers.  Many use them to be frugal and because they want to save money in the long run.  With the desire to save comes the opportunity to purchase used cloth diapers.  But should you really buy used?  What are the pros and cons?  Let's take a look at this popular diapering option and bring up some things you should know.

What kind of condition is the diaper in?  Let's look at some of the way used diapers are rated/described.

EUC, Excellent Used Condition.  To me this would mean barely used, practically new looking, but it may mean something completely different to the person who is selling it so make sure you ask them to clarify.  VGUC, Very Good or Very Gently Used Condition.  GUC, Gently Used Condition.  In addition to a rating, make sure the seller lists if there are any stains, signs of wear, flaws, etc.  If there are none listed then ask, just because they didn't say "no stains" doesn't necessarily mean there are no stains.

Do you really know where that diaper been? This is a huge problem in the buying/selling of used diapers.  You as the buyer have no way of knowing the real history of the diaper, unless it's new or being sold as never having been used.  In the past I have purchased used diapers and have been told they're in great gently used condition and that they were only used a handful of times, didn't fit the sellers baby, etc.  Turns out even though the seller only used the diaper a few times, it was not new when they obtained it and it was in fact a pretty old, well used diaper by one of it's previous owners.

It's not that sellers are deceitful, but they share what they know  The diaper looks good, they barely used it so they consider it barely used...

Examine the photos closely. Make sure you take a close look at the photos and ask questions if you see anything that looks off.  It is also a good idea to go to the manufacturers site and take a look at what the diaper is supposed to look like new.  This especially helps in knowing how to tell if the elastic is worn out.  The seller doesn't always know when the elastic isn't functioning properly.

Take into consideration how it might have been washed.  It's not a bad idea to ask what type of detergent it's been washed in, but remember, if it's been sold/traded multiple times you will never know for sure.  Consider that it could have been washed/stripped with bleach, it may have build-up, it could repel, and there may be odor issues.  These are all possibilities and should be taken into consideration, especially if you have a baby with sensitive skin.

The bottom line...I am not saying that you should never buy used, but that in order to protect your investment and your baby, buying used diapers that are in excellent, like new condition is best.  Here's a re-cap on what you should do/ask before you buy.
  • Why the diaper is being sold?
  • Was the seller the only owner? Did they buy it new or was it already used when they purchased it?
  • Was it a second?
  • Does it have any stains, holes, defects?
  • What type of detergent was it washed in and how?  Has it ever been stripped?  If so, how?
  • Ask to see really good photos. Compare the photos to new photos of the diaper so that you know what it is supposed to look like.
  • Check the sellers feedback or only buy from people you know and trust.  If buying in forums, check the sellers recent posts to make sure they've been forthright.  They may say they've been the only owner but you see a post where they just bought it on the FSOT a month ago... (This is not necessary when buying from those you trust.)
  • Consider buying used from a cloth diaper retailer who will sell them as "Certified Pre-Owned."
Just be careful, cover all your bases and don't be afraid to ask questions!


Sarah said...

A very good post. I wish I would have read this before I started buying/selling/trading on a popular diaper swapping site! I've gotten ripped off a few times from mama's who sold me very poor condition diapers and then claimed "they thought they were like brand new" when I asked them about it after. Ask LOTS of questions (stains, stinks, detergent used, elastics/velcro/snaps all in good condition, tears, PUL still working - EVERYTHING), some sellers like to lie by omission and definitely ask to see detailed pics.

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