Used diapers? YUCK! Someone else's kid's poop on a diaper my kid will be wearing? No way!
Not so fast! Used diapers can be a very economical way - and yes, even sanitary! - to build your stash of diapers and to try new brands.
There are several popular sites to buy used diapers. For a list, check the "Favorite Retailers" tab at the top of the blog. The used diaper sites are at listed at the bottom.
Most used diaper transactions go smoothly and perfectly: the diaper is exactly as described and shipping is fast. However, it's not always that way! Here are some useful hints on entering the used diaper arena and avoiding any issues.
1. It's all about the diaper.
When you buy a used diaper, careful inspection of the description and pictures is very important! Each diaper will normally be listed by condition, for example, EUC means "Excellent Used Condition." However, these labels are VERY subjective, so it's extremely important that you look closely at the pictures and information provided about the diaper to see if the seller's idea of "Excellent Used Condition" is the same as your idea of "Excellent Used Condition."
A brief description of the various types of conditions, written by the great team over at Re-Diaper.com, is below:
New - These diapers are new and never worn. Some have been washed but never worn. Others are New Without Tags and never washed. Some are New With Tags. [Another designation you might see is NIP, which means New In Package.]
Excellent Used Condition (EUC) - These diapers have been worn a few times, but are almost like new. There are usually no stains. We all know though that a diaper can be worn one time and get a stain. I try to disclose that information. The elastic, velcro/snaps, and PUL are in excellent condition.
Very Good Used Condition (VGUC) - These diapers have been used for a little while but are still in very good condition. There might be slight staining. The elastic, aplix/snaps and PUL are in very good condition.
Good Used Condition (GUC) - These diapers show some love, but are still in good condition. There might be light staining and slightly pilly fleece. They might have a small cosmetic flaw. They have lots of wear left in them with strong elastic, strong aplix/snaps, and good PUL.
(Read more here: http://re-diaper.com/pages/ReStash.htm)
You often see people use descriptions like EEUC or VVGUC, which are just additional descriptors - "Extremely Excellent Used Condition," "Very Very Good Used Condition," etc. You also may see diapers listed in "Play" condition. Play condition is under GUC and means that the diaper isn't suitable for anything more than, well, playing around and usually have stains, need the elastic replaced, have tears, etc. Again, what is written above is just a guideline and there are no "official" rules that govern the listing of cloth diapers, so each person is responsible for a) listing the diaper in the most accurate way possible and b) fully vetting any diaper that they are going to purchase. How do you do that? Again, read the pictures and description carefully. If you have any questions in the slightest, ASK. You should be able to find out how the diaper was cared for (dryer or line dried? what kind of detergent was used?), whether the home was dog or cat friendly (do you or your LO have allergies?), if the home is smoke-free, if there are any rips, staining, pilling, etc. If that information isn't included in the listing, either be sure you don't care about it or ask the seller.
Hint: Don't rush into buying a used diaper. More often than not an identical or very similar diaper will be listed again quickly. Take your time to check out the pictures and verify that it's a good price by comparing the price to a new version of the diaper and to other similar used diapers.
2. It's all about the seller.
Another important step in buying is to check the seller's feedback. Almost all sites where you can purchase a used diaper allow buyers to leave feedback on their transactions. Where the items as described? Was the shipping speed fast? Did the seller follow through on all promises? Be sure to check out all the feedback. While it's up to you whether one bad feedback score is enough to dissuade you from buying from that seller, don't discount multiple negative feedbacks, especially if there seem to be trends (like taking weeks to ship something out). Never be afraid to ask for feedback or references if none are listed - though on some sites, like Craigslist, that's not as possible.
3. Pay promptly.
Most used diaper transactions will use PayPal. If you don't have an account, you'll want to get one. If you commit to purchasing a diaper, pay immediately. Some sites, like Spot's Corner, take a while to "time out" and clear the diaper from your cart if you don't pay right away. On those sites, and with transactions that are person-to-person, like DiaperSwappers.com, when you commit to purchase a diaper that diaper is being held for you. If you take a long time to pay, the seller questions whether you're going to follow through. If you change your mind, the seller has lost precious selling time and likely turned down other buyers. It's just rude. Pay right away! Always mark the transaction as a sale of goods - never mark it as a gift! Yes, marking it as a sale of goods allows PayPal to take out a fee, but if you mark it as a gift you have no recourse should the purchase go bad. Anyone that asks you to mark your transaction as a gift is a) skirting the rules and b) setting you up to lose money.
4. Be reasonable, but follow up.
It can take a few days or a week to ship a diaper that is in stock. Don't expect overnight turnaround time, but if it's been a month and you haven't heard from the seller, definitely follow up. All sellers should provide you an estimated shipping time on when they can get the diaper out before you even buy - ask if not. Be sure you have a valid email or way to contact the seller outside of the site where the transaction took place, just in case. Things happen - we've all been there. But if something prevents the seller from sending the diaper out promptly, they should keep you informed.
6. Check your diaper.
First thing, when your diaper arrives, compare it to the pictures and descriptions. Does it meet your expectation? Is it as described? Check all the snaps or aplix, any inserts, inside the pocket, around the outside, etc. If anything doesn't meet your standards, contact the seller immediately to let them know and see if you can work out a solution. For example, say you purchased a diaper under the impression that it was EUC, but the elastic is shot and you feel it's no better than GUC? Let the seller know, and propose a solution. Do you want to send it back for a refund? Do you want a partial refund but to keep the diaper?
5. Leave feedback.
Whenever possible, when your diaper arrives and after you've inspected it, leave the seller feedback. Not all forums allow this (i.e. there's nowhere for feedback on Craigslist), but when the site does, take the time to leave it. It's important for their future transactions and many sellers rely on it for their reputation. Be totally honest. If there was something you didn't like about the purchase, whether it was long shipping speed, the diaper not being in the expected condition, etc., include that information. Don't be worried about hurting their feelings - you are protecting future buyers. If something was wrong but the seller rectified the situation, include this in your feedback - for instance, let future sellers know that you disagreed with the listed condition of the diaper, but that the seller was great in working with you to come to an agreeable solution. If you're not satisfied with the solution or it was an issue that has no recourse available (i.e. lack of communication or slow shipping), include this in your feedback. Again, be honest. Nothing went wrong? Diaper was perfect? Awesome! Be sure to leave this type of feedback as well.
6. Wash your diaper.
Chances are your diaper is clean and was cared for properly, but it's always good to check. When you get the diaper, smell it. Does it smell clean? Run some water lightly on the diaper. Does it absorb as it should? If everything smells and absorbs good, just wash it once before using and you're good to go! If anything is questionable, consider stripping the diaper prior to using (see FAQs at the top of the blog for more information on stripping - minus the g-strings and dollar bills!).
7. Use your diaper!
Congrats! You are now the proud owner of a new diaper that you got on the cheap! Enjoy it!