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Reusable Swim Diapers vs. Disposable Swim Diapers

Swim season is upon us.

Memorial Day Weekend being the unofficial opening weekend of swim and beach season, it is time to pull out last year’s swimwear and shop for new! Are you ready for baby to join in on the fun?

Being a parent to infants and toddlers comes with some crappy things to consider (literally). One of those things is what to put on baby underneath their swimsuit.

What are the options?

There are really two safe options when it comes to swim diapers:

  1. Disposable diapers designed specifically for swimming.

**Not to be confused with disposable regular diapers, disposable swim diapers do not have the gel lining, disposable regular diapers cannot go into a pool without serious consequences

2. Reusable swim diapers.

Parenting Disclaimer

As a mom of 3, I have used a huge variety of diapers and have strong opinions. Let me start by saying both are perfectly fine. Both will result in pee on your car seat if you play diaper chicken on the way to your destination.

Neither have an absorbent layer to catch pee. If you don’t want to get peed on then wait until the very last possible minute to change into your swim diaper.

What is the investment?

Most disposable swim diapers have 3-4 size ranges which means your size from this summer probably won’t fit next summer. The price range is $0.60-1.05 per diaper for name brands, there are very few off brand comparable options. Typical package sizes are 12 or more diapers, per diaper cost on the smaller packages is typically higher making them approximately $10-30 per pack. Each wet activity needs a diaper which will add up quickly.

Even if you plan to swim, play in a sprinkler, go to a splash pad, head to the lake or some other swimwear activity just once buying a swim diaper is worth your investment. Two of La La Booty™️ Middlest Sized (7-35lbs) will cost you about $22 plus tax including shipping. The average 2 year old is at or below 35lbs. These will likely cover you for two summers. The Maximest sized (16-55lbs) will cover weight ranges for babies and kids from about 6months-7 years for our kiddos who need to wear them long term.

But what about the poop?

90%+ pools and water facilities in a study by the NIH required some sort of diaper in the pool. Most public pools recommend reusable diapers with PUL fabric (polyester knit fabric lined with a layer of TPU). I have seen them referred to as “containment pants” or “rubber pants” in the pool rules. These catch the poop if baby decides to go while swimming, it will not prevent leaking completely but slows it down enough to give you time to change them before the pool is too contaminated for the chlorine to kill the bacteria.

Many reusable swim diapers, including La La Booty™️ brand use PUL fabric but some don’t. When the pools reference reusable diapers they mean ones with a waterproof layer and not ones made of swim material only. If the reusable diaper has mesh and swim fabric then you have a fitted swimsuit and not a swim diaper.

How do I clean them?

If baby poops in the diaper, you can wash it in your washing machine or in a bucket. If you need to use them same day a sink wash will probably be best.

Step 1 for either method:

Knock poop solids into the toilet, if poop adheres to the mesh lining you can use a disposable wipe, sprayer from the shower over the toilet or put a bucket in a utility sink, rinse in the bucket and dump contents into the toilet. The reason is that poop goes into sewage, not a sink or shower drain.

Secondly, you do not want poop to stick to your washer drum.

Machine directions: When you run the wash cycle first do a quick wash with a small amount of detergent(less than a normal cycle is fine). The second wash you want to wash on warm for a heavy duty cycle using the back of the detergent bottle amount based on what else you are washing with the diaper. Hang dry is best to keep it in good condition for longer but drying on low is fine. Warm dryer, vinegar, bleach soaks etc regularly will ruin the PUL fabric and elastics.

Bucket instructions:

Don’t want to put them in your washing machine? No problem. Start with a clean 5 gallon (hardware store standard) bucket and put 1 tbsp of detergent, if you end up needing more go for it but starting small is better. Fill the bucket up 3/4 of the way with warm water and agitate with a stick or new plunger for several minutes. Dump, refill with water to rinse until suds are out. Do not wring or stretch to dry, just drain what you can, pat it with a towel and hang dry.

Why La La Booty™️ Swim Diapers specifically?

Being a Florida mama, I have tried a million styles and chose this design for a few reasons:

  • Side snaps are significantly better than pulling a poop filled diaper down the baby’s legs.

  • They are a slim fit to avoid a poop puddle, less room in the bum for water to pool means less mess to dump. The water still exits the leg holes and seeps through the PUL/TPU layer slightly but there will be some water pooling regardless and this reduces the amount if you fit it correctly.

  • Adjustable to fit an itty bitty baby AND it will fit your 18 month old. I like saving money and these will last longer than ones without the rise snaps and waist adjustments, no brainer to me.

  • Adorable prints and vibrant colors. I have seen a huge push to focus on highlighter colored swimwear to easily see your kiddo in the water. Drowning is one of the leading causes of child death in Florida so any effort to make that even a smidge less likely is OK in my book. These are also great for splash pads and under swimsuits so I have a variety to choose from.

  • PUL fabric is a must for me. As noted above, it is a requirement for a lot of public pools. I went with a thin TPU layer versus unlined also because it is more structured under a swimsuit. In my experience, the unlined/laminated options roll under their bellies in the swimsuit and become annoying.


There has been some false statements made in the cloth diapering community regarding PUL fabric increasing the risk potential for drowning. I have personally searched drowning statistics to find any reference whatsoever to diapers being the cause of drowning and found none.

After weeks of combing through extremely devastating information, I took to AI Chatbot and asked two questions:

1st “Locate Research on the risk of Laminated reusable swim diapers and drowning”

2nd “Locate any death attributed to a reusable swim diaper and drowning” both results were the similar replies.

Answer to 1st search:

I'm sorry, but I couldn't find any specific studies or research on the risk of laminated reusable swim diapers and drowning. It is important to note that swim diapers, whether disposable or reusable, are not designed to prevent drowning. Swim diapers are intended to contain fecal matter and prevent it from leaking into the pool, but they do not provide any buoyancy or protection against drowning.

To reduce the risk of drowning, it is essential to always supervise children closely while they are in or near water, regardless of whether they are wearing swim diapers. Additionally, children should always wear appropriate flotation devices and be taught water safety skills. It is also crucial to follow all safety guidelines and regulations when using swim diapers and swimming in pools or other bodies of water.”

2nd Search result:

I'm sorry, but I couldn't find any specific information on deaths attributed to reusable swim diapers and drowning. It is important to remember that swim diapers, whether disposable or reusable, are not designed to prevent drowning. They are meant to contain fecal matter and prevent it from leaking into the pool.

Drowning is a serious risk when children are in or near water, and it is essential to always supervise them closely and take appropriate safety precautions. It is crucial to follow all safety”

As always, stay vigilant about safety around any body of water and rest assured that using PUL/laminated diapers are a healthier choice than using swimsuits alone from a germs perspective. To the best of our knowledge no swim diapers have not been found to increase the risk of drowning when recommended water safety measures are taken.

Enjoy Summer!

Kelly Jankowski

Owner, Thea Evelyn Designs LLC

Home of La La Booty™️ Brand

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