When disposable diapers were introduced, they offered an unmatched level of convenience for parents. Cloth diapers never completely disappeared and while their usage hasn't exactly come back to match the popularity of disposable diapers, it is a market that is continuing to grow, among both green-thinking parents and those who want to save on the expense of purchasing disposable diapers.
When starting a cloth diaper business, you can choose to launch a complete diaper service or you can provide the pickup and delivery service, transporting cloth diapers to and from a commercial cleaning service for your customers.
Whichever startup option you select, a cloth diaper service is a good idea if you are interested in helping busy parents who want to use cloth diapers but lack the time and know-how to use them efficiently.
Here are some of the benefits you may experience if you start a cloth diaper service:
- Your business can be entirely home-based. Not needing a storefront significantly lowers your overhead. You also can deduct expenses for your home office when filing your taxes.
- You also may be eligible for tax incentives for having a green business.
- It's environmentally sound business. The Real Diaper Association estimates that more than 27 billion disposable diapers are used every year in the United States and that 92 percent of those end up in landfills.
- Your target markets and ways to reach them are easy to identify. New parents can be reached through advertising or partnerships targeting OB-GYN offices, pediatrician's offices, and daycare facilities.
- Once established, word-of-mouth marketing can be a powerful tool since parents of babies and toddlers know other parents of babies and toddlers.
Some of the challenges of starting a cloth diaper service include:
- If you begin a business that offers complete service, startup costs can be significant. Commercial-grade washers and dryers will be necessary, as will thousands of cloth diapers in different sizes, and covered diaper hampers for clients to store dirty diapers.
- You will need a large enough vehicle to handle multiple pickups and deliveries — perhaps a van or small truck, depending on the number of clients you service.
- You may need to negotiate agreements with cleaning services to handle periods of high volume or to serve as backups in case your own cleaning equipment is down.
- Cleaning dirty diapers are not the most glamorous business venture, so the benefits of what you are doing to help the children wearing the diapers, their families, and the environment needs to be important enough for you to handle the details of the day-to-day work.
- While there is no shortage of potential clients, building up a large enough base to earn a loyal following among local parents can take significant time. Be prepared to actively market yourself in person and online, and be patient.