Why I Use Disposable Diapers In The Garden!

Print Friendly
Why I Use Disposable Diapers In The Garden!

Why I Use Disposable Diapers In The Garden!

Did you know you can save time and money by using disposable diapers in the garden! They are not dangerous to your plants — The water storing crystals in diapers are the same stuff that is packaged and sold as garden watering crystals, only a lot less expensive.

When I lived in Kansas, it would get very hot in the summer. Our deck didn’t have any shade and some of my plants needed to be watered twice a day. I was going to buy the granules that hold water from the garden center, but I discovered small container of the water granules was $25!

Even though I really needed it to keep my plants going that summer, I just couldn’t come to bring myself to pay that much. One day, I was thinking about it as I was changing my son’s diaper. Then it dawned on me! The same stuff is in baby diapers!!!

I tore open the center of a diaper and scooped out all the cotton with the granules in it into a bowl. Out of curiosity I wanted to see just how much water it would hold. I was hoping for two cups. It held NINE cups of water! That means I could use this stuff in 3-5 containers of plants, depending on the size. I was able to get diapers for .20 each so the cost wasn’t huge.

Using disposable diapers in your garden or in container plants, you can save a LOT of time because you don’t have to water nearly as often and the plants have a more even supply of water. You can even use these for plants that are already planted as I demonstrate in our disposable diapers in the garden video!

You can even use used diapers (GASP!), but not dirty ones. If you have diapers that have only urine in them, they are fine to use in the garden if you’re willing to mess with them. Some people are horrified at the thought, but consider this:

Gardening is an outside activity. Squirrels, rodents, dogs and cats and other various animals pee in your garden all the time, but it just goes back into nature. I’m assuming your baby doesn’t have some hideous disease that would make their urine more dangerous for you or your plants than the urine from these animals.

Nature has a wonderful process of using chemistry to convert various substances to other completely different things so if you use manure, compost (rotted food), or something with baby urine, even to grow food plants, it’s not like you’re eating manure, rotten food and urine! Good grief!

We have had a question about the safety of using these in your garden pots. I personally don’t have a problem with it. I didn’t use these in my vegetable plants only flowers. Use your own judgment regarding whether or not you want to use them with vegetables.

If you’re curious about the safety of using disposable diapers, here are some details:

  • The external liner for some diapers is plastic. It will not hurt the soil and the plants won’t eat it, so you can use the diapers and later, when you’re re-doing your garden, you can simply throw the plastic away.
  • Diapers also contain the water storing crystals, which break down naturally and harmlessly over time (and are also sold specifically for gardening with different packaging).
  • Some diapers also have cotton or wood pulp, which decomposes naturally. Some people are concerned about how these item are processed when diapers are made, but there seems to be little substantiated concern and if you’re using them in the garden, the environment provides several layers of “buffer” that will convert them through chemistry as I mentioned above, so I’m confident any substance that might have posed a minuscule threat would be neutralized.

Remember, Always Think Outside the Box!


P.S. If you are wondering about the safety of using diapers here is a great article we found with more details about what’s in disposable diapers.



    • says

      Use new diapers Rebecca. Those beads which absorb water are very expensive so a diaper as expensive as they can be are still way cheaper.

      • Judith says

        Just a few comments. I believe the urine only ones can be sanitized easily and sufficiently to use in any situation — flowers or vegetables because urine is not nearly as bacteria rich as is fecal matter. I believe it important to reuse them not for the savings but for the recycle aspect. You can use bleach to sanitize these just as we use bleach to sanitize our septic water that goes over our prairie grass and will go over our new garden once I get enough of the concrete blocks. Thanks so much for that great idea!! But I digress. Bleach is the least toxic of any cleaners/degermifiers because it breaks back down to salt (NaCl) and gives off oxygen. So there is NO residual buildup of dangerous elements on surfaces. I routinely keep it in opaque spray bottles (1:20 bleach to water, 1 ounce bleach to 20 ounces water) and spritz it on any and all surfaces to kill stuff. It is the cheapest and least residual for nasty things we may not know are in the secret formulas of the cleaners sold at the store. For example, it will kill E Coli and Salmonella in .1 seconds. The killing power is mostly the power of the oxygen, a great element with many, many uses. After you spritz them with the mixture, let them dry, the “germs” will be gone, the little water absorbers will be germ free and therefore safe to be reused as a water reservoir for your plants. You could also do it with diapers with other contents but to me, that may be too messy but could be rendered just as safe from the fecal bacteria such as E Coli and salmonella. Fortunately, young kids don’t have a lot of E Coli in them when they are in diapers. I mention E Coli and Salmonella specifically because these two have been found in spinach and tomatoes in the past (only single crops and not crop after crop were recalled) so the source was most likely the water source. I would encourage people to Google “what does chlorox break down to” and learn about this for yourself.

    • ner9y says

      used diapers can be used but only ones, not soiled. Urine is sterile when fresh and will decompose. Besides human urine is a perfect fertiliser, but must be diluted. Just add more water when using used diapers, 10:1. If not diluted it may be too acidic and may kill some soft root plants.

    • Pamela says

      You can use new or used ones, as long as the used ones are ONLY of urine, and no other. This was on teh P Allen Smith’s garden show last weekend, which I try and catch whenever I can most weekends. He shows exactly how to use, mix or whatever…….and can even freeze some already made up in ziplock bags for later use! Great idea, especially for ones in really hot temp areas, that have LOTS to water and can’t aways get to all in need, all the time!! Just got some diapers to prepare to use in garden adn our large potted plants!! :) enjoy!

  1. Mb Wilson says

    I personally have no kids but would recommend using the coupons for diapers that seem to be in every coupon section I get.
    Also look in the damaged section at retailers for pkg’s that may be broken open or missing some.
    Am new to your site but have spent a lot of time here already..that says something!

    • Pamela says

      Got a bag of real cheap diapers at dollar store….4/$1.00 I believe and that’s pretty cheap, get lots of the gel just outta those 4! :)

      • says

        Another place to find really really cheap diapers is at your thrift store. If the package is open they don’t sell well so you can get them for very little there.

  2. Tracy Jones says

    What a great idea! I have hot dry summers too and the endless watering can be a pain! Thanks for the tip!

  3. Susan says

    I love this idea! Brilliant!
    Now will try to find someone with babies, so I can buy a diaper or two!
    My question is about the photograph used in the story.
    Is that your garden? I am in love with it!
    It is just the most peaceful lovely garden! Could you tell me what plants are involved? (I am woefully uneducated about plants!!) but I would really try to replicate this or something similar!!
    Thank you so much for your help.

    • says

      No that’s one’s not my garden but mine usually look like that or pretty close. I have having withdrawals because I won’t be able to get much of a garden in this year!

  4. Lynda says

    I have also discovered the benefits of disposable diapers. This year I have experimented using an entire newborn diaper in my shallow deck rail planters. The diapers worked so well that I will now use them in my perineal gardens as well. I place the diaper in the container and add water. I then slit the inside of the diaper to allow the water to seep into the soil. Add soil and plant as usual. The water wicks into the soil similar to the Self Watering Container Planters. At the end of the growing season, I dump all my container soil into a specific area of my garden. By using the entire diaper, I can limit the quantity of absorbant materials that will be in my garden soil.

  5. says

    I declare! I believe ya”ll are very smart! I think we have the wrong people running this country…how wasteful they are. I bet if you and some of the people that comment on this blog had jobs in washington it would be a change for the better!!!!! Thank you for all your ideas. I just love this one because I too had looked at the watering beads and flinched at the price when I knew how much I needed. Thank you again.

  6. says

    Those absorbent, water hold granules are silica gel. This is the same product that is in the little packets that sometimes come with shoes or in medicine bottles. You know, the ones that say do not eat in 12 languages. I collect these little goodies and use them in my tool box to keep tools from getting rusty. The product is way over priced in the stores when sold seperately. Same thing as the crystles for cat litter boxes. But I did not know they were in diapers although that makes sense. But then I don’t have little ones in diapers. Good thinking Mom.

  7. Linda :o) says

    I’m thinking you could lay down the whole diaper and then the outside of the diaper could be a cover to help keep the weeds out. Do you think that would work?


    Linda :o)

  8. Karen N. says

    A singular diaper, or a “travel” or “trial” pack might be available at a dollar store. Gotta check it out! Thanks for the tip, Tawra–last year I bought a bag of those water-retaining crystals, and they weren’t cheap!

  9. Cindy says

    When I saw the post “disposable diapers in the garden” my first (horrified) thought was “Dear God, no! Not for fertilizer!” Was I relieved to find out what they are really to be used for. Sounds like a great idea! :)

  10. Michel says

    My mom was at the garden center and asked how they kept stuff moist in their flower beds, and the employee told her they used diapers…they were suppose to sell the granules, but making friends is what my mom is good at…hehehe, she has loved this great idea for about 5 years. They actually just would bury a whole diaper with their plantings.

  11. says

    You are so clever, I am new to your site, but have been able to use many of the ideas. Thank you for inspiring me and others with all the frugal tips. I have a renewed energy and enthusiasm for cooking at home instead of spending money in going out to eat.

  12. Curtis says

    The bacteria in the soil will eat the urine or whatever else is organic in the diaper. The plants will not take up organic residue, but only inorganic decomposed chemicals. I used to work in the largest beef feedlot in the US spreading cattle manure as fertilizer for crops. Much better than commercial fertilizers.

  13. Maria says

    I have been using pet disposable diapers for my potted plants for years. Just lay the whole diaper, plastic side down, put the soil over it, and plant as usual. Not only does the interior of the diaper hold water, the plastic on the outside keeps the water from running out the bottom of the pot so quickly. I put a new one in every year. I like the pet size because they are much easier to work with, and sometimes you can find them really cheap at garage sales!

  14. Tena says

    I’m wondering if you could use a whole diaper for the tomato plants. Cut a hole in the middle for the plant, it would keep the weeds from growing around it, maybe? I have some diapers from my grandkids that they can’t wear because they got to big for them.

    • says

      Tena you dig the hole for the plant and place the diaper in the hole by the roots. I sometimes pull the inside part of the diaper apart and fluff it before I put it in the hole but I don’t know if you really need to do that. The thing is you then cover roots and diaper with dirt. The weeds will grow in the dirt that is on top of the diaper and roots. That is why it doesn’t work as a mulch or weed preventative because it should be buried.

  15. Gunny says

    You can take a wet dipper of the young one and place it in a bucket of water. After it has soaked awhile, use the water to give your plants a nitrogen fix, but don’t do this if the child is on medication. The usual ratio of urin to water is 1:20, one part urin to twenty parts water. Your tomatoes will love it.

  16. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    It sure sounds like a good idea to use diapers with inedible plants. What impact do their chemicals have on the vegetables we eat?

  17. Maama says

    I have use the diapers in my shallow pots for years and they work great. I am going to try these other ideas in my deck pots as I live in a hot area of the country and have a lot of flowers on my deck. Thanks for sharing. :0)

  18. rossinhawaii says

    For the large pots on my lanai, I put some gravel in the bottom, then fill a reusable shopping bag filled with diaper “innards”, lay it flat it in the bottom and soak it. I cover the bag with potting soil and put in the plants. The plants grow like crazy and I don’t get so much overflow because the bag absorbs so much water.

  19. jaine gayer says

    Walmart has 18 diapers for $3.78, size 4, so 21 cents per pot. I have a veggie container garden and have been doing this for a few years. Works like a charm!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

eight + = 15

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>