For some, the idea of buying used diapers is less than ideal. Many mamas like to buy used because they love a good deal, or need a good deal. Others are in search of limited edition or other “unicorn” prints, that hard-to-find print or color she wishes she could snag. On the other side of things, a variety of reasons exist for selling diapers. A seller may simply have too many diapers, be strapped for cash, want to invest in other diapers based on style preference or child gender, and more.
Whatever the reason for buying or selling used diapers, there are a few pointers as you proceed with caution on the buy, sell, trade (BST) sites. In this two-part series, here are a few helpful hints for buying used cloth diapers:
Know the options. You can shop your local Craigslist or Facebook mommy/parenting site based on city. There are also general and brand specific BST sites all over Facebook as well as a few trade sites with their own domain name. Being local means you can see the diapers in person before purchase, using caution, of course, in meeting strangers. Facebook groups offer you access to cloth diaper enthusiasts all over the country (or even the world). Also check with your go-to store for their pre-loved cloth diapers in stock. Many of these are returned items that received just a few uses as part of 30-day guarantee programs or display diapers.
Know the terms and what they mean. Ask for clarity if needed. Diapers are often listed as good, very good, or excellent used condition (GUC, VGUC, EUC). Some groups provide guidelines for what these terms explicitly mean but often these terms are subjective. You’ll even come across diapers that are new in package (NIP), new with tags (NWT), and new without tags (NWOT). Domestic shipping is often included with the price, usually marked PPD. Many diapers are simply for sale but some are for sale or trade (FSOT) while others are listing what they are in search of to buy (ISO). Most are sold at or below retail but hard-to-find (HTF) diapers have been known to sell above cost. Some cross-post their items meaning they list them in more than one BST group.
Know the etiquette. Each group is a little different. Usually you are expected to pay promptly, or “be PayPal ready.” Generally you do not comment on the price someone lists, just keep scrolling if you think it is too high or low. Some BST groups are brand specific. Some groups require the seller go in order of those commenting their interest. Other times there are no rules or the seller explicitly states their preference (first come, first served, versus preference for larger lot purchased, etc.). These rules are made to streamline the group postings and protect both buyer and seller. Most groups have a set of rules explicitly listed in a post or on the About page. Familiarize yourself with them.
Know what you are buying. Ask a lot of questions if information is not already listed. Smoking? Pets? How is the elastic? How is the PUL/TPU? How is the Velcro/aplix? Is the diaper in need of repair? About how often was the diaper used and how large of a rotation? How long will you take to ship? Is tracking and/or insurance included in that cost? Do not be shy about asking for a few more photos. This offers you more opportunity to see what you are buying as well as helps you determine the seller is trustworthy, and in actual ownership of the diaper.
Know what markings to look for. Look for markings, usually on the tags with marker or even a punch out, that may be indicative of the diaper being a part of a donation/charity or sold as seconds by manufacturer. In the first case, donations are generally not to be resold; in the case of the second, the diaper may still be worth your purchasing but recognize that the owner is selling a diaper they purchased for under retail value and that may have flaws. Be weary of tagless diapers but listed as brand name, especially if it's a hard-to-find diaper. Some less reputable brands knock off prints of the bigger name brands, or someone may try to pass one solid no-name of a more reputable (and expensive) brand.
Know the market. Research on what brands and styles you really want and know their value. Inquire with individual companies and stores you frequent to see if sells happen. When you purchase new you enjoy the reward points you may earn, the joy of a new diaper, possibility of return if you are not satisfied, and the manufacturer’s warranty. A used diaper generally does not come with any of these perks.
Know that sometimes a deal is too good to be true. I personally sell my used diapers at, what I’m confident is, a really fantastic deal so that I might be able to help another family out while also recouping a little of our investment. Sometimes though, especially with highly sought prints or larger lots, you want to be skeptical if the price seems too good to be true.
Know your seller. Obviously you can’t necessarily meet them, but click on their profile. Even if it is set very private, do they have generic photos or personal ones as their cover and profile picture? Search their name in the group (and in a few other large BST groups if you are in more than one). Especially for hard-to-find diapers, you can also search the group or even google images for the diaper you are buying—do the pictures your seller lists also come up under anyone else’s name? Do you get good vibes from what you see in their interactions with others? Message them as you discuss the diapers. Are they responsive? Do they answer your questions thoroughly or vaguely? Again, what vibes do you get? Some groups even have user feedback options where you can read feedback from others who purchased from an individual.
Know how to buy. Always use PayPal or another trusted source that offers buyer and seller protection (Facebook has added a pay feature that may come to be as trusted as PayPal.) All you need is an email address and bank account to set up your PayPal. Even if you trade diapers use PayPal as protection by deciding the value of the diapers traded and invoicing/paying each other for that amount. Read your invoice completely before buying, as you are agreeing to the terms listed on that invoice. Save photos and take a screen shot of the post in case any issues come up with the diapers you buy. Most groups expect seller to delete posts once the diapers are sold, and once a seller deletes his or her post it is gone.
Lynette is a mom of three children from one year to age five. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.
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