Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cloth Diapers 101

Using Cloth Diapers

Why use cloth?
*It costs about $3000 to diaper a baby in disposable diapers from birth to age 3 years. Cloth diapers cost only $500-$1000, including laundering costs! What a savings!
*Cloth diapers are healthier for your baby because there are so many different chemicals in disposable diapers. Plus, it is easier to tell when baby is wet, so he/she gets changed more often, which means less diaper rash!
*Disposable diapers make up a huge chunk of what is in the landfills. 18 BILLION Diapers are bought, used, and thrown away in the US alone each year. Cloth can really help reduce our environmental impact.
*Makes toilet training easier when the time comes because baby can feel when they are wet.
*Cloth diapers can be just as easy to put on the baby as disposable, plus they seem to hold leaks in better than the disposables.

For a little baby that doesn’t roll over or squirm around very much yet, I recommend prefolds and diaper covers. You’ll want about 6 prefolds per cover, and to wash every 3 days you’ll probably need about 36 prefolds, and 6 covers. I recommend Thirsties or Bummi’s brand diaper covers (those are the only brands we have tried, but work well). Diaper Service Quality unbleached prefolds are the best, usually about $2 per diaper. When our baby was ready for the next size, we used 12 prefolds, 2 covers, and 26 AIO’s, which gets us by with only having to wash about every 3 or 4 days. If you’re going to wash more often, each baby probably doesn’t need that many. The prefolds and covers will be the cheapest way to go, and are the best at keeping the mess inside the diaper, but you just can’t beat the AIO as far as convenience when baby is wiggly!

This is how I use our cloth diapers:
1 - Put on the baby. There are many ways to fold diapers, check out the www. I don’t have to use pins, since the covers I use hold the diaper in place. It’s a lot easier with the AIO’s (all in ones) like the Kushies, especially when the baby is squirmy, or has just learned to turn over! But they are more expensive, too. *The most important thing is to make sure all absorbent parts of the diaper are inside the cover!! If not you will get leaks!*

2 - When it’s changing time, wet diapers go in a 5 gallon bucket. This bucket is dry. Some people put baking soda in it, you can try that if you want, they say that keeps odors down, but I don’t notice the odors anyway, so I don’t use it.

Dirty, poopy diapers get most of the chunky poop wiped off w/ Toilet Paper into the toilet first, and then they go into another bucket, with a tight fitting lid, that is half-filled with water and a tiny bit of OxyClean (about a teaspoon). Don’t let the dirty diapers soak for more than 2 or 3 days, or it gets pretty nasty pretty quickly, but the soaking with OxyClean does help get them get cleaner. If you’re using prefolds and diaper covers, soak only the prefold, the cover needs rinsed off in plain water in the sink (or just put it straight into the other bucket used for wet diapers), they don’t usually stain very badly!

If you are exclusively breastfeeding your little one, you don’t have to do anything special with poopy diapers since breastfed baby poop is so liquid, just wash them all together. I suggest throwing all diapers in the wash, running a rinse cycle, and then doing your regular wash cycle.

If you’re using the prefolds and covers, keep using the same diaper cover until it gets poop on it.

When the 5 gallon bucket gets FULL, it’s usually time for a wash.

3 - When it’s time to wash diapers, I will take the Dirty diaper bucket and pour the diapers and the soaking water into the washer, and just use the machine to spin out the dirty water. When that is done, Add a tiny bit of laundry detergent, usually ¼ of what you would use for a regular load of laundry, and add the rest of the diapers, and wash the diapers on hot water with a cold water rinse. When the wash is done, open the washer and smell a few of the diapers, if they are fresh (usually they are) just put them in the dryer or on the clothesline. If they don’t smell fresh, just run a cold wash cycle with about ½ cup of vinegar, and they will be fine after that. Do NOT use fabric softeners on the diapers, it will make the pee just run off the diaper and prevent it from being absorbed!! Since diapers are so absorbent, it takes a long time for the diapers to dry, and it helps to run an extra spin cycle on the washer, which will take more of the water out.


Going Out and About w/ Cloth isn’t as bad as you would think. I have a couple of wet bags that I keep in the diaper bag to keep the wet or dirty diapers in, mine are about 12x12, or a little bigger. So, if you have a wet bag, (or just use a ziplock bag) you can cloth diaper away from home just as easily. On wash day, just turn the wet bag inside out and throw diaper, bag, and all into the washer. Most of the online cloth diaper stores also carry wet bags in various sizes.

I am very glad we’re using cloth. It is easier to tell when our baby is wet, I am saving a ton of money, and I hear that it will make it easier to toilet train when the time comes, since the baby can feel when they are wet, too. The biggest drawback I have found with using cloth diapers is that they are bulky, which usually means that baby has to wear bigger sized clothing just to fit around her diapers.

If you do a search on the internet, you can find so many resources about washing, using, and even SEWING your own cloth diapers. Some people make their own cloth wipes too, from flannel scraps and old washcloths, and claim they make it easier to wipe off sticky poop than purchased wipes. I haven’t tried that yet, but maybe when our stash of wipes runs out, that will be the next thing!

I hope it helps to hear what we are doing and how we handle washing and wearing of our diapers. If you have any questions that I can answer, just let me know, though I’m really not an expert, but I guess almost a year of experience is a good teacher!