Tuesday, June 4, 2013

cloth diapers - new school {not old school}

Disclaimer: I will be talking some potty talk - the post is about diapers after all.

Several friends and random folks have asked me about cloth diapers and what my "system" is - so I thought I'd just post about it. Hopefully it will be a helpful resource. I don't think I would have ever considered cloth diapering if it weren't for my older sister. Thought it was a cool idea - didn't think that I'd do it - or want to do it. Too much work. THEN I saw how much money you save! And seeing that we're into saving money and don't have a TON of money right now - it seemed like the way to go. 

For example:
Diapering 1 child in disposables for 2 years = $1928, so if you have 2 kids, it's roughly $3856
Diapering 1 child in cloth diapers for 2 years = $360, so if you have 2 kids, it's roughly $360

{my estimations are based on $72 a month for disposables and $18 per cloth diaper, if you have 20 - wipes not included in estimates}

I don't know about you - but there's a lot I can think about doing with that $3496 I'll be saving {like pay for seminary}. So - seeing those numbers and knowing that we would like more than one child - there was no doubt that we'd use cloth.

We've been using cloth since Simon was about 2 weeks old. Babes will "fit" in them once they're 8ish lbs - which Simon was 8.3 at birth and like 9.5 after the first week. 


Basic Terminology
"Stuffing" - the term I use when stuffing the inserts into the shell.

So for a boy - you want to put the folded insert part by the front of the diaper. For a girl, you'd want to put the folded insert part in the back of the diaper. This is for maximum absorbency based on the gender of your little one {hopefully this isn't confusing}

Here's the "recipe" that works for us:

- 22 diapers with inserts {I've only used the BumGenius 4.0 snap kind - and love them. I chose these because they're adjustable - so you only have to buy one set of diapers. Also I chose the snaps instead of the velcro because over time the velcro will wear out. And I've heard tell of kiddies being able to 'unvelcro' their diapers-and ain't nobody got time for that.} 22 is the number that has worked for us. I can get away with doing diapers every 3rd day. It's totally doable with less diapers - you'd just wash them more often. These are a good item to add to your baby registry as well - Cotton Babies, BuyBuyBaby, and Amazon are all common "stores" that sell them.
- diaper liners {different from inserts-see below}
- cloth diaper safe cream {I've used Earth Mama Baby Bottom Balm}
- something to keep your dirty diapers in {see below}
- cloth diaper-safe laundry detergent {I've used Bumgenius detergent and Allen's Naturally - which is pricey - but I've been using the same gallon bottle for over a year now and still probably have 1/4 of the container left}. There are tons of "approved" detergents - but you should note that you can't just use any kind - for the same reason as the diaper cream {explained below}.

Daily Use:
-After a diaper is soiled, I pull the inserts out of the diaper and place the inserts and the shell in our container {I've found that a plastic filing container is the perfect size - some people use wet bags - but I've found that this container does a better job of containing the smell}

Storing dirty diapers:
-Once the container is full--then it's about the time that I need to wash the diapers. When the container is filled - I still have enough clean diapers to hold me over until I've finished washing/drying the dirty diapers.

-When Simon had mustard poop {breasmilk only diet} - we rinsed the diapers in the bath tub {I changed from rinsing individually to rinsing a bunch at a time to save time}. Now that Simon has solid poop {which makes it sooooooo much easier} - I don't do that anymore. {There's a sprayer you can buy that attaches to your toilet - but we've never used one}.

We've also been using a liner - an extra cost - but in my opinion it's worth it. I've used these:

{both are biodegradable and I cut both in half to get more for my money}

While the kushies are a bit more expensive - I find that they're long enough to tear in 1/2 and they're easy to tear. Both of these liners are flushable - but, our house is incredibly old and so are our toilet pipes. After flushing the liners down the toilet a few times, I realized that they were clogging our toilet. So now that Simon has solid poop {b/c he's eating solids} - I put the liner on top of the inside shell, and if he's pooped - I just dump the poop in the toilet and throw the liner away in the trash - they're still bio-degradable - so - it's fine. :) 

When I wash - I try to do it at night in the winter since it takes a while for the shells to dry. My system is to fill the washer with warm/hot water so that the diapers soak for about 30ish minutes {sometimes I add a little color safe bleach}. Then I add my detergent after the 30 minutes and let them wash a full cycle. Then I rinse them again. {We have a top-loading washer - so  I'm sure my process would be a bit different if we had a front-loader}.

Sometimes the diapers start smelling if the detergent doesn't get washed out completely - so I do another rinse or sometimes even another wash without any detergent. 

-I dry the inserts in the dryer usually for 2 cycles to make sure they're good and dry {because the inserts are thick and to prevent them from having that moldy smell}. I dry them with dryer-balls to avoid the additives that are in the regular dryer sheets.
-I line dry the shells on a clothes drying rack. {You can't dry them in the dryer!!}.
*When the weather is nice, I dry the shells outside - AND - if you put those in the sun - white side up - the sun will bleach any of the staining from the poop. I think this works for the liners as well! 

Cleaning the container:

I usually spray some clorox or lysol in the plastic container and rinse/wash it out before putting more diapers in it - I feel like this will keep germs at bay. I also let it dry in the sun while my diapers are drying. 

Super Clean Wash:
It's good practice to super clean your diapers every couple of months to prevent any buildup from either diaper rash creams or even from the detergent. This is the method I've used.
  • Wash once in hot water with one teaspoon (for high efficiency machines) to one tablespoon (for regular washing machines) with original liquid Dawn (blue formula) and up to 1/2 cup color safe bleach in the wash cycle.
  • Do two additional hot water washes with no detergent to completely rinse the diapers clean. If you still see suds, keep rinsing until the diapers are rinsed clean.

  • Sometimes I wash just the inserts and add some regular clorox to get them nice and clean, and white.

    Storing Clean Diapers:
     I had grand intentions of "stuffing" the diapers right after they were washed each time - but realistically that doesn't work for me. I have a canvas basket and I have all of the inserts on one side {I do pre-stack them so that I have the liners ready to go} - and then the shells are stacked beside them in the same basket. This seems to work really well for us.

    What it looks like when I pre-stack them.
    What it looks like when I have time to fold them:

    My station: the top shelf of my cupboard has all of my creams - liners and wipes - right below that is where I keep my diapers - super easy to access. We keep our disposables on the shelf above the changing pad. We keep our tub with the dirty diapers close to the bathroom since we have to 'dump the poop' before we put them in the container.

    I use disposables:
    -when we travel
    -at night {I use the night ones for extra potection - Simon just kept on leaking out of the cloth ones at night}
    -going to church
    -when I'm having a super busy week and know I won't have time to wash the diapers
    -when I babysit or any activity where I just don't want to deal with the diapers
    -when someone babysits for us

    My Recommended "Do"s:
    -Use "safe" diaper rash creams - diaper rash creams that contain zinc make the diapers less absorbent. 
    -Use a clear and free laundry soap - any additives will make the diapers less absorbent
    -Use either a dryer ball or "safe" dryer sheets - otherwise the additives in regular dryer sheets will make the diapers less absorbent
    -Get your spouse on board - while the work is not unbearable - it will be difficult to make your "system" work if your spouse isn't on board with the cloth diapers.

    My 2 cents on cloth wipes:
    I know folks who put wipes in a container with water and tea-tree oil - and it just didn't work for me. I wouldn't even have a ton of water in there- but it wouldn't be long before the wipes started to smell like a moldy sponge  -even after I'd wash the wipes and really clean out the container. I even tried just putting the wipes in the water when I was about to use a wipe -but the water still started to smell funky. Moldy sponge smell is the worst smell in the world {in my opinion}.

    A better system might be to put it in a squirt bottle {but it seems like the water would still get "old". It just didn't seem to work for us. There are times when you'll have time to spray the wipes - but most of the time it's just so much easier to use store wipes. If you buy them in bulk, they're not that expensive. I already feel like I'm "doing my part" by using cloth diapers.... sooooo. ;) 

    Cons to using cloth:
    -Obvious one - you have to wash them. And honestly - sometimes I just don't want to. But there are a lot of things that I just don't want to do sometimes.
    -They're bulkier than disposable. 

    Our little cloth diaper model.

    Let me know if you have any other questions or need any more visuals; I like talking about cloth diapers. :) {whatthehartlikes {at} gmail {dot} com}


    1. Great post! We've been using cloth for over 2 years. Hannah potty trained right when we needed them for Ruby. So convenient. :) Like I had planned it or something!
      A word on cloth wipes- we love them! We didn't use them at first because I think I felt like you, but now I don't know why we didn't start with them. They are awesome! We store the wipes dry in an old pastic wipe container and then before using it we use a spray bottle of water to wet the wipes. So easy! :)
      And I totally agree... sometimes you just don't want to wash diapers... but after 2.5 years of washing diapers every other night, you just sort of get into a routine and it's normal life.

      Hope y'all are enjoying summer in the south!

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