Cloth diapering isn’t that gross – I think we’ve just become used to separating ourselves from basic human bodily processes. We no longer deal with outhouses or bedpans. Which is awesome. But when you have a child, you get a little more comfortable with..uhem….that. Among other things.
George and his econobum-swathed bum.
Cloth diapering came up as one way we could cut costs. #apennysaved Whenever I’m deciding whether or not to purchase something, one of the questions I always ask myself is: “What did they do in the old days?” This is especially helpful as a parent. For example, when I feel guilty for not registering my child for swim lessons each season, I remind myself that when my parents were children, they could either wrestle in the farmyard or climb trees, but they certainly were not carted off to swim lessons every spring, summer and fall. They learned to swim in the lake a few months out of each year.
Cloth diapers add a bit of bulk
I’ve been told we were cloth diapered as children. Retro – like sharp pins and big folds of cloth – not the easy velcro versions we have now. My parents are nothing if not frugal. I took a step back and added up the cost of disposable diapers. Doing the math on my [large] child, almost seven months into his life, diapers were costing me nearly $0.25 apiece. Then I died a little inside. See, I religiously use gas coupons combined with American Express Blue cash back to save about $3.00 each time I visit the gas pump. That means, with, let’s say, an average of six diapers used per day, I would completely cancel out my entire gas money-saving routine within just two days. #obsessmuch
For someone who analyzes the long-term, I realized my son would be in diapers a fairly long time. In addition, cloth diapers can be re-used with subsequent children – and even resold! #boom
Truth be told, I spent close to $500 on cloth diapers, which is a hefty investment up front. I first bought previously-owned bumGenius diapers on DiaperSwappers, then decided to buy brand new bumGenius, then realized I could buy a heck-ofa-lotta EconoBum diapers with Snappis for a quarter of the bumGenius investment. I even bought some homemade cloth diapers from Craigslist. Luckily, I ended up using all of the varieties for a period of time, because they all fit differently and he grew quite fast. When my son turned twelve months old and was in 18 month clothes, I discovered the wonderful world of extra large cloth diapers and ordered a bunch of those to round out his collection. I actually second-guessed the extra large cloth diapers but as it turns out, he’s been wearing those the longest! I love that they don’t dig into his fatty thighs… #pudge
Plus, cloth diapers have the added cute factor
We still buy regular disposable diapers for daycare and babysitters (Aldi diapers for size 3-5 and Walmart diapers for NB-2 and size 6 – Aldi wipes are awesome too). My husband was avoiding using cloth diapers #liketheplague until I had a mild-freak out and gently reminded him it was his money too. #ahhmarriage But after George turned one year, Ross did a complete 180 and has been hugely supportive of cloth diapering. Meaning he even rinses the poop in the toilet. #grossiknow We never purchased the toilet-diaper-sprayer and honestly, we do just fine without it. We just hold the diaper by the end (the dry portion), dip the dirty portion in the toilet and flush. We have a big plastic waterproof laundry basket that is washed out with each laundry load. #thatsdone
Before George was born, I cut up a bunch of old t-shirts to use as wipes. Even if we stopped cloth diapering someday, I would still use cloth wipes. Instead of wiping the nasty shtuff around with a dry-ish wipe only slightly larger than my hand, a wet cloth wipe is more akin to bathing, is roughly the size of a washcloth and cleans the skin thoroughly. In fact, one time George had diaper rash and our pediatrician advised us to simply use a wet washcloth to wipe the butt, because wipes contain alcohol which is hard on tender skin. So if George ever has diaper rash, we just wet one of our cloth wipes and use plain ol’ water.
The hospital gave us this wipe case and we refill it with cloth wipes.
If we are using our wipe solution, we just mix roughly equal amounts of the following ingredients then pour it over cloth squares in an old plastic container (we just use an empty container leftover from disposable wipes). We don’t measure or anything – we just mix equal parts:
- Witch hazel
- Aloe vera gel or juice (avoid any gel with added ingredients like alcohol)
- Water (if you use aloe vera juice it will already be watery, so you might not need to add water)
Our usual routine during the work week is disposable diapers at daycare, a cloth diaper in the evening and a cloth diaper overnight. On the weekends we are all cloth diapers all of the time. They are so much more absorbent than disposable diapers – so overnights are awesome. Unlike disposable diapers – our cloth diapers have never leaked overnight. We have a wet/dry bag, but we actually prefer using that for the disposable diapers, because it is hanging off of the side of the dresser, off of the floor and out of the way. It is nice to zip up the bag and not worry about any smells, and we throw it in the washer to wash it out regularly.
Because we wash the cloth diapers nightly or every other night, we simply throw them into the plastic laundry bin, occasionally throwing in dirty clothes too. They do not start to smell within that time period, and if they do we simply throw a load in the washer immediately. We wash each load at least twice (usually three times), so there is absolutely no nastiness left behind.
Tucked away behind closet doors
Out of sight and off of the floor
When I started using cloth diapers I purchased Rockin’ Green to wash the diapers, as well as trying a bag of soap nuts together with tea tree oil for adding scent. I found Rockin’ Green to be a bit expensive (with shipping) and the soap nuts were a pain because I would always forget them in the washer during the rinse cycle. My husband did take a liking to the tea tree oil though, and began pouring it into every load of laundry. It was kind of cute because he walked around with his heavy-duty Carhartt work pants smelling like tea tree. Our washing routine today consists of the following steps:
- Dump solids into the toilet (immediately when the diaper comes off)
- Throw the diapers, covers and other laundry in the washer on the shortest setting on hot, to rinse.
- Next, start the washer on the longest, hottest setting with a half cup of washing soda (I get a ton delivered with free shipping from Walmart.com), a half cup of baking soda (same stocking method I use with washing soda) and a half cup of Borax (purchased at the grocery store because it comes in a fairly large container). I usually dump a teaspoon to a tablespoon of Dawn in, to help strip the diapers if they are particularly stinky.
- For the third wash, I pour a half cup of vinegar into the washer on the longest, hottest setting. This load sanitizes and clears away any lingering grime.
- I avoid bleach because it is very hard on the material and absorbency. Most of the stains wash away and if there is a little discoloration it is hardly noticeable. As far as germs, vinegar is a natural disinfectant, and after three washes – these diapers are cleaner than any other item in our house.
- I hang all of our laundry to dry – usually in the laundry room because we need the humidity in the long dry Minnesota winters – or hanging off of the deck in the summer because I hate the look of clotheslines in the yard. #junky Ross built an amazing shelving system in the laundry room and I can hang up to five loads of laundry at a time! I avoid using a clothes dryer because the high heat and tumbling action of the washer is a little rough on clothing, running the dryer is a waste of energy, and I don’t have to worry about shrinkage when I hang everything. We don’t have a humidifier and in the winter months I would actually have bloody noses due to dry air, but I haven’t had one since hanging all of our laundry. The wet laundry dries in about eight hours – which tells you how dry the air is!
I’ve read that you should periodically boil cloth diapers on the stove to eliminate any stink. Boiling diapers is also supposed to get rid of lingering soap residue which can impede absorbency. I’ve boiled them twice – and it’s probably high time to do it again, but it’s such a long painful process. I’ll do it this summer.
We dedicate a drawer to cloth diaper storage – it’s usually empty unless by some miracle we’ve caught up on laundry
#btw I also have an amazing diaper cream ointment compound that my pediatrician recommended. I’m kind of sad that this recipe isn’t common knowledge among mothers – no baby should have to cry over a diaper rash ever again. #soooosad It is easy to make this prescription diaper cream and it heals George’s skin within hours! Just mix equal parts:
All of these ingredients are available at your local CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, etc. We’ve put the cream in an old Desitin container, an old pill bottle, and in a small salad-dressing-sized Tupperware. All work equally well. I honestly don’t think this shizz expires as we prepare loads at a time and it seems to be just as effective later on in life.
The biggest realization I’ve had about cloth diapering is that it comes down to convenience. The only way we can cloth diaper is if we simplify it so it becomes routine and does not add a lot of extra steps in our already-busy day. Do you cloth diaper? What was your experience?