Cloth Diapering For The Reusable Soul

This is a photo of my first-ever reusable wipes!

This is a photo of my first-ever reusable wipes!

In all my previous posts, I somehow completely skipped over a major part of my life these days: cloth diapers! Yay! It’s something that I would like to share with any readers or mamis who might be interested to know a little more before they make their own diapering decisions. Or it could just be information you pass along to someone you know who may benefit from the knowledge.

Notice that my title says, “[…]For The Reusable Soul[.]” This means that it is most definitely not for everyone, and that’s okay. If you are someone who retches at the sight and smell of poop (even that sweet-smelling baby poop), or has a fear of some of the body’s functions, this is probably not going to be a feasible undertaking for you. But it still could be.

Okay. Meat and potatoes time.

Cloth diapering is a commitment and a responsibility. It means that you will be creating, managing, and maintaining your own personalized system of keeping your little sweetie clean, snug, and happy in their nether regions. It is not meant to be daunting, but it does require some mastery and foresight to do it well, believe it or not, just like any other task. However, if you can bring yourself to give it an honest shot, your baby, your wallet, and the environment will thank you.

Let’s get down to the financial aspect. If you are going to use pre-made diapers, and not just pieces of folded fabric and safety pins, there is an initial investment of anywhere from $100+, depending on how fancy you are (yes, there are organic diapers and inserts!). The style you choose will determine how much you end up spending, as well as the size and rate of growth of your baby.

In my opinion, and I have tried five different companies’ diapers in different styles, the cheapest way to cloth diaper when the expense is out of your pocket is to go for what is called a “Hybrid”. Hybrids, or All-In-Two, are diapers that allow you to use them in two different ways:

  • Pocket diaper style, a good choice for overnight use, as you can stuff the pocket with as many inserts as you and your little sweetie could possibly need to keep sleepytime pee inside the diaper and off of any bedding. The use of the diaper in this way means that the waterproof shell of the diaper will become single-use, and a new diaper will be needed when next it is changed, as the top of the pocket will become the first line of defense and is in direct contact with your baby’s skin.
  • Multiple-use style. This is where the insert is placed over the top of the pocket, meaning that, barring any explosive poops, when changing time comes, you will be able to get multiple uses out of the waterproof shell, and will only be changing out the insert.

CAM00378My favorite hybrid diapers are Charlie Banana diapers. They also sell disposable inserts for their diapers, so, if you are someone who prefers to skip cloth diapers to avoid the cleaning part, you can use them like a fully disposable diaper by simply pulling out the insert and throwing it away, leaving you with the shell that can be reused until it soils.

 

 

CAM00381My favorite pocket diapers are Fuzzibunz. I have several of these around for long car trips, nighttime use, or Poop Day. They are single-use, but I had bought them before I discovered hybrid diapers, and they are still very functional and very much a part of my life. I like these the most out of all the pocket diapers I have tried, because they are very absorbent using them just as they are, without any extra inserts stuffed into them, keeping the bulk of the diaper to a minimum while still getting a lot out of them, without a lot of leaking or bleeding through. Another great thing about them is that they go on sale frequently, so they can be purchased at half or two-thirds the normal price directly from their website. This makes them a steal, for all of the saving they will bring you!

To give you an idea of how cloth diapering works, I will walk you through what I do to care for mine:

  • I keep my diaper pail in the bathroom where there is tile, because the rest of the house is hardwood floors. The pail is right next to the toilet, which is integral in my cleaning process. I prefer to soak my diapers to help loosen up any stubborn poops, to make scrubbing easier, and to minimize odor, so I have a wet pail (it’s a two-foot-tall plastic trash can I found at The Container Store with a removable inner bucket and a lid I can open with my foot).
  • Pee diapers and inserts go straight into the pail (I always pull the inserts out and put both those and the shells in as separate pieces so they can each get a good soak). Poop diapers get cleaned first, the poop washed off in the little bit of water that resides in the bottom of the toilet (I use rubber gloves on my hands). I submerge all diapers and inserts in the water in my diaper pail.
  • When it is time to wash the diapers, I remove the bucket from the pail, hold the diapers back with one hand and use the other hand to tip the bucket into the toilet, draining as much of the water as I can. What is left in the bucket is the diapers and the inserts.
  • I place the bucket right alongside the toilet, take one insert or shell out at a time, and wring it out into the toilet. I then place it in the sink temporarily. If there is a particularly stubborn poop stain, I use Oxy-Clean stain removing spray on it, scrub it against itself a bit, and put it with the others in the sink.
  • When all the shells and inserts have been wrung out, I take them out of the sink and put them back into the now-empty bucket, then transport them to the washer, and put them inside. I change up the temperature of the water I use to wash them with, rotating hot, warm, and cold, because hot water seems to be the best, but will cause the diapers to wear and age faster.
  • When it is time to dry them, I put them in the dryer on low heat for about an hour if the weather isn’t good, and if it is good, I hang them outside on a line.
  • When the diapers are dry, I make sure that each shell has an insert within it once again, so that it is ready as soon as I need it. I fasten the snaps to keep the diaper together and looking more organized, and place it near my changing area for the next use.
  • I fill the bucket about halfway with hot water, which is one to two gallons, mixing in a quarter cup of Oxy-Clean stain-removing powder detergent. This is what my diapers soak in, and it helps to clean the diapers as they float around in the water so they are easier for me to clean later. I have used baking soda also, and this works fine, too, but doesn’t quite have the bleaching capacity of the Oxy-Clean.
  • I clean the sink and the toilet, so they are baby-poop-and-pee-free and fresh as new. This cycle is repeated when my diaper pail is full, or when I am running out of diapers, which is every other day, or every third day, and this coincides with being able to do a load of laundry as well.

And there you have it! My own personal diaper-cleaning system and rituals! There are as many variations to this as there are mamis who use cloth diapers, but maybe this one will give you some ideas on how to get started. I will also share some of the things I have learned concerning cloth diapering:

  1. I bought about half as many diapers as is recommended to have. I can do this because I clean them every other day or every third day, and it helps with the overall cost of investing in diapers. You can buy less because you are cleaning them several times a week. If you want to clean them less, you have to buy more.
  2. My diaper pail is small, and can only hold about eight to ten diapers comfortably. I like this, because it keeps me from getting lazy about cleaning them, and it also keeps the pail and the entire space and all the air it occupies fresher because it never sits with dirty diapers and water in it for more than a day or two. My bathroom never smells like stinky diapers! If you used it, you would have no idea there were even diapers in there, unless you accidentally opened the lid thinking there was trash in the pail!
  3. I clean diapers immediately as they are used/soiled.
  4. I didn’t want to have to buy special laundry detergent for diapers and baby items, so I use Seventh Generation Free & Clear liquid detergent for ALL of my laundry. The ingredients are baby-skin-safe and ultra-gentle. That way, diaper-washing day can be paired with laundry day, and I am not wasting water on a tiny load of diapers, plus my other laundry never gets out of control because I can wash everything together.
  5. I am more invested in paying attention to Mr. Sweetie’s bathroom schedule, because it saves me time and resources to know what sort of day or time of day it is. For example, I currently have several hybrid diapers, but I also have several pocket diapers. If it is Poop Day (every other day or every third day), I am heavier on my pocket diapers than on the hybrids, because, knowing that I will most likely get a poop blowout that wrecks my chances of reusing the shell, I go for the more absorbent and single-use approach. This applies to nighttime, too. However, if it is a typical day, I go for my hybrid diapers, knowing that one or two shells will get me through an entire day of changes, and my pail will be more full of just inserts. It therefore means that I may only have to wash diapers again after three days, saving water, instead of filling my pail unnecessarily with pee-filled, single-use pocket diapers that take up more space in the pail and leave me with mostly hybrids to manage on Poop Day (not the ideal way to maximize resources).
  6. I was using Seventh Generation baby wipes for awhile, and still have them around (mostly for when anyone else watches Mr. Sweetie, or for when I am out of the house), but am getting into using baby washcloths as reusable baby wipes to cut down my expenses and use of resources even further. All I do is run the washcloth under some warm water, squeeze it out, and use it, then clean it out in the toilet if necessary, and place it in the pail along with the diapers, to be cleaned in the same way described above.

I hope I have been able to explain my personal process and reasoning to anyone taking the time to read this, and that it makes the whole thing seem a lot more possible, or perhaps that a clearer picture is made on how other mamis or readers can easily and successfully get into cloth diapering. I am happy for the opportunity to provide more information on it, because I can’t help but think of myself when I was starting out, and how big of a project it seemed to me. If someone had given me a play-by-play of how it works, and what methods and products they used, it would have made it that much more appealing an alternative to me. I may have been scared away from it initially, were it not for my absolute commitment to seeing it through. Once I got a system down, it is now so routine for me that it is extremely easy, and I save thousands of dollars a year, and hundreds of disposable diapers being added to the trash a year, plus I keep the chemicals inside those disposable diapers off the skin of my little sweetie. Win-win-win!

To date, I have personally spent $370 on my cloth diapers. I estimate that all baby-related trash I have produced would easily fit into one ten-gallon trash bag. Knowing that the cost of buying cloth diapers is a one-time investment, the only real future expenditure would be if I decided to buy any new ones. Detergent, electricity, and water are basically a wash, pun intended, because I coordinate diaper-washing into my other laundry that I am doing already, and don’t have enough diapers to take up the space of much more than two or three T-shirts per load. This $370 I have spent is compared to an average of $2,500 spent over a period of 2.5 years to diaper a baby using disposables. This amount does not include money spent on wipes. Not to mention the trash:

  • 24.7 billion disposable diapers are consumed per year in the US.
  • 92% of all single-use disposable diapers end up in a landfill
  • It takes 200-500 years for the diapers to decompose

I wanted to include an image of diapers in a landfill, but could not find one that wasn’t protected by copyright. Just type “disposable diapers landfill” into your search engine, for any further visual inquiries.

How much money are you spending on disposable diapers and wipes a year? How much trash per year are you adding to landfills because of your disposable diapers? How much would you like to save and cut back in those areas?

 

Encouraging Empowered Mamis To Do What They Do Everywhere

 

Mami

Mami is an artist, aspiring entrepreneur, and first-time, full-time mother. She enjoys long walks with Mr. Sweetie, good food and cooking, her family and dear friends, writing, arting and crafting. She doesn't know everything, but wants to learn, and loves to do research and share what she finds. She thinks life is like a box of puzzle pieces: you keep trying until it fits, because every piece has its place. She owns and operates whatever she sets her mind to, and knows that the sky is only the limit if you haven't left the ground yet.

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