A post written by Brooke over at ApffelADay.com.
The idea of cloth diapering can be overwhelming. I don’t think there is any doubt that they are truly better than disposable diapers…they save thousands of dollars each year, they are about a million times better for the environment, they are much safer for your baby’s sensitive skin, and there is nothing quite like a fluffy colorful diaper on a chunky baby bum. See why you should choose cloth here!
I think the argument that lies within cloth vs. disposable has to do with whether the “hassle” of cloth diapers is truly worth it.
I have done the research, and I came up with a system that will surely make cloth diapering not only simple and efficient, but completely worth it.
TYPE OF DIAPER
Probably the most overwhelming part of starting the process of cloth diapering is actually choosing a diaper. There are many different companies selling many different kinds of diapers and it can be exhausting to think about…especially if you are pregnant and stressed enough already!
We use what is called a pocket diaper. A pocket diaper is one with a cover (the colorful outside part that has a pocket) and an insert (a fluffy white absorbent thing that goes inside the pocket).
The diapers we use are one size fits all…meaning they work for babies ranging from 8-35 pounds. So pretty much the entire time your babe is in diapers. This makes it easy and more cost effective because we only have one set of diapers for our babe.
The specific kind of diaper we use is the BumGenius 4.0 Cloth Diaper with Snap Closure. We chose snaps instead of velcro because I read the velcro wears down after time. I am also in the process of trying out a few other brands of cloth diapers to come up with a detailed review of all pocket diapers so look out for that post coming soon!
But, for now, I love the BumGenius. They are easy and work amazing.
HOW MANY DO YOU NEED
If you get as many diapers as some companies suggest, and you also get newborn size as well, you will be buying like 100 diapers…which makes cloth way more expensive than it needs to be.
We have 22 diapers total. That is it.
We started our little one in cloth diapers around 4 weeks of age. He was born at 7lbs 13oz and it took him about a month to reach 9lbs, which is when we began. In the beginning, I was washing our diapers every other day. Now this may sound like a ton of laundry, but it really is not that difficult.
Now that he is older, we go through about 5-6 diapers a day. So, I do a load of cloth diapers about every 3 days. Obviously you don’t wash every diaper at the same time because you need a few on hand while the washing and drying process takes place. So once there is around 3-4 diapers left in his drawer, I know it is time for a wash!
I feel like 22 is plenty. We could get away with a few more I guess, but I like to wash them more frequently anyway to keep buildup and stink far away!
STUFFING YOUR DIAPERS
I can only speak for pocket diapers, which I am a HUGE fan of, but stuffing your diapers is super easy! I started out by stuffing my diapers right after they were clean and placing them neatly in his changing table drawer.
Now, I usually just put the inserts and covers in the drawer together unfolded and unstuffed. Then I just stuff a diaper when I need one.
Most pocket diapers come with a newborn insert and a normal insert.
The newborn insert, as you could guess, is shorter and thinner. We used the newborn insert for all his diapers for the first month of cloth diapering. So from weeks 4-9 of his life.
Then we started noticing some leaks so we switched to using the normal size insert at all times. The benefit of having the newborn inserts is they serve as a layer of extra absorbency for nighttime! So now for bed we stuff his diaper with both inserts and he is good to go for 12+ hours.
As a side note, if for some reason your normal inserts aren’t dry, you can use 3-4 newborn inserts in a diaper (Remember you only use the newborn inserts at night so you always have a good amount ready to go).
DIRTY DIAPER STORAGE
Where do the dirties go? We use the Diaper Dekor Plus diaper pail with reusable liners and LOVE it.
The opening inside is big enough to fit cloth diapers, the plus size pail holds enough diapers to make it to wash day, and the reusable liners make things much easier. The liners come in a two pack so while one is being used, the other one is washing and drying. Perfect! When wash day comes, you simply dump the diapers out of the bag into the washer, let the bag fall in after, and wash away! It is that easy.
It is time for a fluffy bum to be changed. Unsnap the diaper and lift the legs and wipe down with a cloth wipe. Cloth wipe?? Seriously? Yes! They are easier…believe me. Why? Because instead of having two separate pails, one for cloth diapers and the other for disposable wipes, you just use one pail! Throw everything in there and be done!
Buy 3 packs of Grovia Cloth Wipes on Amazon and you will have plenty. We use a diaper warmer which makes things a whole lot easier. I wet the wipes with warm water and store them in the warmer to keep them wet and toasty.
Toss the poop if in solid poop stage (see below), take the insert out of the cover, and place everything…cover, insert, wipe…into the diaper pail.
If your babe has a little rash, which rarely happens when using cloth, you need to be sure to use a cloth safe bum cream. A lot of creams will not work with cloth diapers and will cause your diapers to repel liquid instead of absorb…no bueno.
We use Grandma El’s Diaper Rash Remedy and love it. We have had probably two or three cases of diaper rash in 6 months. When this happens, I just wipe a little remedy on his bum and snap on his new diaper! Good to go.
WASHING YOUR FLUFF
The most horrible and awful part…except not.
So you are down to only a few diapers and that tells you wash day has arrived. Take the reusable liner out of the pail, dump contents and bag into the washing machine, and…
-Do one wash cycle on cold-
-Add 3 tablespoons of Rockin Green Detergent (We use Hard Rock in Motley Clean)*-
-Do another wash cycle on hot-
-Do a rinse and spin cycle on hot-
-Tumble dry the inserts-
-Hang dry the covers and the diaper pail liner-
A little trick for hanging…we use shower curtain rods! We have a laundry closet, and right above the washer and dryer I had the hubby hang two curtain rods (the kind that drill into the wall). These work perfectly to hang covers!
*I have only used Rockin Green Detergent and have had no issues with it but it can be pricey. Here is a list of other cloth approved detergents. I will be doing a comparison post soon on detergents so keep a look out for that!
Tide Free & Clear
THE FIRST 6 MONTHS
The first 6 months are a tad easier since there is no solid poop and breastmilk/formula poop is water soluble. No rinsing, no dumping, no nothing…just toss in the wash and be done.
SOLID POOP STAGE
Once you start your babe on solids, their poop will also turn into solids. Because big chunks of poop shuffling around your washer is not ideal if you want to use your washer for anything else besides diapers, there is one more step.
We just dump. The poop is like solid little logs so I take his diaper off, walk it to the toilet, dump the poop into it, flush, and put the diaper in the diaper pail.
Now sometimes your babe will be sick or something is off and their poop is too soft and not so “dumpable.” In this case, we rely on diaper liners. Diaper liners are little thin pieces of flushable something that you just lay inside the diaper. Then if they poop, it stays in the liner. You walk the diaper over to the toilet, fling the liner (with poop attached) into the toilet, and flush! Ba da bing, ba da boom.
We use Real Nappies diaper liners and love them. Because the poop is solid 99% of the time, we rarely have to rely on these…so I am pretty sure the two pack we got on Amazon will last forever.
For solid poop, everything else is the same. Once you dump the poop, or the liner and the poop, into the toilet…you proceed as you did before. Same detergent, same wash cycle, same everything.
WHEN THEY YELLOW
Naturally after a few months of holding poo and potty, the inside of your diapers will get a slight yellow tinge to them. Don’t worry! It is an easy fix. You can either…
Add 1/4 cup of bleach to the hot wash cycle (this will not alter the color of the covers at all!)
Simply dry everything, white side up, in the sun
The diapers will come out sparkling white and just like new!
STRIPPING YOUR DIAPERS
After time, your diapers made need to be stripped. Now usually if proper washing instructions are followed and approved cloth diaper rash creams are used, this is not necessary. But I have followed all the rules and after 6 months, felt my diapers needed a strip.
What the heck does this mean? Stripping your cloth diapers is not as scandalous as it sounds…just another wash step. There are two reasons you may want to strip, leaks or smells. If you notice after some time that your diapers aren’t absorbing like they did in the beginning, or they have a stale pee smell to them, it is probably a good idea to strip.
Here is how…
- Wash diapers in hot water with Dawn blue dish soap
1 tbsp. of soap for top loader washing machines
1 tsp. of soap for front loader washing machines
- Wash on hot two more times with only clear water
FOR SMELL ISSUES:
- Wash diapers in hot water with Dawn blue dish soap & Bleach
1 tbsp. of soap & 3/4 cup of bleach for top loader washing machines
1 tsp. of soap & 1/2 cup of bleach for front loader washing machines
2.Wash on hot two more times with only clear water
ON THE GO
OUT & ABOUT
If I am going out for the day, I pack about 4 diapers and a wet dry bag. We use this one and love it. When out, we use disposable wipes. I feel using cloth wipes while out is a tad more difficult because keeping them wet is an issue. A lot of people will bring cloth wipes and spray them with a little water…that seems too much for us so I just use disposable wipes. There is always a trash can nearby so I just toss the wipes in there.
For the diaper, I take the insert out and place everything in the wet dry bag. If there is a poop, I either find a toilet and dump and flush or I just wrap the diaper up tight and put it in the bag and deal with the poop when I get home.
The wet dry bag can be washed along with the diapers on wash day, I will dump the diapers from his room into the wash, dump the contents of the wet dry bag into the wash, and put the diaper pail liner and wet dry bag in the wash as well.
Be sure to hang dry the wet dry bag and the diaper pail liner!
ON A TRIP
If you are going on a trip that is longer than 3 days you can either wash them on your trip or just use disposable. Whatever you feel is easiest for your family, go with it!
I have only been on one trip in 6 months that was longer than 3 days. Our little one’s buns are sensitive, so using disposable is not an option for us. I brought along his diaper pail liner (just the liner) to store his dirty diapers. Once that got full, we had access to a washer and dryer so I washed everything and was good to go.
Don’t forget to bring along detergent!
I am six months into our cloth diaper adventure and I can honestly tell you that I have not once regretted it. True, I am still not even half way done cloth diapering the buns of our first, but I seriously love doing cloth diapers and it is definitely no where near as difficult as a lot of people made it seem.
I am convinced that if you use this system you will also love being a cloth diaper mama. Please comment below with any cloth questions or ideas!
About the Author Brooke Apffel
Brooke is the author over at ApffelADay.com, a blog that believes laughter and honesty are the best remedies to navigate the daring yet fleeting adventure of motherhood.
Brooke frequently writes about her marriage, the joys and challenges she faces as a new mom, and some helpful tips and tricks she picks up along the way! She loves to keep life simple and healthy, but also knows that sometimes sanity comes at the price of take out.
Honesty that is refreshing and encouragement for the toughest of days.
Go check out Apffel A Day!