02 Jun

Cloth Diapering

Posted by Jenna, Under baby

If you don’t have anyone in your close group of friends/family who is cloth diapering you probably consider it to be this great mystery, just like I did before T1 arrived. No matter how many blog posts I read I couldn’t quite understand how it worked. Are my fingers bloody from dealing with the pins? And what do we do with the poop?

I’m going to do my best to explain what we own, how we use and clean everything, the extra time it takes, and why I love cloth diapers so much.

Our Diapering Stash

There are so many types and sizes of cloth diapers that I don’t think I could possibly explain them all here (I like this site). The short explanation is that you either need a cloth diaper AND a cover, or what’s called in All In One Diaper. Then there are sizes, either you can buy diapers that only fit certain weights/sizes, or you can buy diapers that can be folded and manipulated to fit for longer periods of time. I had purchased a few different types of diaper covers but planned on using what are known as prefolds for the actual cloth diaper part, with some Snappis to pin them closed (yes, no more diaper pins!).

TH hated the prefolds though and we immediately abandoned that idea (they had to be folded up a special way and pinned each time, so I wasn’t sad about that). If he was willing to pay more I definitely was as well!

When you read sites that compare the cost difference between disposable and cloth they will often say that cloth diapering costs around $600. Ha! Costs that much if you only buy used and use the prefolds all the way through. I don’t have an exact number for you on how much I think we’ll spend, in part because we still have more to buy as he grows, but I think we both estimate that we’ll easily spend $1500 getting everything we need, which is what most people will spend on disposables. Because we are planning on having 3+ children though, we’ll save significantly in the long run. Plus, almost everything we’ve purchased can be sold to someone else, so we will be able to make a few hundred dollars back when our children are all potty trained.

3 orange and 3 cream gDiapers in sizes small, medium, and large. I bought them from Baby Steals when they were on sale. I like these and we’ve only had problems with leaking when he wears only one insert inside at night. Poop sometimes gets on the liner but rarely does it escape past that onto the cloth part of the diaper.


I stuff my gDiapers with 18 cloth gDiaper inserts from Cottonwood Baby. I also bought some disposable gRefills for when we travel, which can either be flushed, or thrown away in the trash with no thoughts of overflowing landfills on my conscience because they break down completely in 50-100 days. I also have 18 of these inserts in the medium/large size.

Drybees Gone Natural Fitted Diaper which is definitely the softest that we own, and good for overnight when we don’t change him as often.

Tiny Tush Trim Hemp One-size Cloth Diaper, also good for overnight.

17 Kissaluv’s Cotton Fleece Fitted Cloth Diapers. I bought 9 of these from a friend, and we loved them so much we picked up several more when they were on sale at Amazon. These have to have a cover placed on top.

Thirsties Diaper Covers. We love these and I anticipate we’ll be buying more in medium and large sizes as he grows. My favorite colors are white and red, and I wish I had some in black as well. But I also wish I had more black baby clothing overall.

1 Swaddlebees All In One Diaper. Definitely leaks if we use it overnight (and it’s awkward to double stuff). This is one that is meant to grow with him as he grows older.

1 Thirsties Duo Diaper

We’ll continue using the gdiapers and inserts that we have, and I think we’ll buy more of the Kissaluvs and Thirsties covers as well. From now on I’m only buying diapers in the colors white, cream, red, or black. I’d dress him in only those colors for the rest of his clothes as well if I could figure out how to afford it. :)

With all of the diapers and covers we have we can wash every 3 days and be okay, although it’s best to wash every other day because of the smell. Which leads us to the thing every one wants to know most… what do we do with the dirty diapers!

Care and Cleaning

We have two bins lined with Planet Wise Diaper pail liners, one for the pee diapers, and one for the poo diapers. If a diaper is poopy we will sometimes spray it off using the Diaper Sprayer from Cottonwood Baby but often I’m lazy and will just throw it all in the poo bin. We have two not only because we rinse the poopy diapers and so it becomes a bit of a “wet pail”, but also because it means we aren’t opening up the poop bin as often and I think it keeps the smelld own. Although the smell of his pee is pretty potent. Sometimes I burn a candle or spray Febreeze to mask the smell a bit, but overall it’s not that bad. Probably not much worse than any normal nursery smells? When we throw the liners with velcro tabs into the bins we fold the tabs done on themselves so they don’t catch and pill everything while they are being washed.


When it’s time to do the wash I pull the liners out of the pails and take everything into the laundry room. I dump the contents of the liners into the washing machine buy turning them upside down, and then throw the liners themselves on top of it all. I never have to touch the dirty diapers at all! I turn the washer on hot and run a full cycle, and then when it’s done I turn it to cold and run a rinse cycle.

Poop in the washer? Yep. But any family who has had a child who blew out their diaper has probably also thrown those poopy clothes in without a second thought. I figure it’s the same for us, just a bit higher volume. When his poop solidifies I plan on using the sprayer more often because I’m worried it won’t wash away in the wash, but for right now it’s very liquid and runny still. And that’s why I run the rinse cycle one last time at the very end, in an attempt to wash away any remnants that might remain. It all seems like a big scary deal before you do it, but now that we’re in the middle of everything it feels rather natural.

When the washing portion is over I transfer everything to the dryer and dry it all on the highest setting possible for as long as possible. Sometimes I have to dry them twice because they aren’t quite done. The giaper covers get dried, but the liners that snap inside don’t. The Thirsties liner’s don’t get dried but the all-in-one diapers do. Sounds kind of confusing but it really isn’t. Some of my diapers are a bit stained and I do have a clothesline I could hang them on, as I’ve read that the sun will bleach them white again, but it doesn’t really matter all that much since the diaper is just going on his bum anyway.

Time

How much extra time does cloth diapering take? It definitely took me hours of researching and reading to figure out what diapers we wanted to buy and how it all worked. Apart from that it only takes a tiny bit more work than disposables would.

When we change him we usually need to deal with two separate items instead of just one, which I think adds a maximum of 15 seconds on to each changing. When we do spray the poopy diapers off it takes about 2 minutes and he currently poops once a day. It’s 5 minutes or less to pull the liners out of the pails, replace them, walk to the dryer, dump all of the contents in, and start the first cycle. 1 minute to visit the laundry room and start the rinse cycle. 2 minutes to transfer the washer contents to the dryer, separate the non-dryable components out, and start the dryer. Pulling everything from the dryer, sorting it out, and putting it all away can take 15 minutes if I’m taking my sweet time.

With my rusty math skills I add that all up and estimate that cloth diapering takes up a little over 1 hour of my time, maximum, each week. If you can work a cloth diapering service into your budget these services will provide you with diapers and launder the dirty ones for you.

Why I Love It

I’m surprised by how much I love cloth diapering. I’ve always said that the environmental considerations were secondary to monetary savings for us, but I take pride in knowing that we aren’t contributing to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

I love it for the money we will be saving over time. I’m glad that we’re planning on having multiple children so we can feel comfortable cloth diapering while spending money on the supplies that offer a bit more convenience and still know that we’ll invest less than we would with disposables.

And surprisingly, my number one reason for loving cloth diapers is that I think they look so stinkin’ cute on him! I’m not interested in purchasing all of the crazy patterns that are offered but even my plain jane red, white, and orange cloth diapers look SO much cuter on than any disposable diaper ever could. They look so good that he doesn’t even need to wear pants making diaper changes SO much easier! (Sorry Huggies, those blue jean diapers are a nice try but they still don’t come close to the cuteness of cloth.)

93 Comments


  1. Thanks for posting – excellent information to have and I love it when being eco-conscious also saves money!
    I don’t expect you to know this but I figure it may have come up in your research – do child care centers/daycares, etc. cloth diaper? Or do you have to be willing to use disposable diapers for that?

    Also, how much space do they take up? More or less than keeping 3-4 packs of diapers on hand?

    Jenna Reply:

    It depends on the daycare. A lot just haven’t really dealt with cloth recently so they don’t want to deal with pinning and such. I’ve heard that buying all-in-one diapers and telling the care center to just throw them all in a bag and let you take care of them when you get home is the way most will work with cloth diapers.

    We have two large garbage bins that open up when you step on them (you can get away with one) and a set of stacking drawers with 3 drawers. So maybe a little bit more space?

    liv Reply:

    It depends on where you live. There are about 5 daycares in our area that are ok with it.

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  2. Wow, those gdiapers look amazing! I don’t know why, I guess they just look like the “good” kind where everything fastens the way it should and stays nice and tight.
    I would have loved to go with something like those, but was poor when I (oh wait a minute, still am) went to research and buy our cloth diapers. We ended up going with prefolds and Whisper Wraps (basically the same thing as the Thirsties covers) and have spent less than $300 on cloth so far- and G is 17 months. Although, when I have some extra money to throw at it, I’m definitely going to have to check into some of the fancier stuff for traveling and overnight. Right now, we’re using disposables at night simply because, even with using 2 prefolds on him, he started soaking through everything at about 15 months. And neither of us were into a nighttime diaper change. But if I could find something more absorbent, as well as something we could use while traveling, that would be AWESOME and we could go back to solely cloth!

    Jenna Reply:

    We’ve been using those gdiaper inserts to stuff inside the Kissaluvs, the Tiny Tush Trim, or the Drybees Gone Natural, and closing that all up with the Thirsties. He still isn’t sleeping through the night so I’m not sure it works all night but it has worked for 6-7 hours.

    Evelyn Reply:

    We do prefolds and the old school diaper covers… I know what you mean about leaking in the night. My mil showed us a trick when we were running into that problem. How do you fold the two diapers? We fold one into thirds and place it in the middle and then fold the outside one onto her like normal. It’s like a super super absorbent insert. Just an idea in case you were doing yours differently. ;)

    Regina Lynn Reply:

    Yep, that’s about exactly what we did- except opposite. We put a diaper on him with snappies and then did the fold-the-diaper-in-thirds thing (our covers have a little pocket at the front that you put one end of the folded diaper into so it doesn’t slip around) over top of that, and pulling it all together with the cover.
    When he starts staying dry through the night, or almost dry, I want to go back to cloth overnight.

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  3. I’m expecting (due in October) and was just starting my research on cloth diapers, so thank you for this! Did you buy all of your supplies in advance? That is the most daunting thing to me – what if I buy it all and then I don’t like something? Or, what if I don’t buy ENOUGH and find myself washing diapers every 5 minutes :)

    Jenna Reply:

    Yeah it was scary buying everything before I had given it a try. The only thing we bought after he was born were extra Kissaluvs because I had planned on using prefolds to supplement but TH didn’t want to.

    I forgot to write into my post that we have more than we need, IMO. Have you heard about the services where you can try things out and then send them back if you don’t like them? I’m sorry I don’t know what those services are but try searching and see if you can find them, I know they exist.

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  4. Wow! So many choices! Thanks for posting about your experience. Do all of the diapers get covered by the Thirsties or some other diaper cover? Do they all have extra inserts, or just the gdiapters? It looks like I have a ton of research to do on this front.

    Jenna Reply:

    Pretty much every type of diaper is different so no, not all of them have to be covered by Thirsties covers. Only the gdiapers that we own have the extra inserts although there are a few other brands out there that have the same thing.

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  5. What a great post! I considered cloth diapers, but my hubs would not go for it and I definitely wanted help in the diapering department since i am bfing and that is sort of all up to me. I do use cloth wipes, which I love. I also tried several eco-conscious disposables, which unfortunately, do not work as well. After a several blowouts, I was done. I really wish they could make those compostable disposables work like the swaddlers on keeping the poo contained.

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  6. Just curious if you’ve looked up any research on how much energy and water your using to do this process? Just curious. I believe that there are pros and cons with using any type of diaper.

    Tiffany Reply:

    Only one extra load of laundry is added every couple of days. So, this isn’t a lot of added laundry. If you have children, they are going to add to your laundry load, so that is to be expected… and an average of 2 loads a week is a lot less of an impact on the environment than an average of 8 diapers a day going into a landfill… full of poop.

    Jenna Reply:

    This is a pretty comprehensive breakdown: http://www.diaperdecisions.com/cost_of_cloth_diapers.htm

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  7. Thanks for the info! My parents used a cloth diaper service and loved it, although I don’t know if we’ll be able to afford one. And those gDiapers are so cute!

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  8. I am totally amazed by the cloth vs. disposable discussion. I’m not currently looking to have any babies… but I’m keeping my eyes open for the future when I do decide to head down that road.

    Thanks for the info! I know I’ll need a new washer and dryer before I’m going to even think about cloth… I would think having a much more water/energy efficient washer and dryer would be a big help in keeping the energy bill side of things down!

    Cristin Reply:

    I agree with the washer/dryer comments. This would be really challenging for those of us that don’t have laundry in our homes/buildings! Its certainly interesting to learn about though!

    Jenna Reply:

    Yep, I’ll be choosing our apartment in part based on the option to have a washer/dryer inside. I can’t imagine dealing with cloth diapers by taking them out somewhere and washing them all the time.

    Brie Reply:

    Just an fyi, washing cloth diapers with front loaders is much harder because they use so little water. It’s hard to get them clean. Many people have success, it’s just more of a process (like dumping in extra water from the sink).

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  9. Just fyi, although the disposable g-diaper inserts technically biodegrade pretty quickly, they won’t if they are trapped in a landfill with plastic, etc., so their marketing is a bit disingenuous.

    Erin Reply:

    I was just going to say this as well!

    Things that tout themselves as biodegradable tend to bug me because well-meaning people buy them in an attempt to be earth-friendly…but then just throw them out.

    Unfortunately, many (if not most) landfills either incinerate the trash before putting in the landfill or have it stored in such a way that the conditions are not right for biodegredation to occur.

    Either way, it ends up making biodegradable items not necessarily any better than regular items. :(

    Jenna Reply:

    Interesting! Yes, if I think about it logically you are right, it wouldn’t break down. We haven’t used any of the disposable inserts yet and I plan on keeping them through multiple babies and only using them for long trips, such as my trip to Washington at the end o the month.

    liv Reply:

    Not that it’s bad to use disposables when traveling, but don’t immediately discount using cloth on trips. We just came back from a 2.5 week vacation in New Zealand and we used cloth (and about 10 disposables). It was really pretty easy and I’m hoping to use cloth every time we travel.

    Jewel Reply:

    Liv, how did you wash them?

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  10. this is interesting and I’m glad you posted because I always wondered how cloth diapers work. But I still don’t think I could do cloth diapers. I would just be too grossed out by poop being in my washer. I’m just wondering, when you calculate the costs of cloth diapers vs disposable diapers do you consider the cost of the detergent to wash them and the cost of running the washing machine so much and the dryer at such a high setting? Wouldn’t those things make them less environmentally friendly?

    Jenna Reply:

    Well I guess that would make the less environmentally friendly, but what would be MORE friendly than that? I mean there has to be a best standard right, and I don’t see what the best be could be beside this. With disposables people need to not only consider the environmental cost after the baby is disposed, but before as well. I don’t know very much about it, but processing all of those chemicals has to take a toll don’t you think?

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  11. Oh, and about the poop in the washer thing- it never bothered us one bit. I can see why it would some people, but before G was born we both worked on a dairy farm which, of course, amounted to a lot of crappy clothes going through our washer. After that, who cares about baby poop?

    Jenna Reply:

    Once you have a baby you have poop under your fingernails, poop on the changing table, poop in the sink when you give them a bath, poop on your hands when you change the diapers… some poop in my washer is the last thing on my mind!

    Regina Lynn Reply:

    Exactemundo!

    Sara Reply:

    And, anyone with pets already has certainly cleaned up a mess or two as well!

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  12. THANK YOU! i’m planning on cloth diapering when my little one comes. this post was super helpful!

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  13. i, too, am OBSESSED with cloth dipes!

    love the thirsties, too, and mostly use them with imagine pre-folds. definitely checking out those kissaluv fitteds next!

    my favs currently are rumparooz pocket diapers. suuuuuuper absorbent and adorable! and they have snaps instead of velcro – which, as you mentioned, can be annoying in the wash.

    oh and one last thing — i’ve found a cold rinse w/out soap FIRST really helps to get rid of the poo. then i do a hot wash! loving charlie’s soap b/c it leaves no residue/smell and is v eco-friendly.

    once we move into our house in a few weeks i’ll be hanging a line up and seeing how the sun works on the stains…

    Jenna Reply:

    Ok, you do rinse first? TH and I were talking about this recently. I couldn’t decide if it was best to rinse first or last.

    I thought the stains would bother me, but they really don’t.

    bluejeanamy Reply:

    i started rinsing (cold) first after reading about it on a bunch of sites. my mom thinks i’m crazy for even doing a rinse, b/c she never did —

    but i think doing it first gets out the worst stuff right away, so it’s not tumbled around with the soap, etc.

    i think it’s taking the place of the “dunking” people used to do before they washed…which — ew.

    however, i’m also a tad nuts and love doing a post rinse, too! but the purpose of THAT one is to make sure i get out all the soap before putting them on her lil bum. ;)

    Brie Reply:

    I do the same thing. Cold rinse, hot wash with detergent, extra rinse because C has such a sensitive bum I want all the detergent out. If she wasn’t so sensitive, I wouldn’t so that last rinse.

    liv Reply:

    I do a quick cold rinse, a hot wash, and then another quick wash. It works great. About once a month I’ll add some bleach in the hot wash. From what I’ve read, that is somewhat normal, so definitely not overkill if you do both. The second rinse especially, it makes sure that the detergent is out (which prevents rash)

    Amanda Reply:

    I also do a cold rinse first-to clear everything off-and then a hot rinse to clean. I don’t do an additional rinse. I use a yablespoon of charlie’s soap powder so I don’t worry much about residue. I also ocassionally add a bit of baby oxy clean during the cold rinse- this was suggested in some info from green moutain prefolds.

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  14. It still grosses me out. In fact, I was gagging a little bit while reading. My friend does cloth diapers and I’d still like her to show me the ropes before I have kids, but I don’t think I could stomach it (currently I’m a nanny and I see a LOT of poopy diapers, but something about cloth diapering makes me want to throw-up).

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  15. I’m with you on wanting more black clothes. I really really wish I could find more black stuff for Dot! I’m pretty allergic to pastel pink, and my GOD, it’s everywhere.
    I’m in no way interested in cloth diapering, but it doesn’t gross me out that you do it. My favorite part of this post is that you didn’t try to make disposable diaper Mamas out to be lazy or bad. I had a girl tell me once that because disposables had chemicals in them, using Huggies is akin to child abuse. Um… excuse me?
    So I appreciate you putting your information out there in a nice way!

    Kelli Nicole Reply:

    Child abuse?!? Some people are just crazy. I NEVER thought I’d want to do cloth diapers until one of my sisters used them (only 1 out of 9 nieces and nephews is cloth diapered), and it still took me a while to think they’re awesome. Why can’t people just relax?

    And I might share the allergy to pastel pink :).

    Jenna Reply:

    Agreed. Although there certainly can be negative effects that SOME parents experience with disposables, that percentage is crazy low. Like 1 in a million! To call something child abuse that the majority of parents are doing with almost no negative consequences to their child is just silly in my book.

    Kate Reply:

    Weeeeeelllll….you could consider overall very late potty training a consequence. Those chemicals wick moisture away from the skin–many contend that they are responsible for children being potty trained at age 3, or 4, or 5, rather than 18 months, which apparently used to be the average.

    Plus, many of those chemicals are carcinogens. We don’t actually know what effect they would have in a vacuum, but we do know that lots of nasty afflictions seem to be on the rise since their invention.

    Lastly, $1500? What the heck did you buy? I was pretty shocked when I read that. Even if you bought 48 of something like GroVias or Bumgenius, some of the most expensive on the market, plus cloth wipes, you’d still be under $800!

    Kate Reply:

    I misspoke–24 diapers.

    Jenna Reply:

    I think we’ve spent around $700, and that’s for all the supplies through the Newborn stage, plus the gdiapers in medium and large, as well as the inserts for them. Our thought is that we hope to spend $1500 total on everything through all of our children. That’s the goal anyway.

    Kate Reply:

    Two of my friends have made the mistake of getting g-diapers and wanting to use disposable inserts all the time. I did the math on that and it’s more expensive than disposable diapers! Not good for the wallet. I’m glad they started making the cloth inserts. The disposables are definitely nice for travel, but too much money for all the time.

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  16. Good for you! I will definitely do cloth diapers when I have children. After all, isn’t that how it was done for, oh I don’t know… FOREVER before the great blight that is plastic was invented?

    It came up in a conversation a while back with my husband and you should’ve SEEN his face. “What happens to the poop?!” (Like, “why did I marry this crazy woman, she’s going to wash poop into all my clothes!”)

    I assume we will have a diaper service when it comes down to it, lol.

    I would’ve thought you might bleach the diapers? Is it just that hot water is enough or is bleach too much for sensitive baby butts?

    Jenna Reply:

    I think most cloth diaper people don’t bleach because they like the fact that CDs don’t leave chemicals sitting against the skin. And most people who CD are granola and would avoid using bleach in other areas. Apparently hanging them out to dry on a clothesline will bleach them white naturally?

    april Reply:

    this is WAY late, but yeah, my MIL cloth diapered because they couldn’t afford disposables when she had kids, and she washed and dried them, and hung them on the line to “bleach” in the sun, kept them as white as you could reasonably expect!

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  17. kara sue says:

    I agree that cloth diapers are WAY cuter than disposables and I’m leaning towards using prefolds and covers. Can you dress T1 in onsies still? Or it looks like maybe you cut off the bottom of a onsie to make a t-shirt? Most of the cute tops they sell seem to be onsies (and I’ve already gotten some as gifts), but then they’d be covering up the cute diaper…and may not even fit over the bulkier cloth diapers? Thanks for all the info!

    Kelli Nicole Reply:

    I think Jenna decided that she just likes t-shirts better because they make diaper changes sooo easy (t-shirt, diaper, and then baby legs to keep his legs warm and no snapping or extra fabric to bother with). It’s hard to find tiny t-shirts, but we found some here – http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2309906. Old Navy has some cute ones too. I’m pretty sure newborn onesies will never fit over a cloth diaper, but the bigger sizes should. I’ll let someone with a baby answer that one!

    Regina Lynn Reply:

    Oh yes, most onesies fit over cloth diapers just fine. Sorry, lol. I only know this because I’m coming from the other end of the spectrum- I love onesies and how they keep little tummies warm. No trying to keep little shirts tucked into pants during the cold months- just wear a onesie with pants over top. You can even wear a cute little t-shirt over them as well, if you want. But that’s just me. I find it highly annoying that it’s hard to find onesies past the size of 9-12 mo.

    Kate Reply:

    Plus, if you find that they don’t fit, you can buy crotch extenders.

    Sidenote: I hate the word crotch.

    Jenna Reply:

    That’s a shirt that someone gifted me and I LOVE shirts now. I’d like to dress him in shirts all the time in this warm weather because it makes diaper changes so easy.

    The Gerber onesies can be a little bit short but almost all the others fit fine. Here he is in some onesies:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/thatfamily/4608312763/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/thatfamily/4596887921/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/thatfamily/4572796608/

    kara sue Reply:

    Thanks for the input, everyone! Very helpful. :)

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  18. I love our cloth diapers too! Cute factor is a big one. I also love the no blow-outs thing. With disposable we get blow-outs like crazy. The first time she wore a pampers at 2 months, poop ran down her leg and hit the floor. Cloth diapers were never so messy as holding a screaming baby covered head to toe in poop over a laundry sink- not fun. She’s also never gotten poop on her carseat, something my sisters say happens all the time. Either I washed poopy clothes or poopy diapers!

    Our water bill has definitely gone up, but we also give her a bath every night, wash all her laundry, and I stay home so I use the bathroom and kitchen more too. Total water bill last month? $4. Yeah, I don’t think it’s making too much a difference. I didn’t like using the dryer a ton, so I use diapers that don’t require more than one normal cycle. I read several articles on how cloth and sposie diapers are made, processed, cleaned, thrown away and it really seemed to be a no-brainer on which was more eco-friendly. I also don’t use things like bleach. Mothering.com has some great articles on it.

    Don’t have to spend time and gas running to the store for diapers. We never run out of diapers or wipes (even if I don’t do the laundry on time, we have enough back-up diapers that it’s fine). I buy the detergent online with free shipping, and it’s $5 a box and that lasts a while. I also like that I’ve learned to be resourceful, that in case of an emergency, I know how to make a diaper out of just about anything. Unfortunately, my boss was not so lucky when she got stuck on a plane with no diapers, eek!

    I have friends that use cloth and their daycare does use them. Some won’t, some will, some need some convincing. Easy diapers like all-in-ones or pockets are the way to go for daycare.

    We use rice paper liners for poop. It just sits on top of the diaper and if she poops, we toss the liner in the toilet. If not, it goes through the wash and we can use it 1-2 more times. So easy, I love love love them. Plus, sposies stink when they are peed in. There is the gross chemical smell so that I KNOW when any baby around me has a wet or dirty diaper. I can’t tell if my daughter needs a change unless I pull the cover back and take a sniff. Even then, if just smells like nothing (for pee) or just poop. Not fragrant poop, blech.

    Also, my husband use to say he wouldn’t deal with cloth, but the easy diapers are just as easy as disposables (changing anyway). And once, I gave him an all-in-one to put on her, and he asked me instead for one of those “new diapers”- he was referring to the flats I just bought. Flats are super old school, you have to fold them to the shape of a diaper and snappi them on. He’s even pinned a diaper (something I’ve NEVER done!). He now tells people how awesome cloth is.

    Another thing that won’t affect most people, is that my daughter gets a rash with sposies. We tried at least 6 kinds including many “natural” brands and she always had a literally constant diaper rash. We can’t even use certain types of cloth diapers (she has to have cotton touching her skin). I like that she doesn’t have the chemicals in sposies getting absorbed by her skin. Plus there are the studies that sposies could cause infertility in boys.

    I was a nanny for years, and loved those kids almost like my own, and it really is different with your actual own child. Poop is gross no matter what, but it’s just not as bad when it’s your baby. I bought some diapers while I was pregnant, and instead of being excited when I got them, I got a little grossed out. Was I really going to be able to do this? Poop? Yes, and I love it. If I didn’t love it, then I could have sold them (which I did for several) and the worst thing that would have happened would be a waste of money. The risk was worth it. Plus, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can buy a small stash and use disposables in between washes. Or for going out. Or for night time.

    All that said, I can see why people are so intimidated by cloth or just choose not to do it. I wish there wasn’t such a stigma attached and that more people trusted they could handle it, but I by no means think I’m “better” because I use cloth. I hate when other people tell me that, or how I’m great and they don’t think they could. It doesn’t make me super-mom. Other people have cleaner homes, or more home-cooked meals, or garden. This is just one thing that is important to our family!

    Great resource for anyone considering or interested in learning more – http://www.diaperswappers.com/

    Jenna Reply:

    Haha, it’s the same with home birthing. I’m not some “super birther” because I chose to go natural at home. :)

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  19. Thanks for the great post. I am nowhere near having kids, but I’m really interested in this. My mother cloth diapered me but used disposables for my little sister. Anyway, she still talks with pride at how she was able to get my poopie diapers snow white; I think she boiled them. She was cloth diapering me while living in a house with no electricity and therefore no washing machine, btw. My mother = rock star.

    Jenna Reply:

    Rock start for sure. Boiling all of that poo? I don’t think I could do it. I can do cloth diapers now because they are SO easy.

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  20. i applaud your use of cloth diapers, not just because it is more sustainable, but also because the absorbent material in disposables is nasty; i.e. full of chemicals you honestly wouldn’t want pressed against your baby’s delicate parts.
    random questions: have you considered elimination communication? unrelated, are you going to teach T1 sign language?

    liv Reply:

    Ditto that – maybe think about dabbling in some EC. We do it part time and love it.

    Jenna Reply:

    I looked into elimination communication but wasn’t interested in investing the time it would take to learn and watch for all of his cue. I admit I’m a bit selfish/lazy when it comes to my mothering practices.

    I haven’t done enough research to have a good opinion yet, but I do worry about the suggestion that teaching a lot of sign language can delay language development because using signs can be easier than learning to use words.

    I’m encouraged by what I read in Nurtureshock though when it comes to the effectiveness of Motionese and Parentese with babies who latch on to signs and don’t want to vocalize.

    amanda Reply:

    as i have no children, i can only offer what i’ve been told about e.c. my massage therapist says it cuts her laundry in half. she started early and by guessing when her first had to go. yup, she just guessed. as for the sign language, i’ve heard if you say and sign at the same time the child will also learn both.

    Evelyn Reply:

    We did just the basic signs with Addie, things like more, please, thank you, etc–and we always said the word with the sign. She didn’t have a huge vocab, but the little bit we did seemed to help and I’m pretty sure she was right on track with her verbal vocab. If delayed at all, I’d blame it more on living in KZ than sign. (It was funny when we tried getting her to transition to verbal for the signs, she did it easily except with “please,” she had a hard time realizing that we wanted her to say please with words and not signs.)

    Kate Reply:

    I’m going to try EC when this one is born. My husband jokes with his friends that we’re going to hold our kid over the toilet and squeeze! I’m glad he’s so easy going about something that definitely bucks the mainstream.

    We’ll see how it goes!

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  21. I’ve been cloth diapering since my baby, T, was 6 weeks old, and I’ve found it’s really not hard. One thing for those of you who are worried about pouring money into one system that looks good in theory but in practice doesn’t work out, is that MANY of the big name diaper retailers online do variety packs that you can return all or some of the items after a certain trial period.

    We own Econobums and Flips, and I’ve used Thirsties AIOs, FuzziBuns pockets and prefolds+wool or a Bummis cover through the Cloth Diaper Foundation. I really like the versatility and cheapness of using a prefold system like econobum, because I have NEVER had to snappi or pin, and I can line dry the covers separate from the prefold, thus making it last longer. I can’t tell from your post, Jenna, do you dry everything (last paragraph in Care & Cleaning) or separate some things to line dry (2nd paragraph in Time)?

    The only thing that I find annoying about cloth diapering is that I have to be much more vigilant about frequent diaper changes to avoid rashing (for a bit, we were in sposies plus LOADS of Desitin for overnight), and it’s harder for me to determine when it is she needs a change. Usually I go by the clock, now, unless I hear her pooping.

    Oh, and as long as your baby is on liquids, the poop is liquid, and thus can degrade easily in the wash… breastfed poop a little easier than formula, but still. The poop factor is really not a big issue for me.

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  22. Thanks for posting this! I keep having flashbacks of my own cloth diaper days (thanks to the awesome photos my mum took!) and they have come a LONG way since then. The ones I used to wear look like they could easily fit on an adult!

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  23. Thank you for this post! i have several friends who live in other states who cloth diaper (blogs that I read count as friends right?) but I always had the same questions you did. We aren’t pregnant now, but probably will be in the next few years, and I totally want to cloth diaper.
    My SIL has a 4 month old and she looked at me like I had 8 heads when I told her I wanted to use cloth!

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  24. That’s funny, I just read this article today on People.com. They even have a coupon for 15% cloth diapers!

    http://celebritybabies.people.com/2010/06/02/constance-maries-blog-why-i-chose-cloth-diapers/

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  25. A few comments have brought up the costs of running the washer/dryer. From everything I’ve read, it is still cheaper over the long run to use cloth. Also, it is also generally seen as better- from an environmental standpoint- to use a bit of extra water and run a dryer than it is to dump something that will sit in a landfill for who knows how long :) Plus, as others have mentioned, there are all sorts of funky chemicals in disposable diapers, and lots of babies have less diaper rash when using cloth.

    I’m surprised at the fear of poop that so many people have in relation to cloth diapering- I thought poop/puke/pee/general dirtiness was just kind of part of the deal with kiddos. They can be nasty little critters, lol!

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  26. I have been cloth diapering for about 3 years (two different children) and I LOVE it! We use bumgenius, thirsties, prefolds, blueberries and I have a couple of goodmamas.
    One note about stains: if you put lemon juice on the liner (or dipe) and sit it outside in the sun (even if it’s just on a towel and not a line) it will take the stain right out. Also, for everyone that is concerned about poop in your washer… it’s not like you drop the poop in there! You would plop it into the toilet and flush just like grownups do… so once there’s “real” poop, there isn’t much to go into the washing machine.
    The energy isn’t increased by a lot… it comes down to about 2 extra loads of laundry a week. And when you are washing 15 loads of laundry a week for a family of 5, 2 loads aren’t really that expensive.
    The cost of detergent is almost non existant, because you use very little detergent when cloth diapering… like less than the lowest line on the detergent cap…

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  27. Interesting post, and even more interesting to read the other comments of people who’ve tested this too.
    Not sure if my husband will be ok with it when we have kids. When I first mentionned that option he was completely against it… But some of his co-workers have used cloth, so maybe he’ll change his mind by then (and he knows how to change disposable ones, because he took care of his smaller sibblings so it’s not like diaper change is the issue.)

    Amanda Reply:

    Don’t know how involved your husband is with laundry, but mine really isn’t-he helps In other ways. He was a little uncertain about the cloth dipesbut I just heard him tell a friend that there isn’t much difference for him. Once he learne how to put themon, he just tosses it in a container like he would a disposable.

    Cécy Reply:

    Oh he’s involved. He does the laundry 99% of the time. I’m still not sure how I got so lucky on that one. It might make a difference too because of that. In fact I just told him that and he was like “You’ll make me wash dirty diapers in the washing machine?”

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  28. Crystal says:

    I love cloth! We spent about $300 for prefolds, covers (love Thirsties) , snappis, 5 or 6 one size diapers and 3 wet bags in the last 19 months. Everything is still in great condition and will be used for baby 2 and hopefully baby 3.

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  29. While I’m at least another year away from pregnancy, we know we want to experiment with cloth diapering. Thank you for all this insight (bookmarking!). One question (and someone above might have already asked this – apologies if that’s the case), but have you seen a dramatic increase in your water bill? Obviously the amount of disposables in landfills far outweighs the environmental (and economical) concern of water usage, but I’m still curious!

    Crystal Reply:

    If our water bill or electric went up with cloth diapering it was only a few dollars a month. We have a time of day meter though (electricity between 8am-8pm is 140% of cost, but 801pm-759am is only 40% of cost) so I do a lot of laundry after 801pm.

    Brie Reply:

    Our water bill was $4 last month. That’s the total, not the increase, so I can’t imagine it makes much difference.

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  30. Best. Post. Ever. Seriously, thank you so much for this post! My hubby and I are talking about starting a family, and I really want to use cloth – but haven’t known where to begin, and have been feeling quite intimidated by the whole thing… but not anymore! Excited to go out and learn from your choices and experiences. Thank you!

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  31. I don’t know if I misread this and I haven’t read all the comments, but the poo is supposed to go in the toilet not the machine! While it is still runny, you can sluice it off or use the flushable, fully biodegradable liners, and once it’s solid you can literally drop it off the liner into the loo (or drop the whole liner in if you’re using flushables).

    In the early months you can’t avoid some poo getting into the machine but once he’s on solids there should be nothing more than a skid mark left on the nappy (diaper) and the rest flushed away.

    Cate Subrosa Reply:

    Ok, just re-read and can’t work out if this is a language thing or you’re missing part of the system! Because I’m a bit confused by your use of the word liner.

    There should be, as you say, the nappy (diaper) itself, i.e. the cloth part, then a waterproof cover (or these two parts can be as one). Then there’s a third part, the liner, which catches the poo so you can flush it down the loo. You can see examples of the two types of liners here: http://www.totsbots.com/nappies/range/liners/

    We use the flushable ones, because it’s just like flushing a bit of toilet paper, and means you don’t need to worry about sluicing runny poos off.

    Sorry if I misunderstood but your part about wash and care made it sound like all the poo was going in the washing machine, which is definitely unnecessary :)

    Brie Reply:

    I think you are right about what Jenna means. I did the same thing before my baby started solid food. It comes out clean, so why deal with an extra step? It’s really common for people to not use liners until solid food, at least that’s how everyone I know does it. Also, there are two definitions for the word liner- one is the kind you are talking about, to catch the poo. The other is interchangeable with an absorbant insert. Jenna is referring to an insert.

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  32. Jessica says:

    We actually wanted to do cloth diapering and tried it for the first couple days at home, but with two… I just couldn’t keep up… so we went to disposable ones. We did do a lot of research before hand and other than the fact that the cloth diapers are more gentle on the babies skin, they have actually found that disposable diapers and cloth diapers both have a comparable impact on the environment. Where disposables can sit in landfills, cloth diapers use about 6 times the water usage… so it made me feel better about our choice. Anyways, the cloth diapers are adorable and T1 looks so cute in them! I am glad you guys are having it work out so well for you and I hope it continues to go that way. I bet the transition from diapers to undies later on will be easier as well. Thanks for sharing and good washings! :)

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  33. Thank you for posting this. I think it’s so important to do what’s right for your family. Although I do think it’s so polarizing, right up there with nursing vs. formula. My friends with babies think I’m nuts that I want to cloth diaper. They keep saying I’ll change my mind when the time comes, but I’m pretty sure I won’t. Just like, that I’ll HAVE to buy things at Babies R Us and WalMart. Um, no, I think I can survive without those too!

    Jenna Reply:

    Oh we definitely got the same thing! People laughing when I talked about our intentions and telling us “That won’t last long”. Of course those comments only came from people who were using disposables and didn’t really know anything about cloth diapers. :)

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  34. I’m a new reader and really enjoying your blog. I think our babies are about the same age. Mine was born April 2. I have a stash of about 10 bum genius 3.0, two econobums and prefolds,and 2 g diapers and a pack of g diaper disposable inserts I haven’t used any of them because my little man is taking forever to hit 10 lbs. I bought several (too many) green mountain newborn prefolds and two (nit enough) newborn thirsties wraps. I keep thinking he’ll hit 10 any time now so i haven’t bought more and we’ve had to use disposable. I just trifold my prefolds and put
    in wraps. My main frustration is the poo always gets on the part of the wrap that is cloth and not plu so I have to swap out the wrap everytime- that was the main reason I opted for prefolds not a pocket or aio. Do you have this problem? Like another poster said, it’s also a little challenging to tell when they’re wet-a
    good thing- how often do you change him? I really like cd. I can’t wait to use the rest of our stash and do it consistently.

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  35. Thanks for the post Jenna. I am using disposables now until I actually purchase cloth diapers & get the nerve to start trying them. I don’t see how you have time for everything you’re doing already. Good job!

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  36. We went to cloth when we moved to Kazakhstan because smaller packages of disposables cost 3x more than a normal size in the US. We invested in a few snappis, prefolds we found for cheap in an online sale, about 12 cloth inserts, and the old school gerber plastic pants. Addie was about 3 months when we started and she’s 2 years old next week and we’re still doing them. My only condition is that we have to have a w/d. We do use disposables when we travel or will be out for extended periods of time, but we are still saving tons. Our total investment for the cloth diapers is probably about $100-150.

    Most previous comments suggested different methods, so I thought I’d mention what we do for cleaning too…

    Once the poop is solid, dump it out into the toilet and flush, then soak the diaper in the toilet water like our moms used to do. I flush again and it clears out the diaper and any poop remnants. It’s then squeezed out and placed in the same bin as the other dirty diapers. I wash all the diapers together (roughly e/o day) and then when they are done I wash them again with another load. I sometimes use color-safe bleach too. Easy peasy and I’m quite positive it’s not using THAT much more water.

    Jenna Reply:

    You touch the toilet water? I just don’t think I could do it. The toilet grosses me out.

    Did you buy all your cloth when you were already there or did you get them in Kazakhstan?

    Evelyn Reply:

    We used to use rubber gloves, but that got old and I guess I got brave. It’s a good incentive to keep the toilet clean. ;) Chris was right there with you, but I think he’s put his hand in a couple times too.

    We bought all the cloth diapers here before leaving (just a week or two before we flew out, we definitely cut it close in terms of deadlines =D).

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  37. BarbieGirl says:

    All i can say is YIKES!! I am glad we live in the twenty first century!

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  38. Tiffanie says:

    Anyone tried cloth swim diapers? Which brand do you like?

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  39. Have you all researched how much water is used in the production of disposable diapers?? More than what it takes to wash cloth. Just sayin.

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