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.
1 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.
1 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.
6 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.
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.
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.)