I have loved using cloth diapers these 4 months. I have gotten the hang of it, have my own tips and tricks, and even have dipes that I like and dislike. Let’s begin.
Washing. No big whoop, and that’s coming from laundry-hating Jells. I will freak out folding laundry, but for some reason washing the dipes keeps the crazies at bay. Oh, and if you’re in with the CD-crowd (that’s Cloth Diapering to you), you call them “dipes.” That’s my first tip.
- Step 1 – baby poops or pees (or both) in the dipe.
- Step 2 – remove diaper inserts/liners from waterproof cover and place in trash can + washable diaper-pail liner. To make sure it all gets cleaned properly, DER.
- Step 3 – bring liner full of crap (literally) to washer every 2 days, max. Push the whole thing in, turning liner inside-out, and stuff that in, too.
- Step 4 – add a non-toxic detergent like Charlie‘s Soap and NO BLEACH. EVER. Wash on heavy duty or sanitize, if you’ve got it. (I only do sanitize if they’re stinky because it takes forevs till the load is over).
- Step 5 – remove inserts from wash load once done and put in dryer with NO FABRIC SHEETS. EVER. (Reduces absorbency.)
- Step 6 – hang dry waterproof covers, inside towards the sun. The sun bleaches and removes poop stains, believe it or not. Disinfecting/fading power. So you don’t want to fade the color part of the cover, got it?
- Step 7 – when inserts are dry, so are the shells/covers (if hung early in the day in direct sunlight.) The timing is amazing. I usually leave the extra-stainy ones out all day and by evening they’re white again.
- Step 8 – stuff those dipes. AKA putting the inserts back in the covers in the “pocket.” Hence the name.
Cloth Diaper Types. I have strong opinions about this. Not brands, necessarily, but types.
- Prefolds – good for newborns AFTER THE CORD FALLS OFF. They’re cheap, so once that baby grows out of them, you haven’t thrown away $30 on diapers for only 6 weeks. You need Snappis to hold them in place and waterproof covers. But you have to fold them in a certain way before putting the cover on – hence the name.
- Contours – not a bad backup, but not my favorite. Like a prefold, but you don’t do any fancy folding before. You just line up the ends with a snappi and put the cover on them. However, you can’t do them one handed, in the dark, or easily out and about in the world – a lot of bulk in the diaper bag. They’re fine, but not the best-best-best option. I have them when before I’ve gotten to wash my diapers and I run out of…
- Pocket diapers – YES to the yes. Just as easy as disposies. That’s another bit of CD-lingo for you. I didn’t come up with this stuff, but I’ll act like I’ve been talking that way forever. There are velcro and snap closures. Both are great. I use velcro at night so I don’t have to turn the light on and it’s faster if that baby is hungry and wants that diaper changed already.
- All-in-ones – semi-meh. AIOs are like pocket dipes in that they have a pocket to add an extra liner, but they take FOREVS to dry in the sun. I have to turn mine inside out to dry to keep them from getting sour. And It literally takes almost 24 hours to get fully dry – and putting them in the dryer with the liners shortens the life. But they’re easier to stuff, and act just like pocket dipes, so there’s that.
- Trifold AIOs – This has the insert on top of the cover but it snaps in. I like these by Bonniebuns. Super easy to assemble (one snap) and dries as quick as a pocket dipe cover, with no need for an extra liner.
You may say that stuffing diapers is not as easy as having disposies at the ready. Well, I disagree, my friend. I say going to the store is annoying, especially if you run out in the middle of the night. Think of the ease of always having dipes on hand, with more ready as soon as you wash them. And I say that paying a couple of grand over the 2-3 years before potty training can go to something else, like a college fund or not using credit cards on something you’re going to fill with poop and put in a landfill.
Do I even have to go into the environmental argument? Those diapers aren’t going anywhere. The very first disposables are still in the landfills. And the water/power you use to wash/dry the dipes is minuscule compared to the resources that go into making the disposables in the first place.
Sizes. Get a one-size diaper if you can. That means all-in-one size – I know, more lingo. There are snaps in the rise on a lot of brands that make the diapers not as long, then you just adjust as the baby grows. I have some Fuzzi Buns that have elastic that you adjust in the legs as the baby grows, too. Then others have snaps on the waist that go from skinny to fatso. Lots of options for keeping up with growth. It’s worth it even though they’re slightly more expensive.
Brands. I really don’t have one favorite brand over the other.
- Fuzzi Bunz are good for the skinny-legged babies, but mine are chunks. I have big hands so they’re a little harder to stuff, but work just fine.
- BumGenius has wider pockets so you can stuff bigger and more inserts as a doubler/booster. I use two inserts in all of my pocket dipes. The ones I have are made with velcro and make my night changing easier.
- PopFish. Babyland. They’ve all been great. I just got those Bonnibuns I mentioned earlier for Christmas and I always assemble them first because they’re so easy.
The Extras. You need stuff besides the diapers to have an easy-to-use system.
- Detergent – like I said, use something natural. You don’t want scents, harmful chemicals, or too much wear and tear.
- Diaper pail liners - I use a rotation of two Planet Wise ones. One is in the pail while the other is in the wash.
- Wet/dry bags – for being out and about. I have one small one that goes in the diaper bag and a big one that I take if we’re staying overnight. Both have a zipper pocket on the front of the bag that makes a handy organizer for storing clean dipes, then a waterproof lined bag for the dirties. Both are Planet Wise.
- Bac-out - This is a product that strips the smell and stains every once in a while. I’ve had a good experience with it, but know someone who knows someone who’s baby got a rash because it was too strong or they had sensitive skin. I don’t know. Using it too much will wear them out, but it helps restore absorbency too. You can also use a few drops of Dawn every once in a while to strip them. I also use Borax every once in a while for the stink.
- Extra liners – you need them. Imperative. CDs just aren’t as absorbent as disposies, so you put two liners in the pocket diaper. I use one thick and one thin liner, and one is long and one is short. That’s just my method so they’re not super bulky. I have microfiber, hemp, and bamboo ones that I’ve collected. It’s like assembling a puzzle to make sure each diaper gets the right liners and doubler.
- Cloth wipes – I made mine from a flannel receiving blankets and a burp cloth that I sewed together. You can just cut up a flannel blanket into 7″ or 8″ squares. I don’t buy disposable wipes if I’m already washing diapers. I mean, they aren’t even noticeable in the wash. Poo stains can be removed by sunning them after they come out of the dryer (use the dryer first – otherwise they’re stiff from drying in the sun.) Use a light fabric so you can see if you’re getting that tush all they way clean. Tan or brightly striped flannel aren’t as good as the very light or white ones.
- Wipe solution – I have two containers (one for the diaper bag, one for the diaper station). I use a small spray bottle and the cooter bottle they give you at the hospital (a tip from another CD-ing mama). I use the very non-scientific recipe: 1/6 of the cooter bottle aloe vera gel, 8 drops of grapefruit oil, 12 drops of tea tree oil cream, and the rest water. There are tons of recipes out there. Just don’t go too heavy on tea tree oil because it can cause irritation.
- Diaper pail – don’t get something fancy. I have a plastic white Hefty trash can with a lid that I got from Wal-mart for $15.
- Baking soda de-stinkers - These help a lot in the diaper pail.
There are lots and lots of ways to make cloth diapering your own with the soap you use, the wipe solution you make, the types and brands of diapers you end up liking. Get a few different kinds and find out what is easiest for you to use. If that doesn’t work, try another kind – don’t just give up and say you don’t like it because one brand was leaky or they got stinky. It takes some initial commitment to learn about them, but I hope this helps a little. I didn’t end up liking prefolds and am giving them to a family member to try. Pocket diapers can be costly, but there are lots of one-day Intertron sales and Craigslist, obvs. I didn’t buy one new cloth dipe, but have been given them as gifts or loans when new. Newness doesn’t actually matter because you have to wash them 3-5 times to get to the right absorbency – like a new towel. The resale value of cloth dipes are pretty great, too. So you might be about $300 or $400 to get your CD stash, but you might make that back on the flip side, or close to it.
Now, remember, I am still breast-feeding A2, so I haven’t had any experience with real-food poops. This might take some adjustments to the routine, but I know you can just shake it out in the toilet or get a sprayer, but that’s another post in the future.
Anything to add, fellow CD parents? Fire away in the comments.
*UPDATE* This is my 400th post!