The very first stash I put together for my newborn daughter consisted of a couple dozen prefolds, 7 or 8 PUL covers, and a dozen Alva pocket diapers with microfiber inserts. This stash worked perfectly for the first couple of months (I realize, in retrospect!). She outgrew her prefolds and I found myself reaching for, and buying, pockets more and more. They were cute. They were colorful. They were “stay dry” which apparently was A Good Thing According to the Internet, especially at night. They were cheap. I could pre-stuff them as they came out of the wash, so at changing times I just had to slap them on.
Now, at this time I was using a laundromat to do our laundry. This meant I couldn’t wash diapers more frequently than every three to four days or so. To ensure I had enough diapers between washes, I kept buying more, until we were drowning in pockets. We had close to 70, plus a few more prefolds, covers, and a couple all in ones sitting around as well. But pockets made up the bulk of our stash, causing our tiny one bedroom apartment to start resembling a cloth diaper store, and we used them all the time.
I used to think this was a large stash. Ha.
My daughter’s pee habits changed as got older, as all kid’s do. Bamboo was becoming the rage so I bought a whole forest’s worth of bamboo inserts and a few bamboo-inner pockets, buying into the promise of thinner but increased absorbency. We still had dozens of microfiber inserts. I never got a final count on how many diapers we owned but it was a ton.
One horrible day I pulled a load of diapers out of the dryer and returned to our apartment to sort and stuff. A weird smell emanated from the bag and I made the mistake of pulling a bamboo insert close to my face and inhaling deeply. I will note here that if you ever want to kill someone in a stealthy, untraceable fashion, make them smell an unclean diaper. It was official: we had THE DREADED STINK.
Because of using a laundromat, I could not attempt a fancy ten-step washing routine like some people manage. Plus, I’m lazy. I tried using more detergent, I tried using less detergent. I tried stripping in my dishwasher, which is a huge fire hazard and not recommended. I even handwashed for a while, which helped, but was unable to keep it up once I became pregnant again.
Our microfiber inserts began to smell of death soon as well. It wasn’t as bad as the bamboo—to this day I’m not sure why the bamboo was the worst—but I began freaking out. We couldn’t keep diapering our child with super stinky diapers.
Perhaps you want to cloth diaper, but you are on a very strict budget. Perhaps you had cloth diapers but your dryer exploded and burned them all and you can’t afford to replace them all right now. Perhaps you have just started researching cloth diapers but the hardcore cloth diapering fanatics who spend $80 on one diaper cover or stay up all night waiting for a chance to bid on a hyena or something totally scare you off. You are in luck. You do not have to buy a single cloth diaper, ever, if you want, but you can still cloth diaper anyway.
Your kitchen drawer: an untapped source of potential cloth diapers. Even more so when you ignore the popsicle stick on the ground.
“You are one of those crazy fanatics scaring me off,” you might be thinking right now and I cannot, in full conscience, deny the “crazy” part, but I am serious. Our distant ancestors would think we were speaking in tongues if we ever uttered the words “bumGenius” or “Fuzzibunz” in their presence. There was no such thing as an all-in-one or fitted. When I was visiting my grandmother last summer, she came outside while I was hanging a bunch of diapers on a drying line and said, “Oh! Everything is so modern. We did not have this newfangled diaper when I was growing up.” Naturally, I thought that she was referring to my pocket diapers, but to my surprise she leaned over and picked up a prefold! So clearly, before the advent of disposables and modern cloth diaper designs, people managed to diaper their kids with what they had on hand. That means we still can as well.
Posted 11-26-2013 at 09:38 AM by yoliyoda
Tide for our linens, Dreft for baby clothes, BumGenius for cloth diapers, homemade soap for everything else–it was all just too much!
It seems that if you asked 100 cloth diapering moms how they tackled laundry, you’d get 100 different responses. So, to see just how diverse viewpoints were, I took a poll here on the site. I asked moms what type of laundry detergent they preferred. As of the date of this article, of the moms that answered about 63% used a major-labeled brand, 15% used cloth diaper specific detergent, 14% used a home made or natural option, and 8% weren’t picky about what they used.
One of the detergents that I noticed kept coming up in the thread was Tide. Some mom’s opted for the Free & Gentle version, while others stuck to the traditional. Some moms used powder, while I’ve heard other moms swear by the liquid. Some moms went for the more generic brands like Foca and Kirklands.
When it came to the natural store bought option, Charlie’s Soap kept being mentioned. For the price of $24 for 128 ounces, it is an affordable no-frills natural option for those who want to keep it basic. Allen’s Naturally Liquid, at around $42 for a gallon, was another option mentioned.
The option of making your own powder is always near and dear to me. I actually enjoy making our laundry soap, other household and beauty options. A few moms used SoapNuts, while others mixed their own concoctions. A few were even nice enough to share. One of the recipes is listed below for newbies.
Other factors that came up in the discussion about which type of detergent was selected by moms for their cloth diaper loads is the type of washing machine that they had, and if the local water supply was hard. High Efficiency machines and standard top loader seem to need different type of soap. Also, just like hard water can
Posted 11-7-2013 at 06:06 AM by yoliyoda
Lets be honest, there is a downside to almost everything, including cloth diapers. I’ve learned that the hard way by making the same, irritating, mistake twice. In recent days I have taken my son out for an extended period of time to only find that I did not have enough cloth diapers. In fact, one time I didn’t even have enough wipes. Yes, I am a new mom and he is only a few weeks old, however: fool me once, shame on you–fool me twice and I’m a fool.
Even though I thought that had his pattern figured out (more stool in the evening, and urine throughout the day) he showed me. So just what do you do when you have hours left before you’re supposed to go home, you’re miles away, and your son just plastered his last cloth insert? Well, begrudgingly, twice I’ve done the same thing–go to the store. The first time we were fortunately near a Babies R Us and could get some disposable inserts for his gDiapers, along with some wipes (because he blew through those too). Most recently we were not so fortunate. We ended up buying *shutters* Luvs. Now I have more disposables clogging up space in our tiny home, not to mention that was my lunch money I used to buy them!
For as much as I’m an advocate of cloth diapers, cloth wipes turned me off for a long time.
That is weird, you are probably thinking. Cloth wipes have the same advantages as cloth diapers. They are better for the environment because they aren’t taking up landfill space. They are not clogging sewage systems and pissing off your local department of public utilities. They are gentle on baby’s butt and aren’t full of weird chemicals and fragrances. You don’t have to separate them from your cloth diapers to throw away later; you can just toss them in the diaper pail with the dirty diapers.
I KNOW this. I don’t know why it took me so long to try them. Perhaps it was laziness; we were gifted tons of disposable baby wipes before our daughter was born. But finally after a few months of seeing people talk about cloth wipes all over the place I was all, FINE. I will try them. We shall see.
I ended up with a mish mash of wipe materials and fabrics. Flannel is fairly soft and durable. Sherpa is even softer. Minky is okay as long as the other side is something more…grippy. Bamboo terry is amazing except I hate bamboo for other reasons. Fleece is idiotic and smears everything around. And so on. I could go on all day about fabrics and how good or bad they are at wiping up poop, but that’s heading into Crazy Cloth Lady territory which I try to avoid when I can.
Cloth wipes: As cute and collectable as cloth diapers, if you want them to be!
I totally get why some people suspend cloth diapering their kids while traveling. Our closest family, geographically, is a 4-hour drive away, so when we visit them I always have an extra bag full of cloth diapers, covers, extra wetbags, wipes, etc. It’s not a huge deal since it’s only a 4 hour drive and we know we have access to a washing machine, etc, while there, but it is still one more bag to pack and worry about. I can’t blame anyone who says “screw it” and picks up a pack of disposables so they don’t have to deal with cloth on top of all the usual traveling stress.
Who wants to think about cloth diapers when you have this view to look at? Oh, that’s right, me.
However, I have a tendency to never do anything the “easy” way so we do cloth full time, all the time, no matter what. Reasons include:
Ok, so let me say this right off the bat: My usual detergent for cloth diapers is the same as for the rest of our family’s laundry. All Free and Clear.
I’m sure some of you reading this gasped in abject horror, the rest are nodding sagely because that’s what you use too. There’s a ton of conflicting information about what detergents to use with cloth diapers out there. I’m a believer of using what works for you.
Nevertheless, if you’ve ever ordered diapers or diapering products from an online cloth diaper boutique, you have probably ended up receiving a free sample of bumGenius detergent at some point. Really, it’s inevitable. Whenever one falls out of a package I’m opening, I toss it in a little basket on my desk and go on to admiring whatever fluffy diaper I actually bought. The intention has always been to use them while traveling, but I’ve never actually traveled somewhere that didn’t already have All Free and Clear available, so the bumGenius detergent piled up until the cat whacked the basket with his tail and they scattered all over the place, prompting me to grab a pack and actually try it at home to see what the difference is.
The load of diapers I washed included, appropriately, a few bumGenius Elementals, two Flip covers, a couple of Swaddlebees Simplex OS, a number of Green Mountain Diaper organic workhorses, and a couple of Alva suedecloth pockets and bamboo/microfiber blend inserts. This is not a “brag list” of diapers we use, I promise it will be relevant later. I dumped the detergent and diapers into my non-HE top loader, set it to wash on hot with an extra rinse, and then left to see why my daughter was being oddly silent.
After drying I pulled out all the diapers. They smelled clean. They looked fairly clean. It seemed like the cotton workhorses held on to more stains than usual. But, overall, everything was clean, which is the point of laundry detergent, so what I can say is that it did its job just fine. But how did it hold up against my beloved All Free and Clear?
“I want to use cloth diapers for our kid,” I said out of the blue one day as my husband and I sat on the couch, spending quality time together after dinner staring vacantly at the TV while mindlessly mashing buttons on the video game controllers we were both holding.
“Okay,” he said.
“It will save us money in the long run and—wait, okay?”
“Yeah, I’m cool with that,” he replied as something onscreen blew up in an amazingly colorful fashion.
And thus our cloth diapering experiences began in the most normal, boring way possible.
Of course the whole thing had started a few months earlier, when one morning before work I peed on a stick and then almost peed myself again when two bright pink lines unexpectedly popped up on the pregnancy test. Sometime between then and the conversation with my husband I started researching cloth diapers for our child-to-be. I suppose it is a testament to how routine and normal cloth diapers are in our household now that I don’t even remember why, or how, or where I began my research. The idea must have always been lurking at the back of my mind, though, because I’d always had sensitivities to disposable menstrual products while growing up. In college I discovered cloth menstrual pads and menstrual cups and for one week a month my life was suddenly much more tolerable, even though my family teased that I was now Officially a Liberal Hippie. When I found out I was pregnant, it wasn’t a stretch at all to wonder if my children would be sensitive
This happened to me.
My 1 year old was all registered for summer swim lessons. Like a good mother, for days I enthusiastically told her all about swimming and water and that it would be great fun. She toddled around chanting “Sim sim!” and was super happy even though I’m sure she still wasn’t entirely aware of what “sim sim!” was. As we got ready to leave on the first day of lessons, I tossed towels and a snack in a tote bag, reached for the swimsuit and swim diaper–
Huh. I forgot to buy a swim diaper. Most stores sell disposable swim diapers, but there’s plenty of reusable ones on the market as well. But what IS a swim diaper, exactly?
Have you ever noticed that the pretty disposable diaper on the picture looks NOTHING like the faded, wrinkled print in the package?
“Normal” diapers, disposable and cloth, have one function: Catch all that lovely pee and poop from your kid so you’re not stepping all over it on the floor. This means that they are created to be fairly absorbent. This is a good thing—unless your child is going into the water. A regular diaper will immediately become waterlogged upon hitting the pool or lake and either drag your child down by the butt, or sag, unfasten, and fall right off.
Q: “I have stains on my diapers, how do I get them out?”
A: “Oh, just put them outside in the sun for a while. It will bleach them to white again!”
This is great advice, unless you don’t have a yard and “putting them outside” will result in them being stolen, eaten by a stray dog passing by, or run over by a city bus three minutes later. What are us apartment dwellers to do?
The city bus: Not a friend of cloth diapers
Thankfully, the sun is pretty much everywhere. I suppose if you are trying to cloth diaper a child in Antarctica, sunning may be impossible for several months of the year, but then your kid is probably out frolicking with penguins as you read this, so I’m actually jealous.
The most common response to “How do I sun my diapers indoors?” is simply, “Put them in a window!” I wish it were that easy. We’re about to get a little scientific here, so bear with me a moment. Sun bleaching works because the sun’s ultraviolet rays disrupt and break down/change the chemical bonds that the ultraviolet rays hit (remember from 5th grade science class, all color we see is just our brain’s interpretation of light being absorbed or reflected off objects). This is also why your plastic outdoor toys fade in the sun; the chemical components that make a plastic slide red are slowly destroyed by ultraviolet rays over time and the bright red slide fades to a weird light red-orange color. Of course, those powerful rays also lead to sunburn, skin cancer, and a host of other issues for humans over time, so in the interest of public health, companies have tried to develop ways to reduce our UV exposure in our daily lives.