Friday, January 06, 2012

My Cloth Diapering Manifesto

As you may know, I'm cloth diapering Piper like 90% of the time, starting when she was about 2 months old.  We wear disposables only when travelling or all the cloth ones are in the wash.  Recently, my friend Chrissy was asking about them, and I gave my mother-in-law a crash course in how cloth diapering works at our house when they were here for Christmas.  Then my friend Kat wrote about the Pros and Cons of Cloth Diapering on her blog and asked for more input, so I'm putting my thoughts here.  For what it's worth.  (Disclaimer: This works for me.  I know it wouldn't work for many families.  When I was working full-time, there was no way I would even consider CDs.)

I'll start by saying that I don't find using cloth diapers any harder than using disposables or any more gross.  I used cloth some with Cadence from when she was about 16 months to 2 years, so I sort of knew what I was getting into to do it full-time with Piper.  Basically, I do about 3 more loads of laundry every week, since I have enough diapers to last about 2.5 days and you need to wash cloth diapers every 2-3 days.  I like doing laundry!  We don't feel that they smell any worse or that I have touch poo any more than I would with 'sposies.  In fact, I feel like the cloth diapers contain runny/explosive messes better and I'm able to add extra absorbency at night.  Plus, this way, we don't have to lug smelly trash bags of diapers to the garage and then to the dump.

I use a combination of several different kinds and brands of CDs.  Almost all my supplies were obtained very cheaply or free, whether they were gifts or purchased on sale or with Amazon credits I earn taking surveys or doing online searches for Swagbucks (which I totally recommend - install a simple toolbar for searches and earn swagbucks to redeem for all kinds of things - I always get amazon gift card codes).  I use prefolds (flat absorbent cloths that I place inside a waterproof cover) with Bummis and Thirsties covers.  I also use all-in-twos (an absorbent insert is stuffed inside a waterproof cover with a microfleece lining that is soft against baby's skin and pulls away moisture) from Fuzzibunz, Thirsties, and Bumgenius.  My cloth diapering friends tend to use all of one kind - Kat uses GroVia, MC used G diapers and Rachel only uses prefolds with Thirsties covers.  I kind of wish I had only one kind, but I do like the flexibility of lots of different options.  If I had to choose favorites (although I like them all), I would go with the Bummis covers and the Fuzzibunz all-in-twos. 

You can't use regular diaper rash cream with cloth diapers because it can mess with their absorbency so I use GroVia Magic Stick when needed(recommended by Kat!).  I put the dirty dipes in a hanging Fuzzibunz wet bag for now, but I will probably purchase a small lidded trash can to put the wet bag in once Piper is on solid food and things get more stinky.  To wipe we just use baby wash cloths and water.

I put everything, including the wash cloths and wet bag, in the washer for a cold water soak and rinse, then do a hot water wash with an extra rinse.  The rinsing is important to make sure all detergent residue is out of the diapers - it can build up and make them smell.  You can't use regular detergent with cloth diapers either, too many perfumes and additives really build up and can cause leaking.  I use Charlie's Soap powder.  It's non-toxic and biodegradable and fairly cheap.  Eventually, I'll probably use it for all our laundry.  I like to hang the diapers out on the line when the weather is good - the sun helps kill germs and bleaches out stains.  When I need to use the dryer I only put the inserts and prefolds in; the covers dry quickly hanging on a rack, and machine drying can ruin their elasticity. 

There's some debate about the environmental impact of cloth diapers.  Supposedly the impact is the same with disposables and CDs, because while 'sposies fill landfills, cloth uses more water and energy.  I wonder about the impact of manufacturing both - disposables come in a lot of packaging, and certainly require some significant energy output to produce.  Perhaps cloth do as well.  I do know that cloth is certainly cheaper, especially if you use them with more than one child.  I also like the convenience of not having to think about buying diapers.  With cloth, I don't run the risk of running out and making a late night trip to the store. 

Goodness, this was a manifesto, huh?  Any questions?  :-)


skattles said...

I didn't know about the second rinse which might explain why mine still have a certain aroma even after overnight soaks. Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

I am so proud of you using cloth diapers. You are an amazing Mom to our sweet granddaughters.

Anonymous said...

Very informative! I will definitely need to read this again when we have kids. :)

Jessica said...

Any ideas for leaking diapers at night. Yikes. My little guy must be suddenly bigger and I need to change how I'm prepping the diapers because we're getting leaks all of the time.

Mo said...

The best solution I have for leaking diapers as night - we haven't encountered that problem yet - is to double stuff your diapers. Also, if absorbency is a problem, they may need to be stripped.

'Becca said...

I worked outside the home 25 hours/week when my son was a baby, and we loved cloth diapers anyway! I just did the laundry at night.

I totally agree about the easiness, leak-resistance, and trash-avoidance advantages of cloth diapers! I think they smell better, too.

Jessica: You may need better covers. We loved Dappi pull-on nylon pants, and they are very low-priced, too!