The reason I initially considered cloth diapering was because of the huge cost of disposable diapers. At the time our budget was stretched so thin I knew we would not be able to find an extra $20-$40 for diapers each week.
When I dove into researching cloth diapering I discovered so many advantages over disposable diapers including less diaper rash and possible earlier toilet training, not to mention eco-friendliness. I also discovered that there are about a bazillion different cloth diapering systems out there and I didn’t know where to start!
Which diapers (and how many) should I buy?
A newborn will go through 10-12 cloth diapers a day (a few less if you’re using disposable at night). A 6-12 month old will use 8-10, a 12-24 month old will use 6-8 and a toilet training child will use 4-6.
Figure out how often you want to or are able to wash diapers and multiply by the number you can expect your baby to use. We have about 24 prefolds and 4 All-in-Ones (AIOs) and we wash about every 2-3 days. We also have 4 Thirsties covers and that has seemed to work well for us.
I should add that we use disposable diapers at night. They are more absorbent so we can use just one or two diapers a night. I have used the prefolds underneath the AIOs and that worked fine but it was a pain having to change her and then bring the dirty diaper downstairs to the diaper pail. Maybe when Olive is a bit older and not wetting at night so much we will go back to exclusively cloth diapering.
How do I wash cloth diapers?
I use a dry pail method for Olive’s diapers. I store her dirty diapers in a diaper pail (you can use any sort of container with a lid). I put the diapers in the washer on a cold soak overnight (or if I’ve forgotten to do this I just soak them for a few hours in the morning).
You’re supposed to run the washer on a large load even though you don’t have a large load of diapers. I only wash about 2 dozen diapers at a time so I use the small setting and it works fine. I also don’t add detergent to the soak as I’ve heard detergent will set any stains.
In the morning I drain the washer and run a hot wash/cold rinse with just a little detergent (about half of what you would normally use).
I hang the diapers in the sun to “bleach” the stains out. If that day is not sunny I might throw them in the dryer but I prefer to avoid using the dryer if possible.
What do I do if the diapers are stinky?
If you have stinky diapers coming out of the wash it could be detergent build up in which case the diapers need to be stripped. Start by giving them a second rinse.
If that doesn’t take care of the problem, a few drops of tea tree oil in the wash can help. I do a second rinse on Olive’s diapers every few times I wash them to discourage the stinkiness.
What detergent should I use?
Here is a list of common detergents rated based on appropriateness for cloth diapers. There are costs per load too! We used Sun & Earth for all of our laundry before I started making my own so I was glad to see it was one of the best on the list.
If you’re looking to buy the cheapest natural detergent for your cloth diapers Sun & Earth is it.
What about wipes?
I use cloth wipes primarily. We have about two dozen cloth wipes and that is not enough. I just haven’t gotten around to buying/making more. I think another two dozen would be perfect. I also make my own wipe solution which I store in a mason jar.
Here is the recipe I use:
I pour the solution over my wipes in an old wipes container. You can also put the solution in a spray bottle and spray the wipes when you’re ready to use them.
How do I leave my house while cloth diapering?
It’s not that bad, honestly! When I was pregnant I had this image of myself lugging a baby, a diaper bag and a bag of dirty diapers around. In reality I hardly ever carry even my diaper bag.
When I’m out and about (at the grocery store, taking a walk, etc) I keep an AIO and some cloth wipes in my purse for emergency blow outs. Otherwise, I leave the diaper bag in the car or stroller. I have a wet bag that I put dirty diapers and wipes in while I’m out that I also leave in the car.
If I’m at a playdate, mom’s group or friend’s house it’s a lot simpler because I can just leave the diaper bag and wet bag somewhere nearby.
This might be weird but I like taking the dirty diapers home with me. I feel weird putting a diaper in someone else’s/public trash cans. Plus, I don’t have to gauge the hosts OK-ness with me putting a diaper in their trash!
What do I do if my baby gets a diaper rash?
If you are cloth diapering it is not a good idea to use diaper creams. They create a barrier on the diaper which repels moisture, making the diaper less absorbent. Luckily cloth diapering reduces diaper rash on it’s own because baby does not have a wet (and chemically!) diaper on their skin for extended periods. Cloth need to be changed more often, therefore diaper rash is less likely.
Using cloth wipes and homemade solution helps too. The chemicals in commercial baby wipes dry out baby’s skin and make the rash worse while the lavender and tea tree oils in the homemade solution are soothing to baby’s skin.
If your baby still gets a rash there are some commercially produced rash creams that are safe for cloth diapers. You can find a list here (I have never used any of them so I can’t attest to how well they work).
Or you can check out this link which has a bunch of great natural home remedies (and three of them are in the wipe solution above!).
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This post is shared at Frugally Sustainable