The Why and The How of It – Cloth Diapering

Before we even knew we were officially going to have a kid, we knew we were going to at least try cloth diapers. And then, we had Izzy and by one month old, and barely ten pounds, we had her in cloth diapers I had painstaking made myself- two ply flannel diapers, stuffed with an absorbent pad also made of layers of flannel, pinned with baby safe pins and then covered with plastic like undies that I found for cheap at the Amish store.

As she got bigger and started moving more, we invested in out very own stash of the new kind of cloth… a soft inner shell, sewn into a poly water proof fabric, with micro fiber inserts and snaps to adjust to all sorts of sizes. At just shy of 20 months old, and at 30 pounds, she still fits into these. That’s 15 months in these diapers- but our stash is 30 strong. We bought most of these in packs of 6 on amazon – later, we bought just a bunch of inserts so we could double up on the absorbancy as she wet more heavily.

But here is the real nitty gritty on the why, the how, and then the other why and how again.

  1. Disposables are expensive. –  now I know some of you people are looking at my link to a pack of 6 diapers with six inserts for 30 bucks and saying to yourselves, no cloth diapers are expensive. And you would be sorta right. Yeah, $5 for a single diaper seems like kind of a lot, but the reality is these diapers have an infinite amount of uses, WITH PROPER CARE(see #2)…. compared to a 20- 39 cent disposable that gets tossed in the trash Every. Single. Time. Your. Kid. Goes. When they are really young, that is a lot. That’s like up to 10 or more times a day. Which you guessed it, can add up to like 4 bucks a day. In. The. Trash.

Now, we don’t use cloth at night, because its crappy to have to change a whole bed in the middle of the night, and with a baby that happens often enough as it is.(UPDATE : as of feb 2017 we started putting her in cloth overnight, same as during the day, and it IS WORKING. Like not just working, but working better then her disposables were, so just wanted to clarify that)

Also we use a babysitter three days a week, so we send her over to them with disposables. And, while we were moving and didn’t have ready access to a washing machine, she was living in sposies. We are big believers in using what works. What typically works for us is using cloth the majority of the time because-

2.We have a really GOOD care routine. This is the core of the cloth/sposie debate in most peoples minds. How can you get the urine and poop really, actually out, without destroying your washing machine? Well the truth is, no single wash routine is going to work for everyone, or even most of everyone, or even two neighbors.  Truth is, you’re going to have to do a little investigative research of your own- in your own domain. Really get to know your water hardness level. Do you have high iron or calcium? They have free tests you can get online but if you want a really accurate one you’re going to have to shell out about 10 bucks. This is important because you’ll want to put additives into your wash as, no just regular laundry soap is not enough to clean even your regular laundry, but that’s another blog entirely.

Our personal care routine is as follows, but this is just an example – we wash diapers no more then every 48 hours.
I make sure all inserts are pulled out of the diapers pockets, and I also make sure that any waste has been flushed down the toilet. And to do that I use the Scrape and Swirl method of cleaning. This is not pretty, but its the gods honest truth. I literally take pooh diapers, plop the excess into the toilet and then use an old metal spatula to scrap the rest of the ickiness into the toilet as I gently swirl it around in the water (and yes this is to avoid splashback)
(And, Yes, I know. The things we’ll do to save money. )
To wash we put a heaping 1/2 cup of Borax, heaping 1/2 cup of Washing Soda and line 2 on our detergent (Wisk) into the bottom of our washing drum. Then go in all the diapers and inserts. I wash on a normal, heavy soil cycle, with a 30 minute soak time, followed by an extra rinse and spin. My machine is a top loading, HE General Electric with an actual agitator in the bin. I know.. I love my washer. It is the most magnificent washer ever AND we got it on clearance, on a labor day sale. Original price was over $800 and we got it for half that.

When the diapers are done washing, I dry the inserts in my dryer and I hang the diapers to dry “hot dog style” like so:

3. So the other why we use cloth – yes, we are concerned about the environment. You can’t really want a sustainable farm and not be a bit worried about throwing thousands (average of 7 dirties a day, multiplied by 7 days a week, multiplied by 52 weeks a year, times about 2 years equals roughly 5000 diapers in the trash at .30/diaper that is $1500… in the trash, and that is all low ball estimation most parents will tell you kids go thru like 10 diapers a day) of dirty diapers in the trash, to go to a landfill, to sit for goodness knows how long because disposable diapers are relatively new, and we DON’T know all the possible long term consequences for our one planet earth. We feel better knowing that by saving money, we are also helping to keep some trash out of our ecosystem.

Every earth day, my school would send all of us to go clean up trash at some local park or such and every year, I remember vividly how many dirty diapers we picked up. Literal BAGS of dirty diapers. Ick. This convinced me, even as a young and out of touch teenager, that having a kid, just didn’t need to be so wasteful.

4. Ok, so seriously, cloth diapers are so stinkin’ CUTE. And the kids, when they wear them, their little butts are so adorably fluffy. I have literally, dozens of pictures of her in her cloth diapers because they just make me feel so giddy sometimes. I never claimed to be a normal, mature adult here tho. And I also just happen to get giddy over the thought of saving money. I really am that cheap.

5. In my personal experience, cloth diapers fit better and lead to fewer blowouts with the poopie ones. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of urine leaks if you don’t change your kid often enough, but that would happen in any diaper, really. And does- at 20 months old and in 3t clothing, izzy was regularly leaking out the side of her disposable at night. We have since started using overnight pull ups. Ugh- so pricey. But not having to change the sheets and an angry child at 2:54am is worth almost anything.

So that’s about that. We really stand by our decision to put Izzy in cloth, for the majority of the time and should we ever have another kid, they’ll be going in cloth too. And after we’re all done, we’ll be donating them, so they can help another family save some serious cash as well. Because oh yeah,

6. The cloth diapering community is very helpful, and very large. Whether you have questions about laundry soap or finding second hand diapers, there’s a whole big cyber neighborhood of people that feel the same way I do and are willing to impart their experiences to newbies, or anyone even just interested in learning a little bit about cloth. I have spent time detailing everything to an amazed best friend, just because she asked questions.

Here are a couple more good cloth diapering resources to check out:

Fluff Love University -This website is ridiculous good. Like there is nothing, cleaning wise, that I could ever try to explain, better then they already have or could. They also have a facebook page, and its well worth a check. I’m pretty sure its a closed group and you have to ask to join tho.

Thinking About Cloth Diapers-This one is also very well done, but is less science, more feels. There are some great tutorials about how to fix diapers when things like elastics or snaps break, which has only happened to me once. It was a back elastic on the pocket and it slipped its original stitch. It was a little difficult to get the elastic back in, but easy enough to sew it back together. There really is much more as well, you just have to go look tho.

The Rebecca Foundation is where we’ll be sending ours when we’re done. They are a really wonderful program, started by a nine year old with her mothers help, to end diaper need.

And that’s about that, I’d say. Until the next time, have a wicked good evening.

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