So you are still on the fence about cloth diapers, you’ve read Heidi’s post on cloth diapers and you’ve entered in the giveaway for Erin’s AMAZING book on cloth diapers. Maybe you would like to have a bit of a different perspective.
Today we have four awesome mama bloggers here telling us about hte ins and outs of cloth diapers. Together these ladies have over 16 years of experince. Joining me are Virginia of George Town, MN, Jessica Telian of Something Simple and Kindred Grace, Stacy of Stacy Makes Cents and Sarah Nichols of Simple Life Abondant Life. I hope that you take the time to visit all of these ladies blogs, they have many great things to share. Each of these women does things a little differnt that’s what is so wonderful. You can make cloth diapers fit you and your familes needs.
1. How did you first become interested in cloth diapers?
Virginia– I had some friends who cloth diapered and it kind of seemed like a natural extension of my decision to homebirth, breastfeed, etc.
Jessica– Before I was married, I lived with some friends in New Zealand,helping them with their four kids ages five and under while they wereexpecting another little one. Even though I had heard of cloth diapersbefore (supposedly I wore them for most of my babyhood), that was the first time I actually used some. It became just matter of course to use them and after I was married and found out we were expecting our first, there wasn’t even any question in my mind that we would use them (obviously after I made sure my husband was on board too).
Stacy– I’m cheap. When I was pregnant, I just knew I would use them. They fit my lifestyle.
Sarah– When we got pregnant I wanted to be able to stay at home with my baby and not have to go to work. After looking at the budget, we knew it would be really tight and we were going to have to cut a lot of costs. Cloth diapering was one thing I could do to save money.
2. What brand(s)/styles do you prefer? Or do you make your own?
Virginia– I have made my own, for those I liked the Rita’s Rump Pockets pattern (because it’s basically one size and free). I have used a variety of things over the years. I like diaper service quality (DSQ) prefolds, and pins aren’t as scary as you think they are. They actually get a really nice fit around the legs that a Snappi can’t. I have also used a lot of pocket diapers, as well as fitteds, and have knit several soakers/longies/shorties. Right now my toddler can rip any aplix right off, so snaps are the best choice, or a fitted with a soaker.
Jessica– I prefer the simplicity (and inexpensiveness!) of using a system of
prefolds and two-size covers and so this is what we’ve used since we
started cloth diapering three and a half years ago. We use unbleached
Indian prefolds and an assortment of Blueberry Coveralls, Blueberry
Capri and Thirsties Duo covers.
Stacy– I like Kissaluvs fitted diapers under Blueberry covers. I also like cotton prefolds with a Snappi and Blueberry cover.
Sarah-I keep it really simple with BumGenius Flip diapers and Fuzzibunz during the day, and BumGenius 4.0 double stuffed with inserts for the night.
3. What is your favorite thing about cloth diapers?
Virginia– You can easily start off with prefolds and covers (like a Thirsties, I’m not wild about the Bummis because I think they wick/leak more than a PUL diaper – if you can knit soakers are really inexpensive as well) and work your way into a “fancier” stash. Cloth diapering doesn’t have to be expensive, though it can. I like that I’m not spending all that money on disposables, and I like that I’m not contributing to the waste. Plus, how cute is a cloth diapered booty?!
Jessica– The fact that my babies aren’t sitting in chemicals 24/7! I’m also
pretty amazed at how much money they save us, especially in the
seasons of having two in diapers.
Stacy– I like that they’re pretty! And I enjoy doing something natural for my babies.
Sarah-I love how cute the diapers look on my boys, I love that I am keeping toxic chemicals off of their little bottoms, and I love that when I’m running low I don’t have to run out to the store, I can just throw a load in the wash.
4. What is your least favorite thing about cloth diapers?
Jessica– I’m not a huge fan of rinsing out messy diapers in the toilet after a
baby starts eating solids (when a baby is exclusively breastfed, you
can wash their soiled diapers without rinsing!). We have a diaper
sprayer, which is very helpful, but it still isn’t super fun.
However, even with disposables, you’re supposed to shake the mess into
the toilet (so that we aren’t filling our landfills with human waste),
so dirty diapers are just a fact of life with babies, regardless of
whether or not you use cloth.
Stacy– Stripping them when needed. I try to avoid it as long as possible. Ha!
Sarah-With cloth diapers you have to be careful about using diaper rash cream because it can affect absorbancy. Also, some diapers are a little more bulky which means those cute onesies don’t fit as long unless you get an extender.
5. How did you get over the gross factor?
Virginia– Eh, there isn’t much I don’t think. Just flipping toddler poo into the toilet, but really you’re supposed to do that with disposables too, people just don’t. You just do it.
Jessica– Honestly, for me, there really wasn’t much of a gross factor to get
over. The solid waste goes in the toilet where it belongs and the
diaper get very clean in the washer. I personally think there’s much
more of a gross factor in human waste sitting around in disposable
diapers where it putrefies.
Stacy– No gross factor. It’s just poop.
Sarah-Honestly, the grossness was never a factor. You are going to be wiping poop whether you cloth diaper or use disposable diapers. In fact, cloth diapers usually contain blow-outs which means less poop to clean up in those earlier months and less ruined outfits. With the invention of the diaper sprayer, cleaning the poop off the diapers is also quick and painless.
6. Do you use cloth diapers when traveling or when you are out all day?
Virginia– Most of the time. If we’re going away for the weekend I can pack enough diapers to get us through easily. On a longer trip where I didn’t have access to a washing machine I’d probably do disposables. Out all day – absolutely.
Jessica– Yes, we do. For longer trips (i.e. several days), we bring along the
diapers storage baskets and a large dry-bag (the kind used to store
goods in when whitewater-rafting) to use as a portable diaper pail. If
it’s a long enough trip to need to wash diapers, the people we’re
staying with are often fine with us washing diapers at their houses.
If that’s not an option, we use Nature Babycare disposables inside the
Stacy– Out all day, yes. Traveling, no.
Sarah-Yes! If we are traveling for an extended time I will use disposable, but generally cloth diapering is just as easy to use when out and about as it is at home.
7. How do you wash your cloth diapers?
Virginia– Cold rinse, hot wash (with soap), cold rinse.
Jessica– On a diaper washing day, everything (including the laundry sack used
to line the diaper pail) gets thrown into our top-loading washing
machine. I do a cold wash, and then a hot wash with Nellie’s Laundry
Soda. I used to have a clothesline and on sunny days, I tried to hang
the diapers outside to dry — they’d get sun-bleached and smell so
good when they came off the line. The prefolds were usually pretty
stiff from drying outside, but I’d just toss them into the dryer on
low (since you don’t actually need the heat, just the tossing) for
about 15 minutes and they were much softer. Now, in my current
clothesline-less state, everything except the covers goes into the
dryer on hot. I usually air dry the covers draped over the shower rod
or the edge of my laundry basket. Every so often, the covers get
thrown in the dryer too and I dry everything on medium as the heat can
help re-seal the PUL (the waterproof part of the covers).
Stacy– Cold rinse, hot wash, cold rinse and hang to dry. I use Liquid Soap Nuts and white vinegar in the wash.
Sarah-I throw them in the washer on a cold water cycle with a small amount of detergent (I use All Free and Clear or homemade detergent). After that cycle I do another hot water cycle with a small amount of detergent. Finally I do a couple extra rinses just to make sure that there is no detergent residue left on the diapers.
8. What do you store soiled diapers in when you are home? When you are out?
Virginia– Diaper pail with cloth wetbag when we are at home and small wetbag or plastic shopping bag when out.
Here’s my little laundry tip. I have a diaper pail I put the diapers into once they’re soiled. I have a PUL bag inside the plastic diaper pail that I can take out. Get your hands on 3 of them. One for the diaper pail, one to be in the wash, and one to hold clean diapers. This way when it’s time to do laundry you take the full bag to the laundry room, the diapers you just washed and dried can be put into the bag you washed with those diapers, and the bag that had the clean ones you were using can go into the pail. I don’t really use a changing table and fold all my diapers after each wash. I tried that and my older kids got into them and threw them around the bedroom so I just leave them in the wet bag now or dump them into a laundry basket in my room. This system works well for me, though I know people who fold and sort them each time.
Jessica– At home we use a plastic, lidded trash can lined with a nylon laundry
sack. While we’re out I mainly use our Bummis Fabulous Wet Bag and it
works very well. We’ve never had a problem with it leaking wetness
into the diaper bag. We did have a problem with it leaking smells
though (and honestly, I’ve never seen a wet bag that completely seals
them in!) and so a couple years ago I bought a wee-be-gone patch to
try. Supposedly these patches absorb the compound that cause the
ammonia-like smell in wet diapers. It sounded a little far-fetched,
but it actually works! I honestly was quite surprised, but am very
thankful since I didn’t like my entire diaper bag smelling like a wet
Stacy– When home they go into a wet back in a stainless steel trash can with a step-lid. When out, I have a travel wet bag.
Sarah-I have a diaper pail liner that I keep in a cheap garbage can with a flip up lid. When it’s time to do laundry I throw the liner in with the diapers. I actually do not have a wetbag, so when I’m out I just bring some plastic grocery bags with me in the diaper bag that I can put wet diapers in until I get home.
9. Do you use cloth wet wipes?
Virginia– Yes, it seems easier to just use a wipe and throw it into the diaper pail with the diapers than try to sort out what is disposable vs washable.
Jessica– Definitely! In my opinion, using cloth wipes when you cloth diaper is pretty much a no-brainer. I love the convenience of being able to toss everything in the diaper pail instead of trying to fish the wipes
out of a messy diaper and figuring out where to dispose of them. For
two in diapers, washing every other day, we have two dozen bumGenius
bamboo terry wipes, just under three dozen wipes a friend made for me
out of some bamboo double terry material and six extra heavy duty
Stacy– I did with my 1st, but I was given a TON of disposable wipes with my second child and I’m still working through those.
Sarah-I do use cloth wet wipes. I made a bunch right before the birth of my first child and still use them now almost 3 years later. I LOVE the cloth wipes almost as much as I love my diapers. Not only do they clean much more effectively, but usually it only takes one wipe to do the job. Whenever I use store bought wet wipes, I find that sometimes I have to use 3 or 4 to really get everything clean. Also, it can be easy to accidentally throw a disposable wipe in the diaper pail with your cloth diaper and that just makes a big linty mess for the laundry. Cloth wipes get thrown in the diaper pail and washed with the diapers and you don’t have to think twice about it.
10. What kind of detergent has worked best for you?
Virginia– I haven’t noticed a huge difference, though one of my kids broke out whenever I used Tide. Right now I’m using a homemade detergent (recipe on my blog) and am having good results. I think detergent is something highly dependent on specific factors of each person’s home.
Jessica– After a long progression through soap nuts and Rockin’ Green, a couple
years ago I settled on Nellie’s Laundry Soda. I love how clean it
gets the diapers and even after a year without a clothesline, the
diapers haven’t started smelling (that wasn’t the case with the other
Stacy– Liquid Soap Nuts and ECOS.
Sarah-I use All Free and Clear. I have also made my own laundry detergent and it worked just fine on my diapers as well.
11. How often do you wash your diapers?
Virginia– 1-2x each week now that he’s a toddler
Jessica– When I have two in diapers, every other day. If it’s just one, then
every three days or twice a week.
Stacy– Every 3 days
Sarah– I wash them every other day.
12. How many diapers do you recommend buying to get you from infant to toddler years?
Virginia– If you’re doing prefolds or one size pockets maybe 18-24? It depends on how often you want to wash and how well they hold up in your specific circumstances. You can expect PUL to eventually begin to leak, Aplix to not be as sticky, snaps to break, and elastic to lose elasticity. It depends on a lot of things how well they hold up and if you can still use them after their prime. I tend to use them until they die. Then I pillage them for parts.
Jessica– I think this depends a lot on the type of cloth diapers you end up
going with. One of the big reasons I love using prefolds and two-size
covers is that I don’t need to change the cover until it is soiled or
very wet. This means that you could very easily get by with 6-8 each
Size One and Two covers, and two dozen each infant and premium
Stacy-Gosh….I’m not the best person to ask this question. I have a diaper fetish, so I have a TON of diapers. Really. A ton.
Sarah– It depends on what type of diaper you buy. You want enough diapers to get you through at least two days. If you factor in 10 – 12 diapers a day for a young baby, you would probably want enough diapers for 20-24 changes. My Flip diapers are actually covers and so I get by on 8 covers and 24 inserts.
13. How much on average do you think a family has saved buying cloth over disposables?
Virginia- Again it depends on what route you go. I think I have spent maybe $300ish on our diapers over the years (7 years, 4 kids). I buy things secondhand and can knit my own soakers.
Jessica– Again, this depends on what type of diapers you end up going with, but
I could easily see it saving families hundreds of dollars per child.
Stacy– This really depends on how many children you have. The more children you have and if you continue to use the same diapers, your cost savings increases a LOT.
Sarah– I have seen a lot of different figures, but the best guess I can make in our circumstances , factoring in water and detergent, would be at least $1,500-$2,000 per child.
14. How long have you been using cloth diapers for?
Virgina– 7 years
JT- Three and a half years.
Stacy– About three years.
Sarah– I have been using cloth diapers for nearly 3 years.
15. If you have experience using disposables have you noticed that your baby has less rash and yeast problems when using cloth?
Virginia– Not really. I’ve used disposables in the past and didn’t really have a problem. Actually, sometimes with cloth I’ve had problems with contact burn that probably wouldn’t have happened with disposables.
JT- I haven’t used disposables enough to notice one way or another.
Stacy– I did with my first child. With my second it’s the opposite. I have to put him in a disposable at night to keep him from getting a rash. His sensitive little bottom can’t handle the wetness all night long.
Sarah-My only experience with disposables is on the occasional extended trip. I have rarely dealt with rash with my boys and it’s usually gone within a day with the cloth diapers
What additional advice do you have to give to families wanting to use cloth diaper?
Virginia– It’s not as scary as it seems. Washing them really isn’t that big of a deal. I know that’s what people are worried about – the extra laundry. But honestly I’ve never found the laundry much of a burden (and I’m terrible at laundry). It’s also nice to know that if you’re running out of diapers all you have to do is a quick load of laundry, you don’t have to find a store and pack everyone up.
Jessica– Don’t be discouraged if it seems like a lot of hassle at first. Once
you get a routine going, it’s very doable and not much extra work at
Stacy- If you’re not sure you want to do this yet, try finding a diaper program that will let you TRY the diapers to see how you like them. Then if you hate them, you can just send them right back. J
Sarah– Cloth diapering, like any lifestyle change, can seem overwhelming at first. However, once you get into a routine it becomes just a part of your daily life like anything else. To the new mom, give yourself some grace. Having a newborn can be quite an adjustment and it’s ok to use disposables for the first few weeks as you learn the ropes of motherhood if needed.
Also, the initial investment may scare away a lot of mothers. One way we were able to make that investment is by ordering just a couple at a time as money freed up in the budget.
There you have it! I hope that you will give cloth diapers a try!
Stay tuned for the rest of the “So Long Disposables” Series. Last week we talked about cloth napkins , cloth bags, cloth diapers and a cloth diaper ebook giveaway. Stay tuned as we tackle cloth pads and family cloth, plus one more giveaway!
This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday,