In an effort to save money, we decided to cloth diaper Caleb and any future children that we might have. I cannot say enough good things about our experience with cloth diapering thus far. For the sake of practicality, they work great. The only time that Caleb has ever had a diaper rash was when he was first born and had to wear disposable diapers for a few weeks until he grew into the cloths. He’s never had a blow out, and we can double up the inserts to make them last all night long without leaking. It’s so wonderful not having to worry about running out for diapers at inconvenient times. We just pop em’ in the wash every few days and we’re good to go! Aside from that, they’re brightly colored and stylish. When the weather is warm, it’s so fun to coordinate a cute shirt with one and just let him roll around in his adorable colored diaper. We love them, and would definitely choose to use them over disposable diapers even if they didn’t save us any money, but they do – and that’s the best part!
Now that I’ve over-introduced my love for cloth diapers, I’ll give you a break down of the details on how we do it. First of all, we use bumGenius all in ones. These are fantastic because they have adjustable snaps that allow the diaper to grow as your baby grows. Even the inserts are adjustable, and they really do fit perfectly. You can check out all of the details here. You can either use hook and loop closures, or snaps. We chose snaps because we want to get the maximum usage out of each diaper and we’re afraid that the hook and loops won’t last as long after being through the wash so many times. Also, we read online that it’s more difficult for older babies to un-snap the snaps and take off their diapers.
I’ll admit, there is a little bit of a learning curve to cloth diapering, but after a couple of months we had it down to a science. First, we set up an entire “diapering station”, which I’m sure is completely unnecessary, but we feel like it makes diaper changes easier and more fun. If having an unnecessarily suped up diaper station is what it takes to make diaper changes even the slightest bit more enjoyable for us, then we’ll take it!
Instead of using a fancy diaper pail, we just use a stainless steel garbage pail lined with a garbage bag. It seems to be working just fine, as we haven’t noticed any odors. After every diaper change, we remove the diaper insert from the cover and place both pieces into the pail. Every 2-3 days, we dump the diapers in the wash and replace the garbage bag. They do sell washable pail liners, but we haven’t ventured into that territory yet.
We keep the diapers and inserts in separate bins and then just “stuff” the diaper (put the insert in the cover) right before we use it. At first we were stuffing all of the diapers before we put them away, but we discovered that doing it this way just made it feel like part of a standard diaper change, instead of a chore. (We’re all about minimizing chores, even if it’s only in our heads.)
As far as wipes go – we use cloth wipes as well. Actually, they’re technically Gerber terry washcloths. We store them in a wipes warmer and just wash them along with the diapers. We don’t use any special oils or anything to wet them either, just good old fashioned water. They clean wonderfully, and we use less of them too.
As far as washing the diapers is concerned, this took some trial and error. We typically make our own laundry soap, but this method was leaving the diapers still smelling like poop, and we later found out that it increases the chances of having soap residue buildup on the fleece liner. The liners are designed to have liquid pass through them to the absorbent terry cloth inserts, but when there is soap residue “clogging” it up, the liquid will instead be repelled and leak. When this occurs, you need to “strip” the diapers, meaning that you wash the diapers with Dawn dish soap and very hot water to break up the oils that are causing the residue build up. Thankfully, we haven’t had to do that yet. We discovered that Arm & Hammer liquid detergent along with a scoop of Oxiclean works well with our water (hard well water) and HE machine. There’s a ton of information available, but the source that helped us understand the dynamics of washing cloth diapers the most was pinstripesandpolkadots.com. After washing the diapers, we just tumble dry the whole load (covers, inserts and wipes) on low heat. The manufacturer does not suggest that you use a dryer, but we haven’t had any problems with it yet.
Once we figured out how to wash the diapers, we did find that we couldn’t completely get the poop stains out every time. This might have something to do with the low water levels in our HE machine, or maybe that’s just how it goes. Either way, we found that “sunning” the diapers (laying them out in the sun for 10-15 minutes) every now and then completely bleaches any stains out of them, leaving them looking fresh and new again.
When it comes to what we’re saving, we thought it would be fun to calculate exactly how much we save over the life of the diapers. Below is our savings chart as of 6 months (minus some of the data). This calculates what we would be spending if we were buying disposable diapers and wipes at rock bottom prices and subtracts it from what we spent upfront on the cloths. We’ve just about broken even on the wipes, but still have up to a year on the diapers. Of course – cloth diapers are good for more then one child. I’ve read online that they can last up to four, so we’re not going to be discouraged if we don’t see the big picture as far as savings are concerned until years later.
As far as traveling is concerned, we love to travel with cloth diapers. I keep a couple of large zip lock bags with me at all times, just for quick diaper changes during shopping trips and what not, but when we go on entire day trips, we use a water proof wet bag that holds 4 or 5 diapers. When traveling overnight, we’ll usually just bring a few garbage bags along with us to hold large quantities like we do at home. Occasionally we travel somewhere where we do not have easy access to a washer and dryer, in which case we just fall back on disposable diapers. Even though we love cloth diapers, we certainly are thankful to have disposable diapers at times!
So there you have it, the in’s and out’s of cloth diapering at the Winrow residence. We’ll keep you posted on our savings as it adds up!