When I tell someone who uses only disposables that I cloth diaper my baby, I almost always get some sort of “ew” response. Other responses I get are “that’s too much work,” “I don’t have time for that,” and “that’s got to be expensive.” Well I’m here to set the record straight. I will address all of these issues along with a few more.
“I don’t have time for that!”
I will keep this one very quick, since you don’t have time. LOL. It takes me about 30 seconds longer to change a diaper with cloth than with disposables. That is because I keep my dirty diapers in a separate room. If there’s a poopy diaper, it takes me about 2-3 minutes tops to spray it out. The only thing that takes me very long at all is the extra load of laundry. If I had enough diapers to wash every 3 days (I am only using 10 right now so I wash every day), it would take me about 15-20 minutes to stuff about 30 diapers. This simply means to put inserts into the pockets of my pocket diapers (I will explain more later on). So on average I will be spending about 1-2 hours longer A WEEK on my cloth diapers than with disposables. That’s it. :)
“Ew that’s so gross! Why would anybody want to do that?”
It’s nowhere near as gross as you may think. Have you ever heard of a blow-out? I’m sure you have, but if you haven’t it’s where a baby poops so much that it runs out the sides and up his back, making the cleanup absolutely DISGUSTING! Since my son has been born (almost 7 months ago) half of the time I have used disposable and half cloth (I got a late start). I have had at least 5 blow-outs with disposables and only 1 with cloth, and even that one wasn’t nearly as bad as the blow-outs with the disposables. If you ask other cloth diaper users, most will testify the same. So my point is that every parent has to deal with poop. It’s inevitable. You’d might as well have it all confined in the diaper. I know what you’re thinking. “But I can just throw away the poop and not have to worry about it anymore with disposables,” which leads me to my next point. Did you know that you’re supposed to actually flush the poop, even from disposables, because of the waste that it causes in the landfills?
“But it’s not like my one baby can contribute to a huge amount of waste.”
Do you know how many diapers your baby goes through a year? Let me do the quick math for you. Most babies go through an average of 8 diapers a day, however there will be times that you’re changing and the baby pees during changing, or maybe there’s 2-3 poops in a row, or whatever. So after you add those in, it’s more along 10 diapers a day. 10 x 365 = 3650. Do you know how many diapers that is? Well thanks to Small Foot Print Family, I have a picture for comparison.
They estimate 3,800, which is close to my estimate. P.S. According to my calculations, they underestimated the cost of the disposables AND I can tell you a way to cloth diaper your baby for under $200 FROM NEWBORN TO POTTY TRAINING! I’ll get to that later, promise!
“So if cloth diapers aren’t that gross, how do you wash them?”
It’s easy! First let’s talk poop again. Of course poop is the biggest concern. There are many ways to get the poop off of the cloth diapers. Here are a few of the most common:
#1 Cloth Diaper Toilet Sprayer- It is simple to install and easy to use. It’s similar a kitchen sprayer. Just dump the solids, spray, ring, and toss in a wet bag or pail (getting to that later).
#2 Dunking- After dumping solids and flushing, some people dunk in the toilet (using gloves). For my own personal reason, I can NOT get myself to do this. But I have dunked and/or soaked the diapers in a bucket.
#3 Spraying in the Shower- If you have a detachable shower head, after you dump the solids in the toilet, you can turn the shower head (if it has settings) to the jet and spray it out. This is what I personally do. Then spray out the tub and spray it down with disinfectant.
So how do I get the poop off that’s just smushed in there and just won’t dump into the toilet? I use toilet paper or paper towels. Some people have a spatula JUST FOR their diapers that they wash off after using and keep in the bathroom, then spray it off afterwords. If you are using the toilet sprayer, it should get most of it off without scraping. If you really want to go the extra mile, there are also liners that are biodegradable and can be flushed down the toilet with the diapers just like toilet paper. They are a lot smaller and safer for the environment that disposable diapers, breaking down within days compared to 5 years for disposable diapers!
Some people also dump the solids into the toilet, flush, and then use a “wet pail” but I DO NOT recommend these because of sanitary reason. This is where you just throw the diapers in water after dumping solids and leaving them there until wash day. After a while, they can cause bacteria to build up in the diapers that washing may not completely kill. The more air that gets to your diapers, the better! I highly recommend going to You Tube and looking up how people clean their diapers. It is a great place to see it first hand.
“So there’s no more poop. Now what?”
After you get rid of the poop and ring out the diaper, throw it in a dry pail or wet bag. Wet bags are not the same as wet pails, although the name is similar. Wet bags are simply bags made of PUL (that waterproof gym bag material) that keeps the diapers from leaking all over everything. Personally, I throw my diapers directly into a laundry basket that I use only for my dirty diapers. The more air that gets to them, the less they will smell. Then I clean the laundry basket 2-4 times a month with bleach.
Wet Bags come in many different sizes, prints & colors. They are especially great for travel. I personally like for my diapers to get more air than what a wet bag can give. However they’re practically a necessity while traveling. You can buy them small enough for just one diaper all the way to big enough for 10-12 diapers, possibly even bigger! Almost every cloth diaper users have a wet bag of some sort. The hold in the smell really well so that your diaper bag doesn’t stink.
If you do not want to use a wet bag or a laundry basket as I do, you can use a pail with a pail liner aka a dry pail. A cheap trash can from the dollar store will work just as well. I do suggest that you get a PUL liner as pictured above. They come with drawstrings or elastic bands in all different sizes, prints & colors.
With either of these, you can simple dump the contents into the wash and throw the wet bag or liners into the wash with the diapers.
On laundry day, you will want to run your diapers through a rinse cycle to get all the urine and any little bits of poo that might still be on your diapers. I use warm rinse. The reason why is that hot rinse will cause your diapers to stain (that’s why people who are dying clothes use really hot water) and cold water just doesn’t seem to get them completely clean for me. So I rinse with warm. Then you will want to wash once. The wash will automatically go through a rinse afterwords of course. Run it through an EXTRA rinse to make sure that all detergent is out of the diapers. The last rinse can be cold, warm or hot… your choice and whatever your washer can do. Mine only does cold rinses.
You do not have to buy special detergent, though it is recommended. I personally cannot afford it, so I use ALL Free & Clear without dyes or perfumes. Many people use Tide Original Powder Detergent too. If you do want to buy diaper detergent, a few recommended brands are EcoNuts (economically friendly!), Rock Green, BumGenius and Charlie’s Soap. I personally do NOT recommend Tide. While shopping for a detergent, it should be without enzymes, fabric softeners, brighteners, scents, or dyes. These can break down the fibers, which makes the diapers not last as long, and can cause a barrier making the diapers waterproof instead of absorbent. Original Tide has all of these except fabric softener. It’s nowhere near as hard as you may think to find detergent. I found this list that’s excellent:
After you wash it, throw it directly in the drier on gentle (depending on the diaper). DO NOT use any fabric softeners. If you want to keep static down, although I never have a problem with static in my diapers, or if you want to cut down drying time you can throw in a couple of wool dryer balls. Many people hang their diapers instead of use a dryer because it prolongs their life. If I had a special diaper, such as a work-at-home-mom handmade or an expensive specialty diaper, I would hang dry these. I personally do not mind putting the cheap ones I have in the dryer and haven’t seen any wears so far.
So breakdown: gentle detergent, warm rinse, warm wash, extra rinse, line dry or tumble on gentle. DONE!
“Okay so it’s not that gross and it’s fairly easy to clean. They still have to stink while laying around.”
No, not if they’re stored right. Actually, disposables stink a lot worse because they are wound up so up tightly that no oxygen can get to them, as well as all of the chemicals that are inside the diaper. The only time that I ever smell my son’s diapers is when I’m changing him, when I’m spraying them down, and when I’m throwing them into the wash because of the urine. If I were to rinse my pee diapers, I wouldn’t smell anything when I dump them into the washing machine like I used to. As they sit there, I do not smell them, and neither do my guests. The more air that gets to them, the better. I know that it’s automatic response to put it into something air tight so that no one can smell them, but eventually that smell will leak out and REEK, not to mention the smell when you open it!
Why? Bacteria! We have flora and fauna in our digestive tract that aids digestion, which leaves our body with each bowel movement. Usually, these bacteria are aerobic bacteria, which means they require oxygen to live. These bacteria are not what causes the odor. They break down the poo. If the oxygen is cut off, they die and other bacteria that were there in the background start to breed and make things STINK! These new bacteria are anaerobic bacteria. They don’t like oxygen because oxygen kills them. Kill the stinky bacteria with oxygen! You’re welcome for the little science lesson.
“It’s so easy to use disposables. How is this going to help me or my baby? What’s in it for us?”
Disposable diapers have chemicals such as Dioxin, an extremely toxic by-product of the paper-bleaching process. It is banned in most countries but (surprise!) not in the U.S.! It is a carcinogenic chemical (causes cancer).
Another chemical that are in disposable diapers is Tributyl-tin (TBT), which is known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.
Another: sodium polyacrylate, a type of super absorbent polymer (SAP), which becomes a gel-like substance when wet. According to Real Diaper Association, “A similar substance had been used in super-absorbency tampons until the early 1980s when it was revealed that the material increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome by increasing absorbency and improving the environment for the growth of toxin-producing bacteria.”
These chemicals along with the lack of air circulation can cause rashes, burns, and an increase in scrotal temperature in boys (which can cause low sperm count later in life).
Not only are these chemicals possibly harming your baby, when they go to the landfills, they are going into the earth and polluting the area around it. These chemicals can affect the wildlife: plants & animals.
Chemicals and air circulation aside, other reasons to cloth diaper are:
It’s a lot less pollution. As I said before, a baby goes through on average of 3650-3800 diapers a year! According to Earthy Crunchy Mama “25.2 BILLION diapers end up in US landfills every year. They are the 3rd largest single consumer item in landfills today, and make up 4% of all solid waste.”
You can save thousands of dollars by switching to (no not that gecko guy)… to cloth diapers! Also, many people buy their diapers second hand to save money or to find discontinued or limited addition diapers. If you take really good care of your diapers, you can actually resale them on Facebook or Craigslist for close to or even more than you paid for the diapers to begin with when you are finished with them!
For a breakdown, visit my blog Costs of Disposable Diapers VS Cloth Diapers
They’re adorable, stylish, can be customized and most are adjustable! Many diapers can be worn from newborn all the way to potty training. Order a special made one-of-a-kind from a work-at-home-mom! Many parents even collect diapers and use them as part of the baby’s outfit. Do you have a favorite movie, superhero, animal, or anything else that you love? I have seen themed diapers for all collectors.
Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Star Wars, Winnie the Pooh, pirates, mustaches, owls, John Deere tractors, Jack the Pumpkin King, and more for boys… Lady bugs, Hello Kitty, Betty Boop, Strawberry Shortcake, animal prints, kitty cats, frill, and lots of pink for girls… There’s always a diaper for every occasion!
“So you said that I could diaper my baby for $200 total? I call BS!”
Aaaannnd I have links! :) You’re welcome.
Keep in mind that these are China-knock-off brands. However, I use these pocket diapers (AnAnBaby brand) and LOVE them. Many diapers run upwards to $15-30 each, but if you were to buy these diapers like I did, they are about $4.50 each. However, pocket diapers have just that: pockets. They require an insert (looks like a cloth menstrual pad without the stickiness on the back LOL). I also provide a link to those too.
You will need about 30 diapers to comfortably diaper your baby. This is enough for 3-4 days, so that you don’t have to wash every day or every other day. I suggest you wash at least every 3 days.
*Note that this link may say that it’s 10 diapers for $35 but the original price for me was $45. It went on sale for $35, and now it’s not saying that it’s on sale, but the price is still $35. Could be good news! I will be doing the math for the highest price, $45.*
DIAPERS: CLICK HERE $45 for 10 diapers- free shipping
—— UPDATED 7/20/15 – Now only $38.16
INSERTS: CLICK HERE $8 for 10 inserts- free shipping
—— UPDATED 7/20/15 – (cotton) CLICK HERE $3.45 for 10 – free shipping
—— UPDATED 7/20/15 – (microfiber) CLICK HERE $10.15 for 20 – free shipping
PRICE FOR 30 DIAPERS: 45 X 3 = $135 (UPDATED 7/20/15 – $38.16 X 3 = $114.48)
PRICE FOR 30 INSERTS: 8 X 3 = $24 (UPDATED 7/20/15 – $10.15 X 2 (40 microfiber inserts) = $20.30)
TOTAL PRICE: $159 (UPDATED 7/20/15 – $134.78)
$159 for 30 diapers plus inserts! And they’re cute prints! If you look on that site, you will find a ton to choose from, but those are the best deals I have found personally. The seller JCtrade Trade Co., LTD (the seller from the diaper link above) has a lot of other diaper lots that are a really good deal too, including one with a Star Wars diaper!
I have never used microfiber inserts, or any inserts for that matter (I’ll explain in a second). I hear that hemp and bamboo are better for absorbency, but are a little more pricey. However, even if you do buy the bamboo or hemp instead of microfiber, it is still less than $200 for the total of 30 diapers & inserts.
Okay so with charcoal bamboo inserts, it will be $6 more than $200. So sue me. ;) But they’re supposed to be one of the best, if not the best, fibers to use for inserts.
So I said I didn’t use inserts, so I’ll explain. I use prefolds to stuff my diapers. I trifold them and stuff them into the pockets. The only reason I do this is that I already had Econobum prefolds because that’s what I started with.
AND that leads me to my SECOND way of diapering your baby for under $200! Well, the fifth way if you count the different kinds of inserts that I listed above. This one is different. They are not pocket diapers.
Econobum are prefolds with wipeable shells (diaper covers). You can either wipe them down with a wet wipe or rinse and hang them between changes. Of course, you only use the actual diaper part (the prefold) once between washes. And of course after a couple uses or if the shell gets poop on it, you throw it in the wash. They are only white in the Econobum brand, though some come with a pink, green or blue trim, but they worked for me!
They’re more work than pockets, and when your baby gets older, their squirmy butts are hard to hold still while you’re putting the diaper on them. However, if you decide to go this route, you get 12 prefold diapers and 3 diaper covers, all for about $40-60, depending on where you buy them. You can get them at Walmart, diapers.com, Babies R Us, cottonbabies.com, kellyscloset.com, and many other places. The average to be about $50. You will need 3 sets, so they’re about $150 as well.
If you wanted to use prefolds instead of inserts in your cloth diapers, it creates (in a way) three layers of protection because you trifold them before stuffing them into the pockets. I love it because I never have to double up. If you wanted to do this, you could buy 30 pocket diapers and 3 boxes of Econobum. This will also give you 9 wipe-clean covers and 36 prefolds, 6 more diapers than you would get with inserts. The price total would be $135 + $150 = $285. It’s a little more expensive, but as I said, there would be 9 extra covers and 6 extra prefolds, so it is still well worth it.
“Okay, so they’re not that gross, fairly easy to clean, safer, more economically friendly, and really cheap. But what if I don’t want prefolds or pocket diapers? What other options do I have?”
Flats are your grandma’s diapers. These are a lot bigger than prefolds but thinner and are made to completely cover the baby’s front and back. They need to be secured with a pin or a newer invention called a Snappi (pictured). They also need to have a cover.
Contour diapers are like flats & prefolds had a baby. they’re thicker than flats, like prefolds, so you do not have to fold them. They are shaped like an hourglass and need to be fastened with a pin or Snappi. They also require a cover.
Fitted diapers are a lot like disposables. they are adjustable, usually with snaps or velcro, but sometimes have to be secured with a pin or Snappi. They can be a bit pricey because their absorbency is usually excellent. They also require a cover.
As I mentioned before, pocket diapers have pockets for inserts. They come in snap or Velcro on the front. The outside is usually PUL but can sometimes be minky (soft material). Pocket diapers, from what I have been able to see in the cloth diapering community on Facebook, is by far the most popular diapers. You do not need to put anything over this kind of diaper.
An All-In-Two (AI2) diaper is similar to a pocket diaper, but instead of having a pocket to put the insert into, it comes directly in contact with the baby’s bum. Some AI2 diapers have snaps in the front, back, or both to hold the inserts in place. Some are also wipe-clean, such as the Best Bottoms brand, so that you only have to change the inserts between most changes.
All-In-One (AIO) diapers are the closest to a disposable diaper (when it comes to changing time) that you can buy. They come in snaps or Velcro and there are no inserts. You simply put the diaper on the baby, then when you change them, you get a new one and toss the old one in the pail or wet bag.
Hybrid diapers are like AI2 diapers, but they can also be used (in a sense) as disposables. You can buy bio-degradable inserts that can be flushed so that you do not have to figure out how to get rid of the poo when you’re out and about. Just flush and go!
“You said something about covers for the prefolds, flats, contours and fitted. What kind of covers can I use?”
These are the wipe-clean (or as I like to call them, wipeable) diaper covers. They are all PUL. Unless there is poo on them, they can be wiped down multiple times between changes or rinsed and hanged to dry. They come in Velcro or snaps. This one is a Velcro. You will notice that it has snaps, but that is not to hold the diaper together, but to adjust the rise.
This is what the Velcro looks like with snap rises adjustment snaps. They come in wipe clean or soft interior.
This is what Velcro diapers look like without the snap rises adjustment snaps, which means that they will come in multiple sizes and cannot be worn from birth to potty training, but are easier to use.
Wool diaper covers also can come adjustable or fitted by size. They are also well known to be made in pants, called “longies”. They require special treatment with lanolin.When washed, it has to be hand and dried flat (NOT in the dryer). However, you do not have to wash them every time. Wool’s natural oils are anti-bacterial, so all you have to do is flip it inside out, lay it flat, and let it air out between changes. You will need to wash it when it starts to have a slight smell, which usually is about a month or so. It is one of the most absorbent and breathable materials, and contrary to popular belief, it is NOT itchy if the right wool is chosen, but often very soft and comfortable. Although it require special attention when cleaning, because it only needs to be washed every month or so (unless there is poo on it of course), ironically, it is one of the easiest covers to care for.
So that is my VERY long break-down of cloth diapering, and I hope I set the record straight.
- Cloth diapers are not any more gross than disposables.
- Cloth diapers are easy to clean.
- Cloth diapers are safer than disposables.
- Cloth diapers are more eco-friendly than disposables.
- Cloth diapers are a lot cheaper than disposables.
- Cloth diapers are cute and stylish.
Thank you for reading. Comments are appreciated!