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I’ve gotten a lot of questions about cloth diapering from friends, especially on my Instagram page. After 8+ months of cloth diapering, I thought that writing out our experiences in a “Cloth Diapering 101” format could help others who are considering it!
First – I am not an expert. I haven’t extensively researched this topic. I googled a lot in the beginning of the process, and talked with friends who have done it, but I am not an expert. That being said, we have a system that I think works out really well for us, and I like to share things that work just like my friends have shared with me! I have also picked the brains of other cloth diapering mamas, and I have their valuable wisdom at the bottom of this post.
- Cloth diapers are much cheaper than disposable diapers! This blogger did some math that was helpful – she was very cautious with her estimates and estimated that cloth diapering would save roughly $1,500 per child. This was honestly the reason why we started cloth diapering. The money saving factor spoke to my frugal brain, and I wanted to find a way to make it work.
- Cloth diapering is a much greener way to live. This is usually why people think I do it, and I’ll be honest and say I really didn’t care about how it would help the environment when I started. I know, I know, that’s horrible. But I am glad that we’re able to do our part to cut down on waste!
- Cloth diapering is gentler on my baby. I love that he has a basically plush pillow to sit on! I think it’s much kinder to his skin than disposable diapers.
- Cloth diapers don’t contain harsh chemicals that disposable diapers can.
- No blowouts! This is awesome – because of the elastic at the top of the bum area, it keeps messes inside the diaper. And since my guy had a phase where he only pooped twice a week, this was a lifesaver. We didn’t ruin clothes because of blowouts!
- They’re adorable. Seriously – I have a slight obsession with how cute Isaac looks in his cloth diapers.
- While cloth diapering saves major money, it is more of an up-front cost. Keep reading to see how and where I buy diapers to help with this!
- You can’t use diaper ointment. For the first 7ish months, Isaac really didn’t have any diaper rashes (I think this was because of the cloth diapers) but when he finally got one, we couldn’t use diaper ointment because it’s not water soluble. I’ve been using coconut oil to treat his rash, but it doesn’t do quite as good of a job as the diaper ointment we use when he’s wearing a disposable diaper.
- You have to change them more frequently. When Isaac was 6-7 months old, we started doubling his inserts because he was soaking through his diapers and then getting his outfits wet. This definitely helps, but we still change his more frequently than we would if he was wearing disposable diapers.
- Laundry. It’s really not hard, I promise. But it’s just one more load every other day or so.
- More of a hassle when traveling. If we were going somewhere without a washing machine, we just bring disposable diapers. Sometimes if we’ll be out of the house for a few hours, I will stick Isaac in a disposable diaper so I don’t have to cart around his dirty diaper in my bag.
USED CLOTH DIAPERS:
Since cloth diapering was more of an up-front cost, and we didn’t have a big stash of money while we were buying our first house, we bought a big stash of used diapers from a woman who has used them with 2 kids. I know, I KNOW. That sounds gross. But I promise it’s not! We got ours on Craigslist – a big stash of SunBaby diapers for $175. We use those as our basic diapers, and have added individual diapers onto that stash.
If you’re considering buying used cloth diapers, make sure you research brands and prices to make sure you’re getting a good deal. Then make sure you set aside time to look at:
- Consignment sales
- Facebook yard sales/moms groups
NEW CLOTH DIAPERS:
After I bought my initial stash of used diapers, I started buying new diapers individually. There are so many places to buy new cloth diapers – this is just a sampling! Before you go online, it’s always a good idea to ask around and search for a local retailer – this way you can actually hold the products in your hand before your make a purchase.
Since I’m sure many of you don’t live in my area – here’s some online resources for buying cloth diapers:
- We have gotten many diapers from here! The Little Monsters brand is actually our favorite in our stash. We have one from Lotus Bumz that we love too!
- Once you have a know which styles/brands you love, Amazon can be a great source for reasonably priced diapers. Sometimes I’ll add one to my order so I can qualify for the free shipping when it’s combined with another smaller order. I also get my detergent on Amazon (more on that in the next section)
- Cotton Babies
- Sweet Bottoms Baby
- Kelly’s Closet
- Lil’ Tulips
I am not married to one brand or another at all – I have bought whatever cloth diapers were on sale! I have found grew deals on Zulily – we have bought the “Little Monsters” brand from them and they are adorable, and they are our favorite diapers in our stash (really soft!)
Cleaning cloth diapers tends to be people’s biggest fear. It is honestly simple, and you should definitely not be afraid of it!
Washing cloth diapers varies slightly depending on which kind of diaper you use. We use the pocket diapers, so I’m writing up how we clean those.
When/if your baby is exclusively breastfed, you can literally dump the whole diaper, poop and all, into the washing machine. It’s water soluble, so it will get clean. I promise.
Once your baby starts eating solids, you will need to dump the poop into the toilet. Isaac’s is hard enough (poor kid has constipation issues) that I can just knock it out into the toilet. If that doesn’t work for you, many people have a diaper sprayer.
I put all of my diapers in our pail with a liner (more on that in the next section). When the bin is full, I take the liner with me to the washing machine, pull the inserts out of the diapers, and dump the inserts, covers, and diaper pail liner in the washing machine.
I put the detergent in the washing machine (more about the detergent in the next section too).
Set the washing machine to the “sanitize’ cycle. Some people pre-wash their diapers, but I haven’t found that to be necessary.
If you’re able to set the spin cycle to “high”, that will really help to cut the time for the drying process.
When you’re drying cloth diapers – the sun is your friend. It’s really amazing- the sun bleaches out any stains you may have within hours! If you have a clothesline, hang your diapers out on it as often as you’re able to. If not, use a drying rack inside (or find alternative methods – this is what worked for us during the winter months)
But to me, I just love seeing those diapers out on the line – it makes me happier than it probably should! (shared on my Instagram)
Finally- there are things that you’re going to need to make cloth diapering work for your family. Again, every family has different styles and preferences, but this is what we love:
I love my wet bag that I use for when we go out in public! It holds any smells in & is really sturdy
- We also use a bigger wet bag in our own home – this one has been great!
- I heard good things about the BumGenius detergent before I started cloth diapering, and it’s the only detergent we’ve used! I buy it on Amazon to save money too. We haven’t had any detergent build-up, and our diapers are always really clean.
- Diaper pail & liner
- I’m a little bit lax compared to lots of other people about this – many people say to get a heavy duty canister that will lock out smells. I honestly love our pail from IKEA that was only $14, and we line it with this liner:
- Diaper ointment/coconut oil
- I’ve heard that some people have had success using ointment specially made for cloth diapering, but we haven’t tried it yet. We use coconut oil with every diaper change, and it works really well!
Not a necessity for cloth diapering, but I really love our diaper caddy which helps to corral all of those little baby knick-knacks, wipes, etc. (PS- it’s a perfect baby shower gift too!)
Since I have only been cloth diapering for 8ish months with one child, I am not an expert on all different kinds of cloth diapering or with multiple children. I wanted to gather some words of wisdom from other cloth diapering mamas to help give you a more well-rounded view of this whole experience:
I chose that last quote to end this post for a reason – I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thanks to all of the awesome moms (and dad!) for contributing to this post! As you can see, we love talking about our cloth diapers
PLEASE leave questions in the comments – I’m sure I forgot to add a lot, and I’ll make sure to edit the post with additions as they are needed!