Cloth Diapering Hints



Print Friendly

If you are considering cloth diapers, here is my story. Among other things, I will explain how I wash my cloth diapers and how many you need to start. Many people have many different motives for using cloth diapers, but my motivation is purely to save money. I do use disposable diapers for traveling because it is more difficult to store dirty diapers when I’m not at home.

I love my cloth diapers! I LOVE THEM!!!! My husband doesn’t even mind using them. We found that they are not really any more difficult to use than disposables, except that we have to do more laundry. We also found that our children had much less trouble with diaper rash when in cloth rather than disposable. For a while, I had two children in cloth but now my son is potty trained. My daughter is starting to potty train so soon I won’t have any in diapers.

You don’t need many to start. You can start with one dozen and just wash everyday. Two dozen does make life easier. I buy the good quality pre-folded diapers and strongly recommend that you do too. They are called Diaper Service Quality pre-folded diapers. They are great, wear well and last a long time! I think I paid $23.00 for one dozen. (I returned some disposable diapers that we received as a gift and used the money to buy the cloth.) I have about 5 dozen now but I got most of them for free (as gifts or from people who no longer needed theirs). I only purchased 1 dozen of the DSQ from a mail order place on the Net. They are out of business now but you can find them other places. Also look on E-bay. They often have them too.

One thing that makes my cloth diaper experience different from the horror stories your grandparents tell is that I use diaper liners. They are fast, cheap (about $3.50 per box) and easy. I cut them in half and use 1 for each diaper. One box of liners lasts me almost 1 year.

I use good diaper pins that I purchased from the diaper seller and I stick the pins into a bar of soap or beeswax when not in use so they pierce the diapers easier. (With good pins, I only poked the kids 3 times in 3 years. Mike never poked them at all!)

I use plastic pants that button up on the sides. I also purchased those mail order. I use the Alexis brand. They last MUCH and I do mean MUCH longer than the Gerber plastic pants you purchase at Wal-Mart or K-mart. I have about 5 pairs of each size. I don’t use clean plastic pants every time I change a diaper. If the plastic pants are only wet, I put them right back on. There is not usually enough to make the diaper wet and the plastic pants generally aren’t wet on the outside either.

I made 2 diaper pail liners out of rain ponchos by sewing up the sides. I put those in a kitchen trash can with a lid that closes. I just throw the wet diapers and liners into the pail with nothing in it. I don’t soak my diapers. I dump the poop and the liners in the toilet. (Much easier than grandma’s method!) I reuse the liners that were only wet after they are washed and dried with the diapers. They wash well so I get several uses out of them which saves even more. I don’t dunk the diapers in the toilet unless they are REALLY bad. I have done it maybe 5 times in almost 3 years with 2 kids. In order to avoid directly handling the soiled diapers, I put the opening of the diaper pail bag into the open washer, then turn the bag inside out to empty the diapers into the washer. I throw the entire bag into the washer inside out to wash with the diapers.

Instead of using disposable wipes, I use small rag wash cloths (old wash cloths cut in half). They have more traction and do a better job of cleaning than disposable wipes. Where I use one wash cloth, I might have to use four or five of the disposable wipes. I do still use disposable wipes for traveling, but I save a lot by not using them every day.

I wash diapers about every two or three days. Washing this frequently really keeps them from smelling. (Unlike wine, diapers do NOT improve with age! ;-) )Every time I wash, I wash with vinegar and detergent. The vinegar works wonders removing the urine smell and also keeps the house from stinking while I do laundry. I put diapers through the rinse cycle twice. Then I dry them on the line or dryer depending on the time of year. (Diapers last much longer when dried on a clothes line and the sun helps keep then white. They wear out much faster if you always use the dryer.) I use bleach about every 1 or 2 weeks to keep them white in the winter when I can’t line-dry them.

If I were to buy disposables I would spend about $350 a year per child for diapers, wipes and extra trash bags. (Many people have said they use double that at least.) I only spent about $50 for the trash can, rain ponchos and plastic pants and $23.00 for one dozen diapers. I spend about .50 a load to wash them. (approximately $65 per year. This didn’t change when I had two in cloth vs. one in cloth.) With one child in diapers for 2 1/2 years and one for 2 years I saved over $855 in the 3 years that my kids were in diapers.

That’s it. It’s so easy and so cheap that I would rather spend that money on something else!

-Tawra

 

Jill from Michigan asks:

“Tawra – I read your information of cloth diapering and I’m wondering how much vinegar you wash them with and do you use special laundry soap?”

Tawra: I put in about 1/2 – 1 cup in and don’t use a special detergent.

I had 2 children the first one did fine in cloth diapers but the second one had diaper rash really bad and I had to switch over to disposable. I say this so that you don’t think there is something wrong if the cloth diapers don’t work for you . Each one is different.

Jill

 

Comments

  1. helen baughman says

    do you have the name of a diaper company you recommended some time ago? you said you found a great deal. i just don’t remember details. actually, i have a hard time remembering anything and it may have to do with fibromyalgia and arthritis, chronic pain, etc. i just love your site. you do great work. i feel as if i know your family.

  2. Beccie says

    As we all know–using cloth diapers saves the environment and our budgets :D I think toilet training is quicker and much easier with cloth dipes. And they can also be used for swimming.

  3. says

    My son is living in China so I am in charge of diapers. The last diapers I bought were like 29 years ago. Both boys were toilet trained night time and day time by the time they were 13 months old. Cloth is definetly the way to go for training.
    Anyway my problem is “boy have they changed”
    The ones I am looking at to make it easier for Qian (diapers are not used as a rule in China) Econobum One Size DIAPER KIT $50. probably american has anyone any info on this type or any other recommendation.
    I would also like it to be a company that ships to China.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated in diapers or baby clothes. Grandma wants to get lots of things that they don’t sell much of in China like outfits without the hole so it easy for the baby to pee and poop without ruining the outfit and no need for diapers.
    He or she will be raised with Canadian standards since my son is the father he will insist on it but he will need help with the finding of things.
    diapers and sleeper and coverall type things.

  4. Cheryl Schalk says

    Very interesting discussion about cloth diapers. I raised my kids on cloth diapers to save money as a young family. My kids are 32, 29 and22. We could buy diapers at Sears and then when they wore out they were great rags. When I tell young moms that I used cloth diapers, they are like horrified. I think spreading the word about cloth diapers would help many families meet their budget better and save hundreds of dollars. I also used the diaper liners which were great. Come on moms and dads you can do this!

    • says

      Cheryl I too used mostly cloth for my now grown kids. What I get more of a chuckle from is when I say I used toilet paper and a wet wash rag when changing my babies because we didn’t have wipes. I really get the looks of horror. Cloth diapers are starting to get popular again and I know many young moms more then willing to “march for the cause” of cloth diapers but at the same time become totally unglued if I mention not using wipes. Many a baby had their bottoms wiped with wash rags only and not only lived but lived long enough to be a grandma like me. :) :) Have to tease a little.

  5. Amy says

    Kelly,

    Do NOT use Gerber cloth diapers. I used to use them but had a terrible time keeping the synthetic filling from smelling. One of my kids got rashes from them and did better with disposables. I’ve since heard from other moms that it was cheaper and healthier for their baby to make their own out of natural materials than use Gerber (even spending the money on Chinese prefolds was cheaper in the long run). I’ve been making mine out of cheap flannel and that seems to work really well, both health and money-wise. I’m going to try making prefolds out of some 100% cotton knit material I got for free.

    If you have the time to make them and know how to sew a little, this website (http://fernandfaerie.com/frugaldiapering.html) has some fantastic info. Diaper Jungle is also a good resource for information, both for making and buying cloth diapers and covers.

    • says

      The liners are a little hard to find. One thing if you do use them I always cut them in half to use for my newborns diaper and if they were only wet on I would just toss them in the laundry still in the diaper and rewash and re use them so you really don’t use as many as you think you might. I just pick it up by the corners from the poopy pants, flush the whole mess down the toilet and the wet ones use over and over.

  6. says

    Jill I to get the look when I tell younger people that a wash cloth and water are wonderful to wipe off baby butts.
    My children were prone to diaper rash so anytime perfume came in contact with them their butts got red.
    My mother said to just wipe it with a cloth with a bit of vinegar which seemed cruel but after once doing this the red was gone and the rash never appeared.
    I think she said the dr. told her it was one acid fighting another. Anyway it worked with out the creams that were fairly expensive.

  7. Amy says

    LOVE using my cloth diapers! If you want to spend a little more, you can get all-in-ones that velcro or snap close. If you go this direction, get the one-size diapers that expand when your baby grows. Also, I use the disposable liners on vacation, but at home I use a diaper sprayer that attaches to the toilet. Definitely worth it!

  8. Mom of Three says

    Do you add the vinegar with the detergent or just for the rinse cycle? I’m using cloth training pants (the ones from one step ahead) for my son and find that they stink the moment any liquid hits them and they are a bear to dry (3-4 cycles, due to allergies line drying isn’t an option here). Any other suggestions for cloth training pants? My son has autism and will no longer wear disposables but in all honesty will not be training any time soon. They need to look like underpants.
    Thanks for any help this is my first foray into cloth diapers/training pants

    • says

      Mom of 3 you could do either. As far as the odor goes. There are 2 ways of storing the pants or diapers until washing. One is the dry method which Tawra and I both prefer where you just put the diaper in an empty pail(that has a liner) and keep a tight lid on it then wash the diapers about every other day.

      You can use what is called a wet method in which you put water with vinegar or Borax added to it and store the diapers in there. The only draw back is it is much harder and messier to dump it all in the washer and I’m not sure it makes that much of a difference for the trouble it is in the smell.

      You can also buy diaper pail deodorizers to place in them too. As far as drying the training pants I would dry them for just a few minutes the dryer and then place them on an indoor drying rack.

  9. says

    This whole article is good advice! My experiences were similar to yours. I always say that I’m one of the laziest people I know, yet I didn’t have any trouble using cloth diapers. And we had twins! Disposables are nasty, in my opinion, having that old poopoo sitting around in the trash can. Yuck. Anyway, I have a few differences in opinion. One is that I found the liners absolutely useless. I just rinsed poopy ones in the potty. You’re going to wash your hands afterward anyway, so why not? It never bothered me a bit. Another thing I did with the last child was to make some wool soakers out of shrunk up old sweaters. I loved the look of my little natural baby in her colored soakers, and they worked well. As for diaper rash, we discovered this stuff called “Super Dooper Diaper Doo” which worked great. And they don’t get as much rash in the first place when you use cloth. I think the reason they get more rashes with disposables is that you tend to put off changing them until they are really full of pee because they don’t “feel” wet. And you don’t want to change them too often because of the expense. Like you, I didn’t use water in the diaper pail. I did until I lifted a heavy pail and felt something snap and wound up having a miscarriage. I figured they washed just as well as w/o the soaking water. We had a little stack of small wash cloths and a squirt bottle of filtered water that we used instead of wipes. One big piece of advice I’d give young moms about diapering is to invest in a changing table. Get one used. Ask around or dumpster dive and fix up an old one. It really helps your back to have the baby up at a comfortable level!
    Thanks for recommending cloth diapers! It makes me literally sick to think of the mountains of disposable diapers in our landfills. Ive seen really poor people begging money for diapers. Sad!
    From an older mom with kids aged 30, 23, 23, and 18.

    • says

      Just a tip about diaper rash. Being a grandma and having changed a bunch of babies here are a couple of things I have found. First I put one of my babies in disposables she got diaper rash really bad. I then put my son in cloth diapers and he got diaper rash really bad but did fine in disposables.

      I have found that there are a few things which case diaper rash and it isn’t always the diaper but sometimes it is the baby’s skin type. My son (now grown) has had terrible problems with eczema and I later found that was part of his problem.

      Also as you said Barbara changing the diaper more often helps although there again some of the babies you can go longer where others even a bit in a wet diaper will bother them so it goes back to the skin type.

      Then when they get older what they eat can bother them also. Then we have had babies that have a diaper rash no matter how often their diaper is changed or what kind it is. I just recommend using some ointment on a regular basis if your baby has problems often. Of course if that doesn’t help and things get bad you should see a doctor.

  10. Wendy says

    To Mom of Three
    You might be having a problem with buildup. Buildup occurs when residues of detergents, oils or other substances build up in the fibers. If the pants smell really bad as soon as he pees that is probably what the problem is. You will have to strip them -wash them really hot with NO detergent a few times until there are no bubbles in the water. If you regularly use fabric softener it can make the problem worse, hard water can also make it worse. There are certain detergents experts say not to use because they are harder to rinse out completely. Doing an extra rinse or adding a bit of vinegar to your rinse might help as maintenance. Google would have more answers than I have. :) Hope that you can find the problem. Wendy

    • says

      I don’t think we mentioned either we always do a double rinse on not only our diapers but all of our clothes because we found out years ago that most machines do not rinse well at all. If anyone needs more info we have packed our Keepin’ it Clean Laundry e book full of what you need to do on anything that has to do with laundry.

  11. rose says

    i remember when both of my sisters used cloth diapers .. and for the diaper rash they both used the a&d ointment .. and my one sister also used vit e pills that she would just pop open (make a small hole) with a sterilized safety pin …
    and as far as the messiness of them, i can still remember what my one sister did .. she used to rinse them out wiht hot water and then soak/boil them in a special pot in hot hot water and then wash them and rinse them twice .. all with super hot water ..
    they never smelled funky or anything like that .. now when they used the diaper services i can still remember the bad diaper rash the kids had and the funky smell of them .. not sure how they were cleaned or anything like that .. but whenever we washed them ourselves the kids hardly ever had diaper rashes ..
    now with my other sister, she used cloth diapers and never had a diaper service and well when she returned back to work her sitter had a rule, no cloth diapers, all babies must use disposables and to be quite honest bc the kids had so many health issues, and etc . that the disposables posed more of a health risk for them .. bc of allergies .. and the rashes they got were horrible ..
    i used to watch them as often as possible and well, when i did, used the cloth diapers.. and then she had to change her job and did odd jobs where we could help her more ..
    with my own kids, i used both .. and i did notice that when i used the a&d ointment the rashes cleared up fast but when i used the desitin ointment/paste, the rashes seemed to linger on or even made them worse ..

  12. Julia says

    One word of caution that might be added here. Our plumber told us that the things he fishes out of toilets the most is wet wipes. I had not thought about it, but if the diaper liners are washable I wonder if over time they would clog the toilet also.

    • says

      Most diaper liners are flushable. That is why I love them so much. Between us we have had 6 kids with no problems with these. I don’t think regular wipes are flushable anyway I don’t usually flush them but toss them in the trash.

  13. Lea Stormhammer says

    I wasn’t able to use cloth diapers with my children (our daycare wouldn’t take them). I would have liked to have used them – with twins it would have saved me a bundle since we went through a case of diapers (not a package) a week. My kids are 6 now, so it wasn’t that long ago.

    Something about the better for the environment comments though: If you live in an area where water usage is restricted, it might not be better for the environment. In areas with severe drought, disposables are actually better for the environment (particularly if they are made of recycled materials and are biodegradable), because you don’t have to use the water to wash them. This is why some international aid agencies only give disposable diapers rather than washable, if they are working in an area where water is scarce.

    I guess whether you live in an area with plenty of water or very little, training early would beat both for cost and the environment! :)

    Just something to think about!
    Lea

  14. Jodee says

    Wendy mentioned using fabric softener- do not ever use fabric softener on diapers!! Not only does it leave residue on diapers that can lead to rashes, its reduces the absorbancy of the cloth. Rinse twice and use vinegar for wonderfully clean and chemical-free diapers. I raised 3 kids in cloth diapers and the ONLY rash they ever had was when I used disposables on my youngest during a vacation road trip.

    • says

      It really depends again I think on the child. I used fabric softener at times and not at other times and could tell no real difference in rashes so you can try different things and see what works for your baby.

  15. Alyce says

    I agree with many of the posts, that Cloth diapering is much easier than it is made out to be. I switched to cloth wipes as well(why not, you’re already washing the diapers). I was given a good tip for those, I used several thin cotton baby receiving blankets that were handed down to me. Cut them into good wipe size, and sewed the edges so they won’t fray. They work great, and they’re soft, gentle and last indefinitely.

    • kristi says

      I use cloth wipes too. I figured if i’m going to use cloth diapers why not save the money on wipes as well. My first try with cloth wipes went terribly awry. I used receiving blankets (why did I have what seemed like hundreds of receiving blankets??!) but didn’t sew the edges. Big mistake. Bits of string everywhere; washer, dryer, carpet, other clothes, my hair…Once I sewed the edges I found that the cloth wipes glided much better on my baby’s skin and I only needed to use one, maybe two for a really bad poop whereas I’d have to use five or six disposable wipes. Plus I never have the problem of accidentally tearing the wipe and end up using my hand (unknowingly) to wipe poo. EEeeww! BTW, Jill & Tawra have a great “recipe” for cloth wipes

      • says

        I would keep a roll of toilet paper by my changing area. I would wipe my babies with a little toilet paper first and get most of the mess off then wipe with a damp baby wash rag which would get washed with the diapers and used only for that. There was almost no mess at all. I still to this day hate to use wipes on the grandkids. They are so slick and don’t have the texture to grab and clean as good as good old TP and a wash rag. I feel like I have to wipe and wipe with wipes and use several to get the job done which takes more time to me.

        I know the string problem you are talking about Kristi – it can be a mess. That is why too I don’t recommend cutting up old towels to use for cleaning rags because they can be messy too.

  16. says

    I love cloth diapering. One tip I have after years of experience…I ditched the diaper pins. Yes, they are easy and cheap but I discovered it I used a claw type closure my other kids could help with changing the diapers! They are called *Snappi*. They do not penetrate the diaper and are not sharp so I could totally trust my older kids to help with changes. I’ve diapered 8 kids during the years so I needed all the help I could get! ;-)

  17. Susan C. says

    I used cloth for my little girl – some were second hand (from a friend) but as she grew, I picked up a couple flannel sheets at a thrift store for about $2 each, found a pattern online and sewed my own. I also made my own liners too.

    Also – line-drying will not only add longevity to your diapers, but the sun will keep them sparklingly white – with no need for bleach. Of course breastfeeding also helps cut down on the stain factor.

  18. luna says

    I work at a laundrymat; I can not tell you how much people oversoap. They want tons of suds; all you need is for the water to feel “silky” . It will clean ;this will cut on soap residue and diaper rash caused from it.

    • says

      You are so right Luna. I preach this all the time- the main way to save on laundry detergent or any kind of cleaning product is to stop using so much. I had a family of 4 and used half of what a 40 load container of detergent said to use so that made it an 80 load container. This would last me 4 months. I bought no more then 3 – 40 load things of detergent a year. This is why I can’t understand why people are buying and spending so much on detergent.

  19. kristi says

    I am so glad to have discovered cloth diapers. Some friends of my husband, who are quite well off, were using cloth for their baby and I thought they were out of their mind. They could easily afford disposables and I could think of no other reason to buy cloth except to save money. I was pregnant with our second child and my husband suggested buying some cloth diapers to save money on buying disposables. NO WAY was my initial response. I was interested in dealing with messy poop and leaky pee. And I was certain day care wouldn’t be on board with cloth. Fast forward about a year…I bought a starter box of econobums for $50 when I realized I was out of disposables and made the connection with how much it was costing me to keep buying them. I experienced my first cloth diaper poop while in the grocery store (fortunately is was a VERY clean bathroom). I told my friend about my venture and she gave me her used gDiapers. I only intended to use cloth at home and send the baby to daycare with disposables but the more I used cloth the harder it was to keep buying disposables. Fortunately, day care was ok with using cloth as well. The gDiapers were easy but they have this snap-in liner that needs to be re-designed. The snaps left marks on my daughter’s hips. Antoher acquantiance sold me her bubGenius brand and they are great. They are pocket diapers; stuff in the absorbant pads and they are basically just like a regular diaper. I discovered cloth when my second child was about eight months old. I’ve since had a third and the only disposables I’ve used are the ones I’ve received as gifts. With three kids now in day care and two still in diapers I am so so SO glad to have fallen into using cloth. My motives are purely economical; I’m not using cloth to be nice to the environment (although it’s a great plus), I’m using them to be nice to my budget! Never in a million years did I ever think I would be such an advocate for using cloth diapers!

    • says

      I’m like you Kristi I have never worried about saving the environment or recycling but saving money. Now as awful as that may sound I have probably saved the environment more and recycled more then the staunchest environmentalist has even thought about doing.

  20. rose says

    jill/tawra..
    not to be off the topic but i sent a message to u on the contact us page .. its about the sale thats over today .. i had a question ..
    i know ur super busy but if u could email me back i would greatly appreciate it ..

    i hope u r enjoying this cooler weather .. we are loving it! .. :D ..

    thanks again .. rose :D

  21. LAC says

    Not to be negative but my experience with cloth diapers were a disaster. I found them more expensive than disposables because you had to change them more frequently, they can cause terrible diaper rashes which then caused me to go to the doctors more, I had to run more loads of wash costing me more in electricity and water. When it came to BM’s I had to rinse them out getting all the poop out of the diaper which was a huge ICK factor! My daughter smelled like urine all the time. I had to buy a bucket to stick the dirty diaper ins which smelled horrible. I had to wash them frequently which cause my electric and water bill too go up because they have to be washed in hot water to get them clean. I used bleach in the hot water. After washing them a few times they tore and I had to replace them. I got frustrated by cloth diapers and was content to clip coupons for convenience sake! But I really think I saved more money in the long run!!

  22. Sandy says

    LAC – It does take a bit of time to get a routine and a wash system down with cloth. I use bleach on mine maybe once every 6 months and only a TBSP in a load. Chlorine will degrade fabric if over used. If completely clean there wouldn’t have been stench or rashes. Too high heat, in washer or dryer will ruin PUL. A good wet bag would have taken care of odors while waiting to wash.

    As for clipping coupons and saving my expense for diapering 3 children, including disposables purchased for travel, has been $326. That includes wipes.

    Your ick factor could have been reduced by using liners.

    I wish you had better information and resources at the time.

  23. Veronica Tidd says

    I used cloth diapers for all three of my kids over 40 years ago and believe I purchased 36 in total. There were also thin liners the same size.
    The diapers were squares of terry cloth and of course required the use of pins. Disposable liners were also used and I used TP and a wash cloth for cleaning. I did wet soak them with a little bleach and washed daily as I had two in diapers. I dumped the whole bucket in the washer and spun out the water then I put them through a rinse cycle and finally a hot wash, the plastic pants went right in the wash. Line dried of course I didn’t have a dryer till everyone was well out of diapers
    To diaper the baby the diaper was folded into a triangle. The long side went round the waist and the triangle point came up through the legs and all three points were pinned together. I put a finger inside the diaper to protect the baby while inserting the pin.
    Recently I have been researching cheap cloth diapers for a poor young Mom. I have a pattern and good sewing skills so could easily make them but the cheapest and easiest solution I have found is to buy white terry bath towells and cut them in half across and trim them to two squares. The raw edges need to be surged or oversewn and the scraps can be used as wash cloths. Reasonable quality towels can be purchsed at our local Walmart for about $4 each so each diaper would cost about $2. Soft flanel rags can be used for liners also hemmed and/or disposable liners.
    There is absolutely NO way I would pay $12-$15 each for fancy cloth diapers

  24. Kay Fitzgerald says

    I too used cloth diapers a gazillion years ago. They were always soft and white because I had a water softener and used a non-chlorine bleach. Do not use chlorine bleach unless you rinse the daylights out of them!

  25. Jennifer Hildebran says

    I used cloth diapers on my son 9 years ago. I also used the disposable liners just the way you did…by cutting them in half and reusing the ones that were only wet after washing them. I tried to hang mine outside to dry as much as possible. I also used pins without ever sticking my son. When he was about 6 months old I found some stretchy gripper things (cannot for the life of me remember the name) shaped like a T …you’d stretch one side and attach it to the diaper then the other side and finally pull the bottom down and attach it to the diaper. They had grippers like the metal things that come with an ace bandage. They were wonderful! I had told people I’d be using cloth diapers well before my son was born so I got plenty as baby shower gifts. So when he had a stomach bug and I had a few really BAD diapers that the liners didn’t come close to helping with I didn’t feel too bad about just throwing those away. (Don’t judge me…they were terrible) We did take a 13 hour road trip during his infancy that I bought and used disposables for…but other than that I only used cloth diapers (and breastfed) and cannot believe how much money I saved (compared to using only disposables for my first)!! And it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


7 + = ten

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>