8 Cloth Diapers Tips For Newbies
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!
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.
What No more Cloth Diapers?
Ok, you guys caught me!
After my post on Disposable Diapers I got an email saying “I thought you used cloth diapers?” Well, I did with my first two and had no problem with them even like them because if I ran out it wasn’t a big deal to go to the store, just throw them in the washer. Plus we lived in Idaho at the time and couldn’t “just run to the store” because it was 60 miles away.
Well with David, #3, we have used all disposables. Here is why. After he was born he literally cried his entire first year. I am not exaggerating when I say the ENTIRE first year with no reprieve. My mom was living with us for the first 4 months and between Mom, Mike and I were all about to go insane, me more than the others. I got post partume (sp) depression really bad and the doctor could not find a medication to help, it just made me worse. I felt like I was loosing my mind and if a Mack truck would have hit me head on while I was driving I could have cared less.
To make matters worse because we weren’t sleeping my CFS was so bad I literally could hardly stand up. Then we had just moved into this bi-level house and going up and down the stairs over 100 times a day (I kid you not!) it was making so sick I thought I would die! In case you don’t know exercise makes CFS flare up, ie. get worse.
My two oldest were 4 and 5 at the time and still wetting the bed almost every night. It was all I could do to keep up with the laundry and attempt to just keep things picked up (sort of) and some sort of dinner on the table, which was mostly really fast stuff like sloppy joes, tacos, frozen pizza. etc. About once a week Mike would bring home Chinese food from the grocery store ($5 for two) and him and I would share that, give the kids the rice and fill it in with cereal or pb&j. We used paper plates several days a week and everyday for lunch. ($3 a month). Mike was also working 50-60 hours a week between 2 jobs and helping with our book business, which we don’t get an income from yet. He was also helping out with the housework because I couldn’t keep up.
We were going to some sort of doctor every 3 days trying to figure out what was wrong with David. Then to try and get me straightened out mentally and physical therapy for me because my bladder so was weak from 3 kids I was going to the bathroom every 15 minutes. Then 2 months after that I fell down the stairs and had to go to PT to help get my back, back in shape. We went 120 times the first year of David’s life to some sort of doctor.
Our primary doctor kept saying that David “just had colic” We finally figured out at 4 months old that he was allergic to milk and eggs. That explains why he just quit breastfeeding one day at 5 weeks old. I was eating a lot of milk and eggs. Well, after that he went on formula that cost $250 a month. It helped some but not a lot. At 9 months we took him back to the allergist because I knew despite what the doctors said colic doesn’t last 9 months! Well, the formula he was on still had milk in it! The allergist told us to put him on Alsoy, which was only $40 a month! The other doc said “oh, well I thought it would be fine since it was pre-digested milk”. I have never had the urge to just haul off and punch someone before in my life like I did when he made that comment. Needless to say I figure out what’s wrong with us first by researching the internet before I go to the doctor now. They really don’t have much of a clue, it’s just a guessing game.
That helped some David but then he started to have allergies to outdoor pollens because it was April.
At 14 months he started doing better after he was off the formula but I wasn’t. For the last nine months we haven’t gone 2 days in a row without someone being sick. To say I was on the verge of death from exhaustion and CFS is an understatement. Around Christmas last year (2004) I finally found a medication that worked for the depression and I am finally feeling like a normal person again. I have also gone off of sugar, mostly, and that has helped my CFS greatly. I notice that when I have a binge week of sugar it makes me really really sick and almost in bed again.
Anyway, that is long version of why we have used disposables for David. My sanity could not handle two more loads of laundry a week if my life depended on it!
Do I believe in cloth, yes! But I also know that everything in moderation is the only way to go and if circumstances are such that you need to use them, then by all means do!