Cloth Diapering 101 by Lisa
Good afternoon ladies! In this article you will find everything you need to know about cloth diapering, care for the diapers, and just a basic all around look at what you need to know! This 101 comes to us from an amazing Snap Mom, Lisa B. She is one of the most intelligent women I know, and awesome wife and momma, and a fabulous ADMIN on The Snap Mom Community group on facebook. (like that little plug there lol) Anyways, take it away Lisa!
Cloth Diapering: How I Do It
Hey Snap Moms! Lisa here. This is my attempt to provide you with a little kick-start to cloth diapering. There are numerous blogs out there with TONS of information on cloth diapering, but it is my goal to streamline that information and give you what I think is most important at first. I know that something different works for every different mother, baby, and family… this is simply what has worked for me.
What’s in my stash and approximate cost:
Pocket diapers (20) $400*
Hemp Inserts (4) $18
Diaper Pail (1) $40ish
Pail Liners aka “wet bags” (2) $36
Small Wet Bags (2) $20-30
Cloth Wipes $20-40
Butt Cream (aka coconut oil) $10-20
*As I mentioned, this is what works for me! There are multiple types of cloth diapers besides pocket diapers, and some of them are considerably less expensive. So I encourage you to look into them if these don’t fit into your budget.
Details on each item in my stash:
Pocket diapers – I use Charlie Banana, and I love them for many reasons! (Feel free to ask me why!) Some other common (comparable) brands for pocket diapers include Fuzzibunz and Bum Genius. There are many more brands of pocket diapers. Two brands that are cheaper: SunBaby and Alva. Both are considerably less expensive, but I would imagine might be less likely to last as long (say through multiple children). It is not a bad idea to get your stash started and then supplement with some of the cheaper ones. We have 20 pocket diapers, and this (just) gets us through washing every other day. If you are working, or just to be safe, I would recommend getting 24. (One option would be 12-18 of the nice ones and then supplementing with those cheaper ones). I have read on blogs that many people like SunBaby and Alva! Some people wash every day (or night), and in that case, you could purchase less diapers.
Inserts – Most pocket diapers come with 2 microfiber inserts/diaper. For us, one microfiber insert is enough during the day. However, they make inserts from other types of materials that are more absorbent; hemp and bamboo. At night (now that she sleeps through the night), I put a hemp insert underneath the microfiber insert so I don’t have to change her in the middle of the night. Every baby wets a different amount, so different things will work for you. The microfiber insert wicks away the urine quickly (so I place it on top), and the hemp insert takes longer to absorb but holds much more (so I place it underneath). Both go inside the pocket. You could do this during the day if you have a truly “heavy-wetter” or for a car trip when you might change less frequently, etc.
Diaper Pail – The one I use is basically a glorified trash can that does a really good job of keeping the stink in. It stands about two feet tall, so I have it on top of a crate next to my changing station. Some people just buy a trash can! It is totally up to you. There are lots of options. I just recommend something with a lid 🙂
Pail Liner – This is pretty self-explanatory. The best part is when you come to do laundry, you just pull the bag out of the pail, and dump it inside out into the washing machine. Then throw the bag in with the dipes! This prevents you from having to touch the diapers when putting them in the machine. I recommend two so that on wash day, you have another to place in the pail. (These are aka “wet bags” but I don’t do anything involving water in them… and I don’t suggest you do).
Small Wet Bag – This is for holding dirty diapers on the go. This typically has a zipper closure. I keep one in my diaper bag and empty it out when I get home. It keeps the stink in very well – my diaper bag never smells like it has a dirty diaper in it! If you frequently change your baby in other parts of the house it is nice to keep one in that spot too.
Cloth Wipes – This is totally optional. I eventually decided it was just easier to use a cloth wipe and throw it in with the diaper rather than using a disposable and having to set it aside to throw away in a trash can. This way it all just gets used, tossed in the bag, and washed together. Simpler in my opinion. For cloth wipes I just keep them folded at my changing station and keep a little peri-bottle (from the hospital when I gave birth lol) with homemade solution next to them. I just squirt the wipe right before using it. Some people just use water, some people keep them soaking in the solution… totally up to you. In my diaper bag I keep a little baggy of wipes or baby washcloths and another peri-bottle. Same thing. For cloth wipes some people use flannel wipes or just use baby washcloths. Totally a preference. There is a range of prices – I say it mostly doesn’t matter and you should get the most cost-effective option. You probably need 25-45 wipes.
Butt Cream – VERY IMPORTANT: regular butt cream will ruin your cloth diapers! Do not use on them, please! Coconut oil works great and will not ruin your diapers!
Sprayer – Until your baby is eating solids or formula, you can just throw your poopy diaper straight in the wash (hooray!). Otherwise, you will want a method for removing the poop prior to washing. Some people use liners (not going into that here, but you can ask me!). Some people keep a spatula by the toilet and “scrape the poop” off into the toilet after changing their kid (yuck). We are going to go the sprayer route. It is essentially a kitchen sink sprayer that you can (easily) attach to the water line of your toilet and hang off the side of your toilet. After you change your baby, bring the diaper in and spray away. I’m told this is a great option – have yet to try it! The price range is pretty significant on this item…. I am told you can buy the pieces at a hardware store and fashion your own, or they can cost as much as $50. An experienced CDing friend of mine gifted us a no-name sprayer off of Amazon that she has been using for over a year. If it worked for her, I imagine it will do the same for us!
Cleaning agents and regimen:
Washing – I wash the diapers and wet bag every other morning and then line dry them. I do a cold rinse and then a hot-cold cycle with an extra rinse (my washer has that setting,) on medium water level, with two coffee scoops of homemade detergent. That has worked great for us so far! Some people do cold soak, then hot wash, then cold rinse…. The combinations are endless and you can feel free to try different things out and read different forums. Since this works for us we have not tried anything else.
Drying – I hang everything to dry on the line for a few hours in the sun. I have friends who wash at night and hang them on an accordion-style clothes rack, or simply dry them in the dryer. Just preference! I will say if you don’t use the clothesline, it is nice on occasion to “sun” your diapers because the sun totally bleaches the stains out – it is truly miraculous!
Detergent – Unfortunately, you can’t use regular detergent on cloth diapers because the soap tends to build up and make them less absorbent over time. You have a couple options: Use a special detergent for your cloth diapers, use a homemade detergent for your cloth diapers, use a CD-friendly detergent for all your laundry. Below I’ve listed some from every category (again, there are more out there, these are just what I’ve found to be most popular):
I use homemade detergent on my diapers because I’ve just found it to be easy and cheap! I keep a mason jar and a coffee scoop by the washing machine and use two scoops with a medium water level. (You don’t want to use too much of any detergent because of build-up).
Click here for a DIY CLOTH FRIENDLY LAUNDRY DETERGENT
Cloth Wipes Solution – Some people just use water. I happened to have these ingredients. Just mix up and use until it runs out!
1 tablespoon oil (I use coconut oil, but you can use olive, almond, apricot, etc)
1 tablespoon Dr Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap
2 drops tea tree essential oil
1 drop lavender essential oil
1 cup water
Prepping your diapers:
Before you use cloth diapers, they need to be washed and dried multiple times before they reach their intended level of absorbency. Since we use a natural detergent (Ecos), I just washed and dried mine with a couple loads of laundry. I wouldn’t recommend doing this with just any type of detergent though. I think about 5-6 times is what they say for microfiber. If you use something other than pocket diapers, or if you buy hemp inserts, you may need to wash more times. (Just part of the prep work. Once it is done, it is done!)
Well mamas, thanks for reading! I hope this has helped you get a better understanding of how you could practically use cloth diapers. This post is by no means exhaustive, and there are many cloth diaper options beyond the pocket diaper. I encourage you to check it out and find what is best for your family!
Thank you to Lisa for sharing this amazing Cloth Diapering 101 with us! If you have anything to add, feel free to comment below!