Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cloth Diapering: FAQ's

I have had several requests for more cloth diaper information in the past few weeks. Instead of writing the same responses over and over, I thought I would just put the bulk of it here and refer people!


What are your favorite cloth diaper brands?

My favorite brand is BumGenius. Even though the owner Jen Labit and I don’t see eye to eye on some things, I can’t deny that she makes a good diaper. We use BG one-size 3.0’s & 4.0’s. Bumgenius are expensive though – around $18 a piece. I have been able to snag some good deals on used ones on the BG Facebook Swap Site.

Another brand that I liked when Clara was little was Fluffy Butts. I liked them because they are locally made and have a great price. Unfortunately, the fit changed for us as Clara got older and they just didn’t fit her body right any more and we got leaks.

I also like Sunbaby and Alva brand. They are super-cheap, but only come with snaps.

What are your favorite CD accessories?

Diaper Sprayer – This is an absolute must-have! It is a little sprayer that attaches to your toilet tank. It works awesome for spraying out poopy diapers. I absolutely love this little gadget – I think we will probably keep it on the toilet even when we are done diapering because it also works great for cleaning off shoes.

Wetbags – We have several wetbags that we used when Clara was younger for storing wet diapers when we were out of the house. I made my own using this tutorial.

Diaper Pail – For a diaper pail, we just use a small garbage can with a flip top lid. It is easy to clean, and contains wetness and smells.

Diaper Rash Cream – It is a rare occasion that Clara gets a diaper rash. Even when she was little, we were rarely battling one. When she does get one though, we can’t use regular diaper rash creams like Desitin or ButtPaste – they are not safe for cloth diapers. There are several CD-safe creams out there – my favorite is Angel Baby Bottom Balm. It’s spendy, but I sometimes find it on the clearance rack at Target and stock up. My second favorite is California Baby Calming Diaper Rash Cream.

Hemp Inserts - As Clara has gotten older, it takes more absorption to hold her pee. I love using hemp inserts for this. This all-natural fiber is trim, but holds a lot of liquid! I usually use a large hemp insert with a micro-fiber insert laid over the top in her diapers that she wears at daycare. This combo works great for us!

Do you use liners at all?

No. I had bought some when we first started CDing, but with the diaper sprayer I have found I really don’t need them.

How about wool?

We don’t use wool soakers either. Lots of people swear by them, but we just never got in the routine of using them. I think at first they were a little scary, and then we found a routine that worked for us, so we went with it. This reminds me I have 3 wools soakers I need to find homes for…

What do you use for wipes/solution/storage?

We use cloth wipes that my mom and I made using flannel. This is similar to what we did.  I store them in a wipes warmer I found at a garage sale for a few bucks. They fit perfectly folded in half. I use plain water. You really go through them so fast that they don’t have time to get funky. You can buy cloth wipe solutions or make it yourself, but I never found the need.

For on the go, we keep our cloth wipes in a pencil case in the diaper bag.

What's your laundry detergent and washing routine?

I used to use a home made detergent for washing our diapers. That worked really great for awhile, but then I got lazy and just bought some Tide to hold me over until I could find all the stuff to make my homemade stuff again. I’ve never gone back – I love Tide for washing diapers. I use the Tide Powder (the most basic one). I have also been known to throw a little vinegar or bleach in a load once in a while.

I wash twice a week and have from the beginning. I have used both a front-loader and top-loader to wash diapers.

Top-loader: I put all the diapers/wipes in the washer and make sure that all the inserts are pulled out and the laundry tabs on the diapers with Velcro are secured. I do a short rinse cycle with cold water and no detergent. I will stop the cycle once the machine has filled with water and let it soak for a half hour. Then I turn it back on and finish the cycle. Then I run a cycle with hot, double-rinse, on the highest agitation. This is the cycle where I add the Tide and vinegar/bleach.

Front-loader: Front loaders are a little tricky because they are meant to run with minimal water, but when you’re washing diapers – you want a lot of water! I would fill the diaper pail holding the soiled diapers with water to get them to absorb as much water as I could before I put them in the washer. This helped trick the machine into think the load was heavier and would need more water. Then I would add the diapers, start a cold rinse cycle, and then add an additional 4 gallons of water through the soap dispenser. I would add water until the diapers were completely submerged. Once that cycle had finished, I would run a hot, double-rinse, high agitation cycle with the soap. I wouldn’t add more water to this cycle.

I dry my inserts in the dryer and hang my covers on a drying rack inside during the winter and on the outdoor clothes line in the summer. The sun is great for “bleaching” the diapers to get rid of stains.

Speaking of stains – they haven’t really been a problem for us. I am good about rinsing the poopy diapers as soon as I change them, so they don’t have a chance to set. Even with the daycare diapers that sit a few days, we haven’t had a problem getting them clean.

Have you ever had to “strip” your diapers?

No. Stripping is a process where you have to use pretty extensive measures to get your diapers clean. They can get built up with detergent, which can cause them to stink and repel moisture, which in turn, causes leaks. There are a variety of methods for stripping, which include using dawn dish soap, boiling, “Rocking a Soak”, etc. Thankfully I haven’t had to employ any of these measures in the last 2 years!

Do you ever supplement with disposables?

Yes. Now that Clara is older and wets through diapers faster, we usually use disposables when we are out and about. When she was younger, we used cloth exclusively, but now it seems like she can wet though a diaper in 15 minutes when we are in the middle of Target and I left the diaper bag in the car. It happens. Every. Single. Time. We can make a small package of Up & Up diapers ($6.78) last more than month. I can handle that.

Is there anything you wish you would have known before starting?

This is hard to answer – we’ve been doing it for 2 years now, so much of it seems old hat to us. It’s hard to remember what it was like when we were first starting out. Also, there hasn’t been much that didn’t work out for us – whatever we chose to do seemed to work.

I guess the biggest thing is to do what works for your family. If that means supplementing with disposables, using disposable wipes, using Tide, or washing every other day… do it, and don’t let the cloth diaper purists tell you you’re doing it wrong. You need to do what works for you and your family.

What do you view as the essential starter kit for cloth diapering?

This is a hard one too. When I started, I did my research, decided I wanted to use pockets, bought a bunch and never looked back. I haven’t even ever tried using any other type of cloth diaper – prefolds/covers, hybrids, all-in-ones…

It’s also much different diapering a newborn than it is a 6-month-old, 1-year-old, 18-month-old, etc. What works and what you do will change as your child grows and changes.

Diapers, wipes, and a wetbag are really all you need when you first start out with a newborn.

How many diapers do I need to buy?

Figuring out how many diapers you will need requires math – and we all know I hate math. But I guess this is one place where you will use algebra in your life!

Decide how often you want to wash diapers. Figure out how many diapers a baby goes through in a day (usually 8-12 for a child under 1 year, less if they are older). Then do the math. If you want to wash every 2 days, you will need at the very least 25 diapers. I would suggest getting a few more for those days when you don’t get to the laundry or you forget them in the washer.

WARNING: Buying cloth diapers is highly addictive. You will want every color, pattern, and design because it will look adorable on your little one’s tush.  There are several Facebook pages where you can find used diapers to buy/swap/sell. 

Cloth Diaper Swap
Cheapie Dipes
BG Swap Site

I hope this helps! If anyone else has any questions, just comment below and I’ll answer! Thanks!


**This post contains a lot of links and brand names.  I have not been paid or received anything from these companies for mentioning them in this post.  These are only my opinions and recommendations.**

3 comments:

  1. Thanks so much, Mamie! This information is all so helpful! All the best to you and your family!

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  2. Thanks for sharing...very helpful and I can't wait to get started!!!

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  3. Hi Mamie! Hope you're having a good summer! Just wanted to tell you about a fun giveaway I'm having on my blog... 2 chalkboard painted wine glasses... great for summer patio drinking! Entering is really easy, especially since you're already a follower. Link to enter is here: http://nlstarr.blogspot.com/2012/06/official-start-of-summer-2012.html
    Good luck! Nicole*

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