as promised, part two of the cloth diaper post is here! cue the confetti! i mean not really, it’s a post about diapers, so, you know, but maybe some of you are excited? question mark?
in part one of my cloth diapering post, i talked about the reasons we decided to cloth diaper, and why it was an important decision for us. in part two, i’m going to share what diapering “system” we use and how to wash cloth diapers (at least how we do it). i hope it’s helpful for anyone who finds it!
one of the hardest parts of doing cloth diapers is choosing what type of diaper to use. it feels like there are about a million different diapering systems out there nowadays, and for every one, you will find a million people who swear their way is the best. my thought process went something like this: what’s the cheapest method? what method has the highest chance of working with any shape baby? what method will last through multiple babies?
that’s how we came to our cloth diapering method: cotton prefolds + fasteners + pul diaper covers.
cotton prefolds are those old-fashioned looking cloth diapers that you actually fold and fasten with diaper fasteners. then, because the cotton prefolds are not water resistant, you need a pul diaper cover to go over it to keep the wet from getting all over everything. once you learn how to fold your favorite way, and perfect your fastening, it’s about as fast as a disposable diaper to change.
we have 24 prefolds for each size that we have used and about six diaper covers in each of two sizes. we are currently on size medium prefolds, with size one covers. we’ve found that 24 diapers are enough for us to go two days between washings, and we have a child who cannot abide being wet any longer than she has to, so for most people 18 would probably be enough. Six covers are plenty to last between baby laundry days, even during weeks with lots of blowouts (sidebar: i’ve only had two blowouts in cloth diapers that have left the vicinity of the diaper…another benefit to cloth. we have had many outfit-ruining blowouts when she’s been wearing disposables).
we ordered our diapers and fasteners from green mountain diapers, which is seriously the best site ever for all things cloth diapering. things you never thought you’d need to know, am i right? our covers are thirsties brand which we got on target.com.
can i just say thank the good lord for my mother? without her, i don’t think we would have gone through with this cloth diapering thing once the baby was actually here and the reality of taking care of her set in. the logistics just seemed to be insurmountable. where do we put the diapers when we’re done? where do the wipes go? HOW DO I WASH THEM? the list of panicky questions was long, so she showed us the way. and lo and behold, it wasn’t that scary after all.
1) where do the diapers go? when we change a diaper, the dirty wipes go into a small, lined garbage can we keep next to the changing table. the diapers that are wet only go straight into our diaper pail next to the changing table, no other step necessary. if the diaper is just a little bit dirty, that also goes straight into the diaper pail. if the diaper is very dirty, the extra step of rinsing is not required for a baby who is still exclusively breastfed but is highly recommended if you want to avoid staining. if a baby is on formula or solid foods, rinsing becomes more necessary.
2) rinsing out the diapers. we set the very dirty diapers on top of the diaper pail clean side down so we can grab it and bring it to the bathroom after we are done changing amelia. (if you have a big enough bathroom to have a changing station in there, then good for you, one less step!) we put the dirty diaper in the toilet to soak for a bit, and then when we next have a chance to put down the baby, we go back to rinse it off. we invested in a diaper sprayer, and could not be happier we did. you can survive without it, but you’ll stick your hand in a lot more poop, and really, as parents we touch enough of that, so why make it worse? once the diaper is sprayed/rinsed off, we wring it out and bring it to the diaper pail.
3) washing the diapers. for whatever reason, this was the part that confused me the most, but ended up not being hard at all. you’ll find your rhythm, but a safe bet for when to wash the diapers is when you are down to about 6 clean diapers. we have a cloth diaper pail liner, so we just take the whole bag out of the pail and bring it down to the laundry room. we fill a bucket (we have a 5-gallon bucket that we use just for diaper soaking) with hot water, a tiny bit of dreft detergent and a splash of bleach, then we dump the diapers in the bucket to soak. we normally let them soak anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. once they’re done, we put on gloves (to protect from the bleach; again, touching diapers is the least of my worries), wring out the diapers and throw them into the washing machine. we wash the diapers with just detergent on a hot cycle with an extra rinse and high spin. the extra rinse makes sure that all the detergent and dirtiness is out of the diapers so they won’t irritate the little one. then we dry the diapers on high heat with some dryer balls instead of dryer sheets (again, don’t want any extra product residue on the diapers). done!
4) storing the diapers. we have a changing table we use in amelia’s room for all our diaper changes at home, because we have a very tiny house and have no need for a changing station anywhere else in the house. we keep diapers in one canvas storage bin under the changing table, and covers in another bin. right now, we have only the medium size diapers that we use as diapers, but we also keep the newborn size diapers in a bin to use as doublers for night time, and as burp rags, dust rags, etc. we keep lotions and wipes on the top of the changing table, where we can easily reach them. the diaper bins and trash can are just to the right of the changing table for easy access as well.
the moral of this (fairly long) story is that if cloth diapers seem right for you, go for it! it’s not as hard as you may think, and you will save some money in the long run that you can put towards more wine for you as a reward for changing all those diapers!
happy diapering mamas and papas!