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So I Started Using Cloth Diapers.

By caseymullins |

Seriously, today. Started. First cloth diaper used, ever in my life. I told twitter about this big leap and ended up admitting that I’m a little scared, which is why I’ve waited until almost 4 months to start. The good news is that several people admitted that they haven’t started because they’re scared too, so I volunteered to be the cloth diaper guinea pig. Why did I decide to start cloth diapering? A bunch of different reasons, but I still have a few reservations.

Let’s discuss, shall we?

First of all the reasons I wanted to cloth diaper.

A) Money. Of course. I’m pretty sure this is the motivating factor behind many people making the decision to cloth diaper. I bought Costco-sized boxes of diapers before Vivi was born so I wouldn’t have to buy them once she was born. As I hemmed and hawed over the initial investment of cloth diapers I did the math, 6 boxes of diapers from Costco that will last *maybe* a year at $45/box? I returned (most of) the disposables and invested in cloth.

B) Environment. This is the probably tied with money as a top reason people cloth diaper. Again, looking at those Costco sized boxes, all of those are going to be thrown away. And then more. Over the next three years. Plus wipes. There is certainly an argument to be made about the water used to wash cloth diapers (considering they require two wash cycles) but I have a fantastic energy efficient washer and dryer and I use biodegradable, completely natural detergents as well so it’s not as much of an issue.

C) They’re really cute. I know, this shouldn’t really matter. But those chubby little thighs are so much more nommable in a cloth diaper than a disposable. Not to mention they look a lot better poking out of a onesie. And if it’s super hot? Cloth diapers can totally stand in for legit clothing.

D) Since breastfeeding didn’t work out and my husband isn’t down with co-sleeping? I decided to make up for it through babywearing and cloth diapering. So there.

And my fears?

A) The poop. *deep breath* I have someone else’s poop on me a few times a week and I’ve survived. Of all the things I’ve researched the most? It’s how to handle poop in cloth diapers. There will be posts about poop. I’m sorry and you’re welcome.

B) Keeping up with the laundry/smell. Again, I’ve done an awful lot of research and I think I’ve found what will work. If not? I have a backup plan. As far as laundry? I have faith in my magical washer and dryer to keep up and make the process much easier.

C) My darling husband. Poor guy has PTSD about cloth diapers from his little sisters. He has fears of the smell, the poop and the washer being contaminated FOREVER. I keep promising him that things have changed and gotten much better in the last 26 years. I take care of most of the diapering anyway so I don’t feel that bad.

Day one down (confession, I waited until after she pooped to try them out.) At least seven disposable diapers saved. Here’s to tomorrow!

Any advice from you experienced cloth diaper users? I’ll take anything I can get.

Cloth Diaper Dilemma: Are environmentally-friendly nappies worth the trouble?

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About caseymullins

caseymullins

caseymullins

Casey Mullins is a writer, photographer, and nice person living in Indianapolis with her two little girls, husband, and a one eyed cat. She writes regularly at her personal blog moosh in indy and can be found trolling local bakeries and napping whenever possible. Read bio and latest posts → Read Casey's latest posts →

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35 thoughts on “So I Started Using Cloth Diapers.

  1. Jame says:

    I’ve used cloth diapers since week 2 (week 1 he just didn’t fit in his diapers) so with him at almost 7 months old I feel I’ve been through a lot. I’ve used quite a few brands; Kushies, G-Diapers, Fuzzibuns, BumGenius, and yes disposables. The ones I love the best, that I just stocked up on, are the BumGenius, the ones with the snaps. They never leak. Not once. No blowouts. They fit my chunky kid perfectly. The one thing I’ve found that actually controls the odors (especially since our son has so much in him to come out???) is….drum roll please…..Baking soda. Reeeeally. Actually the stuff that I found works the best is the cat litter clumping baking soda in the pet section. I sprinkle some of that in my “diaper pail” every time I dump a diaper in there & it keeps the smell down enough so I don’t gag.

  2. DanaD says:

    We’ve been clothdiapering for 3 years and washing them ourselves. I recommend a sprayer attachment for your toilet to wash the poop down, especially after you start feeding solids and/or formula. I am always appreciative of this little device when I go to rinse off poo at someone else’s house or at a public toilet. The smell seriously isn’t very bad, especially if you are washing them every 3 days or so. We use a little baking soda in the summer because we don’t have air conditioning.

    We wash them on the heavy cycle using hot water/cold rinse with Oxyclean and add vinegar to the rinse cycle to kill bacteria. When possible we line dry them which is the best bleach/stain remover. I don’t understand the two washing cycles thing, we’ve never had a problem just using the heavy cycle, but we also don’t have all-in-ones or pocket diapers. We just use prefolds with wraps and maybe that is different.

    Good luck! It’s not so scary. We think of cloth diapering as so much easier than disposables (we never have to run to the store for more diapers) and wouldn’t do it any other way.

  3. Marie says:

    We did prefolds with bummis covers and used a spatula stored in the diaper pail for poop removal (but we breastfed, so it wasn’t really an issue for quite some time) but I really wanted one of those spray nozzles, so get one if you can! We never had a smell problem either, but we sometimes sprinkled a little baking soda into the dry diaper pail. Our washer did a great job getting the diapers clean. We did just a cheap dry detergent and vinegar in a downy ball with drying usually in the dryer.

    While the kid was teething we had to iron diapers because she kept getting awful yeast infections, but I think drying diapers in the sun would fix the yeast problem as well (it was winter in MN so no sun to speak of).

    In our latest home, the washer is pathetic and elderly, so training pants (no diapers anymore, but bummis training pants were fantastic) were washed once on a short cycle and then again on a long cycle with the vinegar ball before the dryer (turned inside out so they dried faster).

    Best part about cloth: fewer leaks and less trash to haul out! Worst part: heavy to take on an extended trip, pain in the tail to transport home when used.

  4. Cheryl says:

    Another advantage of cloth: Way fewer blowouts (although this probably depends on making sure you have the right diapers for your baby). I use mostly the mother-ease all-in-ones with mother-ease covers. If the diaper leaks, the cover catches everything and baby’s clothes are saved. The blow-outs seem to happen when I’m travelling and using disposables.

  5. Talia says:

    I use Rumparooz, and so far, no leaks! We had to use disposables with the kiddo for the first month, and he’d leak and have bad diaper rash. We switched to cloth, and outfits are saved, no more rashes. Plus the added bonus of not throwing money (literally) away and being kind to the environment. The poop factor is not as bad as you think, and it’s just an added load of laundry a day for me. As for the smell, I have a pail liner that has a special patch that kills the scent of urine.
    For lots of good information, check out
    http://www.pinstripesandpolkadots.com/basics.htm

  6. Candis says:

    You can do it! If my husband and I can do it (and like it) anyone can. I wrote about it here: http://www.ladyleeinprocess.com/2011/07/cloth-diapering.html

    Hope that is helpful!!

  7. Sara says:

    I’m excited to cloth diaper, but please, don’t feel like you have to haul them on long trips to be successful. That is way too far for my tastes.

  8. jenny says:

    We bought a variety. Fuzzibunz, Smartipants, monkey doodles (seconds), bumgenius, prefolds, and a variety of covers. The Fb’s, smartipants, and monkey doodles didn’t work with my baby’s skinny legs. The bum genius diapers worked great and we used them as night time diapers until our daughter was about 10 months. It didn’t matter how much you stuffed them- they just didn’t keep her dry enough to prevent leaks or a rash during the night. At eleven months now, we only cloth diaper during the day, and use disposables during the night and when we are going to be out for a while. If I could do it all again, I would have just bought cheap prefolds, more quality cute covers, and not bought the fancier more expensive diapers for night time. They sound great, but they simply don’t work very well on my baby. The bum genius even leaks a tiny bit when she wears them during play time. I do love my prefolds and they are much less stress to care for. I wish I knew this before, we would have saved even more on our cloth diapers.

  9. Katie says:

    I echo Sara completely…on long trips, we’re all disposables. Heck…I occassionally put the baby in a disposable if we’re going on extended errands, and I know he hasn’t pooped yet for the day.

    Other than that, I love using cloth. Some of my best advice:

    1. Other than when the pail lid is off, I don’t notice a smell. We have the plain plastic pail from cottonbabies with a kissaluvs liner. I dump the solid poop. Wipes and and any “residue”–the washer honestly and truly takes care of it.

    2. If you have hard water, Rockin Green Hard Rock is awesome.

    3. A little bleach on your inserts once a month or so is not the devil.

    4. If you hit toddlerdom and have trouble with night leaking, I love, love, love thirsties fitteds and covers. Never had an overnight leak with these. I think its because for us, double stuffing our pockets created gaps around the legs…these are absorbant enough that they last all night, and the double layer of elastic acts as “insurance.” So totally worth the investment.

  10. Katie says:

    I also forgot to add…breastfeeding didn’t work out for us other, and the baby hated being worn in anything but a bjorn…so these (and homemade baby food) were totally my outlet too!

  11. Natalie says:

    Cloth diapers can be washed in cold water, and I’ve never heard that they need to be washed twice. You don’t need any bleach. We don’t use a special diaper pail, just a plastic garbage pail with a mesh laundry bag, and there isn’t a smell most of the time.

  12. hhisg says:

    I have been using 100% Pure, Moroccan, Argan Oil to treat diaper rash and the results are fantastic. I use Essence Of Argan which is probably the finest Argan Oil on the market, http://www.essenceofargan.com – the oil is full of omegas 3, 6, 9 and loaded with Vitamin E which works wonders on delicate, irritated skin. I treat the touchey lightly after each changing and also use Essence of Argan, in the baby’s bath.

  13. Emily says:

    We love our cloth diapers! I was intimidated to start them at first, but they really are no big deal – just another load of laundry every few days. I bought a bunch of different pockets and pre-folds to try out, and so far we are liking the BumGenius 4.0 velcro the best- tho I’ve never had a leak in any of our cloth diapers yet except for when I didn’t put them on well.
    I use Rockin Green soap and I do a rinse and spin in cold on heavy (and I always use the “super” setting so that we have lots of water), then I do a heavy wash on hot/cold with soap, and then a second “wash” (but with no soap) on warm/warm- this is just how I was told to do it.
    Also, I use a wet bag on my closet door handle to put the dirty diapers in and there is no smell. I never close the bag, I read that if you close the lid on the pails, it traps any smell and makes it worse.
    Good luck!!

  14. Misty @ The Family Math says:

    I finally admitted to my husband the other day that one of the reasons I’m so set on cloth diapering is because BFing didn’t work out. We’ve been CDing for about a month now, and I love it so far. We’re still figuring things out, but I think it’s going to be great. Now if I could just get DH to stop leaving diapers in the baby’s laundry hamper (it took me a full day to figure out where that smell was coming from) and to help with cleaning poopie diapers …

  15. Courtney says:

    That’s so awesome that you’re using cloth! BumGenius 4.0s with the snaps are my faves. And they have such cute colors for girls! Have you seen the artist series? Love.

    Also, I saw you’re using the disposable liners. We use those, too–did you know you can reuse them? If they just get peed on, throw them in the wash with the rest of your diapers and take them out with the covers (don’t dry). We air dry them and usually get 2-3 uses out of each liner.

  16. Abbie says:

    I’ve cloth diapered 2 kids… the oldest is now almost 30 months and my younger is 11 months. I work full time. People told me I was NUTS… seriously would pull me aside to tell me that I was nuts to consider cloth diapering. But I have loved it! It does take a bit of work to figure out a good wash routine for your machine. I ended up loving Crunch Clean detergent for our hard water. I also have loved a variety of diapers. You have to find the ones that work for you. I did prefolds and Flip inserts with covers when they were teeny. Then Bum Genius (both aplix and snaps are great!), Flip (LOVE the flip inserts!), GroVia (probably my favorite fit on my kids), and recently have fallen in love with Fuzzibunz. My diaper pail doesn’t smell that bad (it’s more tolerable than a trash can filled with disposables!) and I love hanging them out to dry :) I agree that a diaper sprayer is fantastic! Helps with the solids :) I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

  17. Mama Kalila says:

    I second the can be washed in cold… We do a rinse only cycle and then a full cycle w/ our “detergent” (I use soap nuts lol). Both in cold. So I’m somewhere between 1 and 2 cycles on ours. Note: I do use hot if they need to be stripped.. .but that hasn’t happened since we switched to soap nuts!

    As for traveling in cloth… while the others above are right, don’t beat yourself up if you feel you’d rather not… Its not that bad either. Granted our trips are 6 hours away at longest and not more than a weekend so far. But I’ve found traveling with cloth to be fairly easy. And.. there’s always hybrid options too.

    Either way, congrats on the switch and have fun with it! I originally said absolutely not to cloth (dh wanted to lol) and had to eat my words 6 months in with our oldest… Now I absolutely love them!

  18. Samantha at ShesNotBroken Dot Com says:

    The poop isn’t that bad, even toddler poop. We have a poop knife in the bathroom and I’m really, really bad about it. Basically, if it’s not going to shake off, it’s going in the washer. We have a variety of pockets, prefolds, fitteds, and covers, though we mostly use FuzziBunz. Our diaper pail is a kitchen trash can and I sprinkle Rockin Green’s Pail Freshener in it. Baking soda works fine, but I splurged a little. We only get stinkies on very, very hot days. I do laundry every 3rd day, generally. My husband, who was adamantly against cloth, has been fine with them, though he still pisses and moans about poop. It wasn’t a huge choice for us, honestly, though. Our daughter has my super-sensitive skin and had the start of a nasty rash after two days in the hospital’s Pampers. We’ve yet to have a rash in cloth and she’s almost a year.

  19. Tess says:

    I’m pretty new too but have been reading lots and have checked for possible issues. First, an HE washer may not be your friend. Also, natural detergents may still be not appropriate for cloth diapers. Find out too if you have hard water. You’ll need to strip the diapers anyway about once a month to ensure absorbency.
    You might make microfleece liners and try them out in your disposables first to see how to deal with poop! Just wash if pee, and option to toss if poop that cant be removed easily. They also
    sell flushables liners.

  20. Carolyn says:

    I just started CD-ing about 2 months ago, and my baby is now 10 months old. I have two older boys that I only sposied, and now that I am CD-ing I think about all of the money I could’ve saved if I had only KNOWN about cloth diapering (I thought it was still ‘Tie a t-shirt around baby’s waste’ cloth diapering). All I can say is I’m HOOKED!!
    Just today my step-dad asked me how it was going and I said,”It’s great!” He then asked how I do it because of the whole ‘poo’ thing. I said, “I’ve gotta clean it up one way or another. I might as well be saving a few bucks in the process.” He just laughed and commented on how true this is.
    It took me a year of research, and TONS of support from a seasoned CD veteran friend to help push me over the edge, but what actually jumped start my journey was the CD sight diaperswappers.com. I just couldn’t believe how convenient and inexpensive all of these diapers were with the added bonus that I didn’t have to PREP! Can we say AWESOME?!?
    Now I am two months into it, I have a cleaning routine, I went straight to using EcoSprout b/c I HATE ammonia and it is great for my HE washer, and my son’s toosh has never looked cuter in cloth! I went back to sposies (some that I had saved ‘just-in-case for DH) because my son had a particularly bad bout of the runs, and the results were horindace! Not only did he get a crazy-bad diaper rash, but the gussets on the diaper left rub burns on his fat little thighs. I can honestly say I will NEVER use another disposable as long as I live!
    My only problem now is that I can never have kids again. So when my lil’ one grows out of his dipes, that’s it. Oh well, guess I can always sell them and make back the $80 I spent on my ENTIRE 25 diaper/insert/liner stash!
    Good luck on your endeavor!

  21. Jamie says:

    Good for you! I always have to try to not laugh when others ask me, “what about the poop?” That’s really the least of your worries :) I had more poop explosions and leaks with disposables, that’s what I have nightmares about. We’ve cloth diapered since week 1 after a night of three bedding changes. I realized I wasn’t saving myself any laundry and have never looked back. My baby is almost 9 months old now and I NEVER have to buy another diaper again unless I want to. NEVER. And if I have another baby, I’ll never have to buy a diaper for him or her either. Although I’m a fan of not producing mountains of garbage, putting chemicals on my baby, etc…in reality, I’m all about using that money I’m saving from not buying $45 cases of diapers for something fun, like a babysitter and pedicure for me.

  22. Patti Dallhoff says:

    I have tried all cloth diapers…. My little one is 6 months and we started using them when he was 2 weeks. The washing is easy. Training hubby to use all my different brands is hard. No smell problems here. We use liners sometimes and I love my sprayer.

    Advice: If you get a sprayer be careful. It is POWERFUL. I blasted shit all over my guest bathroom with it the first time. ;-) Not kidding!

    Favorite Cover: Sweet Pea Covers 10$
    Favorite AIO: BG Elementals
    Favorite Fitteds: LIttle Fancy Pants

    Email me with any questions…. Best Wishes, Patti

  23. Stacie says:

    I have to admit I was pretty nervous too and it took more than a few days of working up the gusto to give it a go. We started cloth diapering at about 5-6 weeks and have been at it for over 2 months now and absolutely love it! You’ll figure out what works best for you and get your washing routine down in no time. The hardest part is to not become addicted as now I want to try all the different cloth diapers and add all the cute prints that come out. My only fear now is for when my baby starts eating solids but I’m sure it will be fine and not as scary as it seems.

  24. Meghan says:

    Rockin’ Green has stuff called funkrock which is great for stinkies and they have something called shake it up for your pail, it’s great stuff!!

  25. Trisha W. says:

    Kim at Dirty Diaper Laundry (blog) has lots of helpful information as well as awesome reviews on YouTube. Good luck mama!

  26. Selena says:

    You sound just like me! I waited until month 4 and after the poop of the day to start. I just started Cd’ing but I love it! I bought an assortment of diapers to try out, I really like Bum Genius, Flip, Tot bots. That could change but these are my favs for now! I use disposables at night (still afraid) but hopefully soon I will have the courage.

  27. Julie H says:

    I’ve been cloth diapering since my son was 2 weeks old and he just turned 7 months. The idea of using cloth was a little overwhelming before we started, but it turns out it really is so easy and so much better than disposables! I never have problems with stains or odors. I toss my dirty dipes in an old pillow case that lines a tall plastic laundry basket (no lid plus holes in the sides = air circulation so no festering dipes to cause odor). I know some people use a diaper sprayer but thus far I haven’t needed one. I don’t scrape my dipes either. My son is breastfed and his poop is still pretty runny so it just all goes right in the wash. (sounds gross but whatever it all washes out and my washing machine hasn’t complained) The pillowcase gets washed along with the dipes and I launder every other day. For washing the dipes I use the recipe found here: http://www.theecofriendlyfamily.com/2009/08/cloth-diaper-detergent.html It makes a 5gal bucket full for under $30 and we’re only half way through the first batch after 7 months! Super cheap. I wash in a cold wash first (to remove poop without setting stains) then a hot wash to give them a really good cleaning, then dry on medium or hang out on the line. Line drying in the sun not only saves energy it also bleaches out any stains. I’ve used several types of diapers. I started out w/ gDiapers (the newborn bundle). The newborn size aka tiny g’s were great for the first few weeks. When he outgrew those we moved up to the “little g’s” but I always had leaks with them. So I switched to Gerber birdseye flats with Thirsties duo wrap snap covers and loved it. The flats dry so quick (which is great when you forgot to throw laundry in and you’re down to your last 2 dipes LOL) and the Thirsties covers have only 2 sizes that go from birth to potty training (ie only 2 sizes to buy = less money spent). There are youtube videos on how to fold the flats and if my hubby can do it, anyone can! I also used kissaluvs fitteds size 0 for in the diaper bag since they have snaps which is super easy to put on a baby in the backseat of a car compared to folding a flat. Now that my son is bigger and wetting more we use Osocozy prefolds with those Thirsties covers, and still like Kissaluv fitteds (now size 1) for changes on the go or when my mom is sitting. Prefolds are our main dipe mostly due to cost – around $20 a dozen vs $20 for a single all in one dipe. And they work great. I also use Kissaluvs one size all-in-one diapers at night with a doubler since he’s a heavy wetter. Those are great b/c they turn themselves inside out in the wash, the pad hangs out and thus dries quick. Another bonus is that they are only one size (though they do sell a newborn size for a better fit in those first weeks) so I won’t have to size up down the road. Good luck with your cloth diapering adventure!!

  28. Sara B. says:

    I must be a throwback! I use plain old flatfold diapers with Thursties Duo covers. I do use disposables at night and on extended trips. If you have a chubby baby, the flatfolds will fit! If you have a skinny baby, it’ll fit! You can fold it different ways so you only need one size. It’ll fit! (Now the Duo’s I like b/c they’re trim fitting and I have a thin baby.)

  29. Sara B. says:

    Oh, and as for solids. I have these little plastic scrapers that are really for cleaning your pots that I wrap with TP, scrape, and flush the TP. Easy!

  30. Terry says:

    Disposables are not good for the environment nor for baby. BumGenius would probably be my favorite. Here a site about cloth diapers that helped http://www.nappyclothdiaper.com

  31. Heather says:

    Love, love, love cloth diapers! Key things for me are BumGenius diapers with snaps and a sprayer for the toilet. Getting the poo rinsed off ASAP makes clean up a lot easier. If you don’t you just have to spray a bit longer. I use Rockin Green soap in the wash and just a little baking soda in the pail.

  32. Melinda says:

    Yes, cloth is better than disposible. Nothing in a landfill degrades, it will be there forever. The landfill will eventually leak and even if it doesn’t, methane builds up in them which causes groundwater pollution and underground fires. Both of these are very difficult if not impossible to stop. (I’m a geologist and used to work for the IEPA in landfills).

    The poop isn’t so bad, usually I can just shake it into the toilet and put the diaper into the pail. I switch out the liners if the pail starts to smell before it gets bad. The liners are resusable and washable. Cotton babies.com has an awesome selection and usually free shipping. Cotton babies also has a vegetable baseed enzyme to spray poopy pants with that will start to break down the proteins (portion of poop that stinks) while in the pail.

    Diaperjungle.com has awesome articles on laundering diapers. I’ve found that Purex free & clear detergent is the cheapest good detergent to use for diapers.

    Econobum covers are awesome. They are inexpensive and grow with the baby. They are also at Cotton babies.

    Cloth diapers do not hold anything close to what disposible can handle. I still use diposible while running errands, camping for more than two nights and at night time.

    Good luck!

  33. momtoLMA says:

    I use Grovia’s. I love them. Tried fuzzibunz, kawaii, bum genius (a lot of bum genius’) Flips, rumparooz, etc., and my favorites are Grovia’s. I think the difference is in the fact that the others use microfiber, and that always seemed to never get clean enough, or have too much buildup in them so they were never quite effective at holding in pee.
    I have a sprayer, but i can’t seem to figure out how to use it without getting poopy water splashed everywhere and that’s just gross. So i just plop the diaper poop side down in the toilet, hold onto the tag, and flush while shaking it gently in the flowing water.
    To combat rash we just use olive oil. Cheap and VERY effective. Especially if you use it right as soon as you start seeing the skin become pink.
    To combat ammonia build up, we use vinegar. approx 2 cups.
    And so far the best soap that leave the least amount of build up is eco nuts (http://www.econutssoap.com/). it’s all natural soap!
    It was a little rocky there for me, but after figuring out exactly what worked for us and our water and washer dryer, it’s been a dream cloth diapering.

    My mom asked me the other day how much more it cost my husband and I to have a baby, and I said other than day care there’s not much additional expenses because I breastfeed, cloth diaper, and now that my baby’s older, I make most of her food!

  34. Michelle says:

    1. So excited for you and Vivi! Be ready to become addicted and have at least 40 diapers by the time she is 7 months old because, really, you just can’t resist every color and print out there.
    2. I haven’t read through the comments, but for poop you must have a diaper sprayer. There is no other option if you want to save time and stains. (disregard if you already have one)
    3. In a week you will be asking yourself, “What was I scared of? Why did I wait so long?”
    Congrats! Have fun!

  35. Autumn Beck | All About Cloth Diapers says:

    Yeah! LOVE bumGenius products..all of them! In December they are coming out with a new all in one that I am very excited for.

    Don’t be scared. Like everything problems will arise but you just fix them and move on. In addition to the points you made about why you are cloth diapering there is also the health aspect. No more chemicals next to your baby’s skin!

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