When my daughter was born, cloth diapers were not an option for us. We still lived in Europe and our water was unpredictable. When I imagined what cloth diapers would be like, I envisioned piles of dirty, stinky, wet cloths setting out in my laundry room. Not a pretty picture. We returned to the States when she was five months old. Since then, we’ve primarily used cloth diapers. I want to share my experience with you in Today’s Experiment: Cloth Diapers.
Our motivation for doing cloth was completely to save money. Do I like rinsing out poop into the toilet? No. Do I like lowering stinky diapers into the washing machine? No, I do not. However, I do LOVE the savings. They are so much cheaper than disposables. And they are better for the environment. Bonus!
We did not do any of those new-fangled, fancy cloth diaper systems that look like a disposable but are made of cloth. We went vintage all the way and did prefold cloth diapers because they were the cheapest option. Yes, diaper pins and all.
To do it this way, you need about forty cloth diapers, three plastic covers, and at least one set of diaper pins. The diaper set that look like disposables and have snaps or velcro are simpler to put on, but require the same amount of effort to clean and cost a lot more. You can use the cloth diapers the whole time that the baby is in diapers. When they are newborn, use just one diapers, then double up when they get older. The plastic covers come in different sizes, from newborn to 3T. The best part of using cloth diapers is that you can use them with multiple children, so you are making an investment that is going to last many years.
Is it hard to figure out?
I’ll admit, the first of trying to pin those suckers was frustrating. It took some practice to get them pinned correctly so that they’d stay on. Fortunately, my daughter afforded me plenty of practice and I got the hang of it quickly. Now it is second nature and I hardly pay attention to what I’m doing while I’m doing it.
What about the pins? Aren’t you afraid you’re going to poke your daughter?
At first, this made me very nervous. But when you poke the pins through, you place your hand in between the fabric and your baby’s skin so that poking them isn’t a possibility. This means I’ve poked myself several times, but, more importantly, she’s never felt the end of the pin.
The pins do get dull over time. To make them slide easily through the diaper, I just run the pin through my hair a couple times. The oil from my hair makes pin go smoothly through the fabric. Also, every couple months, my husband uses a knife sharpener to sharpen the edge of the pin which bends over after lots of use.
But the poop?
Yes, the poop. If you have a baby, you are going to deal with poop… everywhere… no matter what, no matter what kind of diapers you choose. It is a fact of life. No, I don’t like looking at and smelling poop, but it’s going to happen. I might as well be saving money while I do it.
How do you clean the diapers?
I rinse most of the poop off in the toilet. I keep all the diapers in a diaper pail that is next to my changing table. Whenever the pail gets full (most of the time, every other day), I wash those diapers with my regular cloth cleaning regimen with one addition. I use hottest water, throw in some Oxy-Clean, let them sit for half an hour, then wash them on a “Heavy” setting and add an extra rinse in there.
Per directions on the package, the plastic covers should not be washed in with the diapers because the bleach (or Oxi-Clean) weakens the plastic. I use a wipe to clean the poop off of the plastic cover, then wash them in hot water along with a load of towels. The plastic covers do not need to be washed often. When they smell, it’s time for a wash. Otherwise, if they are just a little moist, I turn them inside out and let them dry out.
What about traveling? What about church or day care? Do you use cloth diapers exclusively?
No, we sure don’t. When we travel, we consider using disposables as part of the vacation package. I do pack cloth ones for the church nursery and they don’t seem to have a problem with that. Also, when my daughter has been sick, I’ve used disposables for that time period.
What’s your experience with cloth diapers? Do you use disposable, prefold cloth, or fancy sets?