Before I even got pregnant I had plans to cloth diaper. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I will admit just picking out cloth diapers and coming up with a wash routine sounded fun to me. So, once I got pregnant, I registered for cloth diapers and bought them periodically in the months leading up to the birth to build my stash. I read lots of blogs about cloth diapering, but Young House Love’s post sold me on Bum Genius all-in-ones. This was the only brand I bought. It was the easiest sounding approach—no inserts, prefolds, pockets, liners etc. Just a simple, all-in-one diaper, made of cloth. While I tried a few of their pocket diapers as well, I quickly realized all-in-ones were the way to go and so much easier to deal with (removing pocket inserts after the diaper had been soiled was just gross, and I didn’t feel they’d get clean enough if I just left them in the diaper).
So, I started off with the following:
- 25 BumGenius Freetimes (all-in-ones). I got mostly snaps but also quite a few with Velcro tabs (hook and loop closure)
- 48 Grovia cloth wipes
- Cloth wipe spray solution concentrate and spray bottle
- 2 wet bags
- Diaper sprayer (not needed until baby starts solids)
I began cloth diapering Sully when he was 5 weeks old. He’s now 16 months old and his diapers are spotless (except for one that got diaper rash cream on it; most diaper rash creams will stain, and you should only use coconut oil or a cloth diaper safe cream such as Grandma El’s). Sully’s clean diapers don’t smell and they rarely leak (if they do leak, it’s because I left them on too long).
When it’s time to change Sully’s diaper, I place the wet diapers in a wet bag next to his changing table. I spray a cloth wipe or his skin directly with a wipe spray solution and throw the used cloth wipe in the wet bag. I purchased the spray solution as a concentrate and just add water to it, and I have yet to run out of concentrate since the original bottle I bought. I put a new diaper on and he’s good to go.
If his diaper is poopy, I take it to the bathroom where I spray off (using a diaper sprayer) or drop the poop into the toilet. I then give it a quick spray with BioKleen BAC-OUT (to control the odor and help prevent stains; you can buy this at Whole Foods) and place it in a wet bag that I keep in the bathroom just for poopy diapers.
While Sully was exclusively breastfed (his first six months), I could skip this step and just put the poopy diapers in the same wet bag as his wet diapers and wash them all together. EBF poop is water-soluble and does not need to be sprayed into the toilet first, making it super easy to deal with! Once we introduced solids (any amount of solids, no matter how little), though, we had to switch to spraying the diapers in the toilet.
I can’t recommend Fluff Love University enough for establishing a good wash routine. There is so much information on this website about how to establish your routine based on water type, washing machine type, and other variables. Their Facebook group has also been invaluable to me for asking questions and learning the ins and outs of this process. The most important take-aways I’ve gained from this group are:
- Use a real, big brand detergent. Not a soap (e.g., Charlie’s soap) or a homemade detergent or cloth diaper specific detergent.
- Use a lot of it. It’s a lot more than you are comfortable with at first. But, trust me, it will get those diapers clean and spotless, and keep them from smelling like ammonia down the line.
- Do a quick wash (with a spin) and a heavy wash. Two cycles. That’s it. No extra rinses.
I wash his diapers about every 3-4 days. When it’s time to wash, I collect both wet bags and throw all the diapers, wipes, and wet bags in the washer (we have a front-loading HE washer). I use the quick wash setting with cold water and a scoop filled to the bottom fill line with Tide Original. The purpose of this wash is to get the poopy diapers cleaned a bit and the dirty water drained, so the diapers aren’t being washed in dirty water. For the next cycle, I throw some OxyClean into the drum. I then add a scoop (I fill to the fourth fill line on the new larger scoop that comes with Tide; on the older scoop, I would fill to the top line) of Tide Original to the detergent dispenser and do a heavy wash with hot water.
Once this cycle finishes, I transfer the diapers, wipes, and wet bags to the dryer and run it on medium heat. Putting the diapers in the dryer has not caused any noticeable wear and tear on the diapers. I originally thought I would have to hang-dry them, but after seeing how many people just put their diapers in the dryer on the Fluff Love Facebook group, I decided to switch to drying this way. It saves a lot of time and my diapers are still in “like new” shape.
Once the diapers are dry, I snap/Velcro them closed and place them in Sully’s drawer below his diaper changing station. I also keep a few out with the rest of the diaper supplies on a cart next to the changing station. I stack the wipes in a pile.
This process feels like a lot less work than I imagined it might. I really had no idea if I would stick with cloth diapering before I started. Once I got going, though, I learned to enjoy the routine and I love not having to buy disposable diapers. I do put him in a disposable diaper at night, so we have to have enough on hand to use for nights. Other than that, I feel like we are saving a ton of money by not using disposables. I also love that we aren’t creating a ton of trash between disposable wipes and diapers. And, this honestly feels easy. It’s a very simple process.
On the Go
On the go diapering is generally no big deal. If I’m going to spend the day with family (an hour away) I will use his cloth diapers. I have a small wet bag for dirty diapers or I just use any plastic bag available to store them. When we go out of town, however, I always use disposable diapers so I don’t have to bring a bunch of cloth diapers with me (which would be incredibly bulky). I’m sure cloth diapering on vacation is do-able, but it’s not worth the hassle for me and to bring all of the extra stuff to make it happen.
Snaps vs. Velcro (hook & loop closure)
Velcro tab (hook and loop) diapers are definitely easier to put on a squirming baby than snaps are. You can get the fit just right with Velcro as well, although I never had issues with the fit of the snaps diapers anyway. I got a mixture of both types of diapers, because I wasn’t sure how well the Velcro would hold up over time and if he would be able to more easily remove his diapers himself with Velcro. Well, the Velcro tabs have held up amazingly. And he has yet to pull off his own diaper. I’m glad I have a mix of both types, but I think all Velcro would have worked great too!
Now that I’m comfortable with cloth diapering, I feel ready to expand beyond diapers and switch to cloth napkins and paper towels. This would be so easy to do, since all I’d need to do is add the dirty napkins/paper towels to the diapers and wash them all together. It’d even help bulk up my diaper load, which is an added bonus (when using an HE washer, the drum should be 2/3 of the way full for optimal cleaning. I probably fill it just under this amount for most loads and could use some more items in there).
So there you have it! Cloth diapering has been a surprisingly easy endeavor. I can’t imagine ever switching to disposables full time. Our next baby will also get to use our current cloth diaper collection, making the financial savings even greater.
Does anyone else cloth diaper? I’d love to hear what your experience has been and any tips you have to share!