We use cloth diapers.
Yes they still make those.
No they aren’t that gross.
Yes, we wash them.
No they don’t have pins.
I am often asked about cloth diapers. Usually answering the questions I answered above. A fellow cloth believer asked me to post all my info for easy access. I thought this was an easy way to do it! When we started cloth diapers, I didn’t know anyone who used them. I learned everything I could from the internet and from a local baby store. It all started on my quest to save money as new parents. I didn’t even know they existed anymore, let alone the fact that sane people actually used them! Now I would never turn back and they are so stinkin’ cute! I learned everything I did on my own and I want to answer questions for those who are in the same boat or have a family full of non-cloth-believers. I don’t know everything, I only have experience with certain brands of diapers, but I do know what works for us! I will do my best to update this as I learn new things. Currently we have a 2 month old in diapers, a 3 year old who graduated from diapers almost a year ago, and our oldest is 6 and she was our cloth guinea pig.
Before we get started, I want to state that I am not “anti-disposable”. We have used disposables and I am not against them. I am just very Pro-cloth!
Why did you choose to use cloth?
1. Cost – I will break that down more, below.
2. They are Chemical-free!
3. Won’t end up in a landfill – it takes over 500 years for a disposable diaper to start to decompose! This also means that every diaper ever thrown away still exists today! Americans throw away 570 disposable diapers per second!! That is nearly 49 million per day!!! The average child uses up to 6,000 diapers before potty training; together U.S. kids’ used and discarded diapers add up to 3.4 million tons of landfill waste. In a house with only one baby in diapers, approximately 50% of the household waste is disposable diapers.
4. Less leaks/blow outs – between my three children, we have had ONE cloth blow out, even that was only 1 cm out the left leg hole – if you consider that a blow out. (Of course it was on a white skirt, but that’s another issue.) 🙂
5. Less rash. Studies have shown that 5% of cloth diapered babies experience diaper rash issues as opposed to 50%+ among the disposable diapered babies.
6. You won’t have to run to the store to get more!
7. They potty train earlier. They are used to moisture being wicked away from their skin, so when they actually get wet, it’s uncomfortable!
8. They are SO CUTE! And being so soft, they have got to be comfortable.
9. You can sell them when you’re done with them! Other Moms can get use out of them and that’s money back in your pocket!
10. Amount of time is the same. It takes about the same amount of time or less to wash, dry and put away cloth diapers as it does to drive to store and buy a box of disposables.
Won’t people think I am really weird for this? Everyone I know uses disposables.
Cloth diapering is making an epic comeback! I know you’re envisioning those bulky, plastic, giant pinned up things we wore as babies. But imagine something with bright colors, no pins and no covers! Just one awesome piece of brightly colored, poop-catching fabric that attaches with snaps! And if they think you’re weird for saving money and the environment… that’s their own fault 🙂
Aren’t they a pain? Don’t they take a lot of time? Aren’t they gross?
Nope, nope, and they aren’t any grosser than disposables.
If your child needs changed in public, you change them, no matter which diaper they wear. The only difference is, you put a cloth diaper in a bag and take it home. You would do the same thing with the clothing that your child has a blow out on or gotten muddy, etc.
They take the same amount of time as disposable. You never have to go to the store to buy more! You just start the washing machine if you run out! The only extra time it takes is to wash them once or twice a week. When you’re doing baby laundry already, though, there’s not much difference! You save that time by not driving to the store to pick them up!
Okay, you have my attention. How do I get started?
The first thing you have to do is pick what kind of diapers you want. There are many different systems to choose from. Pockets, Inserts & Covers, All In Ones, etc.
I would go with a one size diaper. They have diapers that you can buy in sizes, S, M, L, etc. They generally cost the same as a one size diaper which seems silly to me that people would spend 3x as much for the same thing. One size diapers are made to fit approximately 8-35 lbs. Some fit smaller and some fit larger. They are made to fit from newborn up through potty trained. They have snaps down the front so you can adjust their size. This is called the rise.
What brands would you recommend?
We use Rumparooz brand, Sunbaby brand, Bonnibunz brand, Peachy Baby, Oh Katy, Charlie Banana and Bum Genius brand. We also have an Econobums prefold/cover system. We used Grovia for a very short time. We had awful luck with them and they leaked all the time. There are so many other good brands! Those are the only ones we have had personal experience with though.
Where do you buy diapers?
We buy online, or sometimes there are local stores that sell them. The stores tend to be more expensive, but do your homework, they might be comparable! Support the locals when you can.
I like Kelly’s Closet. If used diapers don’t bother you, there are also swapping groups on Facebook. I’ve bought new diapers on Ebay before.
You said they are actually cute? So, they aren’t those bulky diaper-rag looking things with pins and plastic pants?
Not at all! Now they have snaps and velcro! There are several different kinds. We use what are called “pocket diapers”. This link will show you all the different kinds.
Although, if that is what you are looking for, they still make them! They are the cheapest option, but are more work. Not only do you have to put on one piece, but you have to put on two. Prefolds can now be attached with “snappis” instead of pins. You take the two ends and attach them to the sides and then the middle attaches in the middle of the diaper.
Would you use prefolds?
We started our whole stash as prefolds with covers. On a semi-related note, In my opinion, I would advise against anything with a cover. Not when they are little, but once they are big enough to squirm, it is hard enough to get one piece of diaper on, let alone two! That is another part of the reason we use pocket diapers. Prefolds are the cheapest, but we quit using them once we saved money to get the pocket diapers. Basically, the more convenient the diaper, the more cost. The cheapest diapers are usually the least pretty or most work; as a general rule. You can buy all-in-one (AIO) diapers, which are super convenient, but they also cost more because of the convenience factor. We had some for a while and they were very convenient! (Bum Genius brand.) The pocket diapers are a diaper with a place to insert an “insert” or “soaker”.
Do you like the ones with velcro or snaps?
I choose snaps every time. Velcro is great for babysitters (or dads 🙂 ) but when they get old enough to take off their own diapers, you will be glad for the snaps 🙂 Velcro is easier, but you have to remember to fold it to the laundry tabs or it will catch and snag on everything in the wash.
You like the Pockets. Tell me again which brands you have used.
Here’s the breakdown from our experience.
Rumparooz – we used for all 3 kids. Some were new, some used. They basically lasted all the way through one kid with some harsh treatment (dryer, other things I did that I didn’t know any better.) I believe they would last through 2 kids in a large stash with gentler use if they were all brand new to start with. On kid #3, we don’t have any left from kid #1 unless we have replaced the elastic.
Sunbaby – I bought 2 of these in the last year of Adelynn’s diaper wearing. They have been used for about 3 years in total and are still holding up very well. I am surprised since they are an inexpensive brand.
Bonnibunz – are a less known brand made in Austrailia. They are a snap-in system. We bought 2 of these about the same time as the Sunbabys. We never bought any additional inserts to use them to their full extent. My opinion is that they fit smaller, but they still seem basically seem brand new.
Peachy Baby – is a cover/insert system. They fit 5-40 lbs. They come with a bamboo insert and introduced me to bamboo. They’re extremely trim, and seem great. We bought a second one for baby #3.
Oh Katy – these come in adorable colors and stuff in the front. They run a little smaller than some of the others. They have a hip-snap, which I love. We have only used these with Ava and they seem to be in about the same condition as the others that we have used longer. I believe this company is no longer around.
Charlie Banana – they were new for Ava. They also stuff in the front. They are a more narrow diaper, which is nice. There is no rise setting, so they don’t fit tiny babies. The elastic went out after she was done with them though. Many, many people love this brand, but I don’t get the hype I guess.
Bum Genius – I know these are popular, but they are not any we would buy again. We used them with Adelynn from the beginning but they didn’t last. The elastic and insides went out long, long ago.
Overall: I would buy Peachy Baby & Rumparooz again.
How many diapers do I need?
Count how many diapers you use in one day and get enough for 2 days plus a few more. We change every 3-4 hours – except for night time. So we use about 4-6 diapers in 24 hours. We have a large stash, so we can go several days before washing, but if you have a newborn, you will change every 2-3 hours around the clock. Decide how often you want to wash, and keep one in the diaper bag. If you add that up, you can get an idea of how many you need. A good stash is about 24.
Where do you put the wet/dirty ones until wash time?
Usually just scattered on the floor until you round them up for washing. Just kidding 🙂 There are 2 types of pail. Wet pail and dry pail. The wet pail is basically buying an airtight container (big, like for dog food) and filling it with water. Those do not smell one bit, but the water can be a hazard if the kiddo knocks it over or opens it. It also is heavy to carry around when you need to empty it. Some diaper sites actually advise against constantly soaking diapers. The dry pails can sit on the floor or hangs up. Ours is a dry pail that sits on the floor.
Until our oldest was about 9 months old, we used a 13 gallon trash can with a foot pedal. That way when I was ready to wash, I would just take the pillowcase out, carry it to the washer and dump it all in. About the 9 month mark, that wasn’t cutting it anymore in the sense of smell. I would recommend it if you want a cheaper short term solution. If you want to just go ahead and get the real thing, I would use this. It is what we have and you can’t smell a thing until you open it (like a disposable diaper genie). You put a mesh liner in it that we use the same way we used to use the pillow case. (You would need 2 mesh liners for when one is in the wash.) They sell carbon filters for them that you can replace and they just help control smell. We bought our pail when she was 9 months and at 16 months we finally changed the filter. They aren’t expensive at all, and obviously, they last a long time! I clean it every couple of weeks or so and wash the pail in the bath tub. I also try to let it air out -usually outside- on wash day. To clean it, you can use dish soap. I have recently made a half and half vinegar/Dawn dish soap mixture in a spray bottle that I use to clean the kitchen and bathrooms. I use it in there as well. That stuff works like a charm in cleaning the pail!!
Does the poop go in the washer? Ew.
Some poop, yes. Seriously! Exclusively breastfed babies’ poop is water soluble…really! You can just drop it right in the washer. If the baby has any formula or solid food in his/her diet, it will need sprayed. We made our sprayer and it attaches to the toilet. Or you can buy one from the bumgenius website. They are about $45. We made ours for $37. (My friend Alisha got hers for $25! Check out her comment below!) The nice thing about ours is that we can adjust the pressure. The bumgenius one you cannot. Some people dont use a sprayer, they just do the “dunk and swish” method. Where they just swish the diaper around in the toilet. Either one works. In most states, there are laws against dumping poop in the trash. So no matter which diaper you use, you should actually be spraying your diapers!
If you dont get all the poop out, it will stain. The way I see it, they are diapers! It is ok if they stain. Some people dont want the stains and so they just lay them out in the sun and the stains “sun” out. When it is nice out, I dry mine outside and it really does get stains out.
How do I wash them?
You do need a special soap. This is so so so cheap.
You can actually use things like Tide powder, but soaps made for cloth diapers are actually the best for them. It also depends on your water. My Sister In Law has very hard water. She needs to use a special soap so that her diapers get clean. She uses Rockin Green. We use that half and half with the homemade soap I linked above and are very happy with it. We used Tide at the beginning and you could feel the soap residue left on there. Here is a list of good detergents.
Here is one standard wash routine:
1. You dump the diapers and diaper pail liner in.
2. You run a cold rinse only. This gets all the extra nasties off.
3. You do the hot wash/hot rinse with the soap. I personally use a Downy ball with about 1/4 cup vinegar to help with smell. (I forgot this once and instantly regretted it!! Highly recommend it!)
4. Run one more cold rinse. This makes sure all the soap rinses out. If there is any soap residue, it can build up and smell bad, repel liquid and can cause skin irritation.
5. Throw them in the dryer or hang them on the line. If you put them in the dryer, make sure it is low heat. Too much dryer time can make the elastic worthless. I have paid the price for this by having to throw diapers out! Hang them out or just on a drying rack every chance you get.
Never ever use fabric softener on them. They should naturally stay soft, and the vinegar should help that. Fabric softener breaks down their ability to dry.
I use another wash routine that I really like. I feel it cleans the diapers better:
Do a full cold wash with 1 tbsp detergent, the vinegar Downy ball and an extra rinse. (Mine has an extra rinse setting which I love so I don’t have to go downstairs and set it again.)
Then remove the Downy ball and do a full hot wash with a cold rinse with a 2nd tablespoon of detergent. That is it!! They get sooo clean!
So, explain the routine a little better, please. I still don’t know what a typical day holds.
So, you change your baby. Lets say it is dirty. After you change her, you would take the diaper into the bathroom and spray it off in the toilet. Then squeeze it out so it is almost dripping. Then you would put it in the dry pail. Then go flush the toilet and wash your hands! If you had a wet pail, you would just go drop the poop in the toilet and put the diaper in the wet pail without spraying it. If baby isn’t dirty, just wet, and you choose pocket diapers, you just take the insert(s) out and unsnap them, then put all the pieces in the pail, then wash hands.
So, lets say it is wash day. Depending on your pail, you would do it two different ways. With the wet pail you would carry it to the washer and pull the diapers out and put them in the washer. Then you would dump the dirty water outside. If you use a dry pail, you would carry them down like I previously mentioned. I leave my dry pail open (outside) when it is empty to let air get through. You can also buy things to put in to help the smell. We used to buy fresheners in the baby aisle at Target that are lavender and baking soda. I have even washed these several times and they still work 🙂 You can also get citrus ones, or powders made to sprinkle in there.
What diaper rash cream do I need for cloth diapers?
Adelynn has super sensitive skin. She had rash after rash. I can only imagine how bad they would be with all the chemicals of disposable diapers day in and day out! You cant use regular diaper cream with cloth because it will stain the cloth and then in turn, will make the diaper repel the pee and it will leak! So here is a list of cloth safe creams. We use Angel Baby Bottom and California Baby spray and cream (you can buy that at Target!) I recently found with Ava, you can use Coconut Oil. I put half a spoonful on a plastic spoon, stick it in the microwave for a few seconds, and slather it on her tush with the spoon.
If you’re out in public and you change your baby, what do you do with the diaper until you get home?
Wetbags are just bags that you keep in the diaper bag in case you need to change diapers while you are out. I recommend ones with zippers instead of drawstrings. We have a Fuzzibunz wetbag and it is probably my favorite. You just wash them with the diapers. We have 4 wetbags and they are nice because you can always keep one in the diaper bag and if you have 2 or 3 in the wash. The nice thing about wetbags is that you can use them for things other than diapers. If you go swimming, they are good for carrying home swimsuits, muddy shoes, or other nasty things you don’t want leaking all over your bag or car.
When diapers cost $9-$25 EACH, it’s really cheaper to use cloth?
I know it also seems expensive, but once you break it down it is SO MUCH CHEAPER! You can look up homemade wipes. (We tried cloth wipes and we were not fans.)
Here is a calculator to see when your diapers will pay for themselves.
I did the math one time and I figured out that if you buy diapers at Target, the cost is $0.36/diaper. At Sam’s they range from $0.27 – $0.33 each. So if you buy a Bumgenius diaper that costs $18.00, you use that same diaper 3x/week and if you get them potty trained early, at age 2, they will wear it 312 times. That would make the diaper $0.05/wear! If you wait until they are 3 to potty train, they would wear the diaper approximately 468 times. That would make it $0.038/wear. Plus, if you have kids to follow and do the same, just divide it! Here’s another link where she gives a great visual of how many diapers are used per baby (towards the bottom). So lets say you put baby in 6 diapers each day until age 2. That is 4,300 diapers. Or $1,500 of your money going to Pampers! On one kiddo! Would you like to know what we have spent?
Close to $800. That’s for 3 kids. That even includes diaper cream. And the ones we have are lasting and we use coconut oil as diaper cream. If you spend $90/month on disposables and wipes, and you potty train at age 3, that is $3,000!! I would like to take my $800 and divide it by the kids we have. 🙂
If you use cloth and want to weigh in, please leave comments! If I forgot something, please tell me!
If you don’t use cloth and have questions, please ask! I am happy to help if I can!