Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cloth Diapers: Making It Work

So I have all these diapers--35 now as I just got a new Gro Baby shell and three more liners. They stay nicely folded and prepared on the shelves under the changing table. From there they get snapped or velcro-ed onto my daughter. Then she soils them. So what next?

  • Cloth wipes. I have a variety. Five of them came with a Happy Heinys starter set I was given. Those are a bit thick for me. A friend gave me about a dozen, which are handmade and two layers with flannel on one side and terry on the other. Then I got a bunch more at my local cloth diaper store which are just plain cotton flannel squares, and we like them. They are easy to grab and manipulate and they're most like 'sposie wipes. The very great advantage of cloth wipes is that there's no need to separate them from the cloth diapers to throw them away. To prep them, I fold them interleaving (sometimes feels over-the-top, but it sure is convenient when changing a diaper!), soak them in water with a few drops of tea tree oil, squeeze out the excess moisture and store them in a wipes warmer. A good friend clued me in to that method. Lots of cloth diaper companies make a spray to use with dry wipes, but I don't think it's worth it. It just never feels wet enough to get baby's bottom clean enough.
  • Wet bag. We have two size large totes to alternate. Right now we put it in the Diaper Champ, but it doesn't work very well for cloth diapers, so we intend to get a simple step can to help contain smells. Since Lily is totally breastfed, there's no need to involve the toilet in this stage. We just fold the diaper and pop it in the wet bag. On laundry day, everything goes in the washer, wet bag included.
  • On-the-go Wet Bag. I got this as a gift and I loooooooove it. It's a must have, really. It makes it not gross to have wet and poopy diapers in my diaper bag. We also have a small one which I use to pack cloth wipes on the go.
As I said, there is no need yet to involve the toilet. (Hey, did you know that per disposable diaper package directions, you're supposed to dispose of solid waste in your toilet?) But when Lily starts eating solid foods in a few months, we won't be able to just throw everything in the washing machine. That's where flushable diaper liners or a sprayer might come in handy. We'll have to try different things to see what works, and I'll get back to you.

So, laundry! Really not that big of a deal. It's maybe an extra 2-3 loads per week. So the diapers are in the wet bag and ready to be washed. I throw them in the washing machine and do a rinse cycle. Next, I run a full wash cycle on hot (my machine does only cold rinses) using cloth diaper detergent. (I'm going to try different detergents in the future, but it's important that they're additive-free.) It's recommended to use only a little bit of detergent, and no one is kidding when they say that! I've had the problem lately where the diapers smell fine coming out of the dryer, but they smell horrible when they're wet or soiled, the culprit most likely detergent residue (or maybe too much tea tree oil on my wipes? not sure). I had to strip them, putting through the rinse cycle multiple times with a little bit of dish detergent. This has mostly helped, but I still have some problems with my bum Genius diapers repelling moisture. I'm still learning this laundry schtick, but I promise it's not much trouble at all!

After the full wash cycle, I do another rinse to get all the residue out, then I put them all in the dryer! The end! Clean diapers to fold and stuff and otherwise prepare, just like hanging and folding freshly laundered clothes.

So that's cloth diapering. Not any more gross than 'sposies, no multiple extra bags of heavy, stinky trash to drag to the curb each week, they're more comfortable for baby and free of rash- and burn-causing chemicals, they're way cheaper in the long run, and they're CUTE. That's win-win-win-win-win. And I didn't even mention the environment.*

*I wouldn't call myself an environmentalist, but I think we can all agree it is a good thing to waste as little as possible. Disposable diapers account for a LOT of trash, y'all.