Cloth Diapering… The Basics

I’m going to go ahead and pimp out Baby Bell Hop. I’ve ordered twice from them and have had nothing but AWESOME customer service, quick shipping, and good prices 😉  The lady always writes hand written notes to put into the shipments, which I think is just dandy 😀

When I had my daughter in 2006, I didn’t even think about cloth diapering. Ew! Why would I want to wash diapers all day and pay so much money for them? Ick! My sister, on the other hand, trucked along and dove feet first into the world of cloth diapering… And I am so glad that she did!

I didn’t have a washing machine or a dryer when my daughter was a youngin’. Instead, we had an out-of-suite, outside laundry unit that cost about $2.50 per load. Needless to say, cloth diapering was not something I was willing to do at that time. This time around, with Keagan (August, 2011), I was more than ready to jump into this endeavor. My only regret is not doing it straight away. I waited until he was a month old before attempting cloth, assuming that the size small diapers would be too big for him. I was wrong. Woops!

Okay, enough rambling, let’s get to the gnitty gritty, shall we?

How much do cloth diapers cost? 
Anywhere from $6.00 to $40 per diaper. I bought 12 diapers and 3 covers for $150.00 just recently. The initial cost is fairly high, but you are probably averaging $70 per month minimum on disposables, so you recover the cost pretty quickly. The diapers I purchased are said to fit from infant to potty training, so I have already spent all that I really need to on diapers. The cost of washing them is slight enough to keep the savings still ridiculously awesome.

What kinds of diapers are there?
I’m going to do a post later on about the different kinds and show pictures of them, but as a quick drive-by description, there are two main kinds on the market today: Prefolds and pocket diapers. Prefolds are essentially large fabric squares than you fold into diapers. Most users will use “Snappis” or diaper pins to secure the diapers. Once the diapers are folded and placed on baby, covers are then used… Covers are often mistaken for diapers themselves because of their look.

Pocket diapers look like complete diapers. They have a water-resistant exterior and a soft fabric interior — often made from micro-fleece. Pocket diapers open in the back portion where the micro-fleece meets the exterior shell. This is where you “stuff in” the “Stuff-ins” or “inserts.”

What kinds of stuff-ins or inserts are there?
The two main materials used are hemp and a fleece style stuff-in. Some stuff-ins have pockets inside of themselves (I N C E P T I O N) which you can insert… Inserts… Into. This is a good way to increase the absorbency for long trips or night times.

Aren’t they a hassle to carry around or pack up when out of the house?
Aside from taking up more space in your diaper bag, no. Not really. The only issue I have come across with the diapers so far is that you have to carry a wet bag with you and the diapers definitely take up more space in the diaper bag. That said, if you happen to forget your wet bag, you can always use a regular plastic grocery bag.

Isn’t washing them a pain in the buttocks?
hehe. I love that word. Buttocks.

Washing them isn’t really that big of a pain if you have your own laundry unit setup and if you have a pail to use. I use an old, giant ice cream pail. I rinse the diapers out in the bathtub, then soak them in the pail for at least 30 minutes with special laundry soap. I choose to use the specialty soap, although it isn’t really needed. Some people use normal laundry detergent, though you will have to strip your diapers more frequently.

Side note: using the bathtub as your pre-rinse station is excellent incentive to keep your tub nice and clean. After rinsing the diapers out, I give the bathtub a quick clean while the diapers soak in the pail.

After soaking in the pail, the diapers get thrown into the washing machine with an extra rinse cycle and on heavily soiled. If there ever was a use for that “high” soil option on your washing machine… This is it.

How do you wash cloth diapers?
Easily. Remove any solid waste via rinsing (I use the bathtub) if your baby is not exclusively breastfed — breastfed poops are water soluble and don’t necessarily need to be rinsed.

  • Cold rinse and/or pre-soak if needed (I use a specialty detergent and soak diapers in a pail for 30 minutes prior)
  • Hot wash — use baking soda if your diapers are extra stinky!
  • Extra rinse in warmest water possible
  • Sniff test… Rinse some more or start a new wash cycle if they smell like detergent still
Check out this page for more tips (not my site — just one found and approved via google!)

What is stripping?
Shimmy, shimmy, shake, shake. Grab a few $1.00 bills, yo.

Every so often, cloth diapers will build up a residue of soap. Sometimes, they will take on an ammonia smell to them and will need to be stripped so that they can become efficient again. The best way to strip your diapers is to rinse them in as-hot-as-possible water until there are no more soap bubbles. This can take anywhere from 1-4 rinses.

If hot water stripping doesn’t work, it might be time to look into alternatives such as baking soda, using less detergent in future washes, specialty stripping agents, but for the love of… Avoid bleach and vinegar. I know a lot of websites suggest vinegar, but vinegar can deteriorate some water proofing from the diapers. In fact, some manufacturer websites suggest to avoid using it.

Have you had any leaks?
Sure. I’ve had a few pee leaks, especially over night! All diapers, even disposables are prone to leaks, though. More often than not, we do not experience leaks. I have yet to have any poop leak out of them, which should say a lot since Mr. Keagan is an every-3-days kind of pooper!

Cloth diapering has a higher up-front cost, but will save you money in the long run. Although they take up more space in your diaper bag, they aren’t much of an inconvenience, they are relatively easy to clean and care for, they don’t leak any more than a disposable would, and they are just so darn cute! 😀

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