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the haas machine: Cloth Diapering

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cloth Diapering

This isn't even one of the topics I listed to blog about, but my super green, hip brother asked me to write a piece on cloth diapering for his blog, so I figured I'd do a more extensive version on my blog (have you checked out the Minnesota Green, by the way?)

John & I really have a passion to love & care for our earth as much as we can, but what really got us into cloth diapering was my frugality. On average, parents who use disposable diapers spend about $2,400 in 2.5 years of diapering per child (about $80 per month). Parents who choose to cloth diaper can spend as little as $200 & the best part is that once you buy them for one kid, that's all you really need to buy. You can use cloth diapers for multiple kids, which is even cheaper.

We registered for our diapers almost immediately after finding out I was pregnant because I knew it would be expensive initially. We decided to go with an amazing local business in Duluth, Little Neetchers, mostly because I have obvious ties to Duluth, but also because they are amazing people who have a passion for cloth diapering. Now that it's becoming a bit more trendy, cloth diapering shops are popping up everywhere, so they are definitely more accessible.

I'm no expert on cloth diapers, let's just get that out there, but what I do want to share are some of the diapers that we have used & loved, so these are just my humble opinions. In this post I'll share some of our favorite diapers, our system for washing & other ways to make your money go farther.

My favorite diapers (we chose the cover & pre-fold route, which is the most financially friendly way to go)
Initially, my favorite cover was the Super Whisper cover. They are super affordable, seemed very cozy, & have adorable prints, which of course is very important. Over time, once Ruby grew to be more mobile & learned how fun it was to un-velcro her diaper (hello many hot "only diaper" summer days!), we switched to GroVia covers & Thirsties covers because of the snaps, but also because I liked how they allowed for a little bit more movement & will be able to diaper her for her entire diapering experience.
A GroVia cover on the left & a Thirsties cover on the right. The GroVia cover allow for use from 8-30 pounds & the Thirsties cover is 8-40 pounds because of the adjustable snaps. There's even more savings when you don't have to buy 2 or 3 sizes of diapers!
This is a Fuzibunz pocket diaper (you put the insert in the pocket). I have found the inserts that these come with to not be as absorbant as the inserts that we use (read below), so for these, we use the same inserts that we use on our other covers.

My favorite inserts are the Bummis Organic Pre-folds, hands down. We have these in 2 sizes (one for when she was an infant & one for her current crazy toddling stage). They are so thick & soft & oh-so-absorbant. I normally change Ruby's diaper every 2-2.5 hours & I think I've had maybe one leak, so I'd call that a success.
The Bummis Organic pre-fold in the toddler size
Folded in half
Then folded into fourths
Placed in the cover

We also use bio-soft liners on top of the pre-fold every time we change a diaper. They are super handy because whenever Ruby poos, we can just take this liner with poo & flush it down the toilet (if she just pees on them, we wash them by hand & let them air dry & use them several times). There's no scraping or touching or using a sprayer or anything. You really want to get as much poo as possible off of your diapers before you wash them, but who wants to be exposed to the poo any more than you have to, right? These little liners are our saving grace & at $6 for 100 of them, it is so worth it.

We have found that it's nice to have 10-12 covers & 18-24 pre-folds so that I'm not washing diapers every day, which leads me to the next topic of washing...

Washing routine
If you happen to google cloth diaper washing, you will come across maybe thousands of different methods. It was honestly SUPER overwhelming for me at first because I didn't want to screw up this investment I made. I learned that I had to find a method that worked well for us & also that I had to experiment until I got it down right for us. In the beginning of cloth diapering, we had a beautiful olive green 1970's top loader, but we now have since joined the front loader era, so that took a long time for me to get used to. The most important things to remember with washing are you need a safe detergent & lots & lots of water.

When we have used diapers, we put them into a wet bag (again, inserts are only used once before they are washed, covers can be used several times). The wet bag is double lined & has a zipper on it, so all the stink is contained. I prefer to wash the diapers 3 times a week (I do them on M, W, F) because I find that if they sit for more than 3 days in a bag, they are harder to get clean.
Some diaper covers & our wet bag hanging on the amazing drying rack that John built

We have tried several kinds of detergent, but for the price & power, we really like Country Save. I buy it on Amazon in bulk once a year & it lasts forever. I also like how I don't have to have a separate detergent for our clothes. We also use wool dryer balls to dry them because you are not supposed to use ANY kind of dryer sheets on your diapers, even if they are eco-safe or biodegradable.
Wool dryer balls & Country Save detergent

So here's my crazy washing routine that has been perfected for us. Note that we have extremely hard water & a front loader, so this system may not work for you-- play around with it!
  1. Empty the wet bag into the washer (the covers, pre-folds, & wet bag can all be washed together). Make sure the wet bag liner is pulled out so it gets cleaned properly. Do the longest wash (my machine calls it "heavy duty") on cold with NO detergent. You want to do this so that all the pee & poo are rinsed from the diapers. If you don't do this, you're washing your diapers in poo water... mmm.
  2. Do another of the longest wash ("heavy duty") on hot with 1 scoop of detergent. Here I also add a soaking wet beach towel to "trick" our washer into thinking there is a bigger load. I absolutely love the mystery of our water saving front loader (for our other laundry), but for diapers, it's not always helpful. If you are able to change the water levels on your machine, do that. Ours doesn't allow for that, so I trick it with the towel. With cloth diapers, you need TONS of water to clean them & rinse them well, otherwise stink, & sometimes infection can linger in them.
  3. Do a normal wash on cold water with no detergent. This is just to get out all of the soap, if there happens to be any left. If you happen to be watching your machine rinse your diapers during step 2 & don't notice any bubbles on the final rinse, then you won't need to do this.
  4. Dry the covers only on the hottest setting for 20 minutes with the wool balls. If it's summer, I hang them outside to finish drying, but in the winter, I dry them for the full 40 minutes inside. All of the covers cannot be dried in the dryer.
If you have any stains, set them in the sun for a few hours or days. You don't need any other product to remove these stains-- the sun is powerful enough (even in Wisconsin winters). It just might take a few days. Also, if your baby is still on an all-milk diet, there is no need to scrape the poo off or use liners on top of the pre-folds. The poo is very runny & easily rinsed out in step 1.

Other tips
To cut costs even more, we use cloth wipes & make a diaper wipe "juice" to spray on them. The baby wipe juice concentration that I am in love with is from LuSa Organics, which is a company that has amazing baby products & are produced just 45 minutes away from us! All you need to do is use half of the bottle of juice & mix it with a gallon of water. You definitely don't need to use a juice of any kind- you can use water, but I like the lingering lavender scent & knowing that Ruby's bottom is clean & moisturized. I think we've gone through 2 or 3 gallons in 15 months... not bad!
Cloth wipes, LuSa baby wipe juice & our spray bottle

We use cloth diapers the majority of the time. The only time we ever use disposables is at night (we have yet to find a system that works for 12+ hours of pee that isn't tremendously bulky & the vast majority of my cloth diapering friends tend to agree with me on this one) or sometimes when we are traveling. Although I may have been long-winded in this post, they honestly aren't much more work-- just a little know how & time doing a few more loads of laundry is all it takes.

Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or if you would like me to expand on anything I posted.

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At December 17, 2012 at 10:10 PM , Blogger Casey Speaker said...

THANK YOU for this! Looks like we will end up being in a house shortly before or after baby arrives so I would love to do cloth diapering!!

At January 6, 2013 at 3:25 PM , Blogger Gillian said...

So exciting, Casey! Let me know if I can help any more :)


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