Thanks for coming back for Part 2 of Cloth Diapers for Dummies. If you missed part 1, you can find it right here. Today we will be covering: What to know before you buy, and Care and Cleaning Tips.
What to know before you buy may vary for lots of people. These are just a few tips to help you in your search for the right CD for you! I hope its helpful, and mamas out there who Cloth Diaper, please feel free to add your own tips in the comments below!
- <<Its ok to buy used>> If you're thinking "ew gross, why would I buy used" Then let me tell you a little secret. There are lots of reasons to buy used, of course they cost less, not to mention that there are lots of people out there who try Cloth and its just not for them, they have practically brand spankin new diapers they will sell off for a fraction of the cost. Buying used also keeps your cost down if you're just trying out cloth to see if you like it, or trying a new brand to see if it works for you. I have bought the majority of my diapers used and have had a good experience ((most of the time)) Used diapers should run you anywhere from $7-$15 per diaper, depending on the condition and brand name etc.
- <<But before you buy used... >>You should absolutely check out the diapers if possible before you buy, or make sure you get extensive pictures. Some things to look for are: if there is any staining, what type of insert comes with it, some people try to sell without inserts which in my opinion is shady! Have a look at the snaps and or velcro to see if velcro is still sticky and if all of the snaps are still working etc. Another big thing to look at are the elastics. If you have a newer diaper to compare, bring it along, hold them up against each other to see if the elastics are as tight on the used as the newer diaper. This is HUGE when trying to avoid leaks. I got really burned when someone sold a very naive, largely pregnant me some diapers with elastics that were almost worn out. Boo!!
- <<Its ok to buy new>> If you want to get all new diapers and you can afford to do so, i say go for it!! Put some research into your preferred brands though before you put all of your eggs in one basket... or all your poop in one diaper... ((haha too far?)).
- <<Search your area for natural parenting stores>> We unfortunately don't have any natural parenting stores here where I live but there are a few in provinces close by, so when I was pregnant we hit those up to check out diapers in person. We gleaned any knowledge we could from the workers there about brands/type etc. These people are a wealth of knowledge, so capitalize! Sometimes they will even have a program where you can pay to try an assortment of diapers when baby arrives to see which you like. I would have loved something like that!!
- <<Search your area for Facebook Cloth Diaper groups>> We have a thriving Facebook CD group here where I live and im sure that if I have one on this tiny Island, there is one close to you as well if you look. People in these groups will post diapers they are selling, and are also a wealth of knowledge!
- <<The sun is your new best friend>> If you liked the Sun before you started cloth diapering, you will develop a much more intimate relationship now. It amazes me every time when I put my stained diapers out in the sun and they come back down off the line white as snow. Oh Mr Sun, how I love you!!!
- <<Double Gussets>> As soon as I tried a diaper with leg gussets, I was in deep hearts. Especially for those newborn poops, the leg gussets help keep everything in... amazing!
- <<Snaps vs. Velcro>> Its a tough debate! I love the convenience of velcro, especially if you have a reluctant or hesitant husband, velcro couldn't be easier. But now that Hazel is a bit older, she has discovered that she can undo the velcro herself.... not good my friends! Snaps are very secure, but sometimes its hard to find the perfect fit. My advice is to try both and see what works for you.
- <<Wetbags>> Wetbags are beautiful inventions. These are what most people use these days to put the dirty diapers in. Made of PUL, wetbags come in all different sizes. I use a large wetbag in Hazel's nursery and I have two small wetbags that can fit in my purse for outings. My advice is to invest in a small wet/dry bag for outings. I LOVE mine! This bag has a dry pocket to put your wipes and clean diapers in, and a waterproof pocket for your dirty diapers. After your babies are all potty trained use it for swim suits!
- <<Get a system>> I have heard several people tell me that they just "couldnt do" cloth diapers. My theory is that if you are set up with a great system than you can pretty much do anything. For your system I recommend that you have an easily accessible place you'll be putting your clean diapers. ((In our case we use a dresser for a change table a la pintrest style, and keep the clean diapers in the top drawer)) It's also important to have an accessible place you're going to put the dirty diapers. We decided to get a large garbage pail, with a foot step thing to open it ((cause i mean ya don't have a lot of hands to go around when you have a dirty diaper in one and you're trying to hold your squirmy baby in place with the other)) I put a large wetbag, that I made with some PUL inside that and BAM works like a charm. On the other side of the dresser is where I keep my little stand with basket of wipes, liners etc.
- <<Liners are your friend>> In the newborn stage I cut up some fleece to use as a liner ((so we are talking what you lay on top of the diaper, right against baby's bum)) The fleece is great because it keeps the baby's bum dry and rash free AND you can use bum cream without clogging up the diaper... nice! Now that baby H is having those oh so wonderful 'solid' squishy poops we use compostable liners you can just throw the whole thing down the toilet, genius.
<<WASHING>>-depending on your brand/type of diapers, using extra stuff like bleach/vinegar/baking soda etc can ruin your diapers (unless the manufacturer says it's ok) I know people who use vinegar without problems, but its mostly considered a "no-no". - The thing about washing is that you will really have to see what works for you and your machine. Every washing machine is different and you may have to play around to see what gets your diapers clean and stink free!
-you need a cloth diaper safe detergent. You will find lots of reviews and recommendations online for cloth diaper safe ones and everyone has an opinion! I sourced out different ones and I use Nellies All Natural detergent- made in Canada, all natural, safe for cloth diapers and all clothes, very economical, pretty widely available considering it's natural and cloth diaper safe. I love my Nellies! ((It comes in a cute can too))
- This website has an awesome chart of which detergents are CD safe and which are not.
<<WASH ROUTINE>>-some people say use 1/4 to 1/2 amount of detergent....it all depends on your water type, type of washer (front loader vs top loader) and type/brand of diapers (ie natural vs synthetic fibers)...the key to washing is using enough detergent to clean and also using the most amount of water possible for longest wash setting.
-You may find that adding a bucket of water to your rinse cycle will work wonders!
-Rinses are key! You will need to rinse rinse rinse to make sure all of the detergent is out of the diapers. If its not you will know when your child pees in the diaper the first time it will have a strong ammonia smell... yuck! -for exclusively breastfed (ebf) babes (before starting solids), the ebf poops are water-soluble and therefore you don't have to dump/rinse poop before putting in washer (you only need to after they start solids) BONUS!
-My friend who owns an Inn gave me a great tip about washing. Its commonly known in the CD world to do a cold rinse before you wash the diapers, I had no idea why until my friend told me that if you do a hot rinse first on anything that has "human matter" ((ie poop, blood etc)) than you are essentially "cooking the proteins in the matter" read: baking it on.... YIKES! Good to know!
<<MY WASH ROUTINE>>
(on largest water setting/water level of washer): -Cold rinse ((no detergent)) -Hot Wash-with detergent -Warm Rinse ((and I add a kettle full of hot water... this is not common but it works for me and my crappy washer))
-Cold Rinse - I do this extra cold rinse to make sure all the detergent is rinsed out, otherwise it can build-up on your diapers and cause leaking/repelling/ammonia issues)
<<WIPES>>-I love cloth wipes. You can use baby face cloths, make your own, or buy cloth wipes meant for cloth diapers.
-I recommend having enough wipes and diapers so that you can wash every 2-3 days i.e. 24-30 diapers and 24-30 wipes-you can just use water for the wipes or you make your own wipe solution. You can use a water bottle or squirt bottle or even a spray bottle to keep it in. Then before you use the wipe, squirt or spray it then wipe away!
-my wipe solution is: 1-2 drops of tea tree oil 1-2 drops grapefruit seed extract 2-3 drops of natural baby soap (I use Dr. Bronner's castile soap) And then fill the rest of the bottle with water (Tea tree oil and grapefruit seed extract make it anti-bacterial and anti-yeast)
-Many CD mama's hang their diapers to dry. If you are in a place where you can hang diapers on the line all year round I hate you... just kidding. But seriously, consider yourself lucky! You can save money and extend the life of your diapers by hanging them on the line!
-The reason people don't use the dryer is that it can cause the diapers to "de-laminate" so the waterproof layer starts to separate from the outer material.
-Some diaper manufacturers say that its ok to dry your diapers in the dryer. In the summer I hang on the line 98% of the time but in the winter I dry in the dryer.... I don't feel great about it but I would also go crazy if I had a bunch of diapers hanging out to dry inside my small small house.
-If you do use the dryer, use the lowest setting possible! And don't use dryer sheets!!
-If you use the dryer I recommend wool dryer balls, and to use about 4-6, they cut drying time and therefore save you $$$ and they also naturally soften diapers/clothes.
-If you use it youll need a Cloth Diaper safe one, or you can use a liner. That being said, if you are into cloth diapers, chances are you will want to use something natural anyway, cause ya know, you're wise like that. I use pure coconut oil and it works wonders!
-There are also some recipes out there you can use to make your own, I did this early on, but haven't made it in a while.
-There are a lot of brands out there making natural bum creams. If you choose to buy make sure all of the ingredients listed are natural, this will insure that when washed the creams wont repel water and will wash away.
<<OTHER THINGS TO KNOW>>
- Stripping- no im not talking about taking your clothes off. Stripping is what you will have to do when you have a stinky diaper after washing it, your problem is that you most likely have a build up of detergent in your diapers. You "strip" your diapers by using "Dawn" dish detergent, the blue original kind. Yeah I know its weird, but thats what works! ((I dont know who the heck figured that one out)) Put a tsp of dawn in your regular wash routine ((after the diapers are already clean but not dry)) and you'll have to rinse about a billion times ((read probably 4))
-You can also use something called RLR that you can find in your grocery store laundry aisle to help get rid of detergent build up.
- If all of this doesn't work you'll have to boil the inserts... watch out for the ones that have plastic snaps though because they might melt...
Its ok to not cloth diaper 100% of the time. I have friends who dont CD at night, or dont CD when they are out of the house, its all good. You need to do what works for you and your family.
I hope these posts have taken some of the confusion and worry out of starting cloth.
I hope you have fun dressing that cute bum!
(( I will be posting a FAQ later in the week as well, for those with more questions))