I’ve all ready talked about all of the benefits of using cloth diapers, but realistically, I know that signing on to use them is can seem a bit daunting. Most people have visions of safety pins, and poop overflowing in the washing machine, and dozens of extra loads of laundry, and the grandest stink of all time hovering like a cloud over the changing station. The reality of using cloth though is not nearly so complicated…or disgusting…once you have a routine. In fact, we’re so comfortable with our system, anyone in my family would tell you that disposable diapers would be a costly and imposing cramp in our style. There are as many ways of using cloth diapers as there are parents to use them, but I wanted to share our routine to give some perspective.
My family has decided to primarily use pocket diapers so up until this point, that is the only style which I can speak of from experience. Most pockets are one-size, which means they’ll fit from somewhere in the ballpark of 10-40 lbs. With our first, we opted to use disposables for the few weeks before she was big enough to fit into them. I also felt that would keep me from feeling overwhelmed with both a new baby and figuring out a washing and storage routine for diapers. For Baby-on-the-Way, we’ve decided instead to purchase a few newborn covers and use prefolds for the early weeks, but that’s a story for another time and for now, I’ll stick with what I know. I want to point out that this is not an endorsement that our method is better than any other method. It’s what works for us and my hope is that sharing our story will make cloth diapering seem a little more feasible to anyone reading this who is skeptical, or help someone struggling to come up with a livable routine.
In the beginning, we used a flushable liner to dispose of the solids. She was exclusively breastfed for seven months so during that time, nothing was really “solid,” but we don’t rinse so it helped to get rid of the bulk. Our changing table is in the bathroom, so for particularly messy ones, I’d just rinse by hand in the toilet. I’m not offended by this, and it arose pretty infrequently, but for those who are, diaper sprayers can be attached to the toilet as an alternative. Now that she’s older and her diet is nearly all solid food, she has normal BMs and I can just bump it into the toilet without a mess most of the time. I rarely even bother with the liners anymore. We have a dry bag hanging off the handle of the bathroom door so I pull the insert from the diaper and put both that and the cover into the bag until it’s time to wash. We rarely have any odor issues and when we do, and when we do, it’s been not from solids, but from build up of ammonia on the inserts…nothing a good stripping can’t fix.
Our dry bags have a zipper on the bottom so I empty the entire bag and toss everything (including the bag) into a cold rinse cycle to start with. I follow that with a hot/cold regular cycle with just a couple tablespoons of detergent (general rule is half of what you’d use normally), and a splash of vinegar as a water softener. In the end, I run another cold rinse to make sure the detergent is fully out of the inserts. Stains come out with a couple of minutes in the sun. I never put the covers in the dryer, but I do the inserts. I do the diaper wash twice per week usually and stuff them as I fold the laundry. It does take a couple of extra minutes, but it’s not really that big of a deal.
For the sake of comparison, I want to briefly mention that my mom is our nanny and is therefore washing the same diapers for the same kid, but has an entirely different routine. She has her changing area in her laundry room next to a utility sink and thoroughly rinses every diaper before storing them in a bucket of water. The reason she rinses so well is because instead of running designated loads of diapers, she tosses whatever she has into her regular white loads (because they’re washed on hot). She’s not actually doing any extra laundry in her case, just doing some extra rinsing at changing time.
I’ll be the first to admit that using cloth diapers do take a little bit of research and trial and error to figure out a system that’ll work in your home, but it most certainly can be done. I know cloth diapering families who are using community washing facilities, HE washing machines, and all other variations that end up being completely workable. For me, I enjoyed the entire process and I am proud of my collection and my cost-saving, environmentally friendly routine!
Tell us a little about your storage/wash routine and be entered to win this Sweet Pea pocket diaper!
*winner will be announced November 25, 2013