Cloth diapering is not easier than using disposables. It is, in fact, more work.
Just let that sink in for a moment. Or, if you’re already a cloth-diapering parent you’re like, “obviously, bro.”
So, why would anyone choose to cloth diaper? There are two main reasons: 1.) It is so. much. cheaper. 2.) Save the planet!
Side benefits include: they are usually more gentle on baby bums, babies/toddlers will understand that peeing=wetness which helps immensely with potty training (so I’ve heard, haven’t crossed that bridge yet), and of course, that priceless smugness that only comes from making unpleasant sacrifices for the good of the planet.
Cloth diapering is really not a big deal for our family, and is just part of our routine. Here’s is what we do and how:
We have 18 cloth diapers and 3 wet bags for Warrior Girl. (You really only need 12-14). 11 of the diapers are All-In-One cloth diapers similar to these, and 7 are Fuzzi Bunz pocket diapers. Here is a great article clarifying the differences in the various types of cloth diapers.
Every other morning, I go to our drying rack with Warrior Girl and gather up her diapers. Inevitably, some of the All-In-Ones are still damp, so I leave those up for a few more hours while we use dry ones.
Next, Warrior Girl loves to help me prep the diapers.
For the pocket diapers, this involves stuffing the absorbent insert into the pocket. For the All-In-Ones, I snap detachable pads onto the main body of the diaper. This takes about 5-10 minutes. In reality, I will often prep a couple diapers to get us through grocery shopping or whatever we are doing, and just prep a new one each time I need it after that. Then I just leave the others in a pile on my floor. Because that’s the kind of housekeeper I am.
Throughout the day, we probably have to change Warrior Girl’s diaper nearly ever 2-3 hours, or about every other time she pees. Each wet/dirty diaper goes into a wet bag. This is compared to disposables, which can be changed every…like never. Okay, you still have to change disposables, but they can wear them for hours if they don’t poop
Now…. let’s cut to the chase. What about poop? Well, it’s really not that big of a deal. When Warrior Girl was still exclusively breastfed, we didn’t have to do anything about the poop. It all came off in the wash because breastfed baby poop is just…whatever it is. Very rinsable. Also just smells like milk. Is that weird?
Once baby is eating some solids but still breastfeeding quite a bit, their poop goes through a….how to say….a difficult phase for cloth diapering. Ie. it becomes something akin to sweet potato casserole. You can no longer expect your washer to just handle it. The poop must be removed from the diaper one way or another before you wash it.
Someone gave us a toilet-sprayer to use for this reason, but the maintenance crew at our apartment wouldn’t allow us to use it. Thus, we resorted to something very simple: a plastic spackling tool.
Here’s how it works: baby poops. After you change their diaper, you take the dirty diaper to the toilet, lift the lid and the seat, and use your scraping device of choice to scrape the poop off the diaper and into the toilet. You could even use a spatula–just don’t use it for food again! Obviously. We stored the spackling tool in an empty yogurt container on the back of the toilet because, classy.
After diaper has been scraped, you place the diaper in the wet bag and wash your hands like you’ve never washed them. That’s it. No need to rinse the diaper in the toilet or anything like they did in the old days. The entire process takes about 1-2 extra minutes.
But! Good news, friends! After your baby is a big girl/boy and fully established on solids, they will reach a stage where the scraper is no longer necessary! That’s right, their poop will become solid enough that you can just shake the diaper over the toilet and it will roll right off. How did you like that visual? You’re welcome. Now dealing with a poopie diaper will only take you about 30 seconds longer than if you were using a disposable! Also, not so gross now that you’re not scraping poop.
We wash our cloth diapers every other day, and by we, I mean J does it while I’m putting Warrior Girl to bed. I would not advise going longer than every 3rd day to wash them.
Washing the diapers involves pulling the inserts out of the pocket diapers and dumping all the diapers and the wet bags straight into the washer. This takes about 1 minute, but the odors for that 1 minute are not pleasant.
First, we run the diapers through a cold rinse cycle to get everything gross out of there. Next, we wash them with a powder detergent with 1/2 cup of Borax added to combat our super hard water on a hot, regular wash cycle. Then we hang them up on our drying rack.
Hanging them is the most time consuming part of the entire cloth-diapering process; it probably takes 10 minutes. You could always use a dryer instead, thus saving yourself 10 minutes, but we hang dry because: (1) Saving the planet or something; (2) Less wear on the diapers; and (3) We don’t have a dryer. We hang dry all our clothes.
That’s it, folks. That is all that is involved in our cloth diapering system.
Now, here is how we go 90% to make this whole thing workable for us: we keep a box of disposables on hand. We use disposables at night. (I’m sure we could use cloth at night, it just seems too risky to possibly have her wake up wet. We have literally never tried it). We also use disposables whenever we take Warrior Girl hiking or rock climbing because ain’t nobody got time for cloth at that point. Ditto for travelling or camping. We do not use cloth wipes. Getting poop off the wipes before washing seems like a whole different ball game, one I have no desire to play.
I have seen blogs for moms who literally only use cloth, even while on week-long backpacking trips, or when travelling cross-country. To them I say, congratulations. Also, whoa dude. Also, how?
Bottom Line: If you have babies, you have to deal with poop. To anyone considering cloth diapering, I say go for it. To me, the benefits greatly outweigh the cons. The total extra time investment is probably 10 minutes on non-wash days and maybe 20 on wash days. And finally, find a system that works for you, whether that means all cloth, all the time, or something more in the middle.
Everything you need to get started cloth diapering:
- 3 wet bags
- 12-20 cloth diapers – Consider buying 1 or 2 of the type you think you want so that you can try them out before committing to an entire stash. Seriously. I’ve had friends buy an entire stash only to find they didn’t like them for one reason or another. What works for who depends on baby’s body type, and parent lifestyle, etc. I think we have about 18, but this is more than necessary.
- Good detergent – This site is an excellent resource on ensuring you are using a good detergent based on whether you have hard or soft water, and on the type of diapers you use.
- Cloth or disposable wipes
- Drying rack to save energy, electric bill, and the planet! Ours was a free, curbside score.
Have you considered cloth diapering? Does the thought make you want to vomit? How do you make it work for your family? Share in the comments below!