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Cloth Diapering 101 (updated 2020)

I am not a writer, I’m a photographer.  But I’m a cloth diapering mom.  We didn’t cloth diaper our daughter Piper because we lived in the Virgin Islands, and water was scarce.  There is not a natural water source on the island, (other than a rainy day and it collects in your cistern and I wouldn’t dare drink that water or wash diapers in it).  So we used disposables, Huggies or Pampers (or whatever was on sale I’m sure).  We spent almost 3,000 dollars when tallied up on diapers, wipes, pull-ups, diaper creams, etc and threw it all away.

Now that we live stateside, we are cloth diapering baby brother Oli.  I just went through our credit card / bank statements and honestly this far we have spent 600 dollars on cloth diapers, wipes, and detergent.  This 600 dollars is well invested in a stash of adorable diapers.  We don’t have to buy diapers ever, and if you treat these diapers well the resale value is awesome.  I’ve seen a stash similar to mine sell as a bundle for 300 dollars, yes 300 dollars for good used condition diapers.

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Other than the cost savings, CLOTH DIAPERING is good for the EARTH.  Did you know that no one knows how long it will take a disposable diaper to biodegrade?  Estimates are at 200-500 years, thats long after your great, great, great grandchildren will be alive.   Cloth diapers can be washed and reused thousands of times, then can be recycled into washcloths.

I’m not trying to convert the choir, I know the main audience of this blogpost will be people already curious about cloth diapering.  So I’m going to tell you about our easy daily cloth diapering routine and how we wash our fluff.

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My son is 6 months old now and we are going through approximately 10 diapers a day, wet & solid.   We wash every few days because our climate is coastal, extremely humid and mold is gross.  We mainly use Charlie Banana One-Size diapers which give you an option to use cloth inserts or disposable biodegradable inserts, although we have a few other brands in our stash as well.  We chose Charlie Banana because our son was a tiny tiny 3 pound 8 ounce premature little miracle with skinny skinny legs.  Charlie Banana is the only brand that I’ve found that adjusts to the leg size, from teeny tiny to chunky monkey.  Other brands did not fit properly around his little legs and we had so many leak issues.  We love our choice of diapers, the prints are so adorable that I hate putting pants on him.  We have only had one diaper rash case in 6 months, and he had a crazy tummy bug.  It quickly cleared up after he started feeling better.

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Cloth diapering is just as easy as disposable diapering.  He wears the diapers, and I toss them into a metal garbage can with a foot pedal when they are soiled.  I was using a huge pickle bucket, but I saw the pedaled can the other day at Homegoods on sale and had to have it.  Our pickle bucket did the job but the garbage can is so helpful when I have Oli in one hand, and can use my foot to open and close the lid.

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Wipes, we use Marley’s Monsters cloth diaper wipes and we use them for EVERYTHING.  They wash beautifully and we just dry them with our diapers.   And another Work At Home Mama makes them – BONUS!  We simply soak the wipe with water and use but there are plenty of make your own wipe solution recipes out there.

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Every few days I toss the entire diaper can into the wash with Charlies Soap Powder, wash on normal and hang to dry in the sunshine.  Oli is breastfed and we are just now starting solids so our routine will be changing soon, but I’ve already got my Spray-Pal ready to go.   I don’t put diapers in the dryer, the covers can melt with certain dryers. We just hang them outside straight out of the washer.   We do not use bleach, the sunshine naturally removes all stains. This wash routine has our diapers still looking new after 6 months of nonstop use.  Then we fold and stuff diapers.  It really is just approximately 2 extra loads of laundry a week. Easy right?

Cloth diapering is good for your wallet, good for your family, and good for your planet!  There are so many good resources out there to start your research.  I suggest Charlie Banana’s Pinterest Boards &  Fluff Love University, I have learned so much from them!  Fluff Love also has an amazing group on Facebook and you can ask a million questions.cloth-diaper-blog_-laundry-1024x683

Approximately 80% of people in a survey use disposable diapers while the rest use a cloth or a cloth/disposable combination. While many cloth diaper advocates enjoy financial savings and find cloth diapers to be more environmentally friendly, others determine that cloth nappies are not very convenient.

Pros of Cloth Diapers

Many people decide to use cloth diapers because they are more environmentally friendly. Cloth diapers are considered more “green” products because they are laundered rather than sent to a landfill after use.

Cloth diapers can save a significant amount of money overall. Cost savings depend on many factors, such as:

 Type and number of diapers purchased.
 Frequency and type of laundering
 Growth of the baby and how early he or she potty trains
 Whether or not additional babies who are born use the same diapers

Handmade cloth diapers typically save the most money, especially if materials around the house are used. Special fabrics, such as PUL, can provide needed water resistance, but these fabrics cost more and may not be available in local stores.

Waterproof diaper covers can be used with homemade cloth diapers and store-bought diapers that are not waterproof. Less expensive diaper covers (like Gerber) come in packs and pull on like underwear. Others open and close, similar to a disposable diaper (like Charlie Bananas).

Parents who purchase used cloth diapers may enjoy added savings. Purchasing new cloth diapers may also translate to significant savings when looking at diaper use overall.

Energy-efficient washers and line drying can save money on laundering costs. Those who purchase larger numbers of cloth diapers minimize the frequency of washes per week. Pocket diapers dry faster than prefolds and AOIs.

Babies who potty train early may delight parents with added savings because larger diaper sizes may not be needed. Significant savings result by re-using them with later children. Those who re-sell cloth diapers can recoup some of that initial investment.

Some children who have sensitive skin or are allergic to disposable diapers may particularly benefit from cloth diapers because they can be made with material to which the baby is not sensitive. Babies who are hard to fit may benefit from custom-designed cloth diapers that can address their special needs.

People who enjoy sewing may get satisfaction from designing cloth diapers. Store-bought cloth diapers and covers are available in a wide variety of colors and prints. Different styles of cloth diapers may suit various needs, including prefolds, all-in-ones (AIO) (like BumGenius), and pocket diapers (like Fuzzibunz). Diaper services help some people by decreasing the workload.

Cons of Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers are not as convenient as disposable diapers and require an investment of time. Disposable diapers are now easy to put on, easy to remove and are simply tossed after use. Cloth diapers must be laundered. If six to twelve cloth diapers are used each day, this can result in a significant investment of time.

Traveling with cloth diapers may be undesirable for some due to laundering needs. Some daycares and babysitters may feel uncomfortable changing cloth diapers. Parents may choose to switch to disposables when traveling or when someone else is providing care.

Cloth diapers are not available in stores in every area. People who prefer to view and assess a product before a purchase may find it difficult to choose between sizes and types of cloth diapers available. Many parents may hesitate to invest in cloth diapers if they are unsure that the size or style will work well for them.

Some cloth diapers may leak more than disposables. Other kids may not like the feel of the cloth diapers. Although materials like fleece absorb liquids well, they may become uncomfortably warm.

Accessories may add to the cost, such as:

 Covers
 Pins
 Products to ease the cleaning process
 Wet pails
 Wet bags

Pros and Cons of Cloth Diapers

People who choose cloth diapers enjoy savings that might exceed $1000, but the initial investment may be overwhelming for some, especially for those who do not have a chance to evaluate the diapers before purchase. Because cloth diapers require an investment of time and may not be convenient when traveling, some parents may choose to use a combination of cloth and disposables. Using a couple of cloth diapers each day can have a positive impact on the environment, which may help those babies when they grow up.

Related: Cloth Diapering 101 from What to Expect

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