One of the biggest topics of interest I get from people who read my blog is in regards to cloth diapering. (You can read my first post on cloth HERE). So today I'm sharing with you everything else I've learned in my 2.5 years of navigating the world of cloth: the best kinds/brands, how to properly use, store, wash, & dry. I hope with these additional details and I'm able to answer some questions to make this all a little easier and maybe a little more appealing to you!
I have tried a lot of different brands and will say that the best (most absorbant, clean, cute patterns, and easy to use & clean) are Pocket Diapers by Rumparooz and Blueberry. I recommend pocket diapers versus the others out there (fitted, snaps, AIOs and prefolds) because you don't need to worry about or purchase any additional items, and they are very absorbent, easy to assemble and easier to use than the others, and they also clean much better than others. I strongly dislike Grovia and those other “hybrid" diapers, which may be tempting, as it was for me, since they are interchangeable with disposable pads, but they do not work well. (Read: very leaky & holds stains). And whatever you do, don't go out and buy the cheapo brands at Target or Babies R Us. I would strongly advise going for an all-in-one or pocket diapers, and I would also recommend snap button closures. The velcro ones aren't bad per say, but sometimes over time the velcro can start to wear, they're a pain in the butt if you forget to velcro them before throwing them in the dryer, and little ones can figure out how to pull them off - not a good thing. All that being said, Rumparooz and Blueberry have never once failed us. They have a ton of adorable patterns, they wash the nasties away extremely effectively, they are super absorbant for even bigger toddlers and bladders, they never leak, and always hold everything in.
Changing the Diaper & Preliminary Cleaning:
When you change your little one's cloth diaper, you can just take apart the wet ones and throw in a wet bag. (I would also recommend investing in a smaller wet bag for when you're on the go). I also sprinkle some baking soda in the bag to help eliminate some of the odors as they sit and wait for a wash.
The dirty ones are a bit more complicated to deal with, as you can imagine. I never bought one of those toilet fixtures. I have always used these squirt bottles that I got in the hospital when Landon was born, which I keep in my bathroom filled up and ready to use for the next pooper. I put on my plastic cleaning gloves, use my squirt bottles to get all the nasties off, and then throw in the wet bag. For what it's worth, I've heard you can find those toilet fixtures pretty inexpensively and they are very easy to assemble and use from the other cloth diapering mamas I've talked to, but this method has worked very efficiently for me.
If after rinsing off the nasties you have stains on the diapers, you can pre-soak with any cloth diaper laundry detergent, which I'll get to next.
Once your wet bag is filled up and you are ready to do a wash (note: I would not let these dirty diapers sit for any longer than 2 days or they will start to smell and stains will begin to set), you can throw them all in the washer to clean, turning the wet bag inside out in with it to wash so you don't even end up touching any dirty diapers. If you put baking soda in your wet bag this has amazing cleaning properties as well so it's a great cleaning agent for cloth to add in as well.
I then do a pre-soak in cold water (or a pre-wash in cold water with no detergent) and and then do the main wash with detergent in a hot water, on a heavy-duty cycle with an extra rinse. It's important not to start off with the first wash in hot water as it may set stains, but hot water will clean best for the second main heavy-duty wash. The extra rinse cycle is very important as it ensures all the soap is rinsed off the diapers, and helps eliminate odors caused by a build-up of detergents.
As for the laundry detergent or soaking detergent, do not use generic, store-bought whiteners or bleach. The bleach will shorten the life of your diapers and whiteners will damage waterproofing on the all-in-ones and diaper covers/shells. I have used a few different kinds of specialty laundry detergents for my cloth diapers but would highly recommend Rock 'N Green. I know it sounds like a pain to have to go out and buy special laundry detergent, but you can easily order online, and you can also use this detergent to wash normal clothes as well. It lasts a LIFETIME too. One package is good for up to 90 loads.
When you take the diapers out of the washing machine, they should smell fresh and clean. If they still smell of dirty diapers, even faintly, then rewash. Odors can mean that the diapers contain lingering bacteria, which can irritate your baby's skin or cause diaper rash.
You can throw in the dryer for a normal drying cycle to make extra fluffy and soft for baby's bottom, or you can hang air dry. When we lived downtown we had to pay for our laundry so I always air dried. Depending on your sunlight, they will dry within a day or two, and natural sunlight actually helps brighten whites and naturally remove stains. By air drying you are also saving power and electricity on the dryer load, so naturally more eco-friendly and it also helps preserve the life of your diapers. However, since we moved to the burbs and have our own washer/dryer unit, I've been drying in the dryer because it obviously dries them a lot faster and also leaves them much softer and fluffier for my precious little baby butt. Your choice. If you do dry in the dryer, do not use fabric softener, as it will wear away the diapers absorbency. I've also found that I need to run my dryer for longer - about 60 minutes to fully dry some of the thicker cloth diaper inserts. Some of the shells may not be recommended to put in the dryer, so always check the manufacturer's instructions beforehand.
Storing:When they are done drying, I put them all together and store in a basket near his changing table, and one or two in his baby bag, all ready for the next use.
Other Misc Notes:
- I would recommend having at least 8-12 cloth diapers in your stash. You don't need to get them all at once – you can order one and see how you like it before you order more.
- Don't feel like you need to cloth diaper all the time. I know it's a lot of extra work and just not managebale when you are traveling, when you have a babysitter or when they're in a child/daycare, and when you're just not feeling well and zapped of energy. I always keep a pack of disposables on hand and use in between washings and for when we are out and about all day.
- Intimidated by their price? Cloth diapers can seem like a big investment at first, running anywhere from $20-$25 a diaper, but when you look at how much you are saving versus disposables, you'll see it's worth it! (See the comparison HERE). You can also purchase gently used cloth diapers at a discount from some online merchants.
- Baby got diaper rash? You can still use diaper cream with cloth, but some do not work as well as others with cloth. For the most part, anything natural/organic will work fine, just avoid anything with cod liver oil or other fish oils. I use Burt's Bees and swear by it. Other mamas report really good things with Coconut Oil, Lansinoh, Corn Starch, breast milk, California Baby, and CJ's Butter.
- Most cloth diapers are adjustable to fit newborns all the way through toddlerhood. I didn't use them on my LO as a newborn, but there are easy snap closures to adjust to tiny bodies. So unlike diaposables, you don't need to continuously go up in sizes.
- Will this make me a slave to the laundry machine? No, it really won't. I wash a load of cloth diapers once every other day. With the amount of laundry my family goes through anyway it's really not a big deal and does not take up as much time as you may think.
Good luck & feel free to reach out to me with any questions!