Cloth diapering 101 why I used cloth diapers and how I saved hundreds of dollars doing it!

It's been about seven years since any of my kids have been in diapers, 
but I would like to say that I was a bit of an expert on the matter back in the day.

I had such a fantastic experience using cloth diapers with my kids that I would love to share my experience with you in hopes that it is helpful for you in making your decision.

My oldest son is nearly 16, and when he was born, my mom bribed me into trying cloth diapers with him.
She knew it was a less expensive alternative to disposable diapers and in exchange for trying out cloth diapers with our son, she bought us a washing machine and dryer.
Fair trade I thought...that is until I tried them.

I hated cloth diapers!
They leaked, they left red marks on my sons legs and they were so gross to wash out in the toilet.
I lasted only a few weeks and even then it was sporadic usage.

Several years later when I was pregnant with my daughter, I happened upon a message board about cloth diapering.  I spent a ton of time researching and found that the plastic covers and not very absorbent prefolds that I was using on my first child were archaic and that things were changing.

I didn't want to jump right in with cloth diapering since I wasn't quite sure how the adjustment to having two kids was going to be, so I waited until Isabella was about 6 weeks old and we ran out of our newborn diapers.

By that time, I had done a ton of research, I knew what was working for other moms, what my stash should look like, what the investment should be and what diapers and products I should invest in.

I started off by buying a large garbage pail and two pail liners like this one for the nursery.
I needed two pail liners so that I could be washing one and using another.
I also got a wet bag like this to keep in the diaper bag.
I tried a lot of diapers and diapering systems.
By far my favorites were pocket diapers.
Pocket diapers need "stuffed" and so I bought these babykicks joeybunz hemperoo's.
These fleece topped hemperoo's are by far my favorite part of cloth diapering because not only were they thin, they were super absorbent.  They also held their value well, so that after diapering two kids, I was able to resell them for nearly what I paid for them.  I ended up having around 18-24 of these hemperoos in my "stash".

When I wasn't using a pocket diaper I used a prorap classic cover.
I used to have a phone number where I could buy seconds, for around $4 each.
That number still works {shocking!} but they charge $6.25 +shipping, which is nearly retail.
I also lucked out by finding a lot of these prorap covers at garage sales and consignment shops for under $1.
I may have lucked out because this company is WA based.
In case you are interested in giving them a try you can call 1-800-397-8594.
Regardless, I would highly recommend this cover.
When paired with a hemperoo {above} it made for a really slim, trim, absorbent diaper that never leaked and never left red marks on the babies skin.


Back in 2002, when I started using cloth diapers,
I met a mom named Linda who was sewing diapers for her preemie daughter.
She made these amazing all in one pocket diapers that held up so nicely and came in tons of colors and prints.  I would order directly from Linda and receive personal e-mails and hand written notes from her. Linda has since sold the company, but you can still order happy heiny's pocket diapers here.

I would stuff these pocket diapers with, you guessed it, a hemperoo!
These diapers would hold up through the night and when we were out and about.

I tried lots of other diapers, but if I had it to do over again, that is the "stash" that I would start with.

I also used cloth wipes. 
I made my own with flannel on one side and velour on the other,
{you can find my tutorial here}
or you can order them or just use a washcloth.
You are already washing diapers, it's easier to use washable wipes than disposable ones.
You can also find my cloth wipes washing solution in the post above.

Speaking of washing...people seem to have the most questions about washing the diapers.
Remember how I said that when I tried cloth with my oldest son, I was dipping and washing the diapers in the toilet.  EWWW!  So gross! 

After lots of research, I realized that you don't have to do that.
Think about it.
If you use a cloth diapering service, they don't have you wash the poo out,
they tell you to just throw the diapers in the bag and then leave the bag on your porch for pick up.
I figured, why can't I do the same thing?

You totally can!
I would throw the whole soiled diaper into the diaper pail, no washing out necessary.
Sometimes I would sprinkle baking soda on the diaper and then throw it in, but this isn't necessary.

Once my kids started solid food, and the poo got a little firmer, I would roll the poo off into the toilet.
No rinsing, or dunking, just rolling.
The kids would help me do this and I think it came in super helpful when potty training rolled around.
The kids understood that poo went in the potty and that it was no big deal.
Seems like that shouldn't be an issue, but it totally is for some kids, trust me.

As a side note, remember those pocket diapers that I used?
You know how they are stuffed with a hemparoo?
Don't unstuff them when they get soiled.
Yuck!  Just leave them all together.
Trust me, they will come out on the spin cycle and be clean.

Depending on how big your diaper stash is, you may need to wash diaper every few days.
I washed mine every three days in the beginning and every week as the babies got bigger and needed changed less.
The stink never got unbearable, and using baking soda occasionally in the diaper pail helped to neutralize the ammonia smell.
{FYI you can buy bulk baking soda at Costco for next to nothing!}

On wash day, I would take my bag from the diaper pail to the laundry room, dump the whole thing in the washer, add a little vinegar to the rinse cycle
  {if you haven't used baking soda, you can sprinkle some in now}
and do a pre-wash on hot.

Once the pre-wash was done, I would wash them again on hot with my homemade laundry detergent of grated felsnaptha, borax and super washing soda.

Because your diaper covers are made to be waterproof they usually have a waterproof material called PUL in them.  DO NOT DRY THEM IN THE DRYER!
I would usually only dry my hemparoos in the dryer, the rest of the covers and diapers I would line dry.
Sun is the best bleach {and the only bleach} you should use.

Remember how I told you that I saved hundreds of dollars cloth diapering?
Want to know how?
I bought many of my supplies second hand on ebay, craigslist and through diapering forums.
After we used them, the diapers were then sold again through those avenues.

I just checked the local Seattle Craigslist and there are hundreds of listings for cloth diapers.
The initial investment can be a bit pricey {$200-$300}, but in the end through buying used and selling, we ended up breaking even and quite possibly if I did the math, probably even coming out ahead.
{FYI The average cost for disposable diapers is $800 per year}

The only expense we had while using cloth diapers was for the washing and detergent items I used.
In the end, I think it was worth it.

Want to know what the best benefit was to cloth diapering?
Both of my younger two kids that were exclusively cloth diapered ended up being fully potty trained {even at night} by 18 months!  They didn't like to feel wet, and cloth diapers certainly feel wet no matter how absorbent they are.
40 years ago it was nearly unheard of to have a three year old in diapers still.
Now, with disposable diapers, it's commonplace.
Another nice side benefit was that I never had to shop for diapers.
I never ran out of diapers and always had diapers on hand to use.
I know my memory may be a bit rusty and things with cloth diapers have certainly changed
{10 years ago you couldn't buy cloth diapers on Amazon!}
so feel free to ask me any questions you might have.
I'm happy to try to answer them.
I would highly recommend trying cloth.
Not only for the environmental benefits, but because it's a huge money saver!

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Lysa Light said...
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