Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cloth Diapering System

I was asked by one of my readers (wow, that sounds funny!) to post about my cloth diapering system. Please bear in mind that this is just how I do it - there are probably as many ways to cloth diaper as there are parents who cloth diaper their babies! I basically learned by doing lots (and lots and lots) of research, and through plenty of trial and error. It is by no means perfect, but it Works for Me!

We are currently using Fuzzi Bunz. I have 19 of these, which means I can go about 3 days between diaper washings. For the record, I LOVE my Fuzzi Bunz. I started with Happy Heiny's and hated them, and ended up selling them all on eBay. (By the way, used cloth diapers have excellent resale value... you can usually get back about half of what you paid for them!). I forgot to take a picture of my own, so I borrowed this one from the Fuzzi Bunz website.

Had I known then what I know now, I probably would have made my own diapers for next to nothing. But I knew so little about cloth diapering then that I just decided to go ahead and buy them. I think it cost us about $500.00 to buy everything we needed. Yes, that sounds like a lot. But compared to the thousands of dollars we would have otherwise spent on disposables, it was a steal. I probably could have made them all for about $50.00 or less. If you use things you have around the house to make them out of, you could easily spend less than $10.00 on just elastic and velcro.

Anyway, on with the show!

Here is our "diapering station" (AKA change table. :)

You can see I have all the diapers stuffed and ready to go. I stuff them right out of the dryer, and put them away so that it's as easy as possible during diaper change time. Beside the diapers you can see a stack of miscellaneous extra inserts/wash cloths. I use these to double up (or triple up!) at night time to prevent leaks. Next to those is a little container that holds the biodegradable liners. He still is not having formed poops (sorry if this is too much info!), so the liners save my sanity... I'm pretty good at predicting his poop times, so I make sure there's a liner in his diaper, and when he poops it's MUCH easier to just flip the liner right into the toilet, poop and all. If he doesn't poop, the liner just gets washed with the diapers. They will hold up for a couple of washings before falling apart.

Next to the change table I have my wet wipes, and a dry cloth. (Notice they're sitting on the radiator... a built-in wipe warmer). :) I always make sure I dry him off completely with the dry cloth after using the wet wipes, this keeps his bum nice and dry and keeps diaper rash away. Since I've started doing this, we have had virtually no diaper rash! On that note, I should also mention that you shouldn't use diaper cream while using cloth diapers. Any diaper cream that gets on the diaper will leave a residue that will not wash away, and will cause repelling. If you MUST use diaper cream (although diaper rash in a cloth diapered baby is rare, especially if you dry them off well between changes), make sure there is a liner or a wash cloth in the diaper.

Here's a close-up of the wipes. Just baby wash cloths folded in half, and I just use a regular wipes container from back in my pre-enlightened days. :)

This is how I "create" my wet wipes. When the diapers and wipes are finished in the dryer, I take all the wipes, and fold them in half. I then bring them up to the bathroom, and fill up the wipe container about half way with warm water. I add a couple of drops of apricot oil (which is not necessary, but it makes them smell good, and I find that little bit of oil helps clean off his bum a little better). Then I stick the dry wipes in, let them soak up most of the water, flip the stack over, and squish them down until all the water has been absorbed. That's it! 3 days worth of wipes. I think I have about 3 dozen cloths, which is more than enough. Even if I wasn't cloth diapering, I would DEFINITELY be using cloth wipes. There is just no comparison. Those disposable wipes are so flimsy they're almost useless. The cloth wipes actually CLEAN the baby's bum...they're so much sturdier.

And here is my high-tech diaper disposal system. :) Just a stainless steel kitchen garbage can. It lives in the bathroom. I used to keep it in the baby's room, but I had to go to the bathroom to dump poopy diapers in the toilet anyway, and also to wash my hands. So rather than go to the bathroom, dump the diaper, go back to the bedroom, put the diaper in the pail, and back to the bathroom to wash my hands, it was just easier to move the diaper pail in there. :) There's a removable plastic pail inside the stainless steel part. These diapers are pocket diapers, which means there is an insert inside. I just shake the diaper upside down over the pail until the insert falls out, and then toss the rest of the diaper in. The separate insert makes drying time much quicker, and I also believe it's much more sanitary, as all the components of the diaper get washed thoroughly.

Every 3 days or so (or when he's has about 3 diapers left, or the diaper pail will no longer close, whichever comes first!), I pull out the pail and take it to the washer, and dump it in. I set it to a cold soak cycle, with no detergent. (If you don't have this cycle on your machine, you can just use your regular cycle, and shut the washer off when it fills up. Let the diapers soak for 15 minutes or so, then turn it back on and let it finish the cold cycle). When that finishes, I turn it to hot, and add a couple of squirts of Allen's Naturally laundry detergent. It's really important that you NEVER use fabric softener on cloth diapers - it will cause a residue build-up which will cause them to leak. The same will happen if you use too much detergent. Detergent will build up over time and cause leaking, so every once in awhile I have to "strip" the diapers - basically running a hot wash with no detergent until there is no sign of residue, and then washing them as usual.

As for the pail itself, I rinse it out with some vinegar and water, wipe it down, and put it back in the stainless steel can. That keeps it smelling fresh.

When the wash is done, I throw them in the dryer. Some people hang their diapers to dry. I find it takes too long, and it would mean washing every 2 days instead of every 3 (to allow for drying time). So I prefer to wash every 3, and use the dryer. To each his own. I save the clothesline for clothes. :) I have plenty of those to hang!

Anyway, that's pretty much it! I hope I haven't missed anything. I've been doing it for awhile now, so it seems like second nature to me, I almost forget all of the questions I had when I was first getting started. So if there's something I've missed, feel free to ask away!

In case you can't tell, I really, really love cloth diapering. :) For those of you who have never tried it, that may sound a bit bizarre. Who uses "love" and "diapering" in the same sentence? It truly makes diapering a joy, and I would never go back to disposables. Not in a million years. They may be a little extra work, but in my opinion, it is worth it. It's so nice to pass right by the baby aisle at the grocery store and not give it a second glance! It's so nice not to have to run to the store when we get low on diapers, but rather just head to the washing machine. :)


  1. Thanks for the detailed tip, I'm not a mom yet, but hope it is not too far away. I'll definately be trying cloth daipers thanks for all the information. I'm book marking this!!

  2. Glad you liked the post! When the time comes, feel free to ask me any questions - I'd be more than happy to help. :)

  3. You did a great job of explaining things! I can tell you put a lot of thought into it. I've been CDing for almost three months, and I love it, too!

    Something I do that you might try - instead of disposable liners, I use cheap-o fleece from Wal-Mart. I bought 1/4 yard, and just cut little rectangles of the size I wanted - it works great! I use it over prefolds to keep my girlie drier and to make the poop easier to clean up.

  4. Hey Jeni,

    Thanks for the tip! I thought of that, but, quite frankly, the poops are so messy that I don't even think they'd come off the fleece. I find it worth my sanity to spend $6.99 a month on a roll of liners. It's still better than using disposable diapers, as they're biodegradable. Hopefully some day in the future I'll be able to give them up. :)

  5. I use Fuzzi Bunz too and love them! The only thing I would add to the list of must haves is a sprayer that attaches to the toilet. It makes it much easier to get the poop off the diaper before I throw it into the pail.

  6. Thank you for this post. I am an expecting mother who is doing the disposable vs. cloth debate right now, and someone led me to your blog. My husband isn't fully on board with the cloth aspect yet so we may end up doing half and half with chemical free disposables, but I am of course trying to get all the information possible about both options. Thanks again!

  7. Thanks for sharing your system! I use all FBs on my little guy, too, and I love them. :)

    I stuff mine straight from the dryer, too. It makes it a lot easier.

  8. I would say, having attempted cloth diapering, that it really can be a fairly easy process. I think it would have helped us if we could have fronted the money to purchase all-in-one cloth diapers, or pocket diapers. A sampler pack for a new mom would be a great shower gift!

    All of the advice here was sound, and very helpful.

    A couple things to consider if you are considering the cloth diaper route... if you plan on having your child in childcare, or in places where you will not be the primary caregiver on a fairly regular basis (like Church nursery, Mothers' Day Out, etc.) is that there will be a little more to plan for. You will have to also give a little CD training so that everyone will be up on "how-to".

    And as for the hubby... the more like disposible diapers the cloth diapers, the more on board he will likely be. (It is a "training" thing with them, too!)

  9. I recently converted to cloth diapering and I L-O-V-E it!! I use the BumGenius 3.0 diapers because they actually grow with the baby from 7lbs to 35lbs. Can't beat that!! I used to use the Fuzzi Bunz when I first started. I liked them, but found these others worked for me. That is a GREAT idea to use folded baby wash cloths for wipes.

  10. Thank you! I'm so glad you posted this. You make it sound not only easy, but kind of fun. You are definitely right that $500 isn't much compared to the amount you'll spend on disposable diapers. I added up how much I've spent and almost had a heart attack. It's sad that so many of us never bother to calculate that ahead of time.

  11. I just bought some CD for my 11 month old. I am late starting but better late than never. Wow back to back awesome posts, one of CD and one on budgeting. Love your site...and you are Canadian too!

  12. Very nice write off. I will be referring to it when/if we can get over the cost and convenience battle or myths that keep us from going to cloth. We are 5 months into our second child and have been talking about it since about 5 months into our first child.

    As you described your great system though, I couldn't help but think all that extra washing of diapers, dumping them in the toilet, and washing the trashcan seems like a lot of added hassle.

  13. Hi The Happy Rock! Thanks for stopping by. :)

    In response to your comment, here are a couple of considerations.

    As a stay-at-home parent, I do not bring in an income (at least nothing substantial - I do odd jobs here and there, but nothing major or sustainable). Therefore, I consider it part of my "job" to trade my time for money. Yes, eating take-out every day would be more "convenient", but because I choose to stay home, I am able to help reduce our food budget by cooking from scratch. This is just one example of many! I could hire someone to clean my house, but since I'm home, I can clean it myself. You get the idea. Basically I give my time so that we can spend less money. This carries over to the cloth diapering decision. Yes, it takes a little more time (although like anything, once you get used to it, you just don't notice!), but for me, it is a good trade-off in terms of how much money it saves. Also, we have basically eliminated all disposables in our home, which eliminates the time we would otherwise spend running to the store to stock up on those disposables.

    You also mentioned that it seems like it's a lot of extra hassle to dump the diapers, wash the diapers, and then wash out the diaper pail. Actually, it's really not! Consider that, if you read on the package of disposable diapers, that you're actually supposed to dump disposables too! Nobody actually does this. But human waste is not supposed to go in a landfill, as it eventually seeps into the ground water, and also emits toxic gasses. Poop belongs in the toilet. So, theoretically, this part should be no different. :) As for washing the diapers, it's really no more work to dump a pail into the washing machine than it is to take out a bag of garbage. So the only extra step, really, is the washing of the dipaer pail (which takes me all of about 20 seconds - I just swish out with some vinegar, and wipe with a dry cloth), but if you really wanted to skip that step, you could buy a "wet bag". It's simply a waterproof bag that you line your diaper pail with, and you can dump it right in the wash with your diapers.

    Another consideration is that we are striving to have the smallest ecological footprint possible. I have realized through my journey in this process that we all have a false sense of entitlement. What gives us the right to destroy our planet, because it's more "convenient"? And "convenient" to whom? Perhaps to us, in the moment, but in the long run it will be far more inconvenient for our children and our grandchildren to have to clean up the mess we've made of this planet.

    Anyway, I hope my response didn't offend you in any way! It's hard sometimes to phrase things so that they don't come across as harsh. But I hope it gave you some food for thought in your cloth diapering decision.

    Take care!

  14. This is an incredibly helpful post! I'm bookmarking it for later, when I attempt to put together my cloth diapering stash.

    I'm only 12 weeks pregnant with my first child, so luckily I have some time to get things figured out!

  15. Kacie,

    Congratulations on your pregnancy! You're very smart to be making these decisions early on. I'm glad you found the post informative. Hope you come back again!