Friday, April 2, 2010

Cloth diapers, revisited

I feel lately like I've been answering a lot of questions about cloth diapers.  I posted, long ago, our cloth diapering approach, but haven't reported back on how it's going for us.

In short, I love cloth diapers.  I would never go any other route.  How people can morally use disposable diapers boggles my mind.  I understand needing to use them occasionally, but consistently?  I don't get it.  Disposable diapers are evil, I challenge you to convince me otherwise.  Yes, I've read the studies that exist (and there aren't many) that compare the environmental impact of disposable and cloth diapers, and I've also followed the funding trail.  I have yet to find a real study that wasn't funded by someone related to the disposable diaper industry.  If you know of one, please do tell.

The only exception to this MAY be if you live in a drought prone area.  But for those of you reading from Minnesota, this does not apply to you.

Here's our wash strategy (specifically designed to minimize environmental impact):
1)  Separate liners from covers before placing in diaper pail.  Spray off poopy diapers before putting in diaper pail (we only started doing this once MJ started solids.  Prior to that we just tossed them in the pail.)
2)  Have enough diapers to only wash every 3-4 days.  (This is not only saves you time but reduced the environmental impact.)
3)  Dump diapers and wet bag in washer.  One full wash (cold water) with white vinegar.
4)  One full wash (cold water) with 1 Tbs Charlie's soap.
5)  One extra rinse cycle (cold water) to get the rest of the soap out.  Haven't tried skipping this step, may not even need it.
6)  Put inserts, prefolds and all-in-ones in drier.  Line dry covers and wet bags (I just drape them over chairs in our living room.  And my visitors look squeamish when they ask if all the diapers hanging on the chairs are clean.  Wow, I must be a bad housekeeper if you have to ask that.)  Now that it's getting nice out, line dry the inserts as well.
7)  Clean diapers!  Stuff pockets.

It's easy.  We have recently started to have some rash issues, I suspect related to the poopy diapers, because it started once MJ started solids.  I'm going to start spraying these with Bac-out to see if that fixes it.  For diaper rash we use California Baby Diaper Rash Cream; it's spendy but it works well, is cloth diaper friendly, and our one tube is barely used at all, so it lasts forever.

How many diapers do we have to get through 4 days?  Daycare requires that inserts and covers be changed at the same time, so we exclusively use all-in-ones and pockets at daycare.

 We have ~ 10 BumGenius one-size pockets (got lots on sale and lots as gifts).  We have ~ 6 small thirsties all-in-ones (which she has pretty much outgrown) and ~ 6 medium Thristies all-in ones.  I love the thirsties, we got them on sale for ~$9 or $10 each (they tend to go on sale in December and January), but they're sized so they don't last as long.  The Bumgenius work well, and if you don't put the covers in the dryer they will last longer.

Additionally, we have 4 FuzziBunz one size; these have snap closures, rather than velcro (like the bumgenius.)  Many people prefer this style, because the velcro frays over time and catches on things in the drier. But I hate that you have to choose your size setting each time with the fuzzibunz.  That annoys me.  And the daycare staff seems to have a harder time with them.

We have 2 gro-baby shells and 6 inserts. I love these diapers, but only use them at home because otherwise I'd have to have a shell for each insert.  They are the trimmest cloth diaper I have found, and since MJ is trying to crawl I think they're great for her right now.  The inserts do take a long time to dry, and the diapers are spendy, but you can get "gently used" diapers from Jillian's drawers.

2 urban fluff all-in-ones, which are just awful.  They contain nothing.  I need to just get rid of them, because occasionally DH puts one on and it leaks everywhere, every time.

Some assortment of Thirstie's covers.  I think maybe 2 small and 1 duo sized 2.  These are my favorite covers, but we don't use them a ton because we only use them at home.

2 medium sun-seedllings fitteds.  These are great night-time diapers.  Very bulky, but the quick dry variety dries quickly (redundancy is redundant.)

6 premium infant prefolds, along with some snappis.  Again, only for home use, when paired with a Thirsties cover.  A standard, no frills combination.  Not my favorite, but you can't argue with the price.  Good to have a stash for when you waited too long to wash your diapers.

Additional items:
Target Circo baby wash cloths for cloth wipes. $3 for 6.
Honey chunks dissolved in water in spray bottle for a wipe solution.
2 Planet wise diaper pail liners.
1 cheapy flip top garbage can for a diaper pail.
A few Leslie's Boutique wet bags for day care (medium or large).  We tend to just use plastic grocery bags in the diaper bag because we always forget the wet bags.

I think that's about it.  We have phased out some smaller covers (Thirsties were the best), smaller fitteds (kissaluvs, primarily) and smaller prefolds.  Other than replacing the 6 thirsties all-in-ones that MJ is about to outgrow, we won't need much else.  Ever.  All our diapering expenses have been made, and we only have to wash every 3-4 days.


  1. Great post! We use a lot of the same products and methods. Don't you love Charlie's soap?! I'll be sending people your direction for this post, as I've found myself explaining the whole scenario several times lately! : )

  2. Im planning on cloth diapering...I love the way Bumgenius looks and have purchased a few of those. You really like Thirsties? More than Bumgenius?

  3. I love, love, love thirsties. Their fit has always been great for us, from teeny-tiny newborn to present, and everyone I've talked to has had the same experience. I have washed my all-in-ones a ton, and dried them, and the velcro doesn't look frayed at all. And these are an older version, the newer version is supposedly even better.

    The advantage to the bumgenius is that it comes with two inserts, one very thick, so you can stuff them lightly for daytime use or put both in for night time. This makes them bulky but very absorbent. However, bumgenius tends to wear out (from what I understand, we haven't gotten there but I see the potential), for many people before you potty train. If you line dry the covers you'll probably be okay, but if you don't then they may not last as long as you'd like. Additonally, these probably won't fit well until ~10 or 11 lbs.

    Thirsties doesn't offer the same product, so if you want something that goes from ~10 to ~30 lbs, perhaps bumgenius is your best bet. Thirsties offers all-in-ones with pockets. So you don't have to stuff them, but if you want them to be thicker you can buy some inserts and stuff them. Thirsties couldn't make a diaper that fit the full range so they decided to have two sizes, which is the duo. And it will fit well for the full range they claim, where as bumgenius doesn't fit well on the lower and upper end of what they claim. It probably ends up being a bit more expensive, but if you can avoid having to buy separate newborn diapers perhaps it ends up coming out to be the same price.

    Basically, I just bought whatever went on sale. And I have like all of them. Confuse you much? All in all, I've met very few cloth diapers I didn't like. I stressed a lot about all the decisions (it's a big upfront investment) and have since realized that you will probably be happy no matter what you choose. I like some better than others but I like almost all of them better than disposables.

  4. We considered using a service, but I like the variety we get by washing our own. And cost was one of the reasons we went with cloth, so I've been trying to minimize cost. But I've heard great things about, and we're lucky to have the option in the twin cities.

    I totally understand needing disposables on occasion. We use them when we travel, because a week is too long to rely on cloth diapers while on the road. You guys are a prime example; if you can manage cloth diapers with 3 kids, I don't understand when people can't handle it with 1.

  5. Great post!! I love my cloth diapers! I use a lot of the same things. Although a friend recommended I try Country save detergent and it seems to work just as well as the Charlie's Soap, and is a lot more cost efficient.