Several people have asked me questions regarding the fact that we cloth diaper and a so I though it might be time for an update. We have been cloth diapering for a year now and I must say it has been a great experience. I am looking forward to continuing with baby #2. I estimate that over the past 13+ months we have saved approximately $1869.18 on diapers alone. And I am using one of the more expensive cloth diapers!
Which Diapers Do We Use?
I did test several different diapers to find out which ones worked best for us and I settled on Mother-Ease All In One Cloth Diapers as the all around best for our family. I did consider trying to make my own but these worked so well. I could not find a pattern for the same style and I wasn’t sure my sewing skills were advanced enough to get the same fit and leak protection that I got for these so I bit the bullet and bought the first size. Then as I received gift cards or made a little extra from my freelance work I would buy one of the next size at a time so that when he was ready for them I had a few to get started and didn’t have to lay out a huge chunk of cash at once.
Which Diaper Pail Do We Use?
I tried several solutions for a diaper pail. When he was really little the smell wasn’t too bad in any of your standard solutions, pails, hampers, diaper bags, any of them worked fine. But as he got older the smell started to get stronger, I designed a PUL cover to line a hamper and stored them in out guest bath. This worked for quit awhile but eventually the smell in our guest bath was unbearable. I tried all kinds of air fresheners, candles and disks that claimed to eliminate diaper smells but nothing worked. Soon the smell was so bad that you couldn’t walk past the bathroom without wondering what had died. So I started researching cloth diaper pails that were designed to contain the smells.
I only found one pail that was actually designed for cloth diapers. It sounded great with Fifty-three 5 star reviews on Amazon everyone claimed that it completely contained the smell of the cloth diapers even in tight spaces. Just one problem, it was over $70! No matter how bad the smell, I just didn’t have an extra $70 for a diaper pail.
Moving on to another problem that I was pretty sure I could solve much cheaper. Since I am using all white diapers they were starting to get a little dingy. I asked my hubby for a pail to soak them in and he took a trip to Lowes. There he found not only a bucket for me to soak the diapers but a very interesting contraption as well. A lid that had an outer ring that you secured to the bucket using a mallet to create a tight seal, then it had an inner ring that screwed on and off. It was a few dollars more than a normal bucket lid ($7 vs $1.25) but we though it might help contain the diapers smell as well, those solving two problems with one $10 bucket & lid.
We brought it home & I started loading it up with all the smelly diapers. Almost as soon as I had them all in the bucket with the lid secured we noticed an improvement in smell. By the next morning we were walking around the house saying “Do you smell dirty diapers? I don’t smell dirty diapers!” I continued loading it until I had used up everyone of his cloth diapers to see if the small would remain contained over a long period of time and to test the capacity of the bucket. I was able to fit 13 regular diapers, two PUL diaper bags and a swim diaper in the pail easily. I think for baby #2 we might have to get a second bucket or I’ll just do laundry a little more frequently. I usually don’t wait as long as I did for this test anyway. So, by waiting and being a little creative I just saved $60 on a diaper pail!
We have used this pail for a while now & with the lid on you can’t smell a thing. However, when you take the lid off to add diapers or take them out for washing you do get hit by a strong sent. Fortunately, the lid doesn’t need to be off very long & the smell goes away shortly after you put it back on.
How Do We Clean The Diapers?
Several people have asked me how I clean the diapers. This was a little bit of a learning process, what I had to do & what wasn’t necessary & what could actually damage the diapers costing me more money. First I learned that you should never use a powdered detergent on your diapers. It will eventually wear down the PUL waterproofing and cause leaks. So I switched to Purex, they are are a good company and my local store offers their detergents at a steep discount over some of the other brands. Usually I watch for the BOGOs or the buy two get $5 gift card sales & I buy the Free & Clear or the Oxy Power. Both have worked great.
Also, a wet storage solution (where you have a water/soap solution you put the dirty diapers in until you wash them) doesn’t seem to make any difference. I did not notice any improvement in smell or cleanliness and it just seemed less sanitary and more work to me so I gave it up early on.
I use a spray nozzle attached to the back of my toilet to spray off any solids into the toilet them store the diapers in my pail until time for washing. This was a great investment, I’m really not sure how we would manage without it.
Here’s what I was doing for the last few months:
When it is time to wash the diapers I just ran a Sanitary cycle on my washer and then dried them. If your machine doesn’t have a sanitary cycle (I’ve only had one that does for about a month) just run a normal load with the hottest water possible. I used Purex liquid detergent, liquid bleach (since these are white diapers I use regular, if you have colored diapers use color safe) and recently I noticed that the inside linings weren’t quit as soft as when I first got them so I started adding fabric softener and they are right back to soft for baby’s bottom.
Here’s what I’m doing now:
A few weeks ago I started noticing that my diapers were losing absorbency and we were having a lot more leaks. I started researching to find out why this could be an learned a couple things.
1. Detergent & fabric softener can build up in the fibers of the diaper and make it impossible for it to absorb anything else.
2. There are mixed feelings about drying diapers. Some people say it helps keep the PUL sealed, others seem to think that it could break down the PUL. Also the “don’t dry camp” says that the diapers are more absorbent if left to air dry and claim that it extends the life of the diapers. I check the manufacture’s instructions for these diapers and they say either air drying or drying in the dryer is fine.
3. Overuse of bleach can damage the elastic fibers in diapers. However, no bleach at all causes smells to build up in the diapers resulting in the necessity to “strip” them each week.
Starting with the detergent & fabric softener problem I ran my diapers through the washer twice with no soap at all and then let them air dry. They were kind of rough at this point but they were back to being super absorbent! Then I research the correct amount of detergent to use. I had been following the marks on the cap which seemed like a lot of soap. Finally, after lots of research and consulting with people who had actually spoken to the detergent companies, I found out that the most I should use in a load was 1 ounce of regular strength detergent. The detergents I have are 2X concentrate and 4X concentrate so it would be 1/2 and 1/4 that amount. This resulted in only 2 teaspoons of the 2X concentrate and 1 teaspoon of the 4X concentrate. I also switched to Seventh Generation detergent because I was able to get an AMAZON coupon & my AMAZON MOM discount & the resulting savings came out to less than $0.02 per load.
So when I am ready to wash my diapers now I run a Sanitary wash with a stain cycle & extra rinse only with 2 teaspoons detergent. Every other time I wash them I add a Tablespoon of bleach. When the cycle finishes I run an additional rinse with a Tablespoon of vinegar. This replaces the fabric softener and makes them nice & soft again. If I have the time I will air dry the diapers, otherwise I throw them in the drier since the manufacture says either is fine.
Do We Have to Strip The Diapers?
About once every 2-3 months I have started giving the diapers a soak just to maintain their whiteness. This isn’t really “stripping”, since I use bleach I haven’t needed to do an extra “strip” this just keeps them looking bright and clean. I boil water on the stove, about 3 gallons for my 5 gallon pail, then pour it into my plastic pail. I stir in OxiClean White Restore and make sure it is fully dissolved before I add the diapers. Don’t add the White Restore to your metal pot! It will cause a black oxidation in your pot (I learned this the hard way). Also, white Restore is color safe so you can use it on any color diapers, not just white. Add diapers that have been freshly washed (they don’t have to be dried) and make sure they are fully covered by the water. You may have to weight them down a little because of the PUL. Then I let them sit for 4-24 hours depending on the level of dinginess, take them out & run them through the washer again without any additional soap & you should have almost good as new diapers.
Finally, the very best endorsement I can give for cloth diapering? My baby loves it!