Thursday, January 25, 2018

Cloth Diaper FAQ for Beginners & Cloth Curious

             Hey folks! It's been a long time since I've done an informative post on cloth diapers...Or any post on cloth diapers, really. With my third little one arriving soon, I've been stocking up on some extra diapers since I will have two in them for awhile! I also had a fellow pregnant mama on Facebook ask me some questions about cloth diapers. I remember how overwhelming it was when first researching cloth diapers (and have heard plenty of other parents say the same as well!), so I thought I would put a post together that (hopefully) answers a lot of your initial questions about cloth diapers!

*What do you do with the poo?

Might as well start off with the big one. There are several different ways to deal with the poo. When babies are still little/have runnier poo, a lot of people just stick their diapers straight in the wash since there are no solids. One method is the “dunk and swish” which is pretty much exactly like what it sounds like. You dunk and swish your diaper around in the toilet to try to get off as much poo as possible. My personal favorite is the diaper sprayer. It's a special sprayer that attaches to your toilet and you just rinse the poop off! (Seriously. Totally worth it and this is coming from a minimalist cloth diaperer. Lol) Also, if you go the sprayer route, companies even make special shields you can attach your diaper in and spray it off without worrying about water and other yuckies splashing everywhere. Welcome to modern cloth diapering. :)

*How do you wash them?

This question is a bit trickier to answer. Everyone has their own washing routine that depends on personal preferences, water type (hard water can pose special issues for getting cloth diapers clean), style of cloth diapers, etc. In a nutshell, from what I have read in cloth diaper groups, other blog posts, brand websites, etc., most people like to at least do a cold pre-wash with no detergent, warm/hot regular wash cycle with mild detergent, and another cold rinse. Most people wash their cloth diapers every 2-3 days to avoid stink and other issues.

Occasionally, you will have to strip your diapers if they start leaking, get smelly, etc., in which case you will need to use special detergents to get rid of build up. Grovia Mighty Bubbles is a popular one, some people swear by using the plain old blue Dawn dish soap, adding some white vinegar to your wash can help, and, as a last resort, you may try using a tiny bit of bleach in your wash. In general, bleach is really hard on your diapers and most people will only recommend it if absolutely necessary.

So, what about regular washing detergent? There are plenty of cloth diaper specific detergents for sale as well. Rockin' Green, Mollie's Suds, and Charlie's Soap, just to name a few. But, you can use regular laundry detergent as well, though as a general rule of thumb, the powdered versions are recommended. Tide powder seems to be a popular choice.

If you want a more in-depth idea of what a cloth diaper washing routine is like, check out this post from Simpli Sanders blog.

*What are all of these different styles/types?

I'm sure by now in your research that you have noticed that modern cloth diapering is WAY different from what it used to be! Instead of being stuck with flour sack towels and plastic pants, we have options! Options are great, but they are also overwhelming when first diving into the cloth diaper world and trying to decide which type would best suit your needs/personal preferences. I have a more in-depth, albeit somewhat old, cloth diapering page you can check out here to read more on each of the cloth diaper styles listed below. But, if you're looking for a quick CliffsNotes type list, here you go:

-Covers and Prefolds/Flat Diapers: Covers are just that: They are generally made with a waterproof material, such as TPU or PUL, have no absorbent material, and can be wiped out and re-used between washes if it is not soiled. Covers can be used with flats, prefolds, and fitted diapers (more on the latter in a minute). Flats and prefolds are similar to what our grandparents or great-grandparents probably used, BUT, there are a lot more options for materials to choose from. In general, they are going to be made from natural fibers, such as cotton or hemp. There are different ways you can fold them to use inside of your cover. This is the only part of the diaper that will need to be placed in the hamper after every use. Again, covers can be reused if not soiled. Some people find this diapering method to be too much of a hassle because of the folding and having to replace separate parts during changes instead of just tossing the whole diaper in the hamper. However, they are the most economic choice of cloth diaper.

-All-in-Ones: If you are looking for something that is similar to disposable diapers as far as being user-friendly, all-in-ones (AiOs) might be the best option for you. As the name implies, everything is included in these diapers: A waterproof outer cover with an absorbent inner. Regardless of pee or poop, you just toss these in the hamper after each use. The bright side of these is that they are great for babysittersr/daycares because they are easy to use. On the down side, you will need more of them (compared to covers and prefolds, etc.) and they tend to cost more.

-Pockets: Pocket diapers are very similar to AiOs in that they come with a waterproof outer cover and absorbent inner. The main difference is that there is a pocket where you can stuff even more absorbent inserts in if needed. Some brands come with one opening, usually in the back, where you can stuff inserts, while others come with both one in the front and back (which is nice so it's easier to make sure your insert doesn't bunch up). Being so similar, pocket diapers have the same perks and drawbacks as all-in-ones. They tend to cost more and you need more. But, you can pre-stuff them for easy use with caregivers.

-Fitteds: Fitted diapers are quite a bit different from all the others. They have no waterproof shell (outer layer) and are made completely of absorbent material, which can vary widely. Like prefolds and flat diapers, many fitteds are made from natural fibers, such as cotton, bamboo, etc. Since they have no waterproof covering, you will have to use these with a generously sized cover, as mentioned earlier, or some form of wool cover, shorties, etc. Many people like using fitteds for overnight use because they are so absorbent. (Plus a lot of times you can add more inserts as needed too.) These, of course, will need to be washed after every use. The natural, breathable material helps with preventing diaper rashes. The downside is that they can be pricey and not too many brands make one-size fitted diapers, meaning you will have to buy bigger sizes as baby gets bigger.

-All-in-Twos (Ai2s): Also known as hybrid diapers, these are similar to using covers and prefolds/flats. The main difference is that each brand of cover will come with their own set of special inserts that go with that brand of diaper. Generally, these inserts snap in, which is handy so you don't have to worry about shifting. You can reuse the covers between washings and simply replace the insert. These inserts also tend to come in more synthetic options, such as microfiber. While super absorbent, it's actually recommended to NOT have microfiber right next to baby's skin because it can cause rashes. (Which I can totally attest to with both of my kids. Just a word of warning.) Ai2s are fairly cost effective since you can reuse the covers between washings, therefore not needing as many as pockets or AiOs.

*How many do I need?

That really just depends on which style of cloth diaper you decide to go with...And a little on how much baby poops too. ;) We have used covers with prefolds religiously since our first daughter. We started out with 6 covers when she was born in October. We ordered two more at Christmas a couple months later and I found that to be a good amount as far as not feeling like I was washing diapers all the time. I would say 10-12 prefolds would be a good start. The amount is going to be similar for Ai2s.

For pocket diapers and all-in-ones, I have seen people recommend anywhere between 12 and 24.

Most people (that I know of, at least) use fitted diapers at night, so I would recommend at least 3. If you're wanting to use them in place of AiOs or pockets, you will need a similar number (12-24) and 6-8 covers.

*How/Why are they beneficial?

Another common question, especially from those who have their reservations about cloth diapers. There are lots of benefits of cloth diapers. First, many are made of natural fibers that can be grown again, unlike the materials used in disposables. Speaking of which, you are keeping thousands of disposables out of landfills, and that's pretty awesome! The natural fibers are also great at helping prevent diaper rashes because the material is breathable. Cloth diapers are also beneficial to your wallet. (You can read a full run down on cost of cloth diapers vs. disposables in this post.) Although, admittedly, the upfront cost of cloth diapers can be daunting, you save so much money in the long run. Last, cloth diapers have a fairly high resale price. Yes, you heard right. You can sell your cloth diapers when you're done with them! There are tons of buy/sell/trade cloth diaper groups out there.

*What do you do when you're out and about?

Short answer: Wet/dry bags. They are your best friend while cloth diapering on the go. A wet/dry bag has one pocket for storing clean diapers and another pocket lined with waterproof material, again, TPU or PUL, for soiled diapers. Simply change your baby like you normally would and store the soiled diaper(s) in the waterproof pocket until you get home! These come in all different sizes too, so you are sure to find one that works for your needs.

*What do you do with the soiled diapers at home?

This is up to you, really. We keep a small laundry basket in the bathroom with the sprayer for dirty diapers. Other people use hampers with a special bag or place them in a large, hanging wet bag.

What other questions do you have about cloth diapers? Do you use cloth diapers? What was your biggest question when you first started out?
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  1. We used them and still using them! Loved them and once you get the hang of it, it's so easy to handle them. We have the cover+towelling inner liner+bamboo liner combo. #fabfridaypost

    1. Yes, absolutely! Totally not a big deal once you get a routine in place and figure out what works for you. :)

  2. I really wish I'd tried cloth nappies - my kids are aged between 11 and 6 now and it just seemed like too much hard work at the time. Sarah #fabFridayPost