I asked this question when we were pregnant with our first baby. We had some friends that had done it and our birth teacher had a former student who sold them and came to one of our classes to give a demonstration on how they worked. The picture is of our second son, Isaac in a Fuzzy Bunz pocket diaper.She showed us several different kinds of diapers and we learned that we could save hundreds to thousands of dollars by using cloth diapers. We still had questions that I think most people have like:
How do you wash them? Is it hard?
How do you get the poop out?
Is it gross? Is it inconvenient?
What about when you go out?
Why should we?
How do I get started?
Once we learned the answers to our questions we thought it was a good idea and we wanted to try it. I’ll share with you some of the answers we came up with and add some things I have learned since I started cloth diapering.
There is a lot of information out there about cloth diapering and once learn some of the terminology and get the basics down it should be smooth sailing.
Did you know…?
Disposable diapers have traces of Dioxin in them. Dioxin comes from the bleaching process and is a known cancer linked chemical. It is also banned in several other countries but not here in the U.S.
Disposable diapers also contain another toxic chemical called TBT that can cause hormonal problems in humans.
It can cost approximately $1,600 to diaper one baby in disposables but you could cloth diaper ALL your babies for less than half of that?
Did you know (from a Green perspective):
That 92% of all disposable diapers end up in a landfill?
That disposable diapers are estimated to take 200-500 years to decompose and are the third largest consumer item in landfills?
300 pounds of wood, 50 pounds of petroleum byproducts and 20 pounds of chlorine are used to diaper one baby each year in disposables?
Disposable diapers are not able to be recycled but cloth diapers can be used 50-200 times before being recycled and used as rags?
Okay, okay enough with the facts. I got those from a non-profit group called The Real Diaper Association committed to teaching parents about all the benefits of cloth diapering.
To answer some of the questions I asked earlier….
How do you wash them? Is it hard?
Everyone seems to have their own way of washing the diapers but there are some basics. Some people soak their diapers in the washer overnight but others will just run a pre-wash. I wash my diapers in a cold/cold cycle with no detergent first. This serves as my “pre-wash”. Then I add All Free and Clear to the diapers and change the water temp to hot/cold and wash them on the heavy duty 14 minute cycle. I take out my diaper covers and put all the pre-folds in the dryer and set them to dry. It takes a little practice to figure out when to wash before you run out of diapers to use on the baby.
I have noticed that the cloth diaper pail actually smell better than a disposable diaper pail. It still has an odor, don’t get me wrong, but it is not quite as putrid–in my opinion. The chemicals in the disposable diapers mix with the urine and poop to create a rather unpleasant odor.
Is is gross and inconvenient? What about when you go out?
It isn’t any more gross than disposable diapers. Poop is poop. I will admit that it is perhaps a little grosser when your baby is older and having some ooey-gooey poops but the great thing is that the washing machine will clean what you can’t dump into the toilet. When we are out and about I use a little plastic grocery sack or a vinyl bag to carry around used cloth diapers. I just have to dump it into the diaper pail when I get home. It doesn’t feel burdensome to do that.
When we travel I use disposable diapers. It is inconvenient to use them while traveling because they take up a lot of packing room and you have to have a washing machine to wash them. That is not always possible when traveling.
Why should I?
Cloth diapering is environmentally friendly and also economic. A friend of mine from Tanzania told me that the United States is sending some of our waste to landfills in Africa! Our landfills are so full of disposable diapers and if more people started cloth diapering then maybe we wouldn’t have to send our trash to another continent. It is one way to make our biological footprint a little smaller.
You get the most economic savings if you have more than one child because you can reuse cloth diapers on every kid. Depending on what kind of cloth diapers you buy you can still get quite a savings on one child. There is a small learning curve to get started but it is easy to learn and the benefits are great! Instead of spending $40-50 a month on diapers over a 2-3 year period you can save that money and spend it on other things!
How do I get started?
There are so many different kinds of cloth diapers available online that it is a little overwhelming to know what kind to get. Here is a breakdown of the different kinds of diapers:
Chinese Pre-Folds-Rectangular diapers that absorb pee and poop. These are the least expensive cloth diapers you can buy. You can get cotton or hemp diapers. You can splurge for organic ones if you want.
Diaper Covers-There are several kinds of diaper covers out there. You need them to put on top of pre-folds or other fitted diapers that don’t come with a cover. My favorite is the Super-Whisper Wrap by Bummis.
Pocket Diapers-You insert a pre-fold or other absorbent material inside of the diaper. These are usually waterproof and a little more expensive than a pre-fold and a cover.
All-in-Ones-Diapers that come with the absorbent material plus the cover sewn into one diaper. These are also more expensive but work more like disposable diapers. They are great for grandparents and babysitters to use.
Doublers-Extra inserts for pre-folds and pocket diapers for extra absorbency
Decide on a budget of how much you want to spend. A lot of cloth diapers come in fun colors and patterns but they cost more. If you know you would spend approximately $1500 over the course of 2 to 3 years on one child you could set that as your budget amount and purchase diapers accordingly. The links above are from a website that I have bought diapers from before but there are tons of different sites to choose from. Some websites provide beginner packages for a discounted price. Ask around and see if you have any friends or acquaintances that cloth diaper and ask about their experiences. Cloth diapering can be fun and some moms have even made their own diapers.
I find that I love the economic savings and I really don’t mind the extra laundry load every couple of days. If you have any questions about it please let me know!