Tag Archives: cloth diapers

Are Cloth Diapers Too Much Extra Work?

Cloth diapers have become pretty popular in recent years There are tons of styles to choose from and many parents rave about them. But many fear that they’re a lot of work. Are they really worth all the trouble, the extra laundry, rinsing in the toilet? And what about leaks? And stinks?

I’ve been using cloth diapers on my daughter for about a year now and I can tell you that for me these things are really not a problem. It’s just not as bad as you might think.

For starters, the extra laundry really isn’t that much. Yes, you’ll be doing a load every 2-3 days. One load of cloth diapers. They’ll need an extra rinse cycle to be sure the detergent gets out, but they only use 1/4 the amount of detergent a regular load uses. The diapers should smell clean after washing.

You can dry cloth diapers outside in the sun (I strongly recommend this if at all possible) or in the dryer. The sun does some nice natural bleaching as well as saves energy, making it a generally good deal. Hanging the diapers out is certainly some extra effort compared to just throwing them in the dryer, but if you have the time it’s really not so bad. I find they stay freshest this way.

If you put them in the dryer, dry them on hot for most brands. You can check with your particular brand to be sure of care instructions.

But what about solid wastes? Aren’t they a pain?

Strictly speaking, even with disposable diapers you’re supposed to put the solids in the toilet. I think most packages even say that, although I don’t know that many parents obey that part, and that’s why this seems like such a big deal with cloth diapers.

For the most part solids shake out pretty well, especially as baby gets older. For wastes that are on the runny side of solid I like a diaper sprayer, which is a simple attachment to the toilet. No dunking required. Other parents just use some toilet paper to wipe the excess out.

And leaks?

On the whole, I’ve had less trouble with leaks with cloth diapers with this baby than I did with disposable diapers and my two older kids. We use bumGenius 3.0 cloth diapers, and they really don’t have a leak problem if you care for them properly and change the diapers regularly. Any diaper will leak if you leave it on the baby too long.

I would also say we’ve had very few blowout poops, which is something to be dreaded. It can just be an individual baby thing, but she’s had some impressive outputs at times, so I don’t think it’s that.

If leaks start to be a problem it’s time to strip the diaper to be sure that you don’t just have a buildup problem.

So do cloth diapers stink?

They can, sometimes. But that generally means that your washing routine isn’t quite right. Maybe you use too much detergent. Maybe they need to be stripped, which is a special wash of cloth diapers using original Dawn dish detergent and hot water, plus extra rinses because that Dawn can be a bit hard to get completely out. Be careful with this if you have an HE machine, because Dawn most certainly is not low sudsing!

Some parents also use tea tree oil to help with stinks. Bio-Kleen Bac-Out is another popular solution to stink issues. Just spray it on the diapers as you drop them in your bucket. It’s an enzyme cleaner and is very effective.

I know, this is sounding like a lot of effort. It’s really not that bad. Baby care in general is a lot of effort. At least with modern cloth diapers you aren’t fussing with pins and such. Some brands go on the baby in ways that are very similar to how disposables go on. It’s simple.

Just think of all the advantages. Over time cloth diapers tend to be cheaper than disposables. They’re less wasteful. You can even use them for more than one baby. Many babies get less diaper rash with cloth, and you can’t forget to note how many cute styles there are in cloth diapers.

And best of all, many cloth diapered babies potty train younger! The slight inconvenience of laundry is much offset by the potential to be fussing with diapers in general for less time in my opinion.

Working on a Bit of Early Potty Training

Much as I love my cloth diapers over disposables, I do sooooo look forward to being done with diapers altogether.

I mean really. I’ve been dealing with diapers almost continuously since my oldest was born, about seven and a half years ago. Small breaks between each baby, but not enough. Really, not enough.

How I wish we had discovered the delights of cloth diapering sooner.

In the early days, my husband wouldn’t hear of it. It was a tv show about how much waste the things we use produces that showed it for disposable diapers that finally got him on my side. Now he wishes we had done it throughout.

But I’m really ready for potty training. Selene may be only 10 months old, but we’re doing some gentle work with it.

What got us started was noticing that she tends to pee after she and I take a shower in the morning. Bringing her in is just easier than waiting for her to nap, and I obviously cannot leave her in the charge of her older brother, who is only 4, and my oldest daughter is generally at school at the time, and really not ready for that responsibility either.

So, noticing a trend, out came the potty training seat.

She promptly quit peeing right after a shower for a few weeks.

But now she’s doing it again, and yes, in the potty. She doesn’t have it down yet, but she is becoming more aware that her body is doing something and that she gets praised for it. She gets a bit of praise just for sitting there, of course. But I’m getting some awfully big grins when she realizes that she has done something more in there. And she claps for herself.

We’re not aiming for complete training at this point. With three kids it would take more time than I’m up for to do a complete job. I’m just aiming for a relatively young potty training with her getting comfortable with the idea now.

I hope.

My mother likes to talk about how my grandmother always had babies trained by six months old. Of course, disposable diapers weren’t so common then, and I would imagine washing diapers would be a bit more time consuming. That would certainly be motivation, no matter the number of kids.

People do potty train young like that still, and I understand it works. The currently popular name is elimination communication. But I wasn’t ready to go for it then, and am still not ready to go for it now.

Cloth Diapering Continues to Go Well

It’s been a few months since I last talked about cloth diapering. My daughter is 7 months old now, and it’s still going well.

We’ve encountered some challenges. The home we’re in now has a Homeowner’s Association, which unsurprisingly has rules against clotheslines. That makes it a bit of a pain to dry the diapers outside, where the sun can bleach any stains out naturally.

However, the rule is that it cannot be visible to the other houses. We’re fortunate enough to be a corner house, with a hill and a high brick wall off to that side. That gives me a place to put the diapers out to dry, provided I get them out early enough in the day that the sun still hits them.

They’d dry in the shade of course, especially with the 100 degree weather we’ve been having. But the direct sunlight is better.

There’s no convenient way to put up a clothesline, however. I’ve been making do with some lawn chairs and a baby gate we aren’t yet using indoors, laying the diapers out flat on those. The gate allows air to flow around both sides of the diapers.

The trouble is that they don’t dry as nicely. Everything’s just a little on the crunchy side when they dry like that. I’m thinking it’s the lack of movement from the wind.

I’m planning on ordering a folding indoor/outdoor clothes rack soon to take care (hopefully) of that problem. Going to be needing that gate indoors soon anyhow. Selene’s getting pretty mobile and I don’t think she’s going to accepting her current limitations on her play area forever or even much longer.

We do occasionally have that extra bit of smell from the diapers, which just means that I have to strip the diapers, but that’s really not so hard. Just a regular wash followed by some extra washing with Dawn dish soap and lots and lots of rinsing. Takes care of the problem quite nicely.

And how I love not having to buy disposable diapers! Saves me a ton of driving, much more so than if we had remained in Poway where Target was about 5 miles away. Here it’s about 15 miles. Between the mileage saved on the car and the money saved by not buying disposable diapers, wow! Really and truly worth the extra laundry.

Do Cloth Diapers Stink?

A concern I know some people have about cloth diapers is the smell. No one likes their home to smell like dirty diapers.

On the whole, they don’t stink up a house any worse than disposable diapers. That is, if you take care of washing them regularly (3 days apart is about my maximum), they won’t stink up the whole house. Leave them sitting around too long, and of course they’re going to stink!

Wash them properly and you’ll control the odor most of the time. I use Country Save HE Laundry Detergent on mine, and so far that seems to be doing quite well for my cloth diapers as well as the regular laundry. I also recommend line drying, as the sun can help break down stains the washing machine fails to get out, and naturally kills germs.

But eventually they do tend to build up an odor. Considering what goes into them, it’s hardly a surprise.

But all you have to do is a special wash called stripping, and the smell should go away.

Start out with freshly washed diapers. They need to be clean for this process.

Wash the diapers again in hot water, with a teaspoon of original Dawn dish detergent (not the newer varieties and not other brands) for a HE machine, a tablespoon for a top loading machine.

Run through the wash two more times with just water. This will get out the rest of the soap and should take care of the smell. If suds continue to appear by the rinse cycle of the second wash, you may need to do another cycle.

Dry as usual. I really do recommend line drying if at all possible.

This is also supposed to help if your cloth diapers are starting to leak.

The long and short of it is, if your cloth diapers stink either you’re letting them sit too long before washing or it’s time to strip them.  You should not be getting a worse stink than what you get from disposables.

The Disadvantage to Line Drying Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapering my daughter is going really well right now. She still has the occasional leak if she naps too long and I only have the infant insert in the diaper, but so long as I pay attention all goes well. She can even make it through the night with the full size insert in her bumGenius 3.0 cloth diapers.

Caring for them is going really well too. I’m pretty used to the clothesline routine for drying them. But there’s one little disadvantage we have to deal with…

There’s a pepper tree next door. It’s dropping those tiny little flowers all over the place.

I keep finding them in the diapers when I bring them in. I’ve not had this problem with other laundry, although I will admit I’m pickier about the condition of diapers when then come in than other clothes. Selene’s smaller, after all, and diapers have a rather important function.

Aside from that, I’m loving the clothesline, at least on warm, sunny days. The sun nicely bleaches out the color that the washing machine doesn’t quite manage.