So what’s the deal with Cloth Diapering anyway? Why does it seem so overwhelming to the new beginner that some are ready to quit before they have even started? I believe that it only looks that daunting if we are looking at and trying to absorb the whole plethora of information put in front of us as a completed package when we start to search the dreaded words ‘ How to Cloth Diaper’ or ‘Starting to Cloth Diaper ’ on the internet. I have broken down the information into easy to read and comprehendable steps. These steps will make the transition as simple, non-overwhelming and as fluid as possible so you don’t feel like throwing in the towel before you even get started.
Decide if you’re going to cloth diaper full time or part time
This is a personal choice. Take into consideration your job (and/or daily lifestyle and tasking schedule), your spouse’s job, any care giver’s (IE grandma and grandpa) schedules (and willingness) and any daycare policies and procedures about cloth diapering. Most people who cloth diaper their children do 2 extra loads of laundry in a week. If this doesn’t sounds like too much more laundry for you, then full-time cloth diapering is a very easy and reasonable option. Daycares can and do accept cloth diapering. If your daycare seems apprehensive about the whole idea, set up a meeting with them to teach them how easy cloth diapering can be. If your daycare still seems apprehensive about your decision to cloth diaper, just remember that most doctors will provide you with a doctor’s note to support your decision (citing cloth diapering to be healthier for the child) and that should alleviate any problems with your daycare accepting your choice. Just be kind to the staff of the daycare and give them the easiest type of diaper to use on your child throughout the day. :)
Consider what you will do while vacationing, travelling for the day or when baby is sick
Some places where people choose to vacation do not have washing machines available to their clients (IE only dry cleaning available), or they do have laundry services available but their washing machines are not conducive with the proper care that cloth diapers need. At this point, you would have to choose if you want to travel with cloth diapers and make laundry accommodations or switch to disposables while you are away from home. Keep in mind that traveling with cloth diapers is not impossible or even unrealistic. Up until about 1980 in Canada, cloth diapering was still the status quo and it didn’t stop families from camping or exploring the world. Lastly, you want to consider what your approach will be when your child is sick. Some parents don’t mind the extra laundry and some do. The extra laundry in the midst of taking care of a sick little one may be too exhausting for some; but not necessarily for others. If you have a lot of home time and you’re not too sleep deprived while baby is sick, continuing to cloth diaper during this period shouldn’t be too hard. If you find yourself very exhausted, consider giving yourself a break and return to cloth diapering when your home has returned to normal.
What sort of diapers will you use?
This is a very personal choice, and cloth diapering comes with a plethora of options! For a list and description of a few different types, click here. Talk to friends and family who have had success with cloth diapering and who also share the same type of lifestyle with you. Check out cloth diapering discussions online and Facebook groups as well. All of these combined will help you to decide which is best for you and your family. Keep in mind that you will most likely have more than one style/type and there will be some trial and error.
How will you store your dirty diapers?
This one is easy. Most people use a wetbag for their dirty diapers when they are away from home. In your house, it will either be a wet bag or a diaper pail. Both have their pros and cons so it’s really up to you. Just do yourself a favor by not using an open laundry basket! :)
What is your wash and care routine going to look like?
Most often, you can just read and follow the manufactures wash and care instructions. Most cloth diaper manufacture suggestions will read something like this:
- Wash HOT/COLD
- Double Rinse
I personally choose to use the heavy duty cycle on my washing machine, which takes the wash time from 58 minutes to 1:45 with the extra rinse added.
ALL manufactures will also suggest that you use a cloth diaper safe detergent and refrain from using any fabric softener (liquid or sheets). You need to follow these two instructions on detergents and softeners both for the longevity of your diapers and for the diaper’s warranty.
Don’t get caught up in washing routines that make it impossible for you to ever have a social life again either! Washing routines that you read about through the grapevine that tell you to wash your diapers 3 times for every cleaning are (IMO) simply unnecessary and unreasonable. If you were washing your diapers as often as I need to every week (which is 2 times per week) and following the overzealous schedule, you would be washing your diapers for 12 ridiculous hours every week. Not only is that a huge waste of time, but quite frankly, it’s a waste on the environment as well (remember, that planet Earth that our kids are going to inherit?). Isn’t helping save the planet why a huge number of us are cloth diapering in the first place? Save the environment and save your pocket book too; follow the manufactures instructions and do extra washing when your laundry calls for it.
Washing instructions have been put in place by the manufactures to help with the effectiveness and longevity of your diapers. If you have problems, most manufactures are more than happy to troubleshoot with you. Most build up and stink problems can be resolved with different cloth diaper safe products on the market. Keep in mind that washing routines will also be affected by your regions water hardness/softness levels and your child’s own physiology. A detergent that works for one baby might not work for another. Sensitivities play a big role in your baby’s skin too; if your baby is getting a rash, strip those diapers or change that detergent right away!
Save your time, sanity, water and money by just following the instructions set out by the manufacturer. After all, they do know best about the diapers that they have produced; they don’t want you to spend your whole life washing diapers!
Hang to dry or dry them in the dryer?
Again, it’s a personal choice. The dryer is obviously faster but will sometimes cause the diapers to deteriorate faster (IE the elastics). Using the dryer does consume electricity too, and thus cost you money. Hanging your diapers to dry will take longer but they will last longer too. Like choosing to cloth diaper full or part time, this decision will be determined by your daily/weekly needs and your lifestyle. Just remember that if you do choose to use the dryer, that no fabric softener should be used in the dryer at all- including on other non-cloth diaper loads. The waxy residue left behind in the dryer from the fabric softener will transfer to your diapers and clog the fibers or coat the inserts with the residue, rendering them less absorbent.
Don’t believe that the waxy build up is a real thing or are you wondering if you have this problem? Take out your lint filter and pull off the excess lint. Slowly run some cold water over the filter. If the water collects atop the filter, then there is a waxy residue lingering in your dryer. Run a few dryer loads without any fabric softener and the residual softener wax should transfer to the clothes or towels; away from the dryer walls and hence away from your diapers. An excellent alternative to traditional fabric softeners are wool dryer balls. They pull the electricity out of the clothes, are completely reusable, are environmentally friendly and can even be scented!
Diaper storage… where to keep all of those ultra-cute cloth diapers?
My advice is to keep 2 change stations in your house. Keep a couple of diapers in the diaper bag and keep a few in the car for emergencies or to help prevent extra bulk in the bag you carry around. You can keep them in a dresser, a cute storage box or simply even a laundry basket!