Cloth Diapers 101
- All babies look adorable in cloth diapers! They come in so many fun patterns and great colours that cloth is simply fun to use!
- They are way cheaper than disposable diapers (especially if you plan on having more than one child). You can save thousands of $$$ by using cloth.
- They are healthier for baby. Disposable diapers contain chemicals, toxins, bleaches, etc. Also, while we have been cloth diapering our son, he hasn't experienced any diaper rash.
- They are better for the environment. Did you know that almost 1.5 billion diapers end up in Canadian landfills each year?! The numbers for the US are even more staggering at 27.4 billion per year. It is estimated that it takes 250-500 years for disposable diapers to decompose so they're going to be sitting there for a loooooong time to come.
- They are easy to use. These ain't your grandma's cloth diapers! Choose between snap or velcro styles. Definitely just as easy as disposables, plus you save yourself time from having to run to the store to buy diapers every couple of weeks.
- Believe it or not, they are less messy than disposables. Before we made the switch, our lil guy always had "blow-outs”, but since we started using cloth, no blow-outs have occurred. It’s all about that elastic in the back. It keeps everything in!
- Cloth diapers are more comfortable against baby's bottom.
- Potty training is easier! Cloth diapers have been known to help kids potty train faster because it makes them more aware of urinating.
Of course, the inevitable down side to cloth diapering is the laundering factor, but after cloth diapering my son full-time for well over a year, I can honestly tell you that it's not that bad. I cycle between 20-25 cloth diapers and end up doing an extra 2 to 3 loads per week. Even if you use disposable diapers, you are supposed to put the solid poop down the toilet (rather than in the trash can), so you're only creating the extra step of tossing them in the laundry.
Prepping Your Diapers
- Before using your diapers for the first time, you should wash and dry them at least one time. Wash them in hot water and then dry on the lowest setting.
- If you are using hemp or bamboo diapers/inserts, you will need to wash them on their own about 3 times in hot water before they will be ready to use. This strips them of their natural oils and makes them more absorbent.
How to Wash your Cloth DiapersHere is the basic washing routine for cloth diapers: COLD soak HOT regular wash with highest water level setting and maximum agitation COLD rinse cycle Machine dry on LOW or HANG to dry To break it down, here is the routine step-by-step:
- Remove dirty diaper. If soiled, put solids in the toilet (to make this step easier, use disposable liners or a diaper sprayer). If breastfeeding, this is not necessary as breastmilk poo is water soluable.
- Remove insert and put in diaper pail.
- Put diaper cover or pocket cover into a separate pail (using separate pails for inserts and covers help prolong the life of your diapers).
- Wash diapers every 2 to 3 days. Your load should have no more than 15 diapers as they need room to agitate.
- Using your washer’s highest water setting, run a COLD pre-wash/soak with no detergent. This will prevent stains from setting and will rinse away mess.
- Follow the soak cycle with a HOT wash and COLD rinse, using only a tablespoon or two of detergent.
- You can also do an additional COLD rinse if you find that you’re experiencing detergent build-up on your diapers. Some detergents I recommend are Nature Clean, Country Save, and The Laundry Tarts as they have a clean rinsing formula that eliminates the need for extra rinses.
- Dry your diapers on LOW or hang them to dry. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the best method to dry your particular brand. Diapers sealed with PUL will need to be placed in the dryer every couple of weeks in order to keep their waterproof seal working.
**The above routines are suggestions only. Always check manufacturer's guidelines for caring for your diapers as they may vary.
If you are using an HE washer, you will need to add extra water to your wash load as HE/front loaders typically do not use enough water to wash diapers properly. Set your machine's wash cycle. Once the water has been added and the wash cycle begins, hit the 'pause' button and pour extra water into your machine through the detergent tray. You can either use a pitcher to do this or you can hook up a hose to the faucet in your laundry tub, which facilitates the process. Also, do not wash more than 15 diapers at a time, so that there is room for them to move around.
- DON’T use a lot of detergent. If you’re using regular detergent, you only need about a quarter of what you would usually use. If using a clean rinsing detergent specially formulated for cloth diapers, check package instructions.
- DON’T use bleach. It will break down the fibers in your diapers and shorten their life span.
- DON’T use fabric softeners or dryer sheets as they will leave a residue on your diapers and reduce their absorbency.
- DON’T use diaper creams without a liner in your cloth diaper. They will leave a residue. Usually when cloth diapering, your baby will not experience diaper rash as they would with conventional disposable diapers. If you find that your baby does require some diaper cream, use a natural one that is zinc- and petroleum-free like Delish Naturals Yum Bum Butter.
- DO hang your diapers out in the sun to dry if you’re experiencing stains that the washer won’t wash out. The sun is a natural whitener and will bleach and disinfect your diapers without chemicals.
- DO wash your diapers every 2 to 3 days. The more you wash them, the easier they are to clean. It will also keep your diapers looking great as having them sitting in urine will increase their wear.