Category Archives: Cloth Diapering
This is my Husband Drawer.
My husband didn’t care that much one way or the other about cloth diapers, but he was reluctant to actually change a diaper, and didn’t want to actually put any effort into learning about the different diapers. He was worried (and I was worried) he’d forget to put a cover on with a fitted, or he’d use a cover alone instead of a pocket diaper, and it made him less than enthusiastic about the whole process. So I made the Husband Drawer. It had a few prestuffed pockets and a few all in ones, and a small pile of wipes. I kept it stocked at all times. This is a good solution of your Husband problem lies, not so much in actual reluctance to allow cloth diapers into the house, but just in the diaper changing department. Disposables feel fool-proof (they’re not); cloth seems weird and confusing (it’s not).
But what if your husband problem is more that your husband doesn’t want to use cloth diapers at all?
Many families find that they can compromise.
First, I’d encourage you to actually consider how much diaper changing your husband does (or will do). In our house, 90% or more of diapers are changed by me. If my husband were going to really be difficult about it and absolutely refuse to touch cloth diapers at all, that wouldn’t have dramatically impacted my life much. Some women find that they’re ok with simply completing all or most diaper changes themselves, and those women typically find that their husbands eventually get on board as long as they don’t nag or push.
It’s also possible to use a combination of cloth and disposable. If your husband doesn’t want to use cloth, he can use disposables when he completes diaper changes (and you can put baby in a disposable if you’re leaving the house and dad will be with the baby). And you can use cloth when you complete diaper changes. If dad works during the day, you can use cloth during that time (whether at home or at daycare) and switch to disposables at night. This combination approach makes everyone happy and still saves you money on diapers.
If the main problem is that dad just doesn’t want to have to deal with poop… well, poop is a part of life with babies. There’s no avoiding it, regardless of diaper type!!
1) Diapers. For a newborn, start with a dozen diapers for each day you don’t want to do laundry. (I want to do laundry every three days, so I need three dozen.) Get 6-8 covers, if you’re using prefolds or fitteds. You can always buy more if you need them! (Want to see what my newborn stash looks like? I talk about it here on my blog.)
For an older baby, you probably have a good idea of how many times you change your baby during the day. You’ll find that you change the baby more often when he’s wearing cloth, so add a few diapers to your daily diaper total and that’ll tell you how many to buy! Most people use 2-3 dozen diapers and 6-8 covers in the medium and large sizes.
2) Wipes. Plan on a dozen per day.
3) Diaper Pail. You can use a step-lid garbage can. Pair it with a pail liner if you wish. Or, skip the pail and just use a wet bag or pail liner.
4) Wet bags. For on-the-go diapering. A small size will work for day trips and errand-running, a larger bag will be suitable for longer trips.
5) Optional accessories. Some people like to use diaper liners and doublers. You might want a changing pad or two.
My diapers are stinky.
There are many causes of stinky diapers and many solutions to try.
- Vinegar in the rinse. This can cause stinky diapers for some people, it can solve a stink problem for others, and it makes no difference for still others. If you have stinky diapers and you use vinegar, try cutting out the vinegar for a few washes. If you have stinky diapers and you don’t use vinegar, give it a try.
- Detergent. Some detergents just don’t get things clean. Our family had terrible luck with Melaleuca detergent (but other families like it). Homemade laundry soaps often don’t result in a satisfactory clean, especially in hard water. For some, the “CD-safe” detergents just don’t get the job done. Consider switching brands.
- Wash frequency. Diapers that sit for longer than three days can start to really absorb odors. If you can’t wash that often, at least rinse your diapers often.
- Rinsing. A hot rinse can lock in odors and stains. Many families do not need a pre-rinse at all, but if you’re having stink problems, try a cold pre-rinse.
- Diapers just not able to get completely clean. Maybe they’re too wadded up when you put them in the washer (like if you roll up your diapers when removing them from the baby). Or maybe your water level is too low to allow the diapers to agitate.
- Not using enough detergent. Yes, if you use too much detergent, you could get detergent build-up, if it’s not getting effectively rinsed out. This is not as common as you might think. More common is too LITTLE detergent. If your diapers stink when you take them out of the dryer… they’re just not getting clean. “Barnyard stink” is often caused by too little detergent. Try using more detergent and hotter water.
- Hard Water. Add a water softener like Calgon.
- Join the FB group The Cloth Diaper Compenduim, read their files.
My diapers are leaking
Cloth diapers should not leak. Here are some common causes and solutions.
- Have you washed them? Some diaper materials and some diaper brands need to be washed 1-3 or more times before use to attain full absorbency. Check with the manufacturer of your diapers. It’s always a good idea to wash any diaper before use, just to make sure any dirt from the manufacturing and shipping process has been removed.
- If you’re using a fitted or prefold, make sure the diaper is completely contained within the cover.
- If you’re using a pocket, make sure the insert is completely inside the diaper, and not sticking out the back a bit.
- Does the diaper fit right? The elastic around the legs and waist should fit snugly against baby’s skin without cutting in. Gaps will allow urine to run right out, particularly around the legs. Diapers that are too small or too big will tend to leak.
- Is the diaper absorbent enough? Is the diaper completely saturated? This is an indication that it is not absorbent enough for your needs (or that you’re not changing often enough).
- Is the diaper repelling? To check, take a clean, dry diaper and pour some water on it. Does the water soak in, or does it bead up and run off? If it beads and runs off, that’s repelling. See Stripping Diapers.
- Is the cover a good cover? Covers tend to wear out more quickly than diapers, and many covers that are purchased second-hand or given as hand-me-downs are at or near the end of their life span. Old covers sometimes just leak and there’s nothing to be done. Sometimes, you can revive an older cover by giving it a good spraying with a waterproofing spray (sold in sporting goods stores for tents).
- Is it a pocket or an all in one? Try running it through the dryer. Needle holes in these diapers can open up over time, causing wicking and leaking. Drying will help seal those holes back up.
- Is your pocket or all in one wicking around the legs? Check to make sure that the fleece or suede inner is rolling to the OUTSIDE. Do not tuck this inner fabric back in! It should be touching baby’s skin all around the leg openings.
- Have you overstuffed your pocket diaper? Overstuffing can actually cause the diaper to fit very oddly – the center of the diaper will be firmly against baby’s bottom, but the leg openings will be kind of hovering just above baby’s legs. This means that urine will tend to run down the baby’s legs and out the diaper.
- Is the leaking mostly at night, because baby is sleeping longer and going longer between changes? Up the absorbency and try a wool or fleece cover.
- Are you using a waterproof cover? Fitted diapers and prefolded diapers must be paired with a cover to be waterproof. They can certainly be used without a cover, but they will not be waterproof.
- Are you using prefolds that you fold into covers, relying on the cover to hold the diaper in place? Many families do this without problem, but sometimes, baby’s movements can make the diaper shift and bunch, which could mean that there’s no diaper where it needs to be when baby pees. Try using a Snappi or pins for a few days to see if that solves the problem.
Often, you can start your troubleshooting by looking at where the leak is coming from. Leaks around the waist are often caused by inserts or diapers not being completely contained by the cover. Leaks around the legs are most often caused by poor fit, not enough absorbency, or repelling. Leaking around the legs plus a diaper that is only damp usually means the diaper and cover are too big or not closed up tightly enough, or that the diaper is repelling.
My diapers don’t look clean
If your diapers are actually still dirty, you have a problem with your wash routine. Maybe you’re wadding the diapers up too tightly when you toss them in the pail, maybe your water level is too low in the washer, or maybe your detergent just isn’t getting the job done.
If your diapers are dingy, it’s probably your detergent. Try another brand.
If your diapers are stained, well, that’s pretty normal. We are talking about poop, after all. Hang them out in the sun, or try some Bac-Out.
My diapers are actually repelling water
This can be caused by soap build-up (not usually by regular detergents), by fabric softeners, by diaper ointments, or even by using too much essential oil in the wash. See Stripping Diapers to take care of this problem.
Starting with cloth diapering can definitely be confusing when you first start looking at all the different options available to you! However, you have basically four options.
1) Prefolds and covers. Prefolded diapers are squares of cotton with a thick absorbent layer in the middle. They must be folded around your baby and fastened, or they can be laid into a cover and held in place by the cover. Prefolds are fairly inexpensive. They require a separate cover, as well as some learned skill. (Fleece covers are pictured, but you can use any cover you like.)
2) Fitteds and covers. Fitted diapers are like all in ones but without the waterproof layer. They need a separate cover to be waterproof, or can be worn as is around the house. Fitteds are generally inexpensive, compared to pockets or all in ones. Wallypop offers several quicker-drying options.
3) Pockets with inserts. Pockets are as easy as All In Ones once they’ve been “stuffed” with the absorbent layer. They are easier to wash, faster to dry, and longer lasting than all in ones. Pockets are handy for when you’re out and about, and many people prefer pockets for the majority of their stash. They are more expensive than fitteds or prefolds with separate covers, cheaper and more versatile than AIOs.
4) All In Ones. The most like disposables. Many people find these to be the easiest to use, and like to have some on hand for babysitters, grandparents, even father! The drawbacks are that they can be less absorbent when compared with other types of diapers, and they don’t last as long.
Covers: Covers come in three materials – PUL, wool, and fleece. Covers provide a waterproof layer to protect baby’s clothes (and yours) from wetness.
Consider purchasing just a few of each type of diaper and trying them out. After a few days or weeks of use, you’ll probably develop favorites and find that some diapers sit in the drawer to be used as a last resort. Once you’ve decided what you like, then you can buy more!
How do I get started with cloth diapers??
Starting with cloth diapers is fun!
Has your baby been born yet? If not, you can choose to use only cloth from the beginning, or you can choose to start out with disposables until you get your feet under you, parenting-wise, and then switch to cloth.
You can use both cloth and disposables for a while, or you can just jump in with both feet.
There’s no wrong way to start using cloth diapers.
I personally recommend starting with a variety of different diapers – try a few fitteds with covers, a few prefolds with covers, some pockets, a few all in ones. Try some one-size diapers, some sized diapers. Try several different brands. I would *not* recommend buying an entire stash of the same diaper.
Different families find that different types of diapers work best for their families, and until you know what you like and what works best for your baby, you’re better off not investing in a large stash of the same diaper!
Start simple! Unless the detergent you use for your family contains fabric softener, use it. It’s easiest and it will work just fine. (“But don’t I need special cloth diaper detergent?” NO, you don’t.)
- Dump diapers into washer.
- Add detergent. The amount recommended by the detergent manufacturer. (see Note 1)
- Wash on hot, double rinse in cold. (see Note 2)
- Put diapers into dryer, set covers aside.
- Dry. (Unless your CD manufacturer says otherwise, Hot is fine. Even if they do say otherwise, Hot is probably still fine.)
- If you want to dry your covers separately, hang them up or lay them out on the dryer’s top. Or just toss your covers in the dryer. (see Note 3)
- How easy was that?
Note 1. Honestly, you can probably get away with less, but start with the full amount, and try reducing the amount a bit at a time until you figure out how much *you* need for *your* diapers in *your* washer. (“But wait! The internet says to use a TINY amount!!” Yes. The internet is often wrong. I believe this got started back before my oldest was born, when parents were more prone to use MORE detergent than needed/recommended in the erroneous belief that this was needed. Then “the internet” took over, and we now have parents who are taught, often by the people who sold them their diapers who should know better, to use just a tiny amount. Your diapers have to get clean. To do this, you need to use enough detergent.)
Note 2. Use an appropriate water level for the amount of diapers you have. Because diapers are so absorbent, I use a higher water level than I would for the same volume of clothes (because my clothes do not consist of multiple layers of absorbent materials). If you have a front loader, some people find they have better luck if they throw in a few towels with their diapers.
Note 3. Only poor quality PUL delaminates in the dryer.
Softeners: If you have hard water, adding a softener to your laundry might help get your diapers cleaner. Calgon is excellent for this.
Washing soda: A nice laundry booster, helps make detergent work more effectively and is a softener (but not as good of a softener as Calgon).
Baking Soda: Brightens and removes odors. Use in the wash cycle or in a pre-soak cycle. Some people say it’s not really great for covers. Personally, I sometimes toss a handful in the diaper pail and don’t sort out my covers and I’ve never had a problem.
Vinegar (white): Softens and removes soap residue. Use in the rinse cycle. Can cause stink problems.
Tea Tree Oil: Disinfects and smells pretty. Use a few drops in the wash cycle. Too much oil causes problems, and tea tree oil has been associated with health concerns in boys. Do your own research here. I also think that the amount of disinfecting you’re likely to get from a few drops of TTO in the wash is really quite minimal.
Lavender EO: Antiseptic and nice smelling. Use a few drops in the wash cycle or the rinse cycle. Lavender EO has also been associated with health concerns in boys.
Bac-Out by Bi-O-Kleen: Whitens, removes stains, cleans. Use as a spray-on pre-treatment, or squirt some in a pre-soak or the wash cycle.
Oxygen Bleach like Oxyclean: Whitens, removes stains. Use in the wash cycle. I personally don’t like Oxyclean and do not use it in my laundry, ever.
The Sun: it’s free and it removes stains. Even indirect sun works wonders. Not just for diapers, either. UV light is also good for disinfecting.
No bleach in every cycle. Bleach wears out fibers faster (on diapers as well as clothes). Try sun, baking soda, oxyclean, or Bac-Out instead. Don’t be afraid of the bleachleach is ok as an occasional laundry treatment, but do not use it in every wash cycle.
No fabric softener. Fabric softener coats fabric to make it feel soft. This coating makes it hard for diapers to absorb very well. It also is hard on covers. Try using white vinegar instead.
Simple Wash Routine
Here is my usual wash routine:
1. Toss contents of diaper pail into washer.
3. Wash in hot.
4. Rinse in cold.
5. Rinse in cold again.
6. Hang outside on the line to dry or dry in dryer.
Sometimes if I think the diapers need a little sprucing up, I’ll wash them alone (no covers) and add in some baking soda. Sometimes I use vinegar in the first rinse to help remove all of the soap. Sometimes I throw in bleach.
Some families opt to toss used diapers directly into the washing machine, but most families use some sort of storage container for their used diapers until laundry day.
Diaper pail options
Our parents used to soak our diapers in a bleach and soap solution in a big pail. We, however, do not need to do this! Not only is it not necessary, but we here at Wallypop actually do not recommend it. This is called the “wet pail” method. Some people prefer to use a wet pail, where they fill the pail with water and let the diapers soak. I personally feel that all this does is give you a heavy diaper pail that is also a drowning hazard.
So what do modern parents do? It’s called the “dry pail” method. Find a pail that suits your fancy, toss the diapers in, and let them sit there until wash day.
There are many options as far as diaper pails go. I use a stainless steel kitchen garbage can with step-action lid. I love it. Various people make and sell pails that are specifically for cloth diapering, but these are usually more expensive and less fashionable than just choosing a nice-looking garbage can. Additionally, you can opt to not use a pail at all – many families buy two or three large wet bags, and use these to store their diapers. If you have a convenient place to hang a bag near your changing area, this is a nice option.
What about poop?
While your baby is exclusively breastfed, don’t treat the dirty diapers any different from the wet ones. The poop is so water soluble, it’ll just dissolve in the wash.
Once your baby starts solids, or if your baby is formula fed, his or her poop will not be as water soluble. You’ll want to shake or scrape off as much poop as you can into the toilet before tossing the diaper into your pail. You can use reusable or flushable liners to help with this, you can purchase a diaper/toilet sprayer, you can use a rubber scraper and rubber gloves, whatever suits your fancy. Personally, I generally just shook off what I could and didn’t worry about it!
My first child was pooping on the potty well before he started eating foods like raisins and peas. (We are an EC family.) So I have no personal experience with this. But I have heard from other parents that these foods, in particular, can go through a child with relatively little change to their skins, and if this poop is not rinsed from a diaper before it is washed, the undigested raisin and pea shells will need to be removed from the clean diapers later. So, if you notice undigested food in the diaper, I would probably recommend rinsing it out or shaking/scraping it off really well before washing.
Does that sound gross? The funny thing is, by the time your child is eating these foods, it won’t even faze you.
What does it mean to strip your diapers? It’s essentially working with your diapers to remove anything that might be lurking in the fibers – detergent, residue, diaper cream, fabric softener, etc.
When do you need to strip your diapers? Stripping is most commonly used when parents start noticing their diapers just don’t smell that great any more. The long-term solution is a better wash routine, but stripping can help remove the gunk that’s been left by your old wash routine. You might also want to strip your diapers if you’ve inadvertently used a product on them that isn’t compatible with cloth diapers – like fabric softener, or non-CD safe diaper creams. If you’ve noticed your diapers getting less absorbent over time, that’s a good sign that you need to strip, as well.
There are a few different ways to strip your diapers.
1. The easiest way, if you are only trying to remove old soap, is to wash your (clean) diapers in hot water several times without detergent until you no longer see bubbles in the rinse water.
2. The Blue Dawn way. If you’re trying to remove greasy build-up (softener or diaper cream) or you have diapers that use synthetic fabrics, you might have better luck using Blue Dawn. I personally recommend using Dawn for HAND washing and scrubbing ONLY and NOT in the washer. Others say it’s ok to put a teaspoon or two in your washing machine. Do this at your own risk – obviously, Dawn is not intended for washing machines. You might void your warranty, you might ruin your washer. I’ve warned you. After you use Dawn, rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse.
3. The Dishwasher. Some families strip their diapers in the dishwasher. Dishwashers have their own water heater to heat the water hotter than the water that comes out of your tap, which does make for superior stripping, but can also harm your diapers. I’ve read in a few places (blogs like this one without any citations) that it can be a fire hazard – I’m not really sure how, but now I’ve passed that along.
4. Boiling Water. If you have all natural fiber diapers without snaps, you might consider boiling them. I’ve never done this. It seems like a LOT of work. But if you want to do it, get on with your bad self.
I mailed out a custom order of size Large fitted diapers this week, and am also sewing some for inventory while I’m at it.
So I thought I’d put them on sale for the week. This week and next week only, Fitted diapers are 2 for $20. Can’t beat that with a stick. (Ends 10/19, in stock only, while supplies last.)
I wanted to share with you parts of the email I received from the gal who ordered the custom dipes.
“I had been growing increasingly frustrated with our one-size diapers and the poor fit on [my son]. After his last growth spurt, I decided that was it! I couldn’t stand them any longer! Even though I hope he will potty train soon, I realized I could sell off our current stash of one-size diapers and replace them with your fitteds and still have some money left over, so it’s a win as far as I’m concerned. I bought a two of your large fitteds a few weeks ago, and I’m in love with their fit on my boy. No more leaks, no more gaps, no more bikini fit. I can’t wait to get this order!”
Many families find that one-size diapers don’t provide the fit or performance they’d prefer, or that their little one outgrows them before he or she is ready for potty training. Wallypop Fitted Diapers are the perfect solution to this cloth diapering problem.
There is no doubt that laundry causes an environmental impact.
There is no zero-impact method of dealing with human waste. The closest we have come so far would be to use 100% elimination communication with your baby and put their waste into a composting toilet.
That might be out of reach for most families.
Taking as a given that most families will choose to use diapers on their babies (at least part time – even most EC families use diapers some of the time), if we’re looking at what causes the least amount of environmental impact, it seems clear that cloth diapers win.
The Real Diaper Association has an excellent run-down of the various environmental costs of disposable diapering. After looking through that list, two or three loads of laundry per week pales in comparison.
Unfortunately, there have been no good, unbiased studies that compare cloth diapers and disposable diapers in terms of lifecycle impact.