March 15, 2007

Cloth Diapers

Kara of Baa Baa Black Sheep is clearly my comment-box muse these days. She left another comment that made me feel all chatty, so I thought I'd make a new post about it so we can all be chatty:

So, hey, you guys. This got me wondering--do any of you use cloth diapers? If so, can you talk about your experiences with them? We're not planning on trying to start a family for 6 months to a year, but it's nice to know about these things.

We used cloth diapers with our first baby. I had a great experience with it. For one thing, a cloth diaper service went out of business while I was pregnant, so we were able to buy heaps and heaps of diaper-service diapers for very cheap, plus we bought some of the pails they gave to customers to use for diaper collection.

Then, I bought a bunch of different kinds of plastic pants at a consignment shop for pennies (not a popular resale product, it turns out), and so I got to try all the kinds and see what I liked best. Hands down, my favorite were the Dappi pants. They used to sell them at Target; I don't believe they do anymore. They were...nylon? I think. So they could be laundered (I think I hung them up to dry, though), and they didn't rip anywhere near as quickly or as easily as the kind made of plastic. They were less crinkly, too. They were more expensive than the regular plastic, but I got a whole bunch on clearance, and also I thought they were worth it even at full price.

For wipes, I cut up cloth diapers that were getting tattered. The diaper service started us out with some of these as "hey, take these as freebies," which really helped; if I hadn't had those, I probably would have used washcloths. I do not sew in any skillful sense of the word, but I can thread a needle, so I used pretty colors of embroidery thread and did some crude round-and-round stitching to keep the edges from falling apart. I kept a bottle (it was one they gave us in the hospital) on the changing table filled with a baby-shampoo-and-water solution, for wetting the wipes. Then the wipes went into the laundry with the diapers.

I had a mental hurdle at first, with cloth. Rinsing the first few diapers in the toilet (I wore rubber gloves) was...unpleasant. After that, it was nothing. It felt totally normal. I got completely used to it, and felt satisfied with my system. We had a particularly excellent set-up: the washing machine was between the nursery and the bathroom, so I could take the diaper to the bathroom to rinse it, then drop it in the washer on my way back to the nursery with the bucket. I enjoyed taking all those clean fluffy diapers out of the dryer. And I liked it that when the baby peed in a fresh diaper, I didn't hear the ching-ching of coins dropping into the trash can, the way I do with disposables.

Why did we stop using cloth? We moved to a new place, and it had coin-operated laundry. Also, one of the big parts of my cloth-diaper system was filling the washer and dropping each diaper into it to soak until I did a load of diapers. I couldn't do that in the shared laundry facilities. I switched to disposable. Why am I not using cloth again, now that we are in our own home with our own washer? Part of it is that I was so, so stupid, and I gave away all our cloth diapers and Dappi pants when we went so long without our own washer, and I thought we wouldn't be able to get a house before we were done having children. Then the thought of buying all those things again was...disheartening. And part of it is that stores like W@lmart and Target made their own brands of disposables that cost about half of the ones I'd had to buy before, which made it easier to stomach the cost element of the disposable disadvantage.

So! Weigh in, cloth diaper users! Your experiences! Your favorite products!


Devan said...

We've used cloth since ds was 4 months old (he's 2- today!)
We've used prefolds and covers, and pocket diapers. Pockets are my favorite, but a little more expensive. My very favorite pockets are Swaddlebees with the microfiber insert.
I can't imagine how much money we've saved over the last 20 months. Plus, we have all the dipes to use on our next baby and subesquent ones.
We wash our own. It's very simple. When he was exclusively breast fed, no rinsing required, just wash. Now we dump and wash. Cold rinse, hot wash with very little detergent, cold rinse, dry. Done!
For wipes, I use baby washclothes and a spray bottle with water, lavendar baby shampoo and sometimes some tea tree oil.
We still use disposables sometimes, but not very often.

Mommy Daisy said...

Oh oh, thanks for posting about this. I've been trying to find more people to talk to about cloth diapers. I still have tons of bigger sized diapers stocked in my son's closet, so we'll keep using the disposables for this baby. But I'm thinking cloth might be the way to go for a future baby.

My question, though, would it be worth buying all the cloth diaper supplies for only one baby? (I want more than just one more baby, but I don't know if I'll ever convince my husband.)

Sarah said...

Do the cloth diapers actually come clean or do they leave 'evidence' stains?! And so you guys wash them yourselves, rather than have a diaper service?
I've not even looked into this, but it's interesting!

Mimi said...

When my son was a newborn, we used lots of Kushies cloth diapers. They are nice looking, have velcro closures and are very easy to use. I kept a diaper pail filled with a water/vinegar solution to put the dirties into, then dumped the whole mess into the washer when there was a sizeable amount. The downside is that Kushies cost about $10 per diaper, but well worth it if you are into both convenience and conservation.

We've also used the G Diapers "flushable" diapers. I actually really liked them too, even after my husband made me quit flushing them after one too many clogs. I suppose if I had been better at breaking the material up and swishing more, and maybe using two flushes per diaper then they would have worked better. Anyone who has used these diapers knows what I'm talking about! However, the company says that even if the diapers are thrown away in the garbage instead of being flushed, it's still way better for the environment than disposables. Also, the little diaper covers are too cute on a crawling baby!

penny said...

I hope the cloth diaper nazis don't find this entry. If they do, you will be quickly inundated with "Cloth is best! Disposables rot your child's genitals!" etc, etc.

I use disposables. I did my research, and I don't see much, if any, environmental or health benefit to using cloth over disposables.

I also work full time, and have enough of a problem washing my own underwear in time for the work week. Plus I'm not sure daycare would want to deal with cloth.

That said, I am actually considering switching to cloth at about the 1.5 year mark. By that time, I may have stopped working so I'll have more time to swish diapers in toilets, and also, it'll be getting close to potty training time and I think it would be beneficial for my daughter to know the feeling of peeing on herself, something disposables are not as likely to do, what with the sodium polymer they have to turn the pee into gel.

Black Sheeped said...

I don't know, I just read that you can spend 1500-2000 dollars on diapers on just one kid, and nearly had a heart attack. I'd be happy to shell out 300 bucks or whatever it is for cloth, especially if you can reuse them for each kid.

Jennifer said...

I'm so interested in using cloth diapers, especially now that I'll have 2 in diapers at the same time. How did you convince your husbands? Mine acts like I'm a complete nutcase for even considering cloth.

Swistle said...

Sarah-- I laundered mine myself, and I don't remember there being stains. Maybe every once in a while. The pre-rinsing and then soaking (while they were waiting for me to do a load of wash) seemed to take care of it.

Penny-- Oh dear, I hadn't thought of that. Perhaps I should have used concealing codes: "cl0th diapers" and "dispos@bles" and so on. We want to keep things friendly and information-sharing and non-evangelistic and non-attacky-of-other-people's-choices. No Nazis of any flavor allowed.

Swistle said...

Black Sheep-- I think some price estimates are inflated. Like, I'm always seeing that the average family spends $700 per child for back-to-school clothes, but I don't pay anywhere NEAR that--not even in that BALLPARK. Same with disposable diapers. There are brand-choice issues (cheap brand, $10/pack; deluxe brand, $20/pack), and also number-of-changes-per-day factors. And of course cloth diapers have their own expenses, like washing and drying and flushing and so forth. I'm pretty sure the disposables still work out to be more expensive even if you choose all the cheapest options--but I'm too lazy to do the math.

Mona said...

We use both cloth and disposable. I say we, because I'm the big cloth user and my husband opts for disposable. I've bought some Diaperaps instead of FuzziBunz because he hates snaps.

I have a lot of accoutrement that have helped with the cloth diapering process--a diaper duck that holds onto to the prefold when I flush the toilet.

The only downside is the bulkiness of a diaper plus the enormity of my son's butt forces me to put his 10-month-old body in 12-18 month pants.

The Queen of Shake-Shake said...

Well, I'm going to expose myself as a hippy since everyone knows I use the Diva Cup and I cloth diapered too.

My favorite diaper was actully the prefold. Forget the pins, get this thing here: It's a snappi fastener for cloth dipes and is awesome!

My favorite cover was a Bummis Super Whisper Wrap. never had a leak with those. All time favorite wrap in my 2.5 years of cloth dipes.

I liked pocket diapers that devan mentioned too. Great for naptime and overnight. Good for outings too.

Dunking the diapers. I hated that once he was no longer exclusively bf'd. So I bought this: The mini shower. Best thing since sliced bread and the snappi.

Stains do happen. But if you hang the diaper out in the sun, the sun will actually bleach it out. And I didn't have a clothes line. I bought one of those folding wooden racks to hang the ones that came out of the wash with a stain. The rest went in the dryer. Devan summed up a great wash routine too.

As far as being worth it for one baby, I think if you stay simple with prefolds & covers, it is very worth it. If you want to CD full time, you can add a couple of pocket diapers or all in ones for outings & still not spend a lot of money.


Shelly said...

I hate to be the loser here, but as much as I find the whole cloth diapers discussion interesting, I just am not sure I could do it. Even though I read everything that you wrote, it all just seems so labor intensive, and well, gross, to me. In theory I think, great, yes, I would love to do it for my daughter, esp if it helps the environment, but in practicality I'm just not sure I could. And as Jennifer said, I'm not sure my husband would go for it, money saver or not.

Look at you, Swistle, with all the engaging discussions this week!

PS - why does it always take me at least two 2 tries with the word verification before it works? Grrrr!

Swistle said...

Shelly-- I KNOW! I'm like Little Miss Discussions these last couple of days! I think the nice thing about the diaper issue is that both sides are good in their own ways. I remember when I was looking into it, I found good, solid, convincing arguments for cloth AND for disposables. (You can also find crazy, angry, hating-people-who-do-it-differently arguments for both sides, but let's not take those into account. We like to keep things friendly around here.)

I don't understand the word verification thing, either. Sometimes I am absolutely certain I have it right and it still makes me do it again. My current theory is that sometimes it times out: if I take too long with my comment, I think it automatically rejects the word verification.

jen said...

we use pockets. We probably spent a lot to acquire all the sizes, but we didn't spend a dime on #2 and won't on #3. I can't use store brand disposables, I never found any that worked for us. It is so stupidly simple I get offended when people look at me with pity and say "eww... good for you.. but.. yuck." That's when I tell them yes it's totally disgusting. That's why I've done it for so long!

We have a sprayer hooked up to the toilet and it takes care of me having to ever touch anything foul. Then we put the diapers in a pail and come wash day I put them in the washer and put some soap in the washer and let the washer do all the work! For washcloths we use the ones they sell in all the cloth diapering botiques. They are cute. I even made some of my own.

It's just something we DO. I don't mean offense to anyone here, but it can be a sore point. You open yourself up to people who suddenly think you asked them what they thought. You can be sitting innocently in a waiting room somewhere and someone will come up to you and say "oh, you use cloth? Oh I could never do that, that's SO GROSS! And putting poop in my washing machine? Eewww." and on and on, while I sit there all "um... hi."

Leticia said...

I know that verymom (now at posted an entry all about cloth diapers. i believe she even owns her cloth diaper was pretty interesting read if some of you are interested in using cloth. she talked about how it worked for her, etc. I think she did it out of necessity because the kids had very sensitive skin. Personally...i don't think i could do it. Seems like way too much work, but, i admire those who do.

coffee stained said...

I totally admire people who do it. When it came down to making that choice way back when I couldn't get my husband on board to go along with it. And since I'm an "all or nothing" kind of person, I didn't feel like we could do part time cloth and part time disposable. It doesn't gross me out though, especially after cleaning my daughter's clothing after a bad blowout.

Swistle said...

Oooh, several of you have mentioned a little spraying tool, and that sounds like it would be awesome and helpful.

I agree with everyone who has said that cloth is not the big gross deal it seems like it might be. On the other hand, maybe those of us who have used cloth are the ones who WOULDN'T be bothered by it, if you see what I mean. Like, it WOULD be a big gross deal for some people and WOULDN'T be a big gross deal for others. I suspect, though, that for most people it's a hurdle that, once leapt, isn't a problem. Like with changing diapers AT ALL: at first it seems gross and unthinkable, but then you get used to it.

It also wasn't very much work. I mean, most of the diapers are just wet, and putting them in the washer is the same work as putting them in the trash. A poopy one takes between 1 second (if you can just dump the poop out into the toilet) and maybe as long as 30 seconds (if scrubbing is required) to clean--and poopy ones are about once a day, so that's not a big thing. Washing and folding them is the same as doing any load of laundry. When I was using cloth, I didn't really like it when people acted as if I was doing something that required amazing effort.

Also, here I am using disposables! So everyone say hello to Miss Both Sides Of The Fence!

jen said...

I forgot to mention I love folding clean fluffy diapers :)

Shannon said...

We thought about cloth diapering pre-Darsie. We were planning on going that route and then she was born at 28 weeks and all of my careful thoughts and planning went out the window. We've used disposables since. I think for the upcoming babe we will use g-diapers. Costs about the same as disposables but seems like a better option. I like that I can compost them, too since I have these visions of a vegetable garden at the new house.

Shelly said...

I find it intriguing the great number of people I have heard say how much they love folding fresh, clean diapers. It must be like crack or something!!

& I think you're right, Swistle. It's the initial hurdle. I mean, if disposables had never been invented we'd just do it and deal with it, right? We're such wussies now. Or at least I am.

Trena said...

We had totally planned on doing the cloth diapering thing with Owen (had done all my research, narrowed it down to which brand covers I was going to buy, horrified my family by telling them what we were planning) and then...we just got lazy.
A good friend of mine has cloth diapered 3 out of her 4 children and really likes it. In fact, it was her positive experience that made me think that it was something really do-able.
I don't think we'll likely switch to cloth anytime in the near forseeable future with Owen, but I do have hopes that I'll be on the ball enough when we have #2 child that we'll be able to follow through and do it.

Sara said...

I admit I never tried cloth, mostly because I couldnt stomach the thought of having to do even more laundry than I already do now! I breastfed all three, my youngest till he was nearly two, I consider that my limit of crunchyness!

JMH said...

Penny: Diaper Nazi's...HA!HA!HA! I about choked on my coffee when I read that.

I used disposables for both of my kids. I work full time and the thought of all that laundry about made my head explode! We can barely keep up with the Mt. Everest of clothes here. However, if we could have afforded a diaper service, I may have considered it.

desperate housewife said...

Whoa, can't believe all the cloth diaper users out there! I didn't realize so many people still did it. I was having a potty training discussion with some older women at a baby shower a while ago, and a couple of them said they thought kids in cloth diapers are easier to potty train because the wet diapers are much more uncomfortable for them.
I think that probably is a good point, but it also seems like it would be much more rash-inducing to have that wet cloth right on your skin indefinitely. Or am I the only mom who doesn't always sniff out a pee diaper right away?

Devan said...

desperate housewife - the pocket diapers have a layer of fleece so that the baby's skin stays dry, much like a disposable.
You can also buy or make fleece to lay on top of prefolds so that baby doesn't feel wet.
Obviously, you wouldn't want to use that during pt though.
I do find that I have to change a little more often than with disposables though, maybe one or two more dipes a day. Not all that much.

Anonymous said...

<<< I forgot to mention I love folding clean fluffy diapers :) >>>

No, I don't think I would actually have ANY problem with folding nice, clean, fluffy, smelling-of-Tide-mountain-breeze-detergent diapers. But I WOULD have a problem - a BIG problem - with washing poop, using my OWN hands, out of dirty, poop-smelling, used diapers.

Do you really get used to it after a while? Please do tell! Because I feel all guilty about this, like probably I SHOULDN'T be grossed out...but I totally am.

Swistle said...

Anonymous-- I don't know if everyone would get used to it, but I did. I wore long rubber gloves, which helped a LOT: I was as grossed out by the "splashing around in the toilet" issue as I was with the "rinsing off poop" issue.

And it rinses more quickly than I expected it would. I'd thought I'd have to SCRUB or something, but most of it...well, this sounds so gross, but most of it PEELS off when it hits the water. And then there's just a little bit that requires light scrubbing (diaper against diaper, not even glove against diaper) to remove. I'd say that it wasn't any grosser than it is to use a wet wipe to wipe poop off the little baby butt.

The Queen of Shake-Shake said...

I had the little sprayer from almost the very beginning of having dunk the cloth diapers, so it was not a gross deal at ALL. What was really gross was when the poop would go up the back & out the leg of a disposable diaper and I had to peel the poop clothes of my first son, who was a Pampers baby. That was pretty gross but I managed to live through that w/o my hands rotting off from contamination. Soap was invaluable in keeping the rot off of my hands.

When we switched to cloth, I never had a poop leak and I could count on one hand the number of wet leaks ds #2 had.

And actually, quite a few babies experience less rash in cloth than they do disposables. Because you don't leave them sitting around in a wet diaper. You go change them. Just like with disposable.

And I'd like to send a shout out to Miss Both Sides of the Fence. And ask if I can join the clubhouse too?

I think the cloth is a lot of like the cups too. There are those who can't handle the blood and/or the poop and this isn't for them. There are those that aren't bothered by it and it may be for them. Different strokes and all that cliche.

heleen said...

We used disposables on our twins for the first two months, then we switched to cloth. Nappy rash solved overnight. I've been swearing and crying the first few days: more work, more hassle on top of all the work that twins bring, but after a while I started to enjoy it: For the environment, for the money, for the babies' health and the way it looks and feels.
I use a disposable at night and a disposable liner in the first nappy of the day that is most likely to be a big poo nappy.
Cleaning is easy: Put dirty nappies in a bucket of hot water and eco soak powder overnight (or at least two hours). After that it just needs a cold rinse so I put them in the laundry with what ever I'm washing. This is the most energy friendly method. I never have stains. I use Imse Vimse covers and fold my nappies when I watch tv.
The most important trick is that when you hang the nappies you have to straighten the edges, that saves hassle when you're folding. I don't like them when they've been in the dryer. Too soft and floppy for easy folding.

Anonymous said...

I haven't changed diapers since our youngest was a baby (he's 10 now), but it was always cloth diapers in our house. I didn't have fancy prefolds, just flats which I pinned and rubber pants over. Disposables may be good in some regards, but I honestly don't think they compare to old fashioned diapers.

Anonymous said...

my teen daughter is a bed wetter and i use regular cloth diaper and rubber pants on her at night.they work well and dont leak.she has been in them for over a yer now.we baptized her last easter and we did one of her cloth diapers and rubber pants under her white dress.