I was first introduced to cloth diapering while stationed in Del Rio, TX. We had been married less than a year and I had a good friend with a 2 year old who cloth diapered. I remember looking at her system and filing it away for later.... fast forward another year and we were finally expecting our first bundle of joy. I knew I wanted to cloth diaper, but I was having trouble wrapping my brain around how it would work and I had very little access to any place that sold cloth diapers to try them out. So I dove in, bought several of one of the major brands (BumGenius) and tried to figure it out on my own.
When Jarvis was about 4 weeks old, we started using the BumGenius. At that time, I was using a diaper genie for storage (talk about STINK) and washing with All Free and Clear. Needless to say, a couple of months later I was not so happy with how things were going and tried to find more resources and ideas. Luckily, a fellow Academy girlfriend-now-wife was also cloth diapering- plus she was a wonderful photographer, and overall creative genius. I've mentioned her before, but go check out her blog! She answered TONS of questions, and then just a few months later wrote this amazing post! Shawna was a huge resource for me, and seeing her system work so well helped me adapt my own. Since then, I have switched diaper brands (more on why later) and have a flawless system down!
I have people ask me about cloth diapering all the time and I LOVE talking about! I could go on for days! However, this blog post will not be to convince you why to cloth diaper, this is simply a snapshot of what my system looks like and how cloth fits into our lives.
This is *my* personal cloth diapering system in the form of the questions I get asked the most:
What diaper do you use?
We use Fuzzibunz one size cloth diapers exclusively. They are not the only brand out there, and I've tried a few, but FB are my favorite. They are very adjustable and fit tiny newborns to giant 2 year olds. They are all solids and sometimes I wish I had more cute prints, but my choice of diapers is more practical. I need diapers that will hold up to NUMEROUS children, and these do!! I just sized down all of Jarvis' old diapers for the twins, and while I had to use the replacement elastic they come with, they are all still in awesome, stain free shape.
How many do I need?
That depends on how many kids you have in diaper and how often you want to wash. Early on, they need to be changed more often, so 12-15 diapers will get you about a day and a half. This means you wash daily. 18-22 will allow you to wash every other day. It's up to you!
Where can you get them the cheapest?
Without access to someplace local that sells them (check around you!), Ebay always has awesome deals on large packages of brand new diapers that bring the price down to $15-$17 each. Plus, Fuzzibunz just came out with a new 'elite' line of diapers, so the older style are going on sale all over! (I'm still undecided on whether the 'elite' are worth the money or not...)
How do you store clean diapers?
With Jarvis, I have always stored the diapers pre-stuffed and lying flat in a drawer. Here's his drawer right now, he only goes through about 12 diapers every 2 days now and I wash every 3rd day or so. (What looks like toilet paper in the back are flushable liners that someone got into during room time- more on them later!) I also keep my extra hanging pail and extra travel tote in the drawer.
With the twins, I have limited drawer space, so I am now storing them all in baskets on the wall. They each pull out individually without pulling the others out too. I have 32 diapers for them right now, and I expect that to be enough for a day and a half initially and to be washing every day.
How do you store dirty diapers?
FB hanging diaper pails are absolutely wonderful! They are waterproof and have an elastic opening at the top with two handles, and a zipper opening at the bottom. They are intended to hang on door knobs, but I found that every time I opened or closed the door the diaper smell seemed to waft around. We have always stored ours in laundry hampers. With the lid down on the hamper, I NEVER smell the diapers in the room or in the house, even after 3 days. I promise! If you want to come over and smell check you can!
When I change a diaper, I hold the front and shake the diaper lightly over the diaper bag until the insert slips out the back and into the diaper bag, then I drop in the cover. I never touch yuckiness. When it's time to wash the diapers, I carry the whole diaper bag to the washer and unzip the bottom straight into the washer. Then the bag gets tossed in with the diapers. Once again, I never touch yuckiness!! I have 2 hanging bags for each room so I always have a clean one while the other is washing. Here is Jarvis' current laundry hamper and the twins-
What about poopy diapers?
When babies are exclusively breast or formula fed, their poop is completely water soluble and can be tossed in the washer as is. It will dissolve away completely during a rinse cycle. Once they start eating any solids, then I use small Bummis flush-able liners. You can either use them when you know baby will poop, or with every single diaper. They are very thin liners that catch most or all the poop, then you just turn the diaper over the toilet and it falls off and gets flushed away, no dunking or rinsing.
For poopy diapers, we use regular wipes, and they get tossed in a small sealed trashcan in the room. For everything else, we used handmade cloth wipes. I made about 32 of these, and we wet them and keep them in a diaper warmer. We use about 1 cup of water, a couple of drops of essential oil, and about 12 wipes at a time in the warmer. They stay moist, but don't mold. If you try to put too many in, they will dry out or mold before you use them. Too few and they will stay too wet. There are lots of cloth wipes solutions out there, but really, I think water works just fine! The essential oil helps the wipes clean and makes them smell nicer, plus it can prevent molding. The extra dry wipes go in a drawer when not being used, and I drop the dirty cloth wipes in with the diapers and wash them with the diapers.
What is your wash cycle? What detergent do you use?
This is one area that I do.not.budge. If you are cloth diapering, you can use whatever brands/styles you want, but I HIGHLY recommend that you only use Rockin Green Cloth Diaper Detergent. I have tried lots of brands of free and clear detergents and ones claiming to be cloth-friendly, and every.single.time I have had stink and leaking issues. You want a detergent that will clean the diapers, but will not leave ANY residue. It needs to wash completely clean. Let behind residue will cause your diapers to stink like ammonia as soon as they are peed on, and will cause your inserts to stop absorbing as well. I promise, you will not want to cloth with any other detergent. You can get RNG online or in a cloth diaper friendly store.
Your wash cycle will depend on your washer, but I have a front loader (which uses less water) so I make sure to do extra rinses. The buttons on my machine are listed by each step)
1. Rinse (cold rinse only, extra rinse)
2. Funk Rock Rinse (every week/two weeks I run the diapers on a rinse with RNG Funk Rock, to fight ammonia)
3. Hard Rock Wash (Normal wash, extra rinse, hot water)
4. Rinse (cold rinse only, extra rinse)
I even cut it out with my Silhouette and put it on the washer so that whoever starts/washes the diapers can mark where they are, that way either one of us know what needs to happen next on the diapers! I also store my RNG in these pop-top storage containers so I don't have to mess with a bag.
What do you do when you are out somewhere?
I always keep at least one cloth diaper in my bag, and take more if needed. I also use the FB Travel Tote. It's a completely waterproof wet bag with a zipper. After changing him, I put the diaper in the bag, zip it up, and stuff it back in my diaper bag. I have tried several brands of wet bags, and I feel like FB's holds in the stink the best. I once left a poopy diaper in the wet bag in my diaper bag for a week on accident, and I still couldn't smell a thing until I opened it. They are amazing! I have two, which is more than enough even if you travel daily. Here's what they look like in my bag:
Hmmmm, so that's it for now... hopefully that answers some questions! I will probably do a part 2 as I think of more!
**** UPDATE: I answered some of your questions HERE!****
Happy cloth diapering!