So, we’ve made through ten days of (mostly) cloth diapering. (I don’t have that many cloth diapers, so we’ve reverted to a lot of disposables lately.) I always imagined cloth diapering to be very gross—all that toilet dunking and then wet pee-poo-toilet-water diapers to deal with. Plus, washing them? Ugh.
Reality: not that gross. I mean, considering that we’re dealing with pee and poo anyway, it’s not really that different.
Diaper changes are basically the same, except we can’t use Desitin now (bad for the diapers’ absorbency. Luckily, we’ve also been good about changing her quickly enough—no rash yet). Rather than wrapping up the dirty diaper, if it’s just wet, we pull out the insert (unless it’s our Smartipants or an all-in-one/AIO) and toss it in the diaper pail.
If it’s a poopy diaper, we take the diaper to the bathroom and dump it. Sometimes it’s just dumping, sometimes there’s some shaking, and sometimes we grab the TP and wipe the diaper out as best we can. I don’t flush the diapers, and I wear myself out doing this—I get as much as I can off and trust the rest to come out in the wash. So far, it always has.
So we collect “soiled” diapers in a 5 gallon bucket (because we only have about a thousand laying around) (no, I’m not joking). I won’t lie: the bucket stinks. Bad. Woot for airtight lids. I suspect that some of the used diapers we bought need to be “stripped,” either for hard water or just age. And then we’ll grab another bucket. Phew!
Dumping the bucket in the wash is fairly easy—if I’ve remembered to pull out the inserts and do up the laundry tabs as I go. (On velcro-closure diapers, there are extra pads on the back of the diaper to attach the velcro so you don’t make “diaper chains.”)
I use a plain rinse, and then a hot wash cycle with an extra rinse and about half as much detergent as usual (I had to go out and buy a brand that Smartipants doesn’t specifically say not to use, like our regular one).
Every other wash, I dry the diapers on low with three of our extra (dry) towels in the dryer. The rest of the time, I hang them up to dry, usually in the family room. And if I’m really on top of things, I stuff the inserts into the diapers so they’re ready in advance. (I totally need to make myself a diaper stacker!)
Is it a lot more work? No. It’s a little more work, but let’s be honest: I have a washing machine. I dump dirty clothes in, add detergent and switch it on. Life is easy.
Scale of grossness
Dumping or shaking poopy diaper—1 (unless the splash hits you)
Wiping baby’s poopy bum—2
Washing cloth diapers—3
Wiping toddler’s poopy bum—5
Wiping out diaper—6
Wiping out training potty—28
It is a much bigger investment initially. I bought 24 diapers and inserts for around $200. (Smartipants says 24 should do you.) I used craigslist (not averse to used, clean diapers) and searched out seconds, so I really got a good deal—less than $10/diaper (including insert). There are even message boards where they do lots of “FFS” giveaways/drawings (free for shipping—you pay shipping and you get the diapers free). Brand new diapers can cost up to $20 a piece.
I think our disposables run about $0.30 a piece, so $200 would buy about 670 diapers. At the rate little babies use diapers, that’s about three months’ worth. Not bad—if you can stop yourself from buying all those cute patterns.
One major plus for my experience: my husband is totally on board with me for this. (In fact, he’s been thinking about cloth diapering for longer than I have.) He’s down with using cloth diapers, changing cloth diapers (yes, even poopy ones!), pulling out the inserts, washing them and drying them (line or dryer). Without his support, I probably would have given up a while ago.
And I had a Smartipants diaper to give away, too. So let’s have a drumroll please—the winner is:
Congrats! Your diaper will be winging its way to you soon!
For those of you who didn’t win, I still have good news. If you’re looking to try Smartipants, there’s a good sale on seconds (slightly irregular new diapers—maybe misaligned snaps or crooked stitching). You can get 10 diapers (no inserts) for $69 and free shipping—but girl colors only. (Normally, the seconds are $99.)
Thanks to everyone who entered, and thanks for all the birthday wishes—it was a wonderful birthday, especially since two of my sisters came in from out of state to surprise me!