I'm calling this PART 1, hoping that PART 2 will be my foray into diapering. This post provided by my lovely writer friend, Riley.
How to Cloth Diaper
By Riley McDermid
So you’ve made one of the great parenting cultural war decisions and chosen to cloth diaper. Good luck to you, because you’ve basically just written yourself a blank check for everyone you know to weigh in on something that shouldn’t be controversial, but apparently fascinated most people.
You will hear it all--wow, how gross; what’s wrong with disposables; doesn’t it waste water; don’t you have to change her all the time; etc etc etc.
Now it is time to take the first, and most important step: Ignore these people. They usually have no idea what they are talking about, and secondly, it’s your call, and you made it. So stick to your guns and cloth diaper the hell out of that baby!
Where to start:
Types of cloth diapers vary. There all the all in ones, the inserts , and then every combination in between. Each of these work differently and each of them fulfill the basic need of keeping your baby dry. but they can vary greatly in startup cost, which for our family is always a concern.
What you’ll need:
--Something for a wet bag (you can buy designated wet bags or make your own)
--Sprayer which hooks up to the toilet for when your baby start eating solids
--Washing machine or access to one
--Diaper pail (we just use a $12 plastic trash can from Target, no need to get fancy)
What to do:
To begin with, we went just with straight prefolds covered by a diaper cover. As she was breast and bottle fed, all we had to do after changing her was throw the diaper into the washing machine and when enough laundry was in there to constitute a full load (including clothing and other miscellaneous linens), we would just run a rinse, then do a full wash, and toss it into the dryer. You can get away with this until they start eating solids, when the fun really starts!
Now, the savings associated with this are substantial. Considering Francesca a.k.a. Frankie was going through 80+ diapers a week during her first two months, it saved us around $300 per month for that first “post-trimester,” give or take the brand of diaper and size of pack. Simultaneously, our water and gas bill only went up $15 a month doing that extra load of so. That is nothing to sneeze at, especially if you’re a family on a scrupulously tight budget.
Wipe It Up:
By all means, make your own cloth wipes. One, it is such much better for the environment than just throwing away paper all day long, and two, it is easier on your baby’s little tushy. We cut up some old flannel shirts and cloth diapers and they not only work well, but we just wash them and use them again.
Making your own wipe solution is kind of a fine art though. My husband has a special potion he likes to brew up (he’s Top Secret about the whole thing) but the one I use it two TBS baby oil, two TBS witch hazel and like three drops of scent-free dish detergent. Then put that in a few cups of water, soak your wipes in it, and store them in Ziploc bags. We keep a bag upstairs with her nursery and downstairs for her changes when she’s zooming around during the day.
How to wash:
This is the number one question people will ask you about cloth diapering, but don’t sweat it. You got this. When or if you are just breastfeeding or on formula, all you need to do is acquire enough diapers for a load, then run them through the soak and rinse cycle. Then wash as usual with detergent, even with other cloths. Everything gets rinsed out in that first rinse.
Now, a lot of people swear by special diaper detergents, some family members among them (hi, Cousin Susie!), but I myself have not found them to be any more effective or beneficial than just plain old fashioned original formula Tide. If you really want a sparkling diaper, add some OxiClean to your pre-soak or wash and that’ll get most any stain right out.
After solids, however, you need to step it up a little. You probably will want to get a diaper sprayer like this.
to rinse off solids, then just throw it into the washing machine. We keep our top loader washing machine on SOAK with about eight inches of water in it, and throw in the diapers, and when we have enough for a load, it’s the same drill--rinse on warm, then wash like normal.
Stripping your diapers:
Every once in awhile, you will encounter some diaper build up. This is normal and it can cause either less absorbency or the occasional rash as your baby gets and stays damper. The time-honored tradition of stripping your diapers--basically washing and them at a high temperature with a solvent to get residue off, then rinsing, rinsing, rinsing them until they are back at their original fluffy, absorbent best.
Again, there are various schools of thought on how to do this. I myself am an OxiClean and Blue Dawn believer, because it took 30 perfectly ruined diapers and transformed them into pristine new baby tush covers.
It’s real simple: Wash you diapers in the hottest water possible with a scoop of OxiClean and like half a teaspoon of Blue Dawn (it has to be BLUE, because that’s the magic one, seriously) and then run two hot, hot, hot rinses. Check and see if there are still bubbles in the water--if so, keep rinsing. If not, you are good.
Then, if at all possible, sun dry them. This does all kinds of goods for your diapers. But if not, don’t stress, just throw them in the dryer and get them nice and dry. Then you’re good to go until the next stripping, which at our house is usually every 10 months or so.
So, now that you are forewarned, you are forearmed! Go forth and conquer the great cloth diaper challenge! The world and it’s resources thanks you. Just, dude, don’t be the annoying cloth diaper evangelist at stuff--that gets old.