Thoughtful Thursdays: My Cloth Diapering Experience So Far
Happy Thursday! I can’t believe I’m sitting down to write my second post of the month, but also I can’t believe I don’t write on the blog anymore. If you read last week’s post you will have learned that the blog was where I started on this whole internet place (aside from Xanga and Myspace, teehee) and I basically have been on a hiatus since pregnancy.
I’ve had a ton of topics sent my way for this series but I figured I’ll knock out one that I’ve been sharing about a lot lately.
**This is bound to be a really involved topic, but I’ll do my best to wrap it up in a timely fashion (also, Phoenix is probably seconds away from waking up from his nap). I will also add that I am so insanely grateful for running water to clean diapers and the means to purchase cloth diapers for Phoenix. I am aware that not everyone is able to make the swap, especially mamas who live in poverty and are doing all that they can, even if that means reusing disposable diapers (so sad).
I personally feel like it is our duty to our planet and our children and their children to not be so careless as to throw away an excess of materials when we can help it. Billions of diapers are thrown into landfills each year (billions!) and can take more than 500 years to decompose (yes, even “green” diapers like Honest and Seventh Generation take years and years). I was reading that even compostable diapers do not properly break down in landfills as there is a lack of essential oxygen and soil for them to break down into. Think about a compostable diaper sitting inside a plastic garbage bag — it has nowhere to go!
We are by no means perfect. As you will learn, we didn’t cloth diaper until recently! This is just a TINY bit of info to help you understand what sparked my interest. Currently, we recycle as much as we possibly can and are freezing our food scraps while we decide if we’re going to create a compost system in our backyard or bring our compost to a center. I believe that no one has to be all or nothing. If you make small changes at a time, there is a positive effect taking place! You can’t just be like “F**k it. I don’t have a compost service or recycling in my town so I may as well just use disposable diapers because what’s the point?”**
Okay. I stepped down from my soapbox.
Cloth diapering is something I knew very little about before I had Phoenix. I remember using a restroom at one of our favorite local spots and seeing an advertisement for a local cloth diapering delivery service that really got my attention. I proceeded to go to their website and read statistics about how many diapers end up in landfills each year, how many diapers one baby goes through in one year, etc. I was convinced diapers were evil! A necessary evil. I wasn’t even pregnant at the time, so of course I forgot about that rather quickly.
Fast forward to being pregnant and registering for a simple 5-pack of cloth diapers from Amazon. Right away, I noticed how expensive they were — looking back, I think they were about $40 for 5, which isn’t bad at all. I registered for a ton of Seventh Generation disposable diapers (they’re considered a “greener” choice but still take years and years to break down in landfills) and one pack of cloth diapers.
Within the first few weeks of Phoenix’s life, he went through so many diapers. He was also super sensitive (as all newborns are) and developed a bloody diaper rash (not normal at all) from a Pamper’s chemical burn. That sucked, but going through so many diapers didn't really bother me because we had received hundreds of diapers from our friends and family and it took us about two months before we ever even ventured to buy diapers. Naturally, we bought the “green” diapers at our local Kroger (which I’m just now realizing are plastic. They’re made of recycled materials and have no added bleaches or synthetic fragrances, etc., but they are plastic).
I tried out the cloth diapers from my registry at one point, maybe around 4 months? However, I knew nothing and just wadded them up, washed them on light with natural detergent and kept going. He didn’t really poop all that much around that age, and I was mainly changing wet diapers, so it was so easy. Collin wasn’t into the idea of cloth so he would do disposable and I would do cloth until I ran out (I only had 5, yikes) so I would honestly only use them once a week.
I had zero system in place or any commitment at all, obviously, and was grossed out when the diapers began to smell awful when they would get peed on. It was like pee was igniting something dead in the diapers (pooooooop particles). So I gave up and stashed them away.
My friend Laura was one of my main inspirations for the swap and even my initial interest, and she’s the one that bought me the cloth diapers I registered for! She’s been cloth diapering her daughter Lola since the early days of her life and has learned a lot from research and ultimately trial and error. She has a post on her experience here.
I finally just recently decided to give it another try, honestly because some of you amazing mamas (Laura, Bethany, Erica !!) encouraged me and let me know it was so easy once you got the routine down. I texted Laura and she called me to explain some things, and point me in the right direction. She told me the exact diaper sprayer she bought (we bought it too), and the diapers she loves the most. She told me that the smell on my diapers was most likely improper washing routine do to hard water (Nashville has it, and most places have some form of it) and she recommended buying a water testing kit to check out water. She said they can most likely be saved but follow all the advice on Fluff Love University.
So into the Fluff Love University hole I dove. It only took the duration of one (maybe two) episodes of Fargo in the background after bedtime for me to learn everything. I also had been shopping for used diapers at that point but ended up buying some from Amazon (which I felt was lame, but it was necessary if I wanted to start ASAP). I also decided to do cloth wipes as well, which I feared would be too ambitious. Wrong! It’s probably the easiest part.
Anyway, so on Fluff Love University’s website they break down washing routines for each washing machine. Seriously, there are hundreds. I found mine and have been following exactly what it says to do. With cloth diapers, they recommend washing twice, each time, and I do both of my runs on hot. They also recommend making “stew” not “chili” or “soup” when it comes to the size of the laundry to water ratio (it’s all about getting a proper agitation on your diapers). It all sounds seriously annoying and overwhelming but it’s just good to know if something ever went wrong for you and you needed to backtrack and troubleshoot.
They also have a list of detergents they recommend as well as water softener. So, water softener is NOT the same thing as fabric softener but it can be found at your local grocery store in the laundry department. We're using Calgon and we’re also using Method soap. I know method is not the cleanest of detergents, but I did NOT want to mess this up and waste the money I spent on my diapers. I chose to follow the instructions to a “T” and their advice mentioned natural soaps tend to be weaker at getting feces off of your diapers. WHICH IS THE GOAL. Right?
So yeah. Personally, I’m doing what I need to be doing for Nashville’s water and my washing machine, so you might not need to do exactly what I do.
I store soiled diapers next to the toilet in a wet bag (waterproof diaper bag thing)
I have 17 diapers and I wait until the are all dirty to wash (remember, stew!)
I load them all in (the poopoo has been flushed or sprayed and then flushed)
I add 3/4 cap of Calgon
I add 1 cap of the Method detergent
I run them on hot, normal wash, with extra rinse for the first round
On the second wash, I run them on hot normal wash, no extra rinse
I dry in dryer as directed, though I want to get an air drying rack to use less energy
When Phoenix potties, I lay him on the floor or couch (we don’t have a changing table, oops) and I change him as I normally would. I keep my reusable wipes in a wipe dispenser folded accordion style. I keep a water and tea tree solution in a spray bottle and spray his poopy butt then wipe with a dry wipe. I love having control over the moisture and then wiping dry. LOVE IT.
Currently, we're using bamboo liners that are flushable. Now, I’ve gotten many messages about them not actually being flushable so I did some research. Apparently, they are no different than tampons (better to flush than tamps, actually) and are not to be flushed in a home or environment that has a septic tank (a well) or old pipes. If you have a direct sewer line (like we do) then it isn’t as big of a deal. Probably not the best thing ever and I am looking to eventually just use the sprayer but I wanted to share this with you if the whole sprayer thing is intimidating to you.
Basically, we’ve been using the liners and no sprayer at all. The liners take up the entire cloth diaper and you just plop it into the toilet and flush. If you’re going linerless then you would spray the poop off the diaper and drop it down into the wet bag by the toilet. I also just drop the wipes in there too!
I’ll link below what’s working for us right now but there’s no guarantee it will work forever. THOUGH I HOPE IT DOES!!! I read basically every review on Amazon and didn’t want to spend more than $100 (which is only 10 weeks of disposables, FYI), so I boiled it down to price per diaper. It can be confusing, but if you wanna do what I did, heres the links below.
So far so good! We’re really enjoying it and hope to never go back! He’s currently leaking through cloth at night so we have been using disposable but after this post I feel inspired to switch and maybe double up on the inserts.
Okay, Phoenix has been awake and chatting for like 20 minutes so I have to go but comment below any questions or concerns! Don’t forget to read Laura’s post and also FluffLoveUniversity!