Thursday, March 7, 2013

What We've Learned About Cloth Diapers

Did you remember that we use cloth diapers?  Our routine has changed over the last 20 months of use, as have the types of diapers we use.  We have started using a disposable overnight, because Scout is a "heavy-wetter" and is quick to get a diaper rash or sores and cloth diapers just don't work for her overnight.  We lather her up thick with Desitin or something similar every night, just as preventive measure, because its so hard to get her to heal up once she has a problem. Anyway, Andrew and I realized that we have learned a lot about cloth diapers, that there is definite learning curve and pinpointing exactly what you need to know and what is just extra.  We wrote the post below as an email for a friend who is considering using cloth diapers for her twins and wanted to know the ins and outs.  We didn't cover every possible scenario, but it's a good starting place.

I'll give you a rough overview of what we have learned over the last year and half.  There are three basic types of cloth diapers that people use now, all in ones (AIO), pocket, and flats with a cover.  AIO area as close to a disposable as you can get.  They come with the insert sewn into the cover and are treated like a normal disposable diaper.  A slight spin off is an AI2, where you have to snap in the insert.  Pocket diapers use a cloth insert that is stuffed into a cloth pocket that is sewn onto a cover.  Flats with a cover is a square of cloth that you fold and lay into a diaper cover.  We are currently using flats with a cover and love them.  We started out with AIO's but had some issues with them that I will get to.

The biggest problem you run into with cloth diapers is ammonia build up which occurs when you have hard water, use diaper cream, use too much detergent, don't use enough water or don't have hot enough water to rinse out the nasties.  To fix this you have to do what is called stripping.  We found it difficult to strip AIO's because the process is not good for the covers, which is why we like the flats.  You can separate the covers and the cloth part and toss the cloth part into the washing machine with bleach and then rinse over and over which takes care of the build up and gets your diapers back to perfect.  There are other ways to strip that take more care of the cover if you decide to go the AIO route, but generally it can be trickier to get the washing cycle right with an AIO.  A lot of people run into stink issues with them after you have used them for a few months. 

As far as washing, you want to use a detergent that is dye, fragrance and enzyme free.  There are quite a few but we like Country Save because it is fairly cheap and readily available at natural/co-op stores.  It seems to be the gentlest on the diapers and gets the job done.  There are some fancier (more expensive ones) out there that worked, but they seemed to cause a lot of wear on the diapers.  If you use a powder be sure to dissolve it in water before putting it in the machine.  If you don't dissolve the detergent or you use too much it can cause an ammonia build up too.  To avoid this use half the recommended amount of detergent.  

When washing you want to get into a good routine.  We wash every other day because if you leave them too long they get nasty and will increase the chance of buildup.  We found some great wet bags to put dirty diapers in on etsy (  A good wetbag is a must!  Spend the money to get a good one, we made the mistake of trying to find cheaper ones.  The XL is a good size, with twins I wouldn't go smaller.  When washing the bag, I only run it through the first rinse and then air dry it.  The washing consists of three cycles.  The first should be a cold or warm rinse that gets rid of all the nasties.  The second is with detergent and as hot as your machine will let the water get.  This can be a problem with HE machines.  We had to sell our HE machines and buy an older machine that would let hotter water go through.  And last is a full hot cycle for a rinse.  

Scout at one, learning to walk in her cloth diaper bum
If you choose AIO's, try to air dry them as often as possible.  The dryer will ruin the water proofing of the cover.  The sun also does a great job of removing any stains, even on an overcast day.  With flats, always air dry the cover (we just lay ours out in the laundry room, it doesn't take long) and the inserts are fine in the dryer but a good sun soak on nice days keeps them looking nicer and smelling better.  Sun will get out any stains that are on the diapers, it's crazy!

As far as changing goes, as long as the babies are not eating solids you don't need to rinse the poo out before washing.  It can just go straight to the wetbag.  Once you are into solids you want to get that poo into the toilet before they go into the washing machine.  Bum genius makes a sprayer that hooks up the toilet that is really nice so you don't have to scrape but it is fairly expensive.  I found this on youtube that explains how to make one for fairly cheap from home depot and it works great.  If you are using AIOs, anytime you change a diaper the whole thing goes into the wetbag.  With pocket diapers, some people will reuse the cover once or twice for a pee, but never for a poo.  With covers and inserts, we change out the insert for pee but will reuse the cover multiple times.  If there is poo, we change out the cover.  It is cheaper to go the cover and insert route because you can get a few good covers (we love the flip diapers but have also hear good things about grovia) and then spend your money on the inserts as that is the part that you will need a lot of.  

When we first were picking, we were intimidated by all of the options and went for the AIOs because they seemed the simplest. We didn't want to figure out how to fold diapers and get them on a wiggling baby!  The covers and inserts are way easy though, the flip insert has lines on it and you can just fold it in three ways and lay it in the inserts, don't be intimated by all of the fancy ways there are to fold diapers out there, it's not a must!  No diaper pins or anything.

Oh and if you are using cloth diapers, cloth wipes make way more sense!  When you have figured out what your plan is for the diapers, we will fill you in on what we do for wipes!

I think that is about it, haha!  I know it's a ton of info and we struggled for awhile while we were learning.  Let us know if you have any questions or if we can help in any other way.  Their website is here

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