If you missed the first post in this series, here’s the link.
Here’s my basic method:
Whenever I change my little guy, I toss all of the diapers and wipes into a pail beside his change table (I try to remember to close the velcro tabs, but hey, I’m not perfect). If it’s quite a solid poo (now that he’s eating some solid foods), I flush it down the toilet first, then put it in the pail.
My pail is from Walmart. It cost less than $10. It is from the home organization section, and is just a medium sized pail (big enough to be a small kitchen garbage), with a lid that snaps shut on the sides. It’s a little awkward to carry, but it’s not too bad. I fill my pail 2/3 full with cold water, and add about a half cup of vinegar (which I don’t measure, I only eyeball), which I buy in very large quantity at Costco (I believe about $4 for 2 gallons?).
I wash my diapers twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays (I don’t have access to a machine on the weekends). I lug the pail downstairs, and dump it all in the washer. I put the washer on cold, and on a medium water level (which is more than enough for such a small load of wash), and set it to rinse. When this cycle is finished, I switch it to hot, lower the water level to low, add a small amount of a natural laundry detergent, and turn it on for a full cycle.
This winter I am using the dryer for my diapers (not my covers- those I air dry on top of the washer). In the spring time, I plan to start using a rack or a line outside the house, now that we have a yard. I’ve heard that air/sun drying your diapers helps keep them very clean and white (the sun acts almost like a natural bleaching agent).
When I go out in public, I bring along a large ziploc bag in my diaper bag. I’d love to buy a wet bag, but I just haven’t felt compelled enough to spend the money yet (see, it’s that practical thing again). If I’m able to use a faucet, I wet my cloths and add both them and the diaper to the ziploc bag. If I’m in a more random place (the back of a car, for instance), I use a disposable wipe, and just try to remember to remove it before washing the diapers (otherwise it sticks too all, and I do mean all, of your velcro and is very difficult to remove). When I get home, I simply dump my ziploc bag into the diaper pail, give it a quick rinse, and put it back in my diaper bag. When I feel that it’s seen the end of it’s days (ie. when it stinks), I throw it out and get a fresh one (this is why I’m eyeing the wet bags- I don’t like throwing out the ziplocs).
I hope that the simplicity and practicality of my method came through in what I just wrote- it is just a routine that you need to get into, and it is no more trouble than anything else baby related. And now, I cannot even imagine going back to disposables. I have used them only once (since he was first born), when we went on an almost 2 week trip to Florida and Georgia, because I couldn’t quite figure out any way to make it work (perhaps someone can share with me what they’ve done on long trips). Whenever we go to Seattle to visit my husband’s family, I take my diaper pail with me in the trunk, and do a load of wash at my mother-in-law’s if I need to.
One very big praise of cloth diapers is that with my daughter, we had a lot of diaper rash. I noticed it particularly during the times when I leaned more heavily on disposables. With our son, we have had next to no rashes. I try to change him quite regularly through the day. Since I have a basic routine with him (for eating, sleeping, etc.) I change him first thing in the morning, and then right before his nap for the rest of the day (since he still naps 3 times a day, it’s fairly often), and before bed, as well as anytime that I know for a fact that he needs to be changed (I heard him go, or his diaper is leaking and his clothes are a bit wet).
What products do I recommend you use (or avoid)?
Well, since I haven’t been willing to spend a lot of money, I mostly just use what I have. I went the first 6 months of my son’s life using the cheap, plastic Gerber pants and Kushie’s covers (do not ever, ever waste your money on these covers that do not work- the fabric around the edge of the diapers leaks as soon as they get wet). But even with poor covers, I survived, I just did a little extra laundry.
2 months ago, I was blessed beyond belief to get some money to order new diaper covers. I chose to get 4 Bummi’s Super Whisper Wraps. Overall, I would say that these are good covers, far better than the cheaper ones I was using before. Sometimes he can get through a whole day dry in one of these. Unfortunately, sometimes they leak if he’s wetter than I realize before I change him. I think next time I will buy something else in a similar price range, probably Mother-ease, which I had the opportunity to try once and thought they were great. My sister-in-law uses them and really likes them. Bummi’s and Motherease both cost around $11-14 per cover (the very amount that astounded me at first!), but they are worth it. Do not scrimp on your covers, or you will pay for it in frustration and loads (literally) of laundry.
My diapers themselves are Chummies. They are nothing special, but they are adequate. A little too thin, so they are not terribly absorbent, but I usually add a liner inside, and I double diaper at night. I also have some hand me downs from a friend (brand unknown), and some toddler sized Kushie’s diapers (which are fine, much better than their covers).
And now, on to the links!
An excellent, overall tutorial on using and washing cloth diapers at Tammy’s Recipes
Cloth diaper detergent chart– Which detergent works best with cloth diapers?
Cloth diapering for “dummies” at Biblical Womanhood
Reviews of pocket diapers, fitted diapers and covers, and The Ins and Outs of Cloth Diapering, all at Sorta Crunchy
Cloth diapering- is it worth it? at Passionate Homemaking
Cloth wipe recipe at Stewardship not Convenience
Frequently asked questions at the Diaper Pin (a great resource for reviews and diaper retailers)
Cloth Diaper basics– at Cotton Babies
BabyBecause– where I just bought my latest diaper covers- good prices, service and cheap, quick shipping. Also, this is where I saw the wet bags that I’d like to get.
Parenting by Nature– an online diaper store, located in Canada! (for all you fellow Canadians!)