How To Use and Wash Cloth Diapers

When Lemon was a baby, we decided to buy and use cloth diapers to save money.  The other benefits of cloth were nice, but secondary to us.  We knew that disposables were going to cost us almost $3,000 until she was potty trained!  Yikes!  We just didn’t have 3 grand to throw away.  New cloth diapers run about $450 total, which is a huge savings!  Unfortunately, you need to pay that cost up front, unlike with disposables.  To save even more, I bout 24 used Velcro-closed cloth diapers on eBay for $150.  What a deal!

Buying used isn’t as gross as it seems, really.  There are ways to disinfect the diapers properly so your baby doesn’t get anything transferred.  It saved us so much money!  I did spend a little more than that in money and time as I had to replace the Velcro on the diapers (I’m so glad I don’t have to do that again!  Ugh!), but it was worth it, knowing how much we saved.

(Oh, since our daughter inherited my skinny legs, we used disposables at night.  I was concerned that the cloth diapers would not hold the overnight pee well as it would for a little chunky monkey baby.  Even with this little added cost of disposables, it barely cost us anything.)

I mean, look at that cute cloth diaper butt!  I die!

Cloth diapers have come so far from when our parents have used cloth diapers!  It is easier than ever to use them.  Many are prefolds, which means they look like disposable diapers, but with beyond cute designs and colors!  All you have to do is “stuff” them with an absorbent insert.  Most cloth diapers can be used from (almost) birth until potty training!  (They are called All-In-One diapers.)  The diapers have snaps that can be snapped and unsnapped to grow with your child.  Basically, after the initial price, you don’t need to spend money on diapers again!

There are many brands to choose from as well.  You definitely can buy new, but used ones are just as good, and much cheaper.  (Just make sure you disinfect them before you use them.)  I, personally, chose to use BumGenius brand, but you can use whatever brand you wish.  You can even buy one (or some) of different kinds of brands, so you can find a brand that works for you and your baby.  It is suggested that you get at least 24 diapers so you are not washing every day.

Items needed for cloth diapers:
  • At least 24 cloth diapers
  • At least cloth diaper inserts (if your diapers don’t have them built in)
  • A dry bag (for normal soiled diapers)
  • A wet bag (for diapers you have cleaned the poop off of)

Optional:  A cloth diaper sprayer (to easily spray off the poop form the diapers into the toilet) and/or extra inserts for a heavy wetter or overnight use.

First, before you put the cloth diapers on your baby, you have to prepare the diapers.  If you are using pocket diapers, all you have to do is “stuff” the diaper.  A pocket diaper is a diaper that has an opening that you stuff with an insert that creates the absorbent layers of the diaper.  Now, all you have to do is snap or Velcro your diaper on your baby and go!


Washing Cloth Diapers

When your diaper bin is full, it is time to wash them.  (Make sure you wash your cloth diapers every other day or every third day.  Do not go without washing those more days than that.) Washing them requires some extra steps than washing regular clothes, but it is not overwhelming.  The following is what I do and my diapers looked almost brand new by the time I sold them (for what I paid for them!):

  • Unstuff your diapers and place in the washer. If your diapers have Velcro, make sure the Velcro is secured to the tabs.  (You can wear a mask if the smell bothers you, and gloves if needed.)  Do not over stuff your washer—the diapers and inserts need plenty of room to move about.
  • Have the washer fill and rinse the diapers to get rid of residue poop and urine. Make sure your washer is set for the largest load.
  • Once the water has emptied from the initial rinse, add the detergent. I use 3-4 tablespoons of original Tide detergent.  You can use detergent formulated for cloth diapers, but it is not necessary.  Tide (or another kind) is fine if it is the classic detergent and free from scents, softeners, and brighteners.
  • Do a normal wash. Again, make sure you use the largest load your washer can do.
  • After your washer is done washing, do another quick rinse to make sure all the soap is out of the diapers.
  • To dry, your inserts can be put in the dryer, but do not put the covers in the dryer! Air dry.  It is best to line dry both.  Plus, the sun is natural bleach and disinfectant and will get those inserts and covers nice and white!

NOTE:  It is recommended that you use hot water as to sanitize your diapers.  However I have only used cold water and my diapers smell and look fine.  The water in your washer doesn’t get hot enough to sanitize, and hot water can deteriorate the elastic in your diapers after a while.

Using cloth diapers are not as intimidating—or gross!—as it seems.  But, is it for your family?  There are pluses—cost, less chemicals, and helps the environment—but only you can answer that question.

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