Cloth Diapers 101

Cloth Diapers 101 | Duluth Moms Blog

Before I had my daughter Grace, I had no intention of being one of those moms who uses cloth diapers. If I ask other moms-to-be whether they are going to use cloth diapers, I usually get an instantaneous and firm “uh, no way.” I can’t blame them for that reaction. Let’s be honest, they have a bit of a reputation of being gross and time consuming.

To be fair, cloth diapers have come a long way from the ones our parents or grandparents may have used. Instead of safety pins securing that unlucky fabric, now there are user-friendly snaps, and much more absorbent materials. Cloth diapers these days have nifty inserts and cute patterns on the covers. Despite cloth diaper manufacturer’s attempts to make cloth diapers seem fun and trendy, we all know that there’s nothing better than changing your kid’s disposable diaper and throwing it away, never to be thought of again.

But there are a lot of benefits to using cloth diapers. So let’s begin there.

  1. Until I was pregnant, I never knew how long it takes for a disposable diaper to break down in a landfill. It takes 500 years. 500 YEARS! That means, that every diaper ever dirtied by our precious angels since their invention is still in existence. I am not particularly passionate about saving the environment, but that number made me determined to at least give cloth diapers a try. 
  2. Cloth diapers really do save money. I have been using them for about five months now, and have probably saved close to $500. Disposable diapers are expensive, especially given that you only use them once! The money we have saved using cloth diapers is so beneficial to our family, being that I am a stay-at-home mom and my income is paid in smiles, giggles, and hugs.
  3. On the benefit scale, this one ranks low, but the patterns and colors available in cloth diapers are so fun! It’s pretty cute to see your kiddo toddling around with a Harry Potter diaper. There are a myriad of colors, patterns, and occasions.

Of course, there are draw-backs to cloth diapering, too.

  1. 1. Obviously, the gross factor. Yes, you will need to spray the poo off your environment-saving cloth diaper. It’s bad enough to have to wipe the poo off your kid first, but then you have to spray it off into the toilet. Yes, it’s gross. It’s not for everybody. But once your kiddo starts eating solid foods, stools usually are well formed and just need to be knocked off into the toilet and the sprayer isn’t even needed.
  2. You have to do more laundry. Probably a load or two (depending on the age of your child and if you have multiple children) extra each week. Diapers don’t need to be folded like our clothes do, but the liners still need to be stuffed into each diaper cover or shell. That’s a bit of extra time, but it doesn’t actually amount to a whole lot once you get the hang of it.
  3. You can use cloth diapers during naps and through the night, but if your kid is a sound sleeper, you might have to wake them up to change them – which to me is an absolute crime. If you don’t, however, be prepared to change your kid’s sheets A LOT. Instead, we use disposable diapers during naps and at night. For us, cloth diapers don’t replace disposables completely, but I’m okay with that.

If after these pros and cons you’re still with me, here’s what is required for using cloth diapers:

  • diaper sprayer ($25 on amazon)
  • cloth diaper detergent ($20 gets you 90 loads worth)
  • a sealed diaper bin, which you probably already have
  • diaper shells/covers
  • diaper liners
  • diaper rash cream made for use with cloth diapers

The prices for diaper covers and liners can vary depending on the style, pattern, brand, and store you get them from. Target sells them anywhere from $10 a diaper (including liner) to a pack of 5 diapers for $98. If that was my only option, there’s no way I would go that route. I have alvababy diapers, and they are $4 a cover, and the liners are $70 for a pack of 50. However, thanks to my awesome sister-in-law, I was able to join a group on facebook that sells these alvababy diapers at even cheaper prices! Liners are about $1 a piece, and the covers are anywhere from $2.50 to $5. Do a search on facebook for savings groups and I’m sure you will find one that you can take advantage of.

We bought 50 diapers and liners, and the other required materials for about $280 in total. I’d say about a third of that price is what we would be spending every month if we only used disposable diapers. Because we use mostly cloth diapers, we spend about $20 a month on disposable diapers. How awesome is that? With cloth diapers, yes, you pay some money up front. But using them quickly pays you back in how much you save on buying disposable diapers.

So how far does 50 diapers get us? I end up doing a load of diapers about once a week – usually how long it takes to fill up the diaper bin (which obviously doesn’t fit 50 diapers, so I end up washing about half of them each week). Because of the many snaps on each diaper, these diapers will grow with our child and we won’t have to buy more diapers unless they wear out. How long does it take for them to wear out? It really depends. Typically, they say six months, but I think as long as the diaper isn’t leaking, the snaps are still intact, and still fit your baby, you can use them as long as you want. I have yet to see any signs of wear, and that’s awesome.

How do you wash them anyway? It’s pretty easy, actually. You just separate the liner from the cover and throw them in the washer with your cloth diaper detergent. Depending on how soiled your diapers are, you may need to wash them a couple times. I usually soak them overnight or for a couple hours and then wash them until they no longer smell. Two washes is usually enough. Then just throw them into the dryer on cool and assemble them when they’re dry. You can also line dry your covers, which prevents them wearing out quicker.

It was indeed a sad day when my little girl was big enough to fit into cloth diapers. I was scared and not excited about using cloth diapers, but truthfully, I thought it would be so much worse than it has been! I definitely think it’s worth the extra time and even the gross factor. If you’ve ever given cloth diapers a fleeting thought, I encourage you to look into them. Not only do they help save the environment, they will save your family money. Despite the awesomeness of disposable diapers, I still recommend cloth diapers. Give them a try and I think you, too, will be pleasantly surprised.

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