Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why would I buy cloth diapers at a CD store?

Wow.  Talk about overwhelming response.  I expected a few die hards to leave some go-get-'em comments, but perhaps not much more than that.  Boy did I ever underestimate you all.  :)  Really, thank you so much to all of you who have taken the time to comment on yesterday's post.  I have learned so much already.  Like, for instance, when you say "CD" you mean "cloth diaper" or "cloth diapering," not "compact disc."  Ahhh.  Good thing it only took me about five comments to pick up on that bit of lingo.

So far reading all of your input on using cloth diapers has only confirmed my interest in doing it.  Oh, and I am totally going to try the cloth wipes too.  So, sorry if that grosses you out.  But, by and large, the general response from those who actually use cloth diapers is that it's actually simpler to use cloth wipes and just throw all the dirty stuff in the laundry together than to have a separate trash can for wipes and a laundry bag for diapers.  So I'll be letting you know how that goes.

Yesterday I did make some cloth wipes out of that old flannel receiving blanket I was talking about.  It was kind of wonky-shaped, but I generally just cut it into 7"x7" squares.  I ended up with 16 wipes.  The original edges were already serged, so I just did a tight zigzag around the raw edges and that seemed to work okay.  I'll let you know how they hold up in the wash, if anyone's interested.  I also loved Aleatha's idea to make reusable wipes from an old t-shirt.  Especially since you don't have to finish the edges!  Aleatha is brilliant.  I miss having her as a neighbor.  :)  As for storage of the wipes, I plan to put them in the Huggies wipes dispenser that we use for regular wipes.  I'm going to put them in there and then pour the warm water/baby oil with aloe vera/baby shampoo mixture in over it.  I've heard some positive and negative feedback about this idea, but I'm going to go ahead and give it a try.  I'll let you know how it goes.  Oh, and I don't know if I'll always do this, but since I was bored last night and feeling rather proud of my little flannel wipes, I folded them like store-bought baby wipes, so that each time I pull one out of the container, another one will come up so it's ready to use.  Is that not adorable?  Okay, maybe I just have too much time on my hands.

A number of you left comments or told me in person yesterday that you're interested in cloth diapering and want to know how this all goes for me.  So, clearly I am absolutely no kind of expert on the subject, but I thought I'd go ahead and share a little of what I've learned so far, mostly from all the great comments that were left yesterday.

I'll start by addressing my two major concerns with doing cloth diapers.

Concern #1. They say that you just plop the poop left in the diaper into the toilet (and flush it down) and then just put the soiled diaper in the laundry bag along with all the wet diapers.  But what about mushy poo?

Here's my concern.  Olivia isn't breastfed anymore (apparently for babies who are solely breastfed you don't need to wash things out ahead of time), so she's eating only solids, but her poo might tell you otherwise.  No tidy little nugget poos from this child, at least not usually.  So how am I supposed to get the nasty mush poo out of her diaper and into the toilet?

Solution: diaper sprayer.  I first read about using a diaper sprayer in this awesome Q and A about cloth diapering that my friend Megan gave me the link to in the comments on the last post.  (Thanks Megan!)  I watched this video about how to hook it up and this video of someone using one (how gross am I to actually watch a video of someone spraying poo off a diaper?) to learn what it was exactly since none of the product descriptions explained it very well, but everyone said it was "a must for cloth diapering."  Kudos to the woman in Crocs who gave up a little of her dignity in order to show me (and about six thousand other people) how to use a diaper sprayer.

Anyway, if you're gross like me and you watched the poo-getting-sprayed-off video you have also now seen for yourself how easy it apparently is to get mush poo off of a cloth diaper.  Needless to say, I want to have a diaper sprayer on hand, set up, and ready to go before we actually start using the cloth diapers.

The Bum Genius diaper sprayer at that I linked to above is the cheapest I've seen so far, ringing up at $44.95 plus shipping.  But when I was talking to my sister-in-law Holly last night she said that you can also just buy this at the hardware store for cheaper.  Has anyone does this?  Is it the exact same thing or do you have to buy parts and put it together?  Any guesses about how much that might cost?  Also, does anyone know if there are physical stores (as opposed to online stores) that sell diaper sprayers?

(In my head I just raised my voice a little to ask those questions so you could all hear me.  Silly.)

Concern #2: Getting booed in the laundry room.

Like I said before, we don't have our own washer and dryer.  We share a complex laundry mat with hundreds of other people.  I know at some point someone is going to tell me I'm contaminating the laundry facilities by washing cloth diapers there.  Eek!  It makes me nervous just thinking about it.

Solution: Reading this totally comprehensive post about cloth diapering while living in an apartment without your own washer and dryer from Hobo Mama totally helped me out in that department.  (A big thanks to my sister-in-law Holly for sending me the link.)  I now feel that I can sheepishly say in all confidence to those nay-sayers, "Actually, your laundry detergent is more likely to ruin my diapers than my diapers are to ruin your clothes.  And if the washing machine isn't good enough to wash my diapers, than it's not a good washing machine.  ...So there."

Reading that article, along with the reassurance of most of the poo getting washed away by the magical diaper sprayer, has made me feel a little less nervous about this.  But, let's be honest, it still makes me nervous.

Also, here are some other questions I have:

I'll label them by letter (since the concerns are by number) in case any of you want to address a specific one.

Question A: I'd like to make my own wet bags.  One small one to take with me in the diaper bag and (preferably) two bigger ones that I can use as laundry bags for the soiled diapers.  Does anyone know of a material that will hold all the moisture in (like a kind of plastic vinyl or something?), but that I can throw in the wash along with the diapers?  I was thinking maybe the thicker kind of vinyl, oilcloth, or laminated cotton.  ??

Question B: Say I have a poopy diaper and I spray it with the magical diaper sprayer.  Do I need to let it hang in the bathtub or something to dry out before it goes in the laundry bag along with the other soiled diapers or can I just toss it in, still wet?

Question C: What brand and type of laundry detergent do you use on cloth diapers?  My sister-in-law Holly sent me a link to this awesome chart, but I'm still curious to know what kinds you actually buy and use.  I'm kind of going for "the cheapest kind that works well."

Question D: I'm interested in getting a drying rack to dry diapers on out on our balcony.  I like this one at IKEA.  Any thoughts/suggestions?  Is $20 for a drying rack a worthy investment?  Do you hang dry your diapers much?  I'm interested in doing this to save on the cost of using the dryer, but also because it seems to help preserve the velcro on the diapers longer.

Well, I'm sure I'll think of a bazillion other questions, but that's all I'll ask right now.  :)

As a recap for those of you (like me) who tend to skim over long, wordy posts with no pictures, here are a couple of great articles to read if you're thinking about cloth diapering:

BYU's 100 Hour Board discusses the pros and cons of using cloth diapers from a financial standpoint:

Read it HERE.

An awesome starting point if you're interested in using cloth diapers, but really know nothing about it.  This article was great in a lot of ways.  It answered questions I had and I learned quite a bit from it.  Thanks Megan for sharing the link!

Hobo Mama discusses options for using cloth diapers if you live in an apartment complex and don't have your own washer and dryer:  

Read it HERE.

This article was also great.  I learned a lot about different options for apartment-dwellers like myself.  And it helped me feel more confident about the prospect of using cloth diapers when we don't have our own washer and dryer.  Thanks Holly for sharing the link!

A few of you also shared links to some other great posts about using cloth diapers.  I didn't share them here (yet) because I haven't gotten a chance to read through them (yet).  I'm hoping to tackle that soon.  :)

Thanks again everyone!  
I love all of my awesome readers!  
Yay!  :)


Aleatha Shannon said...

aw, shucks, Katie! I miss you too. :D

here are my answers:
QA: go to Joann's with a coupon and go to the "utility fabric" section. should be near the oilcloth. you will see several bolts of pastel-colored fabrics that are laminated on one side. it's called polyurethane laminate, or PUL. super durable, waterproof, etc. It's what CD companies use to make their diapers. At $10/yd, plus a 40% off coupon, this is about the cheapest way to get some. I use it for wet bags. you can also use it to make your own diaper covers!!!

QB: just toss it in wet.

QC: I just mix together:
3 c borax (detergent aisle)
2 c washing soda (detergent aisle)
2 c baking soda
2 c grated Ivory bar soap or 1c Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap (a bit easier than grating soap, but more expensive)

use 1/8 cup for a full load

QD:that drying rack looks ok, but I LOVE the one I talk about on my blog here:

they have (had?) a slightly cheaper (not as sturdy but probably fine) one at ikea.

bonus: drying diapers in the sun not only helps them last longer - it also bleaches out most stains AND kills bacteria. I don't even have a dryer. Works totally fine -better, in my opinion. In the winter, I dry them inside with a fan on them if it's too cold.

Neumaisse said...

Hey girl! I have to be honest, I used cloth diapers when my 10 year old was a baby, and, as gross as it may sound here's what I did:
There was no such thing as a diaper sprayer, so I have to admit I just swished them out in the toilet. Yes, you wash your hands alot. But I suppose if it's really bad you could keep disposable gloves handy. It just never bothered me, as I washed the bejibbers outta my hands afterward, and my toilet was always clean. That's just me though. I used the old fashioned kind of diaper bin and soaked them in a borax and water solution. I did one load of diapers a day. Period. No matter how many there were, just due to the stink factor. I did hang them to dry. I used the outdoor clothesline in the summer and a drying rack indoors in the winter. I did toss them in the dryer if it was very humid and they were taking ages to dry. I always used cotton and water to get the main poop off then just a warm water washcloth for the rest of the cleanup. I would rinse it out and use it a couple times before it went in the diaper bin with the diapers. I had about 40 plain white washcloths.
It may be too much and I totally get that, but it's how I did it, because it's how my Mom did it. I think you'll like cloth diapers!

Dusty said...

Diaper sprayer: I don't think there's a kit at the hardware store, but you can get the parts. DH made mine 5 1/2 years ago, so I don't remember what it cost, but I think it was much harder figuring out which parts than to put it together. I found a picture of the parts before it was put together, but I would have sworn DH had done a write up, but I can't find it.

Drying rack: here's the one DH made for me. (with instructions)

I use All Free and Clear, I think. It's cheap and it works fine. I used Dreft for awhile, too and it worked fine (I've only needed to strip my diapers once in 5 1/2 years - strip = wash with a tablespoon of dial instead of detergent and then rinse as many times as it takes to get all the suds out).

Definitely just throw the just-been-sprayed dipes right in with the others - they're all wet too anyway, right?

Angel said...

You will definitely want to use PUL fabric for the wetbag--some joanns are starting to sell it but I bought mine online (check out or celticcloth or just google PUL.

Somewhere in my favorites I have a tutorial to make your own diaper sprayer for 17-20 bucks--I'll look for it for you when I have time.

Unknown said...

Katie, Katie. How did I miss this post???

1.Cloth wipes worked great when we had them in a diaper dispenser/warmer. We used just water and it was wonderful. When that broke, we used a small spray bottle (like a Victoria Secret body spray bottle) with water in it to moisten the wipe/bum and then used the cloth wipes. My only concern with the diaper dispenser/warmer technique is that you want to be sure you clean it out frequently and disinfect it to keep the mold from growing. You don't want to be spreading mold all over Olivia.

The rubbing from the cloth wipes started to be too much for Anne's heiny, so we've switched to regular wipes. You really only need to use a wipe when there's poo involved, so the regular wipes are nice and quick for cleaning up a messy bum when the baby's all wiggly.

2. Diaper sprayers seem totally unnecessary. Get a pair of gloves and after the diaper has soaked for a few minutes, it rubs off very quickly without any spraying of germs around. That said, I've never tried one, but the bum genius diapers are so easy to clean off, it seems like extra work to me to spray them.

3. I'm so sick of our g-diapers. If I could do it all over again, I'd go with all bum geinius one-size fits all diapers. They fit nicely, are quickly changed, hold way more wetness than ANY disposable diaper, and they clean up and dry lickety split quick. G-diapers on the other hand present you with 3 separate pieces of diaper that may end up with pee/poo all over them. I am way tired of that mess.

4. Maybe it's cause we're lazy or cheap or both, but we haven't noticed any miraculous difference between the various scent-free, additive-free detergents we have used with the diapers. They say that enzyme-free stuff is best, but I say just pick something with a few and simple ingredients.

5. We use a small plastic bin to keep the poopy diapers in above the toilet once they've been washed out. Then, they can all go back in the bin with the other diapers or straight into the wash.

6. We've been a whole year without a wet bag and haven't had any problems. If you happen to get any grocery bags (i.e. you have more groceries than will fit in your re-usable bags) these work PERFECTLY. Just bring a few grocery bags with you and you'll have your wet bag. Power to you for wanting to make a wet bag, though. I think that will work nicely for you.

Love that you're doing this. I'm happy to chat about it sometime, if you want!

Tay said...

I clicked from a friend's page because I use cloth. Anyway, I use All Free and Clear, want a diaper sprayer (try other websites than to see if you can't find a cheaper one) but use diaper liners instead (helps a little), and hang dry my diaper covers.

I love using diapers with snaps over velcro for the reason that snaps don't wear out. But if you're handy with sewing, that's a fixable thing. And with this next kid I'm having, I'm going to start out with prefolds and thirsties duo wrap snap covers.

When washing, you need a fraction of the amount of detergent the bottle/box recommends. I use just enough (eyeballing it now) so that I know they're clean, but not so much that that the extra rinse cycle doesn't get out all the soap.

And I'm still trying to figure out what those ladies are feeding their children to only get solid poos. Honestly.

Beth said...

QA: Use PUL it's the same stuff that is in most of the diapers, waterproof and super easy to use, machine wash, and dryer safe (on low) and a little tip: when sewing with it, sometimes it gets sticky on the sewing machine- just put a piece of paper towel between the sewing machine and the fabric, and don't use needles to keep it in place, use washable kid's glue.
QB: Another thing you can do is use liners, they are basically fleece cut to fit in the diaper between the baby's skin and the diaper. It's great, they can be rinsed SO much easier. DON'T buy them, just make them. You don't need to do anything to the edges because they won't fray.
QC: I make my own. My son's skin is really sensitive there and I find that that's the only kind that works, and it won't give him a rash. Plus NEVER underestimate the power of the SUN. Letting them sit in the sun even for a short time gets rid of the stains and any smell that may hold on.
QD: Honestly, we put our diapers outside on the chairs we have on our patio. We don't have space for much in our house, so most of our stuff does double duty. Our camp chairs do the trick, we already had them so they were free, and we don't have more stuff to put away at the end of the day.

Kendra Last-Bookartist said...

I do not have much advice for you on cloth diapering, but I LOVE my IKEA drying rack. I have that exact one and I LOVE it! So worth it! It is very sturdy even for hanging jeans and such on. I am sure it would be awesome for diapers. The arms can go in lots of positions so it is super easy to use and works great. My advice, get one! Even if you weren't doing diapering! We love ours!

Kelly C said...

I just found your blog and also just recently started cloth diapering. I have a nearly 2 1/2 year old son and a daughter on the way. We usually have solid poo, but there is the occasional icky one. I don't have a sprayer, but if I feel the need my shower head actually stretches over that far. If your tub is close enough and you have a movable shower head you could just replace the tube with a longer one. And I just drop it in the bag with the others. I either use a plastic grocery bag or just drop it in the can as I don't have a wet bag (although I would like one, just haven't gotten there yet).

For detergent, I use All free & clear. That is what we use on the rest of the laundry so it works for me and makes life a little easier.

And I'm using prefolds and covers since none of the AIO's fit my big boy without leaving nasty marks. I did order some flushable liners for the poo, but I think I will use those for days we are out and about - it seems easier.

soggybottomflats said...

My dil wanted cd, then decided she wanted disposables. Now I have like a gillion of the little cd on hand!! And no one wants them! It's not like they are designer or anything. If you go to my blog, you can find the posts I did on cloth diapers in the search engine. But, the real reason I am writing is the poo problemo. My friend, who is 82, told me that she used torn sheets to "line" the poo part of the diapers with and just tossed them out. Kinda gross , but not me, lol! I thought it was brilliant. Like you could use little weird pieces of fabrics and toss em out! I almost forgot, I also made a ton of diaper wipes from up-cycled t-shirts. Good luck and good for you, Elaine

Stephanie and Todd said...

Katie, I have a lot of experience and comments, but apparently so does everyone else. I am too lazy to read everything or write everything, so please call me if you wanna chat! I will say that I just bought a sprayer off ebay for $20, and it just hooked up to the toilet. You do have to make sure you have a toilet that you can control the water flow valve, we couldn't in our last apartment and the plumbing was plastic, so we couldn't use our sprayer.

Amber said...

Hi Katie. My name is Amber, you don't know me - I found your blog from Bridget's. Anyway, I have to comment on this post because I have been using cloth diapers with my 14 month old since he was born. First of all, I LOVE them! I use fuzzibunz one size (similar to bum genius, but they have snaps instead of velcro). I wanted to answer a few of your questions.

QA: I don't sew, so I have no idea about fabrics. But, fuzzibunz makes an awesome wet bag that has a zipper on the bottom. This lets you just unzip it to dump the diapers into the laundry, and then you throw the bag in too. You might check it out for ideas for making your own.

Question B: I use a diaper sprayer, and I remove the inner pad first, then spray off the shell. I just squeeze the excess liquid off (kind of gross, sorry) and then throw it in the bag with the diapers.

QC: I use Allen's Naturally. It comes in a huge gallon size jug, and you only need to use 1/4 of an ounce per load. I lasts something like 565 loads, which is well over two years, even if you wash your diapers every two days. It costs about $60, but it has no buildup and lasts a long time.

One other comment I wanted to make: I don't know about bum genius, but fuzzibunz is pretty specific about what you should and shouldn't use with the diapers - no fabric softener, no diaper creams, no oils, etc - because it damages the wicking ability of the fleece and can lead to buildup and leakage. If bum genius is the same, it might be a problem to wash the cloth wipes soaked in baby oil with the diapers. We use cloth wipes, and we just use warm water. It works just as well.

Sorry for the long comment when you don't even know me! I just love cloth diapers and love the chance to encourage someone to use them!

Lauren Wayne said...

Thanks for linking to me! And I'm glad you found the post helpful. I am way impressed with your craftiness and all the good questions you're asking and wish you the best in your cloth diaper adventure.

Question A: PUL would be the easiest. You could also try lanolized and/or felted wool.

B: You can toss it in wet.

C: I'm still deciding myself!

D: A good rack is definitely worth it. You want one that will be convenient for you and stand up to lots of moving around and draping heavy wet things on and so forth. I was happy to pay when I found a nice big one that really worked for me. The Ikea one looks similar to mine.

Have fun!

Shiree said...

I just found your blog from Facebook. Looks like you're famous! I just wanted to answer a few of your questions.

Question C:
I have used Rockin' Green and Charlie's Soap and have been completely satisfied with both. (I also put baking soda in the cold water rinse and add a little vinegar to my final rinse. My older toddlers have nighttime diapers that reek of pee and the vinegar rinses the smell out for us.)

Question D: The drying rack is totally worth it. I dry my BumGenius shells and my diaper covers. It is actually reccomended to do so by the manufacturer, I think.

Have fun with cloth diapering! I just added cloth to replace pull-ups at night for my toddlers and started cloth diapering my little girl that was born last week. I love it. I think you will too. ;)