Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wet Bag #1 --the travel size

The main difference between using cloth diapers as opposed to disposable diapers is--duh--you don't throw cloth diapers away.  So if you're out and about, what do you do with a soiled cloth diaper?  You don't want it to get the rest of your diaper bag or purse all gross.  And you don't want it to make your bag all smelly.  What to do?

Enter, the wet bag.

Made using the measurements 

Wet bags, you've heard of 'em, right?  It's basically just a regular old zipper pouch that's lined with some kind of waterproof fabric.

I've seen tutorials for wet bags floating around blogland that use shower curtains or cheap plastic table cloths as liners.  These seem fine for toting swimsuits around, but since I knew I'd be using mine on a regular basis, I wanted something a little more hearty and, more importantly, something that I could throw in the wash along with the dirty diapers.  You know, wash out all the smell and bacteria.  Seems like a good idea.

So I asked you all what to use and you wisely suggested PUL.  Thank you!  I haven't actually had a chance to wash it yet, but I will be doing that soon.  Very soon.  And, once I do, I'll come back here and update you all on how it goes.  But I expect it to go just fine.  Because everyone I've asked who's used it says it washes just fine.  Anyone want to back me up on that?

Okay, so let's get back to the awesome wet bag I made.  I actually made two, one travel size one and one different one, but we'll get to the other one tomorrow.

I was going to type up more about the bag, but... why?  These pictures speak for themselves.  Enjoy.












A few FYI's-
-This bag works great.
-I made it before I actually bought the diapers and thought "It is huge!  It is too big!"  I was wrong.  It is a little big, but not so big.  Actually, it's just about right.  Just big enough for two dirty cloth diapers.
-PUL can be tricky to sew with.  Well, only on the sticky-ish side.  But only sometimes.  It was frustrating on this bag when I was sewing the top stitching next to the zipper.  The bag I'll show you tomorrow caused me no grief whatsoever.  So who knows.  But if you happen to luck out and have one of those frustrating experiences, tissue paper is the answer.  Get some white tissue paper that you can kind of see through and just put it on top of the PUL.  Then pull it off when you're done.
-You can buy PUL at Jo Ann's.  It's about $10/yard.  It's about $5/yard when you use your 50% off coupon.  Why would anyone ever pay full price for anything at Jo Ann's?
-I bought a yard of PUL and it was enough to make this bag and the large bag I'll show you tomorrow.  With a little bit left over.

Wet bags.  That is the answer to stink-free diaper bags.

See you tomorrow for more cloth diapering adventures!
Isn't this fun?
Maybe just a little?

Just some thoughts


Dear Readers,

I promise there's a freshly laundered cloth diaper post ready for you all tomorrow, but I was just sitting here and thinking a little and I thought if I was already sitting here with blogger open I might as well write it down.

So I was thinking about two different things.

The first thing:

Some people know that they are big stuff.  And some people know that they are not.  I, for one, know that I am not.

I don't mean that in a self-pity kind of way or in any kind of bad or sad way at all.  I just mean that I live a small life and I'm happy about that.  I never expect to be big and cool and famous.  I never expect to be the latest or have the latest in anything.  And I am totally fine with that.  I am more than happy to just be quiet and personable and the same as everybody else.

This is the second thing I was thinking:


Why do I blog?

Last night as I was spending more time than I should have been writing for you all about cloth diapers, Bryan asked me why I was doing it.  I told him I was doing it because I benefit so much from the all of the wonderful things that people share on their blogs or from all the helpful and encouraging comments you all leave here for me and I want to give back and share a little of what I've learned too.  "Good answer," he replied.  I think so too.  And I meant what I said.  Yes, I do have a few sponsors, but those are mostly just because I think it's fun to do trades with other moms and because I like to promote the side businesses of other moms.

These two thoughts came together when I received an e-mail tonight from a friend.  A friend I met through blogger.  Who sent me a heartfelt note that truly touched me.  I read it and my heart was warmed deeply.  And I thought to myself, "This is a good reason to blog."

Because once you've been blogging long enough there comes a day when you just plain feel sick of it.  Or when you feel guilty trying to finish a post instead of playing with your kid.  Or when you stay up until one in the morning finishing something for your blog and you think, "I am wasting my time!"

I'm not some big thing.  And I'm never going to be.  But if I can help someone feel loved and feel loved by them in return, if I can be the means of uplifting someone when they've had a hard day, if I can save you a few dollars by showing how to make something yourself for cheaper than you could buy it, if I can make someone's life better in some small way every now and then, then this is all worth it.

Somebody wiser than me said recently that our Father in Heaven always hears our prayers, but He often answers them through somebody else.  So many people answer my prayers daily.  I hope that once in a while I can do that for others.

I hope you all feel loved.  I know Heavenly Father loves each of you.  You're not just faces in a little box on the sidebar of my blog.  You are real people living real lives, having real struggles and real joys.  And you are wonderful.  I so much enjoy the company I'm in here.

May you all feel the love of our Heavenly Father each day.  And the love of a 24 year old girl sitting in a teal green armchair halfway around the world.

Love,
Katie

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How to make (and use!) your own Cloth Wipes


When I first thought of using cloth wipes, I had never heard of it before.  Turns out, at least a gagillion other people thought of it first.  Which doesn't hurt my feelings, but, in fact, makes me feel a lot better about the whole thing.  :)  A little validation can be a good thing sometimes, right?  Right.

And the more I talked to people about using cloth diapers and the more I read all of your comments about using cloth diapers and read up on things a little myself, the more I kept hearing from everyone that it's just a lot simpler to use cloth wipes if you're already using cloth diapers anyway.  Otherwise you have to have a trash can for used wipes (eew) as well as someplace to store the soiled cloth diapers.  Everyone kept telling me that it's just easier and more convenient to just use cloth wipes too and throw the wipes and diapers all in the same container and then all into the wash together.  And you know what?  They're right.  It's way easier.  It just makes more sense.  And the good news is, it's just as easy to make your own as it is to use them.

Making your own cloth wipes:

I've made cloth wipes two different ways.

1. The first way was to cut up an old well-loved flannel receiving blanket (I got mine for free when someone was getting rid of it).

2. The second way is to cut up an old t-shirt.

I'll cover both ways at the same time.

Step 1: Cut your fabric into 7" x 7" squares.  (If you're using an old t-shirt, you are now done*.  Ta-da!)
Step 2: If you're using flannel, serge or sew a tight zigzag stitch around the raw edges.

That's it!

*The reason the wipes cut from old t-shirts don't need to be edge finished is because knits (the fabric t-shirts are made from) don't fray.  Hooray!

Now to make your cloth wipes just as convenient as disposable wipes...

I think we can all agree on the fact that it's nice when you pull one wipe out of the container and it automatically brings the next wipe up, right?  Isn't that a nice feature?  I think so.  And since cloth wipes tend to stick together quite a bit (as in, the friction of the fabric makes them stick together, there's nothing actually sticky on them), I think it would be a big pain to just put them in a bag or a basket or something and have them all come out stuck to each other, five at a time.  So, to keep things easy and orderly, I thought I'd put our old wipes container back to work.

So now I'll teach you how to fold those wipes so they'll be easy-peasy to use.  This process works well for both flannel and knit wipes.  :)

Step 1: Start with one wipe laying flat.

Step 2: Lay a second wipe on top of the first, overlapping halfway.

Step 3: Pick up the edge of your first wipe.

Step 4: Fold the far edge of your first wipe over to meet the opposite edge of the first wipe.  Your first wipe should now be folded in half, with your second wipe sandwiched in between.

Step 5: Lay a third wipe flat on top of your first wipe.  (The first wipe is folded underneath your third wipe.)

Step 6: Pick up the far edge of your second wipe.

Step 7: Fold your second wipe in half, just as you did with your first wipe.  Your third wipe will now be sandwiched in between your second wipe.

Step 8: Continue this process until you have as many wipes as you'd like folded together.  Then fold over the last wipe so all wipes are folded in half.

I made about 50 wipes (I think it's actually 52 or something like that) from the one flannel blanket and two t-shirts I cut up.  I think this is a good amount.  In fact, it's plenty.  Far more than enough.  And?

What's more, that amount of wipes just happens to fit perfectly inside this old Huggies wipes case we have.

So now when I need a cloth wipe, getting one out is just as easy as getting out a disposable wipe.

I just pull out the top one...

...and the next one comes up, ready to use!

And if you're wondering about how to keep the wipes moist, well, I don't know.  Because I don't keep the wipes moist.  Several people mentioned/suggested just using a spray bottle with water to spray the wipes needed for a diaper change (or to spray the baby's bum!).  This, in my opinion, is a totally great way to go.  And way cheaper than buying extra supplies like oils or soaps.  It's just water!  :)

I got this little spray bottle at Walmart in the travel toiletries section for about $1.00.  Anything fancier would be totally unnecessary.

So when I need to change Olivia's diaper I just spray a couple of wipes before I get started and then they're ready to be used right away.  No hassle.  Totally easy.

Well, that's it!  If you have questions or other great suggestions for using cloth wipes, feel free to leave them in the comments!  

See you all again tomorrow for more cloth diapering fun! 

Edited to add: For those of you coming in from One Pretty Thing, you can see a list of all the Cloth Diaper Week posts (and some of my more recent thoughts on cloth diapering) HERE.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cloth Diaper Week! and a look at Bum Genius diapers

Alright, well I thought I'd run you through the basics of how we've been doing this whole cloth diaper thing.  And I was going to put it all in this post, but I think instead I'll write up a few posts to keep us busy for the rest of the week.  So, I hereby pronounce this to be...

Cloth Diaper Week!

Or at least that's what it'll be here on Notes From A Very Red Kitchen.  I just decided that as I was typing it.  And if you feel so inclined you can even join me by writing on your own blog about your own cloth diapering experiences.  Then feel free to put a link up in the comments if you want so other people can read what you have to say about it.  Sound fun?  Sound like a lot of talk about poop?  Heh heh.  Okay well, let's get going then!


We'll kick off today with a look at the Bum Genius diapers we have.  The product pictures I've seen online aren't super great for showing you what the inside looks like and if you're new to cloth diapering like me, reading product descriptions that use terminology you don't understand can get a little frustrating.  So I'll show you the diapers we have, tell you where we bought them, and how you how to put the pieces together.

But first, let's start with where to buy (the little that I know about that) and talk about the cost difference between cloth and disposable.  Because we're poor little college students and, as much as we love the environment, we made this switch to save money.

Where we bought ours:
We looked in our local online classifieds and found someone selling 11 Bum Genius diapers (and a ton of inserts) for $100, so that's where we bought them.  The person selling them lived about an hour and a half away from us, so we went and picked up the diapers on Friday.  Woot woot!  The diapers and some of the inserts were used for about a year (some of the inserts were brand new), but everything is in great condition.  The only place on the diapers that even shows any wear is in the velcro, but it's still in great condition and I'm not worried about it.

Once you look around at the different cloth diaper brands on their actual websites and read reviews and talk to a million people and finally know what kind you'd like to buy, I definitely recommend looking in your local online classifieds (usually you can access them by going to your local news station's or newspaper's website) or your local Craigslist to see if there's anyone in your area selling some used diapers in good condition.  Of course, you'll want to ask why they're selling them.  In our case, the person selling them had a son who was getting older and could undo the Velcro on his own.  I assume they were switching to a cloth diaper brand with just snaps or trying to potty train him.  I didn't ask, but it didn't seem to be a problem that bothered me.  If she was selling them because they leaked all the time or because something about the diapers were faulty, that would have been a different story.


Cost of cloth vs. disposable:
Before we found this awesome deal through our local online classifieds, we were looking to buy 12 diapers (at about $18 a piece) and 12 inserts (at about $18 for a pack of six) from Diapers.com.  All together, it would have cost us about $250.  Still not a bad deal, considering that we've been spending about $70 every two months on disposable diapers and wipes (we usually buy the Kirkland brand wipes from Costco and the Huggies or Kirkland brand diapers from Costco--whichever is cheapest that day).  So switching to cloth wipes (I had the materials for those on hand, so those were free to us) and cloth diapers (at about $250 on Diapers.com), the cloth diapers would have paid for themselves (in comparison to buying disposable diapers and wipes) in about 10 months, give or take.  If you ask me, that's still a pretty good deal.  However, since we got lucky and bought 11 diapers and all the inserts we need for $100, our cloth diapers will pay for themselves in about four months (well, less than that, actually, but I was rounding up).

Also, if you're thinking about switching to cloth diapers, keep in mind that there we be a few more items you may buy for start-up costs, such as a trash can with a lid for storing dirty diapers, bags for storage of dirty diapers, rubber gloves, etc., etc.  I'll get into more of these things later in the week, but I just wanted to mention that, in addition to the $100 we've spent on the actual diapers, we've also spent about $40 on other start-up costs.  Some of these things we'll need to replace someday (like laundry detergent), but most of these things were a one-time cost.

In addition to these start-up costs, we've estimated that if we wash the diapers twice a week in our apartment complex's laundry facility, we'll also spend about $15 each month on laundry.  That would include two full wash cycles and one full drying cycle.  I imagine this cost would be exponentially less if you had the luxury of being able to wash them in your own washer and dryer.  Also, this cost will be somewhat less when we hang our diapers to dry instead of using the dryer.  But we'll save laundry talk for another day.

In summary, once the start-up cost of using cloth diapers has paid for itself (by not having to buy disposable diapers and wipes), we'll be spending about $30 every two months on diapers as opposed to the $70 we were spending every two months on disposables.  This cost will go down considerably when we move somewhere with our own washer and dryer and all of my dreams come true. 

Alright, now let's have a look at those diapers!

Our Bum Genius Diapers:
Ta-da!  This is what a Bum Genius 3.0 (I think it's a 3.0) looks like.  Exciting, no? 

This is what the inside looks like.  The white part is nice and soft.  And it's absorbent.  And it wicks away moisture from your baby's bum.

Inside is what's called an "insert."  It's basically like a big, thick, fancy washcloth to absorb... you know... liquids.  :)  But we'll get back to that in a minute.  First I'm going to talk about the outside of the diaper a little more.

The Bum Genius diapers we have are what's called a one size diaper.  Basically what that means is that our diaper covers should fit a baby from newborn through potty training.  So you might pay a little more up front, but (theoretically, at least) you only have buy your diapers once.

The way it fits both tiny babies and toddlers is by using the snaps you see here.  These snaps allow for three different sizes.

Small:


Medium:

Large:

To give you a frame of reference, Olivia was wearing size 3 in disposables and we have our cloth diapers on the medium setting when she wears them right now.

Next up, let's look at the velcro.  Mine is a little tattered, but it of course wouldn't look like this if they were brand new.  :)

Many people recommend getting a different style of Bum Genius or a different brand all together (I keep hearing lots of good things about FuzziBunz) that has snaps in place of velcro.  I agree that snaps would be better.  But we got ours for a lot cheaper, so velcro is okay by me.  :)

If you are looking into buying cloth diapers with velcro (They call it "hook and loop" because "Veclro" is actually a brand name.) you may read something about laundry tabs.  I'll show you what that is.

In order for the velcro to not make all your diapers stick together in a big tangled wad in the washing machine, each diaper has what are called "laundry tabs" next to the sticky part of the velcro.  The laundry tabs are just a soft part of velcro (what I'm pointing to in the above picture).

As we take a soiled diaper off of Olivia, we just make sure to put the sticky part of the velcro onto the corresponding laundry tab.  This way it's ready to go and we don't have to fiddle with the diapers again before putting them in the washing machine.

Ta-da!  Ready for wash.

 This picture is just to show you the laundry tabs and veclro.  I think I have already talked way too much about laundry tabs.  Let's move on.

I've heard some people complain about leaks from other cloth diapering systems.  Usually this is when people are talking to me about liners that just sort of sit inside a water-proof outside part.  Sometimes things can get moved or separated and poop or pee can leak out.  Obviously I'm no expert, but we haven't yet had any leaking problems with these diapers on Olivia.  I think that has a lot to do with good elastic at the legs and the fact that the inserts actually go inside the diaper, so they always stay where they're supposed to stay.

Okay, now let's have a closer look at those inserts.

This is a regular insert in all its inserty glory.

The regular inserts also have snaps and also have three settings:

Small:

Medium:

Large:
Got it?

 In addition to the regular inserts, there are also newborn inserts.  The bigger one (in the picture above) is a regular insert.  The smaller one is a newborn insert.  As far as I'm aware, wherever you buy them, each Bum Genius diaper (as in, the outside part of the diaper) comes with one newborn insert.  Basically, a newborn insert is a smaller insert that can't absorb as much.  The regular inserts hold a lot more pee for older kids.  Sometimes if people know they have a kid who's a heavy wetter or often leaks through their diaper at night, they'll put both a regular insert and a newborn insert inside the child's diaper.  So even if you're buying diapers for an older child, the newborn inserts can still be useful. 

Now, I'll show you how I get Olivia's diapers ready.

 I start with the outside part of the diaper.

Then I snap the front down to the medium setting.

Now the outside is all ready to go.

 Then I turn the diaper over.

Whoo!  This is tough work! 
 Then I grab a regular insert and snap it down to the small setting.

 Now it's ready to go inside the diaper.

So, next, I take hold of the non-snapped side (I don't know if it even matters which side you grab, but that's the way I do it) and slip the insert inside the diaper cover like so:






Ta-da!  Insert inserted.  There were a million pictures so you could get an idea of how it works, but I promise it only takes about five seconds to do in real life.

Then I just put the tabs on the front...

 ...and it's ready to go!

I haven't timed myself or anything, but I'd say it probably takes 30 seconds to 1 minute to do all that.  It's easy peasy.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the velcro tabs can also fold over on top of one another in case you need to keep things snug on a smaller baby.

Also, I just wanted to add that I know some people worry about the bulk of cloth diapers compared to their streamlined disposable counterparts.  Keep in mind that Olivia is a pretty skinny kid to begin with, but so far we haven't had any issues with bulk.  Her little jeans fit just fine.  :)  From what I've read and heard from others, super bulky cloth diapers tend to be those diapers that have an outer part and a liner that just sort of sits inside.  Our Bum Genius diapers basically fit her just the same as disposables.  There is a little more bulk, but it's not a problem.

Well, that's it!  I hope that helped you out a little in understanding how these Bum Genius 3.0's work.  Feel free to ask questions if you have any.  Although after ten million pictures of the exact same diaper I'm not really sure what else you might want to know.  :)  Still, feel free to ask if you feel so inclined.


In Summary:
All in all, we started using them on Saturday and I have to say--it is so not a big deal.  And I mean that in the best way possible.  As in, cleaning poop off isn't a big deal, washing them isn't a big deal, getting them ready isn't a big deal, etc.  I'm certainly not about to turn into some cloth diapering fanatic that spits on people who prefer to use disposables (we can still be friends, I promise), but I really just keep thinking to myself that we should have been doing this all along!

Coming up next:
Later on in Cloth Diaper Week we'll cover how to make and use homemade cloth wipes (sans pictures of poop or pee, I promise),  travel-size wet bags, a water-proof laundry bag/storage of soiled diapers before they're washed, and laundering (with tips and thoughts about doing this if you live in an apartment like I do and don't have your own washer and dryer).

See you tomorrow for more cloth diapering fun!