cloth diapers with baby

7 cloth diapering questions, answered mom-to-mom

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About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she traded her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters, cloth diapers and a laptop, serving as editor at Simple Bites.

We’re switching up my usual food talk today to chat about another subject I am passionate about: cloth diapers!

When Tsh asked me to expand my repertoire to write about cloth diapers (CDs), I eagerly jumped at the chance to share my personal experience with you. There are so many debates going on about CDs versus disposables, and so many opinions about which is better, so I don’t want to just spit out more random facts and biased feelings on the subject.

Instead, I want to share with you what I have personally discovered about cloth diapers over the past three years. If, by sharing my perspective of CDs, I can encourage you or answer a question you may have had, then I have succeeded. The best thing I can do is share my experiences, and you can take them or leave them.

That said, after daily interactions with two little bums, here are a few cloth diapering questions that I encounter often, and my responses to them.

1. I consider myself to be pretty green, but I’ve heard that neither cloth nor disposable diapers can claim environmental superiority. Why bother with cloth?

This is a hot debate right now and it is difficult to find unbiased data on it; however I feel my choice is the most environmentally friendly for my location. Here’s what I am doing: first off, all waste goes directly into the toilet to be flushed into the sewer (did you know it is illegal to dispose of human waste in your garbage?), then I wash my second-hand cotton flats in cold water with biodegradable soap; finally, three seasons out of four, I air dry them on the clothes line.

People can grumble about the precious water I use to wash the diapers, but I am fortunate that water is plentiful where I live.  Someone living in Arizona, however, may want to choose differently than I have.

With this process in place in my home, I’ve managed to eliminate the number one category of household waste, and that feels great.

Obviously potty training your children early is the greenest way to go–eliminate diapers altogether!

2. Isn’t it a lot of work?

Okay, if you’re concerned about a lot of work, maybe having kids isn’t the best idea for you! Heh!

Although it may seem like there are a lot of steps involved with CDs, they seem to simplify with practice, and practice is what you get! Remember when you gave your baby its first bath? It was a long, terrifying process! There were all these steps to remember, many items to assemble ahead of time, and the slippery baby seemed too awkward to hold.

Compare that experience to bath time now– it’s a cinch, right? In a similar way, cloth diapering soon becomes as easy as tying a shoe, and just one more load of laundry.

3. Don’t cloth diapers cost a lot of money up front?

There are already so many purchases to be made that come with the arrival of a newborn that the cost of outfitting your baby’s bum can seem like a big hurdle. When our firstborn arrived, my husband and I considered our options and decided to purchase a new cloth diapering kit, and go with second-hand for many of the other baby items that were needed. One of the advantages to cloth diapering was fully realized when our second son came along–no start-up fee! We were already in business.

Remember, prices may vary, but my initial start-up cost was not nearly as pricey as most people think. At Bummis, our local CD Mecca, we spent a total of $300 to outfit our little one in styling CDs from birth to potty. If all goes as planned and I use the same kit for a third child, we will have spent $100 per child on diapers. Yes, yes, one must factor in the detergent and other costs, but still, you have to admit it is a fraction of the cost of disposable diapers!

4. I’m afraid of the smell; how do you combat odours?

With the exception of that one staggeringly smelly moment when I transfer my diapers from their pail to the washing machine, they don’t pollute my bathroom at all. In fact, my kitchen compost is ten times worse! I’m fortunate to have a few windows in my laundry room that I can fling open during the washing process and that helps quickly to clear the air.

At this point, I’ve already eliminated the waste and partially rinsed the diaper in the toilet (if needed), so there is no decaying pooh sitting around. Between washings, my diapers sit in their airtight pail in a vinegar-water soak which starts the cleaning process immediately. Also, my diaper pail is washed and disinfected with each load; my garbage bin would probably smell a lot nicer if it got washed between each change and stayed as fresh as the diaper pail!

5. Aren’t you afraid of poking your baby with a pin?

I still get this question!  Folks, I don’t think you can even buy diaper pins anymore. Nope, no more storing them in a bar of soap to keep them sharp, no more cute pink and blue heads, no more diaper pins, period. There are several methods for diaper fastening nowadays, but my preferred method is the Snappi Cloth Diaper Fastener. It is an affordable $2.29!

To give you an example of their durability, I used the same one the whole time my firstborn was in CDs. I tossed it when my second baby came along and splurged on a new one, though. Here are some photos that demonstrate how the Snappi is used.

6. Isn’t it terribly messy?

If cleaning cloth diapers conjures up images of kneeling in front of a galvanized washtub, scrubbing poopy diapers on a washboard, then you are in for a pleasant surprise. I would like to introduce you to….the flushie. This disposable, biodegradable liner sits inside the diaper and makes it possible to pick up solid waste and deposit it directly into the toilet. Voila. I use the Bummis Bio-Soft Flushable Liners.

For sanitary reasons I have my change table in my bathroom and I find this set-up works really well. I love having the sink right there for washing baby, as I tend to use a warm wash cloth rather than a disposable wipe.

The bottom line? Baby’s diapers are messy no matter whether they are cloth or disposable–it’s the pooh that is messy!

7. Um, I hate to bring it up, but what about liquid poo?

Oh, yes, it happens. I’ve heard some mothers say that they change (and wash) their child’s clothes with every pooh because the disposable diaper doesn’t contain it. That’s a lot of extra laundry I’ve thankfully never had to do. My experience was that the diaper covers made such a reliable seal around baby’s legs and tummy that messy leaks were always prevented.

Since we’re on the subject, you should know that the aforementioned flushie is rather helpless to combat liquid pooh; however, I have a trick for a quick clean. I drop the entire diaper in the toilet water, then, holding one corner (usually the only clean one), I flush the toilet and essentially give the diaper it’s own ‘swirly’ to rinse it before depositing it into the diaper pail.

Don’t worry, this too shall pass; things tend to solidify down there with the introduction of solid food.

Okay, enough talk about pooh! Well, almost.

Here are a few small things I wish I have been told before I started cloth diapering:

• CDs can sometimes add extra bulk to the baby, so for example, if your child is 12 months old, keep those 18-month outfits around! You’re might need them.

• Extra bulk around the midsection sometimes means slightly restricted mobility. Your baby might sit, crawl and walk a few months behind “schedule.” I was always fine with that. Less running for me!

• A cute diaper cover works perfectly for a bathing suit. With its elastic seal around the waits and legs, it traps any ‘floaties’! No need to spend money on those expensive Little Swimmers.

• Putting a line-dried cloth diaper on baby is like trying to diaper them with a sheet of plywood. Those things dry stiff! It’s not a bother, though, in the end. Ha! Get it?

Do I think that CDs are for everyone? No. Has it suited my lifestyle and integrated well into my mothering? Absolutely. In the end, each mother (or father) has to do what best suits their lifestyle, and then be at peace with their decision.

Parenting is challenging enough with out stressing over the minor details. Hopefully this post and this Cloth Diapering 101 series will help you with your decision.

What are your thoughts on the environmental pros and cons of cloth diapering? Is it debatable?

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Comments

  1. Though there is certainly more laundry since we started cloth diapering, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that my water & energy bills haven’t gone up much. Perhaps the HE washer keeps the water usage low? And line drying is free!
    Regardless of the debates, for me, using cloth diapers just feels right. I used disposables for 1.5 years, switched a year ago, and I’m very content with that switch.

    Another pleasant surprise was that using CD’s reduced poop-stained clothes. The cloth (pf’s & covers) did a MUCH better job containing that runny bf poop than the disposables did with my first. Impressive!

  2. I use snappi’s and love them but you can still buy pins. I know they sell diaper quality Dritz pins at Joann’s fabric of all places. I’ve never seen them anywhere else but have never looked. :)

  3. I use Bummis too, and don’t use a Snappi or pins at all. I just velcro the cover over the diaper, and everything stays in place just fine. Perhaps that will not still be true once she starts crawling, but for now, we are good!

    Definitely less leakage with CD’s than disposables–I think that alone makes up for having to wash the cloth diapers. I’d much rather deal with the poopy cloth diapers than the poop up the back, down the legs, in the carseat…

  4. I usually use stuffable AIO diapers but, when I pull out the prefolds, I almost always reach for pins. :-) I love the way they look.

  5. I’ve started CD in the last month and think I’m going to stick with it. One thing I;m having trouble figuring out is what to do when traveling. It’s much easier to switch back to disposable. Any suggestions there?

    • That was my exact question! I am using disposables at the moment and we’re going through toilet training so I probably won’t switch to cloth diapers at this stage. Still, I’d like to know for the future. These series explain about cloth diapering really well.

      Emma @ Baby-log.com´s last blog post…What is your child eating?

    • Certainly switching to disposable when traveling is a practical plan. I have some on hand even for day trips.

      Aimee´s last blog post…Rhubarb Rosemary Daiquiri

      • We were just gone for a week and solely did disposables. It was no problem – we just went back to cloth when we returned. And like Aimee, I’ll put my son in a sposie if I think we’ll be gone all day. It’s just easier for me here, where we live.

    • If we are staying somewhere other than our house we bring disposables. I don’t want to tote my pail around with me and I don’t want to ask someone if I can wash my kids diapers in their washer!

      • If you are just out for the day, cloth still works. I just carried wet cloth wipes in a zipper pouch, and had a larger one for soiled diapers (We used the insert kind, Fuzzibunz), and just throw it all in the pail when you get home. For overnight or longer, I used disposables.

        Casey´s last blog post…Bernina Meme

  6. avatar
    Whitney says:

    This series has been very helpful. I hear a lot about CD, but it was baffling. Honestly, it’s not for us for many reasons. One, we’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals and doctor’s offices for a birth defect. It’s just not possible, really. Maybe if life calms down some…but thanks for the info!

  7. We use the Bum Genius all-in-one and love it. There’s definitely more laundry, but it’s cheaper in the long run. As for traveling with CD, I’d say it depends on how far you’re going. If it’s on errands, a friend’s house, or church I pack CD’s and put in a bag to wrap the dirty ones. For flying or car travel…disposables are much easier–less bulk and nothing to keep around.

    Jessica´s last blog post…Everyone Is Beautiful Bookclub (@ 5M4B)

  8. Great post. I’d say the diaper sprayer really saved me in terms of cleaning up the diapers. Not having to swish my hand in the toilet made a big difference for me in terms of cleaning the diapers. I use the bumgenius sprayer.

    Thanks for laying out the ‘nays’ and responding honestly to them. I wish someone would have told me about the bulk that diapers cause too.

    Nicole´s last blog post…Beauty Parlor…Redeemed

  9. I love the Snappis! That’s what we used as well, and they were so handy. I was always terrified of using pins.

    We did use disposable when traveling, but it seems like many of the cloth all-in-one diapers would be just as easy to have when you are out, especially with the disposable liners.

    Jamie

    steadymom´s last blog post…Let Your Children Watch More Television

  10. I have a 16 month old and another one due in September. We use disposables now, but are considering using cloth diapers for baby number two. I’ve had a lot of questions about getting started and this series has already answered several of them. Thanks!

  11. Thanks so much for doing this series!! I didn’t start cd’s until my 3rd and 4th due to a huge lack of information. We’re old pro’s now, but it did take some practice. One of the best things I’ve found about cd’s is that there are only rare blow outs! I went through ridiculous amounts of diapers and clothes before switching. So, even though I do an extra load or two each week, I’m not doing nearly as many clothes or throwing away as many disposables.

    Heidi B.´s last blog post…3 Pounds Infused Rice Bran Oil

  12. thank you so much for these honest answers and the whole series in general. we cd’ed on and off with our first two but got out of it with moves and other circumstances that were just easier for us to use disposable. No one’s in diapers anymore, so this series is renewing my enthusiasm for cd whenever the next baby comes along.

    one thing i never mastered was storing up the diapers until washday. any chance we can get some detailed advice on storage?

    • I second the request for info on diaper storage!!

      Heather – Dollar Store Crafts´s last blog post…Reader Project Roundup: Make 3 Projects for $1 or Less

      • My diaper pail was included when I purchased my kit from Bummis. It’s plastic, sturdy, and durable with a tight fitting lid that seals in odors.
        I store my diapers in here with about two gallons of water and a splash (1/4 cup)of white vinegar. I can only remember one instance of staining, so I’m happy with the vinegar soak.

        Aimee´s last blog post…Rhubarb Rosemary Daiquiri

        • avatar
          Nixgrim says:

          I make and sell my own brand of CD because they weren’t readily available in South Africa. I sell a bucket with mine, but I also sell a mesh draw string bag that goes inside the bucket. That makes it really easy to get the nappies from the bucket into the washing machuine – just remember to open the bag again so you don’t get an uneven load.

          As for soaking… it’s not necessary if you’re machine washing. Modern detergents and a hot wash (50-60 degrees C) is more than enough to sterilise.

          To combat smells in your bucket, put 10ml of water with a few drops of tea tree oil in the bottom of the bucket. Alternatively, keep a damp cloth that has been soaked in water with tea tree or lavender oil on top of the nappies.

  13. We cloth diaper and use disposables. We use cloth throughout the day but use disposables overnight, if we go away (which is almost never), or once in a while when cloth might be a bit tricky (maybe if we’re on a day trip somewhere).

    We also have gone back and forth a bit. We have four kids: our first started out in disposables then we switched to cloth at about 3 months; our second was exclusively cloth diapered; our third was cloth diapered until he was about 18m; and with our fourth I was feeling too overwhelmed when she was born to cloth so we just switched back to cloth now, she’s 18m.

    I’ve tried every kind of cloth diaper out there: fitted, prefolds, pockets, AIOs but after all that my favourite kind of diapers are prefolds — which are also the cheapest!

    FamilyNature´s last blog post…“How do you do it?”

  14. Quick question: i live in an apartment complex and do not have my own washer and dryer. There is a community laundry room with several washers and dryers. Is it practical to want to use cloth diapers without my own washer and dryer (and also not being able to do several rinses/cycles… costs too much money!)??

    • Good question, Becky. You would certainly want to do a cost analysis to see if this is practical for you. Another option is to see if there is a diaper laundry service in your area. Any retailer selling CD should know of this service.

      Aimee´s last blog post…Rhubarb Rosemary Daiquiri

      • Aimee – is it necessary to do multiple washes/cycles? Or could i just throw the diapers in for the one regular load?

        • I just do a regular cycle. But my European front-loading washer thinks that means a two hour and 15 minute cycle. So… take it or leave it. ;)

          Either way – one cycle with Soapnuts gets mine perfectly clean.

        • Ok. So if the washers i use only have a 30 minute cycle, as long as i am using good soap, it would get the diapers clean? I’m feeling more optimistic about this! Thanks for all of your help! I’m having my first baby end of July and trying to think through all of these things.

    • Hey Becky, my in-laws had the same problem when they started out with CDs. As a result, instead of purchasing the costlier diapers up front, they began with a TON of prefolds and slowly tried out the pockets and AIOs as they went along. They bought several dozen diapers and had two operating pails and just did the laundry twice a week. I think it totally depends on your apartment complex and how often the machines are available, how long you’re willing to go between loads, and how much each load costs, but CDing still saved my in-laws money. They just had to have an above-average number of diapers to hold them over between wash days.

      • One thing that is good, is that alot of the commercial washing machines are set at higher temps so that helps get your dipes clean in one wash and helps avoid detergent buildup. I lived in an apartment complex and washed my diapers there for 1 year and had no problems!!

        Lisa´s last blog post…Free Patterns for Cloth Diapers

    • It is so easy to do cloth diapers in an apartment! You need a baby sling if you want to do it when it’s just you and the baby, but I’ve never had a problem using them. About the cost, you’ll have to do an analysis yourself, but here’s mine:
      http://doodlebugsplanet.blogspot.com/2009/05/myths-and-misconceptions-of-cloth.html

      • Ladies – thank you so much for your help! I think I’m convinced I can do this. It was great of you to offer all of your wisdom. Blessings

  15. Where did you get your information re: cloth diapers causing developmental delays? My cloth diapered daughter walked at 9 months!
    I really think you should edit/clarify that.

    • Thanks for your comment, Kate. As I stated in the article, statements are based entirely on my own personal experience with diapering two children. However, I also know other moms who have experienced that same thing: baby is slightly less mobile because of added bulk.
      Of course, as you’ve demonstrated, every baby is different!

      Aimee´s last blog post…Rhubarb Rosemary Daiquiri

      • avatar
        Nixgrim says:

        Mine was also a CD baby, and she walked at 1 year. There is no actual evidence either way that using CD delays or speeds up physical development, but from my CD business, I can say that anecdotal evidence is that they potty train faster and that CD has no effect whatsoever on crawling/ walking.

  16. I’ve found that hemp inserts really cut down on the bulk factor in our pocket diapers. I bought a yard and made some 2-ply and 3-ply inserts. LOVE them.

    Jenny Muth´s last blog post…grad gifts

  17. I loved cloth diapering both of my children and will continue when we have another. I initially started not because of wanting to “be green” or anything like that, but because my son’s bottom was constantly red (not from a rash-just irritated), even when he was just wet and I changed him every hour. A friend suggested I try cloth to see if he was having a reaction to the disposables. Within one day of having him in cloth, his bottom cleared up! Just the thought of all those yucky little gel beads on their bottoms is enough to make me cringe. I do use disposables for lomg trips, but find it fairly easy to use CD’s for day trips.

  18. What great information! I wish I’d had this information before having my kids. I probably would have chosen cloth over disposable. My last child is almost potty trained now though, so there’s no point in switching.

    Amanda @ Mommy’s Idea Book´s last blog post…Beating Road Trip Boredom: Entertaining the Kids

  19. I certainly find this interesting. I decided to stick with disposables since I don’t have my own washer and dryer, hardly any room for line drying (I don’t have any outdoor space), and changing my kid right now is like wrestling a greased pig. I can hardly get a disposable on him (or get him dressed for that matter!), let alone learn to use cloth. Oddly, I did think dressing and diapering would get easier with time. I can’t say that I’ve gotten much better at it! I am terrible with laundry, too.

  20. maybe you’ve already addressed this issue and i’m sorry if i’ve overlooked your answer, but could you describe the diaper pail? is it one of those diaper genie-type things or something else? i can’t thank you enough for this series of entries on cd. i’m seriously considering it for my second one. thank you.

    • I use a FuzziBunz hanging diaper pail, which is here. Here’s an image of what it looks like unfolded.

      Tomorrow I’ve got a video post that will show my diaper pail/bag thingy, if you’re interested.

    • I just use a regular trash can with a washable liner in it for the main pail. On wash day, it all goes in the wash, including the liner. In the bathroom I use a miniature version of the same set-up. It works great. Dry pails are best – soaking them in any liquid in the pail is a potential drowning hazard, and it’s not necessary.

      Katie ~ This Natural Life´s last blog post…Welcome to Simple Mom Readers!

  21. I have a question about the flushie disposable inserts: Approximately how much are they? Thanks.

    hairstyles for girls´s last blog post…Snail Shell Hairstyle

    • The ones I use are listed in my shop here, along with everything else I “recommend” related to CDing. They’re the Biosoft kind from Bummis.

  22. I do feel that cloth diapering is the more environmentally friendly choice. I know that opponents of cloth diapering say that it uses more water, but doesn’t it take oil to make the plastic that goes into disposable diapers? Which is worse: using extra water for washing diapers or filling landfills with disposable diapers (and human feces) AND using oil to make those diapers. Although I don’t know of any research that backs me up on this, my common sense tells me that cloth is definitely the lesser of the two evils.

    • avatar
      Elizabeth says:

      FWIW, I don’t know if this is mentioned elsewhere in the comments, but from what I’ve read, it takes as much or more water to _manufacture_ a disposable than it does to wash one. The environment isn’t my primary reason for considering CDs, but even with the water issue it seems that CDs are at least slightly better.

      I have a 3 month old, and was too overwhelmed to try CDs at first, but I think I’m going to give them a try now.

  23. avatar
    Brigitte says:

    I thought a comment from someone who’s ‘been there, done that’ might be useful. My children are now 17 and 19 and we went the cloth diaper route with both of them. And yes, this was using ordinary flat diapers, pins and plastic pants. We even took them with us on a trip to Thailand when the oldest was 18 months old.
    We washed them and hung them to dry –outside or in our basement. Yes, it was a lot of work, but isn’t everything when raising children? It was a sacrifice we were willing to make for the kids’ future and the environment. It helped that my husband and I were a team in this – I remember many a time that he’d be watching hockey while folding diapers! We still justify our choice with recognizing that we did not contribute to the overflowing landfills. I think it is important that we look at ways of living ‘simply’ in this world and using cloth diapers is one way towards that goal.

  24. I love this series. I’ve been considering switching to cloth for my 1 year old for a while but kind of lost steam. This week’s posts gave me the push I needed and today I ordered my first bunch of cloth diapers from a gal on diaperswappers.com- brand new, too big for her baby and 1/2 what they cost retail. It’s a great resource.

  25. We’ve been using CDs for four months now and it’s one of the best things we’ve done. I used disposables for travel and there’s always a blow-out, something that never happened with cloth. Looking back this is what I’m going to do with the next one:
    -16 prefolds, 6 thirsties covers (xs and small), 2 snappis (baby under 8 weeks old)
    -18 bum genius/blueberries after 8 weeks
    -1 waterproof large tote bag
    -12 cloth wipes
    -Country Free detergent (online for cheap at Amazon in bulk! or at Clark’s)
    -bumgenius sprayer (don’t put it by the toilet, I’ve been asked more than once if it’s a poor mans beday!)
    I think we’ll spend about $500 on the first baby but everything we have will work for the next babies too. The part I’m looking forward to most is that my peditrician tells me all the time that CD’d babies potty train sooner!

  26. On the topic of which is more green… one of the main reasons I was drawn to cloth over disposables was the chemicals used in the disposables. They make them bulk up and keep baby drier than cloth. They also have been partially banned in adult hygiene products because they are toxic and harmful, from my research. After working in a lab for four years I was simply not comfortable putting those chemicals next to my babies bottom.

    Shannon´s last blog post…A Springtime, Travel-Detox Menu Plan

  27. My daughter is 16 months old and cloth diapers have never held her back. She started walking at 9.5 months, and I have minimal issues with clothes fitting. Also I don’t use pins or snappis. Just cotton/pul cover with snaps over a prefold. I have a front loading washer, so my water usuage is minimal.

  28. I also wanted to add that I make my own laundry soap and use oxyclean :)

  29. Thank you so much! I have been trying to figure out this whole CD thing and nothing has been as clear and easy to understand as this! Thank you!!!!

    marisa´s last blog post…Farmer’s Market Friendly Bike

  30. Fantastic, Aimee! LOVED THIS! So helpful, so honest!

    I have to say I am one of those who preferred using pins over the Snappi. I never could quite get the hang of the Snappi and found that using good quality diaper pins (Dritz) worked wonderfully for getting a good snug fit. If anyone is interested, I can share some links to pictures of great prefold folds using pins.

    Also, my youngest has been mostly cloth diapered and she walked at 10 months (!).

    Thanks again for the amazing feedback!

    (Megan at Simple Kids)

    Megan@SortaCrunchy´s last blog post…What I Learned This Week

  31. I use Bum Genius and absolutely love them!! Mine are starting to get stained, does the vinegar-water soak help that? Tell me more please!!

    • You can try a sun bleach on them. It works great for me, I also put my diaper pail out in the sun while I am washing my diapers.

    • I have also had great success with Bac-Out. I spray some on the diapers that have poop before they go in the laundry. For stained diapers, when it is cloudy, I spray them and let them sit until the next laundry load.

    • Kellyscloset.com is a WONDERFUL resource for CDs. I follow all her instructions for my bumgeniuses and they are still “like new” after a year of use! It’s very important to avoid certain chemicals or your diapers may get ruined. :(

    • avatar
      Laura & Miles says:

      I started cloth diapers this summer-they are line dried in the sunny backyard and the bright-yellow-breastmilk-poop-stains magically disappear. I wouldn’t have believed sunning does the trick until I saw for myself. They are cotton flannel and don’t get very stiff at all, I find. We’ll see what the winter brings…

  32. My husband and I are expecting our first and we are just now setting up the cloth diapering. We seem to be ready, kind of, but we still haven’t figured out a few things.

    My big questions relate to the diaper pail:

    a) Where do you find an airtight pail? Will an ordinary diaper pail from a baby store work?
    b) How much of the water/vinegar mix do you use? Is the pail half-full or just a little bit full or all the way full?
    c) When you use a wet pail like that, do you have to worry about the smell of vinegar permeating?
    d) Have you ever tried a dry pail? Does anybody have any recommendations for using a dry pail and still keeping odors at bay and (hopefully) not inviting too many stains?
    e) Do you only use sprayers or swirling to get off the poop? Has anybody tried using a spatula or similar idea? If so, any recommendations as far as storage and sanitization?

    • Sarah, I don’t use an airtight pail – just a regular old plastic trash can from Target. It’s a dry pail – wet pails can be a drowning hazard and they’re not really necessary. We don’t have much problems with odors because the poop gets washed down the toilet, it’s not sitting in the pail. And we wash every 3 days – but if we wait any longer, some odor does begin to build. A friend keeps some baking soda sprinkled in her pail and says that helps a lot.

      Katie ~ This Natural Life´s last blog post…Welcome to Simple Mom Readers!

      • Sarah, I forgot to say that the trash can is lined with a washable liner, which gets washed along with the diapers on wash day.

        Katie ~ This Natural Life´s last blog post…Welcome to Simple Mom Readers!

        • Katie – THANK YOU so much for pointing out the trash can idea. I don’t know why that never occurred to me, but it’s brilliant. Also, I know that the poop gets flushed, but does any of the poop residue afterwards end up staining the diaper (or other diapers that land around it in the pail) later?

          Aimee – My wet pail questions still stand.

        • I just use a 5 gallon bucket with a lid no water. When it’s full I wash them. I keep it in my laundry room, and it doesn’t smell bad.

    • Great questions, Sarah, See my reply above to Nicole regarding diaper storage.

      Aimee´s last blog post…Rhubarb Rosemary Daiquiri

      • Yeah, the wet pail is something I don’t really recommend… a safety hazard for babies.. a germ breeding ground, can really mess with diapers that have PUL in them, and totally unnecessary! Dry pail works just fine. Plus, do you REALLY want to deal with a bucket of water that has been soaking pee and poo diapers for a few days! Ewww!

        Any poo still stuck on the diapers may stain a little bit, though never does on my fuzzi bunz. But the sun will bleach out any stains really quick! You don’t even need to “hang them” out in the sun, you can lay them out on a window sill inside the house that gets a lot of sunshine.

        And, I second (or third?) the trash can with a lid for your “diaper pail.” Use a cloth liner and the smells will be kept to a minimum!

        Hope that helps! :)

        Lisa´s last blog post…Free Patterns for Cloth Diapers

  33. avatar
    Johanna says:

    I have another question: my mom says that you have to change cloth diapers more often than paper ones because the cloth ones don’t dry. Is that true?

  34. I’m 10 weeks into my first pregnancy and we’re still deciding whether or not to CD; this series has been VERY helpful. I wonder how accommodating day cares tend to be about cloth diapering? Our baby will be in daycare @ 4 months, so I’m not sure it will be worth CDing if daycares will ask us to provide disposables. Any experience in this area?

    • Congratulations on your pregnancy!!

      That said, when we looked at daycares, we found out that if we planned on using all-in-one diapers, most were willing to go with it. The doctor also said that he’d be willing to lie for us and write a note saying our child had allergies to the plastics in disposables. So, if you don’t mind lying, that’s an option.

      • I have heard basically the same thing mentioned above. I also have friends who have decided to maintain cloth diapering on evenings and weekends. Still others have daycares that are willing to use gDiapers, and then they use prefolds in the gDiaper covers at home.

  35. Having used cloth for all three of my children (youngest is in the process of transferring out of nappies) I have to say they are great :). I have used a mix of flats (terry flats and prefolds) and modern cloth nappies (fitteds, pockets, All-in-ones).
    We dry pail and have nappies that are still being used 7 yeas later (and that is 7 year constant use).
    We change the same amount when using single use nappies (which there have been times – they do have their uses) and cloth, but that is because we try to change whenever the child is wet and not “wait”.
    The washing isn’t an issue – depending on the age of children it is either one load every day (when you have newborn and toddler in nappies) or one load every three days (any other age post 6 months I found). And compared to single use nappies – well I can only go on comments from friends but from newborn to 6 months seems to be a high wash time no matter the nappy choice :).

  36. avatar
    Stephanie says:

    A couple questions about switching to CD when a child is older:

    1) My son is 26 months and we’re trying for another. Would it be worth it to start CD the toddler? If so, is there a diapering system that would be compatible with a toddler now and a newborn later?

    2) Or would it just be easier to start with the newborn?

    Thanks so much. All this discussion is very inspiring.

    • Honestly it depends on how soon you are planning to start toilet training your toddler. My experience was that since cloth diapers tend to take slightly longer to put on and off, it was a real hassle when I was sitting my son on the potty every 15 minutes or more. So I set aside the CD and started a combination of underwear and ‘pull-ups’ because it was so much faster.

      I’ve heard of cloth pull-ups or training pants. I think I will invest in some when it is time to potty train my second!

      So I guess I would say start with a newborn for CD, but look into a re-useable training pant for your toddler. This will save you a lot of money!
      Hope this helps!!

      Aimee´s last blog post…Rhubarb Rosemary Daiquiri

      • I agree that it probably depends what you are up for. If you are planning on buying one-size diapers for your baby, you could try those to get a feel for them. I have friends who have a two-year-old and a three-month-old who share those diapers. If you are planning on going for the potty-training sooner than later, you might want to aim for some Happy Heinys pocket training pants – you can order them with snaps on both sides so that you can use them either as a diaper or a training pant. Good luck!

  37. My hint would be to cut some fleece (no hemming!) into strips and line your cloth nappy with it as it wicks moisture away from bubs bottom. When we were started using cloth many people commented that their babies had gotten terrible nappy rash when they used cloth but we have not had that problem due to the fleece. Also poo is generally contained to the fleece and is easier to clean off- after solids are started often poo is firm enough just to roll of the fleece into the toliet with out any help.
    Good work for spreading the CD word in a simple non preachy way!

  38. I just wanted to comment on the statement that the added bulkiness of CD’s can keep babies from learning to crawl and walk at the usual age. HOGWASH! My daughter has always been in CD’s and she was crawling at 8 months and walking at 11 months. That’s plenty early!!

  39. avatar
    Fabiola says:

    Thank you so much for this series. I just started to read your articles and I think they are great. We probably won’t do CD since I live in San Diego, California and we are under mandatory water conservation notices. However, I believe you make great points and I really appreciate the videos you made, maybe once summer is over we’ll give it a try.
    I’m really looking forward to potty training early, though.

  40. Excellent post! I think you’ve addressed alot of the common things I hear when people find out we cd. As far as the is it greener or not, I actually like to debate this because it brings up a lot of little known facts about disposables…like all the yucky chemicals in them. I agree with you tho that it depends on where you live. I have a private well and septic so don’t worry that the extra water used and the extra waste water sucks up a ton of energy with processing, etc. Also, since the systems are already in place to deal with those things, I like that I am not dumping chemicals and human waste into, as well as filling, a landfill. Anyways, thanks for posting…I’ll be referring friends to this!

    Jessica Hornick´s last blog post…Being Green one diaper change at a time

  41. Now that my son is very active with crawling and some walking AND I want to be able to make use of prefolds AND I strongly dislike PIL covers, the only way to keep those things on him is with pins. Snappis just aren’t safe for a coverless, active baby. Unfortunately, the local JoAnn’s doesn’t carry the Dritz pins, so I’m still looking for good pins. Other pins are inferior and just not safe!

    Regarding the extra bulk and delayed sitting/crawling/walking, some CDs are more trim than others, but that is something I (and my son!) really hated about CDs. He was trying so hard to do those things, but the CDs were just holding him back. In my book, it’s pretty cruel to forcefully prevent a natural development like that. It’s one of the things that got us using eco-sposies more. However, now that he is actually able to crawl and walk, he’s fine with the CDs. It was just the learning stages that were difficult.

    rachel´s last blog post…8, 9, 10, 11 months!

  42. So… what do you do about diaper ointment and wipes? Do you use cloth wipes? Do you regularly use a diaper cream or not?

    I’m getting ready to have my first and I have NO IDEA what things are good to do regarding skin care and what is just fluff!

    Thanks for the great CD posts!

  43. I know that this is an old post, but I need help! We’ve been cloth diapering (mostly) for 21 months now. We’re trying to introduce pottying, but I cannot figure out how to get his pants, cover, snappi, and diaper off in time to have any chance of making it to the potty. What do other moms do??
    Thanks

    • Hi there.

      There are three things you can do.
      1) If the weather is warm, let him run around without a nappy on at all. Not only will this be easier for you, but if (when) he pees on his legs, it will help him to really ‘get’ the feeling of when he needs to wee.
      2) Take him to the loo every 15 minutes or half an hour after a meal or drink – don’t wait for him to be ready to wee – until he’s done one. This way, you avoid the urgent rush, plus you ingrain the habit of going to the loo when he’s had a meal (eating & drinking automatically simulates the body to evacuate both the bowels and the bladder).
      3) Use potty training pants – these are elasticated pants that have a built in waterproof layer and minimal absorbent layers. They are as easy to pull up and down as pants. The down side is that because they have minimal absorbency, you may wind up with wet clothes.

      Good luck!

  44. No delayed milestones for us CD babies – my DD sat in cloth nappies better than disposables – more cloth to help her balance! And she’s nearly crawling at 7mths :)

  45. WOW! you covered so many of my questions! I don’t know anyone in my town/church that uses CDs right (there have to be some somewhere though!), but my mom and mom-in-law have said so many times that CDs weren’t that hard when they had lil babies. Thank you for your tactful yet detailed post…I’m pretty sure we’ll be investing in CDs for baby # 3 :)

  46. This may have been mentioned already (I didn’t have time to read all 80-something comments, lol), but one way of getting those line-dried diapers to not be as stiff is to throw them in the dryer for 10 minutes or so. It softens them up quite nicely, with only minimum use of the ‘evil’ dryer. ;-)

  47. with my first son i just used disposables, im currently pregnant and was wondering what kind of detergent do you guys use? ive heard/read dawn soap, and oxy clean, what do you think would be the best degergent to use and how much? thank you :)

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