The Beauty of Cloth Diapers, Part 3 (& a homemade disposable wipes solution)

May 29, 2012

This poor series has been dragged on for nine months (it’s not a coincidence that it’s as long as I was pregnant, either!), but here: here is the final installment!  My last word about cloth diapers! (Please excuse the lack of pictures)

Since I dispelled some nasty misconceptions about cloth diapers and explained why cloth diapers are so beautiful to me, I’m now going to explain pretty much everything else I can think of about cloth diapers. 

If I leave some questions unanswered, please ask them and I will try to answer!

How We Use Cloth Diapers (. . . and some other info)

1. What cloth diapers do you use?

We use (only because a dear friend of mine uses them and I figured she’d done enough research for both of us! ;) Fuzzi Bunz one-size diapers.  There are about a thousand different types and brands to use, but I love our Fuzzi Bunz!  The reason we opted for one-sized diapers is because we didn’t want to have to buy more and more diapers as Luke grew.  Instead, our diapers grow with him.

I’ve heard that they’re too bulky for newborns (and so leaking is an issue), but we used disposables for the first 3 months of Luke’s life (because they are just easier) and so I had never tested them on him as a newborn.  After having tried to use them with our new little girl, Elizabeth, I would have to agree with what I had heard–we won’t be trying her in cloth diapers for a month or so more.

Do you use a different type?  A different brand?  Which cloth diapers are your favorite?

2. How many cloth diapers do I need?

We had 18 with one child.  We need to change Luke’s diaper about 4-5 times each day, so 18 diapers lasts us about 3 days.  Of course there are blowouts and extra poopies and whatnot, but 2½-3 days was about right.  That’s good enough for me!

Now, with Elizabeth, we need some more.  We’ll probably get about 6 more, for a total of 24, once we start using them on her.  That will mean laundry about every other day, which will only last for a time, so it’s okay with me! :)

Of course the more diapers you have, the less laundry you will do, so you just have to decide how often you’d like to do laundry.

How many do you have?  What works for you?

3. Ok, that’s a lot of laundry.  Isn’t it really expensive to use all that water and energy?

. . . I don’t know.  This is a concern that one of my closest friends brings up every time we talk about cloth diapers and I honestly haven’t looked into it at all.  It seems like it just can’t cost so much extra electricity and water that it makes disposable diapers and cloth diapers cost the same in the end.

In a previous post I figured that you make up your money in about a year by using cloth diapers.  Oh, and you can use them for more than one child.  Oh, and you diaper a baby for more than 1 year.  I can’t imagine that the cost of electricity and water (from doing those extra laundries) would cost so much that it wouldn’t be worth it in the end. 

Has anyone done the math?  Is it still worth it?

4. What system works best for you?

We have Luke’s stack of diapers in a box on his changing table.  They are already set to the proper size.  Usually the inserts are not in the pocket, but it’s easy just to slip them in when it’s changing time.  We use both the big insert and the small insert every time.  We double up the small insert so he has three layers of inserts in the front of his diaper.

After the old diaper comes off, we set it aside and diaper him up.  Then, if the old diaper is dirty, we take it to the toilet, drop the poo in the toilet, take the inserts out, rinse the diapers in cold water in the bathroom sink, then take the diaper (and the inserts) to the utility room where we deposit them in a trashcan (with a lid).  We have 2 Planet Wise washable diaper pail liners we use as trash bags.

When the trashcan is full (or we’re running out of diapers), we dump the contents (with the liner) into the washer, wash with hot water, rinse twice with cool water (this is to be sure to get any build-up rinsed out–this has helped us eliminate any leaks), then dry on low.

When they’re done drying we organize them into three piles: 1. diapers, 2. small inserts, 3. big inserts, and then put them back in their proper place on Luke’s changing table.  It’s as easy as that!

Do you use a different system that works for your family?  What do you do?

5. What detergent do you use to wash your cloth diapers?

We use Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds, but there are several other good detergents.  Often the cloth diaper company you use will sell a detergent that they endorse.  Charlie’s Soap is also good.  Basically you don’t want any additives, softeners, whiteners, brighteners, and such.

I’ve used the Dr. Bronner’s based solution that I use on our clothing on the diapers before and it seemed to irritate Luke’s skin.  So now I just use straight Dr. Bronner’s on the diapers (about a ¼ cup per load).

What do you use?  What’s worked for you?  What hasn’t worked?

6. All this talk about natural diapers–what do you do for wipes?

Until very recently we just used disposable, commercial wipes.  With all the traveling and ups and downs of the last year, worrying about cloth diapers alone was enough for me.  Wipes can get expensive, though, and I was always a bit concerned about what was actually on the wipes and what I was wiping all over Luke’s booty.

We have a couple cloth wipes that were given to us, but we only have two or three and obviously it would take a lot more than that (like 2-3 dozen) to use them for real.  If we had more, though, I would store them in water with a squirt or 2 of Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild solution in an old wipes container.  After each use I’d just throw them in with the cloth diapers.  Easy peasy. :)

A few of my friends have done something very similar to the above and have made their own cloth wipesHere’s how Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking made hers.

Several months ago I found a great homemade, disposable, frugal alternative to store-bought wipes.  I found it on Pinterest, but here’s the link to the original post.  It’s really so easy:

Homemade Disposable Baby Wipes

You’ll need:

  • 2 tupperwares (I use the Rubbermaid Lock-its 7 cup container)
  • 1 roll of paper towels (word is that Bounty Select-a-size is by far the best choice)
  • a clean, large, sharp, non-serrated knife
  • 4 cups water
  • a Tbsp. or 2 of coconut oil (if it’s in its solid state, heat it up with a bit of the water on the stove til it melts)
  • a squirt or 2 of a safe baby wash (this is optional, as the coconut oil is anti-bacterial, microbial, and fungal–but, I would use a tiny bit of Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild if I used anything else at all)
  1. Cut paper towel roll in half. Set aside.

    photo source

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  2. Make the solution: Combine water, coconut oil, and baby wash (optional) in a bowl and stir gently.
  3. Pour the solution evenly into the two containers (about 2 cups into each).

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  4. Place the paper towel rolls (cut side down) into the containers.  They seem too big, but they’re not!
  5. Scrunch the paper towels down and shut the lid.  Turn the containers upside down and walk away for 5 minutes.

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  6. After 5 minutes open them up, gently pull the saturated cardboard rolls out from the centers.

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  7. Pull the inside towel out a little bit so you can easily grab it.  Close the lid and you’re good to go!

    photo source

I love these wipes because they’re easy, super frugal, and they last for a long time (this recipe will last 1-2 weeks).  The original author suggests only making two containers at a time–more than that and they may get yucky.

So what do you think?  Have you tried something like this before? Do you have suggestions?

7. What (if any) diaper rash cream do you use?

Well.  On Christmas Eve we spent a few hours in the E.R. because Luke’s groin area was super red and super swollen and seemed like it hurt a LOT.  The doctor prescribed an oral antibiotic and said we should use Desitin.*  So we did.  The rash went away quickly using the Desitin and the swelling subsided because of the antibiotics.

Obviously, these remedies were not my first choice, but it was pretty serious there for a while.

When we’re not afraid about whether we’ll ever have grandchildren or not, we use coconut oil mixed with a few drops of lavender essential oil.  The essential oil keeps the coconut oil in a paste form and it works quicker than anything else we’ve ever tried (Eucerin, Butt Paste, etc.). Oh, and it’s really inexpensive!

What do you use? 

*A note about cloth diapers & Desitin: DON’T DO IT!  The Desitin leaves the cloth diapers smelling like fish (cod liver oil, to be exact), and it’s nearly impossible to get out.  If, like we were, you’re wondering how to get the nasty smell out of your cloth diapers, the best way is to scrub (for several minutes . . . like 15-20) the diapers with the original blue Dawn dish-washing soap.  Then wash them several times.  You may need to do this more than once.  What a pain!

8. What about traveling?  How do you use cloth diapers on the road (or just out and about?)

Whenever Luke’s going to stay with someone else (including when he’s in the nursery at church) we use disposable diapers & commercial disposable wipes.  These sweet friends are doing us a service and if they’re not used to cloth diapers (or even if they are), no one wants to deal with someone else’s kid’s poop more than absolutely necessary.

But, around town or when we go on trips as a family, we still use cloth diapers.  These are the items we have to make this possible:

  • 2 washable wet-bags- Ok, trash bags would work for this, but that’s a lot of trash bags, which can add up!  Planet Wise makes washable wet bags that are super cute.  Here’s a link to making wet bags yourself, if you’d rather.  We keep 1 in the diaper bag/car and just throw the dirty diapers in them to deal with them when we get home.
  • travel sized wipes container- We put some of the homemade wipes in the travel sized container.  It seals tight enough that they stay fresh for long enough.  If the trip will be longer than just running around town, we bring a whole tub of the homemade wipes with us.
  • If we’ll need to wash the diapers while away from home (like when we’re on a vacation lasting more than a couple of days), we bring the Planet Wise diaper pail liners, sometimes the trash can (although you obviously wouldn’t have to), and a small bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds.

There! I believe that I have officially dispensed all of my cloth diapering knowledge on you.  I’m sure I missed some things or was confusing.  For that reason, here are a few links to two of my favorite blogs (Passionate Homemaking & Desiring Virtue) to help round-out my series:

Helpful links about cloth diapers:

So there we are. This poor little series is done!  I hope you learned something and if cloth diapers have grossed you out in the past, maybe you’re giving them a second thought.

Did I leave anything out?  Do you have suggestions?  Questions?  Please leave them in the comments!

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One Response to “The Beauty of Cloth Diapers, Part 3 (& a homemade disposable wipes solution)”

  1. Hi Katie,

    Thanks for all your various posts. I came across this one regarding cloth diapers. My husband and I used cloth diapers on all three of our kiddos from their very first day. The thought of adding more disposable diapers than was necessary to the landfills just turned my stomach. (We even had a diaper genie …) Plus, my husband and my children have sensitive skin. The cloth diapers were more gentle on the skin than disposable. Plus, with the cloth diapers, you never questioned whether or not your child was wet! We always changed them immediately. This helped with potty training because they learned from the time that they were born that clean and dry feels better.
    I had the flat cloth diapers that require folding. As the kids grew, I folded them to different sizes. We washed them every other day in Dreft. We used the Desitin, and we never had any issues with it not washing out of the diapers.
    Once the diapers were washed and dried, I folded them to the size we needed and placed them into cotton diaper covers. I also had extra liners that we used at night to avoid blowouts. Everything was ready for the day, each day.
    All in all, it was a great experience. I believe that the use of a little extra water and electricity far outweighs adding disposable diapers to landfills. They don’t readily decompose.
    Of course, we had disposables for those times when cloth was just too inconvenient – like the times you mention above.
    We didn’t use a diaper service (too expensive), and we actually saved money in the long run by using the cloth because disposable diapers are so expensive!
    I haven’t had kids in diapers in years, but I hope to impart the methods we used to our children once they have children of their own.

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