Washing Cloth Diapers

After some trial and error, we have a cloth diaper washing routine that works great for our family. This post is intended as a guide, not a strict code. Feel free to try any or all, maybe something will work for you. But don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t, you just have different circumstances.

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Right now I wash my diapers approximately every 3 days. Enough time that I don’t let the diapers pile up too much nor I feel overwhelmed washing all the time.

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The routine starts with the diaper change. Wet diapers get liners pulled out from the covers and everything tossed into a hamper with a pail liner. Dirty diapers get the poop dumped into the toilet and I remove the liners, then put into the hamper.  If they are really messy, I take the liners out and then swish the cover around the toilet a few times to get as much poop off as possible. I know there are fancy diaper sprayers and shields, but I personally find them unnecessary. Just another thing to spend money on and take up space in my bathroom. Check out this link for more info on removing poop.

Rinse

Once I have enough diapers to wash (or I realized I am about to run out), I wash. I start by soaking them in hot water with a little tea tree oil. I set it a large load when soaking, this adds plenty of water and room for the diapers to soak freely.

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Since my washer doesn’t have a soak cycle, I start it on a normal wash and stop it once it starts to agitate. I usually let it soak an hour…but a lot of times I forget and it soaks longer…maybe overnight a few times…no big deal.

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I know a lot of people will say tea tree oil every time this is unnecessary to do every time and there are better oils for antibacterial cleaning. Or to not use oils at all (more info here). I find it makes a big difference in my diapers. They feel cleaner and come out with a neutral clean smell. I tried other oils and Oxyclean, but it wasn’t the same for me. I add maybe two or three drops at the most. I start the water and let it fill up a few inches, then add the drops to the cap and hold it under the running water. Then I start adding the diapers as it fills.

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After the soak, I set the dial to rinse. It drains the water and gives it a good rinse. Next the actual washing. I set the machine to normal wash,which for my machine is a HOT/Warm/Cold cycle. I add 3/4 of a cap of free and clear detergent and the machine do it’s thing. Lastly, I do one final rinse cycle.

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Not cool. It ripped the snap off.

My dryer is kind of evil. It likes to eat clothes, especially diaper covers. No matter how far you push them back, they work their way to the front and get caught on the lip between the door and barrel. I have lost three snaps and got some weird black/red marks on several liners. It even tried to eat a hemp liner! So I never put covers in my dryer. And I check liners every 5 minutes if I put them in.

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Michael made me a clotheslines so I hang them up to dry. Works great. I plan to sun them on the patio in the summer.

And that’s it. If I am paying attention, I can have them washed in 1-2 hours (including soaking). They are dry in the next morning on the line or in a few hours if I hang the covers and stick the liners in the dryer. Easy and works great for us.

 

 

One Year of Cloth Diapers

One year ago, we made the jump to cloth diapers. I talked about it in a previous post when we started, but I figured it was time for recap of how it went. I can honestly say with confidence it’s been wonderful. Best decision, no plans on going back to disposables full time.  When Jack has a bad rash on his butt from food allergies, we use disposables because the prescription cream is not cloth diaper safe (see here why). And my mom doesn’t like washing diapers and dealing with all the snaps, so she uses disposables when she watches him. I wish she didn’t, but she’s the free babysitter so I don’t argue anymore.

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Like I said in my original post, I selected Alva All In Two (AI2) diapers because of the great price and reasonable reviews. They are often referred to as “China cheapies” and people have concerns about a their quality and origins. I haven’t seen any hard evidence against their business ethics, so I am not too concerned personally. What I can say is they have worked great. The covers have held up great. The elastic did not stretch out, the Polyurethane Laminate (PUL, the waterproof outer layer) has not pulled away or warped. The snaps have kept their snap and did not leak. I have not noticed any fading either, the bright colors are still bright!

I liked them so much, I decided to try some Pocket diapers. Most are Alvas. Some are LBB, which are rumored to be rebranded Alvas. They look and feel exactly the same. I bought some off the Cloth Diaper Swap and some off Amazon. I have some super cute patterns, they always make me smile.

That being said, the microfiber and hemp inserts they came with suck on their own. One liner of either material does not absorb even a light peeing. I double up with of the Alva inserts plus a Charcoal Bamboo insert. The microfiber absorbs quickly, getting it away from Jack’s skin, then soaks it into the slow but high absorbing bamboo. Works great for us.

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Didn’t want to lug diapers around the beach, so just used the one cover and new inserts all day.

What’s nice about AI2 and Pocket covers if they do not stink or have poop on them, you can use them again. Just remove the wet liners, insert clean ones and put the same cover back on. However, I hardly ever do this. Jack has no patience to lay still while I take off the diaper, unstuff, restuff, and put it back on. I usually have 5 seconds to change before he runs off, pants or no pants. So I just put a new, already stuff diaper on each time. Thus, I use them more like All In One (AIO) diapers, but oh well. I know a lot of people also do this.

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Recovering from a tummy bug, was so grateful for the snug fit to keep the blowouts contained.

We do have some organic cotton AIOs from Villababies. They are super cute and work WONDERFUL for containing poop blowouts. I was happy to have them when Jack had a stomach bug a while ago. They are trim, fit snuggly around the waist, and no gapping around the thighs on Jack. But, they are not the best for long term wearing. Jack can soak through one after just one pee. He isn’t that heavy of a wetter either. We had several leaks using them. Well, more like soaks.

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No pants at a restaurant because he SOAKED through in 10 minutes.

They just don’t high absorbency. I haven’t sold them because they are a nice filler diaper in my stash. If I need a trim diaper, we are just going to be home and I can change him often, or he’s got the runs. But they are not the first ones I grab each day.

At night, we use a Pocket with one microfiber, one charcoal bamboo, and one hemp. I know some are going to read that and be like WHAT? YOU USE THREE INSERTS? JUST BUY SOME NIGHT SOAKERS AND SAVE YOURSELF THE BULK!

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This leak was a result of forgetting to add the hemp insert.

Yeah, I don’t have extra money to spare and my method works just fine. I am big fan of using what you got on hand in any situation. I can only think of two or three leaks we’ve had all year, and those were mainly from not getting the diaper snug enough.

And to answer a few questions I get asked a lot:

  • No, dumping the poop in the toilet first is not that gross. You have to see it anyway when you change it, what’s an extra 10 seconds? Even toddler poop isn’t so horrible. You signed up for gross when you had a baby.
  • No, the diaper pail we store them the dirty ones between washes does not stink. Get a good container, a good cloth liner bag, and keep it away from the heat—can’t even tell it’s there.
  • Yes, it can be annoying to stuff diapers twice a week. Especially with a toddler who throws them in the air and screams “THROW THE BUTTS!” every two minutes. But it’s not that big of a deal. I just sort them all out, and go on autopilot while watching TV. Michael stuff them a lot of the time, he’s really good at it!
  •  Yes, they work great out and about. We put the dirty ones in a wet bag (a zipper, odor and waterproof bag) and put them in the pail when we get home. They do take up a little more bulk my diaper bag/purse, but it’s not that big of a deal. If I’m really tight on space, I just bring liners and reuse the cover.  Jack doesn’t poop out in public that often anymore, so this usually works well. We even took them hotel rooms, day road trips, and hiking. No issues so far.
  • Yes, we have saved money. A LOT of money. I spent about $300 total on my cloth stash. We paid $35 to $45 for an economy box of diapers every 3 weeks. So that’s about $70 to $90 a month. So about $840 to $1080 in a year. Essentially the diapers paid for themselves in 2.5 months. And we never saw a significant increase in our water or electricity bill.

Check out my washing routine post and journey into newborn cloth diapering coming up next.

Journey Into Cloth Diapers

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I have no idea why I didn’t do cloth diapers from the start. I knew all about them too. I knew they saved you money in the long run. I knew they were better for your baby’s skin. I knew they were easier on the environment. I knew they worked very well. I even knew plenty of people who used them and where to buy them. But for some reason, I just didn’t do it! No good explanation. I planned on doing many other “crunchy” mom things from the start, but somehow I missed this one. Oh well, at least now at a one-year old we are giving it a try!

I also have no good reason as to why we switched. Disposables were working fine, and we had money for them each month. He had a minor rashes develop, but nothing too bad. Just one day I thought, “Hmmm, I want some cloth diapers!” So I asked my husband, he said that’s fine, go for it.

I started by asking friends, they told me what they liked and made good suggestions. Then I found this and this awesome links on Pinterest. And the ever-so amazing All About Cloth Diapers blew my mind as well. After reading those, I had an idea of what I wanted. I decided to try All-In-Twos (AI2) and All-In-Ones (AIO). Mainly because they are the closest the disposable diapers and not too complicated to start out.

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Clip in or stuff liner, and go. And you can just change the liner and reuse the cover too.

I ordered 12 Alva Baby AI2, since so many people recommended that brand. The covers are nice, and some of the patterns are very cute. But the basic microfiber liners they come with didn’t cut it. Jack peed straight through it in 5 minutes and soaked everything around him.

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Microfiber clipped in with a bamboo liner on top.

So I doubled up on the liners and it was better, but only lasted an hour before soaking again. I don’t have time to change my baby every hour, so I looked into a doubler liner. I settled on charcoal bamboo liners from Amazon Prime. They work great! No leaks now at all. They are easy to wash and come out very clean. They are bit bulky with both liners in, but who doesn’t love a bubble butt? Alva Baby diapers are good diapers for a good price.

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Villa Babies AIO, no need for stuffing.

Then I came across an ad suggestion on Facebook for Villa Babies. Normally, I hate ad suggestions—like how they use your browser history to target things at you. I clicked it anyways, because I was bored and looking to get more diapers. The cute patterns got me right away! Bicycles, aliens, and apples-oh my goodness, so cute! Then I saw the organic ones, what I was hoping to get all along.  I decided on AIOs and ordered a bundle deal of 12 plus a diaper pail liner. I didn’t realized that these diapers are handmade to order on a sewing machine by one momma, so I was kinda annoyed at first it took so long for a confirmation. But once Kellie emailed me back and I realized how small the company was, I understood. It also took awhile for them to arrive, but once they did, it was well worth it! They are sewn very well and the patterns are beyond cute!

This diaper contained the worst poop ever and his butt was still cute!
This diaper contained the worst poop ever and his butt was still cute!

The first day came the ultimate test, Jack had an upset tummy and had a major blow-out-potential diaper. But it was all perfectly contained! I washed it 3 days later and no stains. I am very impressed with Villa Babies. My only critiques are they can leak if you leave them for more than 3 hours (which is like almost any cloth diaper). And the tabs on the sides can droop down a little bit if you don’t get the snaps just right, but it’s not that big of a deal. These are wonderful, quality diapers. They a bit more expensive, but they are worth it to me. I’m thinking of ordering a few more soon!

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His night time diapers, LLB with hemp liners.

I used these during the day and disposables at night for a month. Jack co-sleeps in a brand new king-sized bed with us. I wanted to make sure we had no leaks before I was willing to switch to cloth at night too. All three of us would not be amused to wake up soaked in pee! Once I was sure cloth was for us, I decided to order a few more diapers and liners just for nights. Everyone kept telling me about the ease of pocket diapers and how absorbent hemp is. So I ordered 6 LLB (they are made Alva Baby but a little different) pockets and 6 hemp liners off of Amazon Prime.

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Microfiber and hemp liners stuffed in the pocket.

I put them on the night they came (doubled the microfiber liners they come with a hemp liner) and it worked great! No night leaks so far at all! This is an improvement from disposables, he had a leak at least one a week.

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First night in clothes, fit great under his pj’s and no leaks.

The LLB covers are great, the pocket is so easy to stuff. My only complaint is that the hemp liners work so well they take awhile to dry after washing. But I guess I would rather that then not work well.

Overall, I am super happy with the switch. It’s one of those “why didn’t I do this from the start!” parenting moments. We have 30 diapers in our stash and it’s a good number for us right now. He goes through about 6-8 diapers, so I wash everything about every 3 days. I wash them separately with free and clear detergent, and either hang dry or dryer. Then I stuffed with the liners (which only takes like 20 minutes) so they are ready to use. Nothing fancy or complicated, and they can be used again for another baby.

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Put the pail liner we got from Villa Babies in a hamper we already had. Easy and no smell.

And to answer the question you are all probably wondering: No, cleaning the poopy diapers is not that gross. I just shake or wipe it into the toilet and flush. Then put in in the diaper pail (which does not stink either with a proper liner in it) and wash it later.  You see the poop anyways when you take the diaper off, what’s another 10 seconds?

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Plus, how cute is that big fluffy butt?