July 7, 2012
The Clean Is In the Routine
Yes, that's right, we're talking cloth diapers in this post. If you're a new mom, you've probably been exposed to cloth diapers (for all intensive purposes, we'll say CD from here on out) in some way. Maybe a friend uses them, you've seen them at a natural parenting store or you've seen GDiapers at your local big box baby store. Well, I get a ton of questions from moms who are interested in using CDs, but are nervous to take the leap of faith and buy some. In this post, I'll talk about which brands we've used and what I like, what kind of soap you need and how CDs could change your laundry routine, how many you need and I'll give you the not-so-dirty details of our washing routine. But first, lets dispel a few common misconceptions.1) My house does not smell like pee or poop. 2) I don't get poo on my hands any more frequently that a disposable family does. 3) The diapers do not leave poo in my machine. None. Zero. Nothing. Mmmmkay?
Now that we've established ourselves, lets dive in.
We started with a set of BumGenius AIO (All - in - one) size Smalls with Velcro. It was fine for the time we used them, but they weren't my favorite. I tried a few other brands and we finally decided on FuzziBunz pocket diapers, size Medium with snaps for our second set of diapers. I LOVE them.
--AIO means All In One. Everything is connected, you use it, dump it, then wash it.
--Pocket Diaper means that the outer waterproof fabric and fleece liner (what is against baby) are sewn together in a "shell". You stuff the diaper with microfiber, bamboo, or hemp inserts and that is where they get their absorbancy.
For purposes of this post, we won't get into other types. We tried others and found our perfect fit (pardon the pun) with pocket diapers.
So what was better about the pocket diapers over the AIOs? Cleanliness and dry time. I just feel like the pocket diapers get cleaner because everything isn't sewn together. I actually remove the insert from the diaper for washing, so each piece is cleaned well. You can buy diapers sizes two ways: One Size (which means newborn to toddler) and Sized (which means you buy new diapers with each size). We have both and I prefer the sized diapers. The reason is simple. While One Size diapes make every effort to fit every size, they just don't. Sized diapers with snaps are the one and only way for me.
For a newborn, you need AT LEAST 12 diapers a day and you need a 2 day supply. I personally, like to have a few extra, so we had 26 size smalls. When you graduate to mediums, depending on the age of your child, you'll probably need around 8 a day. 20 was a very safe number for us. You never know when you'll have a day with lots of changes and you certainly don't want to run out.
Soap is the key to clean diapers. I tried a few things and finally settled on Charlie's Soap. I like the liquid. I buy it a gallon at a time and that equals 120 loads of laundry. Charlie's soap is an all laundry in the house commitment. Really, using cloth diapers is making a commitment to go petroleum free with your laundry products. You don't want to ruin your fancy schmancy (and lets be honest - initially expensive) diapers with petroleum based laundry soap. Besides...have you read the ingredients on your beloved bottle of Tide? Its nasty. (Brace yourself -- this is where I get a little preachy) Did you realize that pretty much every detergent you can buy at your local Target (or grocery store) is petroleum based? Now lets consider...petroleum is what we use for gasoline, car oil, Vaseline. Do you want that on your child's bottom or on their washcloth that they bathe with or their stuffed animal that they cuddle with? No? Good. Me neither. By the way, you'll want to toss out that fabric softener and those dryer sheets too. And the ones that aren't petro based? Well, they have optical brighteners in them. Usually you can replace that word with Chlorine. Not cool. (I'm stepping down from my soapbox now.)
Okay, now that we're starting with a blank slate -- Find a soap that is cloth diaper safe. There are a lot out there.... Rockin Green, Country Save, Thirsties, but my favorite is Charlie's Soap. I pay around $25 for a gallon and it does 120 loads of laundry because you only need 1 oz per load. What really won me over with Charlie's is that they gave me instructions on how to clean my washing machine. I had only owned my machine for about a year before Charlie's Soap and we used the Purex free and clear detergent. Pretty good, right? Well, better than Tide, but not great. When I followed the directions to clean my machine, I looked in the door during the cycle and the water was a greyish brown. Gross. (Want more info on how to clean your machine? Go to www.charliesoap.com to read their directions.) I have a front loader and I really find my routine easy. You can use any kind of washing machine though. Charlie's gets our diapers squeaky clean. We use it for all of our laundry, even and especially for my Coach husband's dry fit stuff. Man, that stuff wreaks after he's out on the field for a day. After a wash in Charlie's the stink is gone. Really, seriously gone. The amazing part is that we don't even need the fabric softener and dryer sheets anymore. Our clothes are soft because they're clean. And they just smell clean, not like the perfumed version of clean. We also use wool dryer balls to speed drying time and reduce wrinkles. Every once in awhile, I'll add some Young Living Joy Essential Oil or Purification Essential Oil for some sweetness.
Now for our wash routine. We have a wet bag which lines a kitchen sized trash can in the laundry room. When we take a diaper off, we dump the poo in the toilet (it just shakes off), then put the diaper in the wet bag. We have a travel sized wet bag for the diaper bag too. We wash diapers every other day. To wash our pocket diapes, right in front of the machine, I pull the insert out of the diaper, toss it in the machine (barely touch it), then toss in the shell. Lastly, I turn the wet bag inside out and put it in the machine. For the first wash, you have to do cold wash, cold rinse. No soap in this load. I use the "quick wash" setting and add an extra rinse. This cycle lasts about 55 mins and is like a really good rinse. It gets most of the pee and poo out of the diapers. The second wash is a hot wash, cold rinse. I put in 1 oz of Charlie's Soap. Set the washer to "heavy duty" hot wash/cold rinse with an extra rinse. (please make sure your water heater is set to 120 degrees. Anything higher will melt your diapers. Be sure you do NOT use the steam cycle.)This cycle is about 1.5 hours. This gets them clean. Sometimes when my diapers get a little stinky, I wash just the inserts in an additional hot cycle with Young Living Thieves Household Cleaner. I use a cap full and the stink is gone. After the second wash, we move everything to the dryer and dry on medium-low for 60 mins. Everything but our hemp liners (we use them in the night time diapers) are dry after that and we run them for an additional 20 mins You can also dry your diapers on a line in the yard. Easy, right?!
Some nights, washing diapers is a drag. But I much prefer it over a trip to the store. Now don't get me wrong, we still use disposables here and there. Mostly for Mothers Day Out because I don't want my diapes to get lost. I found a brand we like and that doesn't bother my son's skin. Diapers are expensive though and I would rather have a sunk cost up front, than a weekly/monthly massive cost.
Please post if you have questions. I like talking cloth diapers. I want you to be able to make an informed choice. If cloth isn't for you, that's fine, but it has been so amazingly successful for our little family.
This is our diaper store. They're amazing, helpful and I could not have done this with out them: www.green-bambino.com
Until next time,