So, if you're thinking about using cloth diapers, you might ask what does that entail? There are three things you need to think about:
- Having a diaper supply.
- Cleaning the diapers.
- Traveling with diapers.
Check out my diaper review for my thoughts on which diapers to get. The summary: If cost was no issue, I'd get enough Kawaii One Size Heavy Duty cloth diapers to last me for a wash cycle. However, since cost is an issue, if I had it to do again, I'd got enough Kawaii for night/nap time, and prefolds for day-time.
Tristan is now going through about 8 diapers a day. So what I actually have are 24 prefold (with 4 diaper covers), 11 BumGenius, 1 Kawaii, 6 Thirsties fitted diapers, and 4 FuzzyBunz. With all of these, I can go 4 days between washings. Yes, I know the math doesn't add up, but I need something to put him in on day 4 when the diapers are in the wash, and more accurately, hung out to dry (Ah! Light bulb!). :)
One other thing to think of on the supply side, if you're using cloth diapers, why not use cloth baby wipes? I've got 30 wipes, I use them with a mix of water and baby shampoo. I have a tub of the mix on the changing table and just get the wipe wet when I need to use it. Then it goes in the pail with the dirty diaper. And I also use toilet paper to clean up baby poop from Tristan's bum, then that just goes in the toilet. May sound complicated, but its not, and I'm only using disposable wipes when we are away from the house.
There are a few things you need for cleaning the diapers. You need a supply that lasts you a how ever many days you decide to do laundry. See the Diaper Supply section above.
You also need some sort of diaper pail. We use 3 kitty liter buckets. Yeah, I'm serious. They work great. They're easy to dump into the washing machine, they hold the odor, and they were easy to get! We started using them because Tristan arrived in our lives a little early and we hadn't gotten a diaper pail. Then when they worked, we just kept using them. The only thing you need for inside the pail (other than the dirty diapers) is baking soda to help with the smell. I sprinkle some into the bottom of the bucket. Then when we do the wash, I put some water into the bucket using the detergent cap, and swish it around, and then dump the water into the machine.
Part of cloth diapering is dealing with baby poop. And until you start feeding your baby solids, baby poop is very liquid-y. I have read that you can just shake out the poop into the toilet and pop the diapers in the washer, but that didn't sit right with me, I really didn't think my old top-load machine would really clean the diapers. Which lead to the Diaper Sprayer. Best invention ever. Really! The diaper sprayer hooks up to the toilet water supply, and when you change a poopy diaper, you just hang it over the side of the toilet, spray the poop off, and put the diaper in the bucket. No fuss, no muss. E will tell you that cleaning the BumGenius diapers with the sprayer is a pain, but I found that you just need to put the diaper inside out over your fist, instead of draping it over the side of the toilet.
So now, onto the actual washing. As I said, I do the laundry every 4 days. I do the diapers at night because I only have 4 diaper covers, and I need at least 1 to be dry to use. So the diapers go in when Tristan goes to bed. I bring the buckets down to the machine, dump them in, rinse them out, and turn them upside down in the shower to dry out. If they smell a bit, I use all purpose cleaner to give them a quick clean. For pre-solids diapers, I used the extra wash cycle. For post-solids diapers, I just use a normal wash. And in both cases, I use Dreft detergent and an extra rinse cycle. When they're done, in the winter or wet weather, I pop them into the dryer, and the rest of the time I hang them out to dry. One great thing about line drying, it gets out the poop stains. The sun is the best bleach alternative ever!
So now we come to the travel portion. I keep diapers and a wet bag in my diaper bag. Usually the diapers are the FuzzyBunz because I'm not too fond of them and would rather not use them every day. But they work well when out and about, as long as Tristan doesn't need to go more than an hour and a half in the diaper. The wet bags have a cinch top and when we change Tristan, we just stick the diaper in the wet bag. The wet bags help control the smell and keep the stuff in the diaper bag from getting soiled or damp. If Tristan's got a diaper cover on, I leave it attached to the outside of the diaper bag to air dry a bit before the next use.
For day or overnight trips, we just bring along the diapers and a kitty liter bucket or two, and we're all set.
So, that's it. I think I've gotten everything you might need to know to use cloth diapers. If I think of anything else, I'll be sure to add a post!