Wednesday, April 18, 2012

cloth diapering for dummies

in my quest to learn about cloth diapering, i have learned quite a few things.
unfortunately, not one single blog post/website/whatever has told me everything i wanted to know.
this one won't either, but it will give you the basic knowledge to know enough about cloth diapering to decide if it's right for you.

cloth diapering folk really like acronyms.
like the military. 
because cloth diapering folk are hardcore.
like the military.
so, if you ever go on a cloth diapering message board, they'll throw acronyms and words at you and you're like, "huh? what the crap does that mean?" and you don't want to be the dummy newbie asking what "ppd" means.
cause no one likes to look stupid.
so i will make you look smart.

::: acronyms :::

AI2: all in two {a diaper that is in two parts, a diaper cover and snap-in liner}
AIO: all in one {an absorbent and waterproof diaper}
APLIX: a brand of hook and loop, similar to velcro {a type of diaper front closure}
CD: cloth diaper
CPF: chinese prefolds {another type of diaper}
DSQ: diaper service quality
EUC: excellent used condition {to describe diapers for resale}
FOE: fold over elastic
GN: gender neutral
IPF: indian prefold {another type of diaper}
ISO: in search of
MM: maldin mills {a type of microfleece}
OC: organic cotton
OS: one size
OV: organic velour
PPD: postage paid {usually seen like this when buying used diapers: $15 ppd}
PUL: polyurethane laminate {waterproof fabric that is used to line diapers and make wet bags. i'll explain wet bags below}
SC: suede cloth {the inner fabric of a diaper that usually stays dry}
TTO: tea tree oil
WAHM: work-at-home mom. this refers to an off-brand type of diaper that a work-at-home mom makes and sells.

::: funny words :::

fluff mail: getting cloth diapers in the mail
stash: your collection of cloth diapers and inserts
stripping: not what you think it means. ha. this is when your diapers leak because you have detergent buildup in your diapers. you must run multiple hot rinses in the washing machine until all bubbles are gone. some people add a few drops of blue dawn dishwashing soap to help get the buildup out.
sun bleaching: sometimes diapers get stained. hmmm, i can't imagine why? so instead of using chemicals and stain removers, use the sun. TRUE STORY. lay {or hang} a stained diaper in the sun and BAM, a few hours later the stain is gone. i haven't done this myself, but all of the cloth diapering folk swear by it.
toilet sprayer: a hand-held sprayer that attaches to the waterline behind your toilet. you use it to spray poo off of the diaper. sounds gross, i know, but you don't want that in your washing machine!
wet bag: a waterproof bag {with a zipper} that holds your dirty diapers. if you cloth diaper, you usually have about three of these: two small ones for your diaper bag and one larger one to line a pail or lidded trash can {for dirty diapers that are waiting to be washed in your laundry room}.

::: types of cloth diapers :::

all in one: a type of diaper that is all in one piece. it has a diaper cover attached to a foldable liner.
all in two: a type of diaper that is in two parts, the diaper cover and snap-in liner.
contours: a type of diaper that is usually hourglass shaped with no folding necessary. they are very similar to the fitten, but are missing the elastic gatherings around the legs and waist. these have wings that need to be fastened. they also require a diaper cover.
fitted: a type of diaper that is used in place of prefolds or contours. they require a diaper cover or wrap, however they are cut in an hourglass shape and have elastic around the legs and waist. they either have snaps or hook and loop fasteners for closures.
hybrid: a type of diaper that has a diaper cover and disposable and/or flushable liners.
pocket: a type of diaper that has a diaper cover with an interior pocket to stuff liners into. it's easy to clean and one of my favorites.
prefold: what your mom probably wore. a big, rectangular piece of cotton that requires pins or fasteners to close. they make great burp cloths.

::: brands of cloth diapers :::

there are like a million.
i'm only gonna name a few.

bumGenius: the bmw of cloth diapers, in my opinion. i like the 4.0 pocket diaper. easy to clean. they have snaps. and cute colors. perfect. {they also have velcro closures. don't get the velcro, it wears down. bad for resale and they snag on everything! not to mention they can scratch baby.} they also have ones that are called "flip!" that uses a normal or disposable/flushable liner. those seem like they'd be perfect for running errands and traveling. i have a few of those but haven't used the disposable liners yet, just the normal ones.

gDiapers: i wanted to like these, really, i did. but they have SIZES. like, you'll have to buy more when your baby outgrows a size. ugh. i love the colors and the typographic g, but i'm not going to deal with having to have FOUR different sizes no matter how cute they are. AND they have velcro closures. those wear down. and call me weird, but they velcro close ON THE BACK. so you lift the baby's torso? or roll them over? EVERY TIME you change their diaper? no thanks, not for me.

Grovia: i don't really know anything about these. but they have cool colors too. and a lot of mamas really like them. they seem kinda bulky though.

Fuzzibuns: another brand i was wanting to try. i've heard that they don't fit long and skinny babies {my babies}. but they have rad colors. and SNAPS! but i've read that they have moved their production to china and the quality of their diapers has decreased significantly.

::: how to care for cloth diapers :::

there are lots of rules with cloth diapers, especially washing them.
who knew, right?
one rule is that you can't use normal diaper cream on cloth diapers. it stains the diaper and isn't good for them. so you have to buy special "cloth diaper safe" creams. OR use your normal diaper cream and use a liner of some sort as a barrier between your baby and the diaper. people say that most cloth diapered babies don't get rashes, but some still do.

when you buy new cloth diapers, they have to be "prepped." this means they have to be washed a few times before they're ever used.
{if you're buying them used, i suggest stripping them or putting a cup of vinegar in the detergent dispenser. sometimes yeast can live in the diaper and you don't want that!! no matter what you do, rinse, rinse, rinse!!}

now the diaper is dirty, what do you do?

if it's just pee, then put it in a lidded trash can lined with a big wet bag. if it's poo, use a diaper sprayer and spray it off into the toilet. if your baby is on solids, a spray may not be necessary. i use disposable, flushable liners in the girls' diapers when i think they're going to go poo. they look like dryer sheets. they're a lifesaver!

 ok, now it's time to wash the diapers.

i wash every other day or every two days.
you will probably have to buy different detergent to wash your cloth diapers than you use to wash your normal clothes.
some of the most popular detergents are: charlie's soap, rockin green and original tide.
all powder.
there are LOTS of other kinds of soap, but these are the three i see mentioned {and sworn by} the most.
do not use fabric softener on the diaper cover or insert.
it'll mess them up.
i don't really now how {detergent build up? PUL breakdown?}, but i'm a good girl and listen to my research.
so i don't do it.

now it's time to dry them.

some people put the diaper covers and liners in the dryer on low. to prolong the life of your diaper covers, i suggest air drying them. use a drying rack inside or a clothesline outside. you'll want a clothesline to sun bleach someday, so just set one up from the very beginning.
this is what mine looks like:

i'm so fancy.
i dry the liners in the dryer.
almost all of the time.

so why am i doing this???

sweet stella has sensitive skin and i'm sick of spending so much money on disposables.
that's the main reason.
it's an added benefit that it's good for mother earth.
i may be using more water, but i have a very efficient washing machine and a littlelittlehouse with a littlelittleyard so i hardly use a lot of water anyways.
we'll still use disposables at times, i'm sure, but they won't be our primary diaper.
AND i can sell these cloth diapers when i'm done with them!!
you can literally sterilize them, so it's totally not gross to sell them or buy used ones.
sure, you may spend a few hundred up front, but you'll get a couple back {if not more!} when you're done!
that's if you take care of your diapers, which i plan on doing.

so i'm saving money, my girls wear cute and soft diapers and i'm helping mother earth.
it's a win for everyone.
but hopefully i'll be able to potty train the twinnies by the time the new babe is big enough to fit into these diapers.
cloth diaper folk say that cloth diapered babies potty train sooner than disposable diapered babies because they can really feel when they're wet.
wouldn't that be nice?
to only have one in diapers and not three?
i'm dreaming, i know.

so, that's it.
i've used cloth diapers at night and i kinda don't like it.
they get really stinky and i have to add an extra liner {a super absorbent hemp one} so the girls don't wake up wet.
i just prefer to put them in a big disposable that i can just toss.
so i guess we're hybrid disposible/cloth diaper people.
i kinda wish we had started using them sooner, but hindsight is 20/20, ya know?
at least i have them now for the next baby!

i hope you learned something!
and perhaps made it a little less daunting and confusing!


  1. my friend Amber used cloth with her 3 babies and loved them. i used them a few times with Dupree but i didnt have the money upfront to invest in them. also..having only one baby it would have been kind of a waste of money because i would have never used them again.

  2. I'm glad to see you are liking the cloth and that you got the disposable liners... I told you those things were awesome!

  3. I just about cried reading this. Thank you SO MUCH! I'm a newbie to cloth diapering and mothering and had no idea what I was doing and the acronyms were scaring the crap out of me! I was starting to get really overwhelmed. So, if I could kiss you, I would. Thank youuuuu!

  4. This was oh so very helpful! Thank you. I was set on gdiapers but now I will look a bumgenius again!

  5. Thank you for this post! I found this through Google and I love the breakdown you gave! I have an almost three year old boy that will hopefully soon be potty trained and a 9 month old daughter who I'm sure will be in diapers for quite some time. I absolutely hate buying disposables and have been thinking about using cloth for our youngest when we're at home. Both my kids go to daycare while I'm at work and I wouldn't want to impose this new idea on our provider so I would just use this for evenings and weekends. Doing research really has confused the heck out of me but this post really helped sort things out a little better for me! Thanks a ton!


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