I’ve had several friends over the past couple weeks ask me about cloth diapers. I’ve shared my past posts with them (here and here) in the hopes that they can get a start on navigating the cloth diaper world. I’ve also linked them to the FB group that I admin with a friend of mine so they can be part of CD conversations and get some questions answered.
However, after an extensive conversation with a friend today that is looking into cloth, I realized that cloth diapering goes beyond the actual diaper. It can seem like so much when first starting with cloth, from rash creams, to laundry detergent, cloth wipes, wipe solution, wet bags…and so on. Once you get started in cloth it really all flows, just like anything else with a baby.
So, here’s some information that is beyond the diaper:
Cloth diapers need to be absorbent to be effective (duh! right?), but the traditional detergents that you buy at the grocery store have so many additives in them that they can interfere with the absorbency of cloth. Even the free and clear brands have additives that are not good for cloth. The last thing you want to do is spend money on diapers to have them fail because of the wrong detergent, that’s just frustrating. There are specific cloth diaper detergent brands that you can buy (mostly online) that are completely safe for your diapers and can be used on your clothes (so there really is no need for more than one type of detergent, but that is a personal preference). We use Rockin Green or we’ve used bumGenius brand detergent (because when you buy bumGenius diapers they send you detergent samples…yay!). There are other brands out there that are safe for cloth, you may want to check reviews and see what kind of water you have (hard, soft, etc.). I’ve also used Original Tide powder, which has been considered safe for cloth diapers.
Related to detergent is dryer sheets, they are not recommended as they can leave a build-up on your diapers and interfere with absorbency. Wool dryer balls are a great substitute for dryer sheets, they can be used with all laundry and can cut drying time in half (bonus!).
Diaper Rash Creams
As with detergent, there are certain brands that are safe for cloth. Most of the traditional brands that you may be used to seeing, probably are not safe for cloth (Desitin, A&D ointment, Boudreaux’s Butt Paste), they can interfere with absorbency since they do not wash out of the diaper. You’ll definitely want to do some research on rash creams. I used this site when I first was researching rash creams (and detergents actually). We currently use California Baby (bought in store at Target), Grandma El’s (bought online through Target), or Angel Baby Bottom Balm (bought in store at Wegman’s). We just started using the Angel Baby Bottom Balm and so far, I really like it. I’ve also heard that coconut oil works great as bum cream, but when we tried it M got a rash from the coconut oil, so, that was out for us. For the record, you probably won’t be using the cream very often anyway. Most people experience fewer issues with diaper rash with cloth than disposables. We put a layer of cream on before bed and at the first sign of any redness. We’ve only ever had 2 issues with rashes in the past 14 months of exclusive cloth diapering (coconut oil over a year ago, and this past week which I plan to write another post about soon).
To store diapers, you may want to use a wet bag. We have 2-3 smaller ones in the diaper bag (this way when one is in the wash, we have an extra) and 2 that we use as pail liners (again, one to use, one to wash). They come in all sorts of styles, colors, and sizes. We currently have 3 Planet Wise wet bags and 2 Bummis large pail liners. It’s more than enough and we’re very happy with both brands. One of my DIY goals is to make a wet bag myself…we’ll see if that ever happens.
You may or may not choose to have an actual pail. Some people just use a large wet bag to store soiled diapers in with no pail. We go that route when we’re airing out our diaper pail. There is no reason to get fancy with the pail, if you choose to use one. We have a large kitchen garbage can (with a foot pedal) that we line with the Bummis pail liner. But, you can buy cloth diaper specific pails, do some research, you’ll find what works for you.
We used disposable baby wipes for the longest time. Honestly, the thought of using cloth wipes just didn’t occur to me at first and then it just seemed like it would be one more thing to confuse our already stressful lives. Once things started to settle down with M’s medical concerns and I got tired of our dog eating all the poopy wipes (gross!), I decided I was ready to attempt cloth wipes. I don’t know why I didn’t do it before! I paid nothing for our wipes, I cut up an old receiving blanket and then got some flannel from my mother-in-law and just sewed my own. I hadn’t sewn since middle school home ec class and these were a breeze (found a video tutorial online). However, there are several sites that sell cloth wipes, and they are not expensive. I have probably about 25 wipes, it’s enough to get us through until I do laundry again, but we do have disposables on hand for the diaper bag.
If you use cloth wipes you’ll want a wipe solution. This can be as simple as water or as complex as several ingredients mixed with water to make wipe solution. The presentation is personal preference, a spray bottle, pre-moistened wipes in a container, etc. We use a spray bottle that has a small amount of baby wash and oil (currently grape seed oil, in the past shea butter oil). We spray the wipe, wipe the bum, done. The diaper and the wipe goes in the pail (just like with disposable diapers/wipes).
This is not an essential CD item. We have one and I’m very glad that we do, but it’s certainly not essential. The diaper sprayer easily attaches to your toilet’s plumbing (no plumber or plumbing experience required, it’s super easy to install), you spray the poopy diapers down the drain (where human waste should go), store in the pail until laundry day. As poops become solid the sprayer will get used less and less. I find that I do a toilet swish more frequently now, rather than spraying. Exclusively breastfed baby poo is water soluble so does not have to be rinsed first, it will rinse away in the washer (no, you will not have poop in your washer), we still rinsed though, personal preference.
I think those are the biggies when it comes to accessories beyond the diaper. It seems like a lot and cost wise, you may be thinking that all the additional costs just aren’t worth it. But, believe me, it’s worth it. And in the end, you’re still saving by using cloth diapers. Here is a link to an article I found recently that reviews all the hidden costs of cloth diapering, in the end, the estimates are still cheaper than disposables, and the biggest bonus is saving the environment and keeping thousands of disposable diapers and human waste out of our landfills, not to mention cloth diapers are super cute!