Cloth diapers are easy. And before you look at me like I’m a tree hugging nut, it really is VERY easy. And cheap. And if you know me, I like cheap and easy.
I know that you’re thinking…
1) Eww, gross! Who wants to touch pee and poop?
2) How can that possibly be convenient or easy?
3) How is it possibly sanitary to wash pooped out diapers in the washer machine?
4) Eww, gross! Pee and poop!
It is amazing how quickly adults can revert to a squeamish and whiny child-like state over pee and poop, especially non-parents. Trust me, kids, once you’ve had either a dog, cat, or baby, poop, pee, vomit, and other bodily fluids are just another drop in the bucket. Not to mention, if you’ve had a couple nights of debauchery that ended with someone hugging the porcelain throne, you can totally handle cloth diapering. It ain’t that bad. When it comes to babies, if they have a giant, up-the-back-down-the-legs poop, better known as a “blowout”, a disposable diaper won’t cut it any better than a cloth diaper. As a matter of fact, I have a cloth diaper that I use that has contained BETTER than a disposable. For reals.
Types of Cloth Diapers
They’ve got cloth diapers for every taste and level of comfort. There are the old school diapers, or “pre-folds” that are the type that most people envision when they think cloth. They are versatile and lend themselves to many different diapering methods. The neat thing about these types of diapers is that we no longer have to use giant safety pins. There are neat ways of securing folded diapers on your little one, or you can do what I do and use it as a giant insert in a diaper liner. There are lovely contoured diapers that look just like a diaper or fleecy diapers that close with snaps. All of these lovely cloth options allow you to accessorize your baby’s bottom with colorful waterproof covers. There are even all in one diapers that function just like a disposable diaper, except you can wash them. I won’t expound at length on the different types of cloth options out there, it would just be overwhelming. My advice would be to educate yourself, pace yourself, find a cloth diaper user, and pick their brain. My personal favorite is the Bum Genius OS cloth diaper by Cotton Babies.
I’ll admit it. I was a bit put back by the idea of washing poopied and pee-peed diapers in my washer. That can’t possibly be sanitary, can it? Everything in my brain kept pointing towards the idea that I would be contaminating my washer with E. coli and other nasty bacteria. As luck would have it, it turns out that my washer was already contaminated with E. coli and other nasties from our regular laundry alone. Did you know that? Did you know that your underwear and your DH’s underwear (especially, because boys are way gross…racing stripes wasn’t just a movie) can contaminate your washer and that you ought to sanitize your washer often? I surely didn’t know that and was slightly grossed out by that. I’m sure you’re wondering where I got that little gem of information. And I’ll tell you that it was precisely generally one of those 20/20 shows or something. Don’t believe me? Google it. The moral of this story is that cloth diapers aren’t going to turn your washer into a breeding ground for bacteria because it already is one thanks to you and yours. Sanitize your washer regardless!
Laundering cloth diapers is hardly rocket science. I wash a load of diapers every other day. They do take a little extra care, but it is well worth the time. And as my mom says, “At least you don’t have to take your laundry down to the river and beat it against a rock.” Technology is a real time saver. I breastfeed my kiddo and the neat thing about exclusively breastfed kids in cloth diapers is that the poop is water soluble. Basically, I just take my dipes and load them in the washer, put them through a cold cycle to rinse out all of the junk, and then put them through a hot cycle with a pre-wash and extra rinse. I line dry the covers and put the liners in the dryer. You do have to use cloth diaper friendly laundry detergent. My two favorites are Rockin’ Green and CountrySave.
Easy, right? Now here’s the cheap part.
Cloth Diapers = Money Saved
If you use cloth diapers, you can stand to save about $2000 from birth to potty training. A big box of diapers costs about $29.99 plus tax. At the infant stage, you can stand to go through about 2-2.5 boxes a month. Using 2 as the multiplier and 6.5% as the tax rate, you’re looking at about $1533 over the span of two years. If potty training extends an extra year, add an additional $700 to that…running about $2200 in diapers alone. And I bet you’re not adding in the costs on wipes. I decided to use washable wipes, which are basically little washcloths. Combine the washable wipe and a little squirt bottle filled with water and I save more money. So here it is. A box of wipe refills containing four refill packages can run between $7-$11 each and will last you about 2 months each if not less. Using that figure, that is an additional $84-$132 for two years. On the low end you’ll save about $1500 and on the high end about $2200! Amazing!
So far, I’ve spent $350 for 24 pre-fold diapers, 4 diaper covers, 8 pocket diapers, and 24 reusable wipes, and a dry bag for dirty diapers. I may add a couple of more pocket diapers, maybe another 8 or so at a cost of $20 each, or $160 total. I will spend no more than $550-$600 total to diaper my child from birth to potty training. How awesome is that? And, get this, because I breastfeed, I save an additional $1200 a year on top of that. Between breastfeeding and cloth diapering I’ll have saved about $2700 or more.
Update: I initially wrote this post in the Fall of 2010 when La Rubia Peligrosa (my youngest) and I started our journey in the world of cloth. I am happy to announce that she’ll be 20 months old on March 2 and is still happily in cloth.
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