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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Using Cloth Diapers: The Reality

When we moved to this farmhouse I had this vision of myself in a vintage apron, hanging laundry out to dry on a beautiful clothesline. My children would be romantically running in and out of the sheets with the sun shining through. We did put up a line but we attached it to two trees and I had the joy of going to get my laundry to find the only creatures frolicking amongst the laundry were some ants  who had migrated down from the trees, curious as to what was hanging there. 

Then when I was pregnant with my fourth child I was researching cloth diapering and decided to give it a try. More images of me lovingly hanging things out to dry. Well, the reality of hanging the diapers on the line were a lot less romantic than imagined. Trying to fold and pin a cardboard hard fabric diaper on a squirming baby with myself sleep deprived was not what I had envisioned ! I guess our modern conveniences are just that and sometimes I glamorize the day to day life of the old days. 
21 months later however, I'm still using the cloth diapers even if I don't hang them on the line anymore.

Yes, it is harder washing the diapers  versus just throwing paper ones in the trash . All the diapers and covers are a big investment in the beginning and the high cost of water can make it not that much of a savings in the long run. It's just something I wanted to try. We have a well so I don't have to spend extra on the water to wash them so it's cheaper for our family. And it is satisfying to know there is soft organic cotton next to your babys' most delicate parts rather than paper diapers made in a factory God knows where. A fluffy cloth diapered behind is awfully cute too. Even if it does make your babies' butt look big. No skinny jeans for cloth diapered butts. Too much junk in the trunk!

 If you are considering making the switch to cloth diapers here are a few modern conveniences that make cloth diapers doable:
  1. Buy a diaper sprayer to attach to your toilet. You will need it to spray off solids into the toilet.
  2. Have a waterproof liner and trash can next to the toilet to put the dirty diapers in.
  3. Get the diaper covers with the snaps that are multi sized so you don't have to keep buying new covers as your baby grows. Also babies LOVE to undo their diapers once they figure out the velcro.
  4. Use Snappis instead of pins. They are a lot safer.
  5. Use Charlies Soap which gets all the smell out and doesn't leave any residue.
  6. When you wash the diapers do two cycles. The first is with cold water to rinse all the mess and the second is in hot water to clean them. Use a second rinse on the last cycle.
  7. Also don't feel guilty about using paper diapers when you are out of your house. It's really a hassle to cart stinky cloth diapers around, even if you do have a waterproof wet bag.


  1. I have 4 kids and never used cloth - it never appealed to me, and I have looked at the costs since I have a friend very much into using cloth, like yours on the line. I don't know that they are necessarily cheaper by the time you buy the nice cloth sets/accessories and the washing, versus store brand/sale disposable diapers. I have my littlest one still in diapers, but she only needs about 4-5 a day and my disabled child at 7 is in pullups. He uses about 3-4 a day, since he does attempt pottying, but in a wheelchair, it's tough to be unstrapped and moved in time. It's whatever works for you, IMO. Of course, the other two are past that, but I once had 3 in diapers at the same time. Cloth would have been a nightmare.

  2. Never thought I'd so enjoy reading about diapers.

  3. Really well written post :-) I never tried these either, but I do recall my mum when she had my sisters, and the unending washing cycles. But I must say you make a really strong argument for these, line or no line between tress to hang them from!

  4. I have 2 in diapers and we have saved a ton of money on cloth. We were spending around $100 a month on disposables. I wash every other day now and I spent less than $300 total on our stash. Its all about watching for sales just like anything else. I also make diapers out of recycled fabrics and use flour sack towels that are only $1 each. So it can be economically savvy to use cloth. Thanks for the tips!

    PS. I don't find lugging around the dirty diapers to be cumbersome. I just throw the wetbag in the diaper bag in place of the dry ones. Doesn't take up anymore of my space. But I know a lot of moms who use disposable liners in their diaper covers to avoid having to deal with the messes. Another option, perhaps?

  5. I love my cloth diapers!!! I actually started sewing because I knew I could make cloth diapers rather than buy them. Now we are on baby number three and I have over 40 diapers, most I made, others I bough from WAHM's. Its worth the investment to have them and to know that what you are putting on your babys bum isnt chemically enhanced!!! Great post, I truly enjoyed reading it :)


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