This one scared me. Cloth wipes were one thing, but having to spray or scrape poop off a piece of fabric at least once a day had me less then thrilled.
The first day of using cloth diapers reminded me of starting a diet, in that I wanted to quit after the first 2 hours. But unlike starting a new diet, I did not, and have not quit using cloth diapers!
Environmental impact of disposable diapers:
- 20 billion diapers are dumped in landfills each year, which translates to 3.5 million tons of waste.
- 200,000 trees are used each year in the manufacturing of diapers as well as 3.5 billion gallons of fuel
- Disposable diapers require 20 times more raw materials, two times more water and three times more energy to make then cloth diapers
But here is where things get a little fuzzy… Some people debate that disposable diapers and cloth diapers use the same amount of natural resources when you take into account the energy and water required to clean cloth diapers and the toxic waste from the detergent. However, I think this depends on the way you wash them, how many you have and the kind of reusable diaper you use.
- Most washers are energy star certified and you can choose the load size so you don’t waste water.
- You can hang your cloth diapers to dry instead of using the dryer.
- When washing cloth diapers you only want to use a small amount of detergent (probably about a teaspoon).
- Buy a 2-3 day supply of cloth diapers or inserts so you are not washing everyday.
Ultimately it’s up to you to decide but in my opinion, cloth diapers win for most economically and environmentally friendly hands down!
Choosing a cloth diaper:
There are so many options when it comes to cloth diapers which can be a little daunting at first. Here is a rundown of your most common cloth diaper lingo.
Duo: Can either be used as an all-in-one or an all-in-two. These diapers have a slit where an insert can be stuffed in to make it an “all-in-one” or the insert can sit on top of the diaper to make it an all-in-two.
All-in-one: There are no inserts required with all-in-one diapers. Once the diaper becomes soiled, it goes into the laundry.
All-in-two: The diaper and the insert are separate. When the insert becomes soiled, but the diaper is still clean, then only the insert needs to be washed.
One size: These diapers can accommodate babies from newborn to potty training. They generally have snaps that you can use at different settings to get the right fit.
Sized: The diapers come in different sizing depending on the weight of your baby.
When trying to decide which cloth diaper to get you need to consider what is best for you financially, and what makes sense for your family. I decided on these one size duo diapers since they were one size so I only had to purchase them once then they would fit from 7lbs-38lbs, and they had the ability to either use the liner on top which is convenient for around the house, or stuff the liner in the diaper when your out.
Since I decided on a duo diaper, they would require inserts. More decisions; Hemp, bamboo, microfiber, blend, 1 layer, 2 layer, 3 layer, booster. Yikes!! Here is what I know about inserts.
- Hemp vs. bamboo, I honestly don’t know if there is a difference (most expensive)
- Blend; bamboo, cotton and fleece (mid range)
- Microfiber requires a layer over it such as this since microfiber is not good to have against babies sensitive skin. I was told that it is very absorbent. (least expensive)
- 1 layer vs. 2 layer vs. 3 layer, pretty self explanatory.
- Booster, for when babies get a little older and need more protection
Whew, are you still with me?! Good, cause now we get into the fun stuff, cleaning!
Cleaning your cloth diapers
Before you use your diapers or liners, if they are made of natural materials such as bamboo, hemp or cotton, it is recommended that you wash and dry them 3-4 times before you use them to make them more absorbent. These materials contain natural oils that coat fleece (which cloth diapers usually have) and make the fleece not absorbent.
You can use a plastic bag or container next to your change table to put wet or soiled diapers and liners in, or you can buy a wet bag which come in all different sizes and fun designs. There is no need to keep diapers in a wet pail.
Younger babies solid waste can either be sprayed (with a diaper sprayer like this one) or scraped off with a utensil of your choosing. I know this sounds really gross, but just slap on some rubber gloves, get er’ done, then wash your hands after. Older babies solid waste can usually just be shaken off into the toilet.
When the diapers and inserts are ready for washing, you will need to do a cold rinse first, then a hot wash with very little detergent (like probably a teaspoon at the most), then follow up with another rinse to get out all the detergent. Do not use baby soaps or natural oil based detergents on your diapers or inserts. These are the brands that are recommended to be used with the cloth diapers and inserts.
- Allen’s Naturally
- Country Save
Then you can either hang to dry or dry on medium heat.
And there you have it folks! If you are skeptical about commiting to cloth diapers, I suggest purchasing one or two diapers and a few inserts (if applicable) then try it for a week. I honestly think you will be surprised at how easy it is, how good you feel about not contributing as much waste to our landfills and how much money you will be saving by using cloth diapers (especially if you use them for more then one baby). I feel guilty now when I use disposable diapers, which I still use overnight and when we go out.
There are many brands of cloth diapers out there, some of the top brands in Canada are GDiapers, AMP Diapers, GroVia and Peachy Baby. The washing instructions above are for all AMP diapers and likely other brands as well, but be sure to check if the brand you chose has any special washing instructions to maintain any warranties and keep the integrity of your diaper for a long time!