July 13, 2011
10. A travel-sized wetbag. This is a waterproof bag that can be washed. It will hold all your dirty diapers while you are out and about and usually does a really good job of containing the smell as well.
9. A re-usable diaper pail liner. Pail liners not only save you money on trash bags, they also help save the environment. When your diaper pail fills up and it's time for a wash, all you have to do is pull it out of the pail and dump its contents, along with the bag, into the wash machine (turning it inside out on your arm like a glove). It gets washed right along with your diapers and is ready to go back in your pail when dry (and, most importantly, keeps you from having to touch dirty diapers on laundry day). I like to have at least 2 of these on hand so you can line the pail with one while the other is washing/drying. They are also really easy to make if you want to save some money on purchasing one (it's just a rectangle with elastic around the top edge).
8. Deodorizing disks. These are a lifesaver. I buy Arm & Hammer deodorizing disks from BabiesRUs, although I'm sure they have them at places like Walmart and Target. I drop them in my diaper pails, under the changing table, under my kitchen sink, behind the toilet... ok, I've gone a little crazy with them. They smell so good, I can't really help myself.
7. A back-up stash. Trust me, you never want to be stuck without a clean diaper in the house at changing time (like my girlfriend who recently put her son in a swim diaper because she realized they were all out. Ha!). Some days I blow through my inserts without a blink, and I need a backup. I have two options:
- I have a dozen unbleached prefolds that I tri-fold and place in my covers just like an insert. The fit and absorbency work just as well as any insert I have.
- I usually keep a stash of disposables, just in case. I normally have to turn to these when I'm all out of covers on laundry day, or if I happen to drop my daughter off somewhere where they are unfamiliar with cloth diapers.
6. Water softener. My hard water was causing some major stink buildup in my diapers, so I started using a water softener each time I ran a load of diapers. It made all the difference. Find out more about that here
5. An all-natural detergent. You have to be careful what you wash your diapers with. “Free & Clear” detergents are not recommended, but rather an all-natural option like Charlie's Soap, Rockin Green, Allens Naturally, etc. More on that here
4. Overnight doubler inserts: For a baby, 8-12 hours is a long time to go without a diaper change. During the first few months of cloth diapering, my baby woke up soaking wet every morning (which just about drove me crazy... washing sheets and pajamas everyday is not my idea of fun). So I started looking into other options and ended up purchasing some hemp doublers. These go in with her regular insert (so she is wearing two inserts total) and help with added absorbency. Now, leaky mornings are rare. I only had to buy 3 since I only use them at night and I launder every 2-3 days; so it was a small price to pay (literally) for my sanity.
3. Cloth wipes and spray bottle. When I first starting cloth diapering, I planned on using disposable wipes. For some reason, dirty cloth wipes seemed grosser to me than dirty cloth diapers. Why? I have no idea; new mommy insanity, I suppose. After a while, I realized it didn't make any sense to use disposables for 3 reasons: (1) It was a waste of money, (2) I would have more control over what chemicals touched her skin if I made my own solution, and (3) I was already washing cloth diapers so adding wipes to the load just made sense. After doing some research, I went the most economical way possible and made about a dozen wipes out of 2 old flannel receiving blankets that we no longer used, and wipes solution using water, baby soap, and olive oil (all placed in my postpartum spray bottle from the hospital). It didn't cost me a cent to make the transition, and I still use the same system. There are many, many ways to go about using cloth wipes (you can add essential oils to the solution, use different fabrics for wipes, put them pre-soaked into a wipes warmers, etc.), so it's just about trial and error until you find what you like (or how cheap you want to be!).
2. Biodegradable diaper liners. I use these diaper liners anytime I have to use diaper cream for a rash. If you get the cream on your cloth diapers, you will ruin their absorbency (since rash creams are meant to be liquid-resistant). The great thing about the liners are that they are biodegradable and, therefore, flushable. You can either throw them in the trash or the toilet. You could, of course, use these with every diaper, which makes poop clean-up a breeze; simply remove the liner and toss it in the toilet. Most of the time, your poopy diaper will remain fairly clean and not even need a spray down. However, if you are attempting to save money, using one for every diaper can get expensive. I quickly gave up on using them with every diaper change because I felt like it was useless with just a wet diaper.
And finally... the #1 thing you must own:
1. Diaper sprayer. A diaper sprayer attaches to your toilet and is an absolute must-have! Every time my daughter poops, I carry the diaper to the toilet, set it against the side of the bowl, and spray the mess off with the sprayer. Then I wring out the water and put it in the diaper pail. Besides eliminating mess, the benefits of the sprayer include no poop running through my wash machine, and no stink in the nursery since there's no poop in the pail. This tool is really what sets cloth diapering apart from back in the good ol' days when we were babies (how jealous do you think our moms are right now?).
You can find all of these items and more at Kelly's Closet
cloth diapering, going green
June 22, 2011
A while back, I was completely fascinated with a video I saw about the Johnson family in California who produce no waste. That's right, NO WASTE.
Think about that for a minute. That means that no packaged or processed foods are purchased by the family. All meat and cheese gets put into glass jars at the grocery store. All produce goes into mesh bags. There are no paper towels, no cotton balls, no kleenex, and, of course... no toilet paper.
Watch the video to learn more about this zero waste family:
While I know I will never be this extreme (still dwelling on that no toilet paper thing...), I was intrigued by some of her techniques.
I recently saw that Ecobags.com sells mesh produce bags, and I thought, what a simple way to begin reducing waste! I already use reusable shopping bags at the grocery store, so why not use mesh bags for produce instead of those plastic ones that I throw away as soon as I get home? The DIY-er in me is even wondering if I can find some cotton mesh fabric and sew some of these on my own...
It's not a giant leap, but definitely something to think about. I fear for the environment that my children and grandchildren will live in, so I do what I can to be eco-friendly now (like cloth diapering, using environmentally-safe cleaning products, not buying bottled water, etc.).
Besides, as Bea Johnson admits in the video, reducing your waste also saves you a ton of money; and who doesn't love that?
Visit the Johnson family blog: Zero Waste Home
June 16, 2011
If you haven't already, you may want to read How to cloth diaper: A step-by-step (Part I).
Moving right along...
How to cloth diaper: Step four
Handling dirty diapers
You have two options for storing your dirty diapers: a wet pail and a dry pail. Before I began cloth diapering, I read about several methods of storing dirty diapers until laundry day, and was worried that I would have to use a wet pail method to avoid smells (Note: A wet pail is a pail with a lid that contains some water and perhaps some essential oil to help with smell. The thought behind this method is that soaking the diapers will help reduce staining.). I quickly realized that this wasn't necessary since I didn't care if my diaper inserts stained (who was going to see them, after all?), and it seemed to me that the smell of standing water was going to be just as bad, if not worse, than dirty diapers in a dry pail. So I went with the dry pail method, and haven't turned back (a dry pail is just your average diaper pail; I made a reusable liner for it out of PUL, or polyurethane laminate – you can find this at your local craft/fabric store).
One of the best tools you can have when cloth diapering is a diaper sprayer. This handy little guy attaches to your toilet and sprays poop into the toilet, greatly reducing the mess factor.
Once I had all my tools in place, I came up with the following method for handling dirty diapers:
- Place directly into dry pail
- Poop sprayed into the toilet using diaper sprayer
- Ring water out
- Do the same with cloth wipes
- Place in dry pail
- Wash hands (ha, ha)
And there they sit until diaper laundry day, which happens every 2-3 days in my house (as most diaper companies recommend). I also keep an Arm & Hammer deodorizing disk (found at Babies R Us) in my diaper pail to help with stink.
How to cloth diaper: Step five
Washing your diapers
Washing your diapers is a bit of a trial and error process. Depending on your water, you will have to find a process that works specifically for you. I happen to have extremely hard water; hard water contains calcium and magnesium, which, if not rinsed away properly, can lead to build-up in diapers that cause odors. If you happen to have hard water where you live (Southern California has extremely hard water!), use a water softener like Calgon in your wash (find it at any grocery store). This made a HUGE difference for me in reducing odor in my dirty diapers.
You'll also have to find a detergent that you like. I ended up settling on Rockin Green Hard Rock formula (for hard water). I have also tried Charlie's Soap, Allens Naturally, and Tiny Bubbles; all of which are recommended by most diaper companies. It is important that you use an all-natural detergent free of scents for your diapers. I settled on Allens Naturally for all my regular laundry and really love it, but wanted something stronger for my diapers that was made for hard water. Rockin Green has worked best in terms of combatting the stink.
Once you've found a detergent that works, here is the recommendation by most retailers on how you should wash your diapers:
- Cold rinse (no detergent, set water level to large load)
- Hot wash with detergent (set water level to small load)
- Extra rinse on cold
After some trial and error, I eventually adjusted my washing routine to the following:
- Throw in diapers, covers, cloth wipes, and diaper pail liner (I dump everything in as I turn the pail liner inside out like a glove, so I don't even touch the diapers!)
- Cold rinse (no detergent, large load water level)
- Hot soak for about an hour with detergent, small load water level (fill wash machine with hot water, add detergent, agitate for a couple of minutes, then let soak). It can take up to 15 minutes for the detergent to bind with the calcium and magnesium in hard water, so the soak ensures that your detergent is doing the job it is meant to.
- Finish hot wash as is
- One more wash on warm, small load water level
Once you are done washing, you can place the diapers in the dryer, and hang the waterproof covers (and diaper pail liner, in my case) to dry.
How to cloth diaper: Step six
Maintaining your cloth diapers
Strip your diapers.
Over time, your diapers can build-up residue and begin to stink. For this reason, most diaper companies suggest you “strip” your diapers by running them through several loads without detergent (usually 4-6 hot washes). If you are experiencing problems with stink and stripping isn't doing the trick, try washing once with baking soda (1-3 tablespoons; use in place of detergent) or vinegar (¼ cup or less), which help break down residue build-up. You can also do periodic washes with bleach (1-2 tablespoons) if you use microterry inserts, although most diaper companies don't recommend it. I have never had to use bleach either, so unless you are at your wit's end, I wouldn't suggest it.
To get the most out of your waterproof covers (learn from my mistakes):
- Also line dry them instead of placing them in the dryer.
- Don't let them sit in hot water or soak with detergent for extended periods of time. Unfortunately, all of my original Flip waterproof covers deteriorated because of this. The plastic lining cracked and, therefore, were unusable because they would leak as soon as my daughter wet herself. I think this happened due to subjecting them to hot water temps and letting them sit and soak in detergent and water softener during step 2 of my washing routine. I spoke with the Flip Diaper company to determine where I went wrong, and they suggested the water temp on my water heater be set to below 100 degrees, while the Rockin Green website suggest water temp below 150 degrees. At any rate, the water temp is important. To protect my next diaper covers, I have adjusted my washing routine to remove the covers before soaking the diapers in the hot wash. I put them back in when I restart the hot wash; this way they are not subjected to scorching water and are not sitting in water softener and detergent for extended periods of time, which may also lead to breakdown of materials.
Have you got any tips or tricks that have worked for you? Please share!
cloth diapering, cloth diapering, going green