Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Making the Switch to Cloth Diapers

When we lived in Upstate NY, we were able to get disposable diapers really cheap. There was a BJ's Wholesale store nearby (think Sam's, Costco, etc) and they sold Luv's diapers for $25.99 for a pack of 280. Since we were members, they also sent us $5.00/off coupons, which brought the diapers down to $20.99, which means we were paying roughly 7 cents per diaper. We were also generously blessed in the diaper department when William was a newborn, so for the first 3ish months of his life I don't even think we bought diapers because we had such a great stockpile of them already.

Fast-forward to our move to Tennessee. William was about 10 months old and there wasn't a BJ's around to get the great diaper deals, so we (and by we, I mostly mean Nathan's mom) started clipping coupons and scouring the stores for the best prices. Again, we managed to build quite the stockpile of diapers that were relatively inexpensive. 

However, since we didn't really have a "steady" source for cheap diapers, and because we've also tried really hard this past year to become more environmentally conscious in our home, we knew we needed to research some alternatives. 

I had done some research into cloth diapering before William was born (mostly all-in-ones), and discovered that the upfront cost was quite expensive but after the initial plunge you recoup your costs pretty quickly. But around 14 months I started doing some more extensive research on allll the options out there. Mainly, because I'd heard some of my mom friends talk about how long-lasting (and cheap!) pre-folds are. 

After more research on the specific brands and kinds of pre-folds and covers, we finally bought our first pack of cloth diapers and started using them for William. We've been using them about four months now, so I thought I'd give an update on how things are going so far, break down the cost, and list some of the pros and cons I've discovered. 

So without further adieu, let's talk about poo! ;)

What supplies did we buy to cloth diaper?

When we first purchased the Osocozy better fit prefolds, I thought that they were the prefolds that you use with the Snappi. To give you an idea, it would look like this:

But once we got them in the mail and I read all of the reviews on Amazon, I realized the "better fit" prefolds are the kind you don't need Snappi's for - you just simply fold them and place them in your diaper cover. It looks like this:

At first I was a little nervous because it just seems less "secure" that way, but now that we've been using them like this for four months I can honestly say I prefer it this way. It's one less step in the diapering process, and we've rarely had any leaks (and just so you know, William is a BIG wetter so that's saying a lot).

Speaking of leaks, we originally purchased the Thirsties Hemp Inserts for overnight protection, but as I said, William is a big wetter, and we were still finding him soaked through in the morning. So, for now, we're still using overnight disposables until I find a better option (or until he's potty trained for night time sleep). We love the Huggies Overnight kind - they are the only ones we've found that hold up for 12 hours. 

We were also trying out the Hemp Inserts for nap time and that was working well until we dropped William down to 1 nap/day. His one nap is about 3 hours long, so the Hemp Inserts weren't holding up again and we switched to disposables for nap time too. 

So we still use 1 regular disposable per day for his nap and 1 overnight disposable per night, which I don't love but it's what works so we're sticking to that for now. We also use disposables when William goes to the church nursery on Sundays (he's in there from 9:30-12:00, so we don't want the nursery workers hassling with cloth diapers), and whenever we leave him with a sitter, grandparents, or at childcare when we're at the gym, or twice a month when I go to MOPS. So, when it's all said and done I'd say we're using cloth diapers about 80% of the time, which is really helping costs and helping us feel better about not putting more junk into a landfill somewhere. 

Now that we've covered our supplies, let's talk about the nitty gritty of cleaning those bad boys!

How do we clean our cloth diapers? Is it a hassle?

We've heard lots of people rave about the "diaper sprayer" - you basically connect it to your toilet and use it as a sprayer to get rid of the poo from the diapers before you wash them. However, we never purchased one and are still doing just fine without one. Not to be too detailed, but if your baby has "softer" or "runnier" poo then I could definitely see where the sprayer would be handy, but as babies get older and into toddler age their poo tends to be a lot like adult poo, which is very easy just to "shake" into the toilet. Once the new baby arrives, we might reassess whether we need one of these but for now we're doing fine without it. 

I read online somewhere that once you've gotten the poo off of the diaper, instead of just placing it into your pail, it's best to soak the diaper completely with water and then ring out the excess water and THEN place the diaper in your pail (it's supposed to cut down on the stains that might set in). So far, this has worked wonderfully for us and we don't have any stains on ours.

And this brings me to the importance of using a swing lid pail. At first, we were using a pail from Ikea that closed tight, but things just started smelling really badly. One of my friends recommended getting the swing lid type and sprinkling some Baking Soda in the bottom, and since we've been doing this the smell has disappeared. 

Speaking of smells, I also wipe down the diaper cover (after each wet and/or poopy diaper), and then spray the poopy diaper covers with Odor Ban before putting them in the wash. **Note: you don't want to use any type of stain/odor remover on the actual prefolds unless it's specifically for cloth diapers, but with the covers you can use pretty much anything!** 

With the covers that have just been used with a wet diaper, I will wipe those down with a baby wipe or cloth and then reuse it for the next change. After a few changes, if it starts to smell then I'll toss it in the wash (this is why we only bought 6 covers and that has worked well for us so far). 

Overall, the process of "cleaning up" after you've changed a dirty diaper is a bit more lengthy than just tossing it in the trash can, but it hasn't become a hassle at all. We've actually developed quite a little system, and have all of our supplies (pail, odor ban, wipes, etc) right in William's bathroom which is conveniently next to our laundry room. It makes things very easy! 

So what's the verdict? Here's my take on using cloth diaper prefolds + covers vs disposables.

  •  Cheaper in the long run (for $168, we bought all the cloth diapering supplies we'll need to keep William in diapers from 14 months old - 3 years old. We will also use these supplies for his future siblings. If we were using disposables, $168 would have bought us about 8 boxes of Luv's Diapers in Upstate NY, which would have lasted us about 1 year, 4 months and obviously no option of reusing them for future siblings.) 
  • Easy to use - you simply just plop the prefold in the cover and snap it up. 
  • Long-lasting - we have heard of other brands/types of cloth diapers that overtime start pilling, stripping, or just generally breaking down. Ours still look and feel brand new. I wash them in HOT water and then dry them on LOW heat in the cold months but when it's warm or sunny out I do let them line dry and I think that really helps to maintain the newness. 
  • Less waste - we feel like this is the biggest "pro" of using cloth diapers. We have no trash pickup out here in the country and it is a big "wake up call" to show you just how much you throw out when you're the one hauling it all to the dump/landfill each week. We have tried really hard since moving here to cut down on our waste through things like cloth diapers, composting, and reusing what we can. 
  • If you have a big wetter (like I do), chances are cloth diapering will not solve the leaking issues. However, I feel confident as William gets a bit older and drinks less milk that we might have less problems in this area and will be able to go back to using the inserts. 
  • A little more time consuming - between washing out, rinsing, and laundering, cloth diapering does take some extra time, but I stay at home so it really isn't that big of an inconvenience for me. I usually throw a load in every 3-4 days (this is why I ordered 2 dozen - I love having so many so that I don't have to launder as often).
  • An upfront cost - forking out $168 at once for some diapers seemed like a lot, but if you save and budget for it, then it's less of a shock when you initially purchase. And bonus! Most places offer free shipping when you spend that much, so at least you don't have that cost to pay for. 
All in all, we're so happy we made the switch! If you're considering cloth diapering, I'd love to answer any questions you have - it's an investment, but one we feel very good about making.  


  1. What brand of laundry detergent do you use for washing your diapers?

    1. We use Purex Free and Clear. I have heard that most cloth diapering companies recommend Tide or a special detergent made specifically for cloth diapers, but we've had the Purex F&C on hand and it has been working great.

  2. So glad you are enjoying cloth diapering. We made the switch a month after having our toddler and we really liked it too. I started with the prefolds, but since we couldn't get the grandparents (aka frequent babysitters on board) I sold those and bought the pocket ones. Glad you're doing well with the prefolds! The covers are so cute!

    Not sure what your plans on for baby 2, but if you're just going to nurse him for however long, then there's no need to spray the poo at all until solid foods/formula! So far I haven't had to do anything with C's diapers except throw them in the wash. Just an extra bonus. Hope you guys are doing better now!

  3. It had been a long time since we switched to cloth diapers. They are convenient for the babies and most of all, they are cheaper than disposable diapers. Thank you for bringing out the pros and cons of both type of diapers.

    Patria Jase


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