Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Love/Hate Relationship With Cloth Diapering

Let's talk about diapers.

...Oh no, did I lose you already?

Let me begin by stating that I couldn't care less what others choose, cloth or disposables, I just want to share my experiences with cloth diapering thus far.
(One of the few pictures of Little m in her cloth dipes. Must take more!)

While I was pregnant I did a whole lot of research on cloth diapers. I knew right away that I wanted to use cloth because of one reason - saving moolah. Yes, cloth is better for the environment, even when you factor in the water and electricity used to wash them. Yes, cloth is softer, gentler, and free of the yucky chemicals you can find in disposables. Yes, fluffy butts are freakin' adorable. Leaks and blowouts almost never occur. There are a variety of compelling reasons why some may choose cloth over disposables, but for me, what really swayed me were the dollar signs I saw flashing in front of my eyes.

I've kept a handy dandy spreadsheet to record my cloth diapering costs and to date, my grand total is $439. That covers diapers from newborn to potty training. And remember that for my next child/ren I won't have to buy another diaper. Ever. Isn't that awesome? I have easily covered my costs and then some.

Now a few things... the diapers I have for the newborn stage were all bought used. Gross? Well, no, not to me, but to some, perhaps. They were in EEUC (excellent excellent used condition - I can now speak diaper talk with the best of them) and looked brand new. I bought most of the others online during Black Friday sales or on clearance. I lucked out.

I rotate through 15 diapers and do laundry every other day. I have never run out of diapers but I do have a few back up prefolds with covers (similar to something our parents would have used) just in case. I actually bought three additional diapers which USPS lost and won't refund me for (don't even get me started) but I'm more than happy with the 15 that I have.

This is turning into a novel, sorry.

Everything was going swell for months and months and if anyone asked, I recommended cloth diapers 110%. Then around Christmastime, the stank began. Which in turn, is when my love/hate relationship developed.

For a few weeks, the diapers were just incredibly stinky. They smelled clean after washing but as soon as Little m peed, they reeked to high heavens. Got stinkier every day. I couldn't figure it out. Then the most awful thing happened. Little m got burned by the build up of ammonia in the diapers. Awful, awful rash. Bad mommy. Tears. Frustration. Hours spent googling how to defunkify cloth diapers. A solid month of battling ammonia buildup caused from too much detergent being used. Repeated washings turning into all day laundry. It was terrible. Finally, just when I was about to give up and throw the diapers away, I figured out a washing routine that got rid of the funk for good.

But, now I am totally getting burned out on laundry. It eats up about half a day, every other day of my life. What makes laundry difficult is that I share a washer and dryer with 3 other units and therefore, it's not always available when I want it. Also, one of my neighbours is bat shit crazy, so that doesn't help matters much when I have to deal with her. The laundry's located in the basement which is a number of flights of stairs down. Because I am scared to death of ammonia buildup occurring again, here is my crazy laundry routine: light cold water wash (first trip up and down), heavy hot wash (second trip up and down), warm rinse (third trip up and down), another warm rinse (fourth trip up and down), low heat dry (fifth trip up and down). And because one cycle in the dryer isn't quite long enough, I hang the diaper inserts to dry overnight in our apartment. Plus, the washer is horrible and gets off balance so I have to do extra spins all the time. Wow. I am tired just thinking about it.

So yeah, cloth is great.. most of the time. Even with the funk and the excessive laundry, the pros outweigh the cons and I love Little m's fluffy butt. I'm still very happy with our decision to use cloth. I love talking cloth diapers, so if you have any questions, just ask!


  1. Its interesting that when I was a baby my mother had to deal with cloth diapers but when my kids were born the technology had advanced to disposable. For anyone of my mom's age, this technology was akin to the sliced bread - best invention - ever! So when choosing what diapers to use with my kids, my mother would have shook me senseless if I had chosen anything but this modern fantastic time-saving invention known as the disposable. So I did.

    And honestly have never even used a cloth diaper till I diapered Little M.

    And they're cute. But man oh man, they are alot of work.

  2. It is interesting indeed. But can you imagine what the landfills would look like if disposables were never invented? The convenience of disposables is awesome, but for a price (environmental and $$). Isn't that how it works for mostly everything these days?!

  3. Just for fun I did some calculations. Geez, M must be rubbing off on me...

    Using 15 diapers every other day for a year comes to 2738 diapers. Say your child is potty trained at age 2 (not likely). That's 5476 diapers for each child you have (and let's get real here -it's more like 15 diapers every single day for a newborn).

    The cheapest diapers I can find are around 20 cents each on Amazon (I'm sure you can find cheaper for no name brands, but let's say 20 cents average as the bigger sizes do get more expensive).

    That comes to $1150 for diapering each child until they're two.

    I think I got myself a deal at less than $450 for all of diapers I'll ever need! And considering I don't pay for the water or electricity used for my laundry, even better!

  4. Whew!! Lots of money saved. I never did the calculation but I never used disposables for any of my four kids. I remember hours of putting the diapers into a huge diaper pail with vinegar and water and then getting your dad to dump it into the laundry tub when the diaper pail was full and then wringing each one out and shaking them open and putting them in the washer. They came out super clean every time. After they dried your dad and I would sit and fold them all. Oh yes, we used diaper pins too. Always had a bar of soap handy to stick the pins into so that they would slide easily. I don't think I ever picked any of your butts with the pins... lol And, rubber pants... I almost forgot about those. But, you guys never had diaper rashes.

    Luckily I didn't have to go up and down the stairs five times like you do. And I know what it is to go up and down your stairs to the laundry room. For your sake, I wish the light would go on sooner when going down the last set of stairs... kinda dark there.

    And guess what? I'm still using the diapers as dusting cloths. They are the best!!

  5. lol - I'm just remembering someone bought me cloth diapers as a shower gift when I was pregnant with M - I used them as burping cloths - always had one on my shoulder to catch the spit up ;)

    But yes obviously its economical and environmentally friendly and good for you!

    However, the fact that M has got you using spreadsheets is information that must never be shared with Brad. He'd be so jealous that M has rubbed off on you and he has failed in 34 years to have had any affect on me ;)

  6. what your mom said Jilly...that was the way to go..neither of my kids had disposables either...and the diaper pail with vinegar and water, forgot all about that but yup thats what we did...