I can’t believe I’m cloth diapering

Anyone who knows me in real life knows I am not an earth-hugging hippie. To hell with “natural” products. I am a staunch believer in the miracles of modern science, and you can pry  my preservative-filled Tastykakes and DEET laden bug spray from my cold dead hands.

And now I’m cloth diapering, something labeled “too crunchy” for some of the crunchiest parents I know.

Why? Because my daughter is peeing us out of house and home. She can’t stand to be in a diaper that is even a tiny bit wet for any length of time. Other babies might pee two or three times between changes, but I’m throwing out 15+ diapers a day – most of which have only a tiny spot of pee on them. No there is nothing wrong with her, yes we asked her doctor. She just hates pee.

Hates. Pee.

Not only is this expensive (~ 20 cents per diaper), but it’s creating a horrifying mountain of waste. Even I, the prototypical consumer who is far too lazy to do things like compost, am disgusted by the amount of garbage we’re producing here. And so I embarked on a cloth diapering experiment.

After contemplating a dizzying array of options (prefolds! all in ones! pocket diapers!) I purchased a 6-pack of osocozy prefolds and one Thirsties Duo cover. Worst case, if I hate it I can use the prefolds as burp cloths and give the cover to a cloth diapering friend.

Diaper cover. Also, baby foot.

Using these is pretty simple: you place the prefold in the cover sort of like a maxi-pad, and then snap the cover around your baby just like you would a disposable diaper. I swap out the prefold every time Bitmap makes a mess of it, and give the cover a quick once-over with a baby wipe. If she’s made a huge mess or I’m out of clean prefolds, I chuck the cover in a plastic bag with the dirty prefolds and we’re back to disposables until I run the wash.

Diaper cover (green) + prefold diaper

So far it’s going pretty well. Since I’m already doing at least one load of laundry a day, throwing some diapers in with it is not a big deal. Because Bitmap is exclusively breastfed at this point, even her messy diapers aren’t too gross. They do however tend to stain the prefolds, which I’m told is just something I’ll have to get over.

Cloth Diaper
Snapped closed diaper

The initial investment was $22, so if we replace 4 disposables a day with cloth they’ll pay for themselves in about a month. Maybe a little sooner, since we use a Diaper Genie pail for the disposables, which requires special bags (yes, I know, we’re suckers).

An update!

As of mid-August, I’m still pretty stoked on part-time cloth diapering. On days we cloth diaper we’re saving 6 disposables, but I haven’t been cloth diapering every day.

The good news is Bitmap is spitting up a lot less, so I’m not doing her laundry constantly. But since I’m not willing to run the wash just for 6 cloth diapers it means we’re only using them every other day or so. This is fine, and it’s still a financial win. At 20 cents per disposable, I need to replace 110 disposables with cloth to break even.  At this rate I’ll hit that the first week of September.

As soon as I mentioned trying out cloth diapers, a friend offered up some prefolds and a cover her son had outgrown, thereby doubling my stash! So now I’ve got 12 prefolds and 2 covers. One thing I’ve noticed is that many people who like cloth diapers are really into cloth diapering, so if you want to try it out without making a huge investment check to see if any friends have diapers they’d be willing to pass on.

A few people have mentioned diaper services, but the ones I’ve checked out in my area aren’t any cheaper than disposables. The good news is they’re not any more expensive either. Since finances are a big part of why I’m doing it, it just doesn’t make a ton of sense for us. As Bitmap moves up in disposable sizes (and therefore prices) it might be more of a win, so I’ll reevaluate in a few months.

I don’t think I’ll ever do cloth full-time, for a handful of reasons. Disposables are a lot more convenient when we’re out and about, as well as overnight. There’s also the question of whether I’ll keep doing cloth once Bitmap starts eating solid food. I’m not so sure I’ll be dying to launder Serious Business myself. But even if we only get 3 months out of these 12 diapers, we’ll be saving 540 disposables from the landfill and about $86 cash. I’m going to consider that a huge win.

9 thoughts on “I can’t believe I’m cloth diapering”

  1. I do cloth diapers (partly because I am a crunchy hippy), but do disposables for overnight (with co-sleeping, I was tired of waking up in a puddle of urine every morning, although it still happens. O has some magnificent kidneys.) Also, although friends who did cloth for diaper rash reasons say traveling with them is no big deal, I did it once and can’t recommend it. Packing a laundry bag full of shit into my suitcase was not my idea of a good time. Once again, O and BitMap seem to be opposites, since he will happily stay in a diaper that is overflowing all over whomever’s holding him.
    If you don’t want the shit in your laundry, you can get a little hose that attaches to the toilet for rinsing the solid waste down the drain, although I stopped doing that when I realized the lady from the diaper service didn’t care. God, I love my diaper service…

  2. Oh, and I use the same diaper covers as you, so if you’d like the ones O has grown out of, I’m happy to pass them along.

    1. That would be great!

      I wanted to like co-sleeping, but both she and I sleep terribly next to each other (either in the same bed or with her in a cosleeper next to me). As soon as she started sleeping in her own room we went from 2-3 hour sleep stretches to 5+. It’s kind of nuts how different babies are right from the start.

  3. Hey! So, since you guys live locally.. I’ll send our guy’s info your way. He should deliver to your zip code. The low down — It’s a diaper service, ‘Baby’s Choice’ (see link below) and they pick-up and drop-off every Wednesday. (Which means you DON’T have to wash them AT ALL – that’s what got my vote) We currently pay $18 a week for 65 diapers. The less you use, the less you pay. I think the initial set up cost was $36 including a diaper pale, an air freshener, the diapers, and two diaper covers. Since you already have a diaper pale maybe you don’t need to use the type they offer. Just some food for thought….

  4. We cloth diapered two kids (same diapers for both) and sold them on eBay for 70% of what we paid for them. A couple tips:
    1) just set the, in the sun after washing. They’ll bleach rut out – even in winter. Also, don’t be afraid of a little bleach.
    2) don’t use disposable wet wipes. You can buy small wipes (flannel on one side and terry on the other) on eBay for uber cheap (like these: We kept them next to a wipe warmer filled with water, lavender extract and tea tree oil and a touch of olive oil. When we needed a wipe we dipped a terry/flannel wipe in the warmer, squeezed it out, wiped and stuck it in the dirty diaper to wash. Our kids very rarely had a rash and the room smelled great.
    3) we used Mother-ease Sandy diapers ( Expensive, yes. We bought 50. Not kidding, used them for two kids. 70% of money back. Look on eBay. I’m not kidding. Totally worth it. I say it twice because it was super great.

    Good luck!

  5. My sister has this advice for clothers:

    “If you have hard water, you may need to add calgon or strip your diapers every couple of weeks. They’ll start to smell funky. I strip with something called RLR. It’s a little packet of magic that costs maybe $1.50. I put white vinegar in the pre-rinse to precipitate the ammonia.”

    1. Thanks! I’ve been adding vinegar to the rinse which supposedly helps strip them and make them soft, but if they start getting funky I’ll try that.

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