A Cloth Diapering Q and A

At first glance, the entire concept of cloth diapering seems monumental and completely overwhelming. I went to the internet with a long list of questions: How do I clean them? How expensive are they? Will they save me money? How do I travel with them? And so on. I needed A Cloth Diapering Q and A to help me get started.

I’ve complied many of those same questions that I asked over two year ago and answered them all right here. If you’re tempted to make the switch but feel like there are too many unanswered questions, I hope this post can give you a few answers!

Cloth diapering has Pros and Cons (read all about them here), but two years of experience has proved to me that it really isn’t as hard as I originally thought it would be. I hope, after reading the following Q and A, you’ll finally take the jump!

A Cloth Diapering Q and A

Q: What Are the Benefits to Cloth Diapering?

I’ve written an entire blog post focused on the Pros and Cons to Cloth Diapering. Give it a read right here to find an in-depth analysis of each benefit to this diapering system.

The benefits discussed in that blog post:

  1. Cheaper than disposables
  2. Environmentally friendly
  3. Reduces baby’s exposure to chemicals 
  4. Causes less diaper rash and leaks
  5. Support early potty training
  6. You never run out of diapers
  7. Catches more blowouts
  8. Have multiple uses

Q: Will They Actually Save Me Money?

They should! Disposables are not cheap.

According to the brand, bumGenius, the average cost per disposable diaper is 20 cents. Each baby will experience approximately 6,600 diaper changes from birth to 2 years of age. That results in over $1,000 in diapers (just for one baby!) over that span of time (not including wipes, diaper pail liners, and creams).

The lifetime cost for cloth diapering is $600 – $1000.

If you use them for a second child, like I’ve been able to do, the savings are even more significant. We’ve spent less than $400 dollars on cloth diapers for both of our boys combined! We still purchase a few packs of disposables here and there because they are nice to travel with at times, but our savings are still significantly less than if we solely purchased disposable diapers.

Q: How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need?

For newborns and young infants, the suggested number of cloth diapers and inserts is 24 to 36. For older infants, I suggest 14 to 24 diapers and inserts.

These suggestions are based on the need to change a diaper every 2 hours, and would require washing every 2 to 3 days. If you plan to launder your diapers more frequently, you could make-do with fewer. 

Q: Can I Cloth Diaper With Multiple Kids in Diapers at the Same Time?

Absolutely! I am doing this right now with two little boys and it works really well.

The cost savings are significantly multiplied when you have more than one child using cloth diapers, and your impact on the environment is significantly reduced. It also makes for a more efficient load of laundry.

Q: Do I Need Different Sizes of Diapers as My Kids Grow?

Many cloth diapers are one-size-fits-all, so the same diapers can be used all the way to potty training time!

One-size-fits-all cloth diapers are designed to fit a 10 pound baby and up, so you may need to use disposables or newborn cloth diapers for the first few months of their life.

With both of my babies, I’ve utilized disposable diapers for the first 2 or 3 months before making the switch to cloth diapers. I could have started sooner than this, but disposables are simply easier to handle since newborns tend to need a change much more frequently than older infants. I allowed myself a bit of an ‘easing in’ period before establishing a cloth diapering routine.

Q: How Often Do I Wash Cloth Diapers?

This depends on how many cloth diapers you have in your stash. The more you have the longer you can go between washes. A smaller stash of 14 diapers may need to be washed each night in order to have plenty on hand for the next day. It’s recommended that you wait no longer than 3 days in between washes to avoid mildew growth, deterioration of diapers, staining, and odor.

I own somewhere between 24-36 cloth diapers, have an 8 month old and a 2 year old in them almost all day everyday, and run them through the wash about every other day.

Q: What Do I Do With the Poopy Diapers?

This is a two part answer because it depends on what kind of sustenance the baby is taking in.

  1. Exclusively breastfed baby. Breastmilk is a water soluble substance, therefore it can be washed out in the washer. This means that all of those dirty diapers can go right into the diaper pail without any extra cleaning. Just wash in the same load as wet diapers.
  2. Formula fed baby or baby consistently eating solids. In this situation, any solids need to be discarded in the toilet. Shake the diaper over the toilet, use biodegradable cloth diaper liners to catch the poo, remove with a wipe, or spray using a hose attached to your toilet. Whatever your method, you want to remove as much solid waste as possible before placing the diaper in the washing machine.

Q: How Do I Know They Are Clean?

When cloth diapers have been adequately cleaned, they should be odorless. So long as you are following our recommended cloth diaper wash routine instructions, rest assured, they are clean. Remember that staining is normal and does not mean the diaper is dirty or ruined.

Q: What is the Best Detergent for Washing Cloth Diapers?

Washing cloth diapers is much easier than one would expect! Remove solid waste. Rinse. Wash. Extra Rinse as needed. Dry. When washing a large load of diapers, I typically run mine on a heavy duty wash and add an extra rinse to it. This always does the job well!

Q: Can I Use Diaper Cream With Cloth Diapers?

Yes, and there are a variety to choose from. Some brands contain ingredients that are difficult to remove from cloth diapers, and will create absorbency issues over time. Look for ones that DO NOT contain these ingredients: petroleum/petroleum jelly, paraffin, cod liver oil and calamine.

Q: How Do I Strip Cloth Diapers?

When battling repelling issues or mineral build-up, stripping your cloth diapers may bring them back to life. A basic cloth diaper stripping routine includes using a product like RLR laundry treatment or washing soda. If you are noticing an ammonia or barnyard smell on your diapers even after washing, you may have bacteria build-up. This can be addressed through a deep clean. 

Q: Can I Wash Them With Other Clothing?

Yes! This is a great way to save time on loads of laundry. As always, be sure that you have removed as much solid waste as possible from your diapers prior to washing. Be certain that clothing you wash with your cloth diapers is not significantly soiled with dirt or oil, and does not require excessive detergent. Also, ensure your clothes can handle the warm water that is recommended for washing cloth diapers. Worried about the transfer of smells? Clean diaper cloth fabric should be odorless, and this applies to your laundered clothes as well. 

Q: Where Do I Store Dirty Cloth Diapers?

A diaper pail with a reusable liner is a great option to store your dirty cloth diapers until laundry time. I have one that is intended for disposable diapers and disposable liners, but I simply use a cloth liner and fill it with cloth diapers instead.

Q: How To Make Them Function as Nighttime Diapers?

Simply add another insert! It’s that easy and will increase the amount your diapers can absorb overnight.

Q: Can You Use Them While Traveling?

Of course you can travel with cloth diapers, just consider how long you will be gone for and if you have access to a washing machine. Consider using disposable cloth diaper liners if you will not have easy access to a washing machine – this way you can flush the liner and the mess, and you don’t have to store a soiled diaper for days. 

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