Tag Archives: cloth diapers

Potty training without Pull-Ups?

I would love to have Judah potty trained before Baby 2 arrives in September. At almost 2 and a half, he is definitely showing interest. But every time we’ve tried, as much as he wants to get it, it seems like his brain and his bladder just aren’t on the same page.

He frequently asks to go to the potty, and I take him, but nothing usually happens when we get there. It’s a big game. I know he needs more direction and something other than diapers to help him make the connection, but I’ve been putting it off for weeks hoping that I would start to feel better.

I do feel a little better now (somewhat), but more importantly, my husband will be on vacation for a month in May and June, so I’ll have some help. We’ve decided to give it a shot and see if Judah is ready with a little guidance and more intensive efforts on our part.

I know that putting him on the potty while he continues to wear regular diapers is pointless. Those dang things just keep them so dry (great for newborns, not great for potty-training). He needs to feel when he’s wet to make that connection. I considered putting him back in cloth diapers, but I need something that’s easy on and off so we can manage quickly or he can do it himself.

Pull-Ups are the most popular option, but I just can’t get over the price. Twenty five to 30 cents a diaper?! And that’s for the generic brand! We currently pay about 16 cents per diaper for the Target-brand diapers we’ve used since Judah switched out of cloth at 12 months, so doubling our diaper cost is a tough pill to swallow. Especially since the few times I’ve put him in Pull-Ups, they’ve leaked terribly. Plus I really don’t like how similar to diapers they are. I feel like he needs something new and different to help him understand that it’s time for him to try to stay dry.

I also considered reusable training pants like these Flip training pants. They’re easy on and off, but I’ve heard conflicting reports from friends who’ve used them about how effective they are (according to some, the liner shifts and causes leaks). I’m also having the same problem with price. They’re a little more affordable than the all-in-one training pants I’ve seen for $15-$20 each since the cover can be used a few times before washing, but the reusable inserts cost about $6 a piece. If I bought two covers and 12 inserts, I’d pay almost $100 for the whole system. Probably still less than I’d pay for a few months in Pull-Ups, but still. Yikes. Especially since I’m not even sure how well they’ll work.

Several people on my Facebook page suggested DIY options. I found this tutorial for DIY cloth training pants that involves modifying Gerber training pants (the kind that are basically cotton underpants with a little extra layer of padding where it’s needed) to add a few extra layers of flannel and a waterproof outer layer. I like that they look and feel more like underpants, which I think will make a big difference for him psychologically. Plus they’re less bulky. They will definitely leak, but I’ve yet to hear about a training pant that doesn’t. It seems like that’s kind of the point — if they’re as effective as diapers, there’s no incentive for kids to stop wetting them. At least these won’t cost a fortune! They should cost about $2.75 per pair. I can make a dozen for what I’d pay for a few weeks’ worth of Pull-Ups. That seems a lot more doable for something that my toddler is going to pee on.

I haven’t made them yet, and I obviously haven’t tested them, so I guess we’ll see how it goes.

I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed at the prospect of starting this process, though, so I’m curious how you did it. Did you use Pull-Ups? Or are you one of those brave people who went cold turkey with diapers and just cleaned up messes for a few days until it clicked? (I can’t even imagine that right now, though I do hear it’s effective.) Send me your potty-training advice and encouragement!

Reusable vs. disposable — which is best?

Marketing companies have drawn a pretty clear line in the sand between disposable products and reusable ones. Disposable is synonymous with convenience, ease of use, and less work — but you pay a higher price for that convenience. Reusable products are better for your wallet and the environment, but harder work. Is this always the case, though? Like most things, I think it’s way more complicated. Depending on the product and your life circumstances, these rules often don’t apply.

Here are a few examples based on my experience.

Mop and bucket vs. disposable floor cleaning pads

For most of my life, I lived in places with wall-to-wall carpet and just a small space with hard flooring — the bathroom and kitchen. Filling a bucket with water and swabbing the deck the old fashioned way just didn’t seem worth the time with such small spaces. For years, I used a Swiffer wet jet and I was perfectly content with the results. Then I moved into a house with wall-to-wall laminate flooring and a small child. Suddenly, the Swiffer was a huge pain. It took several pads to get through all the floors in our house, and I never felt like they were clean enough.

I finally broke down and mopped the floors with an old fashioned reusable mop and bucket, and I was shocked to find that it was easier. The large mop head cleaned the floors much faster. I used vinegar and just a little Dawn dish soap, so cleaning solution cost next to nothing (and is healthier for my toddler than chemical-filled cleaning solutons). When I was finished, I tossed the cotton mop head into the washing machine in an old pillow case with a load of towels, and let it air dry. It was so simple, and so much cheaper. I’m kicking myself for not switching sooner.

Paper towels vs. reusable rags

I made the switch to reusable rags earlier this year, and I’m happy I did it. Paper towels cost a fortune, they aren’t very eco-friendly, and I’ve found that it’s easier and faster to clean most messes with a nice thick rag. Rags are a little fussy to wash — if you throw them into the hamper wet, they will mildew and stink. It’s also a good idea to put them through a hot wash with vinegar and a second wash with detergent to prevent stink problems. It’s been worth the trouble for me, though.

I do still keep paper towels on hand for some messes, though. I don’t like to use reusable rags or sponges to clean the counter or sink after handling raw meat, and paper towels are the best way to clean glass and mirrors without leaving streaks. Switching to rags 95% of the time has saved us a bundle, though, and reduced our footprint.

Plastics bags vs. reusable shopping bags

This one is a no-brainer for me. Reusable bags are affordable, carry more stuff, and are generally easier for me to carry. The only real downsides are remembering to bring them and keeping them clean (I do ask for a plastic bag to transport raw meat, and I wash my bags regularly). I occasionally request plastic bags for small purchases, because I like to stock pile them and use them as trash bags for the little trash cans in the bathrooms. I figure it’s better to reuse a plastic bag than buy plastic bags for that purpose. Aside from that, reusable bags are a clear winner.

Disposable toilet bowl cleaners vs. a toilet brush

Disposable toilet bowl cleaners are my guilty cleaning secret. The OCD germophobe in me can’t handle the reusable toilet brush. I never felt like I could get them clean, and then I couldn’t figure out how to let them dry without leaving them out in the open in the bathroom, so I’d stick them back in the stand wet and they’d start to mildew or mold and ugh. I can’t handle it. So I pay a small fortune for the convenience and sanitary bliss of replacing disposable toilet bowls cleaners. When I’m done, I pop the cleaning pad into the trash, sanitize the wand, and get on with my life. So worth it for me.

Disposable diapers vs. cloth diapers

This one was a toss-up for me. For the first year of Judah’s life, I absolutely loved my cloth diapers. They saved me money, are better for the environment, and I really didn’t feel like they were too much hassle. Just a couple extra loads of laundry every week. Then my son turned 1. We stopped breastfeeding shortly after his first birthday, and suddenly cloth diapers weren’t so easy anymore. I made the switch to disposables full-time, boxed up my cloth for the next baby, and I’m thankful I did it every time I change a poopy diaper.

So what do you think? When do you prefer disposable over reusable and vice versa?

Photo credit

Giving prefolds another chance

You may recall last month when I wrote about the problems I was having with prefolds, and the fact that I was considering switching to expensive pocket diapers. Several of you gave me some helpful hints in the comments, so I decided to give it a few more weeks.

First I stripped my diapers to get rid of any stink. I realized part of my problem is that I’m still using detergent made for extremely hard water from back when we lived in a rural area with hard water. So I think I was using too much detergent. I cut the amount in half to avoid future issues.

Since too much detergent was the problem, I used a gentle stripping method with no additives or bleach. I basically just ran my diapers through several cycles of extremely hot washes until they stopped sudsing. Easy!

Then I started experimenting with the fold. Since Judah was born, I’ve wrapped the diapers around him and secured them with a Snappi. This was causing issues with disposing of solid waste, because the diapers were all folded up and creased. Yuck. I tried the newspaper fold, which is just a flat fold that fans out in the back with no Snappi. That helps!

I’m still having issues with keeping my mobile baby still while I get the diapers on him. Sigh. I suspect that will just continue to be a problem. I know it’s easier to get him into one piece and snap it than it is to wrestle him into the diaper and then the cover, but I suppose in the end that one extra step isn’t making all that much difference. I just try to keep him distracted with a toy or a song, and I go as quickly as I can.

Finally, it seems like giving it some time helped. I believe Judah was going through a particularly yucky diaper phase, and it seems to be much better now.

The moral of the story? Spending money to solve a problem should always be the last resort. Experiment with some free solutions before you shell out more cash!

Cloth diapers: reconsidering expensive pocket diapers

I’ve raved about inexpensive prefold diapers in the past, and I still think they’re a great entry into cloth diapering. They don’t require a huge financial investment, they’re easy to use, durable, and a snap to keep clean.

However. As many of you seasoned cloth diapering moms warned me, prefolds have become cumbersome as Judah is getting more mobile. I don’t think they’re interfering with his ability to move around (obviously), but I do wonder if they’re as comfortable for him now that he’s moving. And let’s be honest, wrestling a mobile baby into a prefold, Snappi, and cover while he twists and turns and moves is a lot harder than snapping him into a single diaper.

One other slightly TMI confession: I am not as wild about cloth diapers since we introduced solids. Prefolds were simple for an exclusively breastfed baby. Now not so much. I’ve tested some of the pockets I already have on hand, and I was amazed at how much easier it was to deal with solid waste with the fancy microfleece lining compared to the cotton prefolds that are folded to fit him. Let’s just say all those folds and creases make it a lot harder to dispose of the waste before washing. Moving on.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from prefold diapers. They have worked fabulously for me, and I will continue to keep them on hand and probably continue to use them under certain circumstances. I don’t regret buying them. I didn’t want to invest hundreds of dollars into a cloth diaper stash before I knew if it would work for us, and the initial investment to use pocket diapers full-time for a newborn who needs 10-12 diapers changes a day was just too much for me.

I’m just starting to wonder if I should add a few more pocket diapers to my stash to make things a little easier on all of us (and future babysitters). Now that we’re past the newborn phase of 12 diapers a day, I could probably make a dozen diapers last two days, especially if I had some prefolds on hand to fill in the gaps if he needs a few extra diaper changes on some days.

I have a BumGenius 4.0, a FuzziBunz Hemp Organic, a BumGenius all-in-one, and a SmartiPants pocket diaper. I like all of the pocket diapers a lot, but I haven’t used them enough to develop a preference.

I wanted to get opinions from my cloth diapering readers: do you have a preference for a certain pocket diaper? Which works best for toddlers? Judah is slim and small for his age (10th percentile for weight, 50th for height at his last appointment three months ago), so I suspect he will stay that way for the foreseeable future. He’s probably around 18 pounds now, so I don’t think fit will be a problem for a while. We hope to use cloth until he potty trains, so I want to make sure they diapers I buy now will fit a 3-year-old if necessary.

I like the idea of FuzziBunz hemp diapers, because they’re made from organic, natural materials. But they’re more expensive. I’ve also developed some brand loyalty toward Cotton Babies products. My favorite covers are Flips and Econobums, so I’m thinking I’ll be just as happy with the BumGenius. So I’m torn. Tell me what you think!

How much money do I “earn” by living frugally?

Since I’m a stay-at-home mom, I don’t add any steady monetary income to our household (aside from occasional freelance work and sporadic income from this here blog). However, my decision to stay home has afforded me more time for household chores than I would have if I worked. To offset our lower income, I try to devote my extra time to tasks that reduce our expenses, and I consider the money we save as my financial contribution to our household.

I thought it might help motivate me to figure some rough estimates of what I’m “earning.” Hopefully you’ll find it helpful, too.

Cloth diapers

I initially invested about $300 in our cloth diaper stash, which will fit Judah until he’s potty-trained. The time I devote to cloth diapers is an extra 3 loads of laundry per week. I line dry them to fight stains, bacteria, and reduce electricity costs. I probably only spend about an hour washing cloth diapers every week. That four hours of work saves us about $30-$50 per month.


I realize that for working moms who need to pump, breastfeeding can be a considerable time investment. Since I’m with Judah 24/7, breastfeeding doesn’t take anymore time than formula feeding (in fact, it probably takes less time since I don’t have any bottles to wash). It saves us $75-$100 per month. Easy money!

Line drying clothes

I line dry about two loads of laundry per week, in addition to diapers. It takes maybe 30 minutes to hang and take down each load of laundry, so I spend about four hours a month line drying laundry. It’s difficult to estimate how much money we’re saving at this point. My dryer isn’t very efficient, so I often had to run loads through two or three dry cycles to get them totally dry. Estimates for dryer costs vary depending on your dryer, how many loads you dry, and how efficient it is. I estimate that we save about $10 per month by line drying. You could argue that $2.50 per hour isn’t worth the time it takes to line dry, but I find hanging our laundry relaxing, I like the way it smells when it line dries, and I like that we’re reducing our carbon footprint, so I’m sticking with it.

Eating at home

This is where I admit that even though I’m a stay-at-home mom, my husband is the cook in our house. Thankfully, since he’s a college professor, a lot of his work load involves grading papers and preparing lesson plans at home, so he’s home a lot more than the average full-time worker. So he cooks dinner for us every night when he gets home. I spend about 30 minutes a week menu planning, and we spend another hour and a half shopping together. Most meals take 30 minutes to an hour to prepare. All together, that adds up to 5 to 9 hours a week. There are too many factors at play to know exactly how much we’re saving, but we can easily spend the equivalent of our entire week’s grocery budget on two restaurant meals, so it adds up.


I’ve really cut back on my couponing lately, because we’ve built such a huge stockpile at the drugstores. When I was clipping coupons every week, I spent probably an hour clipping coupons and planning shopping trips, and another 20 or 30 minutes in the drugstores. It’s tough to quantify how much I actually earned, but I could buy enough toiletries to last months in a single shopping trip for pennies per item.


We cut our $50-per-month cable bill, and replaced it with Hulu, Netflix, and the library. Our memberships to Hulu and Netflix cost a total of $20 per month. Watching less TV costs us nothing, and forces us to get out and do other things. Win-win!

I eventually hope to add gardening to this list to cut our food expenses. Next year!

How does frugality enhance your income?

Photo credit: me!

Cloth diapers 101: Caring for cloth diapers

Yesterday I shared some tips on what kind of cloth diapers I recommend and what to buy. Today I’m going to cover the proper care and maintenance of cloth diapers.

You can use diaper rash creams.

Even though you read everywhere that diaper rash creams are a big no-no when it comes to cloth diapering, the truth is that rule mostly refers to fancy micro-fiber all-in-ones and inserts for pocket diapers. Ingredients in diaper rash creams can interfere with absorbency, and that could be catastrophic for a $20 diaper. But the natural fibers in plain cotton prefold diapers are less likely to repel after using mild diaper rash creams.

If they do start to stink after using a diaper rash cream, it’s easy to strip cotton prefolds. Worst case scenario? You throw out a few diapers that cost you $1-$2. But that’s highly unlikely with tough prefolds. That’s a big reason I prefer cotton prefolds. I don’t want to stress about diapers.

Some creams are more likly to cause issues than others. This chart outlines which diaper rash creams are safe for cloth diapers, and which ones are generally okay for cotton diapers. I use Aveeno Diaper Rash Relief when I notice a little redness, and I haven’t had any issues with my prefolds. And if I do? I paid $1.50 each for them. No biggie.

Detergent really does matter.

Make your life easier — switch to a cloth-friendly detergent for all your clothing and forget about it. It’s not necessary to spend a fortune on specialty “cloth diaper” detergents. This chart gives you a ton of options from fancy specialty detergents to basic powder detergents available at Amazon or your local big box store. I like Rockin’ Green*, but I also buy Ecos at Walmart when I can find it. Both of them work great for cloth diapers. If you’re purchasing from Amazon, make sure you search for Amazon coupon codes to save even more money.

This is one rule that I don’t recommend ignoring. Regular detergents really don’t work well for cloth diapers. Most “free and clear” brands are not cloth friendly because they contain brighteners and other additives that can make your diapers stinky. Your diapers should be free of detergent scent and ammonia smell when they come out of the dryer. If you can smell soap, use less detergent. If you can smell pee, use more.

Laundry doesn’t have to be complicated.

Laundering was the biggest source of confusion for me when I was learning about cloth diapers. Once I started washing the diapers, it made much more sense. Here’s the deal on laundering in as simple terms as possible.

Pre-washing diapers – Diaper covers, pocket diapers, and all-in-ones only need to be washed once before using. Cotton prefolds need to be pre-washed several times to fluff them up and remove natural oils that can deter absorbency. When you receive new prefolds, send them through 5-8 wash and dry cycles. Use hot water and a little detergent. That’s it. It’s time-consuming, but really simple.

Where to keep dirty diapers – I recommend using a hanging wet bag like the FuzziBunz hanging wet bag* because it hangs on a doorknob and has a zipper on the bottom so it’s easy to dump the diapers when it’s time to wash. You could also use an old-fashioned diaper pail with water, but the idea of dumping all that diaper water really kind of grosses me out.

Washing diapers – Separate diapers from waterproof covers and wet bags, and wash them separately. Here’s my washing cycle for my prefolds: Cold wash with no detergent to rinse them out, hot wash with detergent, cold wash/rinse to rinse out the detergent. Then I tumble dry on low. For diaper covers I do a hot wash with detergent, a hot wash to make sure all detergent is rinsed, and an extra cold rinse. With diaper covers I’ve noticed that less soap is better, because they’re usually not as soiled as diapers and excess soap can really mess with the waterproofing. I line dry diaper covers and waterproof accessories (like wet bags).

If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you don’t have to worry about poopy diapers. They can go into the washer without being rinsed first. That’s because breast milk is so easily digested by baby that the remaining waste is completely water soluble. I don’t rinse my diapers, and they very rarely even stain. If your baby is formula fed or eats solids, you’ll need to shake the waste into the toilet before washing. I don’t have any experience with this yet.

You don’t have to learn fancy folding techniques.

I fasten my diapers with a Snappi. This is the method I use for fastening cloth diapers. There are lots of fastening methods, but so far, this method has worked best for containing my two-month-old’s explosive poo.

In case you can’t tell, I have absolutely loved cloth diapers so far. I’ll be sure to update you on how things are going once Judah switches to solids, because I’m told that will be a totally different ball game. That’s all the more reason to breastfeed if you want to use cloth diapers, though. It really makes things so easy.

I’m pretty sure that covers almost everything. If you have any questions or tips of your own, share them in the comments!

I have not been compensated in any way for the recommendations made in this post. However, I do receive a small affiliate fee for purchases made through Amazon links, which are denoted with this symbol *.

Cloth Diapers 101: Getting started

Before I was even pregnant, I made the decision that I was going to try cloth diapering. I was committed to the idea, but totally overwhelmed. With so many options, laundering methods, and rules, it seems so complicated.

The good news? It’s really NOT as complicated as the Internet makes it seem. Which is actually a pretty good mantra now that I think about it. It’s not as complicated as the Internet makes it seem.

Now that I’ve been cloth diapering for over two months, I’ve gotten into a pretty good groove. I’m going to share some of the things I’ve learned. I have learned a lot, so I’m splitting it up into two posts. I really hope this doesn’t make it seem even more complicated, because I promise, it’s really not.

Cloth diapering is NOT extreme.

The biggest misconception about cloth diapering is that you have to be some kind of intense money-saver or environmental extremist to do it. While those people do cloth diaper, the truth is, it’s really not that much of a hassle compared to disposables, especially if you’re breastfeeding. I’ve used both, and I actually prefer cloth. In fact, I have two packs of disposables left over from my baby shower that I’m going to give away, because Judah will be too big for them soon, and I’d rather use cloth.

Poop is poop, and you’re going to have some gross diaper changes no matter what kind of diaper you use. Changing diapers is a pain in the butt (no pun intended) whether you use cloth or disposables, and nobody includes diaper changes on their list of favorite activities. The only difference between cloth diapers and disposables is two or three extra loads of laundry per week.

I can’t tell you how many disposable diaper users have watched me change diapers and said, “Huh. So those are cloth diapers? That doesn’t seem as hard as I thought it would be.”

You don’t need a huge stash to get started.

If you’re new to cloth diapering, it really doesn’t take much to get started. There are a ton of options, but you really just need a very basic list of essentials.

  • 24-36 diapers
  • 3-4 diaper covers if you’re using prefolds
  • 2-3 Snappies or sets of diaper pins
  • 1 wet bag or diaper pail for storing dirty diapers
  • 1-2 smaller waterproof wet bags for storing dirty diapers in you’re diaper bag when you’re out
  • 24 cloth wipes

It’s not necessary to spend $20 per diaper.

If pocket diapers and all-in-one diapers work for you, then great! I’m glad you’ve found an option that works well for you. I couldn’t bring myself to spend $20 a pop on something my baby was going to poop on. I have a few pocket diapers and all-in-ones, and I may want to buy more to use for overnights or when Judah is resisting diaper changes, but for right now? Prefolds and covers are getting the job done for a fraction of the cost.

Prefolds require a little extra work, but you save the extra time on laundry. They wash quicker and much easier than fancier diapers, dry faster, withstand a lot of abuse, and are so cheap that I really don’t worry too much about messing them up.

I buy the Indian prefolds from Cotton Babies. My covers collection includes some Flips, Thirsties*, Econobums (which I highly recommend for anyone who wants to try cloth diapering on a tight budget — they work well, and they’re cheap), and a couple Bummis Whisper Wraps. Most of my diapers were purchased on clearance, so I have the covers only — no inserts. I use them with regular prefolds. You can see a complete list of my stash here.

You’ll want at least 24 diapers for a baby under four months old. You can probably get away with just 3 or 4 diaper covers, because you don’t change the diaper cover with every diaper change. I only change a diaper cover if a particularly messy diaper leaks through to the cover. Most of the time, that doesn’t happen. I wipe the cover with baby wipe and use it again. Covers may start to stink a little after several changes. When that happens, I change to a fresh one.

Don’t bother with newborn-sized diapers.

Most diapers these days are adjustable, so one size fits most babies from a few weeks after birth to potty training. Manufacturers say diapers fit 7-pound babies and up, but consensus among cloth diapering moms is that the fit generally isn’t great on newborn babies with skinny legs.

You don’t have to buy tiny diapers, though! Unless you have a tiny baby, you probably won’t get much use out of newborn-sized diapers. It can take a week or two for the meconium (yucky black-tar poo that stains) to completely work its way out of baby’s system, and guess what? You’re going to be busy getting to know your baby and recovering from delivery in those first couple weeks.

Do yourself a favor and put a few packs of disposables on your registry and use disposables for the first couple weeks after your baby is born. It’ll make the transition to cloth much easier and cut back on laundry as you recover from birth. If you do have a tiny baby, and you can’t stand the thought of using disposables for a couple months, you can always invest in newborn diapers later. It’s unlikely you’ll need them unless your baby is under 7 pounds, and even a 6-pound baby will only use them for about 2-3 months.

Once your baby is about 10 pounds, one-size cloth diapers should fit fine. The only sized diaper covers I bought were Thirsties size 1s, and they fit Judah great when he was 8-9 pounds. By the time he was 10 pounds, all of my one-size covers fit well enough to avoid leaks.

If you use cloth wipes, you don’t have to make a “wipe solution.”

I had big plans to sew my own flannel baby wipes. But I never got around to it when I was pregnant, and there’s no way Judah is going to give me a solid block of time in front of a sewing machine right now. The good news is these cloth wipes are nicer than anything I could make and pretty affordable. You can also use baby wash cloths, but I found that they’re about the same price and not as soft.

I received a ton of disposable baby wipes at my baby shower, and I only just recently used all of them up. For me, they were a real pain. The instinct is to throw the wipe into the diaper, so I was always fishing disposable wipes out of my laundry. Or setting a soiled wipe aside and throwing it away separately.

I started using cloth wipes last week, and they are SO much easier. Here’s my secret: you don’t have to make a homemade wipe solution. All you need is a little spray bottle of water. I spritz the water on my baby’s butt, wipe him clean, throw the wipe into the laundry with the diaper, and I’m done.

I looked at all kinds of homemade wipe solution recipes and even considered spending the money for a premade wipe solution with all kinds of fancy ingredients. Several people warned me that baby wash based homemade solutions would leave my baby rashy. So I decided to try just water. It’s gentle, it cleans him well, and his skin has actually been less irritated using water than it was using baby wipes.

I bought a small storage container about the size of a disposable baby wipes container. It holds my wipes and my spray bottle and fits easily in my diaper bag. You could also repurpose a disposable wipes container.

Tomorrow I’ll share some tips on how to wash and care for your cloth diapers.

I have not been compensated in any way for the recommendations made in this post. However, I do receive a small affiliate fee for purchases made through Amazon links, which are denoted with this symbol *.

What kind of detergent do you use for cloth diapers?

I’m not sure how many of my readers are active cloth diapers (or were in the past). But I’m struggling with a dilemma here, and I’m hoping you can help me out.

We’ve always used the cheapest detergent I could find, but we’re going to have to switch to something cloth diaper-friendly now.

Here are the brands I’ve read/heard about that I’m considering:

  • Country Save
  • Charlie’s Soap
  • Rockin’ Green Detergent
  • Original Tide (Most expert sites do not recommend this, but many of the cloth diapering moms in online forums swear that it works well for cloth.)

I liked the idea of Country Save because it’s the cheapest, so I could go ahead and use it for all of our laundry. The problem with Country Save is that I can only find it in unreasonably huge bulk amounts. I’m not sure if it’s going to work for me or the baby, so I’m hesitant to drop $60 on a year’s supply without testing it. I haven’t been able to find it locally.

The other huge problem: hard water. The water in my city has the highest lime content in the state. I’m worried that some of the cheaper detergents (like Country Save and Charlie’s Soap) won’t work as well for us because of our hard water.

I’m strongly considering Rockin’ Green Detergent. It has excellent reviews, it’s particularly environmentally friendly, and Rockin’ Green offers a special formula for hard water. The downside? It’s going to cost about 35 cents a load. Ouch.

To save money, I’m thinking about using the Rockin’ Green for diapers only. I’ve read that using ordinary detergents for the rest of your laundry can cause buildup to accumulate in the washer and affect diaper absorbency. So I’m thinking I might get a cheaper, relatively diaper-friendly detergent like Original Tide to use for the rest of our clothes.

Some commenters have suggested adding Calgon to the wash to combat the hard water. I’m definitely considering this as an option, but I’d like to keep things as simple as possible in the beginning as we adjust to the baby and cloth diapers. I really don’t want to fiddle too much with our washing system right away, so I’m hoping if I choose a high-rated, hard water detergent it will simplify our washing process.

Once I’m used to caring for the baby and washing all those diapers, I will experiment with less expensive brands to find something cost-effective and diaper-friendly. But in the beginning, I want to keep it simple.

So tell me: what detergent do you use for cloth diapers? Do you use the same detergent on all of your clothing? I’m especially interested in your system if you have hard water.

Photo by rickyromero

Our cloth diapering game plan

Since we’ll be using cloth diapers, and cloth diapers aren’t particularly easy to add to a registry, I’ve already started to stock up.

Here’s what I’ve collected so far:

I’ve spent about $100 on diapers so far. All of them are brand new.

I think I’m done buying covers and fancy diapers. I may get a couple of Thirsties covers since they’re highly recommended and I’d like to try them, but we’ll see.

Since the Flips, Econobums, and Bummis are all waterproof and easy to wipe clean, they don’t need to be washed after every change. I’ll be able to reuse them a few times a day and just change the prefold diaper. I got the pockets and all-in-one to try them out, but I’m hesitant to stock up since they’re more complicated to wash and take longer to dry. I may buy more later if I really like them, but I’m hoping to mostly use the covers and prefolds method since it’s more economical, and they’re easier to wash and more durable.

Here’s what I still need to buy:

I’m estimating that it will cost another $200 for me to complete my stash. That puts our cloth diapering supplies total at about $300. Not too bad considering these should last us until our baby is potty-trained and perhaps even last until baby #2.

My mom is very skilled with a sewing machine, and when she visited a couple weeks ago, we looked at some patterns for cloth diaper covers together. I know how to sew, but I’m terrible at following the diagrams in patterns. She promised to make me a few diaper covers and diapers and then show me how to do it. I’m excited at the possibility of making cloth diapers for myself at a fraction of the cost, so we’ll see how that goes.

You may have noticed that all of my diapers are “one-size.” According to the manufacturers, all of these diapers should fit babies that weigh 8 pounds and up. If you’re experienced with cloth diapers, though, you probably know that long, skinny babies usually don’t fit into standard one-size diapers until they’re 10-12 pounds. And what if my newborn is only 6 or 7 pounds?

Tony and I both have a family history of big babies, and since we’re having a boy, I’m pretty confident that our little guy will be at least 8 pounds at birth. But who knows? I could go into labor a couple weeks before my “due date” and end up with a tiny 6-pounder.

My point is, we won’t be using cloth diapers from day one. There are “newborn-sized” cloth diapers on the market. However, these diapers are just as expensive as the one-size diapers, and depending on how big my baby is at birth, he may only fit in them for a few weeks. Not a good deal compared to the one-size diapers that will presumably fit him for 2-3 years.

Instead of investing in newborn-sized cloth diapers, I’ll be using newborn and size 1 disposable diapers for the first few weeks until our baby is big enough for his one-size diapers. This will give me a chance to get used to caring for a newborn before I need to learn to care for his cloth diapers.

I want to bargain shop for a few packs of disposable diapers, but it’s so hard to know how many and what size to buy. If he’s at least 8 pounds at birth as I suspect he will be, then he’ll skip the newborn size entirely and immediately fit into size 1s. And he’ll only wear size 1s for about 2-4 weeks. If we end up having a small newborn, he might need a few packs of newborns and more packs of size 1s.

Rather than stressing about it, I’ve decided to keep an eye out for really great diaper deals. If I can get them for cheap, I will, and I’ll save the receipt so I can exchange sizes or return them if necessary. If I don’t have enough disposables to last until he fits into cloth, I’ll suck it up and pay a higher price for a few packs. No biggie. He’ll be in cloth for 2-3 years. Buying a few packs of disposables at regular price won’t kill me.

Do you use cloth diapers? What’s your stash like? Did you use them right away with your newborn?

Photo by vincentmartinez