My husband was the one that encouraged our use of cloth diapers. He had done it for his older two children and found it to be more economical compared to disposable diapers. Thankfully, we were given most of the inserts and some of the shells by friends who had gone the cloth diaper route and were done having kids. I did end up buying more shells and we also made our own wipes, but overall, it was a reasonable investment of both time and money compared to what we were going to save.
To make the wipes, we cut up old towels and t-shirts. The towels we had to serge along the edges but the t-shirts didn’t require anything other than being cut to size. The t-shirts were really good to help get into crevices and the towels were helpful for messy situations. I layered them within a wipe warmer and wet them. I would generally have to fill the wipe warmer twice a week but it was a quick job. We ensured that we had enough diapers to last at least a week so we would only have to do laundry once a week. After the laundry was done, I sorted everything and put the diapers together. That simply meant folding the inserts and placing them inside the shells. We then stacked the completed diapers on the shelves underneath the change table. Once a diaper was done being used, the two pieces were separated and placed in a heavy duty bin that was partially filled with vinegar water. Keeping the bin closed and using vinegar water reduces any smell. As the wipes are used, they are put into the same bin. Anything within the diaper that is relatively solid can be flushed down the toilet prior to being put in the bin.
Once you are almost out of cloth diapers, it is time to do laundry. The laundry for this takes most of the day but it is a ‘set it and forget it’ type of housework. We would do a pre-wash and increase the soil level to high and increase the water heat. Roughly once a month, I would add scent boosters to the wash. Then you switch it over to the dryer. For our machine, we found that it needed to be turned on using the dry sense and then it would require an additional 20 minutes after that.
I would then separate everything and put all the diapers together to get restacked under the change table. That would normally take me about an hour and I would try to plan it at a time where I could watch tv while I did it.
The obvious benefit is the cost. Even if you aren’t able to get any of these items second hand, you are still saving in the long run doing it this way. Another benefit was diaper rash reduction. If your little one has a sensitive bum, you might need to use a different laundry detergent but we didn’t have that issue. I do know of some moms that had to buy very expensive disposable diapers because the chemicals on the less expensive diapers cause a reaction. I don’t think cloth would cause the same problem. The down-side is that you generally have to change more diapers. The cloth diapers are good for 3-4 hours depending on a number of factors. Which generally means you will have a hard time getting through the night. The other potential issue is your diaper bag. I carried a spare cloth diaper and a re-sealable large plastic bag in my diaper bag to keep the mess to a minimum. Cloth diapers are also bulkier than disposable so you may need to go up a pant size.
Another thing to note is that some cloth diaper shells come with snaps on the outside. This allows you to adjust the size of the diaper as your child grows, giving you better bang for your buck. Also, often when you buy multiple shells online, you cannot guarantee what the pattern will be and whether it will be male, female, or neutral in colour and pattern. This wasn’t something that bothered me but if it is something that bothers you, you may have to buy them individually which increases your cost.
Overall, cloth diapers are something I would recommend and something that I would do over if I had another little one. I found the work involved to be worth the cost savings. Has anyone else tried cloth diapers? Or have any questions?