When I was pregnant with my first child, I did quite a bit of research on cloth diapers and decided to use them. Everyone thought I was crazy. I was told “That won’t last! You’ll switch to disposables.” Well, now I’m on the tail end of my third child in cloth diapers and I can say I love them! Cloth diapering isn’t as difficult, labor intensive, or inconvenient as some might think.
The Benefits of Cloth Diapers on the Environment
Surprisingly, this is a highly controversial debate. Some will argue that the amount of water used to wash cloth diapers makes their environmental footprint about the same as that of disposables. Sorry, I don’t buy their argument. All the research in this area has been done by disposable diaper companies. Eighty percent of diapering in the US is disposable diapers. That comes out to 18 billion diapers a year.
It’s estimated that 10,000 tons of disposable diapers are tossed into landfills each day. According to the EPA disposable diapers can take up to 500 years to decompose!
Furthermore, those 18 billion diapers add up to 82,000 tons of plastic a year and 1.3 million tons of wood pulp — 250,000 trees! I don’t even see how the claim of both having about the same environmental footprint can even be made with a straight face. Sure cloth diapering uses water, but that is a somewhat renewable resource. Plastic is made from oil, a non-renewable resource. A primary concern in the minds of environmentalists is that there is a waste of resources and a trail of pollution at every stage of the manufacture and disposal of the disposable diapers.
Cloth Diapers 101
Interested in cloth diapers? Here is what you need to get you started:
1. A basic pre fold diaper.
2. A reusable liner (tried the flushable liners and they were more of a hassle then the reusable liners).
3. A doubler.
4. A cover. I tried the all-in-one diapers with my last baby but I didn’t care for them. They leaked every time. I rarely have had a diaper leak or a blow out with the system I use. My favorite diaper cover is the Bummis brand. I have tried several different brands. My Bummis covers are the ones that have held up the best after three kids.
Total price to diaper a child until potty trained in cloth diapers is: $259.12 (with prices from Amazon).
I reused the diapers, covers, liners, and doublers for each of my children. I did buy a new package of prefold diapers with each child to switch out some of the diapers that weren’t looking so good.
The Cloth Diaper Process: Dry Pail System
I use a dry pail system. This is a basic diaper pail with a removable liner. With a baby that has not been introduced to solid foods and is solely breastfed (newborn to six months), all diapers go directly into the pail during a diaper change. After solid foods have been introduced, the poop diaper gets taken to the toilet and the solid is dumped into the toilet and flushed. This is not a big deal. It usually comes off with little effort (a little shake) and any small amount left on gets thrown into the diaper pail.
How to Wash Cloth Diapers
- I remove the liner from the pail and dump the diapers, reusable liners, and doublers into the washer followed by the pail liner. I don’t wash diaper covers with the diapers. I wash the covers with baby clothing.
- I add vinegar to the fabric softener slot, baby detergent, and sprinkle about 1/4 cup of baking soda on top of the diapers. Bleach is not recommended and it reduces the life of diapers. With that being said, I do use a small amount of bleach in my diapers (my baby’s skin breaks out with bleach alternatives).
- I run the “soak” cycle on my washer.
- When the soak cycle finishes I run the diapers on a hot “whites” cycle, with “stain booster” and a “second rinse” (features my washing machine happens to have).
- Line drying diapers removes stains by sun bleaching, but most of the time I dry the diapers in the dryer on the sanitize cycle.
Save Thousands of Dollars!
The average baby is estimated to need between 8,000 to 10,000 diaper changes assuming they are potty-trained between 2 and 3 years. At an average of $0.35 per diaper, the average parent is spending roughly $3,000 to $4,000 to diaper each of their children in disposal diapers.
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