I am so glad that you have come to my blog. Here my goal is to help you sort through the jungle of cloth diaper information. I have been doing research on cloth diapering since I began 4 years ago. I have used many types and brands, and I hope to take the information and experience that I have gathered to put it in to a blog that helps you with choosing something that works for your family. My main goal is to save you money, and I hope to do this by sharing with you what works, what doesnt, and what is just as effective but at a better price.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Introduction in background about me

Welcome to my new blog, Saving Cash by Using Cloth! The purpose of this blog is first and foremost introduce you to the world of cloth diapers. Secondly how to do it in the most cost effective way. Many people are drawn to using this form of diapers to do their part in helping the environment one diaper at a time. And yes this is an after effect, but my motivation stems from our situation in life. I first started dappling in using cloth diapers when my second child was 18 months old. My husband had just been accepted into medical school, after being in the job market for 4 years, and I knew that we would be taking a serious cut in the amount of money we would have to work with. So I did things that seemed drastic at first but are now just second nature.

First, I learned how to cut my husbands hair which saves us countless dollars bi-weekly! And I also cut my own and children’s now. The next biggest monthly expense we had was diapers. I have to say my husband was not on board with my choice to cloth diaper one bit! In fact his stance was if the child was wearing a cloth diaper then he would not change it. Which at first I don't blame him. The diapers I had were messy and not efficient or very absorbent. It took a while to find the diapers that could go a few hours between changing's and hold in the messiest of messes.

It has been trial and error from that first moment up until my 3rd was born. At this point I got serious with the diapers. My husband was now in medical school and my two other kids were completely diaper free. So I resolved to not buy many if any disposable diapers. I bought one box that was never opened for my second child, because he potty trained at the age of 24 months before he needed them.

Starting out I was given a bunch of size 1 diapers for baby #3 so I made sure we used those up before I started him on the cloth because they are only in those little sizes for a few weeks. By the time he was ready for a size two diaper is when I started with the cloth. At that point most size small cloth diapers are going to fit perfectly. I find it to be expensive and a waste to invest in the tiny tiny cloth diapers because they grow out of them so fast unless you have a very adjustable diaper. Those newborns bottoms will be much smaller than you will ever expect them to be.

I will have a series of posts on picking a diaper, cleaning and care of the diapers, and websites and links that are helpful. Ok on to my recommendations.

Defining the diaper choices (updated 7/7/10)

When first starting out in the world cloth diapering you will find it can be some what over whelming! There are a few different types that I will introduce you to; All-in-one, pocket, prefolds with a cover, fitteds with a cover, and the newest kind: the hybrid flushable diapers. I have tried all of these diapers and many brands. They all have pros and cons but what has helped pushed me towards certain diapers has been the price and effectiveness of the diaper.

First let me define each type of diaper, and at the end of each description I will have a short You Tube video showing you how to use each diaper. If you are like me, you will want to see the diaper in action since these are not sold in stores it is hard to get a good idea of what you are trying to buy just by looking at a picture and a description. So I hope this helps you with your choice.
I will start with the most popular first timer diaper, the All-In-One. The All-In-One is a diaper that comes as one piece. So it has a water proof cover and all of the absorbent material sewn into it. Many people like this diaper because it is the closest thing to a disposable diaper. I got lucky and some one was giving away a huge amount of these for free on free cycle, along with some other types I will talk about later. The brand of all in ones was Kushies . A company out of Canada manufactures these. Walmart sells them on line only.  There are three sizes in the Kushies, Newborn Infant, and Toddler. Infant fit Nolan when he would have been wearing a size two disposable diaper so it wouldn't fit right away. Depending on how often you want to wash them every day to every 3 days, plan on needing 7 diapers a day. Now I liked these pretty well and for an all in one the price is right. They don't hold the most pee of all the choices, but they held in all the new born poo’s with very few leaks. So I give them an “A” for ease of use and an “A”for price and “B” for effectiveness. There are other all in ones out there that I haven't tried. I think what I didn't not like about them was that they take longer to dry than others do.

Pocket Diapers
Next the Pocket diaper. This one is also a very popular choice but seems to be the most expensive of all of them. I have tried 3 brands of pockets, Bumgenius, Fuzzi Bunz, and Mommy's Touch. If you decide to choose a pocket choose one that has an adjustable rise like the bumgenius, meaning that the diaper can go from newborn to toddler with just one diaper. Fuzzi Bunz and Mommy's Touch now makes a one size but I have not tried this new version. There are 2 companies that I have found that offer pockets at a much more reasonable price.  Go Green, they sell their regular sizable diapers for $9.99 a piece, theirs are made in China and sold in the USA.  Go Green also has a made in the USA line called Mud Butt, made by a very talented work at home mom. A pocket diaper is a diaper with a water proof cover, with a liner sewn in on it with an opening in the back to “stuff” it with an absorbent material like a prefold. Some times the diaper closes with Velcro like a disposable or with snaps which in the long run seem to last longer and hold up to frequent washings. I give these an “A-“ for ease of use “B-“ for price and “A+” for effectiveness.

I will tackle the prefolds next. A prefold is what your grandmother would think of as a true cloth diaper and believe it or not my #1 choice! Typically a good prefold is made out of a thick 100% cotton. I choose to buy mine from Green Mountain Diapers.com. They have an amazing prefold. It very absorbent, thick, soft, and cheep. Now you will have to buy the size you need for your babies size, sort of, but I will explain. When you think of what grandma diapered your mother in you think a piece of cloth with safety pins! But luckily for babies today some one came up with a better solution, a snappi. A snappi is a fastener that replaces the safety pins. It is shaped like the letter Y and holds the prefold on. Then in order to keep the wetness and mess in you but a water proof cover on, which I will “cover” next. So when I said you don't necessarily have to have the size for the size of your baby, you don't. Some people, like me, fold the prefold into thirds making it super thick and lay it right into the cover and then Velcro the cover on. (My #1 favorite method, also the cheapest!) 
Prices for prefolds:
Green Mountain diapers:
Newborn: $1.75 each, $21 a dozen
Small: $2.00, $24 a dozen
Medium: $2.25, $27 a dozen
Large: $2.67, $32 a dozen
Toddler $3.00, $36 a dozen

Cotton Babies:
Chineese Prefolds:
Infant (newborn-15 lbs): $1.50 each
Regular (15-30 lbs): $1.75 each
Premium (15-30 lbs thicker): $2.00

Indian Prefolds:
Preemie (4-8 lbs): $1.00 each
Infant (11-15 lbs): $1.50 each
Regular (15-30 lbs): $1.75
Premium (15-30 lbs thicker): $2.00

  • Now the cheepest packaged system I have run across is the Econobum, by Cotton Babies also the makes of BumGenius.  They run $50 for 3 covers and 12 prefolds.  
  • Bummis sells a more complete cloth diapering kit from $136-169, (they offer either size small 8-15 lbs or medium 15-30 lbs kit) depending on size of baby, includes 18-24 prefolds, 4-6 covers, 1-3 biosoft liners, 5 stay dry liners, and a wet bag.  So you really are getting just about everything you will need to use prefolds with this kit.  I would suggest ordering 4-5 more covers.  But this is a pretty complete set, just missing the detergent and the trash can to put the wet bag in.   

If the prefold with the snappi just looks like too much some people go with a fitted. Which is a diaper that looks like disposable that is not water proof. Then you just put a cover over the top. I have a hand full of fitteds that I got from the lady that gave me the all in ones. I like the fitteds but it is tough to get on some time if your baby is wiggly. But will hold it all in for sure. Kissaluvs fitteds are the nicest around. They are very soft and super absorbent. They come in 3 sizes, new born, size 1 and size 2. But there are lots of others around. A fitted like Kissaluvs makes these diapers very expensive. I think prefolds is a much better way to go and seem to absorb the most.

Now the essential covers! Ok as you can see I love the prefolds but with a good prefold you need a cover that is just as quality. I have tried 2 that I really like the design for and are all about the same price, so go with the color and pattern that you like best because they are all effective. Another perk is that you can re use and re use the cover until it is soiled so you don't have to buy many. If it hasn't been soiled in two days and just peed in I go ahead and wash it. First there is the Bummis brand. They have two main versions. The Whisper wrap and the Super Bright. The Whisper wrap seems to be thicker and there is no exposed PUL. PUL, otherwise known as polyurethane laminated fabric. A fabric that is laminated so that it becomes water proof, the main secret in most cloth diapers. In the Super Bright the laminated section is exposed, this is not a bad thing but just different from the Whisper wrap. The next brand is Thirsties. Thirsties has two different kinds as well. First the Version 2 (V2) is almost identical to the Bummis Super Bright but I feel that the Bummis is thicker. The other Thirsties cover is unique to every cover out there! This is an adjustable cover with just 2 sizes. This is called the Thirsties Duo Wrap. Again I was disappointed with the thickness of the PUL but it still seems to be holding up well after many washes. If it were me the prefold with a cover is what I choose because it is the cheapest and they hold in every thing.

The last diaper I will cover is the hybrid. These are all relitivly new diapers.  There are 3 brands out there that I know of in the Hybrid category the G Diaper,  the GroBaby, now rebranded as GroVia, and the Flip, the same company that makes the BumGenius.  The Hybrid is unique. It has a liner that you can either throw away for it to bio degrade or flush down the toilet! And If you choose not to use the flushable liner you can use a prefold in the diaper, or in the case of the GroVia they have a snap in insert.  So basically when you are home use the prefolds/liner included, and when out and about or on vacation use the flushable liners. But the only dilemma I ran into here was that the liners are pricy over time, but if use occasionally and not full time than can be a good purchase. Also the flushable liners do not hold nearly the same amount of pee as a prefold will so you will have to change more frequently. Because of the price of the liners,  I gave it a “C” for price because if you use the flushable full time you might as well use a disposable diaper because they are close to the same price.  But as far as effectiveness I give them an “A” and ease of use a “B”.

Price Break down for Hybrids
  • The GroVia one size kits will run $24 per diaper with one soaker insert included, extra soaker pads for a 2 pack are $16.95, and the disposable inserst are $7.99 for a 20 pack. 
  • Each G diaper in 3 different sizes is $16.99 that includes 1 snap in liner. Washable liners are $30 for 6.  Disposable liners cost $14.95 for 32-40 liners 
  • Each one sized Flip cover costs $13.95.  Each flip stay dry liner is $4.95 (for more than 12 the price goes down to $3.95)  Their organic liner is $7.95 the price also goes down when purchasing more than 12 to $6.95.  I really like their disposable liners, they are really soft and cheep.  They are hard to find right now but usually cost $4.95 for 18.  G Diaper video

Now you have a choice to make, will it be A, B, C with option 1 or 2, or D. I know it is a lot to look at and research but I spent 6 months or more on my research and testing of the 4 main types of diapers so hopefully this simplifies the choices.

Now if you are having a hard time choosing I found a wonderful resource Diaper Swappers. com This is a message board where you can buy used diapers from other people using a pay pal account, or you can swap a diaper for diaper. Also there are message boards for just about every diapering topic you can think of. I have had nothing but good experiences with the site, and it has helped me try out lots of diapers for cheep.

My next post will be on preparation of new diapers, care and cleaning of your new diapers.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Washing your Cloth diapers (Updated 8/10/10)

Video of using a diaper sprayer
Making a diaper sprayer: here is the link to making your own diaper sprayer. I did find that this sprayer fit only on ONE of my toilets. The other toilet was older and would have needed a larger T fitting to fit properly. Which you won't really know until you get home to set it up unless you are a master plumber and you know the size of the connection to your toilet supply line. Most likely it is 3/8" but it could be larger. Now if the idea of finding the parts for this sprayer makes your head spin there is another option but it is more expensive. The do it your self option cost me roughly $12-15 to make, or you can purchase one for $40-50.
Another sprayer from Rockin Green detergent
Bum Genius diaper sprayer (this is the one I am currently using)

Next I will talk about washing those dirty diapers. Now this was the scariest part for my husband and I. When we began this cloth diapering journey we did not start out  using a diaper sprayer and just used one those eppi bottles you get from the hospital after having a baby. Which works ok if you are on the go or on a short vacation, but not full time. Anyways I never felt like I was getting those diapers completely clean in the washer either, until I did months of trial and error.  Here I have instructions for washing your diapers in a regular top loader, and also in an HE machine. 
Regular washer

  • Step one is to put your dirty diapers in a diaper pail. Make sure that you spray out any poo into the toilet using a diaper sprayer before puting the diaper in the pail.  I use a bag made out of PUL by Bummis in size large as a liner in my pail. This size holds 2-3 days of diapers no problem. I put this bag into some kind of pail with a lid, like this one from Sterilite that I got from the grocery store for $7. When your pail is full take out the drawstring bag full of dirty diapers and take to the washing machine.
  • I then dump the dirty diapers into the washer and turn the wet bag inside out so that it can be cleaned too.
  • The first rinse cycle is short using just warm water  This will give the diapers a good rinse and will rinse out any particles left behind. 
  • When the first cycle is completed, lift the lid of the washer and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of laundry detergent made for cleaning cloth diapers. You will want a detergent made for cloth diapers so that your diapers will get as clean as possible.  My recommendation is Rockin Green.  They have 3 formulas to fit your water type.  In Houston and San Antonio we have hard water so I use the Hard Rock Formula.  Also here is a blog that has a great chart of many types of detergents. They are rated as to how well they work for cloth diapers. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO NEVER USE A FABRIC SOFTENER ON YOUR CLOTH DIAPERS!
  • After you have added your detergent you will do a hot wash. I set this wash to be long and include a second rinse.
  • And if you seem to be having ammonia issues try adding one more rinse cycle. 
HE Washer instructions:
This is a direct quote from Kim, the creator or Rockin Green detergent.  I agree with every word.  I had an HE washer and I learned pretty fast that you have to use a lot of water to truly get your diapers clean.  I would even add to her directions, to use your diaper sprayer for every diaper, wet or poopy.  This will get out a lot of the pee that sits on the diapers until wash day.  Also this helps with smell. 

"Don’t skimp on the water!!!!! If you have a front loader, replace the word “Rinse” with “Wash”. For example, if you have a top loader, you normally do a rinse, a wash, and a rinse. For a front loader, I would suggest a wash, a wash, and a wash. You are still not going to be using the same amount of water as the top loader folks, but you really need to have the water because that is where the ammonia buildup comes up for the most part. For example, if you are washing 15 pocket diapers in a front loader, each insert will hold about 8 oz sometimes 15 oz, and if you think about it that is a lot of urine in each insert. Let’s say each of the 15 inserts holds about a cup of pee, you put the diapers in and your inserts in the front loader a lot of times the front loader does not put that much water in, so you are washing with a 50/50 mix of water and urine. That will not be rinsed out all the way, so if you do the 3 washes you will be more likely to get the urine flushed out. So, Wash Cold (no detergent), Wash hot (w/ detergent) and Wash Cold (no detergent). The first wash will get most of the urine, so your next wash you will be washing in clean water. This is what I suggest when someone is having stink issues with a front loader, I believe to attack it at the front and not the end."

  • When this cycle is completed put your inserts and prefolds and all in ones in the dryer and set to medium-high heat. And depending on the amount of diapers you have in the dryer will depend on how long you will dry them. I usually have to do a 45-50 minute cycle on a 3 day load. NEVER USE A FABRIC SOFTENER SHEET IN THE DRYER WITH DIAPERS!  But you can use  a dryer ball.  Hang dry your covers, pocket diapers and your wet bag to drip dry either in your laundry room or out in the sun, and they should by dry in the sun in the amount of time your inserts are in the dryer. All three of these have PUL that are exposed to direct heat and will warp and not last as long if they are put into the dryer.
  • Some people choose the hang dry all their diapers, including inserts, in the sun. Which will do 2 things. 1. If there are stains on the diapers the sun will bleach them. 2. This will save you the electricity. Your prefolds will not be quilted looking if hung dry but will still be just as effective.