My Story: Cloth Diapers
contributed by Paula
A Beginner's Guide to Frugal Cloth Diapering
Why I Choose Cloth Diapers
Save Big on Diapers and Laundry
For those who have babies in diapers, the obvious choice is cloth diapers. Find a link for a Cloth Diaper Savings Calculator here. Here on some tips on how to make cloth diapering and laundry easy and affordable. These tips are both from my own personal experience as well as from conversations I've gleaned off of message boards.
Cloth Diaper Tips:
Buy one-sized diaper covers. The most expensive part of cloth diapering is the covers. Many people buy three to four of several different sizes costing $10 to $11 a piece. I bought 12 Little Lambs one size "cover with soaker" for $80 on eBay. They don't make Little Lambs anymore. However, I've heard good things about the following one-size brands: BumGenius pocket diaper for $18 a piece, Haute Pocket Diaper $16.95 or Wonder Wrap One Size $13.95. (The pocket diapers can either be used as a pocket diaper and stuffed with anything or used as a cover with a removable pocket to reuse them before having to wash.) Of course, buying used (or in a "package") will help with this cost. eBay no longer allows used cloth diaper listings, but there are other sites like www.diaperswappers.com to find used deals. One-sized diaper covers are a little bulky on a small baby, so you may choose to buy some extra small size covers for the beginning.
Make your own removable pockets. I found a gal on eBay (Tracy from "Clothworx") that I purchased the following materials from:
- 30" x 60" (fold-over flapping) Power Dry fleece Yields 16pcs: $5 (pocket liner top)
- 24" x 60" 300 series fleece Yields 16pcs: $7 (pocket liner bottom)
She gave me instructions on how to make them. They are super easy to make. The pocket is open on both ends, which makes them easy to load and unload for easy cleaning and faster drying. You can preload the removable pockets and reuse the covers until they are either too wet, soiled and/or smell.
Make your own inserts/prefolds. Hemp, bamboo or micro fiber towels are all very "thirsty" materials with little bulk. I made 21 4" x 12" inserts (2 layers sewed together with a zigzag stitch) out of 36" x 60" hemp fleece. I purchased this from Clothworx for $10.50 along with the removable pocket materials. I use two hemp inserts per diaper change.
You could also use bamboo or go to Wal-Mart/Sam's and get micro fiber towels. I found a package of 25 micro fiber towels for $11.24 at Sam's Club. Make sure you put these inside a pocket, so that the fabric isn't against baby's skin.
I looked for super absorbent materials to make my inserts so that I could trim down the size of the diaper since I was using a one-size diaper cover. The following link at www.fernandfaerie.com/frugaldiapering.html is an even more frugal approach using old clothes from your closet or a thrift shop. Quite inspiring!
Make your own reusable wipes. Cut 8" x 8" squares of fleece material from remnants. Fleece will not fray, so there is no need to sew. See the above link for more ideas on making wipes. Use plain water or find a homemade wipe solution.
I'll admit that I use biodegradable flushable liners. This is a convenience item that I use to help with the clean up of poopy diapers. Some people are okay with spraying their diapers before putting them into a diaper pail, but I like to dump the solid waste into the toilet and flush the liner away in one simple step. I've been able to wash and reuse the "wet, non-soiled" ones to make them last a long time. Be sure to line dry, as they will shrink in the dryer. I bought 600 Diaperaps liners for $42 at www.diaperaps.com. By purchasing a larger quantity, I was able to get a better break on the price per package of 100. Whatever I don't use, I'll sell on eBay.
Laundry Care Tips:
Use Charlie's Soap Laundry Powder. They offer free shipping and it's a product that is super concentrated and will rinse clean. You can get a five-gallon bucket (1280 Loads) for $120.63, making it less than 10 cents per load, or a 2.64-pound bag (80 Loads) for $13.39, making it 17 cents per load. There's no soap residue, so there is no need for fabric softener. If you want, you can use 1/4 cup of vinegar. Do not use vinegar on hemp inserts, or it may cause odor problems. Visit www.charliesoap.com/.
Use a portable washing machine. This will save on your water and power bill. This works great for diaper covers where you need very little soap, but make sure you rinse very well. This also works well for socks, bibs, burp clothes and baby clothes. This does not work well for the hemp inserts, since hemp will stink if enough water is not used to rinse clean. I still use the spin cycle on my regular washer to help with the dry time. The Wonder Wash Portable Washing Machine has a patented pressure system that forces detergent into the fabric at a high speed for a fast, efficient, economic and very easy wash. It uses far less water than even hand washing and saves your clothes wear and tear in the washer. Visit www.laundry-alternative.com/products/Wonderwash.html.
Then, of course, line dry all your laundry! This is especially good for cloth diapers, as the sun will help bleach any stains. To save time, I wash at night and hang everything on hangers inside. For the diaper inserts, I use the hangers with the clips on them that are stacked four or five long, or I use a regular hanger and clothespin to attach them. Then, in the morning, I can quickly hang everything out in the sun. They don't take long to dry because they've had a head start with drying inside overnight. If the forecast looks like rain, I can quickly bring everything inside without having to "unclip" everything. Just grab the hangers and go!
"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by email to MyStory@stretcher.com.
Take the Next Step:
- Visit the Cloth Diaper Savings Calculator at www.diaperpin.com/calculator/calculator.asp to see your possible savings by using cloth diapers versus disposables.
- For more articles on cloth diapers, please visit www.stretcher.com/menu/topic-a.htm#babiesclothing
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