Friday, July 9, 2010

Adventures in Cloth Diapering!

Wow! It has been a really long time since I've written on here! Ooops...

Guess what?! I started using cloth diapers on Simon! Can you believe it? And guess what else? I LOVE IT!!! I wish I had made the switch years ago. Seriously. Yes, it's a bit more work than just tossing a dirty disposable diaper in the trash. But to me, it is totally worth it.

I wanted to blog about my "conversion" because several people have been asking me about why I switched, what I do, etc., that I thought it would be easier to just post a "frequently asked questions" of sorts and answer everybody at once. I don't claim to be an expert, so this is just my experience with cloth diapering so far. I'm including links in case anyone is curious to see exactly what I am talking about when I mention certain things.

First off, why did I switch? Well in all honesty it started on Earth Day, when I was going to reply to a friend's sarcastic Facebook status. I was looking for a link (as a joke) to a certain eco-friendly feminine hygeine product, and Google came up with all these cloth diapering websites. I started looking at some of them and reading some information that really intrigued me. And the shopper in me has to admit that what really grabbed my attention was how CUTE all the cloth diapers they had were. Huggies Jeans diapers and their creepy commercials have got nothing on FuzziBunz or Happy Heinys! So, I talked it over with Eric and decided to order a Flip day pack to try. I saw so many great reviews for the Flip system that I had really high hopes for it, but the stay dry inserts just didn't work out for us, they bunched up on Simon and leaked constantly. I did love the Flip covers though, so I stuck with those and tried using just a basic prefold diaper inside. Jackpot! The prefolds are super absorbent, and the one-size covers adjust to fit him perfectly and never leak. Yes, the whole shebang is bulkier than a paper diaper, but it works for us and trust me it doesn't slow him down at all (I wouldn't complain if it did, LOL).

What do I love so much about cloth diapering? Maybe what people really mean when they ask this is, why won't you shut up about cloth diapering? Haha... One thing I love is that I never have to send my husband or myself out on an emergency trip to Walmart on a Friday night because I just realized I used the last diaper in the house. I love that when Simon does decide to sleep through the night on occasion, his cloth diaper isn't going to leak all over the place and wake him up anyway like the disposables did every single night. And I know I mentioned this before, but I love how cute cloth diapers are, and that when it's hot I can let him wear just his "fluff" and it looks so much better than a paper diaper (I always think they look so gross as soon they get peed in). Another thing I love is that I'm not adding unnecessary waste to a landfill. When I am sorting through clean diaper laundry, I like to count how many I just washed and see how many dirty diapers I didn't just throw away. It's like a little game to me, and it totally makes the extra laundry worthwhile.

And speaking of it gross? Really, it's not too bad. At 16 months, Simon is eating table food, so his BMs are mostly pretty solid and will usually just fall off the diaper and into the toilet and then I toss the dirty diaper into the pail. (I was flushing his solid waste out of disposable diapers too, did you know it is illegal to throw human waste in the regular trash?) Wet diapers just go straight into the pail. On wash day I run all the dirties through a full cycle on cold to rinse them out and prevent staining. Then I do another full cycle on hot with detergent. Then I finish with another full rinse on cold, sometimes with a dash of vinegar in the water to prevent detergent build up. I hang the covers on a line to dry and run the prefolds through the dryer --no dryer sheets, they make the dipes less absorbent-- and it usually takes 1 1/2-2 full dry cycles to get them dry since they hold so much moisture. I need to get some dryer balls to cut down my drying time and reduce energy consumption. I do this whole wash routine every second or third day, depending on how quickly he goes through the clean covers in the stash. Typically I wash enough at a time for a medium sized load.

And a BIG question I get is, how much money am I saving? I did the math. Story problem alert! We were spending $13 on a value pack of Walmart brand disposables about every 2 1/2 weeks, so about 21 cases per year, or $273. Now multiply that by 2 years because if Simon follows in his brothers' footsteps he probably won't potty train until he's past 3 (he was 15 months when we made the switch). So we would have spent at least $546 on diapers before he went to pull-ups which are even more expensive. Instead, I have invested about $240 on our cloth diaper supply so far, and almost everything in the stash is adjustable size so it should fit him as he grows. I do still need to pick up a few items (a diaper sprayer is next on the list, and I'd like to eventually add a few more pocket-style diapers that are easier for Daddy and other caregivers to use). But overall, I can comfortably say that we will have saved at least $250 over the course of Simon's diapering years. And if we have another baby in the future (IF! I said IF!) then we can use everything again and the savings will really start to add up. Imagine if how much money we'd be saving if we had been using expensive brand name diapers!

Are you sick of reading about this yet? I could keep going...but I won't. You're welcome. I will just end by saying that since I've switched to cloth diapers I have reduced the amount of trash our family throws out by at least half. I was taking out a full bag of garbage at least every other day and now I only take out a bag every 3-4 days. And I've gotten motivated to find other ways to reduce our garbage output and be more environmentally friendly as well (I'll post about that later). So it's definitely been changes for the better around our house.

Thanks for reading this! I hope you found it mildly interesting!