Friday, August 31, 2012

Let's get dirty with Cloth Diapers

My cousin Mary, One Realistic Mom, has started a blog-hop called Frugal Friday!

So, I am working hard to be part of it and show her some bloggy love.  I'm going to write about cloth diapers and what they mean to me...and to my wallet.

Let's get down and dirty and talk about the Cons first:

Cloth diapers are work.  You have to be on top of the laundry or you'll run out.  And once they're clean you have to sometimes do some work to get them back in working order (stuff them, fold them so they'll fit in the drawer, etc).

Then there's the poop issue.  It's not a big deal when your baby is breastfed only, breastmilk poop can go in the dryer.  However, if they're on formula, or once they start eating solids (which aren't really solid, they're just liquids of other foods), you have to spray off the diapers before washing them.  This requires an attachment to the toilet called a diaper sprayer, and if you can swing it, an extra diaper pail in the bathroom so you don't have to carry the dripping wet diaper through the house back to the nursery where the changing table is. Oh, and this process can often cause poop-water to get on you.  So, if the idea of that makes you dry-heave, then just forget about cloth diapers at all!!!

And they smell.  Especially if you don't launder them every couple of days.  But even then, the amonia from the pee tends to get stuck in certain kinds of fabric (don't buy/make flannel cloth diapers!!) and then you have to strip them to get the amonia out, which requires soaking them in certain laundry detergents that are meant for cloth diapers, or, what I've found works well, is the fish tank cleaner that's meant to get amonia out of your fish bowl!!

Oh, and laundry detergent.  You can't just use any kind.  It needs to be gentle, or if you really want to splurge, you can buy special cloth diaper laundry soap.  Or you can get the kind of laundry soap that they sell at Whole Foods that is made from orange peels and lye or something...totally natural.  Or, you can make your own...but I've never tried.

So, after knowing all this...why would anyone want to use cloth diapers??!!!  They seem like a royal pain in the pooper!

Money.  They really will save you money, and that's the kicker right there.  It costs me almost $30 to buy Sadie about 2 weeks worth of disposable diapers (and I buy the Target brand, which are definitely the cheapest out there!).  That's $60 a month on average.  That's $720 a year (don't be impressed, I had to get out my calculator to do that!).  And let's just say your child is in diapers about 3 years, that's... over $2000!!  For the CHEAP diapers!!!

When I was pregnant with Sadie I went all gung-ho for cloth diapers and decided I could make my own.  I mean, I know how to sew and they can't be THAT hard, right?  The tricky part was finding the right kind of fabric.  I mean, you have to have safe-for-baby's-skin fabric on the inside, but not only that, the inside fabric has to "wick" moisture away from the skin so baby isn't wet all the time.  Then you have to buy the PUL, which is the fancy way of saying fabric-that's-been-laminated-on-one-side-so-it's-waterproof.  But, once you find this... easy.

I also bought some cloth diapers, to supplement what I had made, and also to get an idea for pattern/size (because really, I was making it up as I go along...some worked better than others).

So, last weekend, I pulled out all the cloth diapers I own to get ready for baby, and because I want to try to get Sadie back in cloth to save us some money.  I had NO IDEA how many I really had.  I was overwhelmed by the mountain of diapers I had just created on Sadie's bed, and I called Brian for help in organizing them.  I probably have about 2 dozen in sizes newborn, 0-3 months, 3-9 months, and 9+ months, plus I had a separate mountain that I had saved, but that I probably won't ever use again, but I'm not ready to throw them away quite yet.  It was when Sadie was about 18 months that I decided to buy a bunch of cloth diapers that adjust in size (so I can use them for the next baby, of course).  Luckily, these still fit her.  And after she turns 3, I believe the state will pay for her diapers, so at that point it doesn't matter if they fit her.  (Although, because for me, it's kind of about the environment and making trash, I may try to make some even bigger diapers...I found a pattern for youth-adult size)

All in all, I've probably spent over $1000 on cloth diaper supplies, and cloth diapers themselves, maybe even over $2000, who knows.  But I am using the same ones for the next kid.  And I will probably use them again on the third.  Oh, and here's the best part... when I'm done having kids, the diapers that are still usable and in good shape, I can sell used to other cloth diapering Mamas!!  So, really, all the cost is up front, which scares people initially, but with baby #2 and #3, that's where we're gonna see the savings!

And there you have it, folks!  My tip for Frugal Friday.  If you can get past the convenience of disposables in order to save a little money (an honestly, how convenient is coupon clipping and organizing and remembering to use-ing?  But people are all about that!), then I say give it a try!!

Oh, and we still use some when we leave the house, and at night.  But WAAAAYYYYY fewer than if we weren't using any cloth at all!  So, don't feel like a traitor or a hypocrite if you only go half-way!

Cute, right?


  1. Yay, I'm so glad you linked up!!! Baby #3????

    1. and then we're done! I'm not following in your footsteps!