GETTING STARTED WITH CLOTH DIAPERING
Ready to go with cloth diapers? Here is how many of each item you will need:
- 18 to 48 cloth prefold or fitted diapers (18 are enough for ages 2-99, more are needed for younger infants)
- 0 to 3 all-in-one diapers for lazy or sick days
- 4 to 6 cloth diaper covers
- a few doublers/liners (More for heavy wetters) these are great for bedtime
- 1 diaper pail
- 2 washable pail liners
- 2 wetbags for soiled diapers when you are out
- 2 to 3 dozen cloth diaper wipes
- 1 roll of flushable liners (These are to easy cleanup, reduce staining on diapers and prevent creams from gumming up the diaper fibers)
When considering the amounts to buy, take into account the age of the individual and how often you plan to wash. Newborns and infants will need 10 to 12 changes a day. Toddlers will need 8 to 10. Adults will need 4-8. Most cloth diaperers wash diapers every 2 or 3 days.
If you decide to try fitted cloth diapers be sure to try a sampling before investing in a large number of any style. Fitted diapers vary quite a bit in size and fit from one individual to the next.
Your cloth diapering system can be all one type of diaper or a combination of prefolds, fitted and all-in-ones.
Wash and dry new cloth diapers 5 to 8 times to remove the natural waxes and fluff up rthe fibers. This will also increase the absorbancy of your cloth diapers. Do not worry if you notice that your cloth diapers "quilt up" during this process. This is normal.
To extend the life of our cloth diapers and covers, hang to dry. It is especially important to do this with AIO's and diaper covers to preserve their waterproofing ability.
Overnight Soak Method
- Pre-Wash. (This step can be skipped if you use the wet pail method.) Place all cloth diapers in the washer, and run a prewash in cold water. This will remove most of the loose particles from the cloth diapers.
- Overnight Soak. Refill the washer with cold water and 1/2 cup of baking soda. Let it agitate for a minute or two, then turn off the machine and let the cloth diapers soak several hours or overnight. Drain the water (I run a pre-wash to do this.) Baking soda is a base and neutralizes the urine in the cloth diapers. This is very effective in whitening and removing the smell from the cloth diapers.
- Hot Wash. Empty the bin and run the wash with hot water, detergent and 1/2 cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda. Since my baby has sensitive skin, I use All HypoAllergen detergent.
- Double Rinse. Add about 1/2 cup of vinegar during the first rinse. If you have a washer with a fabric softener compartment pour the vinegar there when starting the hot wash. Otherwise you can throw in a Downy ball filled with vinegar.
- Cold Wash. Place all your soiled cloth diapers in the machine with baking soda for a cold water wash.
- Hot Wash. Add your wet cloth diapers to load, add detergent and baking soda and wash in hot water.
- Rinse. Rinse cloth diapers with cold water and vinegar.
- 2nd Rinse. Rinse cloth diapers with cold water.
CAN YOU RECOMMEND A RECIPE FOR CLOTH WIPES?
There are several recipes you can use for cloth wipes, just look online. The usually have essential oils, oil and soap.
WHAT DETERGENTS OR CLEANING AGENTS SHOULD I USE TO CLEAN MY CLOTH DIAPERS?
Stick with fragrance free detergents. For babies with sensitive skinTide free and clear or All Free Clear. Be sure to avoid detergents with whitening enzymes such as Fabricare: Arm and Hammer Advanced Detergent Action.
Do not use concentrated bleach. Both of these products are harsh on cloth diapers. They will break down their fibers and reduce their life. Also, they are rough against your baby's skin.
Avoid washing cloth diapers with soap products since repeated washing with soap creates a waxy build-up that reduces the aborbancy of cloth diapers. Contrary to what some cloth diapering parents believe, Dreft and Ivory do not fall under the soap category. They are both detergents. Ivory Snow used to be sold in the form of soap but was changed to a detergent in 1993. For more information check out the Ivory Snow FAQ page.
REMOVING URINE SMELL
Include baking soda when washing or soaking your cloth diapers.
If you use baking soda in the wash or soak, make sure to use vinegar in the rinse, This will help restore the pH of the cloth diapers. Otherwise your baby may end up with diaper rash.
Baking soda works with liquid detergents to whiten and brighten laundry. It does not boost powder detergents.
- VINEGAR IN THE WASH
Many parents have complained that using vinegar in the wash leaves their diapers remaining smelly. Actually it is more effective to use baking soda in the wash and add vinegar to the rinse. See our washing recommendations for more information.
Hint: Consider using vinegar in the rinse cycle of all your laundry, not just the diapers load. Also consider buying distilled white vinegar by the gallon for general household cleaning. Melodie Moore's book, Vim & Vinegar, is a wonderful resource for learning how to use vinegar to replace expensive cleaners for floors, refrigerators, furniture, laundry, copper and stubborn stains.
WET PAIL AND DRY PAIL METHODS
There are 3 basic methods for storing wet and soiled cloth diapers, wet pail, dry pail and wet/dry pail.
The Diaper Pin preferred method is the dry pail method. We used to use the wet pail system (for dirty diapers only), but it was messy and unwieldy. Now we simply dunk dirty diapers (and swish if necessary) in the toilet bowl before tossing in the dry pail. We keep our diaper pail in the bathroom. Much easier!
- Dry pail. All cloth diapers are placed in a covered pail. Sprinkle baking soda to control the odors.
- Wet pail. All cloth diapers are placed in a pail half filled with water. Make sure this pail is covered to prevent infant drowing.
FASTENING PRE-FOLD CLOTH DIAPERS
Fastening is the biggest challenge with pre-folds.
Here are two methods:
- Pins are easy to use once you get the hang of them. Between uses stick opened pins in a bar of soap. Alternatively run the pins through your hair before pinning diapers. Both methods gives the pins a coating that allows them to glide through cloth the next time you diaper.
- Afraid of using pins? Do not be discouraged. You can use Snappi Diaper Fasteners or Di-d Clips instead.
- Another alternative is to simply fold the cloth diaper in thirds and enclose within a velcro or snap fastened diaper cover over the prefold and the baby.
FOLDING PRE-FOLD CLOTH DIAPERS
Cotton has a naturally occuring wax in it. Since your natural Chinese prefolds are not bleached during manufacture, the wax is not removed. To remove the wax, you must wash your prefolds in VERY hot water. Here are some tips for those whose water may seem to be not quite hot enough. Try Tide. We do not recommend Tide for daily use because it is harsh, but it does seem to help remove this natural wax more quickly. Turn up your water heater for a few washes or add boiling water to your washer to raise the water temperature. We have also had some moms boil their diapers with great success! The number of washes needed to remove the wax will vary. If your water is very hot and you use Tide and you have city water which is chlorinated, you may only need to wash once. In other cases, you may need to wash a few more times. Rest assured, this natural wax will always come out!
- In thirds lay the cloth diaper flat with the length running up and down. Fold the right panel over the middle, then the left side over the right fold. Then flare out the top and bottom. If you are pinning, pin the corresponding front and back corners together.
- Poop pouch lay the cloth diaper flat with the length running up and down. Place the baby in the middle of the cloth diaper straddling the diaper. Let the cloth diaper bunch between the baby's legs forming a little pouch.
- WHY AREN'T MY NEW NATURAL PREFOLDS ABSORBENT?
To hold your wipes you can use an empty disposable wipes container or a wipes warmer
- 2 or 3 drops of tea tree oil.
- 1 tablespoon of Dr. Bronner's soap.