If you’re looking at every item in your budget and you have a child (or two) in diapers, it might be time to consider switching to cloth.
Up until recently, cloth diapers weren’t really an option for most working moms. I can only vaguely remember my own mother soaking my little brother’s soiled diapers in a pail and swishing them around in the toilet. (I can’t even picture myself doing that.) Furthermore I had my doubts about whether my daughter’s nursery school would even accommodate a cloth diapered baby. Last – but certainly not least, I didn’t need any more laundry to do.
But I kept hearing about how much more affordable cloth diapers are compared to disposables so it seemed worth looking into. Though I’m on my sixth baby (and every last one of them has used disposable diapers) thanks to the Great Recession, I’ve started seriously examining almost anything that saves money. But how much would cloth diapers actually save?
It turns out, a whole lot.
Like $1200 a year!
(Which means an extra $100 a month in my budget.)
That got my attention.
Disposable diapers range in price from 16¢ – 65¢ each. I take great pains to use coupons, buy in bulk and stock up during in-store specials; nevertheless, even natural, organic-style disposables take up a lot of space in landfills – not to mention my garbage can. The more I thought about it, I wasn’t too crazy about having those chemicals inside of disposable diapers (the stuff that turns into a gel when it gets wet) even touching my baby. Aside from saving money, cloth diapers might help in my efforts to go green, while keeping things as natural as possible for the baby.
Since I knew next to nothing about using cloth diapers, I tried to search online. It seemed every website I came across assumed two things:
- That I was a stay at home mom. (I’m not.)
- That I at least knew something. (I didn’t.)
Which kind of cloth diaper should I try? I eventually chose the gDiaper System with the gCloth Inserts . (And I’m so glad I did) It had great reviews, and since it was on sale, I didn’t need a special coupon code plus they had free shipping. The gDiaper is a stretchy-fabric diaper cover with Velcro closures on the waistband and a snap-in waterproof liner that holds the absorbent cloth diaper (called gCloth Inserts ) in place. The gDiaper System also has an option for a disposable biodegradable insert instead of the cloth one (called gRefills) which are flushable — but be forewarned, gRefills cost as much as an entire disposable diaper. So I opted for just the gCloth Inserts. The gCloth is made with two upper layers of super- soft cotton fleece, while the bottom side has two layers of hemp — which is 60% more absorbent than cotton. The cloth inserts aren’t bulky, certainly keep the baby dry and they don’t leak easily. However the cloth inserts do take longer to dry after you wash them than most clothing. And as a word to the wise, I didn’t realize how much I had come to rely on the way disposables “balloon up” when it’s time for a diaper change. Cloth diapers don’t do that. So I had to get into the habit of checking to make sure the baby is dry inside.
How many diapers will I need? I started with 6 gDiapers and 12 gCloth Inserts. This might be enough for an older baby who only needs a few diaper changes per day. But it even still, that would mean doing laundry almost daily. After a week of daily laundry, I decided to get another set of 6 gDiapers and another dozen gCloth Inserts.
What do I do with the dirty diapers? Dump any solids down the toilet. Then rinse the gCloth Inserts out with cold water. If you have a hand-held shower head then it’s even easier. (And if your kids are still little, you really ought to get one of those. It makes bath time and rinsing hair so much faster.) I use this one twisted to the pulsating jet setting to rinse out diapers: Handheld Showerhead.
But I digress…whether it is #1 or #2, I rinse out the cloth insert, (and/or the liner and diaper cover if necessary) and put them in a small garbage pail with a lid – (one we already had.) For the sake of clarity, I took a permanent marker and wrote “Diapers” on the outside of it. I keep the rinsed diapers in there until I’m ready to do the wash. Then I wash them with the rest of our laundry.
Do I need any special holding bag for dirty diapers? — No, not at all. I use the one-gallon sized, blue-tinted Glad Freezer Bags . You can write the child’s name + Diapers on the outside. I keep one in the diaper bag, one near the changing table or anyplace else where I frequently change the baby.
What kind of detergent should I use on them? I use Charlie’s Soap Powder . Then again, it’s what I use for the rest of our laundry anyway. It works beautifully, and only costs 12¢ per load! But if a diaper has sat for a while and you’re worried about lingering odor, just add baking soda to that load. (Or white vinegar if it’s got a particularly strong ammonia smell to it) Baking Soda or white vinegar will neutralize the ph of urine and eliminate the odor. I’ve only done this once, so it isn’t something that needs to be done often.
Will the baby’s school even accommodate cloth diapers? Relax, they may already have a few cloth diapered babies there. Often cloth diapers are the only thing babies with very sensitive skin can use. So put several pre-set up diapers in the baby’s diaper bag with a few extra inserts and be sure to give them a quick demonstration of how to put them on, take them off and how put the soiled inserts into the baby’s big zip lock.
Diaper pins? Not anymore. No longer needed or used. (Hurray!)
Plastic/waterproof pants? Unnecessary. The liner that comes with the gDiaper cover makes these obsolete. In short, the gDiaper cover + the removable waterproof liner that comes with it and the cloth inserts are all you need.
- It’ll be easier to make the transition if you have your own washer/dryer at home or if you have a outdoor clothesline (to make drying faster and easier.)
- Start with at least the 6 pack of the covers and get at least a dozen of the gCloth Inserts (two of the six packs). Try to start on a weekend or when you’ll be off work for a few days. Just getting one or two cloth diapers to “test it out” won’t enable you to get a realistic feel for how great these can be.
- My baby was in size 4 disposable diapers when we started using gDiapers. She weighed enough to fit either the medium or the large, but I got the large size hoping she wouldn’t grow out of them until she’s potty trained. The large size fits her just fine, however she does have “chunky” little legs that may be helping her fill out the larger size.
- Don’t pull the Velcro on the waistband as tightly as you would on a disposable. Otherwise the little snaps that keep the waterproof liner in place might irritate the baby’s skin. The gDiaper doesn’t need the extra tightness to prevent leaks.
- Forget about those disposable liners that are designed to be placed on the top of a cloth diaper to allegedly make cleaning #2 easier. (They delayed the absorbency of #1 just enough to cause leaks. My diapers leaked each and every time I tried to put one of those in.)
- Double up and put two gCloths in at night or for those times you’re expecting it to be a little while before the next diaper change. I put them with the hemp sides facing each other and the soft fleece on the top and bottom.
- Be sure you get them on sale…With an automatic coupon…Plus Free Shipping, here’s how to get them as cheaply as possible:
Incidentally, even if you’re not in the market for Cloth diapers, you should still check out Amazon Mom. They offer an extra 15% discount on products of for mothers and children with occasional coupon codes that substantially discount even the sale prices. The shipping is fast and you’ll get what you’re looking for at a much cheaper price. I started using Amazon Mom because it was the most affordable option I could find for most baby supplies and toys. Now with the cost of gas, and rising prices, there’s nothing that even comes close to saving as much money!
Disclosure: When you order through our links, you’ll get the discounts we’ve described and we’ll get credit for referring you!