Cloth Diapering: Our System

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Last week, we explored the advantages and disadvantages of cloth diapers, and this week we’re going a step further by looking at my family’s system of cloth diapering. After much trial and error, this is the method that works best for us.

 

Raw Materials

  • Cloth diaper coversWe use gDiaper covers, which have a jersey (t-shirt) exterior layer with a plastic pouch layer inside that attaches to the jersey layer with snaps. We used other types of covers before we settled on the gDiaper covers, but there was a lot of leakage. We also discovered that Eli was gassier with certain covers that were bulky around his tummy — the covers didn’t let him bend his legs to get his gas out. At this age, we use 2 or 3 covers and about 10 liners in a typical day.

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  • Liners.  The cover keeps the dirty stuff from leaking out, but the diaper still needs an absorbent layer. For this, we use prefold cloth diapers. Prefolds are simply a rectangle of absorbent cotton that is thicker in the middle with two thinner sections on the outside. You can buy prefolds made of birdseye at most large stores, but these are not ideal for cloth diapering since they aren’t very thick or absorbent. They make better burp cloths than diapers. Liners come in multiple sizes, but the newborn and small work well in the gDiapers. One benefit to using them as liners instead of as a safety-pinned diaper is that you don’t have to buy them in various sizes. The newborn and small prefolds fit in both medium and large gDiapers.
  • Trash can. We use disposable wipes so we have a little trash can handy for the disposable items.
  • Laundry hamper and liner bag.  Our laundry hamper is actually a large kitchen trash can we adapted for this. I like the easy-open top on the can and the size is just about perfect. You’ll want something large enough to hold a day or so of diapers, but not so large that it gets stinky before you do laundry. We also have a liner bag that I made specifically for this trash can. You can also buy these online — usually called a wet bag — from cloth diaper specialty stores. The liner may seem like an unnecessary item, but it isn’t! We use the bag to carry the soiled diapers to the laundry, and we can wash the bag itself in the same load. Without a bag, all the stuff on the diapers will coat the inside of the can.

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Start to Finish

  1. Take the dirty diaper off. Pull the liner out of the cover and toss in the hamper. (The back of the diaper liner is usually dry in Eli’s diapers so that’s a good place to grab it.) Eli’s bowel movements are still soft enough that I don’t rinse any of his liners before putting them in the hamper.
  2. If the jersey part of the cover isn’t wet, reuse that cover. If it’s wet, toss the cover in the hamper and get a new cover.
  3. Fold the liner in thirds and tuck inside the gDiaper pouch.
  4. Put the diaper back on — remembering gDiapers Velcro in the back, not the front!

DONE. That was easy, right?

I promise that's a clean diaper! The shadows are the folds of the prefold liner.

I promise that’s a clean diaper! The shadows are the folds of the prefold liner.

 

Washing

As I mentioned above, I don’t rinse Eli’s liners so they can get a little stinky before it’s time to do laundry. A shaker of baking soda near the changing table helps. I just sprinkle a little right into the hamper when I notice a bit of smell. When I run low on diapers, it’s time to wash.

 

I wash Eli’s diaper covers, liners and hamper liner bag in hot water along with Eli’s dirty clothes. I recommend using Tide, homemade detergent or other strong detergent since cheaper detergents don’t seem to get the diapers clean. Over time, they can build up a slight odor if they aren’t well cleaned at every wash. I keep Tide and homemade detergent on hand just for Eli’s loads.

 

Drying diapers on a clothesline would add to the cost savings of cloth diapers. But, right now, we don’t have a clothesline so I dry these in the dryer, including the covers and liner bag. If I dry them on a hot setting, they don’t take any longer than a normal dryer load.

Does this look anything like your cloth diapering method?

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7 thoughts on “Cloth Diapering: Our System

  1. […] the last few weeks, we’ve discussed cloth diapering and the many advantages to cloth diapers. But, no matter how much I love cloth diapers for our baby, […]

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    […] of you wonderful readers recently asked me for a tutorial on creating a wet bag for cloth diapers, so here it […]

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  6. Nathalie Poling April 12, 2014 at 10:51 pm Reply

    I’m not trying to be extra gross here but I always wonder about the washing process when someone says they don’t rinse poppy diapers. My daughter still has very soft poops too but I am always hesitant to throw the poppy dipes straight into the washer. I’ve heard that some moms do a cold (short) wash with no detergent first then a warm or hot long wash with detergent if they don’t rinse the dirty diapers. Does poop get all in the washing machine? Are there chunks left behind ever? Sorry to be so graphic but I’m dying to know because I feel like I spend a significant amount of time rinsing every speck of poop off the diapers (while they are still “fresh” because it comes off easier) before I wash them. Also, I’m afraid to use cloth wipes for the same reason. I have cut down on disposables by using cloth for pee and as the final wipe after poop. Maybe I am making more work for myself? Thanks for any insight! Good post!

    • heatheralwin April 12, 2014 at 11:11 pm Reply

      I honestly feel that everything gets clean in the washer, although a good soak probably wouldn’t hurt. I never noticed any chunks in the wash or anything left behind. I do tend to dump any solid poo into the toilet if it separates easily from the diaper. I recommend trying a low-maintenance rinsing method to see if it works for you.

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