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.
- Cloth diaper covers. We 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.
- 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.
Start to Finish
- 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.
- 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.
- Fold the liner in thirds and tuck inside the gDiaper pouch.
- Put the diaper back on — remembering gDiapers Velcro in the back, not the front!
DONE. That was easy, right?
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?