Cloth diapers questions from the mailbag

Since we made the switch from disposable diapers to cloth last year, I’ve received a lot of questions from other cloth newbies and mothers considering cloth.

Since the mothers who ask these questions thought my answers might be helpful, I’ve decided to share my answers here too.  Feel free to jump in if you have anything to add to my cloth diaper q&a.

Good drying rack for diapers?

I read that you don’t use an electric dryer.  I have one, but would like to air dry my diapers to make them last (for more children, hopefully!).  Do you have a suggestion for a sturdy/large-enough-to-hold-a-couple-day’s-worth-of-diapers drying rack? The one I had before was your run-of-the-mill Wal-Mart variety that ended up breaking on me and didn’t always hold my entire load of diapers at once.

answer:

For a drying rack, I love my 2 racks from IKEA.  One is nearly 6 feet tall and holds 2-3 loads of laundry – I can’t seem to find it on their website but it’s called the Antonius clothes dryer, and costs $37.99.

They also have a smaller drying rack that holds about as much as the walmart variety you mentioned but seems to hold up much better. It’s $6.99.  You can get one similar to the smaller model at The Container Store for about $20.  I know, that’s a huge price difference, but the quality is better and you’re more likely to have one nearby.  Even at $20, I think it’s well worth it – it’s a great, simple design that folds down flat in one second flat so you can store it behind the sofa, etc.

How to store dirty diapers?

What do you use to store your diapers in before you wash them.  Have you ever heard of/researched the type of bag I referred to above…Planet Wise Wet/dry bag?  It is 16.5 x 27 inches, which seems large, but maybe I am nuts for thinking this will work for everyday use at home??

answer:

We store our dirty diapers in one of those diaper genie buckets, found at a yard sale for $2.  :)  I pulled out the insides, so it’s just a bucket with a flip-top lid.   A trash can with a flip top lid would do nicely too.

Many people are very happy with wetbags, so that’s certainly an option, though I’ve only used our wetbags in the diaper bag.  Make sure you get one that seals well to keep both wetness and odor inside.  Most can be turned inside out and tossed in the washer when you wash diapers.

My sister uses a standard 5 gallon bucket with the lid set loosely on top so it’s not a struggle every time.

Whatever you use, make sure it has plenty of room to hold all your diapers between washings.  You’ll probably find that you change a bit more often with cloth diapers than disposables, so it may take a little more room than you expect.  It’s also  important not to pack the diapers too firmly between washes.  Ventilation keeps them from developing extra stink that can be hard to remove.

How to keep the stink away?

I do not want to bleach my diapers this time around, but I am worried that the stink will eventually overtake them.  I can hang them out in the sun for the first few months (baby’s due in July), but even here in northern Georgia – it gets too cold in the winter to be hanging the diapers out all the time.  Does Charlie’s Soap truly keep the stink away? I thought I read that you had to seek out other ways to deter it.  What tricks have you learned?

answer:

I did (and do) have problems with stink, but I blame our extremely hard water and our washer, which is definitely having issues.  If we prewash with cold, then wash twice in hot with just a bit of detergent, and if we wash every 2 days and don’t let the bucket get packed too full, we do alright.

Best diaper cover?

What diaper cover have you been most satisfied with (please don’t tell me about any that you’ve sewn yourself… remember – I’m not there yet! :)

answer:

Regarding my favorite diaper cover, I think Proraps are probably the best buy and most people prefer velcro to snaps, which is exactly what Proraps offer.  But honestly – we have trouble with velcro in our house.  I prefer anything with snaps.  The fit isn’t so infinitely adjustable, but it’s good enough for us and far more durable.

We started out with prefolds, snappies and Prorap covers. They worked very well for us aside from the fuzzies in the velcro, but since I’m pregnant and we always wind up with 2 in diapers, I decided to switch to Coolababy all-in-one pocket diapers from ebay.  They fit newborn through toddler so we won’t need 2 separate diaper stashes. There are certainly other nicer choices, but these are very affordable (especially if you buy 24 at a time) and very easy to use.

Got questions?  I’m no expert, but I’ll try to answer them.

Comments

  1. I use my ironing board without the cover on it for a drying rack. There are holes in it just the right size for hangers–she could clip the diapers or drape them over hangers.

    This was a great solution for me to save money at the laundromat without negating savings by buying an expensive drying rack.

  2. I have been using a set of Bumgenius I bought at a garage sale, and I love them, but the velcro tabs are a bit worn out.
    I did have a stink problem but found that sun drying fixed it better than extra washing and was cheaper too. It rains a lot here so when I can’t sun dry, and notice a smell, I just add a little bleach to my wash (as recommended on the Bumgenius site). This was also recommended by the previous owner, and the elastic and water proofing still work fine, so hopefully I will get one more baby through them.
    FYI, I use Charlies Soap and did have a weird smell when the baby would urinate, but I re-read their directions for washing diapers and now use: a half scoop in a cold rinse, half scoop in a hot wash with extra rinse, and if they smell like C. Soap I do one more cold rinse then dry. I also store them in a dry pail, but totally hand rinse the (toddler) poo diapers before putting them in the pail.
    Question: Can anyone recommend a good diaper/ diaper cover for a chunky 28lb toddler with a big belly? (Don’t laugh, she is the cutest thing ever! ;) We are not ready to potty train, but she is getting too big for our BG diapers and wets heavily. Thanks!

  3. I was going to ask for you to come back and report on using your AIOs for a newborn. I always hear that AIOs fit all baby — except for newborns and larger toddlers. Ie the ends.

  4. FYI: We live in Ikea “heaven” here in DC/Baltimore–we have four Ikeas within an hour! But, I was just there last week, looking at the drying racks and the one you mentioned was no where to be found. I wonder if they have discontinued it? Bummer.

    I am long past the diaper stage but was hoping to pick one up for my daughter who is heading to college this fall.

  5. Are the coolababy diapers rather bulky? I’m having a hard time picturing a one size diaper that would fit a newborn to an infant over 12 months.
    I’m currently a disposable user, and I can’t stand the bulk of cloth diapers. I would switch for environment and money reasons if I had the money for startup cost, though.

    • Mercy,
      I’ve been using coolababy diapers since my toddler was about 7 months old, and she wasn’t a big baby. They may have been a little bigger than disposables but certainly not huge. One downside can also be an advantage – they are not tremendously absorbent, but also not very bulky. We always double the insert for nighttime use.
      I’ve never tried them on a newborn – we’ll cross that bridge in 12 weeks. :)

      Jen,
      I just got a second rack at Ikea a couple of weeks ago, so I know they still carry it. I hope they’re not discontinuing it. Maybe I’d better get more…

  6. Jenn,
    I have been using the homemade soap since last July and haven’t had a problem yet with absorbing. I have hard water so I use the liquid recipe. I tried the dry once, but didn’t like it as well. It worked fine, I just felt cheated. Maybe it was just me. I don’t have to make the soap near as often as I had to buy it and I like that. None of my clothes have a smell at all so when there is no smell then I know they are clean. I do have to rinse and soak my cheese cloth in vinegar before washing after I make butter though or my clothes will smell like butter. That may just be me though.

    As for the freezing clothes, it’s an all day thing. Where I live now I may get only have a day of sun & the other of rain so I don’t do it too often, but I do hang inside. The clothes first freeze and then dry. I remember going outside with my Granny at something like 7am to hang out and retrieving just before supper. You have to have some sun though, I never tried it on a cloudy day. On rainy days she hung up on her back porch and it still worked for her. I would first try it on towels. They are thick but you don’t have to worry about your diapers drying in time while you experiment. I do hope it works for you. It can be funny going out with gloves on to hang up clothes, but I think it’s worth it.
    Blessings,
    april

  7. kristina says:

    Regarding the stink- I use a combination of vinegar (cuts urine) or baking soda sometimes, and borax soap added to the wash, as well as in the diaper pail. Obviously, I never combine the baking soda days with the vinegar days. We’re using the same diapers/wraps for boy number three, so it obviously works without harming the diapers. We used prowraps for the newborn size, bummis until large, and then someone gave me some bumgenius. Wow. But I’m cheap. Also, if the wraps lose their water proofing, I spray shoe water-proofer on and it protects the wrap for another few months….

  8. Something easy that helps with stink: try soaking them during the wash!
    I just stop the washer at some point while they’re agitating with the detergent and let them soak a bit…. it seems to give the detergent more time to work.

  9. April,
    How long have you been using the soaps gone by recipe for your diapers? I have wanted to use homemade soap but I have been hesitant b/c they say not to use real soap on diapers as it can cause absorbency issues as well as odor issues(soap leaves residue). Usually using a detergent rather than a soap is what is recommended. I would love to know more about the results you see with it and yes, how long you have been using that particular recipe. Which recipe on the site do you use?
    Also did the clothes you freeze dried really dry, it seems like the moisture in them would freeze before it dried? Can you tell me about how she/you did it? Do they stay outdoors all day, a few hours? Do they need to hang after you bring them in? Thanks! :)

  10. I store my diapers in the bathroom sink in water. I know, gross. But my washer is right beside it so I don’t actually accumilate many diapers. Just throw the dirty ones in with the towels or sheets.
    I have poured vinegar on mine for odors, but usually my soap gets it all out. I use the recipe off of soaps gone by.
    As for fabric softner I read that it can make the diapers less absorbent so I stay away from that, just in case it’s true.
    I too like the snap covers & have gotten mine from motherease. I haven’t heard of the other kinds you all mentioned, but will look into it. I am very interested in elimination communication, never heard of that before. Thanks Heather Q. for giving me something else to research :) Maybe I’ll be able to do it with baby #5.
    Jenn, you mentioned freeze drying. My Granny did this. She said the clothes were always softer after they froze. I have had the same outcome she had when I tried this. However, I haven’t done it with diapers so I can’t say about that.

  11. I have used cloth nappies with all 5 of my children. I use a square of towelling and fold it myself. I put them in a big plastic bucket with a lid. It’s good to have at least 2. Each day I take the bucket to the laundry and fill it with hot water and nappy soaker. I empty the bucket from the day before into the washing machine and wash in hot water. I hang them out on the washing line outside. The sun bleaches out any poo stains and smells. If it is raining I hang them under cover (or around the dining room if it is raining for days at a time like right now!). They do get a bit scratchy after a while so I am going to start putting fabric softener in the washing machine. Hope this helps.

  12. My favorite cover is Flip (one size and with snaps). It is about $14, but since it can last a child so long (and fit different-aged children at the same time), I think it is worth the cost.

    Since one-size diapers don’t fit newborns, I love Thirsties XS covers and Thirsties Duo Size 1. I just heard that Thirsties is coming out with a snap version, and I am so excited, since I don’t like velcro.

    We’ve been using Rockin’ Green soap, and it works great to combat the stinkies, which we’ve struggled with due to our hard water and HE front loading machines.

    We store our diapers in a flip-top lidded garbage can as well, and we line it with a WHAMies pail liner. It certainly isn’t necessary, but it is nice to just toss the liner in the wash with the diapers and not worry about washing the trash can out all the time.

  13. We have been using cloth for 2yrs. At one point we were so blessed we had 3 children in cloth diapers all at once. :)
    I too use an old lidded-garbage pail with a washable pail liner to store my diapers.
    After much stinking and searching I have found that vinegar rinses (first & last) and Charlie’s Soap eliminate the stink best for us.
    My wash cycles: Cold water + vinegar prewash, cold water +Charlie’s wash, hot water +Charlie’s wash, vinegar rinse, plain rinse, cotton to dryer, covers to drying rack.
    My favorite covers are snap covers (flip & booroi mostly) as velcro covers just do not last well for multiple children even with air drying.
    I like using the dryer for my pre-folds as an extra sanitation cycle. 45min on medium will kill most germs and leave my diapers soft (no softeners). I live in the Mid West so there is no line drying for me in the winter.
    Any one have experience with “freeze drying” clothes/diapers outside in the winter like they did long ago?

  14. HeatherQ says:

    Hi! I love your blog. I have an almost 9 month old and we have been using cloth diapers (prefolds, snappis, and thirsties) since she was born and love it. You have probably heard of this but I can not help but ask…have you ever considered elimination communication? I came across the idea when I was pregnant about how women all over the world live with no diapers. We have practiced it since baby was 2 weeks old with great success. The cloth diapers are really just backup, and its hard to tell people i love cloth diapers without explaining that I only wash (by hand) an average of 7 per week (we still average anywhere between 0 and 2 pee misses a day, but she is able to go on short outings, sleep all night, and play at home with no diaper) and she has not pooped anywhere besides the toilet since 4 months.
    I just wanted to know if its something you had considered. It does not take up any more time than diapering after about month two, but I realize you are much busier than I am, seeing as how I only have one kiddo (but am hoping for many more)
    I know it isnt for everyone and i almost hate bringing it up because it annoys people for some reason, but I couldnt resist after this post ;)

    • HeatherQ,
      I don’t mind the suggestion at all, and I don’t think it’s crazy. My sister does EC with her children.
      However, hubby thinks it’s crazy and I’m not going to push the issue. Also, I’m afraid it might be very hard to make the change in our house. I’m spoiled with lots of help when it comes to changing diapers, but I don’t think my older children would take too well to EC and I don’t want to give up all my help. As I said, I’m spoiled. :)
      I think it could be a great thing to start with one’s first child, when you can give them your undivided attention while you both learn. Then subsequent children should be much easier with an experienced mom.

  15. Your welcome and Thanks for sharing your life and your lovely family!
    It is sad for them that they can’t embrace differences and learn from them.
    All we need is love!
    And Mexican chicken corn chowder for dinner tonight, and thanks to your daughter, mint chocolate chip ice cream cake and maybe a chocolate peanut butter version for my Son’s 11 th birthday party next Saturday!

  16. I love this! I am SO HAPPY to read about another person who air dries their cloth diapers.

    You’ve inspired me! I think I will write a blog post about my own routine, which is simple and which I love.

    I use Thirsties, which are my FAVORITE cover (I’ve tried several kinds).

    I use a dry bucket. It’s actually just a plastic trash can with a lid. Then I wash everything in hot water with Oasis detergent. My DS is one and no stink yet.

  17. I’m a cloth diaper newbie myself, but my 6+ months experience confirms what I’ve read elsewhere: cotton is the easiest diaper fabric for keeping stains, stinkies, and rashes from detergent residue away.

    While it’s definitely not without its adjustments and learning curve, my husband and I have been pleasantly surprised at how well our transition has gone. We sure wish we’d started saving money in this area with Baby #1 instead of Baby #6!

  18. Do you know what Happened to Emily’s blog (Under $1000 per month?)? I have tried several links and they all say the blog doesn’t exist. Do you know?

  19. Kim,
    Curiosity about why people hate another blogger that I read lead me to a few spam sites…People referring to the “whacked/weird” lady from in a shoe lead me to your blog.
    I have never been more happy about my curiosity…or nosiness. I LOVE your blog. I find you and your family to be entertaining, educational, charming, loving, normal people!

    • Angel,
      Thank you for visiting our blog and taking time to introduce yourself.
      I can’t help but feel a little sorry for people who have no better way to spend their time than in spreading slander and hatred and who find their friends that way.
      I wonder how they’ll feel if they learn that they have done you and me a kindness?

  20. I must say that sunning the diapers really does help with stink! I had left about 5 diaper in a plastic bag and had forgotten about them for 6 weeks!!! I’m not kidding… it may even have been longer! It was SO stinky. I was sure I was going to have to throw them away. I washed them with bleach because I was worried about disinfecting them. Even after bleach and washing them multiple times, coming out of the dryer they still stunk. They were nice and clean, but stunk. I them decided to hang them outside and see what would happen. And what do you know. One afternoon in the February (cold weather) sun. The smell disapeared! It really worked and now we are using them again! Yay!

    Right now I am using fuzzi bunz and really like them, but the ones I have are a little wide in the croch and my daughter doesn’t like that. She got used to sposies and now it has been hard to go back! :)

  21. Yay!

    My favorite diaper cover is the Flip. It’s one-size and it has snaps. Really economical!

  22. If you wash the diapers in vinegar and air them in the sun it is a natural bleach for them. Try washing in hot water with the vinegar to get the stains etc. out.

  23. I heard that adding a little white vinegar to the washload (not sure if in rinse or wash) helps get rid of stink in diapers.

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