eK-3zmjBImBHOZjRJYEZVBw4ZWs Shaky Mommy: Cloth Diapers - Easy & Inexpensive!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cloth Diapers - Easy & Inexpensive!

Most people I meet who see my cloth diapers are intrigued by them and find them adorable. However, there seem to be a few things that hold people back from cloth diapering. The things I hear most are:

"It's too much work."
"I don't want to touch poop."
"They're $25 each? I don't have the money to get started."
"I don't think there's enough cost savings to justify all the work."

I love cloth diapering. I think more people would do it if they knew more about it and realized just how easy it is to get started. 

Cloth diapers are simple. 

Although I'd be lying if I said they were as easy as disposables. What's easier than just throwing something away? Let's face it, eating on paper plates is easier than washing dishes or loading & unloading the dishwasher. Yet, most of us do not use paper plates for every meal. I look at cloth the same way. I do three extra loads of laundry each week. That's all. I do not put my diapers in the dryer (though you certainly can), because I like to hang them out. I enjoy the way they look hanging on the drying rack and I like seeing them drying in the sunshine on sunny days. I have a total of 15-20 minutes invested in loading the washer each week, 15-20 minutes hanging the diapers out, and 10-15 minutes stuffing pockets or putting the diapers back together. That's less than an hour each week devoted to cloth diapering. I never run out of diapers. I never have to go to the store late at night or early in the morning to get diapers. I never have to call my husband and say "Please pick up diapers on the way home - we're about to run out!" For me, that extra hour each week is well spent. There's just something very rewarding about putting a poop stained diaper in the wash and bringing it out all nice and clean and fluffy and white, ready to be worn again!

As for changing them, most cloth diapers these days are as easy to put on and take off as a disposable. No pins, no pull on rubber pants. Even using the cloth diapering staple, prefolds, is easier with fitted waterproof covers. Just fold the prefold, lay it in the cover, and velcro the cover around the baby's waist. Easy!

Are you a parent? Then you will touch poop. 

This will happen - I promise you. You don't have to use cloth diapers to be a poop toucher. You may be changing a disposable and you put your hand in it accidentally, not realizing the diaper leaked onto the baby's outfit. It might happen when you're wiping him, and the baby wipe isn't quite strong enough to contain that poop and it comes through the wipe onto your hands. You may touch it when your baby poops in the tub, and you scoop it up with your hands to keep the baby from scooping it up with his. You may touch it when your toddler removes a diaper and paints the wall, crib, and herself with the contents of that diaper. All of these things have happened to me or my friends (and all happened while we were using disposables). Unless you wear gloves to deal with your child, you'll get poop on your hands (and maybe your clothes, too!) Kids find a way to get poop and other gross substances all over the place.   

I don't touch poop any more now that I'm cloth diapering than I did when my first baby was in disposables. For the first 6 months when Jaxon was exclusively breastfed, I threw the poop straight into the washer and never thought about it again. Now, for most changes, I shake his poop into the toilet and I'm done. Occasionally that poop needs a little help getting off the diaper and I just use a piece of toilet paper to help it off and let the washer deal with the rest. 

Now you might be saying "eww, you put poop in your washer?" Yep, I do. And the diapers come clean. Our clothes still get clean. No one has ever thought our clothes smelled like poop. What do you do when your child vomits in the middle of the night? I throw my kid's sheets into the washer, vomit and all, and let the washer deal with it. I've never once thought about bleaching my washer after something like that. To me, vomit is as nasty or nastier than poop. My washer handles vomit just fine. It handles poop just fine too.

If you want to get rid of the poop before diapers enter your washer, get a diaper sprayer from Cotton Babies or use disposable liners so you can just remove the liner and flush the poop. 

You're going to wash your hands after every diaper change anyway. You'll be fine. I promise. 

There are cloth diapering options for every budget.

One of my favorite diapers to recommend is the BumGenius Elemental

BumGenius Elemental Artist Series
You can purchase it from Cotton Babies, which is one of my favorite places to purchase diapers from because they always offer free shipping and low prices! The Elemental is organic cotton and is the easiest type of diaper to use because it's an all in one diaper. It goes on just like a disposable, comes off and goes into the wash. They are easy to wash because they have natural fibers. When it comes out of the dryer, it's ready to go back on the baby again. No snapping inserts in, no stuffing pockets. These diapers do cost $25 each. A full supply of cloth diapers is considered to be 24: that's 12 diapers per day, washing every other day. So for all 24 diapers, you'll pay $600. Considering that these are one-size diapers that will last you from birth through potty training, they are all you will need. You don't have to be a mathematician to know that it will cost you more than $600 to diaper a baby in disposables for 2+ years! Purchase one cloth diaper every two weeks from the time you find out you're pregnant and you'll have about 17 diapers by the time your baby is born! 
BumGenius 4.0 Artist Series prints
In addition, there are plenty of less expensive options for cloth diapering. You can choose the BumGenius 4.0 for only $20 a diaper. The Econobum diapering system offers a cloth diapering kit for just $48.95, which includes 3 covers, 12 prefolds, and a wet bag to store dirty diapers in. Two of those kits will have you cloth diapering full time for less than $100! Want to just try out cloth diapering before you invest a substantial amount of money in it? Purchase an Econobum cover and prefold for just $9.95
Econobum cover over a flat cloth diaper

For just $13.95, you can get a Flip cover that is a one size cover that will fit baby from birth to potty training. You can place almost anything absorbent inside this cover to use for a diaper. Target sells flour sack towels for about $1.25 each. Fold them to fit inside the diaper cover, lay in place, and replace when wet. Both the Flip & Econobum covers are wipe clean, so you can reuse them all day long. With a couple of covers, and $10 worth of flour sack towels from Target, you've got a day's worth of cloth diapers that can be used over and over again. 

Flip organic cotton insert, secured with Snappi

Remember, you don't have to start with a full supply of diapers. Pick up what you can afford right now. Use 1 cloth diaper each day instead of disposables. Use cloth diapers only on weekends. Try it out. You'll love it and you'll begin looking for ways to replace more of your baby's diaper changes with cloth.

What would you do with an extra $20 each week?

As I mentioned before in a previous post, saving money was not my primary reason for using cloth diapers. It really wasn't a reason at all at first. But I've learned that most people who show interest in my cloth diapers mention cost savings as a reason for their interest. I always say to them that we will save money by cloth diapering, but I was ashamed to realize I didn't know how much we had saved, or really if we had even saved money at this point.

So I sat down and did the math. We have saved more than $150 at this point by using cloth diapers, and even more if you calculate what we have saved by using cloth wipes! Considering that Jaxon is just 10 months old and probably has at least 14 months before I even begin to attempt to potty train him, we stand to save more than $1200 on diapers before this is all over with. Side note: I've got big plans for those savings (beach trips)!

Disposable diapers costs about .25 each. Each day, I change Jaxon 8-10 times. He has this habit of pooping as soon as he gets a fresh diaper, so sometimes it's even more than that. I save $2-$3 each day just by using cloth diapers. That's $14-$21 a week! 

Know what else? When Jaxon potty trains, I'll be able to sell his diapers. Yes, really. We had a few newborn diapers. I sold them for 2/3 what we paid for them. Cloth diapers retain their value very well.  

Interested in switching?  
Need help navigating the seemingly endless world of cloth? It's more popular than ever and it can be overwhelming to someone just checking it out.
Here are some great resources: 

Cotton Babies- there are great articles on the site about clothdiapering and you can buy everything you need to get started there.

Dirty Diaper Laundry - trying to find the perfect cloth diaper for you? Kim's cloth diaper finder on dirtydiaperlaundry.com will help you find whatever you are looking for. Need a diaper with Velcro closure for less than $13? You've come to the right place. 

All About Cloth Diapers - great articles on everything cloth related, including some to help you get started.

Still overwhelmed and just want to ask questions of a real, live person? Email me at shakymommy at gmail dot com. I'm not an expert, but I've been doing this for 10 months now and I'd be happy to help!

Now it's your turn to talk -tell me what you think about cloth diapering. If you currently cloth diaper, tell me why you love it. If you're not cloth diapering, tell me what keeps you from trying it! As always, I love your comments, but this time, there's a little something extra in it for you - be sure and read the fine print below!

I received no form of compensation for this post, but I am entering this post into a contest. The winner of the contest receives 12 BumGenius diapers! If I win, I'll get to choose one random person who comments on the winning blog post to receive 12 BumGenius diapers, too! So if you comment here and I win, you could win free diapers! How cool would that be?


  1. So much great information! I love the cute baby bums, too -- who can resist a cloth-diapered baby??

    And about the poop... yeah. People don't realize that things that were unthinkably gross before you were a parent become commonplace after you are. Since my CD contain poop better than disposies ever did, I'd wager that I touch much less poop nowadays than I did before I switched!

    1. I agree. I remember several very nasty poop-touching incidents with my first baby. I was concerned about how cloth would hold up to newborn breastfed baby poop but it did great. Cloth is actually so much more absorbent than disposables and the back elastic contains all those back-splosion poops that require hosing the baby down!

  2. I love your post! I can't wait to get started with cloth diapering when our first arrives this summer! :)

    1. It's a lot of fun! Congratulations on your baby! Have you entered the diaper giveaways at Life with Levi & The Gnome's Mom? I won several diapers while I was pregnant and it really helped me to get a stash built up before the baby came!

  3. Throughout pregnancy I bought cloth diapers here and there, and I'm so glad that I did because now neither me nor my husband are employed and we wouldn't be able to afford to diaper our son if I hadn't already decided on cloth and begun investing in it! Cloth diapers are a lifesaver, and they're adorable too!

    1. That was so smart of you! We are also going through some very tough times and I'm so happy that I do not have to worry about diapers or formula - it would really wreck our tight budget to have to spend that kind of money each week. Hope things turn around for you guys soon!

  4. So much cuteness. I really appreciate seeing the pricing break downs..and of course, it also makes me kick myself for the disposable diaper purchases we made for our first two..but no more with #3 next month.

    1. Oh, me too! Jaxon is my first to cloth diaper. When I think of all the money wasted, I get a little sick :(
      But my second also had severe diaper rashes and skin irritations and I find myself wondering sometimes if cloth would have helped. But you do the best with the knowledge you have at the time, and I had no clue about modern cloth diapers at that time. So glad I know about them now. Congrats on your coming baby! Hope your delivery goes well!

  5. I'm only 20 years old, and can't say I have any diapering stories or experiences. Heck I'm not even married yet (crossing fingers it won't be much longer now). But I've been wishing more and more that I would have started a "hope chest" a few years ago. I've been slowly transitioning into more natural products, and I really want to start my own family with those habits. I came across cloth diapering sometime last year, and I've been intrigued ever since. I connect diapers with Walmart, crowded and noisy stores, huge shopping carts, and a thinner wallet. And maybe it sounds silly, but I have different associations with cloth diapers. They seem more personal, gentler, and I dream of my own little family just starting out. It's like the difference between a home-cooked meal and settling in with a Disney movie vs greasy fast-food on a sticky table and corralling screaming kids into the car. Cloth just sounds more like home and the better choice, rather than taking mothering advice from big name brands trying to sell me something to put in my garbage can. I plan to have homegrown children that are not raised by manufacturing companies. (Note - I'm not strictly against mass-produced items or supercenters, I just think moderation is best). Besides that, I believe in work over waste. And if I gain a new hobby/addiction (which I probably will), all the better!
    So I figure I may as well start that "hope chest" now, and you can bet it will have cloth diapers in it! I can't wait!! Thanks for the article, the inspiration, and for helping add to the goals of a future mother!

  6. I like your suggestion to buy 2 diapers a month every month of your pregnancy. That is a great way to build a stash! I didn't do that and it was hard to drop a lot of money all at one time to buy my diapers but I did it and I love them:) Thanks for the great article. I am using cloth on my 2 boys right now, ages 7 months and 24 months. I love it!

    1. Initial cost is one of the big things I see people complain about. It is a large cost, but it truly is an investment! I wish I had cloth diapered my other kids- I would have gotten serious use out of my stash! But this way, since my diapers are only going through one child, I should be able to sell them when Jaxon is done with them. Sounds like you are getting your money's worth with 2 in cloth! Looks like your kids are 17 months apart -same as my first two kids! It's fun & challenging having two that close together, huh?

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