Things I Wish I Had Known About Cloth Diapers When I Started
I’ve been cloth diapering for almost six years now. I’m pretty sure I can call myself a veteran (right?). I’ve learned a lot since I first started, and I was thinking how great it would have been if I’d known someone who was already a veteran cloth diaperer who could warn me about certain things before I started to save myself a lot of trouble. Here are some of those things:
- Do not over-complicate your wash routine. Cloth diapers aren’t terribly different than your normal household laundry (except for the fact that they get peed and pooped in on a daily basis). A quick rinse to get a good amount of soils out (unless you use a diaper sprayer), a hot/cold regular wash cycle, and - if desired - an extra rinse is all that is needed to get the diapers clean. You can dry them on low heat or hang them out in the sun. DONE!
- You do NOT need specialty detergents. I know, I know. What about the detergents made specifically for cloth diapers? Well, most of them are great and serve their purpose, but most regular commercial detergents are fine to use, too. In general, fabric softeners and heavy scents should be avoided because these can cause issues with repelling and rashes, but a good rule of thumb is to simply try what you feel comfortable with, and if it works - great! If not, strip the diapers and start over with something different.
- You really should aim to wash your diapers every day or at least every other day. I don’t know why, but for some reason I thought it would be okay to let the diapers go for 3 or 4 days before I got around to them. Um..... No. Think about a glass of milk that you set on the counter and say “Meh, I’ll wash this later.” And then you keep forgetting or you get busy and within a couple of days you have a putrid, chunky cup of ick. Well, cloth diapers are absolutely not the same as a sour cup of milk, but in a way the effect is similar! The longer you leave soiled diapers sitting in a pail, the more “baked in” the soils become. The more bacteria starts to build up, and the more odors begin to form. It’s not good. It’s bad. So wash your diapers regularly, mkay?
- Don’t blow your stash money all on one brand/style unless you are positive that it works for you! There is nothing more disappointing that using your entire cloth diaper budget on one particular brand or style, only to discover that there is something else that piques your interest or seems like it would work better for you. Many retailers offer cloth diaper trial programs that allow you to pay a flat fee for a certain amount of diapers (some of them you can pick and choose, some are set up specifically) for 30 days, keep what you want, and swap the rest for what you like. Or you could pick up one or two of a few different brands/styles of cloth diapers and do your own trial. This is especially helpful for absolute beginners who are unsure as to the difference in types of cloth diapers.
- If you are having any trouble with your cloth diapers and you cannot seem to figure it out, call customer service!!! They are there to help, and in the off-chance that there actually is something wrong with your diaper(s), you’ll want to get in touch ASAP before your warranty expires. And oftentimes, the issue is something that can be resolved easily with a rep’s expertise. They want you to connect with them, so do it!
- If your baby doesn’t have a diaper rash, don’t use diaper rash treatments! Cloth diapers greatly reduce - or even eliminate - the occurrence of diaper rashes on babies’ sensitive skin. In the occurrence that your child actually does develop a diaper rash, it is recommended that you steer clear of ointments containing harmful chemicals and fish oils. Cornstarch- or Arrowroot-based powders are great and can be made into a paste with a little water. A thin layer of coconut oil works wonders as well, especially when mixed with a drop of Lavender or Chamomile essential oil. Ointments like Desitin contain cod liver oil and if enough of the ointment gets into the fabric.... Whew!!! Your baby’s butt is gonna smell like a fish market. Gross.
So these are the tips that I wished I would have known before I ever started cloth diapering, and hopefully you will find them helpful on your journey. Do you have any other tips that I didn’t mention?