Duncan, I'm sorry that we've disrupted your cozy only child lifestyle with the addition of your brother to the family. You've taken the change like a champ though, and despite your hatred of little people, have managed the first two months with a baby in your home without even a nibble of his tiny toes.
You knew something was up all throughout my pregnancy, and the final straw was the start of my labor... you refused to come into the room!
We still love you buddy, and know you'll start to appreciate your brother more once he starts throwing cheerios in your direction.
As promised, a post describing how we get our cloth diapers so fresh and so clean. If you ask twenty people how they wash their diapers, you are going to get twenty different answers. It's definitely the part of the process that confused me the most before we began, so I hope this will be helpful for at least a starting point.
I was contacted by the folks at Rockin' Green Detergent to see if I was interested in doing a review of their product before my boy was even born. I accepted happily, because I'd read great things about their detergent, and hey- decision made on where to start, right? Their detergent is free of dyes, enzymes, whiteners and brighteners, and actually perfect for all laundry, not just diapers. In fact, I used it for the one million loads of baby clothes and blankets that I did in preparation for my baby's arrival.
But the real reason I wanted to try Rockin' Green was of course for our diapers. I've read horror stories of the wrong kind of detergent causing all kinds of problems with cloth diapers, from stinkiness and staining to repelling and leaking. I was really hopeful that we'd avoid those problems by starting off with a well-loved detergent.
I prepped our diapers when I received them by washing them in Rockin' Green. The first thing I noticed about the detergent is how awesome it smells. I chose to try the Smashing Watermelons scent, and I had to remind myself that it wasn't candy so that I wouldn't try to eat it like pixie stick sugar (pretty sure detergent is on the no-go list for pregnancy). Rockin' Green is available in six natural scents, and also in unscented, which is good if you're worried about voiding the warranty on your BumGenius diapers (which technically should be washed in "fragrance-free" detergent). I wasn't worried. Such a rebel.
Here are the flavors scents, which are available in Soft Rock, Hard Rock, or Classic Rock formulas depending on your water:
Mighty Mighty Marshmallow
The Green Tea's (green tea and aloe)
Rage against the Raspberry (raspberry and honey)
Mötley Cleän ("ocean, fresh linen, and sunshine")
Lavender Mint Revival
Bare Naked Babies (unscented)
You're not here to learn how to wash brand new diapers though, so let's cut to the poop chase. My eight-week old guy is exclusively breastfed, so the poop can go straight in the washer where it will be easily rinsed away (yes really, bear with me here). When he starts solids, we'll get the majority of the poop off the diaper before its washed by way of a sprayer or flushable liners. But for now, diapers go straight from baby to diaper pail to washer. I drag the bag of diapers and wipes (we use Kissa's antibacterial pail linersas bags) down to the washer, and dump the diapers into my front loader, turning the bag inside out and shoving it in behind the diapers.
The first step in our routine is a cold rinse with no detergent. Here are the settings that I use on my Frigidaire Affinity front-loader:
Fancy, right? Ugh, no. The funny thing about washing cloth diapers is that a regular old school top-loading washing machine actually does a much better job. This is because a higher water level is better for getting your diapers really clean. You can still use your HE washer though, you just have to get a little sneaky. I have two ways of tricking my washer into putting out a little more water. Number one- I do the first rinse on the "Delicates" setting. I picked that tip up on a cloth diapering message board (see! I'm not the only one who is fascinated!) and it really works. The second trick is to throw a heavy wet towel in with your diapers. You're also better off doing a full load of diapers. I've heard that the ideal number to wash at once is 24.
(trippy spin cycle self portrait)
Once the buzzer goes off on that cycle, I add two tablespoons of Rockin' Green to the washer.
Then I choose the "Heavy" setting with the following options:
The extra rinse is key. If you don't have that choice, you can always run another quick cold cycle at the end.
For now I'm drying these in the dryer. I did put a note on hubs' to-do list though, to install a clothesline for me so that I can dry them in the sun soon. I really should at least separate out and air dry the covers, which dry much faster than the absorbent inserts. But I'm lazy. So it all gets thrown in the dryer for about an hour.
When they come out of the dryer I totally stick my nose in them and give them a good whiff. Mmmmm clean diapers.
It's confession time, friends. Just this past week, I cheated on Rockin' Green. I know. "If it's not broke" and all... when will I learn? But I had a sample pack of a different detergent and I was itching to give it a try. Let's just say that it sucked. I think my friend Emily put it best when I loaned her a FuzziBunz diaper that she wanted to try out on her daughter (and yes, when Amelia and Finn are married one day we will make sure to announce at their wedding that they once shared diapers). She did the whiff test and informed me that my diapers smelled like a wet dog. I thought about being insulted for a second until I realized she was right. Friends don't let friends have diaper funk. Luckily, Rockin' Green has solution for this problem and welcomed me back with open arms despite my cheating ways. I followed the instructions for deep cleaning... a little extra detergent and an extra long soak.
And just like that we were back in the land of clean-smelling diapers. I will never stray again.
Almost too pretty to poop on.
If you've made it this far, you deserve a prize, and luckily I have one for you! One lucky reader will win a full size bag (good for 45 loads in a top-loading washer or 90 loads in a front-loader) of Rockin' Green in their choice of scent and water formula. (You don't have to be using cloth diapers to use it... we're using Rockin' Green on baby clothes, our clothes, AND diapers now.) To enter, just leave a comment with the scent you'd like to try. Commenters who also follow this blog (this is different from subscribing- see sidebar at right to become a follower) will receive one extra entry (please leave an extra comment telling me that you're a follower). I'll announce the winner in one week.
So that's how we do things around here. What's your wash routine like? Any more questions?
*UPDATE* A few updates on how we do things at seven months... including the changes with eating solid food, the diaper sprayer, and a solution to the stink problem can be found HERE :)
When I mentioned cloth diapers to my friends and family before Finn was born I was met with SO much skepticism. A lot of people thought it would be gross, thought that I was crazy, and most certainly thought I would fail. I did so much research on cloth diapering though, and had found so many moms that loved it for so many reasons. I tried arguing all of those reasons to the many skeptics... it's greener, it's cheaper, it's healthier, goshdarnit it's cuter.... but skeptics, being who they are, are not easily convinced.
I really couldn't find a good reason not to use cloth, and so here we are, and I am happy to report that I've joined the ranks of the mommas who love cloth diapering. We've been doing it since Finn was ten days old and we're not turning back. And yes, I just used "love" and "diapering" in the same sentence. Such is life now :) The first time I snapped a cloth diaper on Finn's butt I couldn't get over how much softer and nicer it seemed.
I'd be happy to try to convince anyone to do the same as us. Concerned about the cost? It's ridiculously cheaper in the long run. Concerned about the laundry? Ha! Welcome to having a baby... cloth diaper laundry will make up only a small portion of all the extra laundry you'll be doing. Anyone need to convince their husband? Cloth is healthier for baby boy parts too. Concerned about the poop? Guess what... I hear that babies who wear disposable diapers poop too! And you still have to wipe their bums. If I'm wrong about that, someone please let me know.
Most of the skeptics were picturing flat diapers and pins when I mentioned cloth, so if you didn't already know, it's not like that anymore. Flat diapers are still an option of course (although most people use non-pin fasteners), but we use the super convenient pocket-style diapers, which function a whole lot like disposables once the insert is stuffed into the pocket.
We have three different brands of diapers, and I like them all. I originally registered for what I found to be the most highly recommended one size cloth diaper- the BumGenius 4.0. Again, this is a pocket diaper, meaning that it has two parts... the outer part (which is shaped just like a disposable diaper), and an insert that fits into a pocket inside it. We have 22 of these, all with snap closures (I want them to last as long as possible and heard that the velcro closures tend to wear out). The snaps on the front allow you to change the size of the diaper to fit any baby from around eight pounds up to thirty-five. Our big boy fit into them from when we first started them at ten days on just fine, but I hear if you have a teeny kiddo they might not work at first.
We have all of these colors minus the pinks plus a couple of white ones. Love. (Also? So much cooler than those lame jean-colored disposable ones.)
We also have two Charlie Banana brand one-size diapers. I snagged these on sale at Zulily, and I'm not going to lie, I totally only got them because I liked the patterns. They are also pocket diapers, and snap on the front, but the sizing is accomplished with adjustable elastic on the leg openings in two different spots. These fit really well, are really soft, and did I mention really cute? I'd definitely recommend these as well.
Rounding out our supply is a FuzziBunz one size diaper. I was given this diaper in exchange for a review of it, and like a lot of other mommas, really like it. This diaper definitely wins out in softness over the BumGenius diapers. The liner is fleece and super soft. The pocket doesn't have a flap covering it like the BG does, and that makes it easier to unstuff... pretty nice when you're dealing with a poop-tastrophe situation. The sizing is done with adjustable elastic similar to the Charlie Banana diapers, but the FuzziBunz adjusts in four spots (waist and leg) instead of two, making it really easy to get a good fit. The only negative thing I have to say about the FuzziBunz is that the pocket is a little narrow, making it harder to stuff than the others.
I'd like to add a couple more of these to our collection. The adjustable leg openings mean that they are virtually leak-proof, and so I'd like to have more on hand for overnight use. Plus they come in some pretty fun colors:
When I first heard about cloth wipes, I admit I was totally grossed out. I mean, come on, let's draw the line here somewhere please, right? But think about changing a diaper. When you're finished with the wipe, you stick it in the dirty diaper and get rid of it, right? Well if you're using cloth, you can't do that, unless you want to send a lot of disposable wipes through your washing machine (which I did a couple of times before we switched). It's so much easier to use a cloth wipe, and throw it in with the diapers than to have a separate trash can for the wipes. My awesome friend Nina made us a huge supply of wipes out of four extra flannel receiving blankets we had laying around, and they're perfect.
There are a few different ways to use cloth wipes, including storing them wet, but we store them dry and use a spray bottle. I like to spray the wipe and hubs likes to spray the butt. Potato potahto.
The next step is SO key. Each diaper gets a few sprays of Bac-Out before being thrown in the diaper pail. I had read about this on a message board somewhere and picked up this bottle before Finn was born. I didn't realize how awesome it was until we went without it for a few days. That diaper pail was STINKY. This keeps it in check (I never even catch a whiff of diapers until I'm dumping the bag into the washing machine and even then it's not bad) and helps keep staining to a minimum as well.
Meet our fancy diaper pail:
Also known as a trash can. There is definitely no need for a fancy specialized diaper pail. This works perfectly. We use a Kissa's pail lineras a bag, and we have two so that we're never without one while we're doing laundry (the bag goes right in with the diapers).
Also helping to keep the stink at bay is one of these Munchkin Arm and Hammer Nursery Freshenersthat I stuck with velcro to the inside lid of the trash can. Like I mentioned, there is literally NO smell in Finn's nursery, so I'd say this system is working well for us :)
I'm not ashamed to admit that we keep a supply of disposable diapers and wipes on hand as well. We use cloth for short outings, but if we're going to be gone all day I go for disposables. Also, I never want to be stressed out about doing diaper laundry, so if we run out and Finn wears a disposable or two while his diapers are in the wash, it's no big deal. I was surprised to realize though, that instead of it feeling like a super convenience to use these, I actually don't like them. They leak more (all three brands that we've had), cause more diaper rash on my little guy's bum, and the flimsy disposable wipes bring me a whole lot closer to the poop than I'd prefer. Three more points for cloth.
Drawbacks to cloth? I'd say the upfront cost for sure. Registering for them could ease that a bit, but then you have to deal with lots of outside opinions on how TERRIBLE they're going to be (in my experience anyways). Also annoying is how much space they take up in your diaper bag, but I never take more than two or three with me (longer outings call for disposables). Then there is of course the added time it takes to wash cloth, but I promise you it is not bad at all (and well worth the trouble).
All of this seemed pretty confusing to me until we started doing it, so if you have any questions let me know, and I'll do my best to answer them. Also, stop by later this week if you're interested in our washing routine (fascinating I know!), and for a giveaway...
Do you or would you use cloth diapers? Have I convinced you that it's not totally awful, or do you just think I'm a weirdo for talking this much about diapers? :)