Cloth Diapering Update

We’ve been cloth diapering now for over 5 months so I thought I could give you an educated update on how things are going.

We still love cloth!

Seriously love it. I think we’re crazy for not doing it sooner. Actually, a couple of days after we started Chris and I were talking about it and he said, “You know, there aren’t many things I regret about our parenting choices, but not using cloth sooner is one of them.” What??!?! You read it here, people!

So now that we’ve been at this for over 5 months I want to share what we’re doing, what we’ve changed since my first post about this, and what not.

What We’ve Changed
Last time I wrote we were using pre-folds and covers exclusively. A few weeks after that I switched things up a bit because I found a great deal on pocket diapers and wanted to try them. I figured worst case scenario we would sell the ones we didn’t like.

On Ebay I was able to get a “lot” of 20 ALVA pocket diapers for $86 with free shipping. That works out to $4.30 US/diaper. They’re made in China, are one size with multi-snaps for adjustment and came with one microfiber insert. I ordered another set of microfiber inserts because Alex is older and wanted to be sure that we had enough absorbency.

Now, I want to say something here – I did a lot of internet scouring before I decided to buy the ALVA’s because there were mixed reviews. The people who liked them really liked them, so I decided to take a chance on them. My biggest thing, honestly, was that they were one of the few pocket diapers that would fit a baby/toddler up to 40lbs. Alex, at 14 months, was already 30lbs so aside from price weight and size was an issue for us.

The diapers shipped quick even though they were coming from China, and got brought to us in Haiti. I love them. Granted, we haven’t ever used any other brand of pocket diapers or All In One’s, but we love them. The quality is fine (again, nothing to compare them to), the snaps are sturdy, and they’re economical. I ordered solids, because that’s what the auction was for, and was able to pick from almost 30 colors. They’re all nice and bright, and even when Alex plays outside and gets DIRTY, the stains eventually come out well. A friend commented just last week that none of our diapers have poop stains in them either, which is true. The sizing is great too! We still have them on the same setting we did when we first got them, and there’s still three snaps on each side that we can open up to. They have double top row snaps and a third snap below to stop diaper lag, meaning the sides won’t slip down.

One of my favorite things about cloth diapering Alex is that we very, very, very rarely have leaks. In fact, I can count on one hand how many times we’ve had issues! And, I can tell you that in most of those situations he’d been in the diaper too long, as in 4-5 hours, not the usual 2-3 as recommended for cloth diapering. Sometimes he’s just so happy playing outside and we live by the if it ain’t broke don’t fix it mentality.

So yes, I like ALVA diapers, and if you’re looking at getting into cloth diapering in an economic way and want to try something other than pre-folds I would recommend looking into them. I liked them so much that I ended up ordering 4 more in cute prints. You know, because every baby needs a cute butt.

Night Diapering
We use the pre-folds that I mentioned in my last post, along with one of the Thirstie’s microfiber/velour boosters at night. When we fold our pre-folds we just do thirds, and line it down the center of the diaper, with any excess folded over in front for extra absorbency. We have never once had a night time leak with this method. Granted, I know that Alex isn’t a super heavy wetter, but he was soaking through disposables for the month or so before we switched over, and it was driving me crazy. So many people told me night time diapering was a challenge, and I know for many it is, it just hasn’t been for us. And, Alex sleeps for anywhere between 9 and 10 hours a night with no changes. So, we’re happy with the pre-folds and night!

Our System
Well, it’s pretty easy! Pocket diapers during the day and pre-folds with the microfiber booster at night in a cover. Easy, peasy!

Honestly, I knew if cloth diapering was going to work for us it had to be SIMPLE. Chris does not have the patience for lots of steps or remember when to use what. Yonese was introduced to all of this by us because it’s different from any cloth diapering that she’s used to here. I didn’t want to have too many different kinds of diapers that had to be matched up with their parts etc.

We love our system because all three of us know how to stuff the pocket diapers, so whichever one of us has the clean basket of diaper laundry can go ahead and stuff the diapers and fill the basket on the change table. Done. No confusion. The pre-fold stuff gets, well, pre-folded and put in it’s places too.

Laundry Day
We usually wash diapers every other day simply because the diaper pail is filled up by then and they’re getting pretty rank smelling. We have enough diapers to get through laundry day, in the sense that the ones on the line can be out there for 24 hours and we won’t be scrambling. In fact, when I bought the pocket diapers it brought our stash up to 48 diapers, which is really a lot. We have a dozen pre-folds in a drawer in the kids room as our back-ups. We started using cloth in the fall, so we haven’t gone through a rainy season yet. In the rainy season there are always days where your clothes are almost dry, and it starts to pour, so then you have to wait another day for everything to dry out again. It’ll be interesting to see if we’re going to have to dig into the back-ups this summer on account of rain.

We started using Charlie’s Soap a few weeks after we started using cloth, and we’ve used it for all of our laundry just to keep things simple. One container of the Charlie’s soap has been lasting us about a month to 6 weeks, depending on how much laundry Yonese is doing, and let me tell you, she loves to do laundry! We were laughing the other day because I told her, “You know, you don’t have to make sure every laundry basket is empty at the end of every day. I’m fine if you wash what’s in each basket once a week and just do diapers in between!” :)

The Charlie’s Soap has been good in many ways. It is more economical than buying soap here. We were spending about $25 a month on detergent before we switched, and none of it was good for diapers. We’re always trying to save the mission money, so it was a win.

There are a couple of issues though. One, is that we are reliant on people to bring it in for us, so that requires some planning. Hasn’t been a huge issue for us, but it is there. Second, we have hard water. As in anything that has water sit on it regularly gets a crust. One of the reasons I had wanted to switch to Charlie’s was because I was sure we were using too much detergent and that was part of the reason our clothes were crunchy, even after flapping in the wind. It was a bit better with the Charlie’s but Charlie’s actually makes a hard water booster, which is great, but that means spending more money.

In the last week I was doing some research on making homemade laundry detergent to see if there was something to use with cloth diapers that would save us more money, and hassle really. I found a recipe that looked good and had been used for cloth diapering with good results, so today I mixed up my first batch. The fun thing is that I was able to find everything here in Haiti! We now have half a 5 gallon bucket of detergent. This was the recipe I used:

2 4 lb boxes of baking soda
1 3.75 lb box of washing soda*
3 lbs Oxyclean (or, in my case a similar thing)
1 76 oz. box Borax
3 bars grated Ivory soap (I used Aloe and it smells fabulous)

*You can make your own washing soda by dehydrating a 4 lb box of baking soda in the oven. Just pour it on a cookie sheet, spread it evenly, and bake on 400F for about 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times. You’ll see it get more powdery than regular baking soda. 

Mix everything in a big container or bucket. I actually used a potato masher for the first while because I could squish out the lumps, and bring stuff up from the bottom. I used my hands for the last few minutes because it just seemed easier.

To use just add 1 Tablespoon to diaper laundry, and 1-2 Tablespoons to regular laundry, depending on soil level. I use a vinegar rinse instead of fabric softener. Just use a Downy ball and put about 1/4 c vinegar in instead of softener! Works great. For diapers, the vinegar is that last disinfecting stage that helps kill stink and bacteria.

Now, I want to say that I JUST made this today and I did my first load of diapers this evening to see how it works. Because we line dry I won’t really know until tomorrow.

What I LOVE is how much it’s going to SAVE! I was spending about $14 each time I bought the Charlie’s, which isn’t bad considering it would last 4-6 weeks, so about $114/year. But, I spent about $35 on making my bucket of detergent today, and I calculated the weight on it, which came to 19.5 lbs. It works out to just under 7.5 containers of the Charlie’s soap, and we would go through about 8 of those in a year at the rate that we use it. Every 2.64 lbs of Charlie’s soap does 80 loads of laundry, which works out to about 17.5 cents/load. Every 2.64 lb of my soap costs $4.74, so at 80 loads it equals about 6 cents/load! Cha-ching! The thing I really love is that most of the stuff I got today cost me less than if I was buying it back home or had someone bring it for me. Crazy!

I’ll let you know how the homemade detergent works out over the long term.

Stripping
Don’t worry, no one is getting naked around here! I’m talking about stripping diapers.

Over time diapers can build up, well, build up on them from detergents and other stuff, and they become less absorbent or stinky when they normally wouldn’t be. Before Christmas I stripped our diapers because Alex had a yeast infection rash. At that point I wasn’t sure what was causing it other than him possibly being in his wet diapers too long, like I mentioned above. So, I stripped them and his rash cleared up.

I just stripped them again because the rash is back and they were getting stinky. We travelled with our diapers over the Christmas break, so for three weeks I was using regular high efficiency detergent on them, and I knew some of the problem was due to that. When I stripped them (washing them in just hot water) on Saturday there were suds in the water, so my hunch was right. Not a big deal. I did add some bleach to the wash cycle because of the yeast infection. Bleach is one thing that kills the bacteria. Heat actually helps it grow, so the sun wasn’t cutting it. I also realized last week Yonese was a bit confused about the wash process, but I think we got it all straightened out.

A major factor for us goes back to our water. Because it’s hard, our diapers will most likely get a mineral build up on them. I’m curious to see how the homemade detergent, with all the baking soda etc in it affects the hard water issue. We’ll see!

What Does Little Mister Think?
I think we tend to think our kids don’t really care about what their butts are in, but now that Alex is a bit older I don’t think that’s true. You see, when we went home over Christmas for three weeks we decided that we would take our cloth diapers with us, but that we would travel in disposables just to keep things a bit easier, since it’s a day traveling and we wouldn’t have laundry access/time until day three. Alex didn’t really care about being in disposables, but when I pulled out his cloth diapers at Gramma’s house he got happy. I realized that he is more comfortable in his cloth, and that makes me happy. He doesn’t get diaper rash anymore, other than the yeast issue, but we’re working on that. He used to get this flaming rash depending on the diaper he was wearing. They just didn’t breathe in the heat.

So, in a nutshell, we’re all happy with cloth and glad we switched!

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About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

2 thoughts on “Cloth Diapering Update

  1. I love my Alva diaper (only have 1 :( but now that we have 2 in cloth I am hoping to get some more.) I prefer the inner material of the Alva diapers than any of my other pocket diapers. We just started using prefolds and covers with Josiah until he fits the one size diapers. I just got some Alva bamboo inserts and some bamboo/microfiber blend inserts and I love them way more than my just microfiber inserts. They are soft and so absorbent and we don’t have any leaks with them even with my heavy wetter. I really am glad we chose to cloth diaper from birth this time around. Josiah can already go all night (6-7hrs) without needing to be changed and no leaks.
    Glad you guys are enjoying using the cloth diapers!

    • Check out eBay for listings. Seriously, it’s a huge savings. She ships fast, like two weeks from China if that. I’ve only had problems with the seam on one of mine in the back where the elastic is on the PUL fabric. I tried to stitch it up with my machine, but that stuff is hard to sew! It’s not a big deal at all and doesn’t affect the way the diaper works. And I figure one minor flaw where a thread broke on one out of 24 is pretty good!

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