I still remember the dread in Jon’s eyes the day I told him that I’d like to consider cloth diapering our twin babies that were on the way. But it didn’t take long for him to come around to loving it too.
Many people continually ask me about our cloth diapering experience – why we do it, what kind of diapers we use, is it gross? I honestly think that cloth diapering is going to become much more mainstream in the coming years. It’s already growing in popularity, and with all the easy options out there, I think people are pleasantly surprised when they realize that it’s not like the cloth diapering our parents used to do.
So, now that I’ve talked about why we do it and which diapers we chose, let’s talk about how it fits into the day-to-day. Just a warning – I’m a super detail oriented person, so this may get a little long. But when we were preparing for our babies, I was really interested in hearing how other people did things – and I wanted details! Feel free to skim if that’s not you:) Also fair warning: we are talking about poop etc. in this post, so if those kinds of topics turn your stomach, you might want to skip out on this
The early days
When the babies were little and on only breastmilk, our system looked a little different than it does now. Breastmilk poop is water soluble, so whether the diaper was just wet or dirty, it went straight into the dirty pail. We bought a step-open trash can, and instead of using a trash bag, we put in our wet bag. There are a lot of different options you could use, but this works really well for us because it closes (so as to eliminate odors), but there is still a narrow slit in the top so that air can get in and out even when it’s closed. Plus, when your hands are full of a dirty diaper and a squirmy baby, it’s easy to just step to open and dump in the diaper.
Cloth wipes – the easy way
This brings me to why we started using cloth wipes. In the beginning, I didn’t even want to consider using cloth wipes. Honestly, I just thought it sounded messy and disgusting. Then a friend gave us her unused set of cloth wipes that had been gifted to her, but that she had never used. For a long while, they just sat in the drawer. But the more time that went on and the more dirty diapers we changed, I began to think it just might be easier to use cloth.
Picture changing a diaper. You open the diaper, use a wipe to clean the baby, stuff the dirty wipe into the diaper, roll it all up and throw it away, right? Now picture using cloth diapers with disposable wipes. You clean the baby and then what? You either stuff the dirty wipe in the diaper and then sort it all out later (eww) or you have to stop and trash each wipe after you use it and then throw the diaper in a separate pail. After some thought, I decided that using cloth wipes is really not any more gross than cloth diapers. If you trust that your diapers are getting clean in the wash, then why not the wipes too? Now that we use cloth, we can simply clean up the baby, stuff the wipes in the diaper and roll it all up and toss in the dirty bin. Our wipes get washed right along with our diapers and aside from the extra 2 minutes used to fold and get them ready for use, the time commitment is about the same! I won’t try to go into how much money we save by using cloth wipes because it’s probably a little different for everyone (depending on how many wipes you use per diaper etc.), but just think about never having to buy a package of baby wipes again. Sounds nice, right?
Down the road – starting solids or using formula
I’m pretty sure that the people who know we use cloth were assuming that we’d give it all up once the babies started solids, and honestly I have to admit I was a little nervous that it would get a lot harder. But it really truly hasn’t. Once the babies started solids, we could no longer just throw the dirty diapers in the pail. For the first few days, their diapers were really soft as they made the transition to something other than breastmilk. I tried using the disposable liners we had gotten as a gift, but I found that they seemed to just be more inconvenient. I can assure you I did not enjoy having to try and pull up the edges of the liner without getting poop all over my hands and then transport it to the toilet. I know these work well for some people, but they just weren’t for us.
Basically, when the twins have a dirty diaper, most of the time (after that initial transition phase) it is pretty solid; so usually all the poop is on the diaper, and there is not much to be cleaned off their bottoms. In these instances, I simply clean them up, throw the wipe into the dirty bin, re-diaper the baby and then step into the bathroom and dump the contents into the toilet, and flush. The empty diaper goes into the dirty pail, and I’m done! Sure it’s an extra step, but remember – the payoff is huge.
If for whatever reason the contents of the diaper is soft and a little more messy, it does take a little extra attention. I start by cleaning baby’s bottom off with a swipe of the diaper. Then I use a wipe to clean the rest and throw the wipe in the dirty pail. The minimal residue on the wipe doesn’t bother me. If it did, I would probably just keep a pack of disposable wipes nearby for these instances. Obviously in that case you would probably want to have a small step trash can handy as well. After I re-diaper the baby, I step into our bathroom and use our sprayer (we bought this one off Zulilly), which is hooked to the toilet, to spray off the contents of the diaper. Yes, it does get a little spray on the toilet edges, which reminds me vividly of our days in Thailand, but it’s not that big of a deal. I usually use a tiny piece of toilet paper to wipe off any water droplets before flushing. We keep a small step-can with a small wet bag in it next to our toilet to put the wet diaper in after it’s been sprayed.
Washing and preparation
We choose to wash our diapers every night as we’ve found it’s easier to just have it as part of our daily routine rather than always having to remember and make time for it on wash days. Before we put the twins to bed at night, one of us goes in and pulls the wetbag full of dirty diapers as well as the wetbag in the bathroom (if we’ve had to spray that day) and puts it all into the washing machine. After turning the wetbag inside out inside the washer to dump everything out, we then shove the wetbag in as well. No touching diapers, no pulling out inserts….super easy. We run a cold cycle first; since we have a front loading HE machine, we press the “water plus” button so as much water as possible will run through the dipes. And of course we put the soil setting on “heavy.” We do not put soap in for this first cold cycle. Next we run a hot wash using the exact same settings (water plus and heavy), but we add detergent to this cycle. We use Charlie’s Soap for all our laundry, and it has worked perfectly for us. It doesn’t have that same smell as the usual detergent like Tide, and sometimes I miss that, but otherwise I love it, and we don’t have to worry about residue from our detergent being left behind for our diapers.
Last summer and fall I would hang our diapers outside to dry. I knew it would be easier on them in the long run and any stains that ever appeared would miraculously vanish in the sun (try it – it’s pretty amazing what the sun will do). Once the weather got cold, I started drying ours in the dryer, and that has worked great. Now that it’s getting warm again, I’m not sure if I’ll start line drying again. We’ll see. I don’t remember the last time I saw any type of stain on our diapers, but the few times that has happened I just hung that one diaper out and later brought it in bright white!
these two pictures show our newborn sized Bum Genius diapers
We do our washing at night because it does take awhile for them to get done. First thing in the morning, I move them to the dryer, and then later when the babies are sleeping I fold them and re-stock the drawers. With the BumGenius Freetimes, there’s no stuffing or anything, so folding literally takes minutes.
As I fold the diapers, I fold our wipes as well, stacking them into a little pile. To prepare them, I fill a bowl with warm water, add a squirt of baby wash (we use California Baby, but you could use whatever wash you use in the tub) and a few droplets of tea tree oil (to keep bacteria at bay). I then submerge the stack of wipes, wring them out and place them in a covered container. I happened to have a Tupperware dish that I never really used, which is perfect for storing wipes. You could really use anything though – there are even wipes warmers that work with cloth wipes.
By the way, you definitely wouldn’t have to use store-bought cloth wipes. You could use anything – scraps of fleece or cotton – anything!
On the go
If we are going on an overnight trip or for multiple days, we use disposables. It’s just not worth it to me to try and deal with washing diapers while on the go. If we are going somewhere just for a few hours or for the day, I pack cloth diapers and take a small wetbag (we use this one). After changing the babies, I just stuff the dirty diapers in the wetbag, zip it up and deal with it when we get home. The wetbags contain all the odors, and I’ve never had a problem with leaking or anything.
Now that the babies are older, we have started having overnight leaking problems with Linc. It’s really not surprising I suppose – now that he’s sleeping almost 12 hours. After talking to our local cloth diapering store, we decided to try these hemp inserts. We simply lay it inside the diaper before putting him to bed, and all our leaking problems are solved! It’s a super cheap fix too since we wash our diapers every night – technically we would only need one of these.
Our must-have cloth diapering products
Aside from the Bum Genius Freetime diapers, our diaper sprayer, disposal containers and wet bags, here are a couple other products that I highly recommend.
You cannot use normal rash cream on cloth diapers – it will hinder their absorbancy. There are lots of options out there, but we really like Grandma El’s. We have had very little diaper rash, but anytime one of the babies is looking just a little red, this clears it up quickly! I also think it is one of the main reasons (besides the cloth diapers themselves) why our babies have had so little diaper rash. There have been a couple of times that Vivian developed a more serious rash associated with teething. I pulled out all the stops and used Budreaux’s Butt Paste overnight with a tri-fold cloth lining the inside of the diaper so the cream wouldn’t touch it. In my experience, there’s nothing that works as fast as Budreaux’s, and when my baby has a painful looking rash I want only the best to get it cleared up stat!
I love the GroVia Magic Stick. We have one for each of the babies, and we try to swipe it over their bottoms after each diaper change. It protects against wetness, and as a bonus makes cleaning them up at the next change much easier!
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I think that about covers everything! Overall, I can’t imagine not cloth diapering the twins. The details in this post may seem a little overwhelming, but once you get set-up with the products you need, it really is so easy. As for doing it with twins – I’ve never done it with just one baby, but I can’t imagine why it would be so much harder. When you have twins, everything is double, and you just get used to it! The washing etc. is really no different though. It’s not only doable, it’s totally the way to go:)
And as I said before, the best part is obviously those cute little fluffy bottoms!