Tag Archives: laundry

Cloth Diapering: 5 months through 1 year

Cloth DiaperingWe still love cloth diapers! We love that we aren’t producing huge amounts of diaper waste that will sit in a landfill forever. We love that we have control over the materials sitting so close to Cheek’s skin. Last time we checked in on how cloth diapering had been going for us, Cheeks was just 5 months old. Now he’s just over a year, and I wanted to share how things have changed with our cloth diapering routine to keep up with a babe transitioning to toddler-hood.

Background

Cheeks is now holding tipping the scales at somewhere in between 22 and 25 pounds. He has been eating solid food basically since we last checked in, and produces 2-3 poopy diapers a day, along with 2-3 wet diapers. His poops are generally pretty solid, and if I see that they’ve gotten a bit more on the soft side, it’s a good reminder to check his diet and make sure he’s eating some extra fruits and veggies, not just crackers and cheese. He also consistently sleeps through the night, so we are not changing him at all over night.

Diapers, Covers, and Wipes

We continue to use unbleached, organic cotton prefolds from Diaper Safari, although, in a diaper emergency, we added a pack of Gerber cotton prefolds to our stash as well. We have a mixture of size infant size and standard regular size, and really, with around 40 prefolds we have way more than we need. We could probably get by easily with 24. The infant size we mostly use as a second layer for nighttime diapering.

Right around 6 months we upgraded to size 2 of the Thirsties. We have 5 wraps, and only occasionally (when I should have done laundry a bit sooner) do I wish we had a 6th wrap. The wraps don’t need to be washed between each diaper change so long as they didn’t get poopy and they don’t smell funky. Ours typically get worn for a full day or two depending on the state of the dirty diapers.   We love these wraps. We almost never have a blowout – in fact I can’t even remember the last time we did. And the only time we have leaks are when a bit of the prefold hasn’t gotten tucked in around the legs correctly, or when we need to adjust our snaps because Cheeks has grown.

We continue to use our old cotton t-shirt rag wipes with just water. Neil got a bit over ambitious when he cut the tees into rags, so we have tons of these. Which is no problem because we use them for everything.

Diaper Rash

We’ve been pretty lucky on the diaper rash front. It doesn’t rear its ugly head around here often, mostly just when teething is happening. When it does, we apply a generous coating of Butt Paste, and make sure we are changing diapers frequently so any wetness isn’t near Cheeks’ skin for very long. With this routine, any rash is generally cleared up in about 2 days.

Night Diapering

Since we put Cheeks in a clean diaper after his nightly bath around 6:30 pm, and don’t change him until he wakes up in the morning around 6am, we double diaper over night. We use a combination of one standard size diaper and one infant size diaper, and we have no trouble with leaks or diaper rash.

Washing and Drying

We can still go 2-3 days before we run out of diapers or covers and need to do laundry.  Our laundry routine is still very similar to what it was for the first 5 months. When we change Cheeks, the diaper, any wipes we use, and the cover (if necessary) go into a 5 gallon bucket with a lid. Conveniently, after about 2-3 days it is also full, so that’s the signal that we need to do laundry. Poopy diapers get scraped (or sometimes rinsed) into the toilet before going into the bucket.

We still wash the diapers, wipes, and covers, mixed in with our regular laundry. The diapers, etc. don’t make a full load, so we just fill up the washer with whatever else needs to be washed. We haven’t had any trouble with staining or stinking. We set the washer to cool water and a regular cycle.

We made the switch to homemade powdered laundry soap last summer, and use that for all our laundry – diapers included. For each load we use 2 tablespoons of the laundry powder. I’ve recently started adding a tablespoon of oxygen bleach to our laundry as well to help with boosting whiteness. This works great at getting our laundry clean, fragrance free, and doesn’t include any additives that could build up on the diapers and cause diaper rash or problems with absorbency.

We line dry everything. Over the winter we line dried in the basement, and it took about a day for the diapers to dry. They didn’t get the added bonus of sun bleaching, but it’s a diaper, nobody is going to see it but us. In the summer our diapers (even the thickest ones) are dry in a few hours of sun, and the sun naturally bleaches any stains that may not have come out in the wash. Before we moved and had access to an outdoor clothes line, we hung our diapers on a drying rack indoors, and it took about 18-20 hours for them to dry out.

So, that’s where we currently stand on the cloth diapering a one year old front. I’m hoping it continues to keep working so well for us, and I’ll keep you posted if we make any changes to our routine.

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Hang Drying Laundry in the Winter

Clothes dryers are an incredibly inefficient use of electricity. The typical dryer uses in the neighborhood of 5 kWhs of electricity, even energy efficient dryers use at best around 2 kWhs during their dry cycle. (To put that in some perspective, that’s the same amount of energy as a 100 watt incandescent bulb uses in 20 hours – or in the case of my 9 watt LED light bulbs, 220 hours!) In fact, running a clothes dryer uses more energy than any other appliance in a typical American household. That’s a lot of energy just to spin some hot air around.

These days, what with cloth diapering Cheeks McGee, I’m doing a load of laundry about every other day – 4 loads a week, we’ll say. And living in an apartment, we pay $1.50 for each cycle. Which means that if we were drying all of those loads, it would tack an additional $24 onto our expenses each month. That’s $312 a year.

So in the interest of saving energy and money, we hang dry our clothes. As I’ve written about before, in the summer heat and sun, our laundry is dry within a few hours. Now that the winter has firmly decided it’s here, we continue to hang dry our laundry, but now we hang it indoors. The shared basement laundry room in our apartment complex already had clothes lines, but in the past we’ve used a folding drying rack, the backs of chairs, the shower curtain rod, and basically anywhere else we could possibly hang a piece of clothing. It does take more than 3 hours for our laundry to be dry, but never longer than 24 hours. I bet aside from sweatshirts, most of it would be dry by morning if they hung over night. And running your clothing through the spin cycle can be really hard on it, so by hang drying we get more life out of our clothing as well.

Yes, we have to think ahead more than 2 hours if we want to wear something that is currently dirty. But right now, with the frequency we are doing laundry, that hasn’t been an issue. And in a clothing emergency, the dryer is still right there.

Cloth Diapers: 10 weeks – 5 months

Cheeks just hit 5 months this past week. This means we have about 150 days of cloth diapering experience under our belts. We’re hardly experts, but I do think we’re doing cloth diapers in a fairly minimalist, as green as possible, way. And in the interest of sharing how we live green, I wanted to share what we do.

cloth diapering

Background

Since every baby is different, and thus every family’s cloth diapering needs will be a bit different, I’ll start out with a little bit of background on Cheeks. He was a bigger babe from the onset, weighing in at 8 lbs. 14 oz. He wore newborn size clothes and diapers for 2 weeks at most. He is currently crushing the scale at 17 lbs 9 oz.

For the first 10 weeks or so we had a diaper service that provided clean pre-folds for us every week. We used our own wraps, so our process has remained pretty much the same. (I highly recommend this if you can make it work – cheaper than disposables, all of the benefits of cloth diapers, and no responsibility for washing and drying. Diaper services also do their washing and drying in bulk, which uses even less water resources than washing your own!)

So far Cheeks is still only eating breastmilk, so he’s not having solid poops yet. Our process might change once other food is in the mix. He has a poopy day about every 3 days or so, when he might produce 3-5 dirty diapers. In between poopy days he just wets.

Diapers, Covers and Wipes

cloth diapers and supplies

We use unbleached, organic cotton prefolds. Currently we have 12 infant size (12”x16”) prefolds and 24 standard regular (14.5”x20.5”) prefolds. The infant size is a bit thicker, and fit Cheeks as is. The standard regular size is a bit thinner, and since they are much longer, we double over the front to make them a thicker and to make them the right length.

We currently use Thirsties size 1 covers with snaps. We have 6 covers, and we love them. The tag on the size 1 says up to 18 lbs, but we probably have a bit longer than that before we need to get the size 2s.

We buy our diapers and covers through Diaper Safari.

We slip the corners of the prefolds into the corners of the covers, slip them under Cheeks’ bum, fold the front of the prefold around his legs, and snap the cover together around him. Then we make sure everything is tucked into the cover around his legs, and we’re good to go.

folding cloth diapers

For wipes, we cut up a bunch of old cotton t-shirts into rags, and just use water for clean up. We originally thought we would use a mild soapy soak for the wipes, but when Cheeks was born, the hospital just had us use washcloths and water, so we decided no need for any soap.

Washing and Drying

With 36 diapers and 6 covers, at 5 months of age we can typically go 2-3 days before we run out and need to do laundry. When we change Cheeks, the diaper, any wipes we use, and the cover (if necessary) go into a 5 gallon bucket with a lid. Conveniently, after about 2-3 days it is also full, so that’s the signal that we need to do laundry.

Right now, since the dirty diapers aren’t so bad, we wash the diapers, wipes, and covers, mixed in with our regular laundry. The diapers, etc. don’t make a full load, so we just fill up the washer with whatever else needs to be washed. We haven’t had any trouble with staining or stinking. We set the washer to cool water and a regular cycle.

We use the same laundry detergent for all our laundry – diapers included. For each load we use 1/4 cup of castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s is our personal choice), and ½ cup of baking soda. This works great at getting our laundry clean, fragrance free, and doesn’t include any additives that could build up on the diapers and cause diaper rash or problems with absorbency.

line drying cloth diapers

We line dry everything. In the summer our diapers (even the thickest ones) are dry in a few hours of sun, and the sun naturally bleaches any stains that may not have come out in the wash. Before we moved and had access to an outdoor clothes line, we hung our diapers on a drying rack indoors, and it took about 18-20 hours for them to dry out.

 

So, that’s how we do cloth diapering at 5 months. I’ll keep you updated if our process changes as Cheeks starts eating solid foods in the next few months.

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