...because home doesn't happen overnight.

mabrey crib

I use cloth diapers on Mabrey. Back when my boys {ages 8 and 5} were babies, cloth diapers weren’t on my radar. None of my mom friends were using them and they weren’t as popular as they are now. When I found out I was pregnant for the third time, I knew I wanted to give cloth diapering a try. My motive was strictly economical. HH and I had decided I would quit my job to stay home with the kids after #3 was born. That meant our household income would be cut in half. I was looking for any way to save money. Cloth diapers seemed like the way to go. Keeping disposals out of landfills and chemicals off our baby’s bum were just added bonuses. Now that I’ve been using cloth diapers for over a year, I thought I’d share what works for me.

1. I use organic bumGenius cloth diapers. We bought a dozen at $25 a pop. That seems like a lot to spend at once but when you do the math they pay for themselves after roughly 4 months of use compared to disposables. And since they’re one size fits all, we can use them up until Mabrey is potty trained. I didn’t know Mabrey’s gender before birth and I bought the white, butternut, clementine, grasshopper and ribbit colors. After a year of use, all twelve diapers are in excellent condition – no rips, no tears, no stains. They are all one piece – no absorbent layers to add, no separate outer cover. I would highly recommend them!

2. I started cloth diapering when Mabrey was ~3 months old. The three month mark was ideal for us. That’s when the cloth diapers fit Mabrey’s petite legs and that’s also about the time her diaper changes consisted of less #2 and more #1. Her diaper changes were becoming less frequent then too. To be honest, when I was just starting out with the cloth diapers sometimes I wished I had six more on hand so I didn’t have to wash them so often but I stuck it out and now twelve is the perfect number.

3. We installed a diaper sprayer on our toilet to rinse the cloth diapers. I don’t rinse #1 diapers – only #2’s – and I rinse them right away if I can. The diaper sprayer works great for this. Basically, I dump the solid waste into the toilet and flush. Then I give the diaper a good spray with the toilet sprayer making sure to rinse away any remaining waste. HH isn’t keen on rinsing poopy diapers so this usually falls on me. When I told him he had to hold the diaper down in the toilet to rinse it {not up above the toilet like he was initially doing and subsequently sprayed the entire bathroom}, he was like “what?!” But that’s what you have to do. Rinsing dirty diapers in a toilet isn’t my favorite thing to do but I tell myself it’s one less diaper I have to buy. After the diaper is rinsed, I spray a little Bac-Out on it, put it in a plastic bag and place it on a rolling cart next to the dryer in the laundry room until wash day. {If it’s just a pee diaper, I roll it up and place it on the cart unbagged.} At first, I had a wet bag to throw rinsed diapers in but after only three washes it started leaking and that was the end of that.

clothdiapers

4. I use vinegar and Charlie’s soap powder to wash the cloth diapers. We have a front loading washer. Before I wash the diapers, I usually throw them in the washer with ¼ cup of distilled white vinegar on the soak cycle. This cycle can be pretty lengthy so if I’m in a hurry, I’ll skip this step but it does help strip the diapers of funky smells. Next, I wash the diapers with Charlie’s in cold water + an added rinse cycle. Then I wash the diapers with 50% less Charlie’s in hot water. If it’s cold or rainy, I throw the diapers in the dryer. Otherwise, I line dry them. Sunlight is the best natural bleaching agent! FYI – I know Bac-Out and Charlie’s seem expensive but I’ve only had to buy one bottle of Bac-Out and three containers of Charlie’s in the past year! A little goes a long way.

It does take a little planning on my part to wash the diapers at the right time so I have a few clean diapers on hand to use. When I notice that I’m down to two clean diapers, I’ll throw in a load of dirties. That’s usually enough to get me by until the dirties are clean. If I know I won’t be using cloth diapers for an extended period of time {i.e., we’ll be out of the house most of the following day for whatever reason}, I’ll wait until all twelve diapers are dirty to wash them. Typically, I’m washing cloth diapers every two days. Which brings me to #5…

A side note: Charlie’s soap powder contains coconut so if your baby is allergic to coconut, you’ll want to use something else.

5. I don’t cloth diaper 100% of the time. It’s more like 80% and it varies from day to day. If we’re going to be out of the house for longer than an hour or two, I’ll usually throw a disposable on Mabrey. I keep only disposables in the diaper bag. I also put disposables on her at night to avoid leaks. I used to feel guilty about not using cloth diapers all the time but it’s much easier on me this way. Running around town with three kids and dirty cloth diapers isn’t fun {there’s nowhere to rinse diapers in public} and changing crib bedding every morning from a leaky overnight diaper isn’t my idea of a good time either. So I always have a small box of disposables on hand. At first, I bought the jumbo boxes but I was having a hard time using up all the disposables before Mabrey outgrew that size. For instance, I would buy a jumbo box of size 2 diapers but Mabrey would need size 3’s before I had used up all the size 2’s. I don’t let myself feel guilty now. I’m still saving money and putting less waste into landfills.

6. Cloth diapers don’t give Mabrey a rash. When I tell people that I’m cloth diapering Mabrey, they usually ask if she has problems with diaper rash. Contrary to popular belief, diaper rashes aren’t a problem. In fact, the only time she gets a diaper rash is when she wears disposables. I think this myth about cloth diapers causing diaper rashes dates back to when folks were using bleach to clean cloth diapers. Even then, I don’t think it was the diaper causing the rash. Most likely, it was the bleach.

7. Cloth diapers look way cuter than disposables. They just do. Sometimes I use Mabrey’s cloth diaper as part of her outfit and forgo bottoms all together.

8. After Mabrey is potty trained, I plan to pass down or sell the cloth diapers. Cloth diapers are durable and long-lasting. There’s no reason why they can’t be used on subsequent babies. Neither of my sisters have children yet. When the time comes, I’d be more than happy to give them our cloth diapers if they choose to go that route. If not, I’ll sell them.

That’s cloth diapering from my point of view. I understand that it’s not for everyone. If you’re working out of the house, some caregivers won’t cloth diaper. It does take a little extra work but it’s become part of my everyday and I don’t really notice it anymore. What I do notice is that I’m not buying diapers every week {maybe once a month?} and that makes me happy.

If you’re interested in cloth diapering, be sure to check back later today for a giveaway related to the subject!

I was not compensated in any way for this post. Just sharing what works for me.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

46 Comments

06.June.2013

I don’t have babies yet but definitely plan on cloth diapering when I do! My sister-in-law and best friend just had their firsts and both use bumGenius…the LOVE them! They look so cute on the little kiddos and just like what you mentioned above, once you get a routine down, they are fairly simple to use. Excited to give them a try when it’s my turn :)

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06.June.2013

Yeah for cloth diapers! We’re a cloth family, too! And we love love love our Bum Genius Diapers! We’ve been using them long enough that we’ve used a few different versions – but we love them all! And to your last point about selling or passing down – it is sooo true! I recently sold some of our original stash (4 years old)… and made back almost 100% of the original cost! You can’t do that with disposables! Pretty awesome perk in addition to everything else you listed!

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06.June.2013

I’m a HUGE fan of cloth diapers. We’ve cloth diapered our son since he was 12 weeks also and I completely agree that once you get it down you don’t even notice it. I feel like most of the reasons I hear people talk about not cloth diapering really don’t apply (at least to me). We also supplement with disposables in the same scenarios as you do. I will say though that I didn’t have a great experience with BumGenius and our preferred diaper are SunBabies. (Everyone’s got their favorites!).

If anyone’s interested in my 2 cents about cloth: http://weselohhomelife.blogspot.com/2013/01/my-2-cents-about-cloth-diapering.html

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06.June.2013

Ok, here’s a dumb question, but one I’ve never been able to figure out, what do you do with the wipes? With the Daddy Daycare system we have used for all 3 kids, I never dared to suggest he should use cloth diapers, but have always wanted to at the very least (!!!) flush #2. However, by the time I’m done cleaning the kid up, I’ve got a pile of wipes sitting on top of everything. What do you do with your wipes? This seems ridiculous even to go back and read myself, but I’d love to hear what you do. :)

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replied on June 6th, 2013

I use disposable wipes but I’ve heard cloth ones aren’t awful. I only use wipes for #2 – not #1. I usually just ball dirty wipes on top of the dirty diaper and head to the bathroom where I rinse the diaper and throw the wipes in the trash. Of course, this means our bathroom trash needs to be taken out frequently but it works for us. You could always use a little trash can with a lid in the nursery if you wanted.

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replied on June 6th, 2013

I’ve switched to cloth wipes mostly for this reason – throw the wipe in the diaper, throw the whole thing in the diaper bag. :)

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replied on June 9th, 2013

I’m with Elisa-we’ve used cloth diapers with my two boys and 3 foster babies and now am gearing up for using them with our baby girl due this fall. cloth wipes can be a pack of thin baby wash cloths from the $1 store! you put them in a tupperware with some water (maybe 1 cup?) and a few drops of tea tree oil which is your all natural anti-bacterial and cleanser. use the wipe and fold it into the cloth diaper and wash altogether! much more simple than both washing diapers and dealing with yucky disposable wipes!

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06.June.2013

Ha – my bf won’t rinse the cloth diaper off either. He’s 100% on board with using them, but isn’t down with scooping anything off of them. Oh well. Whatever works, right?

We’re also really lucky our daycare disposes of the waste & rinses out the diapers while our kiddo is in their care – makes it soooooo much easier that they help out in that way.

Glad they’re working for you guys!

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06.June.2013

I was just discussing with my husband the idea of switching to cloth diapers! Question: which wet bag did you buy that started leaking? I’ve seen the Planet Wise which I was leaning towards but I’d rather not spend the money if it’s going to fall apart… I definitely would go the route you do – cloth diapering 80% of the time. Just to make things easier on me when we’re out running errands or something!

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replied on June 6th, 2013

It was a Planet Wise wet bag that I used initially and then had problems with it leaking. I’ve heard many other people rave about them so it could have been something I was/wasn’t doing or maybe we just got a bum bag? Anyways, I started using leftover plastic bags out of necessity after that {I have reusable shopping bags but we always end up with a few plastics on hand} and it stuck.

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replied on June 7th, 2013

We have two Planet Wise wetbags (one to use while the other is in the wash) and are using them on our second child with no leaking problems. They are the pail liners (that I put in a step open lidded plastic trash can) and the only issue we have is that after almost 3 years of use the elastic around the top is stretched out.

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06.June.2013

We cloth diaper as well, but 100% of the time. I have some of the organic Bum Genius and have found the BG Freetime work better for us – they’re more absorbent and you can customize where you want the built-in double absorbancy (good for our little boy). We don’t have any nighttime leaking problems with the Freetime. I work full time, and fining a daycare that will work the cloth was a priority for us.

Also, one of the biggest unexpected bonuses of cloth diapering: our 16 month old is nearly potty-trained! Hope your little girl takes to it early as well!

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06.June.2013

We hope to cloth diaper as well!! Just a side note, using Bac Out on BumGenius voids the warranty. Might want to add that into the post just a disclaimer!!

“Warranty is void when: Any of the following has been used in conjunction with the use/care of the product: A detergent containing additives (enzymes, brighteners, whiteners, dyes, perfumes, essential oils) or natural soap”

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Great post :) We are cloth diapering our second round and it is definitely something that you have to trial and error to find what works for you. We are an 80%family as well, disposables at night and out.

It is probably worth noting too, that in my area we have extremely hard water, and the vinegar makes stink issues worse :( I found out the hard way.
And I love some cute cloth diapered bums!!! So cute!

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replied on June 6th, 2013

Thanks for mentioning the hard water thing. We have city water and a water softener so those probably work in our favor.

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We use cloth diapers too, and I never imagined I would love them so much! I originally thought we would use disposables while we were out and about, but stopped that after a few months because it seemed like more trouble to always have disposable diapers that fit my son and clean cloth diapers. When we’re out we just use a mini PlanetWise wet bag to store dirties in, and use Bummis flushable liners so if there’s any solid mess it can just be flushed. The BumGenius Elementals and Blueberry diapers are our favorite, and we’ve tried lots of different kinds! Love cloth diapers!

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We cloth diaper as well. We did my 3.5 year old and currently my 16 mo old. We love cloth and I recommend it to everyone. I also use disposables at night for the same reasons. I had some guilt at first about not using cloth 100% of the time but not any more. I think using cloth diapers also made it easier to potty train my older daughter at a younger age because she could feel the wetness in her diaper. So many benefits!

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When I had my son I wanted to try cloth diapering. My H wasn’t too keen on the idea, so we didn’t. Maybe the next one.

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06.June.2013

Hi Dana. We also use BG Elemental and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them! We got a set of 24 on amazon and they were the cheapest we could find. I think in total, we spent a little less than $400 ($196/dozen). I know you have probably gotten a routine down, but if you are still thinking of a wet bag, we have this one ( http://www.amazon.com/Planet-Wise-Diaper-Wet-Bag/dp/B005WWIMGA/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1370539517&sr=8-3&keywords=diaper+wet+bag) and it is great! We never had a leak, it does not smell at all.

I am curious, with 24, we find we are doing a load of diapers every 2-3 days. Do you do a load just about every 1-2 then? I can’t phantom having only 12 since we go through diapers so quickly. We do have a laundry machine that washes and dries in one cycle so it takes about 5 hours to do a load. Maybe that’s why we have to have more on hand. It seems we do a diaper change every 2-3 hours.

If you want to use the disposables at night, you can buy a hemp insert. Those work amazingly well and never leaked. The amount of liquid they can hold will shock you! Our baby is a heavy wetter, but even then, 12 oz of liquid is nothing! We got ours on Amazon and use them right inside the BG as another layer at night. We figure that if our baby is sleeping 8-10 hours, that is 1/3 to almost half of his time in that diaper and would rather it be cloth and not chemical. I know you don’t use cloth for that reason, but if leaks are the only issue keeping you away from cloth at night, try the hemp inserts.

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replied on June 6th, 2013

I’m doing a load about every other day. Mabrey is older now and doesn’t require as many diaper changes per day. Good to know on the hemp inserts!

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06.June.2013

We have 2 freetimes and 2 of the organic kind and the rest are the Flip System. I find that the organic kind are actually my least favorite. They take sooooooo long to dry!! But I do have a planet wise wet bag and never any leaks!

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06.June.2013

I’m SO glad you wrote this post! As it is, we are about to start cloth diapers (same ones you use, from the same place actually) on our little month old boy. Thanks for talking about what to use to clean them effectively – that was the only thing I wasn’t sure about.

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06.June.2013

Thank you for this post! I think this is the best breakdown of what it’s really like to cloth diaper, that I’ve seen so far! It can be expensive at first, but it all definitely pays for itself down the road! I love to use the blueberry diapers when free shipping is available, then I stock up! Thanks for the tip about the toilet sprayer!

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06.June.2013

I love cloth diapers. I used BGs when my now 5 year old was a baby and love it. With my little girl I couldn’t resist and got her a bunch of new GroVia diapers. We have a bunch which means I can take my time to fold them (but still have to wash every 2 days. We started using the GroVia bio liners and I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. They cover the diaper very well and you just have to flush the liner (similar to tissue paper). Dunking and spraying wasn’t working well for us, but the liners have been awesome.

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06.June.2013

When we cloth diapered, we used a pail with a lid to soak them before they would be washed. In Australia, they called it a nappy pail, and we soaked the diapers in something called Napi-San.

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06.June.2013

We use cloth (FuzziBunz) and really love them! I haven’t had issues with my Planetwise bag, though reading through the comments I see that you have. I have a Monkey Foot Designs wet bag that is smaller for when we’re out and about and it seems like it is of a bit better quality than the Planetwise in case anyone is interested in another option. I second the use of hemp inserts . . . they hold a ton of liquid and we use them at night and don’t have problems with leakage (though it did take some experimentation to get what combo works down). We have a few larger disposable diapers kicking around from our son (who is now potty trained), so we have been leaving them in the car in case we’re caught somewhere and a change is needed. I agree, it is not an all or nothing proposition! We use probably 3 disposables a month, so I’d say we’re pretty close to 100% cloth. Very happy with it. Wish I would have done it with my other kids. Oh, the $$ I would have saved!

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replied on June 6th, 2013

Oh, also . . . I got mine used from another mom (friend of a friend) and I got my whole stash (15 diapers with inserts) for $80. It definitely pays to buy used!

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Question- So you put the diapers through 3 wash cycles all together? 1 soak cycle, one on cold water plus an extra rinse, and 1 hot water cycle? Sorry for the questions, but cloth diapers are on our radar, and 3 wash cycles seems like a lot of time and water. Does it take a long time?

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replied on June 6th, 2013

Everyone figures out their own wash routine . . . a lot depends on what type of machine you have and whether you have hard/soft water. I use a little scoop of Bumgenius detergent and push the buttons for Prewash, Hot Cycle, and Extra Rinse. Haven’t had any problems and it’s not like I have to babysit the machine.

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replied on June 6th, 2013

The soak is the longest cycle and I don’t do it every time. Really there are only two washes…the cold + extra rinse is one wash on my machine, then a final hot wash. I do the random soaks and hot wash because we noticed a funky smell from “clean” diapers when I wasn’t using these options. Ever since I started the once in a while soaks and hot wash, no more odor. Our washer is HE and uses very little water even with soaking and washing and rinsing.

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06.June.2013

I love bumGenius products. My favorite diaper “system” is Flips covers plus pad-folded flats (from Green Mountain Diapers). Flats are so easy to wash and dry.

Great post! Thanks for spreading the cloth diaper love.

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replied on June 6th, 2013

I wanted to add how affordable it is to use Flips + Flats, purchased from Green Mountain Diapers (free shipping). Five Flips covers ($14 each, or $70 total) plus 18 Flats ($37.50) provides a one-size stash for $107.50.

I’m just a loyal GMD customer, and sharing the flats love. ;D

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06.June.2013

I hav been using cloth since my daughter’s cord fell off. She is almost 1 year. I love it. we use prefolds and covers. My only advice is there are liners you can get at target. they are awesome. 100% bamboo and you clean just flush the poo down the toilet.

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I’m impressed you’ve survived on 12 diapers! I have 26 BGs, though I use them at night and when we go out.

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07.June.2013

Good for you! We cloth diapered our little guy and loved it! He potty trained earlier and hardly every (as in once or twice) got a diaper rash in our 18 months of use.

I bought some PUL material off eBay and sewed my own covers in varying sizes. Then we just bought regular cloth diapers. All told we probably had less than $200 total. I also found these diaper liners that really helped keep the diaper cleaner longer.

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07.June.2013

We love cloth dipes too! Also only use them about 80% of the time (we skip them for overnights and when we’re going to be out of the house for most of the day) and I think that makes all the difference in terms of their convenience factor. We use the same Bum Genius that you do and also only have 12. I just wash with 7th Generation detergent from Target – 14 months of using them and no problems! I do wash the hell out of them, though: a cold water rinse cycle, a hot water heavy cycle, and another cold rinse cycle. I also throw mine in the dryer and they seem no worse for the wear. I seem to be breaking a lot of the cloth diaper rules, but it’s been working great for us so far.

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07.June.2013

We’ve been using cloth diapers almost since the beginning (we even got some premie size ones when our son came 6 weeks early and ended up being a skinny little guy). We use the BumGenius all in ones as well as a few of the Flip diapers.

I also use disposables while we’re out for the day, so that combined with our 18 all in ones I do a load of diapers about every three days. The Flip system is nice when you’re doing laundry cause you just end up with a couple inserts out of rotation. As for storing the dirty diapers we have an ikea bin in our bathroom that seems to fit the amount of diapers we have right to the point of needing to do a load. (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/90218924/ )

I was having problems with the diapers not being as absorbent a few months ago so I switched from Seventh Gen detergent to the BumGenius brand and it seems to have helped; and it also helped with the smell. A lot of the tricks people have come up with, like a soak cycle, don’t work for us because our front loading washer doesn’t have that option.

I’m curious what brand of diapers people use for overnight? We use Seventh Gen for while we’re out, and occasionally overnight, but he seems to run about the same risk of leaking out of those at night as his cloth diapers. And recently, he seems to be leaking out a lot more often at night so I think we need to make a switch soon. It’s no fun changing a soaking wet, crying baby at 2 am.

The only additional thought I have is the all in ones are not always a perfect fit for our son who is very tall and skinny. He’s been between sizes a couple times as he growing which has lead to some very leaky days. Even at only 10+ months I’m worried that the diapers are going to become too short for him soon.

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replied on June 9th, 2013

I just use Target brand disposables. They aren’t “green” but I’m not 100% crunchy. I feel good that she wears cloth the majority of the time. Mabrey is also very long and skinny for her age but we haven’t had any problems with the cloth diapers not fitting yet.

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07.June.2013

I wrote a short novel and I still forgot a couple things I wanted to add;

We use cloth wipes (just some of those cheap baby wash clothes) and run them through the wash with the diapers – it works great and saves a lot of money on disposable wipes.

For storing dirty cloth diapers I just keep a roll of biodegradable doggy poop bags with me. They’re small, cheap, and I don’t have to worry about having a diaper I have to carry around with us smelling up my bag.

*I should note I’m worried my son may outgrow the diapers because they’re already unsnapped all the way.

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10.June.2013

I’m super impressed. I have these exact same diapers for my daughter who is Mabrey’s exact age. Hers are quite worn though to the point that there are little holes in them. I wonder if it’s because I didn’t use the Charlie’s soap. But I also could NOT do this without my diaper sprayer! Oh curious what exactly is the bac-out? Never heard of it.

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I’m so happy you did this post- I will be referring to it when the day comes. We’ve known we want to go this route for a long time!

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10.June.2013

How odd that people think that cloth diapers mean more diaper rash. Everything I’ve ever heard or read has been the exact opposite! In fact, my mother-in-law often tells me about how she couldn’t use disposables at all because her kids would get awful diaper rashes–they were cloth diaper babies all the way!

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10.June.2013

I used cloth diapers and no plastic pants at all for my youngest. He never had a diaper rash. I had to change his clothes a bit more often that way, but the truth is that babies don’t pee very much at a time, so if you change the diapers right away, the diapers don’t soak through to the clothing. I think the myth of cloth diapers causing rashes is because people used plastic pants to cover them and didn’t change them often enough. At least with disposables, the wetness is kept away from he skin so they are a bit kinder in that way.

I used disposables when we were out and about, too. It just makes sense. And when he was trained, I used them for years as my favorite, lint-free cleaning cloths.

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My sister used cloth diapers on two of her three kids (one still using them). When she first told us she was planning to use them I think I thought she had lost it, but even after the first one I changed I thought they were the greatest thing and a plus, they come in such awesome patterns and colors! Her kids never got diaper rash either, makes sense though considering the chemicals probably used in disposables to prevent leakage and to provide absorbancy. Tho I don’t plan on having children, I won’t get a chance to fully use them myself, but I always suggest them to my girlfriends. Wish more people knew about them. Great post!

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12.June.2013

I use the BumGenius Elemental diapers and I definitely need to try the vinegar and soaking tactics as I’ve noticed a funky smell every so often. I would say the one negative is that they do take a long time to dry (and we even have a new front loading dryer). I had 13 diapers and recently bought three of the redesigned BumGenius Elemental diapers. They take a lot less time to dry, you still get the benefits of organic next to your little ones bum, but can also add inserts underneath the soft organic cloth. I find that it prevents leaks at night for my 8.5 month old so it may be worthwhile to try! The redesigned diapers are a lot less bulky too. I tried disposables at night too and she leaked through those too. Having three of the new ones to use at night works great from week to week so far since I wash about every other day too.

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23.June.2013

Perfect timing to see this post! I have used the brand you use (and a few others) on my youngest but we ended up giving up cloth because of some hectic life circumstances. We are expecting another baby and because this one is for sure our last and we have other small kids, I want to go with 1 simple kind and I don’t want to spend a fortune on buying tons. Your 80% method sounds perfect for my busy life and only buying a dozen of those Elementals sure does fit my desire for “simple”. Those always were our favorite but for some reason I figured we needed way more than that which was too much $. I think I will follow suit as you are not the only blogger I have seen have success with this exact plan. Thanks so much!

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