Disclaimer – Sierra Club does not officially endorse a specific brand of cloth diaper. The photos are of the brands and items I personally use (and LOVE).
About 2 years ago when my friend was pregnant she made a comment about making her own cloth diapers. I didn’t think much of it at the time, other than it seemed a bit odd. I didn’t know cloth diapers still existed.
Over a year later, I got pregnant and had to start thinking about baby stuff, which was pretty new territory for me. While I was creating a baby registry on Amazon I remembered what she had said about making her own diapers. Making them myself was not an option, I am just not that crafty or organized. I wasn’t even sure what she meant when she said she was making her own. Out of curiosity I did some investigating on Amazon. I spent hours reading pages of reviews on the different brands available through Amazon, not kidding. I was quite impressed with what I found.
The modern cloth diapers are quite different from their ancestors. The old style are still available although not nearly as appealing as the new style. They can also be overwhelming with all different terms, acronyms, options and brands available. Since it can be overwhelming I made a pretty basic chart of the options (not comprehensive, but gives most of the basics). I started out with a few different styles and brands but have since decided to stick with one brand for my diapers and have different brands of wet bags.
The most overwhelming part for me was finding a retailer. There are a few semi-local stores, I know of 1 in Iowa City, 2 in Cedar Rapids and 1 in Peoria. Many of the stores and online retailers have a rewards program and offer a larger variety of brands and products. Some brands offer discounts when buying a large quantity. What may surprise people is the number buy/sell/trade groups and sites. When buying, most of the recommendations I have seen suggest having enough diapers for 2 days of changes.
As if trying to decide on a brand, style and number of diapers wasn’t enough, there are also a multitude of accessories. Some are needed while some are just helpful. The ones I find necessary are a couple large wet bags, some travel wet bags, cloth wipes and cloth diaper safe diaper cream. The large wet bags are used to store the diapers at home between use and washing. The travel wet bags are to store the diapers while out of the house. To me, cloth wipes are necessary. It takes fewer of them than disposable wipes to clean up the big messes. I have also found mesh laundry bags to be a necessity. I put the shells in them when it is time to wash because it makes it easier to pull them out since they should not be put in the dryer. Note – Don’t despair if the waterproofing of your shells fails, they can be used as swim diapers!
As far as washing goes, it can be enough to scare people away. Don’t be scared. There are a few key things to know. If the baby is exclusively breast fed, the poop is water soluble and does not have to be rinsed off prior to being put in the washing machine. I personally, like to “pamper” my machine by rinsing the poop off first. Then usually a pre or quick wash followed by a long wash. Some of the routine will vary based on the water and machine you have. Make sure to use enough detergent, and an effective one. Some of the plant based detergents are not as effective and may require more than other detergents. If you have any questions or concerns about your wash routine, I recommend, asking your brand’s customer service. Using unapproved washing methods may void any warranty offered by the company. And if you are like me, you don’t want to hurt your precious diapers.
Even though it was so much to learn when starting I am so glad I did. I find them to be cuter than disposables. I don’t have to worry about them clogging up a landfill. And the money saved is quite nice too. I know that once my small human is out of diapers I can sell them to other families who will hopefully love them as much as I do.
PSA: If you or someone you know is experiencing diaper need and has access to a personal washer and dryer, there are programs that loan cloth diapers to families in need.