Yep, it’s been a cloth diaper week, but I figured one final post would wrap up a lot of the biggest suggestions I have. And, since today is our Frugal Friday post, I definitely knew it was applicable to the topic! You can’t get much more frugal than cloth (except for elimination communication, but that’s a whole other post).
Frugal Friday: Protecting the Cloth Diaper Investment
So, let’s assume that you have decided to make the plunge into cloth diaper world, but still want to work towards saving as much money as possible. Here are my top tips to make that happen, no matter what your budget:
1. Don’t Dismiss the Tri-Folds – I know they seem intimidating, but seriously, even my 8 year old daughter can successfully put one on our toddler, so believe me, you can do it too! Tri-folds are about as inexpensive as cloth diapers come, though the brand/type you choose will affect the total cost. Here’s a link to the ones we have purchased, and used, for 8 years…it still feels unreal to say that! Because of the simple nature of these diapers, they can be used for years and years, and then they even double as burp clothes and cleaning cloths when you’re finished with them altogether. My mom had several of these that she used as her wood cleaning cloths for years when we were younger…yes, I still remember that! But, for a small investment, I suggest buying a couple packages of both the small 6-15 lb size and the larger 15-35 lb size, you are covered for all of diaper season, for most of us. There are, though, two concerns that most people have about tri-fold diapers, which are “how do I hold them together? I don’t want to prick my finger or my baby with pins!” and “what about protection from the wetness? Won’t it just leak right through?” Ok, thankfully, there are SIMPLE solutions to both of these dilemmas. Introducing Snappis! This ingenious creation protects our fingers and our babies from any pricking action from the age old diaper pins that previously graced the face of cloth diapers. Very easy to use, they simply grip on the sides and front of the diapers to hold it safely in place, and then easily release for simple removal. I made a short video for a friend who was asking how to use them, so I am including it here. **Note: I apologize for my impatience with my daughter who was doing the video taping for me…I was about 2 weeks or so post-partum, so my patience level was, um, non-existent. Yes, that has gotten much better! =0)**
2. Protect and Extend Cloth Diapers with Proper Care and Attention – Learning how to properly launder and care for cloth diapers is one of the most significant ways to protect your investment for years and years to come. Of course, I have had to learn this the hard way, so I am hear to tell you how significant this area of cloth diapers is.
a. First, when you receive your cloth diapers, pay attention to the laundry care instructions provided by the manufacturer. Some manufacturers have specific guidelines and recommendations that will help you to extend the life of that brand of diaper. For instance, some cloth diapers specifically say “do not use bleach” while others say “do not wash with baking soda”. Both of these items are common laundry additions with cloth diapers, so it is helpful to know whether your diaper will be harmed by their use.
b. Second, before you actually wash your diapers, put them through a cold rinse cycle. This will help to rinse out any residual solids that are remaining after dumping and spraying off excess so that your wash cycle does not contain the stinky particles in the water.
c. Third, make sure to use a cloth diaper safe laundry detergent to wash your diapers. The top recommended ones that I have heard about are Charlie’s Soap (which we have used for over a few years with great success…I buy the large bucket that does over 1000 loads), Country Save, Arm & Hammer Essentials Free, Ecos, and Soap Nuts (I have a 5 pound bag of these…they are so neat). Here’s a more complete list of detergents and their recommendations provided by Diaper Jungle.
d. Fourth, wash diapers on hottest cycle possible, making sure to finish with a cold cycle. I do mine on the Sanitary cycle after doing the cold rinse.
e. Fifth, hang dry (inside or outside lines all work) all PUL and similar fabrics types to protect them from heat damage. The only exception I have here is with my actual diaper pail liners. They seem to do just fine in the dryer…I don’t know why. But, everything else gets hung up. Inserts are generally okay to dry in the dryer, but check the specific recommendations for your inserts, since some may have specifications on heat amounts.
3. Purchase Diapers/Covers with the Extra Leg Gusset – This is really a personal recommendation, but in my experience, the extra leg gusset has not only helped us to use our cloth diapers for longer, but it has also helped to save and protect our children’s clothing from leg blowouts. We must give our kids plenty of fiber, because, honestly, they can “go.” Let’s be honest, sometimes containment is a problem. The extra leg gusset adds that additional line of protection to keep things where they are supposed to be and since switching all our diapers and covers to those with the extra leg gusset we have barely had any blowouts, which is AMAZING! **The diaper covers I have recommended in a previous post DO have this extra leg gusset. I cannot vouch for other brands, so make sure to check the information and reviews on the products you consider.**
4. Strip Diapers, Covers, Inserts, Wipes, etc. Whenever Stench or Absorbency Becomes an Issue – As I mentioned before, I did not strip my diapers for years, and because of this we ended up getting rid of several brands of diapers because I did not realize that they could be salvaged. This did not really preserve the investment as we had hoped, so I encourage you that if you notice your diapers are not absorbing as well anymore, or if they have odor issues, take the time to strip your diapers. Honestly, it does not take much time or effort (I do mine in the evenings when the kids can wear a disposable diaper for the night and make sure to have everything hanging to dry or in the dryer before I get to bed). A little thing like this will drastically improve your cloth diaper experience and prolong the usefulness of your diapers.
5. Take Care of Any Sewing/Stitching/Elastic Issues As They Come – The longer you use your diapers, and the more children that wear them, the likelihood is that you will have some wear and tear over time. To reduce the expense this might create in replacing worn diapers, try to see if there are fixes that you can do simply at home. Sometimes a few stitches will protect a diaper from falling apart at the seams. Other times a simple elastic exchange at the legs, or belly area is all that is needed. Even if you don’t know how to do this, ask around and see if any of your friends are sewing knowledgeable, or if an older church woman might be able to help. The point is to think outside of the box and instead of immediately throwing them to the garbage, see if they can be saved.
What About You?
Do you have any tips that you have found that help to save money and extend the life of your cloth diapers, and therefore protect your investment? Please, share below! I’d love to read about it.