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  • Cloth Diapering: What We Use & How We Do It {Updated}

    Ryan and I ordered our diapers from Alva Baby. Their website is terrible {poor organization and explanations of different diaper types and 'series'}, we had billing problem that eventually got resolved, and we received one wrong diaper, but aside from all that, we have been pretty happy with the diapers we chose so far. I shared our dilemma and decision about ordering from Alva Baby instead of local brand here, so I'll not go into that again. 

    What We Use

    Alva diapers are what they call pocket diapers {there are lots of different styles of cloth diapers}--you literally stuff the inserts inside the pocket and then put it on the baby. There are different types of fabric used for the diapers as well. The majority of our diapers are minky and PUL {Polyurethane Laminate}. The minky is soft and sort of velvety feeling and the PUL is more smooth and sometimes shiny looking. The snaps enable you to fit babies from 8-35lbs, per Alva's website.

    Each non-bamboo diaper you order comes with a microfiber insert. A bamboo diaper comes with a bamboo insert. The inserts that come with them are great "wicking" inserts, meaning it pulls the wetness away from the baby's skin, but it does not absorb/hold a lot of fluid. We originally tried using only microfiber inserts--one, and then doubled--but almost every time our baby would wake up from a nap, her diaper would be soaked as well as her pants and the crib sheets. SOo... we did some research and then ordered bulk hemp, which is very absorbent! We put a microfiber on top and hemp insert on bottom {all within the pocket} so she feels dry, but it doesn't leak.

    Fyi, bulk hemp is much cheaper than pre-made hemp inserts, but they require sewing. I will share my tutorial for sewing hemp inserts for Alva diapers as soon as I can!


    Two microfiber inserts and a hemp insert inside a PUL diaper. 

    In the beginning, we said we would likely use cloth diapers at home and disposable diapers when we were out and about to make it easier, but really it's not any easier...or harder. We literally still wrap it up like we would a disposable diaper and instead of throwing it in the trash, we throw it in her wet bag and go. Easy breezy, seriously.

    We do still use disposables wipes when we are out and about, but use cloth wipes at home. This decision has just been a convenience one for the diaper bag packing, really. I sometimes feel like I am constantly adding more cloth wipes and water to our warmer, so I really don't want to be doing that to the diaper bag as well. One mom I know said she keeps a spray bottle of water in her diaper bag and dry cloth wipes in a container. During a diaper change, she sprays the baby's bottom and then uses the cloth wipe... or maybe she sprays the wipe first? I can't remember which, but that does sound easier than keeping wet cloth wipes stocked. Again, I just haven't tried it yet. {And like the cloth diapers, they just all go in the wet bag}. Maybe after our HUGE box of Costco wipes are gone, I will try it...maybe.

    I just use plain water for the cloth wipes. I have tried adding soaps and essential oils, but they started to smell badly after a few days and, honestly, it was just more work. If Aila has a particularly smelly urine diaper or I want some extra power for a poopy one, Ill just spray a dot of foam, baby body wash on the wet wipe before I wipe her. Much easier, but just as effective.


    Our diapers came in the mail while I was at the hospital working, so Ryan sent me a picture of them! 

    What We Do Until Wash Day *{See update below}

    Our storing and washing process has been quite an experiment! It's been difficult figuring out what works for our diapers and washing machine to get them clean. I think the ultimate problem is that we have a front-loader washer instead of a top loader. Since the diapers aren't agitated in a pool of water, I had to troubleshoot how to get them clean in a washer that purposefully conserves water! Ugh. I have a friend that has the same diapers, a top loader and hers are spotless, so I knew it was possible!

    I use a wet pail for poopy diapers. Immediately after she poops {unless we are out, of course}, I spray it off the best I can with our bumGenius sprayer and then put it in an old gallon-size ice cream bucket with two ounces of Bac Out Stain and Odor Eliminator {two ounces came from dumping in an old "Girl's Night" bachelorette shot glass worth of it! Do it, gurrl!}. Bac Out is pretty amazing stuff--it has live enzymes that "attack pet, food and beverage stains, organic waste, and odors until they are gone, digesting them back to nature, safely and naturally", per their website. I tried putting the Bac-Out in the prewash cycle only, but they weren't coming clean with this alone. Instead, I let the diapers and inserts soak in it overnight. 

    More often than not, Aila will poop-adee-doop as soon as I have finished a load of diapers instead of right before {meaning it will be three more days before I do another load}. In that case, I let the poopy diaper soak in Bac-Out all night, and then the next day, I empty the bucket, spray the diapers and inserts again, refill the bucket with plain water and let it soak that way until wash day. I have found if I never go down and change the water, the entire diaper {not just the area where the poop originally touched}, gets tinted yellow. So far, it has always come out {often with the help of sunshine}, but I just like to have it sit in clean water instead of poopy water.

    Oh, and I do dive my hands down in the bucket to agitate the diapers a little. Eww. Cloth diapering is a dirty job sometimes, but I don't mind getting a little dirty if it's better for my baby girl and baby girls of the future. Because of this, I keep hand soap and a clean, dry towel nearby to wash my hands.

    Sometimes, she only urinates in the diaper! Yayyyy. I just take the diaper from her bum, pull the inserts out of the diaper to seperate them for laundry. I put the inserts in a 13-gallon, kitchen-style trashcan with a waterproof Smart Bottoms pail liner and close the lid {it can get pretty stinky after a few days of sitting}. I throw the diaper in a seperate trash can {it's smaller and doesn''t have a lid--the diapers don't hold much urine themselves, so they don't smell as bad as the inserts}. With a stash of approximately 35 diapers, I wash a load of diapers about every 3-4 days. 

    To wash a load of inserts, I set my washing machine to sanitize {hottest cycle}, heavy soil {more water, hopefully?} and an extra rinse. Since I use a wet pail, I don't use the extra pre wash, but I occasionally add a little bit of bleach. I experimented with a few different laundry detergents, but have landed upon Rockin Green and so far, we are satisfied. It is free of fabric softeners, perfumes, dyes and brighteners...and free of a whole lot of other things too {you'll know what I mean when you read the outside of the package}. For a list of other laundry detergents recommended {and not recommended} for cloth diapers, visit www.pinstripesandpolkadots.com and click on the Diapering Basics tab {lots of great info}.   

    The last thing I do before pushing start is add an old, designated, soaking wet towel to the washer with the inserts {I do the same for the diapers too}. A soaking wet towel adds weight and more weight in a high-efficiency washing machine means more WATER!!!

    To wash the diapers, I set my washing machine to normal, {but actually turn my water temperature to cold instead of warm}, heavy soil and extra rinse. I tried washing the diapers on warm, but a few of them delaminated. Delaminating is when the plastic, waterproofing layer seperates from the diaper. Bummer. I am guessing my "warm" water is hotter than the recommended water temperature because since I have switched to cold, I haven't had any other diapers delaminate. I still use those diapers and haven't had any leaks, but it is much more difficult to stuff the inserts when the layers are seperated. 

    Oh, and don't forget to add the soaking wet towel!

    I hang my diapers and inserts on the clothes line, when possible. If the weather or my schedule is not permitting, then I will dry my inserts as I would normal laundry and hang my diapers on a clothes line in my basement. If I am in a pinch to get my diapers dry, then I use low heat in the dryer for as little time possible. 


    Our clothes line with drying wet bags, designated diaper towel, a pail liner, diapers and inserts.


    Aila at three months old while I am hanging clothes on the line.

    Ahhh, Clean Diapers

    Stuffed oreos and pizza crust as well as Thanksgiving stuffing sounds better than stuffing diapers, but it's not so bad. Once I got the hang of it, I can do several in the time it take my husband to do one {don't tell him I said so...that's one less I have to do}.

    My favorite time to stuff diapers is in front of the television after Aila has gone to bed. Productive, multitasking type TV-watching is my favorite, but I try to limit it to only when I REALLY need to get something done {"Um, honey, Aila only has one more clean diaper in the drawer!?"} and it doesn't require all of my attention, of course. Otherwise, I am learning that to-do lists and purposeful relaxing should not be simultaneous--the value and effectiveness of each decrease when combined. ...moving along!

    Just in case you missed it earlier, we stuff a microfiber insert on top of a hemp insert into the diaper for daytime use. Review: microfiber pulls the urine away from baby's skin, but doesn't hold much. Hemp absorbs a LOT of urine, but does it slowly--that's why I use both. For nighttime, I stuff TWO microfiber inserts on top of a hemp one and she rarely leaks. Though, as I am writing this, I'm wondering why I have never tried one microfiber and two hemp!? Hemp is thinner than microfiber and it holds more urine, granted it is much more expensive--but if it is just for nighttime, maybe it would be worth it? I'll keep you posted.

    We store stuffed diapers in a dresser drawer in her room. It constantly changes, but lately I have been storing the "triple stuffs" for nighttime in her pajama drawer.


    This was Aila's diaper drawer after the first time I washed, stuffed and put them away. Trust me, it's never looked this cute since. 

    Cloth Diapering When Out & About

    Monkey Foot Designs wet bags are amazing! They are waterproof bags that you can hold dirty diapers, swimsuits & towels, workout clothes, beauty products while traveling, etc--you can just throw it in the washing machine with your other laundry when it's dirty. I have two sizes: the extra large and small. I never fill up my extra large one with only diapers when I am out. It does come in handy, though, if she has a blowout and I need to do a complete outfit change. The small bag holds about three wet diapers--perfect for running errands for a few hours. It's nice to know I am not going to get any bodily fluids from her lower half dripping in or smelling up my diaper bag that is only meant for spot-cleaning.


    Aila at the pool in an accidentally way-too-big suit.

    To use cloth diapers at the pool, just remove the inserts!

    Well, those are the basics of how we cloth diaper {sometimes it's a verb}. I hope it helps. Feel free to message/email me with any questions!

    Cheers!

    ------------

    *Update:

    This whole cloth diapering thing is such an experiment. In experiments, I find that I change my method occassionaly to figure out what works best. Well, like I said above, we had several solid-colored diapers that delaminated and I thought it was due to using too warm of water. Well, I follow a co-op for Alva on Facebook and some of the moms said they were experiencing the same thing with their solid-colored diapers and they had only ever washed their diapers on cold. I decided to contact the company {as those other moms did} and was pleasantly surprised by their customer service! They had me take pictures of the delaminated portions of the diapers as evidence, but asked no other questions! I shared with them my concerns about replacing my defective diapers with more solid-colored ones {zero of my patterned-print diapers had delaminated} and I requested that the replacement diapers be patterened instead of solid. A part of me expected them to say, "Yeah right, you probably washed them in boiling water and now just want new ones", but they didn't! They said that would be just fine and even had me pick out which new diapers I wanted. They shipped right away. Because the patterened diapers are more expensive than the solids, they replaced my six solid diapers with five patterend diapers. That was just fine with that. Since then, I have seen no other diapers delaminate and I couldn't have asked for better customer service, truly! 

    Because I was no longer conviced that it was my laundry method that was ruining my diapers {just a bad batch, I guess? Other moms on the co-op page said they had never had any problems with delamination of their solid-colored diapers}, I decided to try washing all of our diapers and inserts in the same load. I was previously washing the diapers on cold and the inserts on hot. Well, for the last month or so, I have been washing all of them on warm/cold instead. I think if I have any problems with any inserts not coming clean, I will likely just sepearate them from the diapers, let them soak in some bac-out and wash them like I did previously.

    Anyway, that's a little update to my process. It is less work to throw all the inserts and diapers in one laundry hamper instead of seperating them--I'll keep you updated if anything changes. 

    Feel free to ask any questions or leave any tips--we are figuring this out as we go!