Sunday, August 19, 2012

20 Things Cloth Diaper Retailers Wish You Knew

1.       If a store is helping troubleshoot problems with your diapers, please give them all the information. If you’ve been adding a cup of bleach and a scoop of fabric softener, tell them so they can give you the best advice. They won’t judge. Many will go above and beyond to help you, including contacting the manufacturer for you.

2.       Even though most store owners still work at least part time from home, please give them some time to answer your emails or return voicemail, especially if it is during the weekend or at night. There may be times you get a response in five minutes and other times it may take a day. Remember, behind each store are real people with families, commitments, interests and so on.

3.       Trust them! They really do know what they are doing. Most store owners thoroughly research and try the products they carry. When they give you opinions, it is based on years of experience.

4.       If you are shopping in store, please do not open packages. Many times, there are sample products available for you to look at and/or try.

5.       Please don’t ridicule the products. It’s fine to ask questions about the products, but please don’t say things like “Who would buy this?” or “Who would spend this much on this?” There are other customers that love those products and it can be really uncomfortable for them to hear other customers mocking them.

6.       Ask first if it’s okay to take pictures in the store.

7.       Yes, certain manufacturer policies suck, but the manufacturers decide on these policies, not the store owners or sales people. If a store goes against a manufacturer’s policy, they could lose the right to sell that brand.

8.       Please supervise your kids! Many stores offer a play area for children. Do not take advantage of this by expecting the store owners and/or employees to watch your kids. If your child takes a product off a shelf and damages it, offer to pay for it or at least apologize.

9.       Local stores want your shopping experience to be wonderful, but they do have other customers to attend to as well. If you need help that will take longer than a few minutes, please ask if they have time to help you or contact the store beforehand to schedule some one-on-one consultation time. If you purchased the products from that store, they will be more than happy to help you.

10.   Treat them like you wish to be treated. Yes, if it wasn’t for the customers, the stores wouldn’t be here. But, that doesn’t give you the right to be rude or pushy. This is especially true when you are shopping online. Sometimes, we forget there is an actual person on the other end of that email.

11.   Retailers expect to make a living and not a killing. Cloth diapers have some of the worst price margins. Even if a diaper costs $30, a retailer may only be making 25-30% profit on it. After paying taxes, employees, shipping and overhead costs, there’s not much left. This is why they can’t offer sales, coupons and free shipping on a constant basis.  Most retailers do not start a store to get rich but they do need to support their families.

12.   They work hard, spend endless hours educating, ordering products, displaying, cleaning, pay taxes and payroll and take time away from their family. Please respect that.

13.   The internet is full of cloth diaper opinions and advice, some good and some terrible. Your local retailer can save you hours of time, frustration and even money in the long run. By asking the right questions, your retailer can help you choose cloth diapers you will love and, as a bonus, they are available to troubleshoot if needed. You will rarely get that level of service from the big box stores.

14.   Cloth diapers will be peed and pooped in on a daily basis and washed thousands of times in their lifetime. They are an investment and should be treated like that. So, shop locally and get advice from professionals.

15.   While retailers love helping families, please do not purchase your entire stash somewhere else and go to your local store for help. While a few questions are fine, they cannot spend an hour of their time helping with products that were not purchased at their store. Besides, if it is a diaper that retailer doesn’t carry; they may not know the answers to your questions. If you do purchase elsewhere and need help, consider attending a local Cloth Diaper 101 class.

16.   When you support local stores and websites you are saving local jobs and the local economy. Saving a buck on deal sites may seem great at the moment but hurts everyone in the long run. Support your local cloth diaper retailer and they will always be there for you.

17.   It hurts when you use their time and stock then leave empty handed and shop online. When you don’t shop at your local store, it will eventually close and there will no longer be a local place to ‘browse’.

18.   Every dollar you spend is a vote for what retailer/manufacturer you want to see succeed. Buying North American made products from local retailers really does make a difference.

19.   Before purchasing a product from a deal site, check with your local retailer. Once you add in the hidden costs, it may not be that great of a deal.

20.   Give feedback. If the retailer provided great service, let them know. If there was something you didn’t like, let them know. The only way they can grow is if you let them know what you like or don’t like. But, please contact the store before leaving negative comments on social media sites. A simple misunderstanding could ruin a store’s reputation.

*I'd like to thank all of the cloth diaper store owners that helped me write this post!

If you are a retailer, please comment on this post with a link to your website and/or social media pages. If you have a brick & mortar store, let us know where you're located!
Customers - what would you like retailers to know? Join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Save Even More Money with Cloth Diapers!

I've already talked about how much money you can save by switching to cloth diapers even with a start up cost of $500. But many people make the switch to cloth without spending near that much!

Read on to learn about some of the most popular ways to save more money with cloth diapers.

1) Buy Used Diapers

Because cloth diapers can last for years, you can almost always find gently used diapers for sale somewhere. Some of the most popular sites for used cloth diaper sales are diaperswappers, Spot's Corner and there are many facebook groups that focus only on buying, selling and trading (b/s/t) used diapers. Many cloth diaper stores also offer a gently used section. You can usually buy an entire stash of gently used cloth diapers at 50% or more off the retail price.

Personally, I've never had an issue with the gently used cloth diapers I've purchased but there are some things to consider if you decide to buy previously used diapers:
  • Yeast and bacteria can live in cloth diapers. If possible, try to bleach any microfiber inserts and wash well before using. You may also need to sanitize the rest of the diapers and inserts. You can find a good article about sanitizing cloth diapers at PinStripes and PolkaDots.
  • Many gently used diapers have already gone through some wear and tear so they won't last as long as brand new diapers would. You may have to replace some of the used diapers before your child is potty trained.
Some people prefer to only buy gently used diapers from family or friends while others decide not to buy used diapers at all. If buying used diapers isn't for you, keep reading for other ways to save money.

2) Make Your Own Diapers

If you are handy with a sewing machine or serger, you might want to try making your own cloth diapers. As cloth diapers and diaper making becomes more common, the materials are becoming more accessible. Babyville produces a whole line of diaper making supplies that can be found at many JoAnns and Hobby Lobby stores. now offers a whole Diaper Central category. Wazoodle and Nature's Fabrics are both sites that are dedicated to diaper making. You can make cheap diaper inserts with the microfiber towels found in the automotive section of Walmart and Target.

There is a bit of a learning curve when making your own diapers. Just like premade cloth diapers, not all diaper patterns will work with all babies. So you might have to adjust or change your pattern a few times before you find what works for you. Also, some diaper materials can be expensive. Diaper manufacturers are able to buy their materials in bulk which is a lot cheaper than buying a yard or two at a time. And, they are able to pass that savings down with the cost of their diapers.

3) Buy Prefolds & Flats with Covers

This is probably the easiest way to save even more money with cloth diapers. You could easily purchase 24 prefolds and 6-8 diaper covers for under $200. For example:

24 Sweet Pea Infant-sized Prefolds = $78
6 Diaper Covers = $60 - $100
2 Snappis = $8 or less

Total Cost = $146 - $186

The medium sized prefolds will work at pretty much any age. They can be folded down for newborns and folded in thirds and laid in the cover for toddlers. My favorite way to fold a prefold is the Angel Wing Fold but there are other folds that can be used too. You can find some nice fold tutorials here:

Prefolds and flats aren't hard to use, but they aren't as easy to use as pocket or AIO diapers so they can be intimidating to some people. It can be harder to get family and caregivers on board with cloth diapering if they have to use prefolds or flats.

Have you done any of these things to save money with cloth diapers?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Will I Really Save Money with Cloth?

Most of us have heard that you will save thousands of dollars if you switch to cloth diapers. But, I have a lot of moms ask me if they will really save that much. They don't buy the more expensive brand name diapers. They stick with store brands or buy them on Amazon. They say there is no way they will save that much money.
Trust me, you will!

You will use more disposable diapers than this in 3 days!
You could spend around $1000 a year per kid on disposable diapers & wipes. Even if you use the generic store brand, you're going to spend at least $700 per kid per year. Don't forget to add gas and/or shipping costs to that! C'mon, you know that moment when you pull the last disposable diaper out of the bag and realize you don't have any more? I don't know how many trips I had to make to the store for just diapers.
Around the same amount of cloth diapers will last for years!
We were able to buy a full stash of cloth diapers for around $500. But, you could spend less or more than that. If you stick with prefolds & covers, your costs will be a lot less. We use cloth wipes that I made myself with old t-shirts, receiving blankets and scraps of flannel. For a wipes solution, you can just use water. Yes, there is the cost of detergent & washing your diapers. The detergent we use costs around $15 and it lasts for at least 45 loads. That's around 33 cents every 2-3 days. Our water & energy bills combined maybe went up $5 but I'm also doing more regular laundry because I have a very messy little boy. :)
If you take good care of your cloth diapers, you can use the same ones for other children you'll have. And, you can also resell used cloth diapers that are in good condition for around 50% of the retail price!
So, here is a quick breakdown on costs:

(I am figuring very low costs on the disposable diapers and high costs on cloth diapers. More than likely, you will spend more on disposables and less on cloth. I'm also not including costs of diaper creams.)
*I'm averaging 10 diapers/day for the first 2 months and 6 diapers/day for the next 10 months. Although, it is generally recommended you change diapers more often than that. :)
Generic Disposable Diapers: Approx $550
Generic Disposable Wipes: Approx $120
Total for one year: $670
Enough Cloth Diapers to wash every 2-3 days: Approx $500
Cloth Wipes (use old t-shirts & receiving blankets with water) :$0
Laundry Costs: Approx $50
Total for one year: $550
Disposable Costs after 2 years: $1340
Disposable Costs after 3 years: $2010
Disposable Costs after diapering a 2nd child for another 3 years: $4020
Cloth Costs after 2 years: $600
Cloth Costs after 3 years: $650
Cloth Costs after diapering a 2nd child for another 3 years: $800

So, after 6 years of diapering, you will spend over $4000 using generic, store brand disposables and only $800 or less using cloth diapers! If you use brand name disposable diapers, you will spend much more than that.
How much money do you think you've saved since switching to cloth?