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?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

How NOT to Wash Cloth Diapers

Ask 20 people how to wash cloth diapers, you will most likely receive 20 different answers. Have you ever seen Wash Routine questions on cloth diaper forums? EVERYONE has a different answer. One cloth diaper manufacturer will recommend a certain detergent and another one will tell you not to use that detergent. The thing is, it doesn't have to be that hard.

Since our family started using cloth diapers, I have used almost everything on our diapers. Sometimes it was for research, other times it was out of desperation. I've soaked, bleached, sunned, used borax, vinegar, baking soda, washing soda, oxiclean, mainstream detergents, cloth diaper detergents, and everything in between.

What I've found is pretty simple - find a good detergent and stick with it. Use lots of water. Don't use additives unless you ABSOLUTELY have to, like if you're dealing with yeast.
GroVia AIO affected by soaking & additives

Before you start adding anything to your wash, talk to your local cloth diaper store or, if you use a cloth diaper detergent, email the maker. Kim from Rockin Green and Lulu from Lulu's in the Fluff have both been extremely helpful at troubleshooting laundry problems.

Do your diapers still smell dirty after you wash them? Try adding more detergent. Also, make sure you're washer isn't stuffed full. You need room and enough water to really agitate the crud out. I wash diapers every 3 days and I have to split it into two loads.

PUL cracking after using a mainstream detergent & bleach

Ammonia smell? Try rinsing your diapers before you put them in the dry pail. Yes, it's an extra step but it helps and, really, it only takes an extra minute.

Repelling issues - have you used diaper cream lately? If it wasn't CD safe, scrub a little bit of dawn soap on the diaper lining with a toothbrush, rinse really well and wash as usual. Are you using too much detergent or too little water? If you have hard water, it might help to add a little bit of Calgon in your wash.

If you think you have to use bleach, only use it on microfiber inserts. It's terrible on PUL and will eat away your diapers' natural fibers.

If you have a good wash routine down, you shouldn't have to strip your diapers. And, don't soak your diapers too much that can be hard on them too.

If you can, try to line dry your diapers as much as possible. Especially if they are velcro/aplix diapers. If the diapers are stiff after line drying them, just put them in the dryer for a few minutes to soften them up. Plus, line drying will get some sun to your diapers and I've found, that's the best way to get those stubborn stains out.
Thinning Organic Bamboo Velour

There are so many factors that can affect your diapers - water type, minerals, water temperature, diet, etc. So, what works for your friend may not work for you.

Here is our wash routine with really hard well water:
-One full cold wash cycle with no detergent to rinse the diapers well
-One Hot wash cycle with detergent
-Extra warm rinse

We normally switch between Lulu's Extra Hard Water Formula and Rockin Green Hard Rock.

GroVia AIO that has only been washed with Lulu's & Rockin Green and line dried.
This diaper has been used & washed as many times as the AIO in the first pic.

Now, there are some diapers that seem to stand up to more abuse than others. Pretty much anything with microfiber, microfleece will hold up better than natural fibers like hemp, cotton and bamboo.

BumGenius, Charlie Banana, GroVia Snap Shells, Knickernappies, and Tiny Tush are a few of the diaper brands we have that have held up over all the abuse. Some of them may not look like new, but they have no issues with PUL leaking and the inserts still work great.

Do you use additives in your laundry? Have you found a wash routine that works for you?