Tuesday, February 17, 2009

On the Cloth Diapering Front

A friend recently wrote with the following query:

How in the world do you handle cloth diapering with older toddlers (and their disgusting output)?  I was grossly unprepared for what I'm handling and was ready to quit altogether last week.  We currently have some flushable cloth diaper liners on order and I'm wondering how you address the cleaning, smell, etc.?  Help!

No doubt, the bigger your diapered child gets, the more disgusting his #2 diapers!  Thankfully, the cloth community has come up with some solutions that are helpful and also relatively economical.  One should definitely check out these options before abandoning all!  

The first is a diaper liner I found on eBay, created by a stay-at-home mom with microfleece and a pair of scissors.  I caught on after buying my first batch and went ahead and created my own.  For about $2, I made ~20 liners that go easily on the diaper directly against the baby's skin, allow for the use of creams/rash ointments, clean up easily in the toilet (so that you don't have to slosh around the whole diaper), and wash with the rest of your diaper load.  You can see the liner is contoured like the diaper for great coverage!  They are a must in our cloth diapering world.  Other liners like these rice paper ones flush right down and biodegrade.  They are probably pretty similar to the ones she already purchased.

Another great cloth diapering invention is the diaper spray wand, which attaches to toilet plumbing and makes clean-up quick and easy.  We do not own one of these, but are looking to add it soon to give me a little more power when cleaning the diapers.  Our new toilets just don't have the jet power of our old one!

Most cloth diaper sites sell diaper perfumes for helping to naturally control smell.  I've never used any of these, but have had some luck doing a wash solely with baking soda to help neutralize the smell.  

Finally, for storage in-between washings, I use one of these simple trash cans.  It has a flip top and generally keeps odors at bay.  I've even had diapers sit in it for more than a few days (gasp!) without noticing a smell.  You can find it at a local Target or Wal-Mart.  

All in all, cloth diapering should be a relatively enjoyable (we're talking diapers here) venture for your family--your baby is clean and dry, snuggled in soft cotton; your family is saving money (eventually) on the cost of regular diapers; and you are drastically reducing your paper waste, among many other perks!  If you have to take a break, don't sweat it!  We just resumed our cloth diapering after a 6-mos hiatus due to a supersoaker newborn and laundry backlog.  Thankfully, we're back on the bandwagon and enjoying it again.  Blessings to all of our clothy readers out there...

**If you're new to our cloth diapering discussion, check out our previous posts on the matter.  Welcome!


AWOL Mommy said...

Admission - I am HER! I am aforementioned, grossed out mother of a 13 month-old cloth-diapered son. B-Mama, you are too kind. I am sorry I didn't respond to your words of wisdom earlier via e-mail, and so am making my atonement here: on the worldwide web.

So, I have my first two rolls of flushable liners in the mix now and life is way better. We do not have the option of the wand, due to living on Post and not wanting to mess with plumbing too much.

Ok, so I need the nitty gritty on what exactly one is supposed to do with solid chunks of waste on a diaper? Am I supposed to hold the diaper inside my toilet bowl while I flush? Then I have a dripping mess, what then? B- you are too cheery. I am fairly committed to this for all of your enumerated reasons, but I need some reassuring and some step by step. Thank you for finding time between 2 or 3? cloth diapered boys to write this for all of us weak cloth neophytes.

Anonymous said...

I have a Potty Pail, and while it is fairly expensive, it is the best money I've spent as far as cloth diapering goes. www.pottypail.com

Kate E. said...

AWOL Mommy...
I would seriously think about investing in the sprayer. You aren't really messing with the plumbing too bad, it is really easy to install and take off when you are done, I promise.

The liners should help if you don't want to spray, I use a bag (with a little pocket on the inside to put yummy smelly discs that help control odor) and I bring the bag right over to the toilet with me so I can just toss the diaper in and not carry it half way across the house.

Baking soda definitely helps.

The sun is a miracle on stains and odor (I dry in the drier for the last little bit of dry time to keep them from getting crunchy).

And last but not least, my husband and I had a standoff about installing the sprayer and we stopped cloth diapering around 18 months...but after helping a friend install her sprayer I am ready to do it on our toilet whenever baby number 2 rolls around...so don't stress too much, 13 months is a great job!

Mummy Bear said...

We use fuzzi bunz, but have a set of g-diapers that we use on vacation, etc. The g-diapers came with what we call "the poopy stick" (just a plastic wand with no rough edges that lives in our bathroom). I don't know what we would do without the poopy stick. Now we love the poos that just roll off the diaper, but our 17-month old tends to have messier poos. We take the poopy Fuzzi bunz to the toilet, remove the insert and put the poopy stick into the pocket. Then swish! and flush! (with the diaper still in the bowl) and then we use the poopy stick to fold the soggy end up into the drier end and pop it into the simple human trash bin (the closer it is to the toilet the better, of course). My husband has mastered the poopy stick. my mom fashioned something similar for us to use when we are visiting. You can do the same with your hand...but yuck. I personally find the smell of poo-filled disposables in a diaper genie much harder to handle than the rinsed fuzzi bunz in the simple human can.

MBCW said...

We invested in a diaper sprayer for child #2, and now I can't imagine cloth diapering without it! However, before we had the sprayer our version of a "poopy stick" was a dollar store spatula. (The stirring/bowl scraping variety, not a pancake turner.) I would scrape the yucky poop off into the toilet, swish the spatula in the water for added moisture if I needed help loosening the poo, fold the diaper over and stick it in the diaper pail. I actually rarely dunked the entire diaper in the water. Swish the spatula to clean, or use a little TP if necessary, and store in an old plastic cup next to the toilet. Worked for us for two years until child #2 arrived on the scene and we got the diaper sprayer.

Good luck AWOL Mommy!

Mary Alice said...

B-Mama, I am glad to know that you took a hiatus, I keep walking past my stack of fuzzi bunz and feeling guilty that I am not using them, I am such a perfectionist/quitter that I thought I should just give them up altogether, but you remind me that there will come a day when things seem more under control and I can get back to cloth.

I use a drawstring bag that I got from diaperware and just wash it with the diapers each time, it seems to hold the odors as well as anything. I agree that the smell of a full diaper genie is worse.

I love the liner trick, we have a few fuzzi bunz that are stained with diaper cream (we use Boudreaux and love it!). I am going to get some fleece and make some. I think I will make cloth wipes while I am at it then!

Here's another question: I think my guy has outgrown his medium fuzzi bunz. Should I get the larges, or is there a new favorite diaper in town?

Mummy Bear said...

Mary Alice, this isn't directly in answer to your question about large fbs but a friend of mine with a large family wanted to try cloth diapering but had tried pre-folds and gotten really overwhelmed and her husband was hesitant to invest again so the solution she is trying is fuzzi bunz new one-size diapers. If your old sets are worn and you are looking to replace some of the smaller sizes in the future and also need some larger...it might work?

David said...

The best way to clean cloth diapers is to pre-rinse them off in the toilet using a Bathroom Bidet Sprayer. So convenient and if you are trying to help the environment (and your pocket book) you can give it a double whammy by virtually eliminating toilet paper use at the same time by using it to clean your tush! Available at www.bathroomsprayers.com they come in an inexpensive kit and can be installed without a plumber. And after using one of these you won't know how you lasted all those years with wadded up handfuls of toilet paper. Now we're talking green and helping the environment without any pain.

Joanne said...

I am lucky because my 3.5 year old son thinks that ice cream is no sugar added fruit pops and he eats a ton of them. We keep the sticks in the downstairs bathroom (the only one we clean off our diapers in) and I scrape off resistant poo into the toilet with them. Then I throw them away with any toilet paper or wipes that I may have used. We keep our diaper pail right outside our back door (also on the same floor as the cloth diaper cleaning bathroom) so we just walk it out of the bathroom and straight out the back door. It can be a little problematic in the heat of summer (bugs) but I am hoping to invest in a plastic pail with a sealing lid for this summer. Last year I just swatted the bugs away!

I have friends that have great success with the sprayer and maybe I'll change my mind about it but right now I just can't get all wound up about maybe touching some poop - I have to wash my hands anyway and I also laugh when my husband yells about "poo to skin contact!". I keep meaning to order rice paper liners but I always forget.

I am having another baby in May and am nervous about cloth diapering an infant (I didn't start with my daughter until she was like 2.5 months old) but it's SO much easier when they're only breastfed and you can just put the whole thing in there.