Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cloth Diapering Necessary Accessories

I spent almost as much time researching my cloth diaper accessories as I did the diapers themselves. It became almost an obsession for a while!


As long as you are doing cloth diapers it makes sense to use cloth wipes as well. You can wash them right along with the diapers and it's better for their skin and the environment. I use them with straight warm water most of the time, because you don't want to add soaps or oils to your diaper wash. I purchased a package of Charlie Banana Organic Cotton Washable Baby Wipes, and they are very soft and good quality, but honestly my favorite wipes are ones I made out of old flannel receiving blankets. I cut the blankets into pieces, doubled them up to make a thicker wipe, and sewed a zigzag stitch around the edge. You can also use the cheap baby washcloths as wipes as long as you keep separate from other washcloths.
I also made homemade disposable wipes and a cleaning solution for when I needed more cleaning power. The wipes are made from thick recycled paper towel cut in half. If you remove the cardboard tube and put them in a plastic container with a hole in the lid it makes an easy dispenser. I tried having the soap solution in with the wipes, but they always became moldy after a week or so. Now I have a squirt bottle of solution next to the wipes that I use as needed. The cleaning solution is made of sterilized water, olive oil, and baby shampoo. It works great to remove sticky poop messes. 

I also tried a wipes warmer with my fabric wipes, but found that they became musty quickly, and it was hard to remember to keep adding water. I gave up and just used warm tap water. It really helped that I was able to put my changing table in our half bathroom, making the water easily accessible. This also made the next item an easy pick. 

Diaper Sprayer

I had a tip from another cloth diapering mom that a diaper sprayer would be essential. I'm glad I listened, because it makes life much easier. We purchased the bumGenius Diaper Sprayer, although there are instructions online to make your own if you're up for the challenge. It attaches to the water valve on your toilet, and it works great to clean off much of the mess, and you can flush it away. I have a toilet brush cup under the sprayer because it drips sometimes after using. I also have an old spatula there to clean off stubborn messes. 

Diaper Pail

Most people use the dry pail method for cloth diapers. The best accessory to have is a pail liner. I was able to find inexpensive nylon drawstring bags in the camping department of my local discount store, but you can buy a variety of ones online - Outdoor Products Dry SackThirsties Diaper Pail Liner, or Planet Wise Diaper Pail Liner. There are also instructions to make your own if you're handy and can find the fabric. 

My diaper pail is a plastic garbage can, the Sterilite White Ultra Touch-Top Wastebasket 28 Qt. It was inexpensive and has an easy to open and close lid. I put baking soda deodorizers in the bottom, and I've never had a problem with odors as long as I wash the diapers every 2 days. 

Washing Diapers

Figuring out your washing routine is the hardest part of cloth diapering because everyone's water and equipment is different. I have moderately hard water and a top load washer. After some trial and error, this is my routine...

1. Soak in cold water a couple hours or overnight
2. Rinse or Prewash cold water
3. Regular wash in hot water with 1/6 to 1/4 cup washing soda, 1/3 to 1/2 cup soap nuts liquid (depending on size of load), and 1 Tablespoon Calgon liquid. (Add a towel to load because my washer doesn't spin out all the water on small loads)
4. Line dry diaper covers, tumble dry liners on warm/hot

Soap nuts are not recommended by the diaper companies because they say they can leave a residue, but I have not had a problem as long as I use the washing soda and Calgon water softener. I buy the NaturOli Soap Nuts. I like that they are natural, safe for the environment, and hypoallergenic and fragrance free. I make the liquid in batches in my pressure canner, because the liquid is a perishable product, but it's an easy thing to do. I pour boiling water into sterilized jars with 5 soapnuts per pint and fasten lids, then process in the pressure canner for 15 minutes.  

When I used soap nuts alone, I did have problems with residues, stains and odors. I started using water conditioners and this made all the difference. I found Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda in the laundry aisle of my grocery store, and Calgon Water Softener Liquid. This adds a little more cost to the very inexpensive soap nuts, but I'm sure it's cheaper than the fancy diaper detergents you can buy and it works great for me.

If you don't want to spend the time making the soapnuts liquid, you can also get NaturOli EXTREME 18X Soap Nuts Liquid Laundry Detergent (96 Loads per 8-oz bottle). 

Drying Rack

A drying rack or clothesline is also essential for drying the diaper covers or shells. Line drying extends the life of the the diaper and sunlight is a great stain remover. I found a nice collapsible Folding Clothes Drying Rack that works great and can be easily stowed away when not in use. In the winter I put it up in front of a sunny window and I still get some of the sun's stain-fighting power. 

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