How to Cloth Diaper … Cheaply

Cloth diapering is kind of in vogue right now. All kinds of people trying to save the planet and all that. They cite the statistics about how many tons of diapers go into landfills each year and how long it takes for them to decompose and such.

I’m not trying to save the planet. I’m trying to save my wallet.

So when I looked into cloth diapering and the good diapers are $15-$20 each, I knew that wasn’t really going to work out for me. Will it save you money in the long run? I’m sure it will. But I don’t have $300 for the initial investment, so it’s kind of a moot point. Also, there are the overwhelming number of choices for cloth diapers. And the contradictory reviews for every kind of diaper and wrap. And all the acronyms and “inside” language for all the cloth diaperers; it seems like you need a secret code to break into the community. It was so frustrating just trying to research everything I almost gave up before I began.

So if you’re looking for a cheap, no-frills way to begin cloth diapering, here’s how I did it—the old-fashioned way.

  1. Get a bunch of prefolds. Granted, I don’t really know how much these are, because they were given to me. And also there are thin kinds that don’t work very well as diapers but make amazing burp cloths. I also use them to lay on the changing table so that when she pees during diaper changes, I just toss that one in the pail with the rest and the table, the baby, and the baby’s outfit stay clean. The point is, even if you order prefolds only to discover when you get them that they’re not working well, they’re still a good investment.
  2. Get some of these Snappis to fasten the diapers. Sure, you can use diaper pins. But is it really worth the fear of poking your baby? These don’t cost much more than the pins and they’re totally easy to use.
  3. Instead of getting the fancy-schmancy covers that cost as much as the fancy-schmancy diapers, get old-fashioned diaper pants. I got two packs of these. Four diaper covers last me several days unless I get really unlucky with poop blowouts. I try to keep two on hand at a time. Take one off, turn it inside out, wipe it off with a baby wipe, set it aside to dry, and grab the other. Done.
  4. Get a step-on trashcan. Put a good old-fashioned trash bag in to line it. Remove soiled diaper, drop in trashcan.
  5. Breastfeed. Not to join the “you’re a terrible person who doesn’t love her baby if you don’t breastfeed” crowd, but you don’t have to rinse the soiled diapers if you breastfeed. The poop magically comes out in the washer. True story.
  6. I don’t know if you actually need to do anything special to wash plain old prefolds, but here’s how I do it:
    1. (Optional:) Rent from someone who pays the water bill. 😉
    2. Buy Ecos laundry detergent from Wal-Mart. (Can you use regular detergent? I don’t know. But I decided it was better to be safe than sorry.)
    3. Fill the lid with half of the amount of detergent you need for a load of laundry.
    4. Pour half of that into the washer and do a cold wash/cold rinse.
    5. Pour the other half in and do a hot wash with an extra rinse.
    6. If possible, line-dry the diapers. It gets out any stains that might still be around. Not sure what about the sun removes stains, but it does. It’s pure magic.
    7. When they’re unstained, toss ’em in the dryer on low heat to make them soft and fluffy.

Ok, so I was given both the prefolds and the Snappis. But my initial investment was $15 for the trashcan, $10 for the diaper pants, and $9 for the detergent. We still use disposable diapers at night because they don’t have to be changed as often, but I’m sure that even in the 5 1/2 weeks we’ve had Kara we’ve at least broken even.


One thought on “How to Cloth Diaper … Cheaply

  1. Pingback: Cloth Diaper Review « Free Is a Lark

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