Last week, I was going through my email and found I had received a notification about an article that was written by a Pop Sugar author about why cloth diapering wasn’t for them. I started reading the article and couldn’t help but scratch my head.
Let me start by saying a person’s experience is their experience. I’m not trying to say I don’t believe her. Clearly, she was unhappy with using cloth diapers and was much happier when she quit.
However, as I sat there reading the article, I kept asking myself questions like, “WHY are you doing that?” or “Why does that need to be fixed?” I also thought to myself, “That’s not even a problem…” multiple times. It was obvious that this author was making cloth diapering extraordinarily hard on herself. While her experience is her experience, she created a lot of her own problems by trying to overcomplicate something that really isn’t that difficult.
One of the issues she talked about as a reason for quitting was staining. She was struggling with stains on the diapers and got this whole convoluted system set up on her counter to soak diapers in hydrogen peroxide and found she needed to wash a diaper immediately to prevent staining, and it just took too much time out her day.
I will hand it to her, that sounds awful. But it’s also completely unnecessary.
Can staining happen? Sure. I know it does for some people, but I’ve actually never had an issue with staining myself (I will get to that later in the article). But before you start freaking out about stains, ask yourself this: Did the diaper come out clean?
If the answer is yes, then why does it matter, anyway? It’s on the inside of a diaper that nobody sees. Why make your life harder over a stain on the inside of a diaper?
That is just one example. In this article, I will address many common complaints about cloth diapers and how you can avoid it or make it easier on yourself.
1. Choose an Easy Cloth Diapering System
If you are interested in cloth diapering but are concerned that you won’t follow through with it, do yourself a favor and invest in the easiest diapers possible. I would recommend all-in-ones (see my favorites here, here, and here) and all-in-twos/hybrids (here is one of the most popular all-in-two systems).
All-in-twos can actually be pretty economical. All-in-ones can be a little pricier, but they are still cheaper than disposables. Either of these options will be simple, quick & easy to use.
While I personally use a lot of pockets, I have heard of many people giving up cloth diapers because they just couldn’t deal with stuffing pockets anymore. If you think you might be one that will be turned off by having to prep a diaper before you put it on your baby, then do yourself a favor and go for the low prep diapers!
If you already have some pockets, you can just do what I do and not stuff it until you need to put it on the baby. Don’t treat diapers like they’re a load of laundry that needs to be folded and put away. This might be hard for some of you type A folks out there, but it’s really not necessary to turn this into a big chore.
I don’t stuff a single diaper until right before I’m about to use it. After I wash my diapers, I put them all (shells, inserts, everything) in a basket that I keep next to my changing area in my son’s room. When I go to change him, I just randomly grab a shell & some inserts, stuff quickly, and then put it on.
This idea isn’t always very popular in the cloth diapering world. If you join any cloth diaper Facebook groups, you will see beautiful pictures of people’s diaper storage systems. If that makes people happy, good for them! But all I can think about when I see those pictures is how much time people took to stuff, fold them, stack them, and display them so beautifully. Again, more power to them if they enjoy that. I tried it and I was not able to keep up with it, but I did not let that keep me from cloth diapering–I just decided to keep things simple.
No matter how you decide you want to go about it, do not make this a bigger chore than you need to.
2. Get a Good Wash Routine
Make sure you get started with a good wash routine right off the bat. (Tip: If you sign up for my email list, you will get a free printable wash routine emailed to you! Sign up by clicking here, or by filling out the form located on the right-hand sidebar)
For most washing machines and water situations, you will want to do the following:
1. Pre-rinse/wash. This gets the bulk of the soil out of the diapers before the main wash so that the main wash is more effective. Some people can get by with just a rinse, others do a light wash with a small amount of detergent. You can try it both ways and see what you think.
2. Main wash with good amount of detergent. Can use regular or heavy cycle–depends on your washer. You can try it both ways.
3. Optional: extra rinse at the end. My washer has an option I can select to do an extra rinse after the wash cycle. I usually select that to make sure all the detergent is rinsed out. You can try without if you want to save water.
In between washes, store dirty diapers in a dry pail. Do not store in a wet pail. It is unsanitary and pretty hard on the diapers.
Wash every 2-3 days. Unless you only have a small amount of diapers, do not wash every day. It can actually be hard to get the right amount of water to allow the diapers to properly agitate with such a small load. On the other hand, try not to go more than 3 days between washes, 4 days at the most. While some people successfully go a week between washes, your potential for issues like staining and mold go up the longer the diapers sit around. Washing every 2-4 days will help keep your diapers in their best condition.
Getting a good wash routine down is probably the number one thing you can do to make yourself successful with cloth diapering for the long run. It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming routine–just rinse/do a light wash, then do a main wash. The end.
3. Use a Tried and True Detergent
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned staining. While I’ve had a diaper stain here and there, it hasn’t been a consistent issue, and the stain came out on its own after a few washes.
I have a few ideas as to why. My first idea is that it’s thanks to my detergent. We have used Tide Original Powder almost the entire time we have cloth diapered. Tide is known for it’s stain-lifting ability, and is by far the most popular detergent among cloth diapering families.
Tide is not the most natural detergent out there, I get that. One reason I do an extra rinse is to get any excess detergent out of the diapers so less of it is on the skin when the diapers are being worn. However, I do think if you are having issues with staining that are bothering you to the point that you want to quit using cloth diapers, it’s worth a try. You can just use Tide for diapers, and your other preferred detergent for all other laundry. You will probably be happy with how much cleaner the diapers are getting and how many fewer stains you’re dealing with that it will be worth it.
If you can’t or don’t want to use Tide, make sure you are using a recommended detergent for cloth diapers. There are other options out there that will get your diapers clean, and may even help with staining if it is a concern. But if you are following all the guidelines for washing and caring for diapers and still having issues, double check your brand of detergent and also the amount you are using. Make sure you follow manufacturer recommendations for the amount needed for soiled laundry.
And as far as staining is concerned my other idea for why I don’t have this issue is that we wash our diapers every 2-4 days so they aren’t sitting as long. A good wash routine with a good detergent is important!
4. Get Yourself on a Laundry Schedule
Make a laundry schedule for yourself and stick to it. I highly recommend doing at least one load of laundry every day, especially if you cloth diaper. While it may sound like I’m telling you to do extra work, here is why:
- If you do laundry every day, it becomes a habit, making it easier and less stressful to do.
- You naturally do smaller loads which are much easier to manage when it comes time to fold/hang laundry. You can spend 5 minutes a day folding clothes because the load was small enough. The alternative is taking one day a week to do it and making it feel like you spend half a day folding laundry because you got so far behind. Which sounds easier to manage?
- You never get behind on laundry.
Here is a schedule you can try if it helps you:
Monday: Kids clothes
Tuesday: Adult Clothes
Friday: Kids Clothes
Saturday: Adult Clothes
5. Get Some Accessories to Help With Your Least Favorite Parts
Removing poop from diapers is most people’s least favorite part. Lucky for these people, there are many accessories out there that can make this super simple.
First of all, remember that you do not need to remove poop from diapers before the baby starts solid food. Poop from breast fed babies is water soluble, and poop from formula is also usually water soluble enough that you don’t need to remove it. Some people do rinse poop off right from the beginning, but I assume you are here because you are looking for a way to make this easier on yourself. Just know that you do not need to worry about poop removal until you start solids, which for most babies is around 6 months old.
Next, consider getting a diaper sprayer. A diaper sprayer combined with a spray shield is a great way to clean off dirty diapers without touching the poop. You just clip the dirty diaper into the shield and spray off the poo right into the toilet.
You can also consider getting disposable diaper liners to use in your diapers. Some of these are flushable. You can put these in your baby’s diaper so that when they poop, you can just dump the whole liner right into the toilet and then you do not need to scrape or spray poop off. I’ve also known people to use a paper towel for this. To me it kind of defeats the purpose of using cloth diapers, but know that it is an option that can make your life a lot easier if that is what you need.
If you’re worried about staining, a liner can definitely help prevent that, too!
6. Look Into A Diaper Service
A diaper service is a company that delivers clean cloth diapers to you and then picks up your dirty diapers, usually on a weekly basis. You don’t need to worry about anything–no scraping poop, no finding the right detergent, nothing. Just take the clean diapers, use them, and then send them back dirty.
Whether or not you want to use a diaper service goes back to your main reason for using cloth diapers in the first place. It is a more expensive way to cloth diaper, but it on par with the costs of disposables. If your reason is not economic, then you may be interested in a diaper service.
I looked into a local company and found that they would also wash your own diaper stash for you. That is much cheaper than using their diapers, so that is something to consider if you would like to invest in your own stash or already have your own stash and are just ready to give up.
Looking into a diaper service is my last suggestion for a reason. I really think everyone can find a way to simplify their cloth diaper routine and expectations enough that they can start to feel they can manage it with no issues. But some of us are just at the end of our rope. If that is you, you may want to try a diaper service for a few weeks before you completely throw in the towel.
So How Can You Make This Easier?
What it boils down to is this: pick easy-to-use brands of cloth diapers, have reasonable expectations (you don’t need to stuff and fold a load of diapers every day and have dedicated shelving units where you can beautifully display them, and you don’t need to worry about a stain here and there), and make sure you have a top-notch wash routine and use a good detergent (and enough of it) and right there, you will eliminate 90% of the possible problems you could have! Combine it with a good laundry schedule, and you’ll save yourself from unending piles of laundry.
If you need to simplify even more, consider trying biodegradable diaper liners or a diaper sprayer if you need some help removing poop from diapers. If you’re at the end of your rope, try a diaper service for a few weeks (if you have one in your area) before you throw in the towel.
If you need help with your wash routine, check out this post: Cloth Diaper Washing Instructions -A How-To Video
If you are looking for a more powerful and effective detergent, check out this post: Cloth Diaper Laundry Detergent -Do I Need A Special Kind?
Are you having trouble with your cloth diapers and ready to give up? What is your struggle and how can I help?
Do you have any advice for someone getting bogged down by their cloth diapers?
Let me know in the comments!