500 years. That’s the average amount of time it takes for one disposable diaper to decompose. Not to mention the contamination of ground water due to the untreated waste from all those diapers (SOURCE). Further, if you have actually read the fine print on the packaging of the disposable diapers, you most likely would know that you are actually supposed to flush the stool before disposing of the diaper. Who has time for reading that? I had no idea I was supposed to be doing that until I started researching cloth diapering. Although it makes sense, it kind of takes away some of the appeal of the disposable diaper.
For the first 10 months of my son’s life, I used disposable diapers exclusively. Why? Mostly it was probably due to the convenience factor. But also because of sheer ignorance, I just never took the time to properly look into how to do it; however the thought of those diapers just sitting in a landfill never did sit right. What kind of a world was I helping to leave for my son? But that wasn’t my only reason for wanting to switch to cloth diapers. I would say my top reasons for making the switch were:
To lessen my son’s exposure to the harmful chemicals found in disposable diapers
To reduce my household’s footprint on the environment
To provide more comfort for my son by using cotton fabric
This is one of the drawbacks to living in the States. Many other countries around the world cloth diaper without question. Yet here in the States we contribute more than 3.5 million tons of wast through disposable diapers each year (SOURCE). I set out to make cloth diapers work for me. I eventually landed on a method that I felt would be doable. I gathered all the necessary supplies and began my cloth diapering journey.
Here’s how I make it work for me:
First, I use a diaper hose attached to a toilet in my home. This item is crucial to successful cloth diapering. It draws water from the tank allowing the stool to be sprayed off the cloth diaper and/or pre-fold, into the toilet bowl and then flushed.
Second, I use two bins to put the soiled diapers in. One bin collects the soiled diapers and pre-folds of the day (minus any poop that can be flushed right away). After spraying (think of it as pre-rinsing) the soiled ones I put them into the empty bin until everything ready to go in the washer. Then they go in on a heavy duty cycle with hot water and an extra rinse. I use my regular “free and clear” detergent do this every evening after I put my son to bed. Every so often I will add a little bit of bleach to the cycle. With my washer, this running this type of cycle takes a little over an hour. When the time is up, I simply transfer to the dryer and put them away in the morning.
When it comes to the actual diaper covers and pre-folds you can get as extravagant or as simple as you like. For me, it was important the the pre-folds be 100% cotton. I stocked up on two dozen of them just so I would be sure to never run out. My diaper cover supply is a mix of the fancy/fun designs and an economical version. While both do a good job of holding in everything, the cheaper covers are much thinner and therefore easier to pull my son’s pants over top of them.
I should add that I do still use disposable diapers for overnights. I found that my son would wake up at night because he could feel being wet much quicker than if in a disposable. I do spend the extra money for the chemical-free overnight diapers. I also use them while traveling long distances. Even though I do not cloth diaper exclusively, I do feel better about reducing my household’s footprint on the environment and providing a healthier diaper for my son.
Do you use cloth diapers in your home? Share your tips with me!