Gross-out green week - Day six: Cloth diapers - Our Daily Green

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gross-out green week - Day six: Cloth diapers

After yesterday's post about nursing, it only seems natural that a discussion of what happens after should take place. Babies poop and pee. Parents have to deal with that. Since babies don't walk and using the toilet involves a number of fine motor skills they haven't mastered, they require diapers. There is no way anyone will get through the baby stage without having dirty diapers, whether we encase it in plastic and throw it into the garbage, or rinse the waste down the toilet and reuse the diapers over and over

dirty disposable diapers
I made an early decision to use cloth diapers. My impetus was primarily a financial decision. I just couldn't make peace with the price of disposable diapers. Then I found my own "gross out" place when I learned how many disposable diapers go into landfills indefinitely. (Admittedly, my own personal threshold for gross is probably higher than average. Growing up on a farm and having to clean animal stalls made rinsing cloth diapers seem like a breeze.)

And so it was, I decided to use cloth diapers for our babies. They had come a long long way since the days of folding and pinning. I actually had thick cotton diapers with elastic legs and Velcro waistbands. I covered them with old fashioned waterproof pants (the kind that look sort of like a showercap with leg holes). I also would use disposable diapers when I was away from the house for any amount of time.

Some of the concerns folks have regarding cloth diapers was the constant source of moisture against our babies' skin and if that would cause diaper rash. I personally can say my kids never had any diaper rashes, but we also made liberal use of A & D ointment to create a barrier between their skin and the diaper.

We had a diaper pail next to the bathroom, and each time we changed a diaper we rinsed it in the toilet, squeezed it out and put it in the pail. The lid was tight fitting and we did not have an odor problem. Rinsing diapers that are wet also is important or they will generate an ammonia smell. We laundered the diapers in hot water and gentle detergent. About once a month, we would run the diapers with through the load with bleach then double rinse them.

We estimate that we saved approximately 5000 diapers/annually, times two children, times 3 years each. (it took a full 3 years to potty train our kids). Factoring in the initial cost of the cloth diapers and the additional water bill, we still feel we came out several thousand dollars ahead. That extra money offset the "gross-out" factor tremendously.

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