People of The Cloth (diapers that is)

I told you my second baby and I are out to save the planet, right? Yeah, the first kid and I got away with an AMAZING 18 months of free Seventh Generation diapers through a loop hole in an Amazon promotion, but my luck with that was so '08. This time I have to actually pay for diapers (for shame!) so why not do cloth? We are band wagoners after all.

At first I was totally overwhelmed. I mean, it felt like I practically had to go to a diaper university to navigate the millions of cloth diaper products. AOIs, pockets, pre-folds, clippies, sprayers, gDiapers, liners . . . it goes on all day with the configurations and accoutrements you can buy. And forget about cloth being thrifty. It looked like to really get set up I'd be rolling about $400 deep in dipes. 
Like so many over-fussed and uber-marketed "back to basics" ideas that are so posh these days (see: breast feeding, baking, and natural cleaners) you can pay about 10 times as much as you need for labels and status. Money pit stores like Be By Baby are happy to outfit you in $25 diaper soap that causes chemical burns when all you really need is a box of Tide, for example, or swindle you into paying $45 for a sprayer you can get online for a fifth of the price.
As I began to learn, cloth diapering is actually as simple as "put cloth on butt, wash, repeat" much in the same way breast feeding can be stripped of Boppys, shields, pumps and theatrics to boil down to "put breast in baby's mouth, repeat". Ah! So I decided on old-fashioned pre-folds like grandma used to use and inherited some cute diaper covers. Brilliant. (And for a little luxury, I got six fancier one-sized pocket diapers and inserts by Bum Genius. Big thanks to Cotton Babies, by the way!)
It was my plan to just cloth diaper the newborn, but of course once I had them all washed and prepared they looked so cute that I had to pop a few on my ready made child, the two-year-old.
The first hour was was blissful. That Bum Genius pocket dipe really made her butt look fluffy and I wondered if the lack of paper and more-like-panties feel would inspire potty training. 
Then she peed.
It instantly became clear why nursing homes smell different than nurseries. I mean, with everyone wizzing on themselves, why is one so stinky and the other is so charming? Answer: old people are peeing on their clothes, which are made of cloth. Urine + cotton = STANK. It freaking stinks, people. 
As the box of chemical burn soap so boldly points out, "if you want flowers, then pick some" but geez. Without the planet (and odor) killing agents disposable diapers provide, you are left with the stench of old people on your baby's butt. I suppose like anything else in life, you just get used to it. 
Will I continue this little experiment, or will I succumb to my weaker nature full of fragrances, hair color, department store make-up and disposable diapers? Time will tell. One thing is certain, it ain't easy being green. Pee-YOO!
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  • We did cloth until Layla was around 18 months, then I just kind of stopped... for some reason. I was battling stinkies with the diapers, diaper rashes (that likely came from the soap we were using, an expensive cloth diaper soap) and to top it off we have coin op laundry. Anyway, I dont' think you will have a similar experience with the new babe. Cloth diapering was heaven until Layla became a toddler. Now, she pees so much at one time she leaks half the time, but as a newborn I used fitteds and was so new to the idea I didn't know I needed covers (I know, durr) but she could wear one for a few hours and she didn't leak through them most of the time. So, I wouldn't give up on trying it - I plan to get back into our cloth b/c I think it will help is with potty training too, but I keep putting it off.

  • In reply to mommyandlayla:

    Yeah, and the 2nd diaper leaked! I stuffed the next one up so fluffy she actually couldn't walk.

    Maybe you're right. I'll start fresh with the newborn!

  • You should go to They have a trial package that's amazazing!

  • In reply to Kcobs:

    I can't see how changing brands would change the stink. Or . . . maybe it's not the cotton? Maybe it's the polyester of the shell?! Like how old people wear polyester pants and that's why nursing homes stink? I've gotta get to the bottom *of this.


  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    Actually, I've been meaning to tell you about this site since you mentioned cloth diapering. I wasn't even thinking about your stink issue. But, yes the cover could be some of the problem and the detergent. You mentioned in the post about a tide powder? I'm not certain but I don't think you should use powders with cloth, and are you diapers bleached or unbleached. I used unbleached indian cotton and really liked them.

  • In reply to Kcobs:

    Interesting about the powder. I read on Abby's Lane you're supposed to use Tide but now that you mention it, maybe they meant liquid. Dude, before you know it I'm going to have every soap on the market. I seriously have FIVE laundry detergents sitting down there right now and I never know what to use.

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    From what I hear prefolds are the best for avoiding stinkies. I could never get my pockets or AIO's to not smell once she was around 18 months. Before that they didn't smell, but she mostly only nursed (she was a bit of a late eater),I feel like that had something to do with it. (and I mean, she was eating food, but I think she was still like 60% nursing)

  • In reply to mommyandlayla:

    I wonder if Bee would go for a prefold. I liked the pocket dipe on her because she cant' take it off, but a loose prefold in a dinky little cover would be history in like a minute.

    Did the pockets smell when they were clean? These don't stink until she takes a wiz, then the place just smells like urine really strongly. I've never experienced that. I swear, I'm not feeding her asparagus.

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    they most definitely should NOT stink. If they stink, then then there is something wrong. Its quite possible that there is detergent build up on the dipes if you used Tide, and when that interacts with the urine, THAT is what creates the stink. Also, BG microfiber is notorious for stinking, so you will probably have less issues with the prefolds (100% cotton, hemp or bamboo is def the way to go to avoid stinkies). Prefolds can take a lot more abuse and arent so temperamental when it comes to washing, so you might end up loving those more. I've tried (literally) about 100 different kinds of diapers, and am now going back to the old school style with ALL prefolds and covers (and my son is 1.5 years old)

    Also, Tide does not work for everyone. it depends on what kind of water you have (hard, soft). And it MUST be the powder. It needs to be Tide original powder. The liquid has a "stabilizer" in it that keeps the detergent a liquid, and that can cause some major build up/stinkies on dipes.

    You might want to get yourself a bag of Rockin' Green to try out. I have horribly hard water, and it took me MONTHS to find the perfect detergent/wash routine to get my diapers super clean.

    My routine is: I do a warm rinse (pee/poop is warm when it comes out, so warm water should be used to lift any stains). Then I do a hot wash cycle (and I use BioKleen powder detergent+ a scoop of oxyclean) Then I do one last cold rinse without any detergent.

    You should probably strip your dipes (use about a Tablespoon of blue Dawn, the original dish washing liquid... or about a teaspoon if you have a front loader) And wash them several times on hot. That will get out any kind of detergent residue that might've built up and you can start fresh.

    It just might take some experimenting with wash routines and detergent before you get it right... but your dipes MOST definitely should NOT stink when they are peed in. And always make sure you have your washer setting on largest load, and never wash more than 24 or so diapers at a time. Its VERY important to get enough water so they can get clean. if you have a front loader, you might need to experiment.. cause that's a whole different ball game (some people put a wet towel in with their dipes to fool the machine so that it uses enough water to get them clean)

  • In reply to jcyjuice:

    Wow, thank you for all the info! These BGs are brand stinkin (!) new and I've only washed them twice, both times with Charlie's Soap. I did buy the Tide, but that was before the ladies at Be By Baby scared me into Charlies (then I later learned Charlie's causes chemical burns, but I had already used it).

    Thanks for the heads up they aren't supposed to stink with just pee. Maybe it's because I'm pregnant, but it literally made me GAG yesterday. It smelled like a rotten nursing home - on a brand new dipe washed with expensive soap! Argh.

    I'll try the Oxy Clean and the Dawn stripping. Maybe it has some residue from the factory or something.

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    Oh yeah I tried Charlies too and that stuff didnt do crap for us! no pun intended.

    I've tried Tide, Rockin Green, Tiny Bubbles, soap nuts, 7th generation, Charlies... you name it, I've tried it. I used to use Rockin Green and it worked really well for us, but when we moved to our new condo (with very hard water) it quit working for us so I tried everything under the sun before I finally achieved success. I think the oxyclean is the secret (for us anyway). Some diaper manufacturers might advise against it... but it's the only thing that works for us and hasnt caused any issues at all (and I know a lot of other mamas that use it too).

    Check out this link, you can "create your own" detergent sampler pack, and you can try out some different detergents to see if any of these work for you. I think you will def notice a difference once they're stripped and you start fresh ;)

  • In reply to jcyjuice:

    Well aren't you a little doll! Thank you!

    Okay, so I'm stripping my dipes as we speak. I only had orange Dawn, so I used it anyway. I put that in with all my diaper stuff and washed it in hot on "max extract" cycle, then I washed it again but didn't add any more soap (thinking it would be like an extra long rinse).

    Should I have added Dawn for the second wash? (And third and fourth?) Or is one wash with soap and three washes without the right thing to do?

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    nope you're good without it after the first initial wash. Washing a few times (on super hot) without the soap will ensure that you got all of it out + any other build up that may have been on the dipes.

    And just like you, I have heard some pretty nasty things about Charlies! Re: chemical burns and such. Hopefully you can find something that works! Cloth is awesome! But it definitely takes some getting used to. Espec when you're trying to find a detergent that works (IMO, that was the hardest part for us)

  • In reply to VelvetMinxx:

    You already have awesome info - but no, they only stank when she "used" them, not when they were clean. It was a good indicator it was time to change her! haha. But seriously, I am thinking of getting back into it, I mean I have like $500 worth of diaper sitting here - I think I am going to try some Tide. I was so brainwashed into thinking cloth diaper soap was what you had to use - we all ended up with rashes from Rockin Green - I tried Lulus' and my diapers were stinky right from the wash (after the glamour sleep, after 6 soap free loads and no bubbles in the water). It's funny, my mom is rural and on a well (not city water) and when I washed the diapers at her house they weren't stinky, it relaly musy be the city water (for us anyway). I'll let you know if anything works for us. Definitely don't give up - I had a totaly love affair with cloth diapers for the first 18 months, they are fun and cute and it is nice not to drop that money on disposables.

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