I freely admit that I am not the best person for you to get your cloth diapering tips from. I’ve cloth diapered for two and a half years and love it (Except when I’m pregnant and nauseous, but let’s be honest… it is hard to love anything when I’m pregnant and nauseous.), but I’ve been rather mule-headed about following all of the “musts” of cloth diapering. One example? As I write this I am stripping diapers. For the first. Time. Ever.
But if I can offer a small defense for myself, I live in a condominium complex where I am required to share two washers and dryers with 17 other households. There’s no “I’ll just toss the dirty diapers in the machine until there’s enough to run the load,” and no “I’ll run an extra rinse cycle,” and definitely, absolutely no control over what soaps or softeners are used in the machines.
Not to mention the pile of quarters I need just to coax a few drops of water into the steel drum.
So how do I make it work?
1) I do a week’s worth of diapers at a time. (Gasp! I know.) With so many people using the same machines, it is rare to find time when someone is not actively waiting for me to finish. Once I was a little too slow to return to my diapers and a kind neighbor had moved all of them (including my drip-dry-only shells) into the dryer and put it on high heat to dry. And that was after just a pre-rinse, too! (More on that later.) So about once a week I manage to find the time and the kid-cooperation necessary to dart down to the washers the minute the load is done.
2) I use GroVia Hybrid diapers. Here I really lucked out. I knew I wanted to use cloth diapers because disposables get so expensive, but I was completely overwhelmed by the options and didn’t have the time to research (and didn’t know about Kelly’s Closet)… So I let Costco buyers do the research for me. While I didn’t make my purchase from Costco, I figured that if GroVia was good enough for Costco to carry, it was good enough for me. Coincidentally, a friend had some she had been given and never used, so when she heard what I was planning to buy, she gave me hers to try before I went all in. (Trial runs are great things!) It was love at first diapering… and the reusable shells help keep the volume of diaper laundry down so we are not buried alive in between laundry days. (A little disclaimer: We use disposables some, too, so a week’s worth of diapers is not 24/7 cloth diapers times two kids.)
3) I run diapers through the wash twice. Since I can’t change the cycle preferences on the washing machines, I run the diapers once on a cold wash without soap (maybe some baking soda, etc.) and then a second wash with warm water and detergent.
4) I machine and line dry. Like with the washing machines, I have no control over the length of the dryer cycles. One dry cycle leaves my diapers slightly damp, but that proves just perfect for hanging them in the sun to dry the rest of the way. (Ever surprised by an overcast or rainy day in Southern California? Chances are I’m hanging my diapers to dry that day. Murphy’s Law, I tell you.)
Sure, it’s not ideal and I know I deal with bad odors more than the typical cloth diapering set up, but it works, it saves me money, and I am so glad I took the plunge.
Oops! Gotta run. My diapers need to be moved!
Bio: Becka Olson lives in Southern California and cloth diapers her infant daughter and three year old son. Out of necessity, she taught her son to help with laundry as soon as he could hold a quarter.
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