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You've just had a baby. Congratulations! Now comes the steep learning curve. How do you save a bit of money so that you can send your bundle of joy to college one day? The answer begins with the diapers. By using cloth diapers, you can cut down your disposable diaper budget, and keep some money in your pocket. Cloth diapers are easier on the environment than disposables. And cleaning diapers, as it turns out, is not very difficult!
- Buy a diaper pail, (or use a five gallon bucket) and place it near the toilet.
- If you decide to use a wet pail, put two inches of water in the bucket and add about a half a cup of borax or baking soda and stir.
- As you add more diapers, the two inches of liquid you have added will "wick up" by capillary action, keeping all the diapers a lot fresher than they would be without the solution. And yet, because you are only using a couple of inches of water, your pail won't get so heavy you can't lift it.
- Drop diapers that are only wet directly into the pail.
- Use a diaper sprayer or spoon to scrape solids into the toilet.
- A spoon works better than a flat scraper because the curved surface of the spoon gives you more control. Once you have scraped the diaper, drop it in the bucket. If it was a really messy one, you may have to dip the diaper in the toilet to rinse it.
- Choose a mismatched spoon for this task so you always know which is the diaper spoon. Most thrift stores have inexpensive, mismatched flatware.
- Collect enough diapers to do a load of laundry. Wash them often enough that the smell doesn't get too bad, but try to wash reasonably full loads, too.
- Do a cold wash or pre-wash on the diapers to remove most of the loose matter. This may be less necessary with a wet pail or pre-soak method.
- Wash the diapers in a washing machine. Use hot water, and do not add fabric softener. Fabric softener can reduce the absorbency of the diapers.
- Depending on your water quality, you may need to experiment with different types of laundry detergent or adding an extra rinse to the end of the wash cycle. If your diapers still smell after washing, try adding vinegar to the last rinse cycle or baking soda to the first rinse or pre-wash cycle.
- Line dry the diapers. Sunshine is best, but you can dry them on a rack indoors if weather or living arrangements don't allow outdoor drying.
- If you dry them in a machine they tend to wear out faster. Also be aware that many all-in-ones and wraps lose their waterproofing if you machine dry them.
- For fast, easy air drying, purchase a hanger for multiple pairs of pants with a lot of bars on it. This way you can fit more then one diaper per hanger. Hang the diapers up on your shower curtain rod with the fan blowing. When dry just hang the pants hanger full of diapers with the babies things, instantly put away.
- Line drying also saves money. Clothes dryers take a lot of power to run.
- Fold and store the diapers for reuse. Fold them the way you will fold them to put them on the baby, so that they will be ready to go.
- Wash new cloth diapers before using them, ideally multiple times. It removes any chemical residue on them and makes them more absorbent.
- Use gentle detergent and make sure it is rinsed out thoroughly. Look for hypoallergenic detergents without perfumes or dyes.
- If you feel unsure about committing to cloth diapers all the time, you can use some disposables too. You might use disposables only when you go out, at busy times like holidays, or any time you are feeling overwhelmed. Any cloth diapers you do use will help the environment and your pocketbook, so do what you can and congratulate yourself for making the effort. It is really not that hard.
- You can also use waterproof PUL covers that take a cloth liner, such as Gdiapers or Flip, and can also take disposable or flushable liner for less convenient times.
- Consider disposable diapers available for purchase at some health food stores; look for chlorine bleach-free, dioxin-free and recycled brands.
- You may wish to use a disposable, flushable liner.
- Line your diaper pail with a net or mesh bag. Then, pull your diapers out of the pail and transfer them directly to the washing machine.
- Some people use a dry pail method, and a cloth soaked with some lavender oil helps to cover up the smell.
- If you have not bought your diaper materials yet, consider using other fasteners besides safety pins. A fastener such as a Snappi grabs onto some diaper fabrics (like cotton pre-folds), holding the diaper tight and eliminating the need for pins.
- The wet pail is not recommended for use with synthetic materials, including fleece & PUL (waterproof) covers. The polyester will absorb the stinky water, and will be difficult to wash clean. If you are using pocket or all-in-one diapers, a dry pail is recommended.
- Keep the pail covered, both for odors and to keep baby and pets safely out of it.
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