As promised, Cloth Diapers - Part 2! Let's talk poop. Or more importantly... how to get rid of it.
Seriously you guys, if you have a baby (or are about to) and diapers are in your life, cloth diapers are not that much more involved. I guarantee, using disposables you will end up with poop on you at some point, maybe even at many points. Such is life with a kid. So by saying that using cloth diapers is "too icky" is just simply not accurate.
Like I mentioned before in Cloth Diapers - Part 1, I purchased this pretty basic diaper pail from Babie's R Us. It has a decent capacity (it's about knee height) and has a little pop up lid that you can shove the diapers through. We don't really do that, but the lid does also have a removable dome on the underside that will hold air filters. Some people use carbon filters (that's what we use in our kitchen compost bucket) but we buy little Munchkin Arm and Hammer Fresheners and that works quite well.
The bags we use are great. Planet Wise makes several different options, so it's worth it to check out their website and shop around. Not only do they make and sell the kind we use, they make a wide variety of wet bags, including snack bags, cloth napkins, and nursing covers.
Sidenote: If you are planning on cloth diapers, you will want to buy a small sized wet bag to hold dirty diapers while you are on the go. (A ziplock bag would also work.) We have been caught without one too many times, and it can be disastrous.
When we first started using cloth diapers I bought two of their Hanging Wet/Dry bags. They come in pretty patterns on the outside and waterproof lining on the inside complete with pockets, zippers and a hanging handle. However, I found that hanging my bag of dirty diapers was problematic. 1. We hung it on the back of the bathroom door. As the bag filled up, the door would not open all the way. 2. As the bag filled up, the heavier the bag became, and it eventually ripped the seams of the hanging handle. Also -- the zippers were useless! You don't want to be zipping and unzipping a huge heavy bag of dirty diapers, ever.
We eventually replaced the hanging wet/dry bag with the simpler option below (still from Planet Wise) and the new plastic pail. With the elastic top, the bag just loops over the rim of the diaper pail and stays in place. Dirty diapers go in, and when the bag is full, the whole bag and all the contents get dumped into the washer. We have 4 bags, but I think we could easily do with 2.
Once the diapers come off of Baby, but before they go into the pail, there is one very important step that cannot be overlooked. (This little tool makes all the difference) Let me introduce you to the Diaper Sprayer.
Diaper Sprayers are made by a few different companies and come in a few different basic styles. They also come in a wide variety of prices. Why they range from being moderately priced to expensive, I don't know. But I would shop around to get the best price you're comfortable with. We bought one made by bum genius and I think we paid about $40 for ours. We ended up finding it locally at a kids boutique in Lakewood called Paisley Monkey (for all you local Mamas).
The Sprayer is the difference between poop in your washer vs. no poop in your washer. Your bathroom/house smelling foul vs. your bathroom/house smelling normal. Your diapers washing up with stains vs. your diapers washing up nice and clean.
It's just that important.
It is easy to install right into the water line of the toilet on one side, and comes with a little handle holder that hooks right over the top of the tank. When you are ready to use it, you flip a simple lever that redirects the water into the sprayer. If you flip the lever all the way up, you get a pretty high pressure spray. The position of the lever will adjust the pressure, similar to turning on your facet part way, or all the way.
When you are ready, you just aim the nozzle, press the button, and rinse away the mess. All solid waste gets flushed away.
This is not to say that after you rinse your diaper will be clean. It will not. That's ok. Just throw it on into the pail.
We generally go ahead at this point and pull out the inserts. I like to pull them out before I rinse (they won't have poop on them) as it keeps things from getting so soggy. We have learned by trial and error that if we pull out the inserts here, then when we get to the laundry room we can literally dump the diapers, and the bag, into the washing machine.
Once the bag is full, it and all the diapers make their way into the laundry room. We turn the bag upside down, dump out all the diaper covers and inserts, then drop the bag right in on top.
Everything get's run twice. The first cycle is a rinse on cold. This removes any remaining mess. In the beginning we were super paranoid about getting the diapers clean, so we would add Oxyclean to this cycle. Eventually, we learned that the diapers were getting clean without the Oxyclean, so we stopped using it. It's just a cold water rinse. Once the diapers are done, you run them again on hot with the detergent of your choice. This kills any germs. (If you washed the diapers on hot first, you would set the stains.)
Bum genius recommends a third cycle, a final rinse to get out all of the detergent before it goes back on babies skin. We did this for a long time until we bought our Fuzzibunz which only instructed for two cycles. Since we have always used gentle, free and clear detergent for Mercer, we felt ok giving up this last wash.
So! Rinse once on cold. Wash once on hot. Done.
Then the inserts and the bag go into the dryer to be dried on hot. The covers get air dried. If it's remotely sunny, we hang the covers outside-- bottom side up, to dry in the sun. The sun acts as a natural bleach. During rainy days or winter, we have a little drying rack that we use inside instead.
So that's it. Once the diapers are ready to go back into rotation, the covers go in one drawer, and the inserts go in another. We stuff them as needed on the spot. It's really uncomplicated, especially once you get the hang of it.
Not only do I feel like I have done a huge part in saving some diapers from landfills, I know that I have saved myself a lot of money, I know that my kid is wearing something soft and chemical free,... and, the best part, he looks completely adorable.
Win, win, win win!