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Thrifty Cloth Diapering | A guest post

Hi everyone! Today we have a guest post from a fellow frugal blogger (she’s a friend of one of my former piano students, who is now a mom herself. Yes, indeedy, I am getting old!). Beth Anne asked if I’d like a guest post on cloth diapering, and I said something like, “Yes, please!” because this is an area where I have a) no knowledge and b) no personal experience (long story, but cloth diapering never quite happened in this house). So, hopefully this will help fill in a gap left by my non-comprehensive frugal experience, and I hope it’ll help to make cloth diapering a bit less scary to some of you.

Hello! My name is Beth Anne, and I blog at Thrifty Living where I share the ways my family is seeking to be more purposeful with how we spend our money. I am a frequent participant in Food Waste Friday, and I am so thankful for Kristen’s diligence in this area! One of the biggest money-savers for our family has been cloth diapers.

Getting Started

Before our daughter E (now 2) was born, my husband and I talked about using cloth diapers (CD) and decided that we would wait until we had adjusted to being parents before we would buy any CD supplies. Not long after E arrived I began my research. I found a diaper trial program through Jillian’s Drawers and ordered my sample pack. We got 6 or 7 different diapers to try for 3 weeks. It cost us $120 out of pocket, but we could return them all and get our money back, save the $10 cost of the diaper trial. That sounded like a pretty good deal to us!

When the diapers arrived, I remember feeling completely overwhelmed. Everything seemed to have different washing and drying instructions and I knew no one who used CD that I could ask. I was so thankful for the 800 number at Jillian’s Drawers! I called and talked to a rep who was so sweet and answered all my questions. I had new confidence that just maybe this would work.

Less than 2 weeks into the trial period we knew we were going to use cloth full time. I ordered a 12-pack of bum Genius (made by Cotton Babies) from Jillian’s Drawers (for $200) and we hit the ground running! Every two weeks of using cloth exclusively we paid for a diaper! We still used disposable wipes full time and disposable diapers if we traveled. We also tried using some flushable liners once she was eating more solid foods. In the end, we opted to use homemade fleece liners in our diapers since they can just go in the wash.

Diapers for Two

A few months before W (now 4 months) was born we knew we would need a bigger supply of diapers in order to have both of our kids in cloth full time. I was able to purchase a set of Flip diapers (made by Cotton Babies also) secondhand from a neighbor for $70. This added 4 Flip covers and 10 Flip inserts to our diaper stash.

We were given enough disposables for the first month or so after W was born. I got so used to using disposables on him that I started to worry that I would not want to put him in cloth when the time came. It turns out that nothing could be further from the truth! When we switched W into cloth full time I wondered why I ever wanted to keep him in disposables! We went from a blow out every few days to just an occasional leak with the CD, and from a slight rash every week or so to virtually none while in cloth.

Diaper Laundry

Because of the supply of diapers we have, we have always chosen to wash our diapers every other day. There are times when someone goes through extra diapers and we have to wash daily also. We start the cold pre-wash right after our kids go to bed for the night, and then do a hot wash with an extra rinse cycle. Before we go to bed, my husband and I hang the diapers out to dry so that they are dry by the morning. Since we have pocket diapers, they need to be “stuffed” before using, which takes me about 5 minutes in the morning.

It may seem like a lot of extra laundry, but we’ve found that it is just a part of our daily routine now. I make our laundry detergent and we bought a high efficiency washer used from some friends just before E was born. Between the homemade detergent and the minimal amount of water the HE washer requires, the cost of 200 or so extra loads of laundry every year has not even been noticeable.

After that first month of going through tons of disposable wipes because of newborn poop, we switched to cloth wipes also. Our wipes are simple; just a square-ish piece of fleece sprayed with some water. We think they work better than disposable wipes, and they go into the wash with the rest of the diapers!

Our cloth diaper supplies

14 bum Genius 3.0 pocket diapers (velcro closure)
4 Flip covers, plus 10 Flip inserts (snap closure)
around 30 square-ish pieces of fleece for wipes
around 15 rectangular-ish pieces of fleece for liners
1 Blueberry wet bag
homemade laundry detergent
bleach and original (blue) Dawn for stripping once a month
Total cost: less than $400

High Quality and Versatile Diapers

Our Bum Genius 3.0 diapers have held up really well, especially when I consider how many hundred times they have been used and washed. They do show some signs of wear. The biggest wear is the hook-and-loop velcro closure not sticking to the wash tabs any longer. This does not affect the diapers staying shut while in use, but we do get some diapers stuck together in the wash. Also, the fuzzy strip that the diapers velcro shut against came apart on 3 diapers, but took about 10 minutes of hand-stitching per diaper to repair.

Last year, Cotton Babies released the Bum Genius 4.0 that has much improved velcro tabs. I have seen these diapers and I am very impressed! We have not felt the need to replace ours at this point, even with the wear they have sustained, but when we buy new diapers we will be getting the 4.0s. Both versions of this diaper are one-size, meaning both our children can wear the same diaper! E’s is open to the largest size

and W’s is snapped shut to the smallest size.

Making it work for YOU

Choosing a cloth diaper that you like and will enjoy using is one of the most critical parts of cloth diapering, in my opinion. I cannot recommend the diaper trial enough! You get the opportunity to try several different diapers on your child with much less cost than buying several diapers. Because of the diaper trial, we decided to go with only Bum Genius diapers, and get the velcro closure instead of snap closure because we could get a better fit on E. After using both our preference is still for the velcro (better fit, quicker, simpler) but the snaps will likely hold up much longer. We use the 3.0s on W and the Flip on E. Since she is larger, they fit better on her than on him.

Taking the plunge into cloth diapering was really scary since we did not know anyone else who had done it before. Because of this, I love to tell as many people as possible about our wonderful experience with cloth, and be the resource I never had for anyone who is even remotely thinking about CD. Both my husband and I have enjoyed the chances we’ve had to introduce cloth to many of our friends. Cloth diapering has saved us a ton of money, has kept 2,000+ diapers out of the landfills (so far), and has been better for our children’s skin.

There are days when I forget to throw the diapers in on time and we are scrambling to get them dry and I think “life would be so much easier with disposables”. And I have looked enviously at the moms that toss their dirty diapers in the trash at the mall while I’m bagging mine up to take home, and thrown myself a little pity party about our diaper choice. But those bad days pass and life goes on. As I said earlier, cloth diapering is just part of our routine now.

We are just one of many families that use cloth diapers, so the way we have chosen to do things may not work for someone else, and that’s fine. In the two years that we’ve been using cloth, the CD movement has gained a lot of momentum and there are a lot of options out there for diapers. I hope our experience just goes to show that cloth diapers are not as scary as they used to be, and that there are more affordable, greener option than disposables.

Additional Cloth Diaper Information on Thrifty Living

I have a few posts that are more detailed about the way we do cloth diapers:

Our cloth diaper routine
Cloth wipes
Reflections on two in cloth

Today’s 365 post: Candle Jars=Ribbon Holders (plus the definitive word on Sonia’s art subject!)

And don’t forget about my $100 Walgreens giveaway. 🙂

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Saturday 12th of March 2011

You mentioned you made your own laundry detergent and have a HE washer. What recipe do you use and do you have any issues with the washer with homemade detergent?

Beth Anne

Sunday 13th of March 2011

There is a link in the supplies section of the post that describes my homemade detergent (actually I can copy it here too It is really simple and I like it so much that we use it for all our clothes, not just our diapers!

Diana Samour

Thursday 10th of March 2011

I understand from the nurses at the NICU that disposable wipes have harsh chemicals and they recommend I use plain water and cloth or a plain disposable type cloth to clean baby's bum. Hearing you talk about making your own wipes helped me so much. I too have decided to go with CD so thank you for the information. An earlier comment mentioned how easy it is to deal with "breast milk" stool. I can say it is true. My niece had to be formula fed for some time and her stools really got stinky compared to when she was being breast feed. So if you are on the fence about breast feeding consider the benefits both saving money and having for the most part "less" stinky stools (I didn't say messy).


Wednesday 9th of March 2011

Slightly off-topic question, but how do you make your own detergent? I've recently started switching over our household cleaners from conventional stuff to baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, etc. but I've never seen a recipe for laundry detergent!

On the subject of CD, we never considered it for our first daughter and I'm sooo sorry! I tried G-diapers with our second, didn't love flushing the inserts, dropped the idea. We had cloth diapers around to use as burp cloths, but never used them as diapers. Then one day shortly before bath I needed to change her diaper and I couldn't stand to waste a disposable. So I shoved a cloth diaper in a G-diaper cover and it worked beautifully! Since she was already 11 months old I didn't want to make the investment and go cloth full time, but we bought a couple and she wore them as much as possible. It was so much less stressful to me to know I could just do a load of laundry when we ran out instead of having to worry about ordering, or going to the store and paying $$. If I had to do it over I would DEFINITELY go CD.


Saturday 12th of March 2011

I make my own - let me get the recipe for you - I don't have it offhand and I want to be sure I'm right.


Wednesday 9th of March 2011

Thank you soooooooooo much for posting this. We are TTC and I want to go the route of cloth with this one. I bookmarked this post so that when it gets closer to the arrival of number 2 I'll have this as one of many resources to use when choosing which brands to buy! Thank you so much, I learn so much from your blog!


Wednesday 9th of March 2011

I do love cloth diapers but, they are not for everyone. Some children get urine scald too easily so for that child I use disposables. You can sign up for great coupons and get them on sale for a great price. They retain much more urine if your child urinates a great deal at once. I would use the others if I could. Huggies and Pampers have rewards programs too.

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