May 15, 2010

Eau de Cloth Diapers

I use a Sterilite tall trash can with a lid for our cloth diaper pail. I've always kept it dry because I knew that a wet pail would weigh more and the extra weight would make it more cumbersome when the day came to launder them. The lid helps to keep the smells contained and I only encounter the smell when it's full and I open the lid to drop in a dirty diaper. I don't use a pail liner because they cost money and I can just as easily throw the diapers in the machine hands-free without one.

At first we would rinse each diaper separately in the toilet before depositing it in the pail. This really helped keep the smells under control. I consider now that doing so uses much more water than just rinsing them in the washing machine before the wash cycle. Let's say my pail holds between 20 and 30 cloth diapers before they get washed. Old toilets (before 1994) use 3.5 gallons of water per flush and today's low-flow toilets use 1.5 gallons. Multiply that with the 20-30 diapers per pail and that's between 30 and 105 gallons of water! A washing machine with a 3.3 cubic feet basket capacity will use about 31.5 gallons of water per complete cycle. If you break that up by 3 (once for the wash cycle and once for each of two rinse cycles) then it's only about 10 gallons to rinse the cloth diapers all together in the machine rather than doing each one by hand! (And I suppose that's if you have an average to full load of laundry.)

Plus, I've found that letting the machine rinse the diapers saves me time during each diaper change. And it saves my hands from swimming around in dirty toilet water several times a day! It's more time efficient, energy efficient, resources efficient and it's more sanitary! I will still rinse a cloth diaper if there's enough number two that stubbornly won't detach, but that's maybe just once a day. Diaper sprayers also are great inventions that help keep your hands cleaner.

The first morning cloth diaper (the one baby's worn all night long) would be especially aromatic and still is. Both Moriah and Lily wear cloth at night. In the morning, thanks to the no rinsing dry diaper pail, I don't really have to smell it at all. I just remove the dirty diaper and plop it in the pail. I barely have enough time to really get a good whiff. If they drink more water than other alternatives, the smell won't be so horrible either.

When I had to change a diaper with number two while dealing with pregnancy nausea, the smell would make me get sick almost every time. My friend Jennifer would use disposables during her "morning sickness" period and then switch back to cloth when she could tolerate smells better. During those dirty diaper changes I would aim a fan right at my face or the diaper so that I wouldn't be overcome by the fragrance. If I used a disposable (which I might just happen to have thanks to Grandma) and she didn't poo, then I would feel like I wasted a disposable diaper. It's a give and take kind of thing, I guess.

Previously I was using bleach in the diaper wash/rinse cycles to help with residual smells, but now I've switched to baking soda and they come out smelling just as clean as when I used bleach. I use a whole cup of baking soda in the first rinse cycle, Tide for the wash and they smell great when the cycle is complete. I use so much soda because I only wash my cloth diapers about twice a week. (After 3 days of non-rinsed cloth diapers, the smell does almost knock me out when I dump them into the washing machine.) I also wash out the diaper pail when I empty it. I just swish it in the bath tub with soapy water and that's enough to remove odors and give me comfort that it's clean. Sometimes I will wipe it also. Overall, I don't usually think about the smell except when it comes time to wash them.

When G'Wanda takes the girls for a day and leaves me with the disposable Lily's wearing upon their return, I change it and leave it in the trash can in the bathroom - I tend to notice it's odor more than I do the cloth diapers! There's way more dirty cloth diapers in the pail with a lid that don't create a wafting smell, but the one disposable in the open trash can does! Ironic, huh?!

Any other thoughts or suggestions?

1 comment:

The Culbertsons said...

You've definitely given me something to think about again. I bought 3 Bum Genius during my trial period with Thomas (he was around 9 months when I started) and I really liked them, but they aren't cheap! The prefolds worked okay for me, but I didn't love them like the Bum Genius.

I'm surprised you used Tide. I bought a special type of soap (that I still have) to wash mine. I may try using the bum genius on Josiah for nighttime and just see what I think. I'll let you know!