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Washable diapers are a great way to reduce waste: an average child uses 4-6000 diapers until being potty trained, which equals to approximately 1 tons of non-degradable material on the landfills. But the many kinds of cloth diapers seem confusing for beginners. So we created this guide to make your decision easier!
After many generations using washable diapers, the disposable ones slowly but steadily started to replace them, becoming more and more popular. But as people became aware of the problem of waste and other environmental and health issues, the cloth diaper renaissance began. If you are concerned that the extra washing will eliminate the environmental benefits, consider this: the problem of disposables starts with the raw materials and the manufacturing, where forests are cut out and industrial waste water is produced. The chemicals needed for manufacturing are highly pollutant. They also require much more transportation; just compare transporting 6000 diapers to a couple of dozens! Additionally you can reduce the environmental impact of washing by using natural, nontoxic detergents.
Parents who started to use cloth again were surprised to notice that it had other benefits too. First of all, even if you use the high quality fancy ones and add the price of extra water and detergent for washing, you will pay a fraction of what you would have for disposables. Second, they are much better for your baby’s skin, as lot of mums say that diaper rash vanished after changing to cloth. This is because they are made of soft, breathable cotton, whereas disposables contain plastics, synthetic absorbents and other chemicals. The babies who wear washable diapers will be potty trained sooner, because they are more aware of the wetness and connect the sensation faster. Their other great virtue is when you use them right, they won’t leak as much. If you take good care of them, you can use a set with more than one child, or even sell it after you don’t need it anymore!
If you are afraid of the fuss, you don’t have to go all the way: just try some of each type, experience which suits your needs best. You can buy more, if you are convinced, and we’re sure you’ll be! As you’ll see, modern cloth diapering has solutions for the minimalist and the lazy parents alike.
A great window display presentation by Modern Natural Baby
Types of cloth diapers
There are two main categories of cloth diapers: those that have a waterproof layer sewn on, and those that don’t, and therefore require outer covers. In 1946 an American housewife named Marion Donovan invented the „Boater”, the first waterproof cover, and also the plastic snaps, that replaced the traditionally used and actually-not-so-safe safety pins. The evolution of diapers hasn’t stopped ever since!
Waterproof covers are needed for flat, prefold, contour and fitted diapers. We have five types of these covers in our store, the Csimota and the Popolini Vento is adjustable by snaps, and if you prefer velcro, we recommend MonaWrap Plus, Maxi, or Popowrap.
Monapel MonaWrap diaper covers
Flat diapers are the simplest in structure, but a bit more complicated to use: they are large, single layers of absorbent cloth. They are rectangle or square shaped, and they require folding in order to obtain the appropriate number of layers of absorbent material in the wet zone. These nappies have been used by many generations, and they are versatile: you can use them as a burp cloth, a light blanket, towel, or anything that requires an absorbent piece of cloth. Maybe you’ll prefer other types for diapering, however, they are great accessories around babies, and even after your child is potty trained. If you are interested, try the Popolini or the Monapel flat diapers.
The next invention for diapers was the prefold, which originates back in 1950. The name is pretty straightforward: prefolds are a rectangular piece of absorbent fabric that has been folded, layered, and then sewn so that the center strip of the diaper has more layers of absorbent material than the sides. This way less folding is required at the time of the diaper change. We offer two sizes of the Csimota prefold diaper.
Then came the diapers that don’t require any folding: contour and fitted diapers are hourglass shaped, resembling modern disposable diapers. The difference between contours and fitted diapers is that fitted diapers have elastics around the leg to better contain feces and urine. The Popolini One Size Nappy that comes with additional insert is a contour diaper, and you can also buy it in sets. If you prefer the safety of elastics, try one of our fitted diapers: the Csimota washable fitted cloth diaper, the PoPoLiNi TwoSize nappy, Monapel Praktika fitted diaper inside, or PoPoLiNi UltraFit nappy inside.
Csimota washable fitted cloth diaper
And now for the ones that don’t require extra outer cover: pocket and all-in-one diapers. Both are hourglass shaped and have a velcro, snap, or other closure to secure them on the baby.
Pocket diapers have a waterproof outer layer and an inner layer that are sewn together on three sides to create a pocket on the fourth. The pocket is stuffed with an absorbent insert that can be customized based on the absorbency level required for your baby. We offer the award winning Trezy washable pocket diaper which has a unique way to adjust size, and also has a 30 day “fuss guarantee”!
Trezy washable pocket diaper
All in one (AIO) diapers are the easiest to use! Their waterproof outer layer is sewn together with absorbent material on the inside. When changing the diaper you put it on just like you would a disposable! They are great for those days when someone else is babysitting for you, who doesn’t know the tricks of cloth diapers. The Monapel All In One Plus diaper is great for beginners and when you are in a rush.
We also have special swimming diapers for the holidays and for the pool, and two kinds of training diapers for when the toddlers start potty training, but accidents still happen.
Popolini Trainer diaper
How many do you need?
This of course depends on how often you do laundry. But generally speaking you shouldn’t leave dirty diapers soaking for more than three days. An average baby uses 6-8 pieces of diaper a day. So if you do laundry every three days, you’ll need three days’ worth of insides: that is 24 at most. If you use separate covers you won’t need that much of them, because it often stays clean, and dries quickly so buy 3 and you are good to go!
Accessories for cloth diapering
Diaper inserts and liners are great because they improve the absorbency, which is especially beneficial at night and when traveling. Monapel and Popolini each have thick absorbent washable liners. You can also use thin disposable inserts, which are basically for removing poop from the diaper, so you don’t have to wash that. They can also double as baby wipes (when unused of courseJ)!
Some cloth diapers, for example flats and prefolds don’t have fasteners, but you don’t have to use dangerous pins anymore! The solution is the Snappy fastener! This Y shaped elastic band will make sure those diapers will safely stay where they should!
If you eliminate all the diaper waste, why not quit disposable wipes too? Use Csimota’s or Monapel’s washable wipes, and dampen them with a spraying bottle filled with water or natural oils!
Cloth diaper tree from Pinterest
When you start using them, wash the absorbent diapers a couple times first, because it will increase their absorbency! For storing the dirty diapers before washing, you need two buckets with a lid. Peed diapers can be stored in a bucket filled with water and vinegar (add 1 dl of 15-20% to 10 l water). If the diaper contains poo, rinse it into the toilet before soaking! Diapers with poo should be stored separately, in another bucket. Vinegar is a natural antiseptic; so using detergents that contain chlorine is unnecessary and is not recommended, because it may harm the materials and the baby’s skin. Vinegar is an eco-friendly cleaning agent, and it won’t cause irritation. You can store the diapers this way for 2-3 days. After getting rid of the water, the diapers can go directly in the washing machine.
When you wash diapers with velcro fasteners, always close them! If you don’t do this, lint can get into it, and it will make them weaker! The outer parts of the diapers will have a longer lifespan when washed in mesh wash bags. Don’t scrub intensely or use corrosive chemicals such as bleach on the outer breathable cover because it can harm the coating. Flats and prefolds are less problematic with cleaning, but the modern types that contain plastic snaps, elastics and waterproof layers need special care! Washing them on 40°C will make them last longer, but never wash them above 60°C! Ironing and dry-cleaning will simply ruin them, so stay clear of that!
Trezy diapers drying on fresh air
We suggest using eco-friendly, biologically degradable detergents, on the one hand because some regular detergent may clog the textile, and on the other hand, you may have the same or better results with them without unnecessary burden on the environment. A three quarter cup of vinegar added to the rinsing process will neutralize the detergent. Fabric softeners may leave a coating on the textile, making it less absorbent and they may cause rash as well. Sunlight has whitening and sterilizing effect as well, so air drying is the best! Don’t dry them on high heat such as a radiator!