Coronavirus Self-Sufficiency Part 2: Budget Cloth Diaper Supplies for the Quarantined Mama

Ok. So you’ve got your brand new (or new-to-you) cloth diapers. And the inevitable question that’s looming in your mind grows bigger and bigger until it’s unavoidable: “But what do I do when baby poos in them???”

Let’s take a deep breath together. In… and out…

People have been caring for babies in non-disposable diapers for thousands of years. Somehow, we’ve all made it this far.

If you’re not used to reusable cloth products, then yes, it is going to seem weird at first while you’re getting the hang of it. But YOU 👏 CAN 👏 DO 👏 THIS 👏

There are a few things you need to make cloth diapering work from baby to washing machine and back to baby again. They don’t have to be expensive or fancy (except one item which I’m going to encourage you not to skimp on) but they are important to get you set up for cloth diapering success.

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CRISIS CLOTH SUPPLIES

In light of the novel coronavirus pandemic, you may be turning to cloth diapers as an emergency measure with limited funds and limited store access. You’re going to want to do the best you can to feasibly make cloth diapers work even if it’s not the most glamorous experience.

In addition to diapers (refer to this post for more about that), you will need a way to sustainably clean them. This is not hard and it needn’t be revolting, but it is a skill that you’ll have to learn with a few tools to get you going.

Here’s a quick overview of the absolute basics that you will need:

1.) Wipes

2.) Something to get poo off diapers

3.) A place to store dirty diapers

4.) Laundry detergent

5.) A place to dry diapers

Let’s talk through these items, and chat about what you have around the house to use as well as what you can purchase online affordably and what you absolutely cannot skimp on. Ready?

1.) WIPES

If you have access to disposable wipes, you can definitely use them with cloth just as you always would have before with paper diapers: wipe and toss. However, if your store shelves look anything like mine (or if you’ve been ordered to shelter at home), you might want a reusable cloth wipe option.

You can easily make cloth wipes — even if you don’t have a sewing machine or fancy fabric!

No-Sew Fleece Wipes

You can make reusable wipes from fleece without sewing AT ALL. This is great news if you don’t have a sewing machine (or just don’t have TIME). You could even source fabric from an old fleece blanket you never use.. or you could buy a fleece blanket from the baby section at Walmart… or just get fabric by the yard from Amazon.

It’s 100% as simple as it sounds: buy fleece, wash, cut into squares, wipe, wash, repeat. Here’s a great, detailed tutorial with more info!

Flannel Wipes

You can also make wipes with flannel. This is how I made our current stash. I purchased a couple yards of flannel at Walmart, prewashed the fabric, cut it into about 9 inch squares (I like big wipes 🤷‍♀️), and then stitched along the edges with a zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine. I just made single-ply wipes with only one piece of flannel, so you can see the back side of the fabric — but it’s a WIPE and I’m ok with that.

You don’t necessarily need to buy new fabric for wipes. Those old flannel receiving blankets collecting dust bunnies in the garage? Those would work perfectly!

For more details with photos, this post is awesome.

Here’s a no-sew tutorial for flannel wipes.

How to Use Cloth Wipes

Wipe. Place in bin (or whatever you use to store dirty diapers). Wash with diapers. Repeat.

You can also use a homemade wipes solution like this one or you could just use WATER.

I like to keep my wipes flat and dry in an open basket ready to use. I have a perrie bottle with water to wet wipes as I go. I’ve found this works well for us since we use a lotta wipes — but I also don’t have to worry about mold or burning (in a wipes warmer).

If you DO want a warmer, I love this one so much that I have TWO lol. Although I don’t use them year round and I use one exclusively for face/hand wipes at the table, it can be helpful in the winter or at night because no one likes an icy cold wipe — especially sleeping babies. It’s not, however, a “necessity.”

2.) SOMETHING TO GET 💩 OFF

I’m gonna keep this short and sweet. I have a diaper sprayer, and I consider it $20 exceptionally well spent. It’s so easy to install that I did it MYSELF, which is an absolute miracle because I’m not handy with stuff like this AT ALL. Which means that if you can read this, you, too, can install a diaper sprayer.

If you don’t have twenty bucks, you can also do the good old fashioned soak-in-the-toilet option but 🤢 that was not for me.

[After writing this, I checked out Amazon for diaper sprayers, and they’ve really gone up in price — perhaps thanks to Covid-19’s toilet paper shortage. You can also search for “bidet” if you don’t find a diaper sprayer in your price range.]

I’ve heard you can also use an allocated (<— this is important!) spoon to scrape 💩 off. That’s entirely up to you. I imagine any old spoon would do the trick. Just… keep it secret. Keep it safe.

WHATEVER you do, DON’T put 💩 in your washing machine. The only beautiful exception to this rule is exclusively breastfed baby poo — it can all go in your washer because it’s water soluble!

3.) DIRTY DIAPER STORAGE

You’ve got options. I use a Dekor diaper pail with Dekor and Planetwise reusable liners. You don’t NEED a pail, but if you can get one cheap second hand, it makes life easier.

You could use a large wetbag, like this one available on Amazon. I have a couple, and I used to use them alone before I had a pail. They work.

If you are just trying to use things you have at home, you could use a bucket. Or a plastic hamper or basket. Just something large enough to hold as many diapers as you plan to wash at once.

4.) LAUNDRY DETERGENT

And speaking of washing… This is a critical step in cloth diapering that CAN be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

Basically, like investing in a high quality diaper cover, I’m going to recommend ALWAYS buying a high quality detergent. I use Tide Original Powder. I’ve tried other cheaper brands and other earth-friendly brands — but with our extremely hard, iron-rich water the only detergent that actually gets 💩 done is Tide. Don’t skimp.

If you must, use Tide exclusively for your cloth diapers and a different detergent for all of your other laundry. Some people say this causes a detergent buildup in the machine that can cause problems for your diapers, but I’ve not had this trouble.

I also use Calgon as an additional water softener for washing diapers. You could use Borax for this if Calgon isn’t available, but it doesn’t work as well for me.

5.) A PLACE TO DRY DIAPERS

You’ll want to avoid the dryer as much as possible. High heat can melt your PUL covers, and it quickly wears down elastics. You CAN dry diapers on low heat, if you must. I always attempt to air dry — but in the dead of winter that’s a joke, so into the dryer on low for 90 minutes they go.. however I always air dry diaper covers and wet bags.

I have a super tacky, DIY clothesline above my washing machine that I use frequently for cloth diapers. I also have this gull-wing drying rack leftover from our apartment days, as well as a clothesline in our backyard.

You don’t need anything exceptional. IKEA has a cool octopus hanger thing if you’re into that, but you could even string up diapers in a window with command strips and twine if you had to. Be creative, I bet you already have the makings of a “drying rack” in your home.

Questions? Comments? Drop me a line below and let’s talk diapers!

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