Monday, July 20, 2009
bumGenius and More
O.K., so I have been asked by a couple of people recently to share about our cloth diaper experience. So...here goes.
First, I want to take you back to this post (#2)...when I was still knee-deep in research about the subject. We did end up going with the one size fits all pocket diaper that I discussed in that post, as told in this post (#5...and scroll down for more pics). Be sure to visit these links...you'll need the info. discussed there to add to the info. within this post.
Let me just tell you that I LOVE OUR CLOTH DIAPERS!! LOVE them. There was a HUGE (GIGANTIC) learning curve and only now do I think that I've got it figured out how to take care of them...but, that's only because of our situation here (much different than yours in the states). You can read about some of my woes here (be sure to read the comments in all of these links...great information there too).
Alright, so let me tell you my situation/routine now.
I have a total of 33 diapers. Eissa and Cass are both in the diapers (although Eissa will be potty-trained soon). I do a load of the day's diapers every night. I'm sure I could probably go every other day, but I think that in my situation, it's better to do it daily. It's not a huge deal really...I just have to really plan ahead, esp. if we are going somewhere at night. You'll see why in a minute.
If you get cloth diapers (these particular kind that is), you'll need to use some kind of detergent that has no perfumes, no dyes, no whiteners, no brighteners, no enzymes, no soap. ;) Yeah, kind of finicky diapers, but if you just get a detergent like Charlie's Soap like we got (we got this and we are only on our 3rd bag after about a year of usage), that takes care of that. I personally use one tablespoon of Charlie's each night. It lasts forever (even longer if you don't do a load every day). ;) In fact, I might even try less than that tonight...see, I'm still tweaking my method even now. You will also need some Dawn Original (as pictured here) for "stripping" the diapers (you "strip" the diapers of any detergent build-up which causes smell/stink issues or absorption issues...that's what that means). Also, you can't use any of the normal diaper rash ointment...they contain oils (cod liver oil for example) that stains your diapers, stinks to high heaven (think fish), and also can cause the pee to just slide right out of your diaper (makes your diapers completely non-absorbent). We have used the Aveeno diaper ointment and it seems to be just fine...but I just found this and we might try out another one of these next time we need to buy.
O.K., so here's my routine...
Every night after the little girls have showered, I immediately start a cold cycle, just to get all the nasty stuff rinsed out. We remove all poop before we put it in the dry pail (wet pails are no longer recommended), where we keep all dirty diapers...peed on and pooped on. But, we don't spray it out (like some do using a handy little diaper sprayer like this one...there are many on the market), so this cold cycle just rinses everything out. Unfortunately, that takes about an hour and a half (that's on rapid cycle...includes filling the washer with water, some agitation, emptying the water, then rinsing and spinning) as you read on the link about how everything here takes so much longer as related to the washer. I don't add detergent on this cycle.
Immediately after that, I start the actual wash cycle. This is the doozy. :) Since we don't have warm/hot water that is automatically an option for our washers, Joel rigged up a small water heater (like we have on our showers to allow us a warm shower) for the washer. So, I hook up a hose to the faucet next to our washer and manually fill the washer (the water runs through the heater on its way to the washer). You don't know how many times we have gotten busy with the kids and forgotten about the water filling and flooded the floor...not pleasant!! We got wise (and moved into a smaller house so now we can actually hear it) and started setting a timer. It takes about 25 minutes to fill the washer with hot water. With this cycle I don't hold anything back. ;) I do a regular cycle (not rapid), a soak, and an extra rinse. So, that means the washer fills with water, agitates a bit, soaks, agitates some more, empties, rinses, empties, rinses again, spins. This cycle starts at some point before I go to bed and goes through the night (lasts about 2 1/2 - 3 hours). This is also, incidentally, the cycle that I add the detergent to...as the washer is filling with the hot water.
When I get up in the morning I do another cold cycle with an extra rinse just to make sure all the detergent is out (you end up with bad stink if it's not)...another couple of hours. Then I hang them outside to dry (then the washer is free for other laundry...my washer goes non-stop). By the end of the afternoon, they are dry and I assemble them and put them away.
Now, for you in the states (or anywhere with better washer technology), that wash routine wouldn't be such a big deal. Most people there in the states do the same routine...3 cycles...cold, warm, cold again. But, it just takes me WAY longer. And, most people there use their dryers to dry the diapers. Since I don't have a dryer, even more time.
So, my point is that if I can do it, you can certainly do it. It's really not a huge undertaking...even here, so don't be overwhelmed by it, missionary folks. Once you have your routine set and figure out what works best for your situation, it really just becomes second nature.
You can add a bit of bleach once a month to your diapers to combat lingering odors. And you can strip them every 6 weeks or so (that's the minimum time...it is best to go as long as possible between strippings). For stripping and other care instructions for bumGenius, go here.
As you saw in the previous links, it really does save money...even if you only use your diapers with one baby. Here's a fun link that talks more about that (and more)...this chic is crazy green, but I love her ideas. Cloth diapers are also so soft and feel so good to baby. And, it's just good stewardship of resources (I'm not saying it's for everyone...it's not...but, that is a plus).
We still use disposables if we are traveling or occasionally if we are going to be out and about all day or something (although, we usually still use cloth even then).
For night-time use, I use one of the regular inserts and 2 of the doublers. We NEVER have leaks. We have occasionally had stink problems, but with the stripping every now and then (and just figuring out the system that works best for you), those problems will be cured too.
There is also another great product that you can use in order to help eliminate some of your workload. They are called rice paper liners. You line the diaper with one of these and then can just plop the liner and poop into the toilet and flush (you can...we can't flush that here, but we'll just plop it in a baggie and then in the trash). We just recently got these and are looking forward to not always having to scrape the poop out of the diapers. ;) We'll be getting them tomorrow actually. The three big names I saw for these are Imse Vimse, Kushies, and Bummis Bio-Soft. There are others available...you'll just have to research. And, I'll try to give you a review of our purchases too.
I know it might seem a little overwhelming to make the switch, but let me just recap how simple it really is for you:
--select and buy diapers
--get the right kind of detergent
--get the right kind of diaper rash cream
--get some Dawn dishwashing liquid
--get some liners if you want
--get a dry pail (we just use a regular small plastic trash can with lid)
--experiment to find the exact routine for you
And that's it!!
If you are interested in getting the bumGenius cloth diapers (or so many other products), I highly recommend Cotton Babies, a great company with great prices, great customer service, and also very missions-minded (a great thing in my mind of course). They offer a grant for missionary families for a cloth diaper package. We were recipients of that grant last year. LOVE them!
Another great product that I don't think I've ever talked about for those of you 'in the family way' (ha) is the washable nursing pad. Oh my gosh...how I wish I'd known about this when Grady was born. These are so very awesome! Love them!! If you are going to need nursing pads anytime soon, GET THEM!! I mean it!
Also, while I'm plugging products, these are great too if you have a bedwetter and/or are pottytraining and don't want to use pull-ups (or can't...they don't have them here). They are a bit bulky, but less bulky than others available from what I hear. They work very well, that's for sure. And anything is better than having to wash sheets every day, right?
O.K., I think that about covers it. Obviously there are many other cloth diapers on the market, from the regular old-fashioned prefolds with covers to the fancy shmancy high-tech diapers. There are even variety packs available from certain websites (like this one at Cotton Babies) so that you can use several different kinds to figure out what you prefer. So, there is really something for everybody.
Happy researching and shopping! And feel free to ask any questions you may have. I'll leave you with a couple of the cutest little bumGenius bums you ever did see! ;)
What my line looks like right now.
You can see the regular inserts and the doublers. And the kids in the background playing with a lizard. ;)