We got a lot of strange looks when we announced our decision to use cloth diapers with Atticus, though they were mainly from our parents, aunts, uncles, and others who remember the days of folding and safety pins. Cloth diapers have come a long way over the years and we've established a system that works really well for our lives. And hell, we feel pretty damn good that we're not contributing more waste to our overcrowded landfills. That said, we don't have a high efficiency washer/dryer, so I'm assuming our energy use is higher than it should be. My hope is that, once you factor in the energy used to make disposables, it's a fair trade (though please let me know if I'm wrong).
Here's our system:
1. We use all-in-ones, which function pretty much like a typical disposable. There's an insert that goes inside the cover that we pull out when it's washed, then stuff back in before we put it on baby. We were told by many that these are the only type of cloth diapers that most day cares will mess with.
2. If you've read any of my previous posts, you'll likely see that Atticus is not quite eating solid foods on a regular basis, so his solids aren't, well, solid. At this point in the game, we're lucky enough to still just drop the dirty diapers, regardless of the type of mess it contains, into the washing machine. At some point we'll have to dump more solid messes into the toilet.
3. When we're down to one or two clean diapers, we run a short, cold cycle with only 1/4 the amount of detergent you'd use for any other load. Detergents build up on cloth diapers and will eventually render then ineffective, so to make up for the lack of soap, we run an extra rinse cycle. About once a week I add a small scoop of Oxyclean to prevent stinkiness and the general grossness that comes from reusing something my kid poops in.
4. We toss the inserts in the dryer, but not the covers. The elastic and velcro closures will wear out from the dryer heat, so it's best to let them air-dry.
That's it! It's really nothing to be afraid of, I promise. We typically put the kid in a disposable at night to prevent that awful screaming-bloody-murder-at-3am-because-I'm-wet thing. Seriously, if you have kids, you know what I'm talking about. Cloth diapers are great, but they tend to get full after 4 or 5 hours (at least for us).
Atticus rocking out his cloth diapers