Switching from disposable to cloth diapers has been such a success for my family and I. I was fortunate enough to have cloth diapers handed to me but at the time I knew nothing about them. After researching and reading how the wash routine is specified to your washer and water hardness, all the many different brands and inserts, I was even more confused than when I knew nothing! I honestly was so close to not even trying but I am so glad I did (and so is my bank account).
I realized it's really not as complicated as people make it seem. Luckily I had joined the Fluff Love and CD Science group on Facebook. They were super helpful in finding a wash routine and offering advice. Whenever I got lost I would refer to them or their website, which I highly recommend.
With cloth diapers, you save a ton of money in the long run by not buying disposables. However you will feel like you do laundry every single day, and you might need to if you don't have enough cloth diapers. I would buy about 25 if you are diapering a newborn and a little less for older babies. This would allow you to do laundry every other day.
Before you start, I would recommend you research different brands and styles of cloth diapers. You may want to order some of each style and different brands to see which ones work best for you. They do leak if you don't change them frequently enough or if not properly fitted on your little one. Also purchase wet bags! This is where you'll place those dirty diapers you change away from home.
You will need to test your water hardness level. If your water is too hard, you will need to add softener to your wash. You can purchase a water testing kit at most home convenience stores like Walmart and Home Depot. It is important to test the water directly from your washer in order to get accurate results.
Once you've determined if you have hard or soft water, you can begin looking up a wash routine. These are determined based on the type of washer you own and the hardness of your water. The Fluff Love Facebook page can help you find a specific wash routine. Most recommend running a cold cycle first to loosen any junk left in the diapers. There is no specific way to dry cloth diapers. I tend to air dry to save money on electric, but you can easily toss them in the dryer. You can also hang them outside to sun bleach stains!
Picking a detergent is mainly based on your personal preferences; just make sure you avoid those that contain fabric softener. Fluff Love University has a detergent index that is very helpful. Personally I prefer Purex powder detergent, as it is less than $4 at Walmart! Seventh Generation powder is also on the top of my list. It's more pricey, but I'm all for the natural ingredients.
WIPES. You can always use disposable wipes, however if you are on a tight budget you can make your own. I received a ton of baby washcloths at my baby shower, so I turned some into wipes. You can also make your own by sewing together pieces of fabric. Amazon has a ton of options if you want to purchase them. You can even cut paper towel rolls in half and place them in a baby wipe container!
Most name brand baby wipes contain chemicals, fragrances, and other ingredients that can be harmful to baby's health in the long run. By making natural wipes you can control what they contain. There are different ingredients you can choose, but I find that using coconut oil and baby wash works best. Mix in some water and wa-la! I found this concoction on OneCrazyMom and have stuck with it ever since. The average person spends roughly $400 a year on baby wipes and, in my opinion, that is such an insane amount to spend on something to wipe a butt. Think simple, think smart!
You can store your dirty diapers in wet bags. Another option is purchasing a hands-free trash can with a lid and lining it with waterproof material. You can even use an old pillow case; just remember to toss the liner in the wash, too. For poopy diapers it is recommended that you buy a sprayer that hooks onto your toilet. These are fairly reasonably priced and lifesavers for those nasty diaper moments. Just simply spray the diaper off into the toilet and toss it in your pail. If your baby is breastfed, his poop is 100% water soluble and doesn't need to be rinsed!
Cloth diapering is totally worth it for so many reasons. It may seem expensive at first but your big savings really comes during the second year. Other parents will be out buying disposables and you will already have your stock of cloth. Unless you can't stop buying all the adorable prints, like myself. Not to mention if you have another child you won't have to purchase any at all. And let's face it—raising a child is expensive on many levels, so any way to cut costs is a huge plus!