11.18.2014

How to Cloth Diaper in an Apartment

Thinking about using cloth diapers is often an intimidating task for families. Even with all the necessary tools at hand, it can seem daunting. If you take away some of those tools, the task seems even more insurmountable. One of the challenges that really presents itself to residents of Toronto is space. Many of our customers at Diaper-eez live in small houses, and even more in apartments and condos. A challenge that poses itself particularly to people who live in apartments is a lack of washing machine and dryer in their unit. Often customers express that without an easily accessible washer and dryer, the task of laundering cloth diapers would be too much. Today's blog post comes from a guest blogger named COUSINS NAME. While there was a time that NAME couldn't fathom using cloth diapers in her apartment home, she has now changed her tune and couldn't be happier about making the switch to cloth. We are very pleased to have NAME share her story and her top 3 tips for using cloth diapers in an apartment with us today.

When I got pregnant with my second baby, I had never even considered using cloth diapers. I did know, however, that I was dreading going back to having to spend large amounts of money regularly to make sure that we would always have disposable diapers on hand. I had a friend that was using cloth diapers with her daughter who suggested that I give them a chance. While her encouragement was intriguing, I never felt like it was a viable option for me. We live in an apartment and we don’t have our own washer and dryer in our unit. Thinking about using cloth diapers meant thinking about lugging loads of dirty diapers down 4 flights of stairs to the laundry room. Thinking about what I would have to do with the mess inside of the diapers was a whole other story. Disposable diapers seemed like the only option for our family.

Unfortunately, when my daughter was 3 months old she developed a terrible diaper rash. We initially tried to treat the rash with zinc oxide creams. When that didn’t work, we had medicated cream prescribed by a doctor. As her rash continued to worsen, I began to consider other options. At that point, I was willing to try just about anything. I decided that it was time to take the advice of my friend and give cloth diapers a chance.

At first, we invested in a small amount of cloth diapers to give them a try. We were shocked with the results. In less than a week, my daughter’s rash had cleared up completely. I realized that we needed to continue using cloth on a regular basis and that we needed to stop using disposable diapers altogether.

I was concerned. I couldn’t fathom how this could work for us. Without a washer and dryer, I couldn’t imagine how I was possibly going to launder these diapers on a regular basis. I thought that I was sure to get discouraged and give up, but knew that I had to try if I wanted to keep my baby rash free.

After only a few months of using cloth diapers full-time, I can’t believe how much easier it is than I imagined. I’m surprised that I couldn’t see it earlier. Not only is it possible to use cloth diapers in an apartment, it actually isn’t even that hard at all. I have spent the past few months getting my cloth diaper wash routine down to a science that is working wonderfully for us. Here are my tips for laundering cloth diapers in an apartment with a shared laundry room.

1) Have a large stash. Having more diapers means you will have to do laundry less. It also means that when you do laundry, you do a full load of laundry. Washing 8 or 10 diapers at a time is no big deal if your washer is in your home and you aren’t feeding the machine quarters to turn it on. In a shared laundry room or laundromat, however, you are paying for every load you wash, so you want them to count. Find the number of cloth diapers that works for you. Make sure that you have enough so that you have to wash only once or twice a week without running out of clean diapers. Having more diapers on hand also means that each piece is getting laundered less frequently than it would be if you had less diapers in rotation. This will greatly decrease the amount of wear and tear on your diapers, which will increase the overall lifespan of your diapers. Diaper-eez recommends having between 24-30 cloth diapers in your stash. For apartment living, I recommend having around 40. While it may cost you a little bit more in the beginning, it will help to keep the amount of money that you are spending on laundry lower and will decrease the amount of weekly trips you need to make to the laundry room.

2) Keep a dry pail rather than a wet pail.
A wet pail can be smelly and messy and requires that you wash your diapers every 2-3 days. Lugging a load of wet dirty diapers down to the laundry room is far worse than a load of dry dirty diapers. Keeping your diapers in a dry storage pail means that you can stretch out the time in between washes. I highly recommend having a drying rack and a diaper sprayer that attaches to your toilet. Rinsing off soiled diapers and covers into the toilet and then allowing them to air dry before putting them in your pail makes it particularly easy to add a few more days in between washes. Rinsing your diapers really reduces the mess and the smell on your dirty diapers. For me, this even means that I can skip the pre-rinse cycle when it is time to put the diapers in the washing machine. Skipping the pre-rinse means that the wash doesn’t take quite as long and that you don’t have to pay for the additional cycle on the machine, which will save you some money every time.

3) Hang dry your diaper covers. Hanging your diaper covers to dry will save you a little bit of space in the dyer and a little bit of extra money. Hanging covers is actually recommended, even if you do have washer and dryer in your home. Hang drying typically keeps your diaper covers in much better shape than when they are machine dried and will increase their overall life span.

Currently, I am machine washing my cloth diapers once a week. I do 2 loads of laundry each time, 1 full load of inserts and boosters and 1 full load of covers. I use one scoop of cloth diaper friendly detergent and half a scoop of borax, to help soften our hard water and keep odours and stains away. For each load, I do a wash and a rinse cycle. My diapers have consistently come out looking, feeling and smelling clean and we have yet to have any issues with this washing routine.

One of the great merits of cloth diapers that everyone is always talking about is how much money it will save you. I was convinced that because we not only had to purchase our cloth diapers, but also pay per load to wash them, that there was no way that we would be saving money. After spending some time getting used to our routine, however, I now realize that it’s only costing us $40 per month to launder our cloth diapers. That is peanuts in comparison to how much we would be spending if we were regularly purchasing disposables. Even with the upfront cost of buying all of cloth diapers and the regular expense of paying to wash them, we are still spending less money to diaper than we would if we had stuck with disposables.

I am so happy with our choice to use cloth diapers. I feel confidant that we made the right choice for our daughter’s health. As an added bonus, we know we are helping the environment, reducing the amount of waste in landfills AND saving money.

My only cloth diaper regret is that I didn’t start using them sooner!