File this under the “mommy files.” An online friend mentioned this site in a post and I couldn’t help but share it with y’all because, hey, you never know who you’re going to meet who could use this. It’s a site called miraclediapers.org, and it’s an idea I’ve had in the past, but didn’t have the time or administrative skills to do it myself. Fortunately, someone else has, and from the looks of it, they’re doing a fabulous job. This is an organization that gives cloth diapers and cloth diapering supplies to low income families. Our family alone (and this is factoring in the cost of the diapers themselves) has saved more than 2,000 dollars over three kids by doing cloth diapers, and that’s only figuring doing cloth part-time. Disposables are expensive –I’ve averaged them between 25 cents (name brand on sale) to 12 cents (target brand on clearance in the HUGE box) a PIECE. Figure the average newborn uses 10 to 12 diapers a day (if you’re changing them as often as you should 😉 ), and the average 1 year old uses around 5-8 a day, and it gets pretty expensive, pretty quick. Add in disposable wipes at around $2 a box, and it only adds to the misery. Low income families can get help with the food end of things, but no program I’m currently aware of covers diapers. It’s a real-life serious need for a lot of families in tight spots.
As far as the laundry aspect of cloth, I can speak by experience and say that it’s really not that bad, especially if you’ve already gotten over the “dealing with bodily fluids” thing that makes you a mom anyway. To me, it’s just another couple loads of laundry a week. I do a diaper load about every other or every three days, and since I don’t currently have a clothesline (working on that…), I dry them in the dryer, which accounts for most of the cost of using cloth. If I had a space to line dry, it’d be even cheaper (plus, the UV rays from the sun bleach and help sanitize the diapers. See, you learn something new every day!).
What do I do with them? I use prefolded diapers and velcro covers, so I don’t deal with pins. With wet ones, I either (if I’m lazy) dump them straight in the diaper bin or give them a quick rinse in the toilet (helps with smell, which isn’t that bad anyway if I do a diaper load every 2-3 days). With the “soiled” ones, I shake off the solid stuff, swish the diaper in the toilet a bit to rinse off the extra, wring it out a bit with my diaper duck, and throw it in to the bin. When laundry time comes, I throw the diapers into the machine, run a short cold water prewash with 1/2 the recommended detergent, then follow it with a good long hot wash with another 1/2 dose of detergent. Sometimes I double rinse if they still look a bit soapy, sometimes not. Some moms use bleach, but I haven’t had problems yet with smell, and they get sanitized very well from the hot water and a hot dryer. After that, I toss them into the dryer (or hang them on a line if I have one). Fold ’em up, and they’re all ready for re-use. Cloth wipes (baby washcloths or Wal-Mart cheapie washcloths moistened with plain warm water or a bit of Dr. Bronner’s soap diluted in water) go right in with the diaper laundry. Total time spent not including machine time –about 25-30 minutes a load, or about the time it would take me to drive to Sheboygan and back to BUY diapers, less the time wandering the store and wrangling kids. Not really a big deal at all, but for $2,000 over three kids, I think it’s a pretty good one.