Tuesday, November 5, 2013

School of Cloth Blog Hop, Week 1: Getting Started/How to Wash the Dirties??

Welcome to Week 1 of the "School of Cloth" blog hop! This month, The Real Diaper Association will be providing a month-long course of classes provided by RDA businesses and Real Diaper Circles.

There isn't a local class in my area, and I haven't become a circle leader (yet...maybe in the future), but this week's class focus is Week 1: Getting Started and How to wash the dirties???

From RDA: "In our classes this week, we’ll focus on introducing new people to cloth diapering.  The biggest question for parents new to cloth diapering is how to wash the diapers.  RDA focuses on evidence-based recommendations, which are included here.  If you know someone just starting out with cloth diapers, please share this valuable information.  http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/wash

The blog hop prompt for this week is as follows:

"Think back to when YOU first started cloth diapering. What was the most useful information on washing, the best overall resource for learning about cloth diapers, or the clearest guidelines on how to get started?  How do your stash recommendations compare to the ones listed here: http://www.realdiaperassociation.org/guide/how-many-diapers.php?"

For me, the most useful information on washing came from two sources--a friend of mine who lived in the area and was an experienced cloth-diapering mom, and the staff from Rockin' Green.

If you have a friend who is in your area and already uses cloth diapers, ask them about their wash routine. How is it working for them? Do they ever have to 'strip' their diapers? {I have never needed to do this, just FYI.} Do they have any stink issues? What type of washer do they have?

Knowing the wash routine of someone in your area can give you a pretty good idea of what will work for you, or at the very least, a baseline to start from. As a cloth diaper consultant, I tell my local friends and customers what detergent I use and my regular wash routine. Since they live in the same area and their water has the same properties as mine, this routine usually works just as great for them.

When I first got started, I was unfamiliar with issues that can arise with laundering cloth diapers, like ammonia, detergent residues, etc. I looked around at several brands of cloth-safe detergent online before finding the Rockin' Green Facebook page. I told my already cloth-diapering friend about the detergent and she ordered a few samples. She told me she really liked it, so I decided to give it a go. Another thing that influenced my buying choice was the level of support I saw each and every day from the staff of the Rockin' Green page. They were so willing to help their customers find out what worked for them! I started out using the Classic Rock RnG formula and haven't looked back for 4 years, through 2 kiddos!
{Note: RnG may not work for every family's needs, but since it has worked for me, I have stuck with it and will continue to do so! I value my cloth diapers as an important investment and don't want to leave them to chance with another detergent or wash routine. I'm so glad we sell this product at Diaper Parties!}

Now that I'm more familiar with cloth diapering laundry issues (through lots of research and real life troubleshooting with friends who have different water hardness, washing machines, etc.), I'm able to help others with their laundry problems pretty effectively. Being a part of the Diaper Parties family of consultants has also helped, since I have a network of consultants with various water types, detergent preferences, wash routines, etc. to ask about a specific type of situation.

I haven't met a laundry issue yet that I haven't been able to help solve (crossing my fingers and knocking on wood now) yet!

The best source of information to me was a combination of manufacturer's websites (they explained all the features of the diapers, their company philosophies, etc) and real moms (they were honest about any issues they had with certain types of closures, how well their diapers had stood up over time, etc). As a cloth diaper consultant, I feel like I've combined my real mom experiences and hours upon hours of research (I'm always learning about new products, features, etc so I can help my friends and customers-I'm a serious type A personality sometimes) for a great combination of information and assistance!

I feel like being able to see my friend use her cloth diapers and even getting to change them a few times on her daughter myself was probably some of the best encouragement for me to use cloth diapers. Suddenly they weren't just images on a screen, but real things--that turned out not to be difficult to use! I remember the first time I changed her daughter's diaper (just a pad folded flat inside a PUL cover), and when I finished I looked at her and said, "That's it? Did I do it right?" I guess I thought it would be complicated! Fast forward several months, and I changed my son with my husband's younger sister in the room, and she did the same thing I had--looked surprised and said, "Oh, that's all? I thought it would be harder than that!"

As a cloth diaper consultant (and friend, since I helped my friends learn about cloth diapers long before I was a consultant with DP), this is the most fulfilling part of my 'job.' Helping others find the joy of cloth diapers! Seeing their eyes light up as they realize this cloth diapering thing isn't as hard as they thought! That they can do this after all! I love being able to "bring the store to them" since we don't have a local brick and mortar store in my area. And yes, one of the most popular questions I encounter is, "But what do you do with the poop?" I'm so glad that this is a simple answer. Almost all of the people who I explain this part to give a sigh of relief and realize it isn't so hard after all!
{Newborn poop doesn't require rinsing or any special steps, soiled diapers go straight into the pail and everything rinses out in the wash. Once poop becomes more solid, you can use a diaper sprayer, dunk and swish in the toilet, or use liners to help minimize messiness. Contact me if you have more questions.}

As far as how my stash compares to the guidelines set forth by the RDA in the link above, I was right on par with the "Money Saver" option when I got started with my son. We started initially to save money, and I had 5 PUL covers from Swaddlebees and 3 dozen flats (I bought 2 dozen and received 1 dozen as a gift). Truth be told, I never needed the third dozen, but I wanted to have them just in case. I always ended up washing before I needed them because I needed to wash my covers, though. I also purchased a Swaddlebees pail liner, a small wet bag for the diaper bag, and a lidded trash can from Walmart for my diaper pail. I'm still using the same diaper pail 4 years later, having replaced the pail liner once (with another Swaddlebees). I don't use the same wet bag anymore because I've since replaced it with two others-a wet/dry bag from Blueberry and another zippered wet bag that has a wider zipper and is easier to get dirty diapers into.
{Note: Swaddlebees and Blueberry were sister companies and have all been moved to the Blueberry brand name now.}

My squishy baby boy cuddled up with Daddy in a flat and cover by Swaddlebees.
He will be 4 years old in just a few days! *tears*

My strategy for building my stash early on was shared with my by my friend, and I share it with my friends and customers too. I bought the basics mentioned above. Then my husband and I put all our spare change into my son's piggy bank. When our son was getting to the end of the size range of his covers, we would roll the change and buy a few new covers. Over time, we were able to purchase our first pocket diapers. Now, with my daughter, we use a little bit of everything. Flats and covers, hybrids, pockets, all in ones, and fitteds for overnight. I'm about to begin my journey into using  wool, and I will have used pretty much every diaper type out there (for now).

If anyone is thinking about cloth diapering and wants one-on-one help from a personal consultant, I highly recommend visiting www.diaperparties.com to find a consultant near you! If you don't have a local consultant, I'd be glad to help you online! I've helped several friends get completely started via the internet, so I have plenty of experience! You can contact me via my Facebook page, Instagram, or Twitter!

Stay tuned this month for more School of Cloth posts!