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How to Build a Cloth Diaper Stash for $45 – Cloth Diapering on the Cheap

>A re-published guest post by Lisa Johnston

“I was cruising around Amazon this morning, when I came across (again) a couple of really cheap cloth diapers, and I thought I talk about cloth diapering on the cheap!

Cloth diapering doesn’t have to be expensive. Once you get obsessed, like a lot of us, it can be VERY expensive, but if you’re doing this for money saving reasons, here are a few tips to get you started cloth diapering without a HUGE upfront cost.

Don’t feel like Amazon is the only place to buy cloth diapers! Do your research for the cheapest prices around! These below are just examples!

Where To Get The Money:

Skip Starbucks or McDonalds lunch this week. Twice. OR put back $1.50 per day
That will save you about $11 toward your cloth diaper stash. In one month, you’ll have $45ish.

What is already around the house?

If you take a look around the house, you’ll probably find some stuff that you can start out with! These things make great starters for cloth diapering:

Diapers:

Old t-shirts
Hand Towels
Cotton Receiving Blankets

Covers:

Polyester Fleece Pants
Polyester Fleece Shorts (or cut off the pants if it’s too hot! they won’t ravel!)

Local Options:

If you have the option of a local cloth diaper consignment store like The Children’s Carousel in Katy/West Houston, Texas, you can find some really great deals on cloth diapers! Many consignment stores sell used prefolds for as little as $1-$1.50 each, and you do not have to worry about shipping! The money you would have allotted for shipping can go toward the purchase of more diapers, covers, or accessories! Just keep tax in mind when you shop locally!

Try your local Goodwill or Thrift store for cotton receiving blankets! These will double as flat fold diapers, and they are fantastic for cloth diapering! Even those of us seasoned cloth diaper vets like to use receiving blankets!

Sewing you own Cloth Diapers:

If you sew, the most frugal way to cloth diaper is to sew your own. If you don’t know where to start, there are many options out there with searches like “sew your own cloth diapers” and ”free cloth diaper patterns”.

PURCHASING CLOTH DIAPERS FOR A 20LB BABY:

Cloth Diapers:

Start with prefolds! Sure, it doesn’t seem like the “FUN” thing to do, but if you’re looking to get out of disposable diapers, the first thing is to be able to afford to ditch this, and this is probably the fastest way to get more cloth diapers for your buck! You DO NOT want to get prefolds that have polyfill in them (the middle feels squishy like a pad), as these do not absorb must. You want to make sure you’re getting diaper service quality prefolds that are going to last a while!

OsoCozy Premium Prefolds at Amazon – $24 plus 8.03 shipping

Total – $32.08 (Compared to $32 without shipping of comparable brands elsewhere)

Cloth Diaper Covers:

There are many options to find reasonable cloth diaper covers such as Sarah’s Stitches, but I ran across some really cheap ones on Amazon this morning, so we’ll start there.

Kushies Diaper Covers probably aren’t the best out there, but if you’re looking to just get started so that you can stop running to the store to grab disposable diapers every couple of days, this cover will work just fine. This one actually ships free with an Amazon mom account, so make sure you have signed up! One to start out with is ok, if you have fleece pants or shorts laying around the house!

Kushies Taffeta Diaper Wrap – $7.49 free shipping

There are also cheaper, not so great options that will get you by til more money builds up to start buying more diapers! Who knows, these might work for you!

Dappi Diaper Cover Medium – $4.98

OR… you can always opt for the old school rubber pants! While not the best idea, they’ll get you by!

Cloth Diaper Accessories:

Accessories are not a necessity, however, if you’re going to use prefolds on a 20 pound baby, you may want to have something handy to keep them in place. At 20 pounds, your baby wiggles around and it’s a good idea to have the prefolds fastened.

Regular safety pins aren’t the best for cloth diapers. You know, the silver or gold ones you use to lessen the cleavage you show off at church on Sundays? They’re not really “safety”. If you’re going to use pins, make sure you get the ones designed for wiggly babies wearing cloth diapers like these Cloth Diaper Pins Stainless Steel Traditional Safety Pin. You can buy them on Amazon, but they are cheaper at your nearest Target or Babies r Us.

Snappis are a good little invention, however, they can get expensive but don’t be tempted to cheap out and get the ones that aren’t the Snappi brand. Cheap covers will get you by, but knock off snappis will not!

I would settle for 1, unless you’re prone to misplacing things.

Snappi Cloth Diaper Fastener – $3.50 plus $1.98 shipping

Total – $5.48

Total Cost for 12 Cloth Diapers, Cover, and Accessory:

12 Prefolds – $32.08
1 Cover – $7.49
1 Snappi – $5.48
Total – $45.05

12 Prefolds – $32.08
2 Cheaper Covers – $9.96
Total – $42.04

Along with the items you have around your house already, this should get you started. You will probably have to wash these diapers daily until you can add more to your stash or start being creative with what you have around the house!

Once you’ve started saving money from not having to make those weekly runs to the store (approximately $15 a week), you can start looking more in depth at places that have used cloth diapers for sale!

Be creative! Have fun! Save money! Find the love for cloth diapers!”


About the Author: www.BetweentheKids.com – Lisa Johnston is a Mom Blogger and labor doula from Houston, Texas. She and her husband have three kiddos and one on the way. In her spare time, while others like long walks on the beach, reading dirty novels, and fine dining, she’s picking Spaghettio’s out of the couch, wiping bottoms, and, of course, cruising the internet to find deals to post on the blog she staff writes for www.ICouldUseaDeal.com.

The Facts about Fabric Softener, Dryer Sheets, and Cloth Diapers

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Some fibres get stiff and crunchy when dried naturally

Prior to the early 20th century, people had no concept of or application for chemical fabric softeners. Laundry was washed by hand or with archaic machinery, and it was wrung and then hung to dry. Natural fibres may have become a bit scratchy and stiff when line-dried, and the best that could be done for them was to be softened up through further wringing, beating, or normal wear (after all, people also washed their clothes much more infrequently back then, so they would stay soft while on the wearer for longer amounts of time). With the advent of more modernized laundry techniques and products at the turn of the century, however, the earliest fabric softeners were introduced as water emulsions of soaps and oils that could be added to the washing to render the fabrics softer as they dried.

While softeners were rare only a few decades ago, nowadays it’s uncommon to find a household that doesn’t use these softeners as part of their regular laundry routine. All modern washing machines come equipped with special slots or compartments for the addition of these products, and competing brands on TV show us just how snuggly and soft their product can make a stack of towels (as soft as white baby kittens, apparently!). So, what exactly are these modern chemical softeners comprised of, and where do they fit into the laundry routine for a cloth diapering family?

What are Fabric Softeners Made Of?

Fabric softeners, whether liquid additives for the wash cycle, or dryer sheets for laundry that tumbles dry, work on the same basic principle as the original stuff from the early 1900s. They rely on oils and chemicals to coat the surface of the fabric and remain on it to make it feel lubricated, smoother, and softer. These chemicals and additives also have the inherent ability to conduct electricity, which helps to prevent the buildup of static electricity in the fabric. Sure, these chemicals make our clothes feel soft, but what exactly is included in the average fabric softener?

There are often compounds to adjust for pH (to facilitate optimal absorption into the fabric), fragrances, electrolytes, emulsion stabilizers, polymers, artificial colors, anti-foaming agents, and more. All in all, this chalks up to an awful lot of chemicals that are getting further and further absorbed into your textiles every time they go through the wash–chemicals which then sit on your skin after that. For this reason alone, using fabric softeners (liquid) and dryer sheets is not recommended for use with baby laundry, diapers in particular. These chemicals, fragrances, dyes, and other additives are not healthy for babies’ sensitive skin, especially in their constantly covered diaper region. However, even with chemical concerns laid aside, there is another critical reason why fabric softeners should not be used at all with the laundering of your cloth diapers.

Fabric Softeners Hurt the Absorbency of Fabric

Since the primary function of a fabric softener is to coat and cling to a fabric without washing away, they provide a barrier layer of chemicals and oily residue on the surface of the textiles they come in contact with. Now, for your average t-shirt or pair of jeans, this is not going to make any difference to you at all. However, over time, you will start to notice a true decline in the performance of household items meant to absorb liquid, such as towels, kitchen cloths, microfibre cleaning rags, and–of course–cloth diapers. Fabric softeners will leave a layer of buildup over all of these items, rendering their absorbent properties useless. These fabrics will instead start to repel liquid (you will see them smear liquid or will watch water bead off of them rather than getting mopped up into their fibres). Yes, this buildup can often be removed through multiple hot, soapy washes and rinses and by stopping the use of fabric softeners and dryer sheets with them. However, it is better, if possible, to practice prevention than to try and treat problems with buildup and repeling later on.

The Bottom Line for Cloth Diapering Families

Overall, you really shouldn’t be using fabric softeners or dryer sheets on your cloth diapers, ever. Likewise, even using them on your baby laundry or other household laundry is not a good idea either, not only because of the health concerns associated with these products, but also because of the principle of transference; dryer sheets, in particular, are known to coat your entire dryer itself with oily residue which can then be transferred over to your cloth diapers, even if you only use dryer sheets on your own personal stash of jeans.  So, it really is best, as a cloth diapering family, to phase these products out of your home altogether.  However, does the thought of scratchy towels or static-ridden laundry piles make your skin crawl? Don’t worry, because there are a couple natural solutions to combating these laundry woes as well.

Vinegar can be added to the final rinse of your wash cycle (or right into your regular “Fabric Softener” compartment) and used as a natural fabric softener and static reducer (the hydrogen ions in vinegar help this along). Be cautious, however, when using vinegar on diaper covers containing elastic or PUL as it

An example of wool dryer balls from The Willow Store

can cause harsh wear & tear on them with constant use (and may void your warranty on some brands; please check manufacturer’s instructions before trying this).

Another simple way to “beat” your laundry woes is by literally beating your laundry with the use of dryer balls. Plastic dryer balls are available for purchase in most large chain stores in their laundry aisle, and they work by literally pummeling textiles to soften them, increase fluffiness, and reduce static as the load tumbles dry. In a pinch, some people even throw tennis balls or (clean) running shoes in with a load of laundry to replicate this effect.

Not crazy about the idea of plastics (which sometimes release fumes) heating up in your dryer? Then switch to an all-natural solution and use 100% wool dryer balls. These can be purchased online from shops like Buddha Bunz, The Willow Store, or from a variety of crafty Etsy vendors. Alternately, you can make your own wool dryer balls by sourcing out an online tutorial such as this one from goodmama diapers.  Superior even to plastic, these wool dryer balls have no additives, can hold 30% of their own weight in water and naturally have anti-microbial properties as well.  In the long run, the use of dryer balls (of any kind) will also save you time and money as they are known to reduce drying time and, once purchased or made, they cost no money to continue to use.

Before long, by making these few simple switches to your everyday routines, you’ll likely find that, in the end, your family doesn’t miss the fabric softeners at all. 

Acknowledgements:
Fabric SoftenerWikipedia article

Cloth Diapering on a Budget

>a guest post by Penny Saver of The Saved Quarter

So, I’ve just bought all the diapers I’ll need for my third child, and I’ve spent less than $100 out of pocket. Shocked? Don’t be–read on and I’ll let you in on the tips, decisions, and products that can help your family save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on diapering your kids, too.

I can’t lie; for the first month, I’m using disposables. I know the transition for our second baby was such that the cute little cloth diapers just didn’t get the use I thought they would, and they were outgrown so quickly! This time around, I bought a 40-count bag of newborn and 300-count box of size 1 diapers for the first month, for a total of $6 out of pocket. The newborn diapers were marked 50% off at my supermarket because the bag had a snag, and I had a $2 off coupon, so I spent $4 for it ($.10 per diaper). The box of size 1 diapers were an even better deal. I saw them at Amazon for a sale price of $37, or $.12 per diaper. Not bad, but if you signed up for Subscribe and Save, you got 15% off, and if you signed up for AmazonMom, you got another 15% and free shipping; this brought the price down to $.09 per diaper. Excellent! I had $25 in Amazon credit from Swagbucks, which brought it down to $2 out of pocket – less than $.01 per diaper. We’ll gladly take whatever the hospital gives as well. With newborns using about 10-12 diapers per day, we should be set.

That leaves me with about 2.5 years of diapering for $96. Sounds impossible? Cloth diapers make it doable!

Most of the cloth diapers I used on Sweet Pea were given to a friend and my cousin after Sweet Pea outgrew them (some are on their 5th baby bottom!), but I still have on hand some diapers that I bought secondhand and have used on both Peanut and Sweet Pea. Since I bought and used them before this baby, I’m not counting the expense of them. Had I bought disposables with the same money, I obviously wouldn’t be able to use them on a second or third child!

There are a number of cloth diapering options these days; it’s not the pins and plastic pants of 30 years ago, and they can be as simple to change as disposables but much cuter! Here is a good site for the basics of cloth diapering. You can spend as much on cloth as you would on disposables depending on your system, and there are some adorable, pricy options available.

Every cloth diapering system includes two parts: an absorbent layer and a waterproof layer. I’m going with the simplest, least expensive system: prefolds and covers.

Prefolds are just like they sound: pre-folded pieces of absorbent fabric. You can pin them onto baby if you wish, or you can use a Snappi fastener, which holds them together without the chance of pricking baby’s skin. Even easier, you can fold the prefold into thirds and lay it inside the cover, letting the hook-and-loop or snap closure of the cover keep it secure on the baby. Easy! To refill my stash, I purchased another 2 dozen infant and dozen premium sized prefolds from a friend who recently closed her cloth diapering business. I have enough diapers to cover the baby for three average days between washing, from newborn to toddler, and I spent $20.

Next, the covers to keep the wet in. These are often made with PUL fabric that keeps the moisture in, and have snaps or hook-and-loop (“Velcro”) to secure them to the baby. There are also wool and fleece covers, but I haven’t tried those. Again, I had some covers leftover from use on Peanut and Sweet Pea (6 newborn, 3 medium), and my friend gave me an additional 6 covers (4 medium, 2 small.) That left me to fill in size small. I bought 5 used covers on Diaper Swappers for $26. Since my kids are both on the skinny side, neither made it past medium covers before potty training.

Unlike disposables, cloth diapers can be resold after their use, making used diapers a financially attractive option for those on a budget and giving you a chance to recoup some of your investment after your baby learns to use the toilet. I love that our diapers are on their 3rd bottom (or more!) and will likely be in good enough condition to be resold after this baby for even more use.

I also bought 5 one-size pockets (Bum Genius 4.0) in their seconds clearance for $10 each, to have on hand for babysitters and grandmas who just want to put on a diaper that works like a disposable–just velcro the whole package onto the baby. Pocket diapers are like a pillow–the absorbent layer goes into the pocket case, with a soft outer layer against baby on one side, and a waterproof layer on the outer side. They close around baby with hook-and-loop or snaps and are as easy to use as disposables once stuffed with an absorbent layer, making them very easy for the cloth diapering novice. I’ll stuff them with the prefolds. One-size pockets adjust with snaps to fit babies from newborn to toddler; I used the Bum Genius one-size pockets on both 3 year old Peanut and newborn Sweet Pea with just a simple snap adjustment.

With that, my diaper stash is complete, and I spent $100 on everything I’ll need to diaper this next baby. Here’s what I have on hand:

340 disposable diapers
36 infant sized prefolds
30 premium sized prefolds
6 newborn covers
7 small covers
7 medium covers
2 Snappi closures
wipes
8 one-size pockets (including some leftover from Sweet Pea)
a few assorted pocket and all-in-one style diapers in various sizes
Wet bag
Diaper sprayer attachment for the toilet

The Cost of Cloth vs. Disposable

Environmental reasons aside, cloth diapers are a good choice if only for the significant cost savings.

The average baby goes through 8,000 diapers from birth to potty training at age 2.5. With an average price of $.25 per diaper, you’re looking at $2,000 on the conservative side, not including the cost of wipes and extra garbage service.

The cost of cloth can be significantly less! Let’s look at a basic prefold and cover option, if all bought brand new, including laundering.

The “Bare Minimum” package by Nicki’s Diapers – $228.30
24 small prefolds
24 large prefolds
8 one-size covers

Laundry – 2 loads per week for 2.5 years, hang dry (saves electricity and they last longer) = $3 (Laundromat prices)= $ 234

That’s $462.30, less than a quarter of the cost of disposables. If you have a second child and reuse these diapers, you’ll pay only for laundering the second time around – about 10% of the cost of disposables. After that second child is out of diapers, depending on the condition of them, you may be able to resell them for about half of your purchase price, reducing your total diapering bill even further.

However, the bare minimum isn’t quite enough for many, or convenience is important and another system is preferred. Even if you spend up to $750 on the initial investment – enough to buy a very nice stash of convenient, cute diapers, you’ll save more than $1,000. Even better, those cute, convenient diapers have a higher resale value if you choose to resell them.

But you know I’m not going to say to pay full price, right? You can definitely have a well-stocked, not-so-bare-minimum cloth diaper stash without paying full price.

Tips for getting started with cloth on a budget

1. Buy second-hand
There is a thriving second-hand market for cloth diapers. Many were bought and never used, or used once or twice just to discover that they didn’t fit right on that baby. Check Craigslist, eBay, and the For Sale or Trade forums on Diaper Swappers or other websites or Facebook groups.

2. Don’t buy a complete system without first testing it on your baby
You might really like a particular system–like the one-size pockets I like for easy on-the-go changes and babysitters–but one brand may not fit perfectly on your child. Another brand may work perfectly, and you don’t want to sink your whole budget into a style that doesn’t work for your baby.

3. Watch for sales and clearance specials
Like many other products, cloth diapers routinely go on clearance to make way for this year’s colors/patterns/slight adjustments. Some sites send out email announcements of their clearance specials. I am on the Cotton Babies list so I hear when they add new stock to their clearance section, where I was able to buy the one-sized pockets I like for 45% less than regular price.

4. Don’t buy everything your baby will need from birth to potty training all at once.
Buy only for the current stage if you can’t afford to buy all at once. There is no urgency to have the larger sizes if you have a newborn, so hold onto your money and keep an eye out for sales!

5. Consider prefolds!
These are the workhorses of the cloth diapering world, and while they’re not as cute as some other options, they’ll definitely be worth your money. You can use them as I am, with a cover as a diaper, or you can use them to stuff pocket diapers. They can be doubled up for heavy wetters and overnights, make great burp cloths, and when baby’s outgrown them, they’re excellent cleaning rags.

6. Don’t use too much detergent, and line dry
Too much detergent will damage your diapers. Use a detergent recommended for cloth diapers and experiment to find the amount that works best for your diapers. Line drying is obviously going to save over the dryer, but sunlight also has the bonus of helping to eliminate lingering stains, stink, or microbes.

7. Register for cloth diapers
They’re small, soft, and cute, which makes them fun to give as gifts, and you can register at a number of stores online and brick-and-mortar that will carry a variety of cloth options.

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About the Author:
Penny Saver is a frugal mom to 5 year old Peanut, 2 year old Sweet Pea, and a pea in the pod due this winter. She is making the most of modest means, saving her quarters to save a quarter of her income and blogging about it at The Saved Quarter.

Call for Article Submissions

>If you are an avid cloth diaperer who feels you have some wisdom, experience, or anecdotes to share, you should check out The ArtsyMama’s call for submissions to The Freedom of Cloth Carnival, hosted by The Natural Parents Network.

This blogging carnival, a celebration of writing about all things cloth, will be run across multiple blogs and will highlight some of the best posts publicly. Several WAHM cloth diaper businesses will also be joining in with some giveaways of some fluffy goods!

Head on over to read the submissions guidelines and to see the blogging topics for each day of the week. I know lots of you out there have insights and stories to offer on the subject of laundry, diaper styles, sewing your own dipes, and more. This is a great opportunity to join into an exciting network of diapering mamas and papas and to get some exposure out there for your own blogs and businesses.

Time for a Change

>A guest post by Laurie Diwakar and Lauren Walker

When it comes to diapers, there are endless health and environmental reasons to switch from disposables to reusable cloth.  Cloth diapers are better for your baby’s skin because they are breathable, free of chemicals, and gentle on sensitive body parts.  Using cloth diapers instead of disposables also reduces the occurrence of irritating and painful diaper rash. The choice to use cloth diapers can also make a massive impact on the environment.  Plus, there are immediate cash savings for you.

DISPELLING THE MYTHS OF DISPOSABLES

Most parents choose to use disposables for their perceived “ease of use,” with no idea that they are actually putting on their baby’sbottom. Disposable diapers contain many ingredients that big corporations try to keep the consumer from knowing about. Some of them include: petrolatum, stearyl alcohol, cellulose tissue, elastic, gel and perfume. “Green disposables” are often made without chlorine, fragrances, or latex, but most have sodium polyacrylate (SAP), an absorbent gel that’s a chemical. SAP was banned from tampons because of its link to toxic shock syndrome but studies have not been done on SAPs effect on babies. Also, both “green” and regular disposable diapers contain polyolefin (plastic) film. “Green diapers” inserts claim to be compostable, but they are not biodegradable, nor are they natural with their chemical SAP.

SAP gels claim to be non-toxic. However, these cross-linked polyacrylate polymers arelinked to an increase in childhood asthma, a decrease in sperm count and increase in scrotal temperature among boys and may cause problems later in life. In one study, they found that on average, the in-plastic temperatures were approximately 1.8°F higher than in cloth. The babies in cloth had cooler recorded temperatures (www.drspock.com). Other scientific studies have linked disposable diapers and their toxic substances to the increase of asthma in today’s society. Laboratory rats exposed to disposable diapers straight out of the package have suffered increased eye, nose and throat irritation, as well as bronchial constriction similar to that of an asthma attack (Rosalind C. Anderson, Acute Respiratory Effects of Diaper Emissions, Archives of Environmental Health, 54, October 1999).

DISPOSA-NOT?

Disposable diapers are not really disposable at all. This information, from the Real Diaper Association, shows the impact disposables have on our landfills. Currently, 27.4 billion disposable diapers are estimated to be consumed every year in North America of which, over 92% end up in the landfill. Against manufacturers advice, less than 0.5% of fecal waste is disposed of properly in the toilet/sewage system before the diaper is discarded. It is estimated to take 500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose. This is long after your great, great, great grandchildren will be gone. Disposable diapers are the third largest single item in landfills. In a house with one child in diapers, disposables make up 50% of household waste. Disposables are also expensive; you can expect to pay $2,500-$4000 for disposables from birth through potty training.

R-EVOLUTION OF CLOTH

Cloth diapering has come a long way from your mother’s days of pricked fingers and artful folding. Velcro or snap closings have done away with pins, making some cloth diapers as easy to change as disposable diapers. Modern choices are simply to fasten and don’t require any folding. These come in a variety of sizes and fabrics and are not only functional, but durable.

Some think that it’s a lot of extra laundry or work to use cloth diapers, but what is another one or two washes a week? This is less work than earning the money to buy disposables. Cloth is better for your baby and the environment. Plus, cloth diapers can save you thousands of dollars, especially when you use them on more than one baby. Because they actually feel wet, babies tend to potty train earlier in cloth diapers; another bonus! There are so many pros to cloth diapering, cloth really should be the first choice. Your baby’s bottom will be in diapers 24 hours a day for the first 2-4 years of life. Choosing cloth or disposables for your baby is a big decision, but it shouldn’t be a hard one.

Laurie Diwakar, BA ENG, PSYCH, is a mother of 3 with more than 9 years of experience in the natural health industry. As a motivated entrepreneur she has committed the last 4 years to developing and testing products that work for you, your family and the environment. Her main focus is a balance between quality, comfort and health at a reasonable price. For more information on cloth diapers visit www.rearz.ca.

This article has been republished with the authors’ permission.

The Difference Between a Liner and a Soaker: Or, Why You Shouldn’t Give Low Ratings to My Favorite Products

>There are a lot of cloth diaper resources popping up out there. Why? Because cloth diapering is experiencing a resurgence in popularity and modern cloth has so many new options. Because modern cloth still has not become mainstream, parents looking to purchase cloth rely on the reviews and experiences of other parents who have used those products. This is smart because it saves valuable time and money when choosing the right diapering system for your family.

Parents who have used products are an excellent resource for whether or not a product works and is worth your time and money. They are in the trenches so to speak, using diapers and their accessories on a daily basis. In some cases there use may fall under the extreme: a toddler and pair of infant twins all in diapers. Since a lot of us do not find ourselves in this situation but can image the wear and tear on a diaper under these circumstances–a review from this parenting situation is highly valued. We trust that mom’s “been-there-done-that-try-this-not-that” perspective and opinion. Now if she can only find the time between diapers to write her review!

Which is why occasionally I happen across a diaper product review that makes me cringe and want to jump to the defense of that poor diaper product being berated for not working as the user hoped. This failure to live up to the user’s expectations could be for legitimate reasons or it could be that the user did not understand the product’s intended use. When you try to use a product for something other than what it was designed for, of course it is going to fall short.

We’ll take, for instance, the poor unassuming reusable diaper liner–one that I frequently use and has received many bad ratings. Yes, the company that makes these liners claims they increase absorbency and that you should use one in each of their diapers and can double up if needed. But, the intended use of any liner (reusable or disposable) is that it functions as an inexpensive way to protect your larger investment (diaper) from becoming ruined by either soiling (visual) or clogging with barrier creams and ointments (absorbency). It is not supposed to give you a few more hours of wear–cloth diapers are meant to be changed frequently, cutting down on the instance of diaper rash. But, a liner protects the current absorbency of your diaper by not allowing materials that would affect its usefulness to touch the surface. Plus–because they cost me $2 as opposed to the $25 my adorable pocket diaper costs–I don’t mind if I have to throw away the liner.

Diaper liners are made of thin materials so that moisture can pass through and into your diaper so that moisture does not sit against your child’s skin. So when I see reviews of these products and testimonials that say the liner did nothing to increase absorbency and that your diaper leaked because of it, I rush to the defense of the product. These are still cotton and need to be properly prepped (washing and drying at least 5 times) and then they are still only a liner designed to protect your investment. So really it should be the product description, in this case, getting a bad review–but not the product!

Since I am only one woman and I haven’t gotten around to trying all the products available, I cannot discount every bad report a diaper or diaper accessory receives. So how can you determine if these reviews are good or not before you buy? You can save yourself a lot of hassle if you know your common diaper terms.

Liner – Thin layer of material either reusable or disposable designed to allow moisture to pass through and keep solids and creams/ointments from touching the surface of a diaper.

Doubler – Thin absorbent material designed to slightly increase the absorbency of a diaper.

Soaker Pad – An absorbent pad made from various materials and used inside a diaper cover.

Flats – Large thin piece of material that is folded in various ways to wear as a diaper. (Snappi/Pins and Cover needed)

Pre-folds – Rectangular diaper with layers already in place and sewn together. (Snappi/Pins and Cover Needed)

Contours or Fitted – Diaper shaped absorbent material that make have velcro or snaps or need the use of a snappy. (Cover needed)

AIO – Absorbent material and waterproof outer all sewn together.

AI2/Hybrid – Diaper cover and absorbent material can be separated. Pad sits or is snapped into the cover. Pad can be reusable, disposable, cotton, hemp, organic.

Pocket Diaper – Pad slides into a pocket between the cover and the inner liner.

Cover – Waterproof material used to keep excess moisture contained.

About the Author: Shannon is a cloth diapering, extended nursing, working mother and wife. She is passionate about natural-attached parenting and blogs about her experiences at The ArtsyMama. She is also a Diaper Parties consultant with Everything Birth, Inc.

10 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Facebook Fan Page

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When it started, Facebook seemed to be this innocuous little plaything, a social media platform useful for catching up with friends cross-country, or spying on old high school crushes. Nowadays, however, Facebook has turned into one of the most powerful (free!) marketing tools out there for businesses, all the way from huge mega-corporations like Walmart, all the way down to the simplest mom and pop shops or work at home moms.

If you don’t have a Facebook business page set up already, even if it’s just for your home photo studio or your kitchen table craft endeavors, here are a few reasons why taking the quick & easy plunge makes perfect sense for your business, diaper-related or otherwise!

1. Facebook is one of the most accessed media platforms on the planet
– over 600 million people are signed up to use Facebook worldwide
– in any given day, 50% of active users sign on to their Facebook accounts
– 48% of young Americans say they find out news from Facebook, and the same percentage report checking Facebook immediately upon waking in the morning
– in 20 minutes on Facebook, 1 million links are shared and 10 million comments are made
– the average user spends 55 minutes on Facebook every day
– the average user is connected to 80 fan or community pages, groups and events

2. Facebook will expand your business outside of your local niche
Whether geographically or in an online setting, all business hit a stand-still where they have maximized the amount of business potential that they can gain from the one niche area they are located in. Perhaps you sell diaper covers or crafts at your local farmer’s market but see the same 200 people pass you by every week. Or, maybe you have an online shop that gets the same handful of fans wandering by on bookmarks or message board links periodically. Facebook is the number one way to expand your target audience. With 70% of its users located outside of the United States, Facebook can take your tiny little homegrown business into something that can cross borders (if only for word of mouth exposure and popularity, if nothing else!). With fan pages linking up to one another (and pages getting publicly ‘liked’ by users, too), people are bound to ‘stumble’ upon your Facebook page far more frequently than they would your website, which may not even show up in the top 10 pages of Google’s search results. Throw your Facebook link and name out there from time to time, and watch your number of fans steadily (and speedily!) creep up, expanding the borders of the clientele you can reach.

3. Facebook is mobile
Of Facebook’s 600 million users, 250 million of them currently access Facebook through a mobile device such as the mobile version of the website, or an app specifically designed for their smartphone. This makes Facebook truly accessible wherever, whenever. Though many people prefer not to browse full websites on their smartphones (the type can be too hard to read, or they may load improperly), they will log in to check their Facebook friend and fan page updates literally anywhere from the train to behind their work desk to on the toilet! Connecting with your fans and colleagues over Facebook means they’re fully accessible at all times of the day and night, even when they normally wouldn’t be checking your website or blog for regular updates. Aside from the people who will be accessing your fanpage, it also becomes very easy for you to update your own fanpage even when you’re out and about and on the go, with nothing but your phone to help you keep in touch with your clients and fans.

4. Facebook fanpages are customizable
Once you’ve set up a basic fan page (with info, photos, and your wall), it then becomes very easy to begin integrating other tabs that are useful for your business. How about adding a welcome page, or a contact tab, where folks can send you an email directly from you fan page? There are contest tabs, special archiving and database tabs, as well as games, discussions forums, art apps, and more. Overall, people on Facebook install 20 million applications every day, which shows people are open to and are savvy to apps, just another new wave of social media.

5. Give your fans another chance to shop with you directly
With all the apps and customizations available to your fan page, it should come as no surprise that even Etsy shops and Hyena Cart stores can be integrated directly into your Facebook fan page. For the lazy (or confused) shopper, this makes buying from you simpler and more convenient. Since Etsy and Hyena cart themselves are also pretty much next to free ways to promote yourself, this combination is a terrific duo for the small business mom or pop who wants to peddle their handmade wares online.

6. Fan pages have perks that personal pages do not
Technically, it is part of Facebook policy that businesses and organizations are not permitted to use personal accounts and run them as fan pages (for example, first name “Everything”, last name “Cloth”). However, with fan pages being so simple to run and having so many perks to personal accounts, it really doesn’t make sense why anyone would prefer the former to the latter. For example, personal pages cap out your friend limit at 5000, whereas there is no limit to how many fans you can rack up on a fanpage. Personal pages will require you to send friend requests and approvals to link up with clients, whereas fan pages give people the open ability to link themselves up by ‘liking’ you page directly. Fan pages can be integrated into websites with ‘like boxes’ and other features, and they create a real sense of community rather than just a one-on-one connection.

7. Google crawls Facebook fan pages
Worth mentioning on its own is the face that having a Facebook fan page will help boost your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) because Google bots regularly crawl Facebook fan pages for data. That means that if people are out there searching for targeted information or ar plugging your business name into the search box, your Facebook page will turn up in the results as well. This is great (free!) exposure!

8. Facebook is constantly improving the use of their fan pages
Fan pages are constantly evolving, changing, and receiving updates and new additions. Facebook has come up with new ways of displaying tabs and apps, as well as new ways of managing your fan page (you can now comment as your page and receive notifications directly as the page owner). Commenting as your page allows you to gain even more connections and exposure opportunities for your business name.

9. Facebook fan pages make you approachable, accessable, and allow for direct, public interaction with fans and clients
By ‘liking’ a favorite company, brand, or business on Facebook, clients are now able to feel importantly connected with the names they love. They are no longer just a nameless number to the corporation; they become a named fan who can interact freely with this business, whether large or small. Fans strike up conversations with you or other fans directly on your wall, starting a real sense of community. You can respond back within seconds by liking or commenting on their posts, making them feel truly heard and validated. The most successful fan pages foster a real sense of community and camaraderie, making their page a real destination on Facebook that people will check into several times daily. Involve your fans enough, and they’ll start word-of-mouth advertising for you, without you even having to ask. Facebook allows all its users to tag one another in mentions and posts, including fan pages. So, if you do a good enough job impressing your clientele, you’ll start to see your name cropping up all over the place (and there’s nothing a business likes more than that!).

10. Triangulate your fan page to direct traffic to your other pages and profiles
Once you have peoples’ loyalty on Facebook, why not farm out some of that traffic to your other sites and profiles? Remind them of your username (and posts) on Twitter, and chances are they’ll wander over and get connected there, too. Link to blog posts as they come up, and solicit feedback via Facebook comments instead of just blog comments. Integrating all your media and pages seamlessly into one another will maximize the strength of your online presence and sense of community.

So, are you jumping out of your seat ready to sign up for a fan page of your very own all of a sudden? Click here to sign in with Facebook and create a fan page of your very own!

See also: How to get your own Facebook custom username

Statistics via Facebook and Kim Garst

>Stripping Diapers Using Rockin’ Green Soap

>See also: What is Diaper Stripping?

If your diapers need stripping and you’ve already tried stripping with plain old hot water, then you might want to turn to a product you may already have around your house–good old, cloth-diaper safe Rockin’ Green Soap
. Many people use Rockin’ Green already for their normal diaper wash routine, or, if you’re like me, you may have a couple of sample packs laying around from prizes you’ve won, or from loot bags from events such as The Great Cloth Diaper Change. If you’ve simply been saving them for a rainy day, these sample packs are perfect for diaper stripping! If you don’t have any sample packs just laying around, you can quickly order a few at only 75 cents each from Rockin’ Green directly.

To remove built up minerals and detergent residues from your diapers, you can “Rock the Soak” and have great results with very little effort! The steps are simple (and are included on every pack of Rockin’ Green):

In a top-loader:

  1. Dissolve 3 Tbsp of Rockin’ Green soap (whichever formula/scent works best for your home) in a washer full of your hottest water
  2. Add all the diapers and inserts that you are concerned about (or simply do your whole stash, to freshen it up!)
  3. Allow to sit and soak, fully submersed, for 30-60 minutes at a minimum. If buildup is bad, leave diapers soaking for several hours or even overnight.
  4. Once the soak is finished, then launder your diapers as usual, but do not add any extra detergent.
  5. Add a few extra rinses to get rid of any extra suds and gunk.

In a front-loader:

  1. Dissolve 3 Tbsp of Rockin’ Green soap (whichever formula/scent works best for your home) in a basin or bathtub full of your hottest water. Alternately, you can dissolve about 1-2 Tbsp of the soap in your front-loader and attempt to get it to soak manually by adding extra water, selecting a “soak” function if you have one, or hitting the pause button. However, I have NEVER gotten a good soak in my front loader and definitely recommend using the bathtub. Especially if you are using your bathtub, I would recommend starting with ‘clean’ diapers (i.e. ones that have already been washed free of urine & feces).
  2. Add all the diapers and inserts that you are concerned about (or simply do your whole stash, to freshen it up!)
  3. Allow to sit and soak, fully submersed, for 30-60 minutes at a minimum. If buildup is bad, leave diapers soaking for several hours or even overnight.
  4. Once the soak is finished, then launder your diapers as usual in your washing machine, but do not add any extra detergent.
  5. Add a few extra rinses to get rid of any extra suds and gunk.

A couple things to keep in mind is that Rockin’ Green has special formulas for different types of water (soft, classic & hard), so you should try to select a formula that will work best for your type of water. Also keep in mind that soft water will create more suds, so you may not need the full 3 Tbsp of soap if your water is extremely soft.

When rinsing, be sure to continue rinsing (even on warm or hot) until NO SUDS remain at all. If you leave suds in there, even Rockin’ Green suds, your buildup problems will remain or even get worse.

If ammonia is your problem, Rockin’ Green even has a special formula called Funk Rock, which is an ammonia bouncer to remove strong ammonia residues from your dipes and inserts.

I did a superhot overnight soak in my bathtub on our entire diaper stash, and even though they weren’t having any major problems, I couldn’t believe just how fluffy the diapers came out (the microfibre inserts that had begun to get quite matted came out looking brand new again!). So, this is great to do every few months when you think problems might be cropping up (i.e. before things get really bad!), but you can also do it routinely or preventatively from time to time, especially if you have hard water or are prone to diaper buildup for other reasons. Rocking a Soak is especially easy to do in top loaders before each and every wash routine (for a quick 30-60 minute soak).

And also, don’t forget, in order to prevent buildup problems from happening again,

– always wash diapers in hot water and high water levels
– always rinse diapers several times (possibly even in warmer water) after laundering with soap
– use the least amount of detergent possible
– use only cloth diaper approved detergents
– never add fabric softener or use dryer sheets
– avoid the use of thick, non cloth diaper approved creams

Photo credit: via Rockin’ Green Soap

>Stripping Diapers Using Hot Water

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See also: What is Diaper Stripping?

Though there are a variety of methods for stripping your diapers, the cheapest and most tried & true is definitely stripping with plain old hot water. You’ll need no special supplies or considerations other than good old hot water, your washing machine, and several hours of time to monitor the situation.

Works best for: removing diaper issues caused by general buildup or soap residue; restoring fluffiness to diapers and inserts

1. Start with diapers that are already clean of all urine and poop. They can be dry (from in storage) or still wet/damp (fresh out of a load of laundry from the washer). Either wet or dry will work fine.

2. Plan to get your washing machine water as hot as possible. Many modern washing machines have a built-in heating coil inside them so that water is selected to a specific temperature when selected. So, don’t worry about this if you have a newer machine as your washer will take care of it for you. However, if you have an older washing machine, make sure the levels on your hot water tank are set high enough that water can get truly hot. Turn up the heater a couple hours before you plan to strip to ensure that really hot water will reach your diapers. Alternatively, for an older washing machine, you can also boil some water on the stove, let it cool slightly, and then manually dump it into your top loader.

** Caution — do not dump straight boiling water into the load, however, as it can damage PUL, plastics, and elastic. Be sure to let it cool slightly first.

3. Place all your diapers in your washing machine. Choose settings that will yield the hottest water temperature, whether “Sanitize” or “Cotton/Towels” or plain old “Hot/Cold”. Also select settings that will increase your water level, if possible. Use “High” water level or the “Water Plus” setting on a high efficiency machine, if it has it. Start the cycle. DO NOT ADD ANY SOAP.

4. Check the water level part way through. If there is not enough water (if all the diapers are not thoroughly SUBMERGED in water), then manaully add HOT tap water (or partially cooled boiled water) by hand. In a top loader, just dump it in. In a front loader, you can pour water in via the detergent drawer manually. Just go slowly so it doesn’t overload it and splash/spill. Alternatively, see if you can pause the cycle partway through it ejecting the first batch of water. Usually, at this point, I can get the door to unlock and can dump several pitchers of hot water overtop of my diaper laundry pile within.

5. Watch for bubbles. If your diapers had a problem with soap residue or buildup, all this hot water should be enough to get suds forming. Take a peek at what’s going on several times throughout the wash cycle. You may be amazed how much soap seems to be in there even though you never added soap to the cycle! That was all embedded in your diapers somehow–no wonder they needed to be stripped!

6. Top up water at different phases of the cycle. When your cycle switches over to “rinse”, you may need to add more water manually again. Just listen for the switch and stay in tune with what’s going on.

7. Do more rinses. Once that initial wash has spun dry and indicated it is done, don’t remove your diapers. Set them up for another one, two, three, or more rinses. Continue to rinse on Hot/Cold or on Warm/Warm (as opposed to just cold). The idea is to keep the soap sudsing OUT of the diapers. Continue to use hot/warm water and to keep the water levels as HIGH as possible, whether via the machine of by hand. So, how many rinses do you have to do? Continue to rinse until you see NO MORE SOAP BUBBLES. Take note that soap bubbles have a whiter, filmier look to them, and tend to linger longer on the surface of the water. In newer machines, or in machines where the water is being more aerated/agitated, you may see some bubbles forming during agitation, but they may be only air bubbles. Air bubbles are tiny, more uniform in shape, are clear to look at, and they disperse and pop very quickly after they form.

So, just how many rinses can you plan on doing? On average, most people will need to complete an additional 2-3 effective rinses to completely rid their diapers of built up soap. However, in worse cases, or in cases where your rinses are not quite as effective as they could be (not enough water, etc), you may need to complete upwards of 9 or 10 rinses!

So, don’t plan to strip your diapers if you are in a hurry! You need to be around to be constantly checking for suds ad well as checking the water temperature and level. Trust me, it will pay off in the end if you do it right the first time around! If you get too laissez-faire and think the machine will simply take care of it for you in two swift rinses, you may find yourself stripping again in a few days!

8. Dry your diapers normally. Once all the suds are gone from the wash and the diapers have spun clean and dry in the washer, simply proceed to dry them as you normally would (hang shells to dry, tumble dry inserts if you like, etc).

Hopefully this tried & true method of stripping will have solved your diaper problems. If your problem is truly gone, you’ll once again have diapers and inserts that are fluffy, aborsorbant, and that smell clean and free of any strong ammonia smells whether wet or dry.

Don’t forget, in order to prevent this problem from happening again,

– always wash diapers in hot water and high water levels
– always rinse diapers several times (possibly even in warmer water) after laundering with soap
– use the least amount of detergent possible
– use only cloth diaper approved detergents
– never add fabric softener or use dryer sheets

On the other hand, unfortunately, if you find that even after this labor-intensive method, you are still left with diaper issues (stink, repelling, ammonia, rash, etc), then you may need to move onto another method, such as stripping using Rockin’ Green Soap.

>What is Diaper Stripping?

>For most cloth diaper users, stripping your diapers is something that you’ll most likely have to do sooner or later. After months of wear and tear, being soiled and getting washed and dried with a variety of products, additives, and water types, more often than not, most peoples’ diapers will begin to develop some sort of buildup on them that has to be removed both for the good of your diapers and the good of your baby.

WHAT IS STRIPPING?

‘Stripping’ is a term that applies to many different fields and contexts. Stripping simply refers to the removal of something. Think about it–vintage furniture collectors strip layers of old paint and varnish off a favorite piece in order to refinish it. Farmers or miners will see the land stripped of nutrients or mineral deposits. Even exotic dancers perform a removal of sorts with their version of stripping! 😉

Diaper stripping, then, is simply the removal of buildup from off your cloth diapers. The specific undesirables that may need to be removed from your diapers and inserts are: hard water (mineral) deposits, soap scums & residues, oils, and waste/ammonia buildup.

HOW CAN I STRIP MY DIAPERS?

This will be explained in greater detail in a series of “How to” posts over the course of this week, but generally, diaper stripping can be done through the use of hot water, plentiful rinsing, special detergents or products, and a bit of elbow grease or some tips of the trade. Stay tuned for a day by day walk-through of a few options available to you for diaper stripping.

HOW DO I KNOW MY DIAPERS NEED STRIPPING?

Your diapers probably need to be stripped if …

… they stink. Diapers that are holding onto residues may begin to smell like ammonia, like poop, or even mildewy or fishy. Synthetic microfibre inserts (common in most pocket diapers) are particularly heinous in terms of retaining buildup and getting “the stinkies”.

… they repel liquid. If you notice that your diapers don’t seem to be absorbing as well as they used to, try a simple absorption test–take a clean, dry diaper (or insert) and pour some water over it, slowly. Allow the water to hit the surface of the fabric. Normally functioning diapers should absorb the beads of liquid within a second or two (it’s fine if beads form for a moment before absorbing). However, if your water beads up and sits there without absorbing (or, even worse, rolls away!), then your diapers are so coated with oils or residues that they will not be functioning properly until they are “reset” through diaper stripping.

… they keep causing diaper rash. Built up grime, ammonia, or residues on your diapers are all irritants to your baby’s skin. If your baby keeps getting recurring diaper rash that can’t be solved through other precautions and treatments, then perhaps stripping the diapers back down to their clean, fresh state will help.

WHY DO MY DIAPERS HAVE BUILDUP?

Although not impossible, it can be difficult to totally avoid laundry buildup. In fact, all our household laundry (and surfaces!) have buildup and residue on them–it’s just that all these other things aren’t necessarily as frequently used and essential as the diapers that surround our baby’s sensitive bottom for nearly 24 hours a day! Still, here are a few practical tips for avoiding diaper buildup to help put off stripping for as long as possible:

1. When washing diapers, rinse them in cold first to get rid of heavy soiling and urine, but then wash them with soap in the hottest water possible. If your washing machine doesn’t seem to get hot enough, consider turning up your hot water tank or even manually adding hot (near boiling) water from time to time. Also, make sure that you wash diapers in as much water as possible. If you have a high efficiency (low water) machine, you might need to find ways into “tricking” it to use more water (such as using the Water Plus or Delicate cycle; or, by adding a heavy, wet towel in with your diaper load). In a pinch, you may even need to manually dump extra water in by hand (whether on top of your diaper laundry in the tumbler, or pouring it in via the detergent drawer).

2. Rinse, rinse, rinse! Be sure that after your main laundry wash cycle is complete, you add one, or two, or more rinse cycles! Your goal is to rinse (every time!) until no suds are visible in the wash water. This means that all the soap residue will be truly coming off your diapers instead of sitting on them and drying into the fabric. If cold rinses just aren’t getting the bubbles out, consider doing one or more rinses in hot or warm water to help flush the soap residue away.

3. Find the right balance of detergent for your machine. If your diapers are still coming out smelling dirty (i.e. poopy), then obviously you need to be using a bit more detergent. However, most people overuse the amount of detergent. As a rule of thumb, you can generally use 1/4 to 1/2 as much detergent is recommended by the box or bottle of soap that you use. Many cloth diaper users who have HE front-loading washers use as little as 1 Tbsp of powdered soap to wash their diapers in! Using less soap ensures that less residue will hang onto your fabric fibres.

4. Use cloth diaper approved soap that has no additives, enzymes, or brighteners. To see where you detergent selection falls, check out this detergent chart from Diaper Jungle.

5. Do not use fabric softeners or dryer sheets! The chemicals that make your clothes soft with these additives are the same ingredients that will create a waxy buildup on your diapers and other clothes, rendering their absorption powers useless. Skip the fabric softener and opt for a bit of white vinegar in your rinse cycle instead, or use dryer balls (plastic or wool) in your dryer to help soften diapers and reduce static and drying time.

6. Wash your diapers often. Washing diapers every 1-2 days as opposed to every 3-4 days will help your laundry cycle overall, allowing less time for stains and smells to set, and enabling you to use fewer heavy duty products and detergents to get them clean and smelling fresh.

7. Use only cloth diaper approved creams and powders with your dipes. Regular diaper ointments often contain cod liver oil (a thick, fishy product), zinc oxide, or petroleum products. These will not rinse out of fabrics well, so they will intensely bind to your diapers and create a thick, impassible, waxy coating. If you must use these creams (for example, prescribed creams for a yeast rash, etc), then use them only with a liner or with disposable diapers until the rash clears up.

8. Use a water softener or detergent specially formulated for your water type. If you have hard water, you will be more prone to diaper buildup simply because of the hard minerals in your water content. You can have a water softener installed in your home, can use an added product like Calgon, or can use specially formulated detergents (such as Rockin Green’s Hard Rock) for your water type.

Remember, it’s not the end of the world if you do have to strip your diapers–in general, they are resilient and quite forgiving! Regular maintenance on your diapers is part of a good routine for keeping them in tip-top shape, particularly if you use them for many years or with multiple children. Think of it as a regular part of their tune-up, like your annual physical exam from your doctor, or a regular oil change for your car. But hopefully, if you treat your diapers well and use a few preventative measures along the way, your stripping days will be few and far between!