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Save money and the environment, with cloth diapers.

COUNTRYSIDE: In response to the article on cloth diapers in the Nov/Dec 2001 issue, I'd like to mention a few things.

First, it was a very good article and had several tips that I appreciated. Second, I'd like to mention that using bleach is not necessary and can weaken the diaper material.

I use a wringer washing machine and put the diapers through a cold water washing, then I use hot water and soap. The rinse tub has 1/4-1/2 cup of vinegar added, and I always hang the diapers out to dry. I've never had any problem with stains, even the soiled diapers which I soak in plain water.

Here is the address of a catalog which sells diapers, diaper pants, and much more: Paul and Twila Ranck, 5001 W. Lincoln Hwy., Parkesburg, PA 19365; ph 1-800-776-1255. -- Glenn Zimmerman, N12737 Resewood Ave., Greenwood, WI 54437

COUNTRYSIDE: I am writing to let your readers know that cloth diapering can be much simpler than the article in the Nov/Dec 2001 issue described. I use cloth diapers exclusively, and have a much simpler method of taking care of the dirty work.

First of all, you need good quality diapers. I suggest Chinese prefolds. The name sounds weird, but if you search on the net, you'll find these diapers are the most absorbent of the prefolds. The diapers you find in regular stores are not thick enough to be truly absorbent. You can find these at less than $20 a dozen at various websites. I like because she has a prefold package where you can get everything you'll need until potty training--diapers, covers, and all for around $200.

As for the covers, I use the Velcro closing type--you'll never need to pin if you get these. I use Bummies brand covers, they are an excellent cover for the money. I hear Nicky's are better, but they also cost twice as much--the economy of diapering means a lot to me!

Also, very important to less-mess diapering are diaper liners. These are thin, rectangular pieces of biodegradable rice paper that catch the poop! All you do is flush the liner away, no dunking of diapers required! And if the liner is just wet, it can be washed and reused. Don't put them in the dryer though, they'll break down. So now we've got the diaper basics--good quality prefolds, waterproof, velcro closure covers, and rice paper liners.

What to do with the soiled diapers? I have a four-gallon bucket from the hardware store that cost $4. I just throw the dirty dipes in that one bucket, and when it's full they go in the washing machine. It's the perfect size for one load and believe it or not, it isn't that smelly! The diapers get washed on the "heavy" wash cycle of my machine, on hot. I use a laundry soap without any perfumes or dyes--and I put in 1/4 cup of plain white vinegar for the rinse. I have used a fabric softener ball to dispense it when I had a top loader. Now we have a front loader so it has its own spot, it's a no-brainer. I had to use the laundromat while our washer was broken--again, hot water, long cycle, soap and vinegar.

When I had a top loader I'd wash them once in hot with soap and vinegar, then again in cold--just a short wash. It was probably excessive to wash them twice, but the baby was so new! If I had a top loader now, I'd probably just presoak them for a while. But there is certainly no need to soak your diapers in the pail and never use chlorine bleach. Bleach breaks down the fibers in the cotton--you'll get much more use out of them if you just wash them in hot and dry them in the sun. The sun will bleach them for you. In the winter I use about a tablespoon of Arm and Hammer with Color Safe Bleach along with the soap. I don't really care about the stains, but it does take out a lot of the odor. I then hang them on our wooden indoor clothes dryer until they're almost dry, then fluff them in the dryer. I feel I save a lot of electricity by letting them mostly air dry. Also, I never put my covers in the dryer--they'll last through a couple of babies if gently cared for.

So you'll need about three dozen infant prefolds, and two dozen toddler sized. You'll use the infant prefolds as "doublers" when the baby becomes a heavy wetter, and at night. Stick them in a Velcro-close cover with a liner and you are good to go. Another nice touch is to cut rectangles from a piece of fleece and put them in between the diaper and the rice paper liner.

The fleece will keep the wetness away from your baby's behind. It keeps all rashes away--honest!

I was very happy to see someone praising cloth diapers--but I wanted to let you know it can be much simpler! You'll save a ton of money and landfill space by using cloth--plus your baby will be more comfortable. -- Melanie Milletics, Folsom, Pennsylvannia

COUNTRYSIDE: I, too, wondered why the March/April 2001 issue didn't mention disposable diapers. It isn't only all that disposable material to get rid of, but what's in it that, by rights, should really go into the septic system.

Washing diapers by hand brought back memories. I had but one child and that was a long time ago! It was a daily chore and I remember learning and reciting poetry to make more pleasant use of the time. We used the pail method to soak the diapers as described in the Nov/Dec 2001 issue, but I didn't use bleach, I used Borax. It's gentle, there's no smell, and it did the job. Bleach is harsh and has a very strong odor, which stays on your hands and is probably hard on the fibers in the diaper material.

In those days we had a wringer washing machine and we did the washing once a week, on Monday. It was a big job to wheel out the machine, carry hot water to it from the stove, putting rinse water in a washtub, and wringing the clothes from one tub to the other. It took four or five batches, starting with whites and ending with work clothes which had been soaked in a copper boiler on the stove overnight, then boiled. We made starch and starched linens and the collar and front of men's white shirts. We then hung it all out on the line to dry, even in freezing weather. It was a major job. There was no throwing a batch of laundry into the washer during the week.

Diapers were washed by hand, scrubbed and hung out to dry every day, unless it was raining. (I still don't own a dryer--I prefer my laundry sun dried.)

It seems to me we used to buy diaper material and hem diapers by the dozen, as part of a layette to greet the new baby. I do remember using diaper linings on special occasions. They saved a lot of cleaning. They may have been flushable, I don't remember.

I have always used Borax in the regular laundry and I see a statement on the side of the box still recommends borax for soaking diapers. I would suggest you try it.

Borax is also the best thing for cleaning garbage pails and keeping maggots out of them, or for soaking and cleaning many disgusting messes. -- Mildred Griffith, 24 Mumford Hill, Rt. 2, Sutton, MA 01590
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Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Mar 1, 2002
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