As promised, here is my second diapering post, this one on cloth. (Read the first, The Case for Disposable Diapers.)
A little over two years ago, I researched cloth diaper delivery services in my area (New York City). I had always thought I'd go the cloth route, but my building doesn't allow washer/dryers in individual apartments. There are communal washers and dryers in the building, but after talking to friends who DIY-ed their own nappies at home it became pretty clear to me not having the machines in my own domain made it a no-go. Delivery seemed the next best option. But the two services were outside the city, which meant a fair amount of gas would be spent trucking the things back and forth to me. To wash them they were using, among other things, very hot water and lots of chlorine bleach.
Their explanation wasn't unreasonable they had to kill off things like staph if they were distributing the diapers back to many different families. But I wasn't comfortable with the detergent and bleach residue that would be on the disinfected diapers delivered to me each week. I didn't want that on my infant's tender skin. One cloth-diaper-devoted family suggested I wash the delivery diapers myself in my own detergent after I got them, and before using them on my babe. They admitted that they did this twice! each time they got a delivery. This didn't strike me as environmentally friendly. I also don't have that kind of time on my hands!
And so I came to the (imperfect) conclusion that unless you are able to wash and gently disinfect (i.e. without using chlorine bleach) your own cloth diapers which many people are gel-free disposables are the way to go. Maybe other New Yorkers made similar decisions? When I sat down to write this post, I learned that the two delivery services that were available two years ago are now out of business. A new one has popped up for those who are interested in going that route and live around New York: QueenBeeDiapers.com.
And now, a little how-to information on buying, wearing, and washing cloth diapers at home. But first, a giant disclaimer: Cloth diapering is like a language, and I'm not fluent. I'm going to provide you with the websites that can help you become fluent, if you so choose, but I can't be the go-to source.
The following sites, thankfully, are the go-to sources. If I happen to have a washer/dryer when I happen to have another infant (that's quite a hypothetical sentence), I will absolutely use these sites for prefold tutorials, to teach me the differences between Chinese and Indian prefolds, to instruct me on hemp and organic cotton inserts, to help me decide if pocket or all-in-one diapers are for me. I'll turn to them for extensive information on which green detergents leave the least residue, which ones allow diapers to remain absorbent, and what can be added to a rinse cycle to de-stink the most stubbornly odiferous specimens. Not everyone has the same machines or even water (hard vs. soft), but by joining some of the diapering forums linked to on these sites, maybe I could locate someone with similar scenario and swap tips. Certainly the sites can lead anyone through details on Snappis vs. diaper covers. I'd already know to make sure to look for a cover made out of something breathable - certainly no toxic vinyl (PVC) ever, and preferably no plastic at all.
A quick surf through many of these sites revealed that the cloth diapers and cloth diaper accessory companies have some excellent names: Swaddlebees, Happy Heinys, Sugar Peas, Kissaluvs, Bumwear, Wonder Wraps, DryBees, BumGenius, Wahmies, Hemp Babies, Bummis.
I'm jealous. If you've got the equipment and are in the market, happy shopping:
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