the case for cloth...

i think it's well-known that we're a cloth-diapering bunch around here. making the decision to use cloth diapers (first on lucy--at around 4 days old--and on hudson since birth) was a fairly simple one. i knew that i didn't want my child (or future children) sitting around in chemical-treated diapers. i knew i didn't want to add needless piles of trash to sit in a landfill for hundreds of years. i knew cloth was cuter than plastic diapers.

what i didn't really know, at the time, was that cloth diapers really do work better than disposables. i can make this judgment fairly, as i have worked as a nanny for many years and am familiar with the shortcomings of diapers like huggies and pampers. blowouts and leaks, bits of gel left behind on baby's skin, dysfunctional velcro tabs that render an unworn diaper useless... while we've had slight trouble here and there with our cloth diapers, for the most part, i'm absolutely thrilled to be using them. i think it's safe to say that in terms of "good, better, best," cloth diapers are at the top--and because of our great satisfaction and success, they're also served as a gateway to many other changes that we've made. my "better in cloth" list follows here:

1. cloth rags for cleaning. you probably know that we've been without paper towels in our household for.... i don't know how long. it's been quite awhile. cloth rags are great for cleaning up big & little messes, super durable, cheap and easily washed. what's not to love? i keep a huge stack of them under my sink, and toss dirties out into a mesh basket (to guard against mildew) in the garage. i wash once a week or whenever our stack is getting low.

2. cloth napkins. another no-brainer. i bought a set of 10 napkins in a neutral color, and keep them near the table. they get tossed in with the cleaning rags and get laundered whenever we start to run low. i often use my personal napkin several times before washing, unless we've had an especially messy meal. lucy has a set of her own (carter's washcloths in fun colors).

3. cloth nursing pads. light-years better than the "eco-friendly" disposables i used the first time around with lucy. with hudson, i used (and still use, on occasion) pads made from materials like hemp fleece, bamboo, flannel and wool. if you're ever in the market for cloth nursing pads, i cannot tell you how much i love my wool-backed pads. wool here serves an identical purpose as it does in cloth diapering--creating a barrier for moisture but still allowing for breathability. i also made myself a bunch of PUL (polyurethane laminate) backed pads. these are wonderful because they're trim and don't show up beneath clothing, but must be changed often because they hold dampness against the breast. i always use wool-backed pads overnight. 15 sets has been more than enough--especially because we still do laundry daily around here. i estimate i could have gotten by with 6 pairs.

4. cloth menstrual pads. i, for one, cannot believe that i'm writing this. if you'd told me a year ago that i'd eventually be switching to cloth pads, i would have called you crazy. seriously. i'm not a pad girl to start with--hate them! but as you know, postpartum bleeding leaves you no choice. with lucy, i used box after box of disposables. the experience was horrible and i was in absolute disdain for every second of it. this time around, with some urging from my good friend, i decided to try cloth. we sewed up a little stash for ourselves (along with all those nursing pads) using wool, PUL, and upcycled knits and flannels. i started using them as soon as i got home from the hospital. and you know what? these things work really, really well. over the course of my postpartum recovery, i had only 1 leak (user error). the pads weren't bulky and i never had the gross "damp" feeling that i hated about disposables. best of all, i made no trash. jeremy certainly appreciated that, as he's the one who takes the garbage out.

my cloth pad stash (again, much too large--what can i say, i was nesting!) consisted of about 12 postpartum/overnight pads, 12 regular pads, and 8 liners. i kept used pads in a wetbag under the bathroom sink and washed them with the diaper laundry every other day.

i anticipate breaking out my pads again when the time comes for me to reacquaint myself with my diva cup. the liners will be just right for catching any leaks that are certain to occur. that thing can be tricky.

5. cloth wipes--now for mommies, too? yep. we've always used cloth wipes for lucy, and kept up with it as she potty trained. but it's been about a year since i made the switch to "family cloth" as well. jeremy doesn't partake, which is all too fine by me, but lucy and i (and hudson, too!) are believers in the wonder of cloth wipes. they're softer than the recycled toilet paper that we still keep on hand, are far more absorbent, and really leave the user much cleaner, in my opinion. we keep a big stack in the cabinet next to our toilet. dirties go in with the diaper laundry. so simple. and really not as gross as it seems.

well, there you have it. our list of all things cloth. it seems to me that what i love about cloth diapers (they work better) holds true with all of the items listed above. there's a certain quality to an item that's intended to be used for the long haul (and i'm not talking old navy t-shirts, if you know what i mean). i get a sense of satisfaction from not tossing. even if it means i have to do an extra load of wash. and i do so love not to have to make a desperate trip to target or the grocery store because we've run out of something crucial.

you'll notice i didn't include cloth grocery bags in my list... i really figure that if you're reading this blog, you've already made the switch. if not, consider yourself banned until you do. :)


Micaeb said...

That post made me feel good about myself! I use cloth for all, but the menstrual pads and toilet paper. I am wanting to get a Diva Cup, however, I'm waiting for my period to return to a normal state. We just weaned and its usually absent or light. Do you sell cloth pads/liners at your store? If not (I know you are busy), do you recommend any certain brands? I asked my husband about the family cloth idea months ago and he wasn't interested. I found it funny because he's the one who got me to become some eco-friendly. Now I'm the freak. =) Good for you! And those babies are so darn cute!

erin said...


we do have plans to stock some pads in our etsy shop, but that won't be until late february. until then, i can only recommend "party in my pants" pads--the only pads that i used that weren't made by me. they have a "cloth curious" program where they send out a free liner to those interested. i actually have 2 and love them both. but they are pricey and it was much more affordable for me to sew my own stash since i was able.

good luck!

Jodie said...

what do you use for cloth wipes/family cloth?

kellenberger89 said...

Okay I have some questions. When you say you use "family cloth" am I understanding you correctly that you use this instead of TP? How much do you have at the toilet side and for a BM would you just rinse it in the clean toilet water like a cloth diper and then put it in the laundry? What about guests? Do you have TP for them? I am new to your blog...okay to blogging in general and yours is the first one I subscribed to. I am with you on your way of thinking. I only wish I was there when I had kids...I kinds was..I used cloth diapers too and that was 14 years ago.

erin said...


i have a stack (30-50) wipes made from upcycled flannel blankets. cotton knit also works well. if you have a serger, this is a really quick project. i know people also use baby washcloths w/ much success. :)

erin said...

Okay I have some questions. When you say you use "family cloth" am I understanding you correctly that you use this instead of TP? yes.

How much do you have at the toilet side? 30-50 wipes, but we always have more than enough!

For a BM would you just rinse it in the clean toilet water like a cloth diper and then put it in the laundry? not unless there are obvious solids on the wipe. otherwise it just gets tossed into the pail.

What about guests? Do you have TP for them? no, we keep recycled tp on hand for my husband and guests.

hope that helps to clarify!!!