click the photo for detailed notes on what’s what

As you can imagine, my brain is functioning on an entirely new level now that I’m a stay-at-home mama to infant triplets. I’m pretty sure I can only think as far ahead as the next feeding, which flies up on me in the blink of an eye sometimes.

I opened a can of worms when I asked what you wanted to know more about since I’ve done a shitastic job of elaborating on life with our trio. Thankfully, the can of worms has thus far been pleasant. I plan to respond to each question as time allows for what needs to go into it. Today, time allows for the down and dirty on triplets in cloth diapers.

The cloth diaper market has become all the rage lately, with a host of alien terms that can be as daunting as the idea of cleaning poop off of cloth.

Trust me. Neither is difficult to learn.

Along with the range of new lingo is a range of cloth diapers. You can diaper your kid’s butt in plain and simple or have them bopping around in high fashion.

We hover somewhere just above plain and simple.

I decided to cloth diaper our future babY (singlular, folks – we never imagined triplets) long ago when I realized the savings. Sure, the water bill may raise a bit, but those diapers can be used on the next kid (ha!).

I admit to balking and changing my mind for a split second when we learned we were having triplets, but a quick rundown of the math convinced me cloth was the only way to go.

We use your basic prefold diaper, which is the standard flat piece of cloth you picture when you think of old-fashioned diapers. Green Mountain Diapers makes their diapers much nicer than in ye olden days, though, and the diapers are quilted rectangles of poop- and pee-catching magic.

Prefolds are plain cloth, though, and need a cover to keep the ickies inside and away from clothes – both the babies’ and ours. Or our new couch.

Tangent – We’ve had one epic, out-of-the-clothes poop blowout. Guess what was covering the offending tush – not a cloth diaper, a disposable one. (The trio get disposables on doctor visits – more convenient when nurses help change dipes.) Of course, the Incident took place on our two-days-in-our-house love seat. Awesome. Or not.

The babies have worn size one Thirsties Duos since they came home.

A normal diaper change starts like any other. We unfasten the cover and leave it under the baby’s hiney to catch any stray sprinkles and because it’s just easier – covers are reused until they’re soiled (sometimes poop gets out of the diaper, but it always stays in the cover) or the babies get a bath.

Butts get wiped if they need it (we don’t wipe for every diaper change – it just isn’t necessary), and they usually get a blast from my newly repurposed hair dryer (because I don’t have time for that nonsense anymore). A friend passed along the tip she got from her pediatrician. Cloth-diapered hineys are often damp from the lack of moisture-wicking material, so a 10-second blast from the dryer cuts down the risk of diaper rash from always-damp skin.

The diaper is then laid flat under the baby booty, then folded up between the legs and to the waist, where we fasten all diapers with Snappis.

There are plenty of different folds, but with several hands changing diapers each day, we stick with the easy angel-wing fold. It’s a cinch to teach to new helpers, and it’s quick to whip together.

Once the Snappi is in place, the cover gets refastened, the butt gets redressed, the diaper gets discarded, and away we go.

So how do we clean them?

All diapers go directly into our pail liner, which ironically doesn’t line anything. I intended to get a pail, but I never got around to it. I had heard that open-air bags and containers neutralize the smell better than if kept in a closed receptacle, but I never believed it until we started using the liner sans pail. The nursery hardly ever smells, and the only time it does is when the after shocks of a recently-dropped bomb linger in the air.

(That’s code for after one of the babies leaves a massive poop.)

Diapers containing pee only go straight into the bag. Deuced diapers get a spray down from a bottle containing a 50-50 mix of Biokleen Bac Out and water, which kills the nasty smell and is safe for the babies. Then they get dumped in the bag

On laundry day, which comes approximately every day and a half, I dump the bag of diapers (every other load, the bag gets added – otherwise, I hang it on our clothesline to air out while the diapers get washed) in our Maytag Bravos washing machine. It’s a high-efficiency top-load washer, so it uses less water but not too little water like a front-loading HE. When not washing diapers, that’s great, but diaper laundry requires enough water to swish the diapers, so Cycle 1 is a plain, no-detergent rinse and spin. Wetter diapers are heavier diapers, and heavier diapers mean my washer spits out more water.

For Cycle 2, I add half a tablespoon (which is about half a free, in-your-formula-can scoop) of homemade diaper detergent, which I found the recipe for on The Eco-Family Friendly. (The recipe makes enough to fill more than 3/4 a 5-gallon bucket and cost about $20.) This cycle is a warm wash, cold rinse cycle I do on medium soil with no spin.

Cycle 3 gets another half-scoop of detergent for a hot wash, cold rinse on light soil and max spin. After that, the diapers either get hung outside (if there’s time and no pollen in the air) or they tumble in the dryer for a bit.

Then comes the easy part. You know how it’s a pain to put away laundry? With prefold diapers, you stack the diapers and stash them. That’s it. No folding necessary.

Cue the chorus of heavenly angels.

Our water bill has risen some, but it’s no higher than it was last July, when we were watering our lawn.

The real savings comes with the diapers, though. We worked with 40 diapers on a day-and-a-half wash routine for our first two months home. Now, thanks to a friend who dropped off an extra dozen, we have 52 diapers and can stretch laundry to every two days.

For fun with numbers, that first size that lasted us two months cost $72 for the diapers alone. Averaging 180 diapers a week (based on 40 every day and a half-ish), that would have cost us about $44 a week for Pampers Swaddlers. Multiplied by eight weeks, which we all know is actually less time than two months, we would have spent $342 in just our first eight weeks home from the NICU.

THREE-FOUR-TWO. Versus $72.

But you spend money on the covers, you say. Sure, but we have six covers. That’s two covers per butt in our house. The covers cost about $12 each, so throw in another $72, and you still aren’t even at half of what eight weeks of disposable diapers would have cost us. Plus, we’re still using those same covers now that we’re on the next size diapers.

Lucky for us, we have an amazing network of friends and family. Our diapers and covers were all gifts thus far, so we’re paying for the water.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right? Let me know if I forgot to cover something – I wrote this entry over several nap times!

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26 Responses to So you wanna know … about cloth diapering triplets

  1. Jenny says:

    I was just asked two questions on Twitter.

    Q. What do we do for overnight?
    A. Nothing different, but we’ll start doubling up tonight & see how that works. So far, we haven’t had leak issues, but we do occasionally have a cranky baby. Here’s my plan:

    Q. Do poop diapers get any extra treatment, e.g. dump/swish in the toilet or soaking?
    A. Nope. Breastmilk poo is water soluble, so we do exactly what I said: Spray, discard, wash. Once we start solids, we’ll dump/scrape into the toilet, but we’re soooo not there yet.

  2. Jenn says:

    This. Is. AWESOME!!

    The mystery unfolds (literally!)

  3. sarah says:

    Great post!! Let me know if you want to borrow more from us as they grow, we won’t have any use for them for atleast the next 12 to 15 months!

  4. molly says:

    As a twice-failed cloth diapering mama, I applaud you! I have no excuse other then to point my finger at my husband who could not have cared less that it would have saved a boatload of money. He also does not care about what goes to the landfill. He just didn’t want to deal with it.

    I still have 8 almost new BumGenius CDs boxed up ready to sell. They’re so pretty I can’t bear to part with them.

    Good for you!

  5. Jessi says:

    I love that you cloth diaper your triplets! I had 2 in cloth at one time and it was not bad at all. I can imagine there are more diaper changes with 3 newborns vs a toddler and a newborn – but I know what it’s like to have 2 in cloth at once. To some it sounds overwhelming but it was much easier than it looked. The savings alone are what started my cloth journey in the first place then I learned about all the wonderful things it does regarding environmental issues and it was just a plus. I’ll talk cloth with you anyday 😉

  6. Dani says:

    You are my hero. We’re planning on cloth diapering your soon to be daughter (only 1!) and we have gotten so much flack from friends and family! If you, wonderwoman, can do THREE babies at once, I can surely handle a singleton.

  7. Courtney L. says:

    We love Cding and have done it for 2 kids now. We have #3 on the way and plan to CD as well. there is just something so cute about a cloth bum! Love them!!

  8. Ashley says:

    I love that you are cloth diapering triplets and using prefolds. what fold do you do for the prefolds. Do you do different ones for your daughters vs your son?

  9. Paige says:

    you are so brave. xoxo

  10. Yuliya says:

    I think you fail to recognize the truly amazing feat here, it’s not that you’ve got them in cloth diapes (I cloth diaper mine and keep trying to convince people it’s not harder or else I wouldn’t be doing it, me=lazy) but that they are diapered at all! Even with one baby I was sorely tempted to bust out a rug made of puppy training pads and call it a day! You=hero

    PS thanks for the hair dryer trick, too late for this baby but perhaps with the next

  11. Thanks! I am planning on using cloth diapers on the baby we are having in the fall. Great info.

  12. Esperanza says:

    That is quite an operation. I’m impressed you get by with so few covers. We have TONS for my daughter. But we have a coin-fed laundry machine, so I have to wash the covers just once a week. I can only wash the cloth inserts twice a week and only run them once a wash. So I do my own “prewash” where I fill the bucket with cold and hand agitate it for a while then let it soak. Then I put that in the front loader we have in our building and run it on hot. I have to strip every month because, like you said, front loaders aren’t as good for cloth diapers and I can’t run the pre and post cycles. All in all we wash the inserts twice a week (at $5 a load – it takes forever to dry those suckers), the covers once a week ($2 – they hang dry) and the cloth wipies once a week ($2 – they can’t be washed with the diapers because they touch creams but I do throw them into the dryer with the inserts). So that is $14/week on cloth diaper laundry, which is probably as much as I’d spend on disposables. But I still feel like it’s worth it. We do use a disposable night diaper because my daughter would pee through any kind of cloth (we tried for months to no avail).

    Anyway, I’m very impressed that you cloth diaper but it’s obvious you’ll save crazy money so yay!

  13. Kayla says:

    This is great! Definitely saving this for future reference 😛

  14. amber says:

    Thank you so much for this! One last question – any problem thus far with bottoms not fitting well b/c of the CDs?

    • Jenny says:

      Amber, we haven’t had any fitting issues (aside from the occasional escaped BF poo (always into the cover)), but there are a bunch of different folds for different fits.

      Ashley, we always use the angel wing fold – haven’t tried any other variations, and haven’t had any issues.

  15. Jen Bergem says:

    A wealth (ha ha) of knowledge

  16. Kelly says:

    Am I the only one that thought “breastfeeding triplets? Holy crap!” :)

  17. tobasco says:

    I cd my daughter too, although only one child. Isn’t it amazing how people are always surprised at how easy cding is? I, personally, hate the occasional days of disposables we have to use. Even at 19 months now, she always has some kind of leak (never with the cds) and they just smell weird! I have to admit though, I sucked at prefolds. I’m actually pretty crafty, but for the life of me, I could not get prefolds to fold correctly! So we use one step above prefolds (all in twos).

    I also wanted to add, for anyone with a front loading HE washer. Many of them have a button/option that allows you to wash with more water. Ours is called “water plus”. I also have a button for an extra rinse. People seem to think you will be spending all day running back to your washing machine to do multiple cycles, but for me I can program the prewash, extra water, and extra rinse all into one cycle.

  18. Sarah-Anne says:

    whoa, i’m so saving this for my babes. i had decided long ago that i wanted to cloth diaper, so this info is awesome! thanks, jenny!!

  19. laura says:

    you make it sound VERY appealing! I kinda wish I woulda done that for my twins, but now I have one on the way and this post made me consider it!

  20. Lacie says:

    Hands down, the best cloth diapering post I’ve read. I might have to post a re-direct for this. Thanks for the great info!

  21. Sara says:

    So, say a friend with no cloth diaper experience were to contirbute to your stash. What should said friend bring you? You know, if she wanted to bring you something in a couple weeks. :-)

  22. […] I am going to share a link with you today that is, hands down, the best cloth diapering post I’ve read.  I discovered this blog while the author’s triplets were still in the NICU and I have been hooked ever since.  Yes, you put the pieces together correctly.  Jenny, from What the Blog, is using cloth diapers with her triplets.  So, if you are thinking that you would be overwhelmed by cloth diapers, but are still mildly interested, check out this post. […]

  23. Anne says:

    I just came upon this post, and I want to say…THANK YOU! Our baby is a month old, our new Maytag Bravos one week old, and yesterday we just started cloth diapering with prefolds and covers borrowed from my cousin. I want to return them in the very clean state that that I received them, but found the Bravos settings very confusing. I mean, it’s great for clothes to select “Bulky” or Wrinkle Free”, but that didn’t tell me which cycles to use get enough water to really wash the diapers. Your notes here helped me decide: Rinse and Spin, Bulky (w/no spin) and PowerWash. Easy peasy! Also, I realized…I can select ‘no spin’ on the Rinse and Spin…does that make it a presoak? Well, I’ll find out tomorrow when I wash the first batch!

  24. […] While I have yet to do pre-folds + covers on my kiddo, I have changed a few on a special set of triplets! […]

  25. […] several people to give an update on our adventures in cloth diapering. I’ll be honest – not much has changed. As with most things in our triplety world, we slowly evolve to adapt, tweaking one thing here, […]

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