Monday, January 25, 2010

How much does it cost to wash cloth diapers?

Say you NEVER want stinkies and you never want to have to troubleshoot, research detergents, order soap online, or strip diapers.

Super Effective Wash Routine
Use tide and lots of rinses (DON'T use tide if you don't use lots of rinses)

cold rinse
hot wash with tide to the "1" line/cold
cold wash/cold rinse
dry on medium 60 min

how much would it cost?
using numbers from MR. Elictricity in 2007 (,
Washing every 2 days for 3 years about $617, every 3 days $411

Not willing to use extra water?

Regular Wash Routine:
cold rinse,
hot wash with 1/4 purex f&c/ cold rinse,
dry medium 1 hour and hope for no stinkies
about $540 for every 2 days and $360 for every 3 days

Rockin' Wash Routine
cold rinse,
hotwash with Rockin Green/cold rinse,
extra cold rinse
about about $579 for every 2 days and $386 for every 3 days. HTH!

All numbers are for energy only, not detergent...

extra cold rinses are cheap. If diapers aren't drying in 1 hour, you can do extra spins in the washing machine, line dry, or consider using flats/prefolds in a wrap cover so they WILL dry faster.

Also from Mr. Elictriciy:

Before Running The Dryer Tips
Once you have gone through the basic dryer check to make sure that your dryer is running efficiently, there are a number of steps that you can make before you begin drying your clothes that can help reduce the cost of running the dryer. You can consider these steps:

Let the clothes naturally dry as much as possible before putting them in the dryer. Simply leaving them in a basket and letting the sit for a few hours after a wash instead of putting them directly into the dryer can save up to 25% on your energy bill. Placing them on an indoor rack to dry first and then using the dryer only to dry them that last little bit and to take out the wrinkles can save up to 75%.

Let the clothes go through an extra spin cycle or two in the washer before placing them in the dryer. The extra spin cycle will take more water out of the clothes meaning that they will dry faster. This is especially true of heavier clothing items such as jeans and towels. These items retain water even after a regular spin cycle.

When drying more than one load, place the lighter garments in the dryer first. This will mean that the dyer is already hot from the residual heat to help the heavier clothes dry more quickly.

When loading your dryer, place similar clothing types together (separate heavy cottons from lighter material clothes) to prevent over drying and wasting energy. This will allow you to dry for shorter cycles with the lighter clothes rather than the same length for all your loads.

Don't overload the dryer. Overloading doesn't allow ample space for the clothes to tumble and they will take longer to dry.

It's also important not to under-load the dryer. Running a dryer for 30 minutes with a single T-shirt in the dryer costs the same as running it 30 minutes with a full load. In fact, it can take longer for smaller loads to dry. If you dry a smaller load, this reduces the tumbling effect within the dryer which can extend the length of time needed to dry the clothes. You want your dryer loads to be full without being overloaded.

Cost per load (top-loader)
A washing machine uses about 0.256 kWh per load. At the national average of 11¢/kWh, that's $0.03 per load for electricity. The machine also uses about 40 gallons of water. At a national average of $2.81 per thousand gallons, that's $0.11. So our costs for electrical and water are $0.03+$0.11 = $0.14, before we consider the cost to heat the water, which we'll do now. The table below includes the $0.14 cost of base electricity + water.
Total cost per load (electricity + water + water heating)
Wash / Rinse setting
Electric water heater Gas water heater
Hot / Warm
69¢ 52¢
Hot / Cold
50¢ 39¢
Warm / Warm
50¢ 39¢
Warm / Cold
32¢ 27¢
Cold / Cold
14¢ 14¢

A front-loading washer costs 7¢ to 34¢ per load, depending on water temperature and heating method.
Your actual cost for all of the above will be different, according to your actual local rates for electricity, water, and perhaps gas, and how much you actually use your washing machine.

Heating the water is most of the energy use
A whopping 95% of the energy used by a washing machine could be going just to heat the water. So you can save a bundle by just just lowering the temperature. You could also get a front-loading machine, which uses about 63% less water than a top-loader (and therefore spend less to heat the water.)
Here's the cost when your water is heated with electricity:

How water temperature affects the price per load
Wash/Rinse Setting
Electrical Use
kWh/load Cost per load Cost per year
Hot / Warm
5.24 58¢ $226
Hot / Cold
3.58 39¢ $154
Warm / Warm
3.58 39¢ $154
Warm / Cold
1.92 21¢ $83
Cold / Cold
0.26 3¢ $11
Electrical cost only (excludes the cost of water, which is 11¢/load.) See how this was calculated.

To put in perspective how wasteful hot water is, washing your clothes in hot instead of cold for a year, uses more electricity than leaving the refrigerator door open 24 hours a day for a year. (Fridge open 24/7: 143 watts x 14.4 extra hours day x 365 days/yr. = 752 kWh.)

Always use cold water for the RINSE cycle. Using warm or hot water for the Rinse cycle doesn't get your clothes any cleaner.

Try using warm or cold water for the WASH cycle instead of hot water. Hot water shrinks your clothes, anyway. Hot water also fades and wears your clothes out quicker.

If you feel that warm water doesn't clean as well for you as hot, then just use a warm pre-soak. Soaking clothes in warm water is usually just as good or better as hot water with no soak.

Use a centrifuge like the Spin Dryer which removes most of the water from washed clothes by spinning them really fast. That means a lot less time in the dryer, saving energy.

Run around the house naked (or let baby). Then you'll have less clothes to wash.

Replace your washer with a front-loading model, which uses 63% less water on average. That's our next topic....

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Softbums fluff

I'm such a nerd, but I love to use matching covers!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

If I were cloth diapering twins

If you have faith consider this quote posted by singlemamma on diaper swappers, I had a similar experience with prefolds and wraps otherwise skip to the second half of this post:

"Yes...Stash nirvana exists...and I found it

So...cloth diapering has been quite a personal journey for me. I spent WAY too much money on cd'ing when DD was little using pockets, fitteds etc...all custom frivolous...I cd'd til ten months and then found it too high maintenance with special washing routines, leaks and a above average sized dd who grew through sizes ridiculously fast all in the midst of a terrible divorce.

Now...dd is two and a half and not ready for pl'ing. I am engaged and happier than I have ever been and have found a wonderful man who fully supports cds...but the nesting instinct is gone and my frugal nature has returned in light of having lived as a single mother. I was tired of paying for disposables so we reverted almost fulltime back to cloth...flats and thirsties covers. leaks ever...even for twelve hours at night, super trim...and yes...I have a heavy wetter...super duper easy wash routine...I mean REALLY easy...have premie pf's for doublers...I even use diaper cream...nothing pecial order or anything...just aveeno...its the easiest system ever...just trifold int he ocver...normal clothes fit...I don't have to worry about her outgrowing the size...and my whole stash of six thirsties (I like to change covers often), two dozen ll flats and two dozen premie pf's and four snappis which I never use...170 dollars...seriously...take the risk and go old school...I can't say I regret it...but I do regret the thousands of dollars (ok...maybe like 1800) I spend on leaky, high end beautiful diapers that were stinky and high maintenance..."

If you want something fancy for your twins then...

I'd get Softbums with aplix because the diaper changes are quick and with twins fast is important, also because they are adjustable and you don't have to worry if they'll fit or not. You get the convenience of all in one without the long dry times. You get the trimmness of disposable diapers. You get the staydry effect of pockets without having to spend time stuffing inserts into tiny pockets. I'd also choose softbums because they are a one-size diaper that truly fits a 6lb baby (maybe less). They will fit a small baby, but you might want doublers (or washcloths, or walmart supercheap prefolds) instead of the regular insert for that newborn period because those babies will be so small. The doublers will come in handy if one or both babies is a heavy wetter.

I use a doubler at every change for my son, but not my daughter. (some of my doublers are made out of old t-shirts, some are gerber prefolds, and some are softbums doublers) I use softbums at night, but sometimes have to use two inserts at a time, or two doublers to make it last.

If I were shopping for a birth to potty training stash for twins I'd get

Softbums good package (10 covers, $ permitting 12 or even 16 to decrease wear and tear etc)
2 softbums pail liners and a wet bag (I also use bread bags and trash bags)
2 dozen gerber prefolds $25 at walmart (or newborn prefolds online)
10 newborn proraps covers (newborns need more covers than any other size baby, so I'd get these and sell them on for 50-75% after the babies outgrow them. When the softbums covers are all dirty, use the proraps they'll do the trick during the early stage, I had 10 covers for my newborn, so I figured 20 would work for twins. You only need these if you got the minimum number of softbums covers above)
that comes to $510 plus S&H (proraps should resell for about $40)

I'd "wait-and-see", by toddlerhood you might need more covers, more doublers, and/or a diaper sprayer or a pocket diaper with hemp inserts for nighttime, or wool or fleece for the nighttime cover(more breathable=less ammonia in toddlers at night). The softbums inserts and doublers will for sure last 3 years. If the covers should start to wear out, buy proraps to replace them in size medium or large (whatever you need at that point for an additional $60-70).

Better yet, do the diaper trial at Jillian's drawers before buying anything. You learn so much about cloth diapering options with so very little cost to you. It will be the best $10 plus S&H you spend all month. (Their "Grobaby" is like Softbums)…

I have two kids in diapers. You don't actually need double the diapers, just the double the clean diapers that are in use while washing the rest and you wash every 1 1/2 days instead of every 3 days. It all revolves around how many diapers fit in a load (18-24).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Prepping Softbums diapers...

In my experience, Softbums inserts get super absorbant after being washed about 10 times, nearly bulletproof. I had regular leaks the first week I had them and assumed it was because they were so trim or because I had the legs snugged up improperly. I didn't dare use them at night. Then I started using them at night with doublers and now I trust softbums whenever. Now I know what is going on. They just need 10 washes to get to full absorbancy and with three washes prepping and about 2-3 weeks of usage, you get to that point. My advice is prepare for leaks during the first few weeks, or else add a few extra washes to the prepping period.

I'm writing this today because my little one woke up in the morning soaked through in his softbums, I was surprised and confused until I realized I had accidentally use a brand-new insert in the nighttime diaper (only washed 3 times.) Ooops!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Another Reason To Love Softbums

One more reason to love Softbums diapers...They are releasing a new cover in a print. Let's be honest, cloth diapering is a bit harder than disposables, but some of us mamas really don't mind a bit because the diapers are so cute and print diaper covers are the icing on the cake. At the Softbums website, they are having a contest to see who can guess the new print, what would you choose if you were going to make one print on the trimmest, best fitting diaper out there????

Go check it out!

Monday, November 16, 2009

17+ reasons to love Softbums diapers

No other diaper fit these chunky thighs right, and he grew a pound a week, so adjustability was a must!

Softbums on the left, Bum Genius 3.0 on the right, both adjusted to a medium rise. Softbums is way trimmer.

Nice bright colors, wouldn't it be fun to coordinate clothes?

DD in Softbums singing the Imperial March from Star Wars, same rise setting as on the 3 mo old above...

UPDATED CONTENT (3 1/3 months):

I have been testing out Softbums Perfect fit diapers for the last 3 1/2 months. I LOVE THEM! I ordered them initially because every diaper I owned was causing painful red marks on DS and I didn't want to go back to prefolds to solve the problem. They were pretty much better than every other diaper I had ever used in pretty much every way...

After the first month I notice a significant increase in the diaper's absorbency. Also, if you use two inserts and are super brave, they work as a nighttime diaper. They won't leak for my baby who nurses a lot at night or my toddler who pees heavily at night. However, my toddler doesn't wear softbums at night because we get ammonia build-up (the highly acidic nighttime toddler pee sitting all night in a PUL cover=ammonia problems and this is common for lots of toddlers so we are using sposies at night and hoping to get a wool wrap that fits like a softbums cover soon!)

17 things to love about SOFTBUMS

1) fast and easy diaper changes, cover and diaper go on in one step.
2) easy like an all-in-one, but you can re-use the shell if the diaper was only peed in rather than washing the whole thing. Note: I use doublers at every change and recommend this, if I didn't, I couldn't reuse the shells, they would be too wet. Most of my doublers are homemade.
3) No stuffing inserts like pocket diapers, one snap and you're done (some all-in-two diapers have two snaps, but one is enough, it saves me time.)
4) trimmest one-size diaper on the market, noticeably trimmer than bum genius 3.0.
5) simplicity, it has a hidden rise-adjustment, the front of the diaper isn't littered with snaps.
6) the fasteners are high-quality aplix, so they DON'T come undone in the wash. I do recommend that you always line dry the shells if you have aplix so the aplix doesn't curl or wear out as quickly. Snap covers always last longer, but aplix is more convenient and after hundreds of diaper changes the convenience becomes worth it. Aplix might not last all the way through potty training, but if the cover is in good condition a nice WAHM can replace the aplix if needed for a small fee.
7.prefolds are usually 4x8x4 layers of cotton, bumgenius is 3 microfiber layers throughout the diaper. My kids always soaked through the front and leaked before the moisture was absorbed to the back of the diaper. In a softbums the absorbent layers in the microfiber are 2 microfiber layers in the back and 4 in the front where you need it. This allows the diaper to be super trim, especially between the legs and still not leak. I had leaks at first, but now they never leak because the diapers are fully prepped and I use a doubler on my heavy wetter.
8) these diapers save space! My original stash of cotton fitted diapers filled two laundry baskets. The same number of diaper changes in a softbums diaper takes less than 1/4 of that amount of space. So your diaper storage space is smaller, your diaper pail is smaller, your wetbag is smaller, your laundry loads are smaller, the space in your diaper bag is less, shipping is cheaper, etc.
9) these diapers are super adjustable, so you can get the right fit and no more red marks on those precious thunder thighs. If you ever have red marks just loosen the elastic a 1/2 inch, problem solved.
10) the colors are bright and cute, toddlers like the panda label. you'll get compliments for sure.
11) The softbums insert is easier to spray poop off of. Prefolds, pockets, and fitteds have too many folds or crevices and softbums has fleece so poop rolls right off. Since the shell is microfleece, it doesn't hold stains like the binding on a typical cover would, poo rinses right off, it isn't seudecloth so you don't have to worry about repelling issues quite as much like bum genius.
12) They dry quick, you can even line dry the dry-touch inserts (bamboo takes too long and gets crunchy).
13) there is a bamboo option on this diaper if you don't want microfiber. Also bamboo helps your baby retain the all important wet-dry awareness, but it is a comfortable wet (slightly damp not soaking wet). I personally use the bamboo at night only.
14) The microfiber inserts make for a super economical and convenient diapering system. Microfiber can be difficult to launder (esp in hard water), but for one willing to have a careful laundry routine, this is the way to go. (I'll write about microfiber trouble-shooting later. Just bleaching microfiber once a month works for some moms, but there are lots of other gentler tricks. see
15) Cute colors!
16) Economical when bought in a package. At around $14 dollars for bamboo even the premium Softbums are cheaper (per diaper change) than a fitted, pocket, or all-in-one. The regular are about $8-9. A prefold with a thirsties cover is about $5.50 to $6.25 per diaper change, but you can't adjust the fit on thighs, you don't have as much absorbancy, you have to trifold it, the absorbancy isn't as well distributed, the velcro isn't as good, it is more bulky under clothing, etc.
17) These would fit a newborn, and they definitely contain newborn poo! Okay we've had some blow-outs, but just a few and to put it in perspective, my older kids had DAILY blow-outs in disposable diapers, so containment is so refreshing!

Cons: This diaper doesn't have a warranty. If you bug them, they'll eventually fix problems though. The covers are pricey (they are still economical if you use them 2-3 years). I think you are paying for innovation (perfect fit!!!!) and convenience, not above average quality. Some of my covers had annoying cosmetic flaws like untrimmed threads or the microfleece sewed on backwards, or crooked seams. I've had diapers that never leaked or ever had a blow-out unlike Softbums, but they were way, way too bulky. It was overkill. That said, I still prefer Softbums over anything else.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Softbums at night!!!

Update (1/15/2010)
I like Softbums at night because my other night diapers were so BULKY I felt bad putting them on. In my experience, Softbums can work at night IF the diaper is at its full absorbency (maybe 5 or more washes) and you double up on inserts. I use bamboo inserts only at night because the combination of my toddlers night urine (more acidic) and the long period the diaper was worn started causing ammonia buildup, ugh. My baby has no issues with softbums at night and so I think softbums at night might be only for babies, not toddlers. Currently I am looking into getting a wool wrap and just laying in my softbums inserts for night. The wool and bamboo should give a nice breathable/absorbant nighttime diaper. I will update after I have tested it.

One night after switching to Softbums, I decided to use my old nighttime diaper, a bumgenius with both doublers. My poor little guy was SOAKED halfway through the night, I also tried a disposable and he soaked through that too. I take forgranted that with my Softbums I've got about 9+ layers of ultra absorbant fabric in the wet zone. The Bum Genius is only 5 layers and bulkier and the velcro is lousy...

When choosing a nighttime diapering system I think in terms of layers and absorbancy.
If you have leaks at night and the inserts are completely soaked you need more layers. If you have leaks and the inserts aren't completely soaked, you need more absorbancy in the pee zone, more layers in the pee zone, and/or you need a fabric that absorbs more quickly for the top layers (ie bamboo over hemp...).