Savvy Chic

tidbits, thoughts, and ramblings. . .with a Mormon twist

Cloth diapers–tips and definitions June 19, 2007

Filed under: children,diapers,frugal,kids,laundry,thrifty tips — savvychic @ 9:45 pm

CD-ing (Cloth diapering) is an art and a culture.  I can tell you what has worked for me, but there are so many ways to go about it, you will just have to find what works for you.

Here is a tour of a cloth diaper. It usually has two symmetrical outside layers. One of the layers has a soaker pad sewn onto it. The elastic is sewn onto that same outside piece. Then the two outside pieces are sewn together. With a serger, this last step is really easy. Just using the sewing machine, I like to sew the outside pieces right sides together and then flip and topstitch. I just think it looks better and will last longer than simply zigzagging the outside pieces together.

The fabric used for making diapers can really be anything. Most of the websites recommend cotton flannel, fleece, or terry. I haven’t been too picky on this aspect. I have tried to use 100% cotton where possible as this is the most breathable and my little boy needs air! I don’t like terry diapers because I found they were more difficult to clean, though I have been told the opposite. I have used terry to make the soaker pads. I just used old towels. With a serger, again, this makes the process easy to serge the ends and then sew into the diaper. Another option is to buy the $4 package of washcloths at Wal-Mart and fold them into thirds and then sew that into the diaper. If you use flannel as a soaker pad, you have to use a LOT of it.

How I put a diaper on my wee one: I take the diaper (fitted or prefold), a doubler, a fleece liner, and a disposable liner and put them together in that order. It sounds like a lot–to eliminate a step, I sewed the fleece liners to the doublers so one step is eliminated. Then I put it all on my squirming little boy. Then I pull on his diaper cover.

At night, I use a prefold with two doublers, a fleece liner, and a disposable liner. I fasten the prefold with a snappi and then I cover the diaper with a wool soaker.

Doubler: I use a washcloth I have sewn into thirds. It doubles the absorbency of the diaper without adding much extra thickness to the actual diaper so that everything cleans and dries thoroughly.

Fleece liner: I used cheap fleece and cut it into rectangles 4×12 inches. (Some of them are 3×11 inches and they work fine too.) The fleece wicks away the moisture so baby’s bottom stays dry.

Disposable liner: I use Gerber EZ-liners. I like how I can wash and reuse them if they just get wet. They really make clean-up a lot easier. There isn’t much toilet swishing–if any at all. $4 at Babies R’ Us.

Soaker pad: That thick pad in all the diapers. You don’t want it too thick, or your diaper will never dry. That’s why you use a doubler if you need it.

An AIO (All-In-One) is a diaper (with a soaker pad because all diapers have a soaker pad–unless they are a pocket diaper) that has a moisture-proof fabric sewn into it so you don’t need a separate diaper cover. You can make an AIO using a regular diaper pattern just by adding barrier fabric between the layers or as the outside layer.

Diaper covers: the Alexis Featherlite was a favorite of mine. Alexis doesn’t make this cover any more, so your best bet is to find them on ebay. Wool soakers are my absolute favorite. There are many free patterns on-line to make your own.

Pocket Diapers: Diapers with usually only two external layers and an opening to insert the absorptive layers.  You can add as many doublers as you need and they stay put inside the diaper.

If you’re concerned about flannel or fleece in the summer, consider this. Cotton flannel wrapping your baby’s bottom versus plastic. The cloth diaper allows for breathability. There is more air circulation (if you have the right diaper covers) and there is a lower temperature than in a disposable. Even though disposables now feel like cloth, they are plastic and they retain the moisture, increase the humidity, and get really hot. Basically, what I’m saying is–don’t worry about flannel or fleece getting too hot in the summer. Cloth will be much cooler than plastic.

To make your decision whether to use diapers and diaper covers vs. AIOs, you’ll just have to decide which works for you or whether to use both. I prefer the separate diaper with a diaper cover most of the time. The AIO’s are really nice for Dad’s and babysitters so they have less to deal with. However, AIO’s take longer to dry and don’t hold up as well with the frequent launderings. 

And finally, the basics of what you need: approximately 20+ diapers, at least the same number of doublers, fleece liners (optional), disposable liners and a few diaper covers (4-6 per size). It’s also nice to have a diaper pail, a diaper pail liner, ditty bags for your diaper bag, and some wool soakers. For washing the diapers, you’ll need a gentle, clean washing detergent, baking soda, and white vinegar.

For laundering, you’ll learn to love vinegar (white). If you use a downy ball, you just fill it to the line and throw it in with the diapers so that it comes out during the rinse cycle. Do not use fabric softener or bleach on your diapers. Vinegar is a natural fabric softener, it neutralizes the pH, and it helps the detergent to completely rinse out of the diapers.

CD-ing does require a large initial investment($120+), but if you stick with it, you can save lot and lot of $$$, and you will help save the earth! I think the best way to get into CD-ing is to find out you have to for the health of your child! Without the option of going back to disposables, I had to dive into it head first!  And now, I am a major cloth diapering advocate.


Also, see my posts on other really useful baby tools: ring slings and moby wraps.


laundry magic: stain tips June 5, 2007

Filed under: frugal,kids,laundry,thrifty tips — savvychic @ 11:27 am

By Maggie Schmidt 



Laundry sorting – When you sort your clothes have a pile that is specifically for extra attention items so you won’t forget and just launder them without removing the stain. Also check all pants pockets before you put them in the pile to be washed! I find that if I wait until they are going into the washer I get in a hurry and forget and end up getting nice surprises on my clothes.

Laundry tools – detergent doesn’t matter that much. (In fact, it was brought up that good old expensive powdered Tide doesn’t dissolve all the way and can cause you major plumbing problems!)

A toothbrush, plastic knife, Downy Ball (which I use for more than just fabric softener), Shout Spray (because it’s the cheapest “quick fix” you can buy), liquid generic bleach, a very large box of baking soda, and a clean place to lay a stained piece of clothing.

This is seriously all I have in my laundry room besides my laundry detergent and machines.

All of these stain removal techniques that I will now list are for COTTON… or fabrics that are more than 65% cotton. If it is a synthetic fabric be very careful and try a little bit of the stain removal technique on a corner where it won’t be noticed if it has a very bad adverse affect.

Common stains – And the things you should do to get them out…..
Rust – pour lemon juice into the stain and then rub cream of tartar into it with a toothbrush….

Sweaty Armpits – diluted ammonia (usually a 2 part ammonia to 1 part water solution and a good hour or so soak should do the trick)

It was brought up as well that certain types of deodorant leave marks and others do not.

Degree was said to not leave any trace of stain on your clothing.

Grass stains – Turn clothing inside out and place an absorbent cloth (or paper towel) behind the stain to prevent any spreading of the stain. Spray the back of the grass stain with rubbing alcohol and scrub with a toothbrush. Let this sit for 10 minutes or so and then rinse with cold water. If the stain persists scrub the stain (from the front of the fabric) with paste toothpaste (NOT GEL… this will create a HUGE problem if you use a gel). Let it sit for 5 minutes and then rinse out.

Okie Red Dirt – Soak in “Oxie Clean”. It’s expensive but I have heard that it is the only thing that will remove the lovely traces of an outdoor adventure in the Oklahoma dirt.

Food stains – Most veggie and fruit stains can be removed by passing HOT (I usually boil some) through the stain, or by putting club soda on the stain. I then spray with my Shout and scrub it a little. The clothing is then soaked in the washing machine with a cup of baking soda and the regular amount of detergent and then laundered as usual.

Make-up – Rub with dawn between fingers…. Scrub with a toothbrush if necessary…. Soak for at least 30 minutes and then wash as usual.

Crayons – Again place a cloth between the front and the back of the clothing and then spray WD 40 onto the crayon marks. Let it sit for 5 minutes then scrape with a plastic knife. Repeat if necessary. After most of the crayon is removed rub Dawn dish detergent into the area with WD 40 on it to remove the grease. Launder as usual.

Ink Pens

Permanent – Spray alcohol or acetone nail polish remover into the stain and scrub. Rinse and repeat. If stain won’t budge scrub paste toothpaste into the stain and soak in milk for 1 hour. Rinse and launder as normal.

Gel – “Awesome” concentrated cleaner that can be bought at the Dollar Tree and Dollar General. I just spray some cleaner on the stain and scrub with a toothbrush. I then pour about half of a bottle of the cleaner into a small load cycle in my machine and let it soak for at least an hour. I then pull the clothing out scrub again with a toothbrush and more cleaner, and then let the cycle finish as normal. I then go back and put it into a normal wash with detergent and like colors.

Ballpoint – Spray affected area with hairspray. Launder as usual.

Blood – Scrub with peroxide or simply spit on it as soon as you notice and it will come out in the wash. Seriously.

Baby Clothes – soak in baking soda….. All of my sons clothing gets soaked overnight in warm water with detergent and a cup of baking soda. NONE of his clothing has been ruined by a stain. Every stain has come out, and I have never had to separate and spray any of his clothes. They get dumped into the soak and then laundered as usual and every stain has come out with zippo effort. He does not however drink formula which I have been told leaves a yucky yellow stain on things and I will address how to get out formula later on…..

Naturalistic products to use
Baking soda – Good for odors and food/natural stains….

White vinegar – odors and stains on suede, also a fabric softener (1/4 cup in rinse cycle which I just throw in my Downy Ball and no it won’t make your clothes stink)

Lemon juice – bleaching… VERY good for formula stains…

Club soda – stubborn stains that haven’t set too long… brings thing to the surface

Peroxide – blood…..

Sunlight – bleaching, lightening… probably the BEST natural bleach product there is… just lay things in the sun to dry.

Salt – removes some mold/mildew stains…. If anything is going to get mold out of your clothes it will be salt. Make a salt paste with some water and scrub into the stain. Let it air dry and then launder as usual.

The advantage of a natural approach to stain removal is that most of these items you already have on hand, but they do take more effort and elbow grease to get them to work. Plus you aren’t smelling all those harsh chemicals which lessen the life of your clothing too.

Not so naturalistic products to use
Bleach, stain sprays, detergents, Awesome spray, dawn dish soap, w-d 40, baby wash, Murphy’s oil soap, oxy-clean, rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover (acetone).

These products cost more money than the natural ones but they tend to take less work to remove a stain. They’re created to get down and dirty and well, they hold up to that promise for the most part. I personally start with a natural approach and if that fails I pull out the chemicals if it’s something I REALLY want to save.

But keep in mind; you must take into perspective how much the garment actually cost in the first place. If it’s a $2 clearance Wal-Mart shirt and you spend 5 hours and $1.50 worth of chemicals getting it into good shape again, you’ve actually come out in the negative.

Things to NOT do

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of manure! Don’t put little Suzy and Bobby in their Sunday best to eat cherries and barbecue chicken. Don’t send Junior on the high adventure trip wearing his nice school pants! You’re just asking for work!

Never just throw something away, if it’s already stained you have to give it a fighting chance… (But once again weigh how much it cost initially versus what you are about to invest to get it clean)

Wash everything together. A lot of wear and tear on clothing (which can hurt stain removal efforts) comes from lazy laundry techniques. Wash things in like color and fabric families.

Don’t always wash in cold or warm…. HOT WATER IS A FRIEND….. now keep in mind that hot water can fade and shrink but for stain purposes if you have a stubborn stain that needs soaking, try some hot water and you’ll be amazed.

Do I really need to dry clean?

In the case of silk and wool YES. All else depends on what you’re willing to risk. Dry clean only clothes mean that you cannot DRY them in your dryer once their wet, but water and air-drying may work out for you.

Stuff to do with ruined clothes….

Quilts – I have a stack of old ruined jeans that I am saving to make a patchwork quilt from. My grandmother used to make t-shirt quilts all the time out of ruined t-shirts.

Cleaning rags – Save money by using a piece of an old shirt to dust instead of those Swiffer dusters. Or use one to wipe up your counter instead of a paper towel. Just keep a bucket of for dirty rags in your laundry room and then do a “Rag Load” when your rags get dirty.

Play clothes – If something is ruined and cannot be saved, turn it into the outdoor play clothes and make sure you use them when a messy, but fun, time is planned.

Dye Them – Growing up if we got purple Kool-aide on a pink shirt that would NOT come out my mom simply dyed the whole shirt purple and presto a new shirt!

On the go stain helpers for your purse.

Tide sticks – Costs a pretty penny but I have it on good authority that this will get out stains when you’re out and about.

Unscented Baby Wipes – If you’re out and spill something rub it with a baby wipe, which will help it not to set until you can get home and treat it more thoroughly. Even if you don’t carry around a diaper bag just put some in your glove compartment for those emergencies.

For more details and more information, consult: Field Guide to Stains: How to Identify and Remove Virtually Every Stain Know to Man by Virginia Friedman, Melissa Wagner, Nancy Armstrong

– The “Stain Bible” as I call it and when I haven’t ever encountered a stain myself, I consult this book. It has yet to fail me.