How to Wash Cloth Diapers || with GlowBug Diapers

You may have seen my video on Instagram from last week where I shared my “washing routine” for Aria’s diapers. I thought writing up a blog post on the same topic would be helpful for those of us who’d prefer to see it all spelled out rather than sit through the video.

To catch my first FAQ post on cloth diapering click here.

Before I started cloth diapering Aria, my biggest hesitation (and still the most frequently asked question I get) was about washing dirty diapers and then reusing them….I’m used to the convenience of disposables and switching to cloth mostly required a mindset shift. I wasn’t sure how clean the diapers would actually be, but I figured I’d give it a shot since it obviously worked for every single mom in history until the advent of the disposable alternative.

So I jumped in. And guess what? it’s SO MUCH LESS DISGUSTING THAN I EXPECTED. Sure, diapering isn’t really a blast no matter what method you use and I’ll report back to you once we introduce solids in a few months. But for now, washing the diapers has been a breeze.

Using cloth diapers can seem intimidating at first, but once you jump in, you'll find that it's so much simpler than you expected. Washing is the trickiest part: here's a simple routine to follow.

Here’s the routine I’ve found that works for me:

Step 1: Determine how frequently you’ll need to wash

Since we don’t have a washer/dryer in our RV, I have to plan my laundry days more than most. But even with a washer/dryer in your home, you won’t want to be washing diapers every day. I’ve found the sweet spot is about every 3 days (this means you’ll need about 25-30 diapers to go this long between washes). I usually wash once on the weekend and once in the middle of the week…if it’s a major diaper week sometimes I’ll add in a third day or wash some of the diapers to give me some more time.

Step 2: Decide where/how you’ll store the dirties

Again, since our space is limited, I store all of the dirty diapers in Glow Bug Cloth Diapers’ wet bags. They’re made of the same material as the diaper covers, so they’re water (or rather, pee) proof, and don’t let out the smell of the diapers much. I have 5-6 wet bags total and keep one in the car, one in my bag, and the rest in our room to stick dirties at home.

For people with more space, a diaper pail or something along those lines will work just as well.

See? look how happy I am about laundry day.

See? look how happy I am about laundry day.

Step 3: Separate the diapers

When it’s time to wash, I always separate the insert from the cover. This is an extra step and you don’t necessarily need to do it (you can totally just dump them in and wash) but I’ve found that it gets them even more clean when I separate them.

Step 4: Pre-Rinse

If you have time, a HOT pre-rinse without any detergent works wonders for getting the smell out and getting your diapers extra clean.

Step 5: Wash

I wash everything on hot/heavy duty/extra rinse. If you have an HE washer, it should conserve water and wash in a timely manner. When it comes to water useage, I can promise you that cloth diapers use WAY less water than disposables do in production.

Step 6: Dry

Although most diapers are dryer-friendly, I try to air dry them as much as possible. Sunlight works WONDERS for baby poop stains, so if there is a stain on an insert, letting it dry in the sun usually does the trick.

If I need diapers ASAP, I’ll toss them in the dryer on light heat and they’ll be dry super quickly.


That’s it! Like I said before, it has been so much easier than expected and to any new-to-cloth-mama’s, I’ll tell you what everyone else told me before I started: It just takes a few weeks of trial and error to find out what works for you. Once you do though, it’s the most natural thing in the world.

Any questions? I’d love to help out if I can!


*This post is part of a long term collaboration with Glow Bug Cloth Diapers. As always, all opinions/photos/thoughts on dirty laundry are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands who make the world a little more green.*

#InspiringZeroWaste || An Intro to Cloth Diapers

Oof. After an unintended (really long) break from my own Zero Waste challenge, I’m back! If you’re not sure what #InspiringZeroWaste is, be sure to catch up on the explanatory post here, or you can read my other ZW goals for 2019 here. Have you kept going with the challenge? I’d love love love to hear about it!


At first glance, using cloth diapers is complicated and far less convenient than disposables. But what if I told you they were way less intimidating than you think? This overview of cloth diapering will give you all of the info you need to ditch disposables for good.
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When I found out I was pregnant with Aria, I knew, deep down, that I’d be giving cloth diapers a try. With my other girls, I had no idea that anyone even used cloth diapers anymore (other than the most woo-woo hippy-dippy of mamas). But now that I “know better”, I couldn’t let myself not give it a shot.

Anyone who has looked into cloth diapers before knows how overwhelming it can feel at first. Once you go down the cloth diapering rabbit hole on the internet, it’s hard to recover (or even comprehend most of what’s being said). There are an array of opinions, diaper styles, insert materials, liners, wet bags, nighttime routines, washing methods, and weird terminologies to make you go nuts.

But the biggest piece of advice I got from other mamas was just to "jump in and figure it out along the way”. And so I did.

This post, the first of many in partnership with Glowbug Cloth Diapers, is an introduction to cloth, if you will. I hope to answer most of your questions (from my friends over on Instagram) and share a little bit about how the first few months of using them has gone so far. Keep in mind that I’m no expert…I may use the wrong terminology (sorry, Reddit), and I’ll be the first to admit that like all parts of sustainability, it’s not black and white.

When to start…

This is different for every parent and every baby. Aria was fairly small when she was born (7 lbs 14 oz) and there was no way that the One Size snap diapers I had were going to fit her. Although newborn size diapers exist, buying some that I’d only use for a few weeks or months seemed silly. So we used disposables for the first two months until she grew enough to fit into the one-sizes.

The newborn phase is HARD no matter how many times you do it, and so this time around, I intentionally built in extra grace for myself, and disposable diapers was one of those things. Of course, lots of people use cloth from the get-go and that’s amazing too.

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How many diapers do you need…

I don’t need to preface each question with “it looks different for everyone”, but truly, that’s the best answer to most situations. How many diapers you buy will depend on your situation, how much storage space you have, how often you can do laundry, etc. For me, I knew I’d need a few extra diapers because we don’t have a washing machine in our RV (this will of course change when we move out…but for now that’s our reality), so I haul our diapers up to my parents’ house nearby and wash diapers about twice a week. We need enough to last 3-ish days, so my grand total is close to 25+ diapers. If you can do laundry once a day or every other day, you can get away with less than that.

What’s my washing routine…

I plan to do a full blog post on this soon, but I’ll go over the details because this was the most common question by far. As I mentioned, I wash diapers 2-3 times a week (I don’t have specific days, but usually at the beginning of the week and again at the end of the week. Once on the weekend if I need to.) This wouldn’t be sustainable if my parents didn’t live nearby, so it’s due to the easy access to their laundry room that I’m even able to use cloth currently.

When I wash, I typically run them through a rinse cycle first using cold water and a bit of vinegar to get rid of the smell. From there, I wash again on hot/heavy duty/extra rinse using a mild detergent and a bit of Borax to clean deeper. I air dry in the sun when I can but on cloudy/cold day I just hang them inside.

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What about stains? Do they actually get clean?

When you think about how dirty kids get and how frequently blow-outs happen in the baby phase, cloth diapering doesn’t really seem all that strange. Clothes wash out normally, so why wouldn’t diapers?

As long as you’re washing adequately, the diapers will be good as new each time you wash them. For baby poop stains, you can use a regular stain remover, but believe it or not, sunlight works wonders on stains. If all else fails, rub a bit of blue Dawn dish soap into the stain and then wash and let dry in the sun.

Do they work as your baby grows?

Yes! One of my favorite things about Glowbug’s diapers is that they “grow” with your baby. They’re easy to adjust and are supposed to last from newborn to toddler-hood. So far, they fit Aria perfectly at three months. This size guide from Glowbug was helpful for me when I started using them.

Basic terminology?

There is A LOT of information out there and it can get super overwhelming, especially to a new mom who has no experience with cloth. This blog post from Glowbug is super helpful for breaking down each type of cloth diaper and the pros and cons.

How to prevent leaks at night

Double up on your inserts! For my pocket-style diaper, I use two inserts one bamboo and one hemp (with the hemp on top) for nighttime, as per Glowbug’s recommendation. I also use bamboo liners to help keep her dry (and make poop clean up easier). These are the ones I’ve used so far.

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I can’t afford to buy as many cloth diapers as I need

Although using cloth diapers ends up being far more cost effective (it’s a one-time purchase that will be used for 2-ish years, as opposed to a weekly/bi-weekly purchase that only lasts a week or so) it can be a sizable cost upfront. If you can’t afford to buy brand new cloth diapers, there are TONS of resale groups on Facebook and other resell sites. If the diapers are in good shape you won’t even be able to tell they’ve been used before. Affordable AND sustainable.


If you’re a first time mama, take all of this with a grain of salt. Adjusting to motherhood for the first time is H.A.R.D whether you have an easy baby or a tricky one. Don’t feel pressure to do cloth diapers perfectly (we still use disposables at night sometimes!) and know that it will get easier with time. Make changes that you can make when you’re ready to make them and know that your mental health and your baby’s health always come first.

What questions did I miss? Let me know in the comments and I’ll answer them next month!



*This post is part of a longterm collaboration with Glowbug Cloth Diapers. All photos/storytelling/creative direction is my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make SL&Co. possible*

#InspiringZeroWaste || March Goal

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And just like that, we’re at the three month of this little zero waste challenge. How is it going for you all, friends? Now might be the point when you’re starting to feel your motivation waning — a year is a long time to commit to anything, especially something as big as waste reduction. I’d encourage you to use this month as a check-in. Ask yourself how achievable your monthly goals have been and, if necessary, readjust. Living a lower waste lifestyle doesn’t have to feel impossible, rigid, or boring. I hope breaking your biggest zero-waste goals into month-by-month chunks makes it feel as approachable and do-able as it actually is. If you’ve made it this far in the challenge OR you’re just joining in, comment below with how it’s going!

You can read each month’s goal and recap by going to the #InspiringZeroWaste tag on my blog, but as a quick reminder, here’s what I’ve tackled thus far in the challenge. For January, I zero-waste-ified my shower routine (I swapped my last shampoo bottle for a shampoo bar from Natural Vegan, bought a safety razor from Leaf, and have been switching out my conditioner and body wash to bars as they run out). In February, I researched textile recycling and wrote a giant post of resources for sending old clothing.

February Update:

Textile recycling seemed like a giant of a topic, and really, I only scratched the surface of the issues of clothing waste and the difficulties associated with recycling textiles in general.

What I Learned:

  • Primarily, I learned that textile recycling should be the norm. Although in an ideal world, all of our clothing would be organically grown and free from synthetic additions so that it would biodegrade naturally on its own, but of course, that’s not reality (yet, anyway). An easy solution is to send off your unwanted, well-worn clothes to textile recycling facilities or upcycle them at home.

  • More than anything, conscious consumption is key. When it comes to clothes, don’t buy more than you need, shop for ethically made pieces that are built to last, and recycle them when you no longer need them.

  • To read more of my findings, as well as a big list of places to send just about any type of clothing, click here.

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March Goal

My goals so far have all been practical and informative for my personal life and March’s goal is no different. For the next few months, my ZW goals will likely have to do with baby preparation. I’m due in two short months and am hoping to focus my (minimal) energy on making a plan to lessen waste during the postpartum months and beyond. I’ve had two kiddos of course, but low waste living wasn’t as high of a priority for me then as it is now, so I’m excited to dive in and change up my “baby phase norm” a bit.

For March, I’ll be focusing on finding (making/buying) zero waste baby essentials. This post won’t be as informative for my readers who aren’t in the baby-phase, but it’s something I need to dive into for myself and I hope my findings will be useful to some of you (both now and for future mamas!).

I’ve always said that you don’t need as much stuff to have a baby as everyone says and this time around I’m truly putting that to the test. Of course, we don’t have space for much excess, but after my two older girls turned 2 or 3, I sold or donated all of our baby stuff and am essentially starting from scratch this time around.

At the end of this month, I’ll share everything I plan to use to lessen waste once baby arrives, so stay tuned on my thoughts on cloth diapering, low waste pumping, and more. And, as always, leave me any tips or suggestions on the topic below!

A Guide to Textile Recycling: How, Why, and Where to Recycle Old Clothes

*This post is part of my #InspiringZeroWaste challenge for 2019. To read the original post click here, or click here to see my first post for February*

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As conscious consumers (or folks on the path towards conscious consumerism), living in a non-circular economy complicates things. Most of our products are designed with the short term in mind — they’re meant to be convenient, cheap to make, cheap to buy, and aren’t typically made with the life cycle of the product (or its impact on the environment) in mind.

Clothing is no exception. In fact, as far as typical fast fashion goes, clothing production has been the the unfortunate gold standard for waste, cheap production, and linear production.

In an ideal world, production would be circular — meaning: products are designed with the end of their life in mind from the beginning of it. Pieces made with natural fibers, in factories that recycle their waste and water, and reuse/recycle/compost their pieces at the end of their life are the most sustainable. But, of course, it’s not the norm (yet).

If you’re anything like the average American Joe, you’ve tossed trash bag upon trash bag of clothing into the dumpster before without giving it a second thought (upwards of 81 lbs of textile waste, per person, per year). Maybe you toss said trash bags off to your local Goodwill, or maybe you even pass them on to a friend. Either way, clothing waste is in the US is a huge issue that isn’t disappearing anytime soon (especially with the rate that people are Kon Mari-ing their closets).

Why Textile Waste Is a Problem

What’s the big deal? It’s not like you’re sending hazardous chemicals or plastic that takes years to biodegrade to landfill. Why is clothing waste an issue in the first place?

Two of the biggest reasons, as I see them, are as follows:

  1. Most clothes are made of synthetic fibers which, like plastic, take years to break down, or may never fully biodegrade. In fact, when stuck in a landfill, clothing made from synthetics like polyester or lycra release methane, a harmful greenhouse gas, and take at least 30-40 years to biodegrade. It’s not an “out of sight out of mind” matter, and even cotton clothes woven with synthetics don’t biodegrade as easily as natural fibers like organic cotton, linen, hemp, tencel, etc.

  2. We have way too many clothes to begin with. Combined with the fact that our clothes aren’t made to last, the sheer amount of product sent to landfill (both from retailers and consumers) is insane. Most of these clothes are forgotten about, or worse, incinerated.

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Steps to Combat Textile Waste

1. Consume Less:

With a “Less but better” mindset, you can shift from buying clothes you don’t really need that aren’t made to last to buying “investment pieces” that are made to last for years to come and, hopefully, won’t need to be disposed of. The brands in my List are all great jumping off points to look for ethically made, quality pieces.

2. Resell/Gift:

When a piece has plenty of wear left but may not fit your body or style anymore, you can sell it or gift it to someone else. Host a clothing swap with friends or sell them with resell platforms like Poshmark or Depop.

3. Upcycle:

For pieces that are towards the end of their life or you don’t feel could be resold, upcycle them into new-to-you products that you can use around the house. Cut up old t-shirts to use as cleaning rags, headbands, and more. Or, you can transform old clothing into completely new clothing if you have the creative skills for it. A quick Pinterest search of “upcycling clothing” should do the trick.

4. Donate

But Don’t Automatically Assume Secondhand Shops want Your Stuff

I include this point with caution because, as crucial as secondhand shops are for circular economy and sustainability, they don’t always need or want your junk. Before you drop off a load of unsorted belongings, consider these points:

  • Is this a piece someone else could actually use? (Ie. it’s not stained/ripped/hanging on by a thread/broken)

  • Does this shop need donations of this kind right now?

If the answer is no to one or both of these questions, scout out another secondhand shop or consider upcycling or recycling the piece.

5. Recycle:

Once a garment has reached the definite end of its lifespan, chances are there are ways it can be recycled into something completely new. Not only does recycling keep clothing out of landfill, but it reduces the need for new, virgin fabrics which can be costly and not-so-eco-friendly to produce.

Keep reading for a list of where and how to recycle your clothes by type. Keep in mind that you should have resources available locally (or semi-locally) for textile recycling — so it’s not really as hard as it sounds. Do a quick Google search for “your town + textile recycling” and see what pops up.

Clothing waste is a huge issue, and most people don't know where to send their clothes once they've reached the end of their lifespan. Luckily, textile recycling isn't as tricky as it sounds.

Recycling by type:

Cotton/polyester blends:

  • ReSpun: Marine Layer’s recycling program that accepts any and all (non-spandex) tees.

  • Patagonia WornWear: Patagonia will accept any of their old clothing back to recycle.

  • Terracycle: an incredible recycling program that can almost literally recycle anything. You do have to pay for the box to ship things back in (which is semi-costly), but worth it!

  • Brass Clothing’s “Closet Clean Out”: Brass sends you a pre-paid mailer that you stuff with clothes and send back. They send it to a textile recycling center in NC. I didn’t see any restriction on type of clothing accepted.

  • I:Co (Locations worldwide — I:Co is who retailers like H&M use for their recycling programs, although I’ve, not surprisingly, found that their track record isn’t the greatest when it comes to actually recycling the majority of what they bring in.)

  • USAgain: collects used clothing of any kind and condition in their drop off locations

Athletic clothes

Dress clothes

  • Dress for Success: A really cool organization giving women who don’t have access to interview appropriate clothing your gently used work-wear for free.

Undergarments

  • Knickey: This organic underwear brand has partnered with a NYC organization to recycle all unwanted underwear (any brand, condition) and will even send you a free pair in exchange.

  • The Bra Recyclers: Ensures bras don’t end up in landfill by recycling them into new product/insulation/bedding.

  • Free the Girls: An incredible non-profit that helps victims of human trafficking start their own businesses reselling gently used bras in their communities.

Denim (There are LOTS of resources for this - I’m only listing a few)

Bedsheets and towels

  • Cut them up into smaller towels/sheets to use for cleaning

  • Call your local homeless or animal shelter to see if they’re accepting donations

  • Coyuchi for Life: Coyuchi’s circular subscription program that recycles old linens and towels and send you new ones regularly.

  • USAgain: accepts used clothing and household textiles in any condition at their recycling drop of locations.

Shoes


Before I dug deeper, I knew textile recycling was a thing, but wasn’t sure where to begin sending my own clothing in. I hope this post can be a recurring resource for you (it will be for me, anyway!) for when your clothes wear out.

#InspiringZeroWaste || February Goal

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(For the first explanatory post on #InspiringZeroWaste, click here!)

Month 2 of 2019 is upon us and I’m welcoming it with open arms. January always seems to last twice as long as other months and February brings with it a sweetness and anticipation for Spring (hopefully) that I’m excited to embrace.

If you followed along last month, you’ll know that my first #InspiringZeroWaste goal was to make my shower routine as zero waste as possible. First, I’ll share an update on how that went, and then I’ll dive into my goal for month #2.

January Update

I purposefully eased myself into the challenge with this goal because I knew I was running low on most of my shower essentials and have been wanting to make the switch to zero-waste options for a while.

What I tried:

  • I started using products from Natural Vegan Club in late December. I love their flexible subscription style service that allows you change your products each month and get things only as you need them. I’ve been using their shampoo bar for a month and, although my hair has had an up and down response, I’m happy with it so far. Shampoo bars are an adjustment - I’ve found I have to take my time and make sure I’m getting every bit of my roots saturated or my hair looks greasy the same day I wash it. But I’m not giving up yet and will keep researching on the best ways to use them. (To order free samples from Natural Vegan Club, click here!)

  • I ordered a Rose Gold safety razor and blade disposer from Leaf Shave a few weeks ago. Although it still hasn’t arrived, I’m making do with the razor I have now until it gets here.

What I learned:

  • A shower routine is fairly easy to do low-waste/zero-waste. If you’re not ready to commit to shampoo bars, Plaine Products is an AMAZING brand that is just as zero waste as package free options. And if that idea is too much, just be sure you’re recycling/composting your packaging according to the labels to reduce as much waste as possible.

  • Bar soaps are SO cheap and last SO much longer.

  • Using body oil instead of packaged lotion is even better for your skin and oftentimes a more eco-friendly option since they usually come in glass bottles that can be reused in your home instead of plastic, and they’re made with plant-derived ingredients.

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February Goal:

For the second challenge of the year, I’ve decided to dive into researching textile recycling, both locally and on a bigger scale to see what’s truly sustainable and what isn’t. Although I’ve paired down my wardrobe drastically in the past few years, occasionally I discover a piece I haven’t worn enough to justify keeping or something starts to deteriorate that I’m not sure what to do with. I’m hoping that by educating myself on the best options for recycling old clothing (and what to do with the pieces that aren’t recyclable) I’ll be better equipped to make sustainable future purchases and hopefully help you do the same!

I’ll share everything I’ve learned in a big blog post at the end of the month, so feel free to send any questions or resources my way as I begin my research.

I wrote last month about how to responsibly “kon mari” your life and, when it comes to clothes in particular, most of us are prone to dumping trash bags of old college tees and torn up pants off at our local Goodwill or secondhand shop without a second thought. And although supporting thrift shops is incredibly important, the reality is that many of these clothes never find a second home and many of them just end up in a land fill anyway.

So, stay tuned for more on this topic and, if you’re up for it, join me in stock piling a little collection of unused clothes to donate responsibly and recycle at the end of this month. I’ll be going through my husband’s, my kid’s, and my own closets to make sure we’re eliminating our clothes in the most ethical and sustainable way possible.

A foreshadowing…

If you’re curious about what you can do NOW, while I’m doing my research, I’d suggest checking out Marine Layer’s new recycling program ReSpun. I had a call with a member of their team early last week to discuss a future collaboration and learn more about their recycling process and, luckily, I’m super impressed with what I learned from them.

In an effort to lessen their own textile waste and provide a solution for brands and consumers alike, ReSpun works with Recovertex, a recycling facility in Spain that has been recycling textiles since World War II. Marine Layer collects unwanted tees, of any shape, size, condition, and material (except spandex) and ships them off by the thousands to Recovertex where they’re broken down, sorted, and respun into new tees. Any non-recyclable parts like labels and tags are added to fabric that is recycled into things like bedding and home insulation. (Click here to request your own recycling kit from Marine Layer to start the process with me!)

This is a “closed loop” process which, ideally the fashion industry as a whole will move towards one day. And as an added positive, Marine Layer offsets their carbon footprint from shipping the tees overseas by donating to organizations that offset their emissions. It’s called a carbon neutral process and it’s fascinating.

Stay Tuned…

I’ll be sharing more at the end of the month, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, feel free to join me in gathering up your old clothes that are un-sellable that you think would be a good fit for recycling (and one more time, you can get a free recycling kit here).

What’s your #InspiringZeroWaste goal for this month? I’d love to hear how it’s going thus far!