Almost as overwhelming as your initial "cloth diaper" Google search is wading through the different accessories. What is a must have and what is a nice to have? Generally speaking, all accessories are made to make your cloth diapering life a bit more convenient. You can pick and choose what works for you as budget allows. Let's break them down.
Arguably the most important accessory in cloth diapering! Let us not forget that you are cleaning diapers that have been pooped and peed in, so you'll want to use the manufacturers recommended amount for a heavily soiled load. Just about any detergent without fabric softener will work.
The only "rule" is to avoid fabric softeners. Fabric softener is designed to create a layer of slimy material (that's the official science term) on your fabric. As you can imagine, that slimy layer means less absorbency in a diaper. One or two washes won't necessarily affect much, but long term washing with fabric softener can cause a pretty big build up problem.
And because there always needs to be a confusing exception to the rule - some plant based fabric softeners ARE okay on natural fiber diapers (hemp, bamboo, cotton), but never synthetic fibers. Natural fibers can tend to stiffen after (lots of) time, so a round with fabric softener can be really helpful. My personal favorite is Ecover.
My favorites? I love Tide (liquid or powder). For a plant based/more natural detergent, I love Seventh Generation.
Wet Bag/Pail Liner:
You'll need a place to store dirty diapers while they wait for laundry day to roll around, and a wet bag/pail liner makes that simple. Wet bags come in a variety of sizes, and can have different features (snapping handle, dry pocket, etc.). Pail liners are used like a trash bag in a trash can. Across the board, your wet bag/pail liner will be lined with a water resistant material (PUL, TPU) and can be washed with your diapers.
Think about where you'll be changing most often - do you have the floor space for a trash can with a pail liner? Or would it be easier to keep a wet bag hung around the door knob?
With my three cloth diapered kids, I haven't found the need for a preventative cream with each diaper change. If they have a rash pop up, I'll treat it until it's gone and then stop using cream.
Certain mainstream diaper creams are not cloth diaper friendly, and it's because they contain petroleum or zinc oxide. They can stain or even create a build up that will prevent the diaper from absorbing. If you choose to use those creams, using a liner between your baby and the diaper will prevent any issues.
The good news is that there are a ton of cloth friendly rash creams that will eliminate the need for a liner! Look for something labeled "all-natural" or check the ingredients to make sure there is no petroleum. Some of my favorites are Thirsties Booty Love or Grandma El's.
I looooooove cloth wipes! In my experience, they do a better job of cleaning up, and it's another way to limit chemical exposure on those tiny baby butt cheeks. My favorite are GroVia Cloth Wipes, which are made with a super soft terry cloth. They are nice and thick, so just one will clean up a pretty significant poo!
I like to keep it simple, so I'll just wet a wipe with plain water at the sink as I need them. When I'm out of the house, I'll keep plain water in a peri-bottle and use that to wet them. If you want something more than water, there's a ton of awesome wipe solution recipes out there with coconut oil, baby wash, etc.
If you'd prefer to wet your wipes ahead of time, you can keep them in a wipe warmer or small wet bag. I'd advise you don't make more than 1-2 days worth, as any longer and you might have to deal with mildew.
24-36 wipes is a good number to have on hand. I generally use 1 wipe per diaper, but it's always nice to have a few extra for those gnarly poops.
Launder them the same as you do your cloth diapers. So easy!
We covered poop pretty extensively in the Washing Cloth Diapers blog post. Disposable diaper liners, diaper sprayers, Spray Pal, etc. can all be beneficial in removing poop prior to laundry day. These are definitely a nice to have instead of a have to have, as you can successfully cloth diaper without them (said as I glance over at my neon green lady bug spatula).
Inserts/doublers can be used any time you need to add an extra bit of absorbency to your regular diapers (long car ride, nap time, overnight, etc.). They are typically made with a super absorbent natural fiber. My favorite are the Thirsties Hemp doublers!
We'll talk more about stripping diapers in a future blog post, but with a good wash routine you generally won't need to worry about it!
Mighty Bubbles is a treatment used to remove buildup of urine and minerals from cloth diapers and garments. This is not a detergent. Read more about it here.
What do you think? What is the most important cloth diaper accessory for you?