Chances are, if you are reading this article you are either seriously considering cloth diapering or already have taken the plunge. Now it is time to take a look around the house and see what other disposable products can be replaced for cloth. If you switch to cloth all the way you will see a small difference in the laundry room and a huge difference in your shopping bill. Say goodbye to sponges, paper towels, tissues, napkins, menstrual pads, tampons and more!
The marketing world has convinced us that we need to buy disposable products to make our lives easier, simpler and to spend money on their products. But we need to rethink that, “un-brainwash” ourselves, and reduce, reuse and recycle.
NOTE: This is the third revision of this article – over the years I have found even more disposable alternatives. I keep updating this article to include them all.
Cloth diapering is not what it used to be. Today there are several options in cloth diapers. I made the decision to switch when I learned that today’s cloth diapers were shaped like disposables with velcro or snaps instead of tape. This is a big change from the pins that our parents used!
Training Pants and Swim Diapers
This is a natural extension to cloth diapering. Instead of using pull-ups or disposable swim diapers try the cloth reusable alternatives. Cloth swim diapers are the same price as pack of disposable ones!
If you are not already using these to clean your baby’s bottom between diapers, switch now! You are already doing the diaper laundry, just throw these in with them. In addition to wiping my baby’s bottom I find these convenient for washing my children’s hands and face. While you are at it, invest on another set of washcloths to replace the sponge in the kitchen. A wet sponge is a haven for bacteria. You can changes these frequently but it would be expensive – not very earth friendly. I keep several washcloths in stock and change them daily.
Washies/ Reusable cotton balls
I recently discovered reusable cotton balls. They fit into the palm of your hand. These are terrific replacements for cotton balls! I use them at night with my make up remover. My teens use them for applying ointments and astringent.
Cloth nursing pads are far more comfortable than their disposable counterparts! They are prettier and shapelier too. In my opinion they are more attractive.
Purchase several packages of handkerchiefs in the men’s section of a department store. While we still keep tissue boxes around the house for guests, we have handkerchiefs ready and waiting in a nearby drawer for easy access. For when you are out and about, just put them in your pocketbook or pocket. I find these much easier to carry than the pocket size disposable tissues.
If you have converted your baby to cloth diapers then it would be natural for you the continue the cloth tradition for yourself with cloth menstrual pads. They are more comfortable than their paper counterparts and are equally absorbent. If you don’t want give up tampons to pads, consider using a menstrual cup.
Flat Cloth Diapers
Flats are making a comeback in the cloth diapering world – still they can be used for so much more:
- Cut them in to rectangles, hem the edges and to use them as cloth diaper liners.
- Keep them handy in your bag or at the changing table for wiping your baby’s face or bottom.
- Finally get a pack and devote them as cleaning rags for your house. These diapers are much stronger than their paper counterparts plus they last longer than “reusable” handi-wipes. I’ve been using the same set of flats to clean for the past 15 years!
I have a dozen hand towels available in the kitchen for spills or cleaning up. These are much more absorbent than Bounty®. Also, I have old large towels reserved for floor use only (I have a thing against mixing hand and floor towels). These are great for those messy floor spills.
There are many sizes of waterproof bags made by mamas. The large ones can be used to carry home wet cloth diapers. Since I’m past the cloth diapering stage I continued to use them for bringing home wet bathing suits pool or beach. Have you tried reusable sandwich bags? These are ideal on those days when your family is on the go or for packing lunches for school. You can also get small waterproof bags to protect keep your phone, iPod or other valuables dry when you go to the pool. Move over zip locks - these are a far better option!
As with diapers these will be a small investment at first but they are great money savers. They take only a little space in your washer, just throw them in with your regular load. Easy! We’ve been using the same napkins for 10 years. We are just replacing them now and are using the old napkins as new rags. Re-use and re-use!
Chances are you have one or two of these lying around in your home. If you do, be sure to bring them along on all shopping trips to use for your purchases. These are much stronger than paper or plastic bags.
Cloth tablecloths are much better than vinyl. I recommend to have at least two so you can alternate between washes. Over the years I have accumulated 2 or 3 for each season. This gives the kitchen or dining room a nice fresh look throughout each season.
So take a look around your household and find where you can replace disposables with cloth. Cloth is a terrifc frugal and green replacements for disposables.
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