"Why in the hell would you do that???"
When I respond to this question, I usually start off by making these three points (though not in as much detail):
1. Cloth is cheaper than disposables. People usually come back at me with something like "if you buy Target brand diapers I bet it's comparable" or "after you factor in the cost of water and special detergent for all the extra laundry it's probably not that much cheaper." I'm being completely honest when I say that cloth really truly seriously is cheaper than even the cheapest of cheap disposables. To purchase all of the cloth supplies up front (we did get many as gifts but about a quarter of the supplies we purchased came out of pocket), the average someone would spend is probably somewhere in the range of $200 - $500. It could be more if you go overboard with fancy diapers or buying way too many supplies, but it's not really necessary to get too crazy. Ours was more in the $300 range total, and if you think about how much you would spend on disposables and wipes for 2 kids, you can easily spend that much in 2 - 3 months. So after my 3rd month of cloth diapering, it had pretty much paid for itself. (And if you're lucky like we were and get a lot of your supplies as baby gifts, it pays for itself even sooner). In response to the comment about the cost of water and detergent, that's just silly. After the first few months of doing cloth diapers, I took a look at our water bill compared to before we used cloth, and it was a difference of maaaaybe $5 a month. The detergent we use is about $30 a bottle, but it seriously takes 3 - 4 months to go through one bottle, so that averages out to $8.50/month. So lets do a little math here -- it costs me about $13.50/month to use cloth for two children. To use less spendy disposables with 2 children for a month (including the cost of wipes) costs, according to the prices I found online, about $75. The difference is a whopping $61.50!! Over an entire year that's a savings of $738!
2. Cloth is better for the environment. Now I will admit that my choice to use cloth had very little to do with being environmentally sound, but it is definitely a bonus and something I feel good about at the end of the day. Take this for example: we use disposables at night, and usually just throw them into the trash can in our garage. It's amazing how quickly that thing fills up in just the matter of a week. If you consider the fact that we only use about 14 or so disposables a week, and the garbage fills up that fast, think about all the hundreds of thousands of homes that are doing the very same thing everyday, but with 10 times more diapers. It is scary and sad to think that you could fill entire towns with dirty disposable diapers, and it'll just keep expanding, because those damn things take forever to decompose. But that's just depressing and gross and wasn't my purpose when writing this post, so I digress... :)
3. Cloth is cute. Okay, this isn't really that important to me at all, but you just can't deny how flippin' adorable it is to see a teeny-tiny-little baby in a bright red poofy diaper!
See what I mean?!?
I had to add a couple of my Mr. Man just to show that cloth also looks adorably cute on toddlers as well:
(I love the stereotypical flat butt on Kellen (with the pants falling down) and the big booty on Mila)
I'd be lying if I said there weren't any downsides to using cloth, and here they are:
1. Washing them is a pain. When I first started cloth, I religiously washed them every 2 - 3 days because I thought that was what you were supposed to do. I kept that up for 2 or 3 months and then eased up on myself a bit. Now-a-days, I wash them once or twice a week; pretty much just whenever the clean supply is getting low. The clean supply lasts a lot longer these days because a) Kellen is somewhat potty training and occassionally puts pee or poop in the potty (yay!), b) Mila doesn't wet diapers as frequently as she did back in the day, and c) we use disposables overnight. To actually wash cloth diapers, you have to go through a series of cycles to make sure all the goodies get completely rinsed out. It usually looks something like this: 2 cold rinses, 1 hot wash with an extra rinse, followed by an extra hot rinse. As you can see, there is a lot of rinsing involved. For detergent, I currently use Tide Free. Many people who do cloth use Rockin Green, but I find that my Tide works just as well, I don't have to order it online (I can just buy it at Target), and is a little cheaper. Win-win. For drying, it depends on the kind of diaper I'm washing. Pretty much all the diapers we have, except for Fuzzibunz, can go in the dryer on a regular cycle. For the Fuzzibunz, I just hang them on a drying rack and they're usually dry within 8 - 12 hours. Once they're all dry, I stack the prefold diapers (I don't think I mentioned that I do a combination of prefolds and pocket diapers with Mila; however, Kellen only wears pocket diapers) and stuff the pocket diapers, which brings me to the next CON.
2. Stuffing pocket diapers will be the end of me. This is probably my least favorite part of cloth diapers. It's really not a difficult process, just annoying. You literally take a cloth insert, stuff it in the pocket diaper (you have to make sure to match up the correct inserts with the correct diapers - Fuzzibunz inserts are thinner and made of a different material, whereas Bum Genius is wider and has button snaps), make sure it's laid out nice and flat, and voila. Sounds easy enough, right? It is, but you have to do it over, and over, and over again with all your diapers...and with the Fuzzi Bunz, it is usually a tight squeeze, so it takes some dexterity to get the insert in there just right. If you don't get it nice and flat, you will run into some major leakage problems. All-in-all, it probably takes about 20 minutes to stuff two dozen pocket diapers.
3. Yes, cloth can sometimes be gross. The convenience with disposables is that you don't really have to deal with the sinky messy poop. With cloth, it's a little more messy. For itty-bitty babies that are exclusively breastfeeding, you don't really have to do much with the poop since breast milk bowel movements are pretty runny and rinse easily in the wash. Once you start introducing solids, however, you have to start figuring out how to get rid of the pooh. Some people install a rinser to their toilet, and they just spray the poop off the diaper and into the toilet. I decided it'd be easier to just purchase diaper liners. These are essentially a flushable, durable piece of toilet paper that you lay in the diaper. When baby poops, the liner catches the pooh and you just plop it right into the toilet. If it's a softer pooh, though, the liner doesn't do a good job of picking up the poop and you have to deal with the mess smeared all over the diaper. That's when it gets really gross. You do your best to wipe as much off it off with toilet paper as you can (just toss that pooh in the toilet), and then just toss the diaper in the wash and maybe do one or two extra rinses, hoping it will come off (it always does).
So there you have it. Many people think it's gross or too much work to use cloth...but if you think about it, disposables have only been around for the past 30ish years, so cloth used to be the only option. Admittedly, there are gross moments, and it is a little bit more work than just whippin' out a disposable from the box, but I highly suggest giving cloth a try if you think it's something you could handle. It's truly not that bad!