Maybe you’ve never considered cloth diapering, or maybe you just assumed they would be messy or too much of a hassle. Today on the Itzy Ritzy blog we are so excited to have Julie Ekstrom, founder and CEO of Kanga Care and US Patent holder for the revolutionary double gusset cloth diaper, answering some cloth diapering FAQs. Julie covers everything from the benefits of cloth diaper and where to start, all the way to her pro-tips on keeping cloth diapers squeaky clean (it’s easier than you think!).
What are the biggest advantages for cloth diapering? "The list for why families choose to cloth diaper goes on and on! However, most of the time we find that families choose cloth for one of three reasons; the health of their infant and family, the environmental impact, or the financial savings."
A lot of families choose cloth for the health of their child. "Many families are simply unable to use disposable diapers because of the health complications from the chemicals the disposable diapers contain to help make them absorbent. For babies with sensitive skin, it is not unusual for the child to experience varied degrees of rashes or chemical burns due to the chemicals found in disposable diapers. At Kanga Care we take extra steps to test our products, and all materials used, to global safety standards which reach far beyond what just the USA regulates."
Some families will find that cloth diapering is the best choice for their family because reducing waste and their carbon footprint is a core value. "Each child will use roughly 9,000 disposable diapers before they are potty trained. We know that, at minimum, it will take over 500 years for a disposable diaper to even start to break down. In our modern day, they will most likely never break down because the soiled diaper is usually wrapped around itself to create a tight little package, then it is put into a diaper pail (which sometimes twist to seal off each one individually to create a disposable diaper sausage train), and then that diaper pail is emptied into another plastic bag before getting set out for the garbage man to pick up. That is plastic, inside plastic, inside plastic. That’s not going anywhere. The EPA reports that about 20 billion disposable diapers are dumped into landfills each year, accounting for more than 3.5 million tons of waste. That makes diapers the #2 item in our landfills, only to be topped by single use plastic bottles and containers, so for families who highly value waste reduction and recycling, cloth diapering is a logical choice."
A family that chooses to cloth diaper for financial reasons will save an average of $1,000 for each year their child is in cloth diapers. "A family that cloth diapers from birth will save $3,000 or more before their child potty trains! The diapers are reusable. If they are well-cared-for, the family can use them on the next child as well. The savings on a second child is around $3,500 as there is no additional cloth diaper investment. Once the family is no longer in need of diapers and has no plans for future children, the diapers can be resold for a significant return on the original investment. There is a massive after market for well-cared-for cloth diapers. Some brands retain about 50%-75% of their original value. Some discontinued prints and colors can even be worth more than the customer originally paid for them! There are collectors worldwide for many of the fancy prints and collaborations such as the Kanga Care collabs with Care Bears and tokidoki."
Cloth diapering seems intimidating ... And messy. What advice/encouragement would you give to a parent looking to make the switch from disposable to cloth diapers? "We talk to families all the time that are cloth-curious, but also highly cloth-skeptical! I think the biggest “ah-ha!” moment comes when we show them what a modern cloth diaper looks like and how they function. No pins, no folding or diaper origami and no plastic pants. These aren’t your grandma’s cloth diapers! They are super cute and trendy with a full rainbow of colors to match and coordinate with outfits and hundreds of fashion-forward prints and designs. Although cloth can be intimidating, it is actually less messy. Disposable diapers and “blow-outs” go hand-in-hand. With cloth diapers, a blow-out is a rare occasion. Blow-outs can be completely eliminated when you use Kanga Care cloth diapers with our patented leak and blow-out prevention technology of the double inner gussets. This technology and feature is exclusive to Kanga Care brand diapers, most famously, the Rumparooz One Size."
What makes Kanga Care Cloth Diapering products different? What sets them apart? "Kanga Care has a few features that set our diapers apart from other brands on the market. The Rumparooz, Lil Joeys and Ecoposh styles all have inner gussets. This is a patented leak and blow-out prevention technology that I invented when I first created the diapers! This design is now patented and can only be found in Kanga Care brands cloth diapers! Another great feature is we have a true one-size diaper. Our Rumparooz One Size starts fitting babies at six pounds whereas most of our competitors’ smallest setting starts around 8-10 pounds, which can leave families needing a “filler solution” until their diapers start fitting. Kanga Care also uses the highest quality laminated fabrics, which bond the super soft fabric and laminate using heat and a groundwater safe glue (eco-glue). On the inside of the diaper you will find a butter-soft micro chamois (instead of diaper fleece), which does not pill and is hypoallergenic. A few other features you will have to check out Kanga Care to get: Exclusive prints from Care Bears and tokidoki as well as more on the way!"
For someone just starting out, how many cloth diapers and inserts would you recommend purchasing? "Our most popular “package” is a 24 pack of the Rumparooz One Size cloth diaper along with a few wet bags and pail liners. Twenty-four diapers will last a newborn a couple days between needing to toss them in the wash, while still having a few clean ones to use while the others are in the wash. We recommend two Wet Bags and two Pail Liners so that when one is full you can toss it in the wash and then you just grab the clean one to use next. The Wet Bags and two Pail Liners are made out of the same waterproof material as the diapers and come in the same variety of colors and prints. They are also seam-sealed, to keep the stink in! The Pail Liners fit most types of diaper pails as well as a tall kitchen trash can (which works just as well!). The Wet Bags are a mini version of the Pail Liner that features a zippered top, handle, and 3D design to hold roughly one days’ worth of diapers, yet you can also roll it down and fasten it with the handle to compactly store in your diaper bag. The Wet Bags are a great product to last years beyond diapers as well. Wet Bags are great for the pool, beach, travel, laundry bag, sports bag, toys, camping and more!"
How does cloth diapering work when you are on-the-go? Are there products you can use to make cloth diapering more convenient when you’re not at home? "Cloth diapering when you are out and about is not a whole lot different than using disposable diapers. The biggest difference is that when you are at Target, you can’t just throw away your cloth diaper! This is where the Wet Bags come in handy. As mentioned above, we recommend having two so that when you get home from your outing and you have a few dirty diapers in your Wet Bag, you can just toss them in the diaper pail, along with the dirty Wet Bag, and grab a new Wet Bag for your next outing!"
Do you have any tried and true tips for cleaning cloth diapers? "The best tip I can give in regards to cleaning your cloth diapers is pretty simple. Wash at least every three days and use a good detergent! Most detergents that are available at your local grocery store will work great. A few ingredients you are looking for (most importantly) are enzymes and surfactants. Enzymes are particularly important. They are biodegradable and an enzymes’ sole purpose is to break down the protein, fats, and soil in the diaper. Without enzymes the diapers will not get cleaned well. Once the diapers are in the wash we recommend a quick pre-rinse in cold water (loosens everything up), then a hot wash, cold rinse and off to the dryer! Tumble dry low is all it takes to get the diapers dry in no time at all. Cloth diapers are so easy to wash and care for in our modern world that it’s really not much different than a load of towels."
Is there anything else you’d like to share about cloth diapering? "The world of cloth diapering is growing fast and furious. More and more families are spending just as much time researching what type of diapers to use as the time they used to spend researching car seats and strollers! If you find yourself in this education mode my best advice would be to reach out to the brand and ask questions. Most cloth diapering brands are still family owned and operated and support their families with the business. There are cheap generic versions readily available online but they lack the customer service, education, support and, most importantly, the quality and safety standards. When you become a Kanga Care customer, you become family and we have your back from here on out!"
Thank you so much, Julie, for all of this incredible information!