Imagine, you are a mother, about to have a child, considering your diapering options. Suppose that you think, in consideration of the environment, that it might be good to use cloth diapers. But, people convince you, you shouldn't undertake this adventure while still under the weepy influence of pregnancy hormones and while the child is soiling her tiny self every hour. In other words, go with disposables. And let's further suppose that you were thrown 3 separate baby showers, at which people generously donated hundreds of disposable diapers. So, you went the path of least resistance and embarked on the disposable diaper path.
Let us further suppose that this hypothetical you went for a year and a half using disposable diapers, spending [once you ran out of gift ones] ~$20 a week on them. Occasionally, due to procrastination and poor plannning, you run out and have to throw a swimming diaper on the child while the two of you dash to the store. Feeling mildly guilty about the pollution to the landfill, but nevertheless continuing to buy and toss ever more of the stinky things. Vaguely interested in the possibility of cloth diapers but not able to find them in stores so letting the urge pass.
Fastforward to age 18 months, when said baby develops a sudden and severe allergy to the latex in the band of the diapers and/or the crystals used to turn pee into a kind of gel that doesn't leak out (gross, I know). Now you experiment with a few different brands of diapers, spending even more money because now you can't buy whatever's on sale, but have to go to Whole
Hypothetical you goes to Toys R' Us to see what the options are, and they only have Gerber brand cloth diapers, which are those white rags which were our parents' only option. You buy a pack, plus some diaper pins. At a resale store, you'd picked up some Gerber diaper covers. You try this and realize that you need to change the diaper every hour or else it will leak. And the diaper pins are a pain. Then you remember that this is 2007, you have access to the internet, and there have to have been some improvements. And you are shocked to see how expensive diapers are (some as much as $20 each!)and how many of them you need (up to 30), not to mention, they may not even fit your child and then how would you return them?
Luckily, some lady you know tangentially from a message board you're both on, is selling her stash of used diapers. At first, this seems gross. Eww, you would never buy used underwear for yourself! Let alone the princess of your heart. But then you think you could bleach everything, disinfect it, and at least get some questions answered and look at it all in person before buying. So, you end up spending $100 on a bunch of covers, diapers with snaps, and "doublers", and getting sent away with some of the lady's special washing detergent and advice. You bleach everything, wash on hot a bunch of times, let it dry in the sunlight, and later learn that bleaching was a big no-no. You try it and some of it works pretty well, but not the covers (latex! horrors! the diaper rash is getting worse, not better!)
Eventually, you decide to try the "AIOs", or all-in-ones, which are also sold only online (or maybe in stores in say, Woodstock, Vermont but not Los Angeles!) and look a bit confusing. But luckily, another woman on the message board who lives nearby is selling some used ones which her kid never even wore, or at least, only "tried a few times". Confusion on that point. Anyway, you try these Fuzzi Bunz, spend $120 on 10 of them and like them much better than the other cloth ones. No pins, no latex covers, no leaks.
After a few weeks, though, a strange smell. Not unlike the odor of seashells brought home from the beach. After consultation with a diaper sales lady, one who sells brand new diapers and another person met on the same parenting message board, she told me that the previous owners of the diapers had accidentally washed them in Tide or some other not-recommended detergent. (Supposed to use Purex Free & Clear.) It was necessary to "strip" the diapers by washing them repeatedly in hot water with no detergent until the water was clear with no suds. This took care of the smell.
Hypothetical you is now doing laundry at minimum every two days, but things are going well, until a few leaks occur and suddenly, your pants are wet along with baby's, on your lap. Yeck! You learn about diaper doublers and life is okay again. Now life progresses with laundry every 1 or 2 days, to wash diapers as follows: 1 load of about 8-12 diapers, with inserts removed, on medium wash level with cold water and 1/4 cap of Purex Free & Clear, followed by a hot/cold cycle with no detergent. Then in the dryer (or very occasionally hung to dry on a hot day) on medium setting. When reassembled (put insert and doubler inside of diaper, line with disposable "hygenic cloths, pieces of thin foam from Denmark, to catch "solids") stash in diaper bag by changing table and all systems good to go!
I also discovered the "Bum Genius" brand, which adjusts from birth through toddlerhood. We bought 1 each in white, blue, and yellow. I want to keep them to use on eventual baby #2, and going with the Murphy's Law mentality that if I buy everything pink and frilly to pass on the the next baby, we will surely have a boy. Since I'd rather have another girl, buying more unisex/boy colors tips the Murphy's scale in favor of a second girl. ;)