WHY USE CLOTH?
Cloth diapers and reusable personal products like feminine pads are much more economical, eco-friendly, cleaner, healthier, and comfortable than disposable paper products. Why? Disposable products are expensive, full of chemicals, do not breathe, and are just uncomfortable. Once used and disposed of, they contain waste that create a conducive environment for the growth of bacteria right in the trash can and take many years to biodegrade. The diapers and pads themselves take hundreds of years to biodegrade as they are made of plastic, a synthetic material full of chemicals. The old term "sanitary napkins" is a misnomer, they are anything but.
Cloth diapers, pads, and other reusable products do not contain any synthetic substances like plastics, chemicals, or fragrances. They can be made from simple materials that can be found at home, in thrift stores and at yard sales, or from the fabric store. Only a one-time purchase needs to be made. Even when you invest a bit up front you save so much money down the line. All of these factors make cloth pads much more healthy, green and economical than throw-away products.
They are much cleaner and healthier as well. Cloth breathes and thus reusable cloth items are not near as likely to have an unpleasant smell like disposable products do. Rather than throwing waste in a trash that festers first in your own home and then in a landfill, you dispose of it properly (in the toilet, where it goes) and then wash your cloth. You are not exposing sensitive body parts to the chemicals emitted by plastic. Because of this cloth diapers and feminine pads have a distinct advantage. Babies allergic to disposable diapers can wear cloth with no problems. Many women using cloth menstrual pads report that their menses become lighter and shorter and in general much more pleasant. A soft, pretty cloth pad with no chemicals, fragrances, or leak issues makes that possible.
HOW TO USE CLOTH
There's not much of anything nicer than a fresh clean cloth diaper or pad. After use, rinse out the waste and wash! Storing dirty cloth until wash day is easy too. Place rinsed cloth in a waterproof container and wash in a day or two. In the interest of reusing/making the most of what we already have in our home, I store dirty cloth in one-gallon ice cream buckets. Wash with the detergent you normally use or even better, homemade detergent! To make detergent use 2 cups borax and 2 cups washing soda to one grated up bar of Ivory soap or castille soap, mix together, store in airtight container, use one tablespoon or so per large load. You can wash pads and diapers together, or if you don't have a baby in diapers, you can wash your pads with the regular laundry.
Here are more detailed instructions about washing cloth diapers, written for my blog Money-Saving WAHM.
USING/CARING FOR GEM CLOTH PRODUCTS
GEM Cloth pads and diapers are super easy to use and care for because they are all cotton! The entire diaper is 100 percent cotton. The entire pad except for the fleece back is also 100 percent cotton. The backs of the pads are fleece/polyester, which is water-resistant and prevents leaks. I use recycled cotton materials whenever they are available. New diapers and pads should be washed before use. Everything has been washed by me before sewing it up but it has been handled quite a bit. Also another washing will help increase absorbency. When wearing pads, the cotton side (usually it's the print side) should face up toward you and the fleece side goes down, and wearing snugger-fitting underwear helps keep the pad in place. For both pads and diapers, rinse immediately after use and store for wash day. The diapers need no special washing care because they are all cotton and there are no closures. Just use whatever detergent you have (I recommend homemade or eco-friendly with few ingredients) and dry in the dryer or hang dry. The pads can be washed either with diapers, clothing, or by themselves and dried in the dryer.
If you have further questions about using or caring for GEM Cloth items or cloth items in general, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to help.
MAKING YOUR OWN
It's very easy to make your own reusable products. You can obtain cotton materials from your own linen closet, from yard sales and thrift stores or from the fabric store. Here are a few links you can refer to for making cloth pads and diapers. More information can be found simply by searching on the Internet.