How To Cloth Diaper in Costa Rica

2
1208

With today’s technology, cloth diapers can be found in any color or print, with several mechanical options.

Many parents of small children find themselves disgusted with the endless trash that disposable diapers contribute to the land fills. As first time parents, were so astonished with our newborn’s daily contribution, that we decided to find another way to handle this messy “business.”

We quickly found that there were modern cloth diapers out there, with a massive following. Now, after cloth diapering for years, we’ve finally settled on our personal favorite — the pocket diaper with snaps. Many different brands make this particular style, all with their own unique touch on the cloth diaper.

Cloth Diapering in a Developing Country

Upon moving to Costa Rica, I was unsure of how the move would affect my cloth diapering routine. Would I have access to a good washing machine and clothes dryer? Would I just start hang-drying my diapers, like I really should be doing? Would I be able to find the right laundry detergent for my brands of diapers?

It took me a few months, but I finally fell into a comfortable system with my cloth diaper stash in Costa Rica.

Washing Cloth Diapers

First, don’t worry about having an America Standard washing machine — the tico washers work just as well, and most short-term rentals are furnished with either type.

As every cloth diapering mother has her own particular wash routine, I have my own simple system: cold rinse, hot/cold cycle with a little detergent, then an extra rinse. Some friends in Costa Rica pour boiling water onto the rinsed diapers, for extra bacteria-fighting purposes, but I haven’t found that necessary.

To dry, I started to hang my diapers on the line, every time. I am ashamed to admit that while I had the luxury of a laundry dryer, I frequently threw the diapers in the machine out of pure laziness. What I needed to live greener was a real kick in the pants. The universe handed me a new house, without a dish washer or clothes dryer.

I found I didn’t mind the extra effort it takes to hang the clothes and diapers outside, accompanied by a symphony of birds. We enjoyed fresh, sunny mornings, so this routine has become something I actually take pleasure in.[quote_box_right]Check out more DIY money-saving tricks by reading: Simple DIY Tips that Benefit the Earth and Your Wallet.[/quote_box_right]

The hunt for the right laundry detergent was the most difficult hurdle in moving to Central America. I never did find a traditional “Free & Clear” detergent in the local grocery store. Luckily, I made friends with other mothers who cloth diaper, and they shared with me the exact recipe and how to find it in the Central Valley of Costa Rica.

Cloth Diaper Laundry Soap Recipe

  • 1 part Washing Soda (called soda ash and found at pool stores)
  • 1 part Borax (called acido borico and found in pharmacies)
  • 0.5 parts Oxiclean Vanish for colors

Once you hunt these ingredients down, you will have everything you need to continue cloth diapering in Costa Rica. Make sure to bring your stash from the States, however, because cloth diapers are not sold in this country. It is worth the extra baggage, I assure you. When you have your laundry on the line and no worry of buying another bag of disposables, you can relish your time in an ecologically-healthy country without handing it a daily bag of diaper-trash.

[quote_box_center]She’s a mother, blogger, and world traveler. Now Emily R-P Shea is the first columnist of our new section “The Great Escape” featuring articles written by a small handful of US expats who have some amazing stories to tell. From why they chose to live in Costa Rica to how to raise a more eco-friendly baby, The Great Escape will be a great reference as well as fascinating entertainment for all travelers who find themselves in paradise.[/quote_box_center]

  • Megan Patten

    The problem with your “Cloth Diaper Laundry Detergent Recipe” is that it’s not at all a detergent – it’s a soap. I am not from Costa Rica, nor have I ever been there, but what you are washing your diapers in is just softeners. They are not getting your diapers clean. I have no good alternative for you, but I highly suggest you do some research on http://www.fluffloveuniversity.com before you recommend to other people using this ‘Recipe’.

    • Thanks for the suggestion. The Great Escape column is an opportunity for regular travelers and expats to share their experiences in Costa Rica, what worked for them, what tips they can share.

      That said, after reading your comment I did do some of my own research and found that one major difference between soaps and detergents is that soaps are generally more natural and detergents tend to be more synthetic. Shea is one of our top eco-friendly writers here at TCRN, so assume that may have played a role in her choice to include the recipe above.