Mom Hacks Monday: Cloth Diaper Abacus

We have a little problem at our house.  It is a problem that I have been told, many a time, I should get over, because most moms would LOVE to have this problem.  However, I don’t like to have problems; I like to have solutions!  And so, after running into this problem for several weeks (years?) now, I finally came up with a workable solution to it.  And I found it to be so clever, that I thought I’d share with my lovely readers!  Perhaps some of you have the same problem, after all.

The problem that we run into at our house is that I am lucky enough to have a husband who understands that the house and its contents belong to all of us, and that taking care of it is everyone’s responsibility.  So, sometimes, he comes along to help me and does part of a job for me.  But, sometimes, he forgets to let me know where he was in the job when he stopped, and I am surprised later when I find the work partly done.  This happens very often with our diapers.  You see, cloth diapering requires its own special washing instructions.  One very important aspect is that the diapers need to be thoroughly rinsed to get out any soap residue, or any ammonia that is lingering in them.  Everyone who cloth diapers finds their own laundry system, through trial and error, that works with their particular diapers, machine, laundry soap, etc.  For our family, we wash the diapers once with our detergent, then run through two more complete cycles, sans detergent, before drying.  More than once (sometimes in a week), I have come to the washing machine to find a load of diapers in it that has obviously been through at least one cycle, but with no clue as to where in the process they were left.  And, most of the time, this happens when Papa is already at work, and often can’t answer his phone or a text to let me know where the diapers were in the routine.  And so, often, I sit on a pile of dirty laundry for quite a while, unable to continue my daily chores, because I’m not sticking my hands in and possibly pulling out a surprise if the diapers were only run once.  I equally abhor using the water to run them through several more loads knowing that there is equal probability that they have been washed completely and are ready to dry.

And this is so aggravating to me!  Usually, if Papa is washing the diapers, he starts them after I have gone to bed for the night, or before I get up in the morning.  Either way, I often don’t see him before he leaves for work in the morning, which means that there is no easy way for him to (remember) to tell me where the diapers were at.  What I needed was something that either of us could do to let the other know where the diapers were in the wash routine, even if we didn’t see one another in-between.

I came up with the Diaper Abacus!!!

For this project, I used 1 piece of floral wire, 3 wooden spools (although beads would work just as well), 2 small nails, 2 clothes pins, and some paper.  I simply bent the wire into a U shape, with a double coil at either lower end, to hold the paper.  These look like the bottom of a safety pin, and the paper slips between the coils.  Before putting on the second coil, I slipped the spools over the wire. Then I put the two nails in the wall above the washer and wrapped the wire around them.  The paper I labelled “Washed” and “Needs” and I tucked one into each coil, and clothespinned them to be sure they wouldn’t fall out.  And, ta-da!  Now, when one of us loads the washer and turns it on, we can slide a spool over to the “Washed” side.  The next person who comes along can tell that the diapers still need 2 more cycles.  If they start a new cycle, they can slide a spool across.  And when I come downstairs in the morning, I can see whether the diapers are just where I left them, or ready for something else.  Magic!

As a side note, I think this would also be a great solution for moms who are just so busy that it is hard to keep track of how many cycles the diapers have been through.


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