Cloth Diapering 101

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, the thought of cloth diapering crossed my mind many times, but after receiving hundreds upon hundreds of disposables at my baby shower and up to the birth, those are what became normal for us. Once we had worked through a lot of our stock I started looking around at different sites, trying to figure out how the heck to get started. What diaper style do you want? All In One (AIO)? Pocket? Prefolds and covers? Then you have to decide what material you want your inserts or prefolds to be: cotton, cotton/hemp, bamboo, bamboo/hemp, microfiber, fleece, wool….the list goes on. Next comes accessories and detergents-because you can’t use just any detergent on cloth diapers or it can cause all sorts of issues like leaking, separating of the PUL (the waterproof fabric) and loss of absorbency to name a few. Then I saw the prices. Holy crap! I thought this was supposed to save me money, not cost me an arm and a leg?! After deciding that we needed to hold off for a bit and save some money to make a bigger first-time purchase, I went to the store and bought another case of disposables and kind of just pushed aside my desires for a cloth diapered booty.

Then one day a friend of mine posted her sons outgrown cloth diapers for sale on facebook and I thought “this is it!” but unfortunately, we just didn’t have the spare cash at the time, so I politely had to refuse. About a week and half go by without another word about it when my doorbell rings and I open it to find the UPS man holding a large box and I had not ordered anything. I opened the box and there they were, my friends old stash of prefolds, covers and extra absorbent liners. My son was about eight months old sporting his very first cloth diaper. We received about two dozen prefolds with the extra absorbent microfiber liners to pair with each prefold, as well as somewhere around twenty covers.

The first few weeks were really trial and error for us because we weren’t sure where to snap, or how to fold for optimum absorption, and we didn’t know you were supposed to double up for night time heavy-wetters, so we dealt with a lot of leaks, but eventually we got the hang of it and Gabriel handled the switch wonderfully.  A lot of people recommend buying several different styles at first so you can test them out and find your favorite.. I couldn’t afford to do this, but it is definitely an option.

When it comes to purchasing your first set of diapers, it’s really important to decide what style is going to fit your lifestyle the best. If there are going to be multiple people changing your baby, ie: daycare, babysitter, grandparents, siblings, etc., then I would recommend getting pockets or AIO’s. With pockets you can fold and stuff them before leaving, and the AIO’s are pre-stuffed to ensure the person watching your child puts the diaper on correctly and with ease. If you are looking for the least expensive way to get started, then I would recommend prefolds and covers. You can find SO MANY different brands, styles, colors, etc. for the covers, and you only have to wash them when baby poops…or if it starts to smell I suppose haha so you don’t need to buy as many as you would if you were purchasing AIO’s or pockets, and prefolds are cheap. If you decide to go this route, I usually purchase my prefolds and inserts from because she has a wide variety, as well as reviews on all fabric blends, and for covers I prefer Thirsties brand one-size, with snap closures. I personally prefer snap closure no matter what style cover because velcro loses its grip over time and doesn’t keep it’s nice appearance as well. I got my Thirstie’s covers from, but I have also purchased a few covers from local stores just to try, and also, more regularly, I purchase covers from a friend that is quite handy with a sewing machine…so if you are good at sewing or know someone that is, you can save yourself ALOT of money by just buying the fabric and making your own diapers. There are tons of youtube videos to show you how, I just lack the basic sewing machine knowledge 🙂

As far as accessories go, there are so many options out there to make your cloth diapering experience easier, from wetbags and pails for storage, to a sprayer that hooks to your toilet for easy poop removal, to biodegradable liners that go between baby and diaper to catch poop so you can just flush it away. So, to anyone that says it’s too much work, it really doesn’t have to be. I have included my cloth diaper safe detergent recipe at the bottom as well as washing instructions. Some people have said they don’t use oxi-clean, but I have been using this recipe with this washing cycle for my entire cloth diaper history with no problems. (always read washing instructions when purchasing cloth diapers, some companies will void your warranty if you don’t do exactly as their instructions say)
We have now cloth diapered and potty trained two boys, and our little girl is nine months old and currently still in cloth diapers. I truly believe that cloth diapering helped our boys potty train easier, I’m not sure why, but I was always told that boys were tricky to potty train, and G potty trained in one week, at just over two years old, and J potty trained by choice when he was just 22 months old…two month shy of his second birthday!

Other diapers we have experience with are: BumJoy pockets-we didn’t really care for these because they are bulky and we had issues with leaking, GDiapers-not a fan only because you still have to purchase inserts regularly, and currently A is wearing a combination of the Thirstie’s and homemade covers paired with organic, unbleached cotton/hemp blend prefolds, and Fuzzibunz one-size pocket diapers with a mixture of cotton and microfiber inserts. I have more cotton inserts than I do microfiber, but I feel that the microfiber ones actually absorb better.

I keep dirty diapers in a Planetwise brand wetbag (also from, or if on sale) in my garage and I wash diapers about every two days. Covers go in a separate pail to be washed in warm/cool water only. The bigger your stash, the less often you have to wash. However, you don’t want to let your dirty diapers sit for more than three days or so because you will have issues with stink, as well as possible ammonia burn on baby next time he/she pees. If you notice an ammonia smell after baby pees, then you need to strip your diapers. (see below) If you are having issues with leaking, check to make sure you are fastening tight enough, but not too tight. Over tightening can also cause leaks because if the diaper is too tight, there can be creases in the leg gussets. If you have a heavy-wetter I would recommend doubling up on inserts or adding an insert on top of your prefold. I also purchased a travel wetbag that cinches closed for on-the-go.

Once a month or so diapers need to be “stripped”. This is just a process of removing all soap or urine build-up and rinsing throroughly. First I do a cold rinse cycle to remove bulk of urine, then I use 2TBSP of original blue dawn and wash diapers in a super hot wash with two cold rinses. You want to rinse until there are no more bubbles. During the summer, I like to “sun” my diapers. The sun is a natural antibacterial that will take away any smells or stains that may have been acquired and saves power! I will sun my diapers instead of using my dryer, all summer long. I’ve read that you can also boil diapers to strip them, but I have never done it that way.

Washing instructions
prefolds and inserts:
start with cold rinse, then hot wash with 1-2oz soap (recipe below)
depending on size and soil level, then another cold rinse.
rinse any poop off before putting in pail
short or gentle cycle
cool/luke warm water
small amount of soap depending on how many covers in load

Diaper soap recipe
Are you ready for this? It’s kind of complicated….

Equal parts Borax, Washing Soda (NOT baking soda) and Oxi-clean free

I mix it all together in a big ziploc then pour into one of those old plastic formula tubs with the scoop in the lid-did you know that the scoop is exactly 1oz? I got the tub from a friend. That’s it! Told you it was complicated 🙂

Making the switch or starting fresh with cloth diapers can be very overwhelming, please feel free to comment or message us with any questions!!


Leave a Reply