Cloth diapering 101: an intro

Photo from Susannah Paul

I get quite a few emails from readers asking for my opinion on cloth diapering. From handling the up-front cost to the cleaning to the poop, making the switch cloth diapers can feel overwhelming before you take the plunge. Since this blog focuses on making things simpler at home, it’s an honest question–do cloth diapers really make life easier?

There’s so much information to cover, I thought it best to make an entire week of Cloth Diapering 101, where we’ll discuss the multiple cloth diapering choices, dispel the common myths behind them, share a step-by-step process for dealing daily with cloth diapers, and give honest reviews of different brands. We’ll end with a comprehensive list of useful links to make switching to cloth diapering easier, along with a little giveaway for some of the best brands in cloth diapers!

What Cloth Diapering 101 is Not About

The last thing I want to do is discourage a parent and make them feel not up to par. If you’ve made a conscious choice to go with disposable diapers, that’s okay by me. We still combo diaper–based on where we live, it’s much easier to get out for the day in disposables. So this week is not meant to make those of you who choose to use disposable diapers feel badly.

But I do encourage you to make a deliberate choice, and don’t assume disposables are the best choice without investigating your options. I’m new to cloth diapering, mostly because I just didn’t take the time to look into cloth diapering. I wish I looked into it sooner! Thinking about the money we could have saved makes me cringe.

No matter your decision, make it a well-informed one, and don’t write off cloth diapers without first learning more about them.

A Newbie’s Guide to Cloth Diapering

As I mentioned, I’m rather new to cloth diapering. I hesitated for the longest time, mostly because it seemed like so much work. There’s scores of information on the internet, and much of it is contradictory–pocket diapers are better than prefolds! But prefolds are the true economical choice! Cloth diapers are worse for the environment because of the water use! No wait–it’s worse to throw away human waste into our landfills!

It’s hard to sort through it all.

From my experience, I learned that in taking the plunge and just trying some sort of cloth diapering choice, you’ll learn quite a bit rather quickly. You’ll find what works for you, because it turns out there’s lots of ways to cloth diaper, and no one way is the right way. You’ll get a feel for what works best for your babies bodies and your budget, and you can slowly add to your cloth diapering system, as your pocketbook and needs allow.

Don’t let all those strange words and acronyms confuse you (PUL, AIO, and DSQ, anyone?). Find the answers to your questions, and ask the mamas who seem to be cloth diapering experts for sage advice. Be careful for those CD evangelists, though–they’re out there!

I know you all have your cloth diapering opinions, and that’s good. But I encourage you to spend this week either re-affirming your choice to cloth diaper, learning more about the CD process and making a decision to go cloth, or rest assuredly that disposable diapers are the best for you.

What are your biggest cloth diapering questions or issues?

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. I’ve waffled so much on this issue. With both my girls I’ve cloth diapered in one way or another. Baby one was PUL covers and prefolds. Baby two was an investment in expensive pocket diapering system that never really worked well and led to frustration, which ultimately led to disposables for most of the first year. Now we’re back to where we started with PUL’s and prefolds.

    I so agree with what you say about testing a few things out to find what works best for you and your family. And giving yourself permission to be green in other ways and use disposables isn’t a bad thing either.

    Thanks for bringing the subject to light either way.

    heather jane´s last blog post…Go Local- Week One- Scenes From the Market

  2. I wish I would have cloth diapered both my kids, but I am glad I took the plunge with my second. After I started, I honestly thought it was so much easier than I anticipated. I started with prefolds , pins, and pull on covers (mostly to save investment $$ because I thought I might not like it) and now use prefolds and covers, no pins usually. There are some great finds on CL and Diaperswappers if someone wants to get started with minimal investment. I have a small stash and I find laundering to be very easy.

  3. I used cloth for the first year of my parenting career, until son Number 2 came along and I had a 13-month-old and a 6-month-old AND a new house to keep up with.

    But if I ever had another single baby again, I would definitely go back to cloth. They really were not that much work – I enjoyed knowing I was helping the environment a little.


    steadymom´s last blog post…An International Traveler

  4. My biggest issues would be the extra laundry it creates. Will washing dirty diapers ruin my new washing machine (which is silly, but I love my new machine!). Will it create a stench in my house from a bucket of dirty diapers and will my spouse be supportive? Will it work for us when we are on-the-go a lot?

    We are having our 3rd boy in three weeks and I’ve been really interested in cloth diapering, but haven’t really done any research yet. I only have memories of my mom using cloth diapers on my little brothers. This topic comes at a great time for me. Thanks Tsh!

    • Dirty, poopy diapers will not ruin your washer. I have heard that so many times from friends wondering how we can wash our diapers in the same machine as our regular clothes. If you went to use my washer right now, you would never know I wash my diapers in there.

      As far as the diaper pail goes, we use a covered garbage can with a wet bag inside so we don’t have to wash the pail out. We have never had an issue with the smell, and believe me, when “diaper night” comes at our house, the bag can get pretty smelly – it just doesn’t leave the pail!

      I would recommend buying one each of a few different styles/brands of diapers that you are most interested in and trying them out. See what you like and don’t like and decide if you want to cloth diaper full time or part time. I will tell you one of my top benefits of using cloth diapers – no diaper rash. My dd has never had diaper rash! Plus, I can only imagine that soft cloth feels better on their little behinds than paper 🙂

      Laura L´s last blog post…Unity KOM Blog Hop

      • I always think that comment from others about not wanting to put poopy things in their machines. I mean, do they wash the clothes that get poop, pee or vomit on them in their machine? And I find it really hard to believe that none of their children’s clothes or sheets have ever gotten poop, pee, vomit, or something equally gross from outside on it!

        Mama Bird´s last blog post…Say What?!

    • Caroline says:

      I used cloth diapers for my twins and thought it was easier and less smelly than disposable. I tried it because they both had reactions to disposable diapers and was very pleasantly surprised. First, regarding your washer, you will not even be able to tell that you’ve washed diapers.

      My daughters are six now, so I’ve forgotten a lot of the terms. We started with prefolds and bumkins covers. We then moved into Kissaluvs with wool covers for day and Fuzzi Bunz and a hemp liners at night. We used Bumkins All-in-ones for going out. (You can find detailed product information and reviews at There are so many new products available now that look really cool – i really wish some had been available when my daughters were in diapers. All of these had elastic around the legs and either velcro or snaps – I never used pins – ever. I also never had leaks.

      I used a dry pail and washed a load every other day. It was pretty easy because they don’t require any folding. You do use more water, but you’re not using chemicals or filling the landfills. I started with one cycle in cold water and no detergent so that I wouldn’t have to rinse them. (For older babies and toddlers, it’s best to dump the extra poo in the toilet before tossing in the pail, but I never rinsed – I didn’t want to handle dirty diapers any more than absolutely necessary.) I then added detergent and washed in hot water. I added vinegar to the my machine’s fabric softener compartment.

      I thought it was so much more convenient than having to keep track of whether we had disposables and needed to go to the store. If we have more, I would definitely cloth diaper again.

      • What does the vinegar do?

        • Vinegar works as a softener, and if I understand correctly, also as a scent remover. My sister-in-law uses vinegar in her softener dispenser for every load she does. She doesn’t do diapers. But I am planning to try it with pre-folds when our baby comes in November.

  5. Awesome! Looking forward to your thought about cloth diapers..

    Lisa´s last blog post…Free Patterns for Cloth Diapers

  6. I cloth diapered my oldest using a variety of everything–prefolds, AIOs, pockets, you name it. I loved it! BUT, I had twins when he was a year old, and couldn’t keep up with the diaper laundry with three in diapers, plus spit up laundry, etc (both babies had reflux). So I switched to paper diapers. Now that the babies are a year old and not spit-uppy, my new goal is to reduce paper diaper usage by one diaper per kid per day by using cloth. I still have three in diapers, so I’m not switching all the way back, but that’s my compromise for the moment and I’m happy with it.

  7. I just wanted to add that if you don’t think Cloth Diapers are for you and you want to help the environment that you can order “going green” diapers as did my Sis and BIL – if you want to know where and what brand just let me know and I will get info for you.

    Have a great day and best wishes on making a decision that is good for you and your family,


  8. bluestar says:

    I’m about to have my first baby (due June 22nd!) and we really wanted to cloth diaper. On the advice of some of my mom’s friends, who cloth diapered their kids, we’ve decided to sign up with a diaper service for four weeks. The advice was, get a diaper service at first, and then slowly taper off the service and build up your own stockpile. This way, when you first bring baby home, you aren’t trying to learn how to deal with a newborn and all the stresses of that in addition to doing a lot more laundry than you were before. Kind of lets you ease into the cloth diapering thing.

    Who knows whether it’s true, but to my already nervous and tired brain it sounds good! We were fortunate enough to find a diaper service in our area that allows you to change the number you receive each week, and the price of using the service is still cheaper than using disposables (and we would have been spending a good deal on laundering the diapers if we’d done it ourselves anyway since we live in an apartment with access to coin operated laundry only).

    I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of this series!

  9. I love cloth diapers! I switched my first son when he was 18mths. Late, but still worth it and my only regret is not doing it sooner. With my other son, we started from day one.

    I fully agree that you have to try different diapers and find what works best for you. What was best for my first son wasn’t the best for my second. And my second son has already gone through a couple different ‘bests’ in a year as his body shape changed.

    And cloth diapers don’t have to be all or nothing!!! So many people seem to think that if they choose cloth, they can’t ever use a disposable again. We still use them when out and at night (and when MIL babysits!). The pressure of being exclusive can turn people off, when there is no reason for it (although you may find you choose cloth first when presented with the choice!).

    Also, a trick for the diaper pail I’ve found is to leave the lid off. I find it stinks way less when there is good air circulation. I wash every second night (sometimes third), and it’s way better smell wise then when I was having to quickly open the lid to stuff the diaper in.

    Thanks for the 101, I’m sure a lot more people would use cloth if they knew how truly easy they are and how many choices are out there (not like 40 yrs ago when my MIL was doing it!).

    Jennifer´s last blog post…I’m a gardener!

  10. My biggest issue is daycare. I am not a stay at home mom and so cloth diapers will not work for me while my child is at daycare. So I guess I am wondering is it worth it for me to try while I have him at home on the weekends and at night time? Or just stick to disposable?

    • Our daycare provider also does not allow cloth diapers. I have been switching between cloth and disposables with our six month old son since he was 12 weeks old and so far it isn’t an issue. We just make sure to put a disposable diaper on him in the morning before daycare and then switch back to cloth in the afternoon. My son doesn’t seem to mind at all. We also use disposable diapers when we go on weekend trips. So far, we’ve only had to buy about four boxes of disposable diapers, which is so much less than if we’d went with dispososables only. I figure that we are still saving money in the long run. We’re also cutting down so much on the waste that we throw out. Good luck in making your decision!

      • Unfortunately, I’m with Kristin. Our daycare provider won’t use cloth diapers. Our son developed a preference for the paper diapers at daycare. I have no idea why since cloth seems more comfortable to me. He fusses and tugs at the cloth diapers when we switch him back over. I’m really bummed about it, but our daycare is one of the best in the city and I’d rather have a good daycare than cloth diapers. I still don’t understand why they won’t use them! But we did save money and reduce our waste during the 9 months we used cloth.

  11. I\’m a working mom and used disposables for both of my kids because they had to have them for daycare…and because at that time of my life it wasn\’t a big priority for me. But priorities have shifted and even though my kids are both potty trained, I have a 4-year old that can\’t stay dry all night. And I\’m starting to feel guilty about the pull-up that goes into the trash every morning. Any suggestions for older kids\’ nighttime needs? Is there a non-disposable option that will work for them without being a gigantic uncomfortable wad of cloth that leaks?

  12. We have cloth diapered our 17 month old since getting home from the hospital. We did have lots of questions like, what about the cord (we used grandma knitted wool soakers and prefolds so we were able to fold the tops down easily to avoid that).

    We use mostly pocket/stuffable diapers now and the prefolds as backups. Why? Well once our little one started crawling it was REALLY hard to use pins, a snappi, etc to secure the prefolds. We began to love the ease and speed of velcro when it came to changing diapers.

    Also, this is gross but true, once she started eating more and more solids, it was much easier to shake the poo into the toilet using a pocket diaper than the prefolds. I think it is because the pocket diaper has a fleece or other non absorbent layer next to the body instead of cotton.

    My opinion of cloth diapers may change once I get pregnant again since any and all smells made me hurl with this last pregnancy, but for now I love them, and don’t think they are inconvenient just different from disposable.

    Rebecca´s last blog post…

  13. What timing! We received some money for our new baby and I have set it aside to buy cloth diapers but I am at a loss. Normally I would choose the cheapest route because of our limited income but that may not be the best. I’ve put it off (switching to CD) but I really need to make a decision. Biggest concerns are the laundry and cost.

  14. Great post! We started cloth because my son had bad rashes with disposables and then fell in love with all the colors and styles. My second son has never touched a disposable diaper.

    Kim Webb´s last blog post…Check out our new look!

  15. I live in an apartment complex with “community” coin-op washing machines. Will my neighbors hate me if I am always taking poopy diapers to the community washers? And will the fact that I have to haul all of the cloth diapers to the machines instead of being able to just wash them in my home be really irritating?

  16. Jamie- if you use a diaper sprayer, there really isn’t that much poop left to wash off. I don’t think anyone will even know what you are washing, honestly. And if they were to ask, you may even get a convert. I know everyone is curious about my son’s cloth, but once they learn about them they start thinking about doing it themselves.

    Kim Webb´s last blog post…Check out our new look!

  17. We have doing a hybrid type of cloth diapering called g diapers

    We do cloth inserts at home and flushable inserts on the go. It is the best of both worlds. I hesitated moving into cloth inserts for awhile because of the gross and washing factor but now that I’ve made the switch I wish I had moved on it a lot sooner….it’s so easy and not that gross. I would highly recommend getting a diaper sprayer and Bac-out…those are my two must-haves.
    I do use night time Huggies at night though…can’t seem to figure out how to stop the leaks with cloth.

    For some cloth diapers work for their lifestyles for others not…cloth diapering does not make me a better mother than one who chooses disposables.

    lisa´s last blog post…The Girls In Their Summer Dresses

  18. My question: Am I harming anything in my stash by washing my cotton prefolds, hemp inserts, microfiber inserts, and BG diapers all together?

    Melanie´s last blog post…and exhale…

    • Not as far as I know – we wash our hemp prefolds, bamboo inserts, cotton inserts, and fleece pockets all together. No issues yet!

  19. Tsh – great subject!!

    I love cloth diapering – and have become quite the CD evangelist! I think most people have the idea that CDing is flat diapers, wet pails, pins, and rubber pants. Not true! Even my husband now touts the power of the cloth diaper for saving time & money!

    There are so many great places to buy diapers online. But I am also a huge fan of purchasing handmade diapers. It supports other WAHMs and increases the sustainability of CDing even more! Here is an article I wrote on the increasing popularity of handmade cloth diapers for

    tara g´s last blog post…HiP Announcements

  20. I’m considering cloth diapering if we have a third child, but I know NO ONE (well, no one locally) who cloth diapers. I don’t know where to begin, but I’m mainly concerned about having diapers sitting around in a diaper pail and being smelly….

    RLR´s last blog post…The Many Days of Summer

  21. We’re expecting our first (my 3rd) in January and I really want to look into cloth diapers. My husband is concerned about washing the dirty diapers in the same washer as our other clothes…I think he gets the money-saving and chemical-free aspects, but the cleaning is his (and my) biggest issue. Thanks so much for covering this now!

  22. We decided to cloth diaper baby #2 – and even convinced our church’s childcare center to use them! We’ve opted for the simplest kind of diaper on earth – an All-in-One bumGenius. It’s worked out nicely for many reasons, but our dilemma is this: All-in-Ones only go up 30 pounds. If our daughter is anything like our son, she’ll need a different diaper before we get to potty training.

    What do you do when you’ve graduated from your favorite diaper, but it is too soon to break out the training pants?!

  23. Great questions and thoughts, guys! Just so you know, a LOT of the things you’ve all brought up will be covered this week. So stay tuned! 🙂

  24. I don’t have kids yet, but when we DO, I really want to try cloth diapering, for lots of the reasons mentioned already. My question is, is it possible to CD if you work outside the home? Has anyone found a daycare that allows CD, or do you use disposables for daycare and CD at home? I can’t wrap my head around how that might work!

    Becky´s last blog post…Nintendo Wii/iPod Nano Giveaway at Christian PF!

  25. I’m really looking forward to this discussion this week. It couldn’t come at a better time for me because I recently started sewing cloth diapers for my 9 month old son and I’m trying to figure out how many to make, whether I should make more pocket diapers or just fitted diapers with diaper covers, etc. It’s all a little confusing to me, but I really want to try cloth diapers on him.

  26. I’m so glad this week will be about cloth diapering! Hopefully I will learn some helpful tips. I have tried to do cloth diapers with my son, but I had to stop because he developed horrible diaper rash. When he wears disposables, he never has a rash. Then the moment I put cloth diapers on him, he gets red and irritated and if I don’t stop using them, he even starts to scab! I wash them according to the directions, my detergent has no dyes or perfumes, I change the diapers frequently when he wears them so he’s never sitting in wet cloth, and I’ve tried to go through periods of using them several times….but he still always gets the rash. I was really disappointed when this happened because we invested in Bum Genius and I would prefer to use the cloth. I just can’t justify putting him through that pain though, so I only put him in disposable now.

  27. Thanks for doing this series. We are a “half and half” family – cloth at home and disposables at daycare, at night, and sometimes when we’re out. I find that I go in cycles when I’m more motivated to stick with cloth and times when I’m buying more disposables, but always glad we’ve GIVEN OURSELVES FLEXIBILITY to use what works best for us along the way.

  28. As far as the smelly pail goes, cloth diapers don’t have chemical components so there’s nothing with which your baby’s waste reacts. It cuts down on the smell dramatically! Our dry pail lives in the “laundry room” half of our very small kitchen. All our friends think it’s a storage pail of some sort and are FLOORED when we tell them it’s a diaper pail. You practically have to stick your nose in the open pail to smell it. Just make sure you’re not using too much detergent and getting a soap residue, THAT can get super smelly!

    • This is definitely the truth. Before I discovered Soapnuts, I used traditional laundry detergent, just because you can’t get natural laundry soap here. My son’s diapers started getting really stinky until we used the Soapnuts. It’s been no problem since!

  29. I’m interested in returning to cloth diapers, but it’s coming up to what will be a hot, sticky summer where we live, and we have an active toddler. I want to know what the options are for light-weight cloth diapers that still do the job.
    I’m also interested in whether people who started cloth diapers later had to buy a whole new set of outer pants to fit over the diapers – it’s another cost consideration for me.

    • I actually have not had a problem with the extra padding in the pants. Our son is a slim guy, so that may have something to do with it, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that his pants fit more or less the same wearing a cloth or a sposie.

  30. i worry that cloth diapering will be easier when they are newborns and breastfeeding. but once solid food comes into play and the messes become more intense, i’m afraid i’ll regret the decision. any advice on the whole 2-3 years of cloth diapering?? thx 🙂

    sammyw´s last blog post…fern…

  31. I started out CDing our oldest (now six) but she was very rashy and had to be changed constantly, even in disposables. I’ve just gotten back around to thinking about it with our third, so I’ll be interested to read your series!
    xo, Amanda @

    Amanda @´s last blog post…Mid-Spring Busy-ness

  32. Aimee we are in TX and I have never had a problem with the heat. A plastic disposable gets hotter than any cloth diaper. I even put my kids in wool sometimes and it’s pretty breathable.

    And as far as having to size up clothing, if you pick a trim diaper you won’t have to size up. We use pockets with a hemp insert and it’s as trim as a sposie.

    Kim Webb´s last blog post…Check out our new look!

  33. Charissa says:

    I love cloth diapering and so does my husband. I work part-time out of home and hubby works from the house, so he does a good bit related to diapering and washing. I forget how blessed I am to have his help sometimes with the diapers – not everyone has that support. It has also been a big help because the daycare has been super supportive of the cloth system. The older ladies love to see “how far the diapers have come”! We use a one size system with covers (mother-ease) and only have trouble with night time leaks maybe once a month. Can’t wait to see what other contributions I can make to the conversation this week.

  34. We have CD’d since my son was 3 weeks old. I really don’t find the two extra loads of laundry per week to be that bad. I love it and I love not spending money on disposables. And I am always excited to learn more so I look forward to this week’s theme! 🙂

    E´s last blog post…Thoughts on so-called “Extended Breastfeeding”

  35. I’m so excited to read this week’s articles. We use cloth at home and disposables when we’re out. We are now expecting our second child and will us cloth again although I must admit that ‘baby’ number one (two and a half years old) is going to potty train come hell or high water or even her general disinterest in the process. Our biggest problem has been fine tuning our cleaning methods to sync with our changing well water…

  36. I have tried a number of things — fitteds, prefolds, pockets. My leaning right now is towards a few fitteds with snaps that fit really well and prefolds trifolded into a thirsties cover. I am going to be trying a new AIO I’ve heard a lot about when it arrives in the mail this week. 🙂

    Allegra´s last blog post…New Pouches in the Shop

  37. I have no idea what those acronyms mean, even though I’ve cloth diapered all three of my girls. We just bought the simplest, cheapest cloth diapers and some vinyl covers so they don’t leak and bam, they’re diapered. So, I guess I’d wanna know what those acronyms are and…how can I sew my own cloth diapers w/out buying expensive fabrics and materials to do it.

    Jessie Stimpson´s last blog post…Cool Site

  38. Ahhh, I’ve been anticipating these posts from you since we have a baby girl due in a month, and we’re planning on cloth diapering. I’ve never done it before, and I do have some questions…
    A friend is letting us borrow all her diapers. Some Imse Wimse ones, some all-in-one (AIO) Thirsties, a few randoms, and we have a couple of gdiaper covers from our first baby that we want to use with cloth.
    My main questions are – which diaper cream brands don’t stain the diapers? – which detergents are good for cloth diapers? (we currently use Biokleen, with no dyes or frangrances), and what is the best way to store dirty diapers before laundering them? Our baby’s nursery is nowhere near the bathroom, and is on the second floor, actually in our room. We don’t want to be hauling dirty diapers downstairs to the bathroom in the middle of the night, but also don’t want our room to be stinky if we keep them upstairs overnight… any ideas for smell-proof storage that we can then deal with in the morning?
    Thanks for doing this!

    Briana´s last blog post…garden morning

    • Briana, we’re going to cover so many of your questions this week, so you’re in luck!

      It’s actually not the best idea to use diaper creams with CDs, but we still do from time to time. I’ve used D&H and Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, and neither of these stain.

      Detergents – again, we’ll get to these this week, but I love Soapnuts, and Charlie’s Soap and Allen’s are also popular choices. There are lots of options here.

      And you’ll probably be surprised how little they’ll smell once they’re in a diaper pail. With the lid on, I can’t smell a thing! I’d recommend keeping the diaper pail in your room, and in the morning, taking the bag inside to your laundry area.

  39. Wow! I can’t think of anything to add to the insights and questions here. I’ve been cloth diapering both full- and part-time since September 2005. I truly love it.

    The only concerns I’ve had along the way are finding clothes to fit over those cute cloth diaper bums. In the spring, summer, and early fall, it’s not problem because I have little girls and they can run around in dresses. In the winter it gets more challenging for me, so I usually switch back to disposables.

    Anyway, I am so looking forward to your cloth diaper series! Can’t wait to hear what has worked for you and is working for the other Simple Mom readers.

    Megan@SortaCrunchy´s last blog post…Setting the Record Straight: On Attachment Parenting

  40. Oh THANK YOU! I am so excited for this week, now. We ordered 5 diapers (AIO) from Etsy a few weeks ago, just to get our feet wet and see how it works (still waiting for them.) My biggest concern is kind of gross: poop. How to get it off the diaper? Swish in the toilet, scrape with TP, a plastic spoon….so gross to think about, but our nursing baby doesn’t make clean diapers!

    Myrnie´s last blog post…I Need Your Input!

    • I’m laughing just thinking about scraping off poop with a plastic spoon… Ew! 😉

      A diaper sprayer that you attach to the toilet is a beautiful thing. That gets almost all the poop off, let alone using a disposable diaper liner.

    • Is your baby only nursing? If so, you can just wash the diapers without rinsing or anything. BF poop is water soluble and will easily wash off your dipes. If you get some staining, just put them out in the sun for an afternoon.

      Lisa´s last blog post…Free Patterns for Cloth Diapers

  41. Whitney says:

    I honestly can’t imagine doing cloth just because I don’t know anyone who does it personally. That’s always a huge help with something like this. But I’m willing to learn. 🙂

    My questions are:
    1. What do you do with the poop? I like the convenience (only handle it once!) of a regular diaper. Do you have to find a toilet, then change them?

    2. What would really be helpful is a step by step process. Like “Son is stinky. I do this and then do this. If he has runny poop, then this happens. If we’re out, I do this.”

  42. We’ve been using the BumGenius one-size pocket diaper, and after eight months, they’re holding up pretty well. We use the diaper rinser (that tutorial on how to make your own is awesome, but the customer service when part of ours broke was great) and dry bag for the diaper pail.

    I am looking to stop using plastic bags to hold soiled diapers when we’re out and about, but am unsure what to use as a replacement. Also, our diaper pail has started to really smell, even though I take it outside and let it air out (not dry, as we’re in Florida and it’s too humid for that) each time we wash the diapers (every other day).

    The velcro tabs are really starting to curl, up and away from the loop side of the velcro, and the baby is starting to learn how to disengage himself from the diaper. (We keep him in a onesie, but he works through the cloth.) I think we’ll try getting velcro and cutting it in strips to cover the entire front of the diaper (as suggested here). For the short-term, when I put the inserts back in the diapers, I crease the tabs the other way before attaching them to the fuzzy front of the diaper and they grudgingly last a little longer.

    I would love to hear any advice! My favorite thing about cloth diapering is, having done the research and made the decision with my husband, proving my sister (“You should switch to disposables.”) and my mother wrong. My mother thought the BumGeniuses were too expensive (compared to prefolds), but then baby and I went to visit, and as soon as I got home my mother emailed me and asked me to email her friend (an expecting grandmother) all about “those wonderful diapers.”

  43. Funny I have a guest post today on cloth diapering, I almost choked on my breakfast when I saw your post title this morning! Haha.

    We have been part-time CDers with our second, and am interested to hear what you have in store for us this week, Tsh!

    Angie @ The Creative Mama´s last blog post…Cloth Diapering 101 + Giveaway!

  44. I loved cloth diapers with my daughter and when my son came around I felt a little over whelmed with doing cloth diapers at an apartment complex with coin operated laundry on the other side of the building. I decided to potty train my daughter sooner so that I would not have two in diapers. She was potty trained completely at two years and three months. She did not wear any pull-ups or night time diaper. So I felt better not having her in disposable too. With my son we went back and forth with cloth and disposable. I again just got tired of diapers and potty trained him at 21 months old in the same fashion. I always said just do the best that you can and don’t beat yourself up about it.
    Good luck mommies!

  45. I am a TOTAL newbie to the idea of cloth diapering, and might consider switching to CD for daytime home use for my 11 month old (second/last child). I’m trying to figure out the system where you use the disposable liners… do you line a regular cloth diaper with the disposable liner, then put the diaper cover over top of that? Seems that would dramatically reduce the smell. Do you even need a diaper pail, or does the liner not catch everything?

    Randa Clay´s last blog post…Judgement

    • You have the liner touch the skin, so it’s the inner-most layer, if that makes sense. Then you diaper as normal – whip on a pocket or AIO, or prefold or fitted and cover/wrap.

      As far as it catching everything… I’d say the liner catches 75% of the poop. It catches all the poop a little more than half the time. So yeah, you do need a diaper pail for storage, because they’ll remain dirty until wash day.

      But I always say that it’s the POOP that’s smelly and gross, not the type of diaper. I really don’t feel like I deal with poop in a cloth any more than I do with a disposable. It’s stinky in either type. 🙂

  46. I’d love for you to review LolliDoo Diapers, if you are so inclined please send me an email with your name and address and I will send you some diapers.

  47. Jennifer says:

    I have been more seriously considering to moving to cloth now that my daughter has completely solid poop. The swishing in the toilet or spraying kind of put me off a little bit. But I’m interested if you have any advice for someone with communal laundry (is that gross for other users?, what if I don’t have much control over the machine, no extra rinses, etc). And also for people that use daycare? Most likely I’d start cloth diapering myself for a while before I tried to get daycare on board. I think she’d do it but I want to make sure I know what I’m doing first.

  48. I love using cloth diapers. I am always trying out new ones and experimenting with what works and what doesn’t. Maybe someday I will reach that illusive…”stash nirvana”

    Shannon´s last blog post…Initial review of BumGenius OS 3.0

  49. My 21 month old daughter has been in BumGenius since she was 3 months old. We use disposables sometimes when we’re out & at night. To be honest, I’ve been a little disappointed with them lately, as we are having some serious issues with leaks. Maybe it’s because she’s getting bigger and has become a “super soaker”? Sometimes she completely soaks through them within 20 minutes of changing her. It is so frustrating to have to change her clothes 4 times a day because she’s leaked so badly. We use the diaper doublers (extra insert) but they make the diaper so bulky! I would love some advice on CD for toddlers as well as ideas for cloth training pants.

    • What kind of BumGenius? Are they all-in-one (there’s is called 3.0) or a pocket?

      • Andrea R says:

        We use the one-size pocket diapers by BumGenius.

        • Any chance she’s ready for the potty during the day? My son started asking to go on the potty at 20 months and was fully day-time potty trained within the next three weeks. He’s still in ‘sposies at night and during naps, although after naps, he’s dry 80+% of the time.

  50. The only issue I have is getting pants over my 7 mo’s bubble bum. She’s chubby, with huge rolly legs (love ’em!!)… add the diaper, and most pants are way too tight. Even going up a couple sizes doesn’t help – and if we go too big, the pants are way too long.
    I’ve considered sewing some basic knit pants, but haven’t researched patterns yet. If anyone has any, do share! Thx!

  51. When I decided to CD our 4th baby I stumbled across a resource for the night time bedwetters. My older dear sons still wet at night and I hated that we were spending so much on the Good Night Pull-Ups , often we were using two per night per kid! Too spendy!!!

    btw, I have been CD our 4wk old baby for the past 3 weeks and LOVE it, it is so easy!!!

    So I got a stash of these Happy Heiny’s Pocket Trainers. They come in sizes up to XXL, 65-80lbs. I bought some inserts and I sewed up some of my own inserts as well.

    They do snap on each side so they are easy to open to stuff and to unload. Then we learned that you can just shake out the wet inserts instead of having to pull them out.

    So yes, my older boy (7) who floods the Good Nights does also overflow these cloth night pants. My other son does not. But we bought yards of waterproof fabric at the fabric store and keep two layers across his bed. Then when he “floods” he changes himself and pulls off the first layer of water proof fabric to get back in bed on the next dry layer. Then he is good for the rest of the night.

    Here is where I ordered them, Vicki, the owner is wonderful:

    Another site is: But I haven’t ever ordered from them.

    I bought hemp and bamboo to make my own inserts from these great people:

  52. I started using cloth with my third, and wish I had done it sooner. My sister made me cotton/pul covers with snaps, and I put a prefold inside with a shamy. I like the ones I use better than AIO because they dry much faster, I can reuse the covers and out a new prefold in if it didn’t get wet, they were much cheaper, and I like snaps better than velcro. I have a whirlpool duet sport and they come out great, and it hasn’t ruined my wahser yet. I also put the dirty ones in a bucket with a lid, then wash when it’s full(usually 2 times a week or so). I do use disposible at night and occasionally when I haven’t gotten around to washing. I’m actually washing a load right now. We will be having our forth in Nov. and I will be doing cloth again 🙂

  53. The best way to clean cloth diapers is to pre-rinse them off in the toilet using a Hand Bathroom Bidet Sprayer. So convenient and if you are trying to help the environment (and your pocket book) you can give it a double whammy by virtually eliminating toilet paper use at the same time as you benefit from using it on the diapers, by using it on yourself. I think Dr. Oz on Oprah said it best: “if you had pee or poop on your hand, you wouldn’t wipe it off with paper, would you? You’d wash it off” Available at they come in an inexpensive kit and can be installed without a plumber. And after using one of these you won’t know how you lasted all those years with wadded up handfuls of toilet paper. Now we’re talking green and helping the environment without any pain. One review:

  54. We are expecting our third this fall and I am interest in CD this one. My questions: How many diapers should you buy to start? I don’t understand the disposable insert in the diaper situation? Worried about regular clothes not fitting over the big CD bum? My two year old has such runny poop and has for as long as I can remember, I can’t imagine CD her…runny poop thoughts? It sounds easy when you just toss the solid big kid poop in the toilet, but what about the other kind? Very excited about this series, I have been waiting for it!!

  55. Sometimes it seems like the poop is totally different in cloth, but it is hard to cd (for me) with diarrhea. It helps not to have too many diapers to start, in case you want to try a different route. That being said a nb would go through say…..8-12 diapers a day (is that right?) so I would think you would want enough to get by for 2 days.

  56. I used cloth diapers with all three of my kids, for financial and environmental reasons. The biggest challenge came with the first baby, at the time when his poop changed from scrambled-egg-runny, easy-to-rinse off, breastfed-baby poop to brown, firmer, smelly, older-person poop. I looked at it and thought, “I can’t put my hands in that toilet and wash that off.” Then I thought about how many diapers I used every day, did some quick math in my head, and thought, “I can wash my hands.” That was it! I used pretty much the same diapers for three kids, so I know I saved a ton of money over the years!

  57. Well my dd is 16 months old and she has been in the large size since about 7 months. I have 12 covers and like 19-20 prefolds. I usually wash about twice a week. I do use disposibles at bed time and occasionally other times. I’m not a squimish person and the poop doesn’t bother me.

  58. Ok…some of us do not have laundry in our house. We have to take it elsewhere which is why we’ve resisted cloth diapering so far. Any experience/ideas for us?!

    Mandie´s last blog post…Seriously, Heidi and Spencer?

  59. i love that you’re doing a series on cloth diapering!

    i don’t know where Inhabitots took my photo from, but those are my little girl’s diapers on the line in our yard. i’ve posted it on my blog, Cloth Diapering 411 and alongside the article i wrote,
    How to Treat and Prevent Stains on Cloth Diapers.
    i’d really appreciate if you’d attribute the photo to me. thanks so muchk, and i look forward to checking out your series:)

  60. Hi there,

    I love your blog and your series on cloth diapering got me to get started. I purchased some used BumGenius 2.0 pocket and Fuzzi bunz diapers from a friend and have been having some struggles washing them. They come out smelly and then when my daughter pees the smell of ammonia is very strong. I finally rinsed them enough to get the smell and so I think I effectively stripped them but I wanted to find out how you wash yours with the soapnuts. I purchased some but wasn’t sure if you then followed the manufacturers directions for washing with soapnuts. Please help!

    • Yep, I use the Soapnuts as directed. You’ve probably already seen it, but for others reading, Laundry Tree has directions on their site about using the Soapnuts.

      I wonder if you were using too much detergent when your diapers didn’t smell clean. Conventional detergents leave a thin film of residue on fabric that wicks away moisture. When urine gets in contact with the film, it can often exaggerate the ammonia smell, and make it hard to wash them in the future. Sounds like you stripped them well, so I’d start with the Soapnuts and see if that helps. You could also add a 1/2 cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle.

      If they come out of the wash smelly, then they’re not clean. Diapers should come out of the wash smelling like nothing at all.

      Hope that helps!

  61. Tsh,

    I forgot to mention that I have a front loading washing machine. I just washed my bum genious 2.0 in with 2 soapnuts in hot/cold wash. I did that twice and they still smell. I am not going to try the soapnut tea to see if that works better. Any suggestions? BumGenious does not recommend using vinegar and before I stripped my diapers last time I tried using vinegar in the rinse cycle and it had no effect. Do you have an knowledge about what works best in a front loading machine? I like the cloth but if they are going to be a pain to get clean, it doesn’t seem worth it. Sorry to bother you again!

    .-= Kyrsten´s last blog ..Christopher Hitchens, Stupid Christians, and the Sublime, pt. 2 =-.

    • I have a front-loading washer as well. I use three Soapnuts per load, so perhaps throw another one in the bag. Are you using hot water? Try that, if you’re not.

      If they still smell after that, I suggest asking the wonderful mamas on the forums at Diaper Swappers. They know everything about cloth diapering!

  62. I love your cloth diapering 101 and all the helpful easy to understand information!

    I’ve been directing some of my customers for any answers I don’t have! You have made it very simple and easy to understand for anyone who is perplexed by the language and choices.


  63. my daughter is 13 and i used disposables on her when she was an infant and battled many instants of diaper rash up untill she was potty trained.she started wetting the bed 6 months ago and remembering what i went thru when she was an infant,i bought cloth diapers and rubber pants for her to wear to bed at night.i sew the diapers together to make one thick diaper and pin it on her with diaper pins.i buy adult size plastic pants that fit blousy over the diaper to make her feel comfortable.the cloth diapers have made a big difference.she has had diaper rash only twice in the six months.for her first holy communion last month i did one of her diapers and rubber pants under her communion dress just in case.

  64. i absolutely love our cloth diapers. through the night i add extra liners. when we go on trips, though…we use disposables… all diapers seem to leak sometimes…so i don’t find leaking to be an issue…if i were to buy them again i would go for the larger inserts…they may be bulky for awhile…but then they end up fitting perfectly as they grow.

    when we go out i bring rolls of doggy bags (typically for picking up after your dog) to put the diapers in until we get home where i put them in a garbage can filled with water and a mild baby detergent. it has a lid and latches to secure the lid (so the little one doesn’t pull them out). i have about 28-30 diapers and twice as many inserts and that seems to be enough. i do a load every day and a half…

    i’ve heard that reusable diapers help potty training come sooner as they can feel when they are wet…not sure…just something i heard.

    anyhow, ebay has a lot of cheap diapers…new ones…maybe something to check out.

    you can also get spray nozzles that attach to your toilet so you can spray the poop off in the toilet.

    they make it pretty easy nowadays…happy diapering!!

  65. I realize that I am so late to the party but I just wanted to add that I absolutely LOVED cloth diapers. I had a great service that delivered clean diapers and picked up the dirty ones on our designated day. I found it to be affordable and compared to the disposable ones, I saved tons of money over the four years with two children.

    I even used them when we went out, never had any problems. I just always made sure that I had my plastic bags ready. If I ever have more children, I’d use another diaper service. Thank you for having this series.

  66. One of my biggest hangups before deciding to go with cloth diapers was the extra work it was going to take. Disposables seemed so much easier in theory, but honestly, once you get the routine down, cloth diapers didn’t take all that much more time out of the day, and they were so worth it for keeping diaper rash at bay and helping out the environment. We used pockets and inserts, so it wasn’t too complicated in the middle of the night or when we had to use a babysitter, and just threw them in the wash. I got a few funny looks when we were out and about for saving the dirty diapers until we got home, but it can be a great way to start a conversation with other new moms.

  67. Thanks for sharing

  68. We cloth-diapered our little man right from the get-go. I love it! It feels good to put a nice soft diaper onto his skin & not have all the disposables pilling up. Plus their little bums look so cute in cloth!

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