Visual demonstration: How to put on a cloth diaper, and how to get one clean

washing cloth diapers
Photo from Parents

Earlier today, I shared the reasons that convinced me to switch to cloth diapering. While those reasons are compelling, some people might still be concerned that cloth diapering is a massive chore. They hear people say it’s really not that hard, but it’s difficult to believe when parenting little ones is challenging enough! Sometimes, it’s just easier to understand a process when you can see it. So today, I’ve got two videos my husband and I made this week, and hopefully they’ll further clear up and confusion about what it’s like to use cloth diapers.

The first video is how to put on a prefold diaper, a fitted diaper, and a pocket diaper. Keep in mind that this was just before my son’s naptime, and he endured three diaper changes in one changing table sitting. And excuse the suddenness of his rear-end appearance.  Thanks, little guy.

How to Put on Different Types of Cloth Diapers

I didn’t demonstrate an all-in-one diaper, but putting one on is exactly the same as a pocket — it’s simply sealed where the pocket remains open. There’s no difference in how to put one on.

Here are the types of diapers and covers I used in this video (in a few days, I’ll have a master list of all the links to brands I recommend, along with scores of other cloth diapering resources):

The second video is the process of dealing with a soiled diaper, washing a load of diapers, hanging them to dry, and then folding or stuffing the diapers so they’re ready to use.

How to Clean Cloth Diapers

Here are the products I used in the video:

This didn’t make the final cut, but I also keep a simple spray bottle of homemade diaper wipe solution next to the changing table. When I need it, I simply spray a bit on to the wipe, and it cleans up the mess just as well as a disposable wipe — for a fraction of the cost. Here’s the recipe:

Homemade Diaper Wipe Solution

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons baby shampoo or soap
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • a few drops of essential oil (optional)

Pour all the ingredients into a spray bottle and shake. That’s it!

Tomorrow, I’ll give a comprehensive review of different diaper brands, along with a fun giveaway from some of these companies. Several of you will win some new cloth diapers to try out for yourself! And then we’ll end the Cloth Diapering 101 series this weekend with a full list of helpful links.

What further questions do you have about cloth diapering?

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 love these videos esp the ones about cleaning the poop. My little one is just starting solids and I’ve been wondering what to do about the changing poop in the diaper. I’d never thought about liners but I need to get some.

  2. This has been such a great series to clarify all the types and brands and how-to’s. I’m really grateful it’s going on right now.

    A note about the diaper wipe solution: if you decide to add essential oils, be careful which kind you use. Many essential oils aren’t safe to apply directly to skin. But I love the idea of not having to buy disposable wipes.

    Rachel´s last blog post…The Secret to Great Iced Coffee

    • Good reminder, Rachel. I currently have lavender in mine, and it smells great. But if in doubt, don’t even bother, especially if your baby has sensitive skin.

  3. For the wipe solution – do you rinse this off the skin after using?

  4. marissa says:

    This has all been so informative — thank you!

    It seems as though there are several ways to fold the basic prefolds. How do you learn these different ways and figure out which works best for your child?

    • Hey Marissa-

      You just have to experiment and play with it. Babies come in so many different shapes and sizes, so just try different things until you find something that works, keeps the poo in and you feel comfortable doing! Once you get “your way” down then it is really easy!

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

  5. Thank you!
    These videos are great!

  6. Question about the diaper wipe solution: You say to use warm water… is that for the comfort of the baby? Doesn’t the water cool down quickly and then it is not warm for the next use? Thanks!

    • It’s a recipe I found in a book, and I think the reason might be to fully dilute all the other ingredients? I’m not sure. But yes, the warmth of the water is a one-time thing – it’s always room temperature when I use it.

  7. So so so so so helpful!!!!!!!! You seem to have quite a few different types of diapers. Is this because you tried all kinds in the beginning or different diapers worked at different stages, etc..? Thanks so much for this series it has been so helpful in deciding that I can do this with my 3rd!

    • I just tried a wide variety from the get go, and then added what worked best for us. We lean towards pockets with a few prefolds/wraps, but I’m overall happy with all of them. It’s so hard to know ahead of time what will work best for your baby, your family situation, etc., that if I wasn’t sure, I’d just start off with a few of different types, and then add as I discover what works. Just my $.02, though; others may have different opinions based on what worked for them.

  8. The second video has some problem, it froze on me, about 5 minutes into.

    It’s that just me?

  9. christina says:

    Thank you! That was fantastic.

  10. In your opinion, is it ever too late to start using cloth diapers?

    My son is going to be 2 in mid September and we’ve been using disposables (my husband has a…mild aversion to poo & I couldn’t convince him to go cloth).

    Due to my son’s minor special needs (adrenal and thyroid disorders), we’re guessing he’ll be in diapers for a while yet (although I have high hopes for and confidence in him that he can do it!).

    Is it too late to start?

    Rina´s last blog post…Brown Sugar Bacon Waffles

    • I don’t think so! We started with my daughter right after she turned 2 (she developed burns on her bottom from disposables). Worked great! She PL’ed at 2.5 (on her own), so our CD days were short with her. Still, I know I saved money in addition to it being better for her and the environment.

  11. Thank you so much for posting this! We both work full time and use cloth diapers with our little one. We live on a island in the middle of the Pacific with overflowing landfill problems and can’t really image life without pocket all-in-one diapers. I tried a lot of different brands too, because they say every kid is different. What we like the best are Fuzzi Buns touch tape or snaps. I don’t mind the snaps but they are a little too difficult for grandma with a squirmy 9 month old boy. I also like Mommy’s Touch as I can pull out the stuffing from either end, and boys like to get the front end all wet. It’s also easier to double up the stuffing in Mommy’s Touch. I found that the best way to advocate cloth diaper use is to buy diapers with cute patterns or colors! Almost every time I change my son in company someone wants to check out the cute (clean) diaper. They marvel at how easy it is now days and how people invent the neatest things. Esty has sellers who make diapers from the cutest fabrics but read the reviews first. To me, running a diaper load in the washing machine every other day is way easier than worrying about running out of paper diapers, or making frantic runs to the store in traffic before it closes. I also line dry, and in the hot Hawaiian sun sometimes it takes only half a day to dry. The pocket diaper systems dry fast. Easy!

  12. Awesome!! Very insightful. . . . . THANK YOU!!

  13. This has all been SO helpful. We purchased 5 AIOs on Etsy, and started using them yesterday. So far we’ve had two leak-throughs on 4 diapers, way before I would have thought about changing a disposable diaper. I thought PUL was waterproof? How do you know when it’s time to change a diaper? With disposables, they swell up so much you KNOW when it’s time… will the diapers get more absorbent the more I wash them? Thanks!!

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

    • You almost always need to wash cloth diapers several times before they become absorbent. It depends on each brand (and their website should say how many times they should be washed), but on average, I washed mine about three times before I started using them.

      Thanks for reminding me to make that point somewhere!

  14. Thanks so much for making these videos. My husband and I are expecting our first (my 3rd but his first) and so I’ve been showing him your posts and I think he may be freaking out a bit…but these videos I think will make it easier for him!

    It sure has made it easier for me. My two first kids are 12 and 11 now…and I used disposables back then. I really want to use cloth this time and your posts are really helping!


  15. bluestar says:

    Weird question (maybe) but do you spray the diaper wipe solution right onto the baby, or do you spray it onto the wipes? We’re definitely doing CD and I’m still toying with the idea of doing cloth wipes as well, it seemed a little daunting to add that to the mix until I saw your cute little basket with the bottle and wipes and thought it looked pretty simple and contained!

    • I do it both ways, generally onto the wipe first. I also will keep a wipe solution in my wipes warmer (just the liquid, not wipes too) and then dip my wipe into it.

      I didn’t switch to cloth wipes until I had my son. I wish I had started sooner–so much easier to just throw it all in my wetbag than have to separate out the disposable wipes from the cloth diapers.

    • I spray it on to the wipe. I imagine that would be quite the shocker to my little guy if he got it directly on his caboose! 🙂

  16. For some weird reason, I can never see vimeo videos…but, that’s okay, since I’m a cloth diaperer already anyway.

    I have a tip for the wipes solution – instead of putting it in a spray bottle, mix it right in your old disposable wipes container (clean, of course). Then, you can either zig-zag the edges of 7″x8″ squares of flannel, or just buy a bunch of cheap baby washcloths from the $1 store, and place them in the solution. Wring them out well, and discard the rest of the solution, or store it for your next batch.

    Cheaper than using paper towels, and they can be washed with the diapers, instead of having to put the diaper in a pail, and the wipes in the trash. They just all go in the pail together. Plus, it’s just a little more convenient than spraying wipes each time you change the baby, and you can throw some already-moist wipes in a travel container for the diaper bag.

    Tiff @ The Faery Inn´s last blog post…It’s Tuesday…

    • Hi Tiff – sorry you can’t see the videos. I can’t access YouTube from where I live; otherwise, I’d put the videos there, too. Oh well.

      Thanks for your tip! I actually tried that idea first, but I found the wipes started smelling mildew-y in a short time. Not sure why, and if it has something to do with the weather where I am, but that’s the main reason I switched to the spray bottle idea. But if it works for other people, then yes, it’s a great idea, and one less step!

      • I tried that originally too, but they got smelly afte a couple of days. I have been using the spray bottle and it works great.

      • I haven’t had that problem, because I only made enough wipes that I could use about two per diaper if needed, but I usually run out of wipes at the same time I run out of diapers, so I end up making a fresh solution at least every other day. (Most of the time, I only use half the recipe, so I don’t waste water, etc.)

        Also, if your container isn’t airtight, it seems to work better, and last a bit longer.

        Tiff @ The Faery Inn´s last blog post…Cloth Diapers RULE!

    • Twin Mom says:

      Don’t buy washcloths that are polyester. They don’t absorb. I learned that the hard way. (And all the washcloths our dollar store carries are polyester) Pay $4 for the pack of 10 from Ross or TJ Maxx- it’s worth it.

  17. Deannah says:

    I have been interested in cloth diapers for a little while but wasn’t entirely sold on the idea. I was hesitant to invest money into them for fear I would discover that the process was too difficult or time-consuming (or actually just gross) for me to really be able to keep up with it. Thank you so much for doing this series, and especially for these videos! It has really helped me understand the how-to from start to finish and to see that it is simpler and cleaner than I envisioned. I will definitely start using cloth!

  18. Great videos 🙂 I cannot wait to start using our CDs, waiting for Sweetie’s umbilical cord to fall off, it is a stubborn little sucker!! We have just been using cloth wipes with water, so far that has been perfect.

    Christie´s last blog post…You Think You Won’t Talk About Poo …

  19. These videos were super helpful. Thanks.
    I would really like to see a reliable store (online) where I can price compare prefolds, etc. I keep going to Bummis but there are no prices online. The nearest store is 150 miles away!

    • I would HIGHLY recommend looking at:

      You can buy any type of diaper style there. There are lots and lots of beautiful, used diapers in great condition. Often you can even find new ones that someone changed their mind about. There are also lots of WAHMs that sew and sell diapers. Anyway, I got all of my diapers from various mom’s on diaperswappers. And the prefolds I got are tie-dyed or just dyed fun colors. I didn’t have to do it and it was cheaper than buying new!

  20. can I ask what brand of drying rack you have? we have a big one and it doesn’t really work with clothes pins so I can’t hang much on it. your looks like it fits a ton! I would like to get one like yours.

    Melissa´s last blog post…Free Earths Best Tote

  21. Thanks for the wipe spray formula, I am going out tommorrow for the ingredients. Having had 4 kids I have to say I have been on both ends of the diaper dilema. We have used disposible and cloth over the years and honestly once you get used to the cloth they are not that bad. I would recommend cloth to any perspective parents concerned about cost and the environment.

  22. Cloth diapering is surprisingly easy – the biggest challenge was getting my husband to buy in!

    I use cloth wipes (made from a ripped pair of flannel pants) and a 3-part solution of baby shampoo, baby oil and water. I reused a little squirt bottle from kid’s liquid soap, squirt a bit on the wipes and go. Everything goes in the washer as soon as it’s used to cut down on the “wet” smell.

  23. I am still loving this discussion – you have done such a good job!

    Do you have input on quality of clothes pins. I have been buying them at the dollar store since they look the same as the regular grocery store and they break just as frequently. I would love some that were better quality, held well and lasted longer!

  24. So great! I CD’s all 3 of my kiddos and had very little support or tutorials on the whole thing. Much trial and error! We used a 80% prefolds, 20% pockets system. One thing I wanted to point out is that some kids take longer to night train. While my oldest and youngest night trained at the same time they day-trained, around 18 months (!!! thank you CDs!) my middle son is still wet at night. So those Large Fuzzibunz are getting lots and lots of use. Just a thought! 🙂
    I wish you had been around in 2002! This is invaluable advice. Thanks!

    Ellen´s last blog post…Wacky Wednesday

  25. Thanks for the great series! We’re expecting a baby in August and plan to CD. I’ve been doing lots of research, but haven’t seen much about using liners (rice paper or otherwise). Are they necessary? Is it just a convenience thing for poopy diapers? Also, is it true that as long as you’re breastfeeding, you can put the poopy diapers directly into the wash?

  26. What a little trooper your son was! Thanks little guy, you helped a lot of people.
    I’ve never seen that fold for prefold–super cool!

    Aimee´s last blog post…Rhubarb Rosemary Daiquiri

  27. Five years. Three kids. 17, 640 cloth diaper changes (and counting!). Check out my mommybrain post on Thanks Simple Mom for addressing such a great topic. I would’ve loved to have read this thread back in 2004!

  28. Wow, what a great post! Thanks for sharing!

    onemotherslove´s last blog post…What’s blooming?

  29. I admire your efforts to demonstrate how to use cloth diapers. When my children were babies 20 some years ago I, too, used cloth diapers. Back then I just used plain cloth diapers that I folded myself, diaper pins and rubber pants (do they still make those??). I must say that it seems that that was much quicker and easier. In any case, whatever way you use cloth diapers, it is not at all difficult and saves a lot of money. There is something special about putting a clean, soft cloth against the skin of your baby rather than a paper diaper.

  30. I am so grateful for the paper liners. Did you know you can wash them also? I throw it in the washer with the diapers. Because of the spin cycle there is no need for a dryer or rack. I can use one paper up to 10 and sometimes 20 times. I dispose when their is poo, but a girlfriend of mine washes those too with success! I also second the diaperswappers referance and add diaperpin to the list.

  31. Lindsey says:

    WOW! Thank You! This has been the clearest and best cloth diaper tutorial I’ve ever seen! I was already sold on using them but was clueless as to which system was easiest and how exactly you laundered them. It looks like you’ve got it working very efficiently!

  32. oh my goodness I think I might have to run out and get some prefolds, that is TOO EASY. Thanks for taking away all the mystery!

    alfredsmom´s last blog post…I’ve hit the big time!

  33. if you use the bottombumprs (the side snap ones you have) can you just put a prefold in it (like you showed when you were putting laundry away, with the bummis super brite) or do you need to have the actual inserts in it? im looking for a diaper thats easy to clean, cause i wont be doing laundry everyday, since i dont have a washer in my house, yet affordable.
    thanks 🙂

  34. I have loved using unbleached Indian prefolds with Bummis covers (both Super Whisper Wrap & Super Brites). I also have some pul covers from Simply Sunny on etsy These covers ROCK. Great fit, excellent durability, the elastic & velcro are holding up so much better than any other cover I have tried.

    I would love to try a pocket or AIO diaper now that my son is potty training & it is more steps to get a prefold & cover on & off.

  35. Christie says:

    Thanks so much for this video!! I just started CD-ing with my 6 mo. old, and I’ve been getting discouraged because it was hard to figure out (I’m using pre-folds only right now, except bumGenius at night). But seeing a visual is helpful.

    I don’t know if you already covered this, but how many diapers and covers do you own? And how often do you do laundry? I’m wanting to get more pockets diapers but unsure how many to get.

  36. Mom of 2 says:

    Thanks for all of the great info. I have thought about cloth before but still have a few hurdles I can’t get over. Here’s the biggest one: can you really use these diapers on more than one child? I would think that after being washed two or three times a week for three years they would be pretty threadbare, especially if dried in the dryer. (It’s very humid where I live; linedrying would take ages!) Also, can someone recommend something for overnight for a potty trained toddler–something like a reusable Pull-Up? Or maybe a good brand for overnight for my 1yo, so that I can buy a few to use once a day and see how I like them?

    • A little late for this response, but… my grandmother CD’d her 4 boys, and then used the cloths for dust rags, etc. 52 years later, she just tossed her last one out due to wearing out. I personally used the prefolds with DS 1 (5 years ago) and thought we weren’t going to be blessed with another baby. I used the cloths for painting towels in my art classroom for two years (daily washing with abrasive tempera paints: and teenager abuse). They’re still in good enough shape to reuse for our little one arriving soon. We did order more prefolds, since I lost quite a few – and grandma took about a half-dozen for more dust rags – but we are reusing all our old bummi-wraps. We washed the wraps daily and the prefolds daily or every other day.

  37. Wonderful! Thanks so much for doing these posts about cloth diapering. Glad I am having a 3rd so I can give it a try!

  38. We are currently doing both cloth and disposable diapers. I would like to do all cloth but not that confident yet. LOL. I am very thankful for this “cloth diaper week” The cleaning video is also great since that is on of our problems. The cloth diapers we use are thirsties brand as recommended by a friend. I am not sure I personally would recomend them though. We have lots of leaks. I am encouraged by this blog and others comments to keep trying till we get the right kind! THANK YOU

  39. This is the best video! I have been using cloth diapers for over a year and I have learned some things. Thanks so much for making these videos!

    Danielle´s last blog post…See Kai Run Shoes

  40. Wow. Those videos are great. I might actually try this.

  41. Jenifer Robertson says:

    Thank You!! What a great video I feel so much more comfortable now about using CD’s when my little one arrives come October.

  42. You are Amazing! This was awesome. It really did open my eyes to how easy it could be. I just hear ugly stories from my Mom swishing out poopy diapers in the toilet, not appealing. But this looks really doable. I’ll have to give it a little more thought, but maybe I’ll try it for a day and see how it goes. 🙂

    Marie {Make and Takes}´s last blog post…Kid-Safe Stamp Carving

  43. I can’t see the videos! There is only blank space! Is there a link where it’s posted?

    Jill´s last blog post…Not Me Monday!!

  44. Nice! One of the things I’ve started doing differently for pooped in diapers is taking the stuffer out the pocket diapers, and then rinsing it with the sprayer. I find most solids don’t get through to the stuffer anyway (especially if you’re using a liner–I don’t), it’s been easier for me to clean the dirty part of the diaper. I also just like less water in my diaper pail. Anyhow, that’s what works for me 🙂

    I’ll send friends contemplating CD’ing here. Thank you!

  45. Homemade diaper wipe solution – brilliant! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  46. This website is wonderful!!! Our 1 and 1/2 yr old has been having reactions to disposables, and this time it got so bad using the new fisher price diapers…they are very absorbant but horrible for her little bottom. So, I just went out and bought the essentials for the cloth diapers, and had no clue how to use them! My hubby went on youtube and that was a joke but you helped me right away!!! I will store this under my favorites!!! I am sure my husband will have to learn soon!!!

  47. Stephanie says:

    I’ve just discovered your site and videos and they are really helpful! We really wanted to use cd’s and tried g-diapers for a while but didn’t have much success (lots of leak throughs) and found the diapers too bulky to fit under my son’s clothes. I’m ready to try again after seeing your videos but can you recommend a brand that is less bulky, or do you have any tips on fitting the cd’s under clothes? Thanks!

  48. I found this from a link posted by Mandi at Organizing your Way and want to thank you for this post and the other Cloth diapering 101 posts. I am expecting my second baby in June. With my first baby I did a lot of research but finally decided to stick with disposables because we lived in an apartment building and our washing situation was not that great. We had a washer and dryer in our apartment, but they were in the master bedroom closet and were old and broke down a lot. Now that we have a laundry area I decided to look into it again for our second baby. Last time I felt like I spent hours searching for information but found very little helpful advice. This time I feel like I know everything I need to from your posts and videos. My husband is still Pro Disposable diapers, and is not excited about switching. After seeing you videos, I know we can make the switch and it won’t be that painful for him. Thank you so much!! I can’t tell you how much these videos helped me to feel empowered to switch to cloth diapers!

  49. Hi, thank you so much for uploading those videos. They are so informative! I’m a FTM and going to CD. I’m so overwhelmed by the whole process of CD, and just worrying bout the mess and fuss. I feel a lot better now after watching your videos! So thank you again.

  50. I still come back and look at the videos and comments of all the cloth diapering posts! I want to change to cloth diapers for my newborn baby girl and I’m trying to buy them little by little to have a good amount to able to start.

    How many do you think I would need for a month old baby so I can do a once a week laundry? Is that too much? Should I expect to wash them twice a week?

    Thanks in advance!
    .-= Dariela´s last blog ..When Adrian met Maya/Cuando Adrian conoció a Maya =-.

  51. Just wanted to say THANK YOU so much. My daughter is 2 and I have wanted to use cloth diapers ever since she was little but was so overwhelmed by all the information and could never figure out what all these terms meant and the processes no matter how much I read about it. Now after reading this series and watching the videos i TOTALLY understand everything now and feel like I can definitely do this next go around since we are ttc this year!

  52. Thank you so much for taking the time to make these videos! They answered all of my questions about CD and I am now planning on switching to this method for my son and any future babies. You are awesome!!

  53. Oh gosh, thank you for this. I just put away my freshly-prepped stash today, and it didn’t even occur to me to put the inserts IN the diapers and then put them away. Now, I have to go back and do it all over again =P

  54. Casey Dawe says:

    Hi, I use Little Lamb washable nappies and they are one the best baby products I have ever purchased. I wonder if you can recommend ways to keep the nappies really clean, I wash the nappies on a 40/30 degree, 36 min wash cycle. When possible I add Tea tree oil, but I usually use a small amount of Dettol in the wash to disinfect them. Did you mention white vinegar? I am looking for good, cheap alternatives that I can readily get hold of and is also kind to the washing machine. (I live in the Caribbean so the sun bleaches my nappies really well but I want to make sure that washing at a low temperature the nappies are disinfected) Thanks in advance…

  55. just wanted to say thank you! the videos are really informative and reassuring for a first time mum who’s just bought a birth to potty set of reusable nappies. i feel a lot more confident about using them now. thanks again 🙂

  56. my daughter is 14 and a bedwetter and i use cloth diapers and rubber pants on her at bed time.i sew the gerber cloth diapers together to make one diaper and pin it on her with diaper pins.i get her adult size rubberpants from

  57. Hi! I was interested in the FuzziBunz In and Out Mess Free Diaper bag, but after clicking the link, it seems they don’t have that item anymore and they are out of the hanging pail. Are there any other items or brands that you would suggest?

    Thank you!

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