The 411 behind cloth diapering 101

CCloth diapers. What images just popped in your head? Granola-types who preach the evils of disposables? Upper-class families who have nannies to take care of the “dirty work”? Stay-at-home parents too poor to pay for “normal” diapers? Or maybe your parents, berating you with stories of plastic pants and leaks galore?

None of this is across-the-board true of cloth diapers anymore. So, let’s park at the basics, and talk about some of the reasons why it’s not totally insane to give cloth diapers a shot. And the end, I’ll share some visual demonstrations of the basic to-dos.

What this isn’t about

The last thing I want to do is discourage an already-tired parent and make them feel sub-par. If you’ve made a conscious choice to go with disposable diapers, then you do you. (We used a combination of cloth and disposable in our household.)

But it is a good idea to make a well-informed choice, because cloth diapering might not be as hard as you think—and there are benefits you might miss. Ultimately, the best choice is the one that works for your family.

“Why should I even bother? Disposables are easy.”

A valid question. And to be honest, disposables are easy, which is why we still use them from time to time.  In fact, it’s very common to use both types.

But cloth diapers are easy, too, once you know how to use them. If you haven’t been around them much, there’s a slight learning curve, but with a little bit of patience and grace, you’ll eventually wonder why you thought they’d be more difficult than disposables.

Cloth diapers 101

“I don’t even know where to begin.”

Read stuff online about cloth diapering, and you’ll read words and phrases like “AIOs,” “pocket diapers,” “fitteds,” “liners,” and “wet bags.” What? It’s a whole other language.

“But… What about pins? Blowouts? Laundry? And the smell?”

Even if you’re convinced there are great reasons to try cloth diapering, and once you understand the different options out there, you still might hesitate.

Maybe you don’t want to deal with extra laundry. Maybe you’re concerned that the cost of water usage offsets any savings from buying disposables. Or let’s be honest—maybe cloth diapering sounds like you’ll be dealing with a lot of poop.

Cloth diapers 101

“Okay, I’m willing to try. But… How?

The best way to cloth diaper is just to start, and you’ll learn soon what works for you and what doesn’t. But, I wished I had someone to show me the nuts and bolts behind what it looks like. Literally.

Here’s a few videos I made on how to put on a cloth diaper, then how to wash them.

How to put on a cloth diaper

My middle son, Reed, was a willing participant and star of this first video. (He was born in 2007, so that should give you an indication of this video’s age.)

Products in this video:

How to clean cloth diapers

Every washer and dryer is different, of course. In fact, I’ve since returned to the States since this video was made, and my process here is a smidge different.

Right now, I’ve got a top-loading washer, and I run my diapers through two quick rinses of cold water and a splash of vinegar, then one final wash of hot water and eco-friendly laundry soap. Works perfectly, with no remaining residue or smell.

Products in this video:

Cloth diaper 101

Cloth wipes and wipe solution

I also use cloth wipes—washcloths, basically. Our changing station is currently in the bathroom, so I keep a drawer full of thin baby washcloths, and when I’m ready to use one, I wet it with the sink faucet. Easy-peasy.

However, I know lots of people prefer using a wipe solution (I used to), and it’s easy to make. Here’s a simple recipe:

  • 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, then simply spray a washcloth when you’re ready to use one. You can also re-use one of the plastic boxes from traditional wipes, fold washcloths to fit, and pour this solution over the stack and give it a quick shake.

I hope this helps you make the right decision on diapers.

A few affiliate links are used here, which means at no extra cost to you, making a purchase by clicking these links helps support this site. Thanks!

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Miss Rhei

    First off, your blog is such a great help… been reading your archive. Thanks a lot.

    Your post is really helpful. I am way past this stage since my son is already 6. And yes, we did use cloth diapers and we did alright. However, most moms wants it the easy way forgetting the unnecessary risks so I will forward this to my mom friends for info.

    More power!

  2. Courtney

    I avoid drying the wipes at all by taking them directly from the wash and putting them in a plastic wipes box covered in water and a drop of baby soap. Then I just pick one up and ring it out over the wipes box and wipe the butt. Also, if you don’t have a diaper sprayer on the toilet you can just flush the toilet while sloshing/dipping the diaper in the flushing water. I take the insert out before I rinse to avoid a drippy mess as I walk it to the diaper pail. Ikea makes a great spider looking drying thing that works great for air drying too:-)

    Great job on the vlog!

    • Tsh

      Great idea!

  3. Ginger Garner

    Bravo on a well written article! I am a mother of two and green parenting advocate, as well as a health care professional women’s health blogger with concern about not only with my children’s best health – but the best health of the planet as well.

    Of my most recent foray into the cloth vs. disposable debate – it is important to note that disposable’s win out only during one argument: water shortage. Other than that, cloth diapers are the best for our babies and their planet.

    I used cloth diapers on both of my sons, and only used disposable during our 1) severe water shortage in NC during 2008-09 and 2) when we absolutely had to – i.e. airplane travel, cross country and state road trips, etc.

    I used the Fuzzi Bunz system and highly recommend that moms be brave enough to try out Tsh’s recommendations.

    Thank you for a great post Tsh!

  4. Kelly

    Hey Trish! I read your post last year which I loved and it got me trying cloth diapers. I consider myself as someone who’s definitely interested in eco matters and so I went out and got a bunch of Fuzzi Bunz. I found I could deal with the poop and the laundry, but I couldn’t escape constant leaks!! My son had a leak all over his pants once or twice a day. And I think I was changing him frequently 🙂 I tried doubling up the liners, and doing up the diaper to varying degrees of looseness (sometimes looser, sometimes really tight). Eventually, I got really tired of it and so switched back to disposables.

    I would really love to make this cloth diapering thing work! Do you have any tips about stopping the leaks?

    • Kathy

      Hey Kelly,
      I’m a cloth-diapering mama, and I would suggest trying a different brand or style of diaper to help prevent leaks. Personally, we’ve found that our son leaks through his BumGenius All In Ones but never through his prefolds and covers. Body type may be an issue, too; I’ve heard that some brands work better for a lanky baby vs. a chubby one. We also swear by covers that have the gussets to help the wet prefold stay tucked into the waterproof cover (otherwise the wetness can wick out onto clothing). Hope this helps!

    • Jennifer

      I’ve found that my son usually leaks right around the leg holes because the insert gets wadded up and doesn’t extend all the way to the legs…so there is nothing to absorb the wetness in that area. Maybe try pinning the insert in place if that is causing the problem?

      It must be so frustrating to deal with the constant leaks. Good for you for trying to make it work though!

      • Tsh

        I’m honestly not sure, because leaks actually hold better for us with CDs than with disposables. Maybe someone else here knows?

        One thing I did learn is that you need to change CDs more frequently. It’s not much, honestly — I feel like overall my baby wears about one more per day than if he were exclusively in ‘sposies.

      • Karrie

        We use pre-folds and Bummis covers (with twins). During the night we go 14 hours without a change, and have only had one leak! The first two months, after the babies were born, they leaked almost every night with disposables. I use a pre-fold with a smaller pre-fold as a doubler at night and have never had a daytime leak.

    • Kathy

      Hey Kelly,
      You might want to try out different brands or styles of diapers, because I’ve heard that some diapers work better with different babies’ body types (e.g. one that’s great with a chubby baby might not be so good for a lanky one). Personally, I find that my son sometimes leaks out the legholes of all-in-ones, but we have no problems when we use simple prefolds and a waterproof cover. Oh, and we swear by covers with gussets to help keep the prefold tucked inside so it can’t wick onto clothing. Good luck!

      • MrsH

        We’ve found the same thing. Any all-in-one leaks no matter how much stuffing we put in there. We use prefolds and covers most of the time and LOVE them. Different brands do fit differently, but we’ve had great success with the thirsties covers (both kinds), the Green Mountain Diapers adjustable covers, and super whisper wraps. It all stays dry unless we go way past the stage of “wet” and into “utterly soaked” pre-fold. Good luck!

        • Nicola

          Quite often diapers leak because they need to be stripped. Washing detergents build up on the diapers & this eventually causes leaks. You only need a teaspoon or 2 of detergent when washing cloth diapers but even this small amount will eventually cause build up.

          To strip diapers, first put them on a cold wash with a full dose of detergents. Then put them on a hot wash with no detergent. Then rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse until there are no more bubbles.

          • jodi

            I’ve also heard you can use 1T Dawn dish detergent in a hot, hot wash to strip your diapers. Again, rinse until there are no bubbles. Haven’t tried it yet but going to soon.

          • Melissa

            I’ve used AIO diapers now for a little over a year with my daughter. She had a rash in which I had to use a cream with her, it seems that the cream has built up on the diapers and I CANNOT get it off, any tips? I’ve tried the rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse cycle until no more bubbles, however the cream seems to remain on the diapers. Now the baby gets a rash every time I put the cloth diapers on her….I hate to switch to disposables now, but I am at a loss of what to do….any tips would be helpful! Thank You!!!


  5. Kelly

    Oops! I meant Tsh! Sorry! (blush).

    • Tsh

      No problem! People do it in real life all the time. 🙂

  6. Estela @ Weekly Bite

    My mom used cloth diapers on us. I wanted to use them on my daughter so badly… but my husband would budge on the convenience of disposables.
    Maybe he’ll budge for our next kid 🙂

  7. Meghan

    Even if you use disposable diapers you still have to put the poop in the toliet. Most municipalities (at least in the US) and dumps state they will not take human waste for health and pollution reasons. I know that most parents/caregivers don’t put the poop in the toilet; that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t or that they aren’t (possibly) breaking a law.

  8. Jennifer

    I just started using cloth diapers with my son and I love them. I primarily use bumgenius because they are easy, and I just got a few fuzzibunz, which I adore!

    They are pretty comparable to disposables in terms of convenience, leaking, etc. so I have been happy with them, but does anyone have any tips on getting rid of stains? I don’t want to ruin the warranties, but I want them to stay nice for as long as possible.

    • AudnZaxMom

      The bumGenius website has some great tips for taking care of their diapers. We just started using the 3.0s recently. The best way I’ve found to get rid of stains is the sun! They also suggest using bleach once a month. Here’s the link – hope it helps!!

    • Tsh

      As people say below, sunning them is the best way to get rid of stains. Make sure they’re thoroughly doused/soaked when you put them out. Lay them on the grass, if you can.

      Also, sometimes it just takes awhile for stains to come out. After awhile, they’ll fade if you wash them regularly (and I assume you do 🙂 ).

  9. Alison @ Femita

    First time I’ve seen you on video and I think it’s a great addition to the blog post! Did you ever think about doing it more often? Really looking forward to this cloth diapering series btw. The post on Simply Organic was very helpful too. Didn’t know there are so many types of cloth diapers. Opened up a whole new world for me.

    • Tsh

      Thanks! Yep, more vlogging is in the works. I’ve got some coming up around Christmastime, and possibly more in the new year. Stay tuned. 🙂

  10. Sharon

    I love your post, thank you! My husband and I want to try cloth nappies for our 6mo; we tried earlier but it was such a disaster. Of course, it probably did not help that it was not the actual nappies we were using. Still, I’ll definitely be coming back here for more tips as I venture into the world of cloth nappies. 🙂

  11. Heidi

    We are expecting our first in February and I would really like to try cloth diapers (if I can get hubby on board!), but I am trying to figure out the logistics. This post (with all the links too!) was wonderful!

    I also was wondering about dealing with stains. I know that the sun is supposed to do a really good job at keeping stains away, but I live in a townhouse, with no place to hang a clothesline (not even sure we are allowed to), and here in Canada it’s also below freezing 5 months of the year.

    • Kesiah

      On a post last year, I think Tsh mentioned using Bac-Out, made by the company BioKleen. I’ve been using it for four months & no stains on my cloth diapers. I use a water sprayer at the toilet to remove solids, spray Bac-Out directly on the diaper & place in laundry bag. I wash them in warm or hot water with soap nuts (also mentioned by Tsh in one of her video demo’s on washing diapers). We have a small folding laundry rack & just hang the diapers & inserts on there. No sunlight but so far I haven’t needed it for stains. Also, both products are cruelty-free.

      • Tsh

        Yes! Bac-Out is great for stains. And as I mentioned above, eventually any stains just fade.

        And also (and I mean this in a totally non-snarky way)… they’re diapers. Sometimes they have stains. Ya know? Par for the course. 🙂

  12. Regina

    Jennifer – the sun = the ultimate stain remover! Dry them outside, stains facing the sun & they’ll be spotless in no time!

  13. Ginger Garner

    On stains: I made my husband hang a clothesline – and every so often I would hang out my fuzzi bunz (and the cloth wipes and spit up clothes too) in the sun. A few days in the sun got rid of all the stains! (and there were some doozies)

  14. Kara

    Each time a series about cloth diapering starts, I hope that if I read it enough times, then by the time I have children it won’t all seem so scary. I really like the idea of cloth though; it seems like the best choice.

    • Rebecca C

      Kara, I could have written your comment. No kids here, but I’m hoping to use cloth… so I keep reading these cloth diaper blogs hoping that I’ll not be quite so nervous when the time comes. 😛

  15. Christine

    It’s funny to run across this blog today. We used to use cloth diapers and are just getting back into it. An infant with colic followed by potty training a 2 year old led to us shelving cloth diapers for a while. Then we got lazy and kept using disposables and we’ve finally decided we need to return to cloth.

    However, it’s always a trick. Our daughter is doing fine with the cloth, but our son, who only wears diapers while sleeping (and sometimes on car trips) has proven capable of peeing through anything overnight. After day after day with a new load of laundry and a wet cranky kid waiting for me in the morning, I finally got a diaper stuffed so he wouldn’t pee through. Poor kid could barely walk. This morning he was dry, but he asked for his diaper to be removed because it hurt him. It looks like we’ll be splitting the difference with one in cloth and one in disposables. (Thankfully, the one in disposables will only be part time!)

    • Tsh

      My older son in diapers wears disposables at night. Not much of a help, I know, but just letting you know it’s okay to do both.

  16. Au Coeur

    Thanks for the post! We are also cloth diapering and finding it super easy and affordable. What I might add is to go with snap diapers/covers instead of velcro. We have a combination and after 7 months (the first 6 months we used prefolds) the snaps are holding up much better than the velcro. Plus, my daughter has been able to undo the velcro since 10 months.

  17. Katie

    I just wanted to share something about blowouts. I used only cloth on our first daughter and have used a mix of disposable and cloth on our second daughter (since we moved…. I didn’t want to wash diapers during the move/ also travel). Every time we use them, we get a blowout (we’ve used a couple of the big name brands). In the entire time I’ve been using cloth (almost 3 years), I’ve only seen 2 or 3 poops escape the cover. I’d much rather wash diapers than have to try to undress a poop covered baby everyday!

    We use a Thirsties cover over a Snugglebottoms w/ velcro diaper.

  18. Rachel Roberts

    I’ve got 3 kids already and am trying for a 4th. With the first 3 we used disposable diapers but I will be staying home full time when we have another and I’d really like to do cloth. I’m all about drying my diapers, and clothes for that matter, on a clothesline. Not only for the eco benefits but the dryer makes the house so hot and I love the ‘sunshine smell’. I know that cloth diapers have to be line dried but here in OK that’s not possible year round so how do I get them to dry in the non-outside months? I thought about the garage but they’d just freeze in there in the winter.

    • Tsh

      They don’t absolutely have to be line-dried. I used mine in the tumble dryer all summer this year because of a spider infestation in our backyard (long story…). They’re still holding up great.

      When I did line-dry, though, I’d just use a portable drying rack indoors and move it around so it wouldn’t get it in our way. I’d usually hang them at night, before bed, and in the morning, they were good to go.

  19. Catherine

    After reading your Cloth Diapering 101 series last year, I decided to cloth diaper our third baby, who is now 6 months old. I was a little scared at the beginning that I had invested all this money and we would hate it. But, I am so glad to say that we have loved it—even my husband, who before he would agree to try cloth diapering made me promise we would always have disposables in the house. We do—but we haven’t reached for a disposable in months. Thanks so much for sharing the details of cloth diapering in a way that wasn’t intimidating or overwhelming. I have referred to those posts several times!

  20. Christine S

    I decided to try cloth diapers after reading your blog. When our first baby came about, I was disappointed because I couldn’t use the diapers right away- Lily was born small and the diapers completely enveloped her! But as soon as we could, we switched to cloth and we’ve loved it ever since. We started with 24 newborn prefolds, 12 infant prefolds, 6 covers, and 3 one size pocket diapers. I wanted to invest in the one size when she got older, but my hubby prefers the prefolds! I was very surprised. I think the main advantage to us is we didn’t have that much experience with babies to begin with and didn’t know the “convenience” of disposables. We love the cloth diapers and are really happy with our decision, but also know its not for everyone. I advise people to try a few and see what they think before they make a decision.

  21. Shannon

    This may seem like a crazy question. Is it worth considering cloth diapers if you use coin opperated laundry/launromat? How about services that wash the diapers for you?

    • Tsh

      I’m honestly not sure, but I know there are plenty of people who use diaper services. Are any of you out there who can answer Shannon’s question?

      • JanM

        I have washed our cloth diapers in a coin-op shared apartment laundry with not too much difficulty. You don’t tend to have quite as many options when it comes to choosing cycles, so that can be frustrating. We often hung ours to dry instead of using the dryer in order to save money.
        With a new baby, you do SO much laundry anyway, that the cost is pretty much the same. You’re going to be spending that money on laundry, so throwing in the diapers makes little difference.
        Hope that helps!

        • Cam

          I have that problem too because we live in an apt and and have a coin-op machine in the basement. What I do : I put a bucket (from homedepot) in the closet with some water and detergent in it and everytime I change my daughter I throw it in the bucket. That way they’re soaking from the very beginning and I negate the step of a wet/dry bag. After 2-3 days (depending) I put them in the washing machine and do it twice. Then in the dryer with a wool ball to make them dry faster. I can do the drying with regular clothes or anything else because they’re already clean. The wool ball helps because it dries them faster. This is especially nice if I were to have to pay for drying by the minute. Sometimes if I’m short on quarters I wash them in the tub or atleast let them soak again in SUPER hot water in the tub. But, my baby is only 3 months old so it’s not that bad and there’s nothing solid that I have to deal with.

  22. Rachel

    We used prefolds and those cheap vinyl pants on our daughter (now 3) and found it very simple. Now that we are expecting again, I want to have better diaper covers, so I am hoping to get the new Thirsties Duo Wraps.

    I have a question about cleaning the diapers though. With our daughter, we bought those flushable liners, but I would much rather use cloth. That would mean extra rinsing in the toilet. Are the toilet sprayers a good idea? I’m worried about having one with a 3-year old in the house….

    • Tsh

      I don’t use a toilet sprayer because I feel like 90% of the waste is trapped in the liner, so all I have to do is toss the soiled liner in the toilet, flush, and put the diaper and insert in the wet bag. But there are plenty of people who use sprayers — in the link above that Katie wrote last year, she linked to Nicole of Gidget Goes Home, where she gives a good tutorial on how to make one for cheap.

      And I guess you’re saying you’re worried about the 3-year-old’s safety? I’m sure they are. Now, I can’t vouch for the temptation to spray water all over the bathroom… 😉

    • Nicola

      I use fleece liners (which also act as a barrier between the moisture from the diaper & baby’s skin) & to be honest you really don’t need a sprayer. As long as baby is exclusively breastfed (I’m sorry but I don’t know if this applies with formula too) the washing machine can handle the poops so no need to clean off, just throw it all into the diaper pail. When they start solids, the poops are a little more solid anyway so generally you can just give it a bit of a shake & it should pop straight off. For the more persistant poops, I hold the liner in the toilet bowl, flush & shake the liner as the water is flowing over it. This works perfectly. Hope that’s helpful.

  23. gerrianne

    I used cloth diapers 6 years ago when I had twin girls. They were great! The diapers and the girls. People thought we were crazy but it really wasn’t hard. The only time the girls had a rash was when they were put in disposable diapers. They made potty training much easier also.

  24. Morgan

    Here’s my challenge, and I sincerely hope you can help:
    I use predominantly prefolds & covers and my issues are with bulk. I already have a bigger than life baby boy and he just can’t fit into his clothes with the prefolds. I don’t mind using babyleggs and shirts except that we’re on a budget and I can’t afford to go out and buy shirts all the time (most his clothes were gifts). I’ve altered clothes he’s out grown as best I can (by chopping off the bottom of old onesies and restitching them into shirts), but I still feel really disheartened by the whole situation. I got into cloth to save money but I’m wasting it. I went with prefolds because they’re the most economical up front but when I’m reverting to disposables because of bulk then I’m just throwing money away. If I could do it over I’d use pocket diapers exclusively (we could only afford three for nighttime use). Am I being a baby about the bulk. Pleeeeeeeeaseeeeeee help.
    Thank you thank you thank you.

    • Tsh

      Hmm… I guess I haven’t had much of an issue with bulk. I mean, their bottom area is a smidge puffier, but not really enough for them to not fit in their clothes. I know in Aimee’s link (in the post), she suggests simply having clothes around in the next size up if they have a hard time fitting in pants. Is there any way you can just move him up to the next size?

      Also, perhaps you can look into shopping at thrift stores for clothes? Maybe you do already, I don’t know. I just know that we’ve never paid full-price for kids’ clothes because that’s the route we go, and shirts are usually around the $1 range.

      If anyone else has ever had issues with bulk, please speak up! 🙂

      • Helen

        I don’t have issues with bulk even with prefolds and covers, but then I haven’t used disposables since my now 5 year old was 6 months so I think I am used to the slightly larger bottom. I too have a larger baby, she’s in the 75% for weight just like her two older siblings were (she is also super long). I just tend to buy clothes to match her measurements over a nappy rather than for her age. She is 5 months now but is going into 9 month sized clothes. I have a lot of handme downs from her sibblings and the poor girl wears alot of boy clothes. I also knit so alot of her pants are wool which also double as covers making them even more versatile. I find that onesies and cloth just don’t go together especially if you use fitteds and wool as the cotton can wick.

    • Kathy

      Onesies are sometimes tight on my 8-month-old son, too, but I tend to just buy the next size up. I know that several companies make a product called a clothing extender that is pretty much a 2in x 3in piece of cloth that snaps in between the rows of male and female snaps on a onesie crotch. It effectively makes the onesie “taller”, and it might help you get more use out of the clothes you already have! Good luck!

      • Nicola

        Do you like fleece? You don’t need to use covers over diapers if you put a pair of fleece trousers on your little boy. Fleece is really cheap to buy too. Just buy a cheap fleece blanket & you could sew up several pairs of trousers the perfect size for your little man (it is really easy & I have no sewing skills). They are really great for just playing around in. There are several pattern on-line that you can use.

        Other than that there are clothes that are made specifically for cloth bums but they are expensive.

  25. Jen G

    Thank you so much for your frank and informative blog, and your links to video and similarly featured articles were tremendously useful!

  26. Jenn

    I once thought cloth would be an option but then I changed several in our church nursery. The smell makes me gag…even the ones that are just wet. I guess I’m just used to the way that Pampers absorb the urine odor.

    • Tsh

      That’s funny…. I was just over at a friend’s house for the morning, and we were talking about how we preferred CDs to ‘sposies because we feel like they hold the smell a lot better! I know it depends on how they’re washed, but when CDs fit well, they should absorb the smell well.

      But — who knows. To each her own. 😉

  27. Jackie@Lilolu

    I really could have used this post 10 years ago. Maybe I wouldn’t have given up on cloth diapers so quickly.

  28. Lindsey

    We use Fuzzibunz about 50% of the time with our one year old. We use disposables at night and when we’re out and about because our cloth diapes leak when they’re not changed super often.

    After taking a lazy break, I am trying to get in the habit of using my cloth diapers more, but here are my questions:

    1. Many CD moms seem to have lots of different types/brands of diapers. When I was first making the decision to try cloth, I was way overwhelmed by all of the options and pieces (even after reading Cloth Diapering 101 here). I went with the Fuzzibunz, because it seemed like one of the simpler options. I’m wondering if some of our issues with bulk and leaks would have been solved by other types of diapers, but it seemed like it could be an expensive experiment. Any tips on why you might use a variety of diapers, and how to choose?

    2. What do you do when your baby gets diaper rash? I’ve heard that cloth can be worse for this since it doesn’t wick the moisture away from the skin like disposables do (even though I’m trying to change wet and dirty diapers asap!). This has just recently been a problem for us.

    Thanks for the pep talk!

    • Nicola

      Hope you don’t mind me answering this. I have tried alot of different brands of diapers & I think the main reason for trying different types is that, like babies, diapers are different shapes & then they have different levels of absorbancy too so it is finding the diaper that works best for you.

      Ever had a disposable diaper explode on you? My darling daughter A produces so much pee, she can do that (that is not the reason we cloth diaper though). Because she can pee so much, our cloth diapers were no longer working for us when she was 6 months & I started looking into why & got sucked into the world of cloth.

      There are so many types of diapers & so many materials they are made of it is incredibly confusing so here is my cliff notes on cloth diapers.

      The best diaper is a bamboo fitted with a wool cover (or a fleece cover as a second choice) over it. PUL covers hold in moisture which makes the diaper wetter whereas wool leave the moisture evaporate.

      Pocket diapers are the most convienient diaper to use out & about. However, all pocket diapers have microfibre inserts. Microfibre is not very absorbant so lots of people find that they get leaks every couple of hours. My daughter can outpee a microfibre insert in less than an hour.

      Pre-folds are the cheapest diaper. Bit more complicated as you need to learn the folds &, as with fitted diapers, they work best with wool covers. Go for ones made of bamboo for absorbancy.

      My own stash is made of of half fitted diapers (bamboozles are good) & half pocket diapers. I do not use the microfibre inserts that came with the pockets. I use a large double bamboo insert with 1 or 2 hemp boosters underneath the bamboo (hemp can hold alot but it is slow to absorb so needs something that absorbs faster on top) I use bamboo prefolds for newborns because they are cheap & can be folded to fit smaller newborns (& later on can be used for burp cloths or wiping up). I also have night time specific diapers as it is very rare that day time diapers can be boosted enough to use at night time past 6 months of age.

      As a mom that has used both diposables & cloth full time, I have not seen a difference with diaper rash. That said I use fleece liners rather than paper. Fleece acts as a moisture barrier between the diaper & babies skin. The front (or the right side) of the fleece material needs to be on the diaper with the back touching babies skin. I commented on a post above about how to deal with fleece liners.

      Hope that helps

      • Nicola

        Sorry I meant to say as well that you need to be prepared to boost your diapers or change the inserts altogether like I did. It is amazing how much extra absorbancy a bamboo or hemp booster can add to any type of diaper & they can be bought relatively cheaply.

  29. megan

    I just started cloth diapering my (2 month old) baby a few days ago, and so far I love it! She constantly had a rash with disposables, which went away when we started using cloth, and we haven’t had any blowouts since the switch (after nearly everyday ones with the disposables). I’m using pre-folds with covers (bummis and thirsties), and also have some flip diapers. My only problem is with the stains, which yeah, they are diapers….but still, would be nice if the stains went away, and also the diaper pail smell can get a bit pungent by wash time on the third day. I think I need to try that bac out that another commenter talked about.

    • Nicola

      I put a couple of drops of essential oil (lavender or tree tree work really well) into the bottom of the diaper pail for the smell.

      Also, try fleece liners to help prevent stains if you aren’t already using liners. If you are using liners, the sun is the only way to get out the stains. It doesn’t matter if they are hanging outside to dry or you put them on a windowsill inside the house both will work. The main thing though is you need to keep them wet, the sun only works on the stain as long as the diaper is wet.

  30. Steph

    For me, the key to cloth diaper is really personal washing. Of course it’s more than the extra mile but if you want to keep you baby rash-free, it’s always better to be the one to wash it. I’m sure moms are more OC when it comes to their own toddler’s needs. I’d say, disposable are great for travel and events where you don’t necessarily have the leisure to change, wipe and wash the cloth.

    Great article! Keep it coming 🙂

  31. Archer Atkins

    Hi Tsh,

    I watched your 8 minute long cloth diaper video, and I just wanted to note that the flap in the front of the diaper cover is not made for tucking cloth diapers in. Check out this excerpt from Thristies: I think you were holding a Bummies diaper, but same concept. Its a sewing thing, and that flap is not there to hold the prefold diaper into place. The cover is designed in a way that nothing needs to hold it into place. Hope this helps!

  32. Nicola

    Just looked back & realised that I answered alot of replies. Hope you don’t mind Tsh. I love cloth diapers but there is alot more to them than people realise at first & that is why alot of people give up. That’s why posts like this one are great. Like breastfeeding though, it is easy once you get over the first couple of hurdles & learn abit more about them.

  33. Nicole

    Love this! We are also cloth diapering our little one. We’re using gDiapers. They have both a disposable (flushable/biodegrabable) and cloth option for the insert. We’re using the cloth. It took some getting used to at first…how to juggle changing her and getting a new diaper ready praying she wouldn’t poop on the changing pad, figuring how to get the dirty diaper to the laundry room, determining the best method for cleaning but we’re pretty used to it all now and love it. Thanks for the post!

  34. Jean

    I loved all the info you gave. I enjoyed the video of you showing how to clean the diapers. It answered a ton of my questions. I still think it’s too labor intensive for me. I tend to be very lazy. I think that moms who use cloth diapers are in another mommy league than me. Sort of “Super Moms”. Right up there with the moms who make their own baby food, make their own wipes and use rags instead of paper towels. I really admire the drive one has to do (and keep up with) those things. Maybe one day I’ll be at least half as good… sigh.

  35. Stephanie

    No babies here yet. We hope soon tho. We have been looking into using cloth nappies here in Scotland. There is a group up here that promote, sell, etc cloth nappies. They even have trial packs of different types of cloth nappies that you can borrow before you decide which different types of cloth nappies you want to invest in and buy. I think that is a fantastic idea. They also come out and do demonstrations/ teaching so that new mums can learn about the different options. All really FAB!
    My question is about the disposable liner which you showed in your video. You just flushed it away in the toilet. We are on a septic tank system and I’m not sure if you can flush those on that system. Also my hubby is a plumber and he comes home with horror stories of unblocking drains when people flush normal baby wipes. He is PRO disposable nappies but he won’t be PRO anything that will block up the septic tank or our drains. Is the nappy liner flushable on a septic tank system? If not, then what other options would I have and still be able to use disposables? Thanks!

  36. Natalie@Wisconsin Banks

    thank you so much for all the great tips and advice. i am so glad i found this blog. I am 22 and just had my first child, she is one month old tomorrow. Everything is so overwhelming, but the feeling of being a mother is indescribable, so rewarding. Thanks again for all the information, life just got a lot easier on my end.

  37. Mandy

    i am due to have my second baby in Dec and wanted to give cloth diapering a try – so I decided to test it out on my son. He was a year and a half when I started and we just started potty training. Well he turns 2 tomorrow and I love cloth diapering. Thankfully my shower head reaches my toilet so I just spray poopy diapers off into the toliet with hot water and I rinse the pee ones in the bath with hot water. I bought some gloves to wear (sadly that was a big concern for me when starting cloth diapering was touching soiled cloth) and after I rinse everything out I stick it in “the bucket”. Haven’t had a smell problem. I use prefolds and the Thirsties that grow with the kid. I have the level 2 ones right now and only have two because my son was potty training so some days if we stayed home he never needed a cover. I also don’t use a snappy thing – I just fold the prefold stick it in the cover fold down the top and velcro. It seems just as quick as a disposable and the insert doesn’t move around. I love the prefolds and Thirsties because you don’t need to wash certain cycles or temps – I just wash them as I wash any load. A little vinegar in the rinse cycle and the heat from the dryer kills the germs.
    Anyway – that’s my cloth diapering experience – i wanted to make it as simple as popssible knowing that any “special” things I had to do were going to discourage me (like – I don’t buy dry clean only clothes because I won’t take them to the dry cleaner)..and I’m so excited that it has gone well so far – my family thought I was nuts. and thankfully too my mother in law (who keeps my son) is on board, however I have told her that a “sposie”/Cloth diaper approach will be fine with me. I think it’s all personal preference.

  38. Angie

    Okay, I’m torn! I’m a strictly disposables mom (Target’s Up & Up brand with the cute blue polka dots cuz they’re cheapest around and hold tons). I used only ‘sposies (is that right, so much new lingo here) with my daughter and now also with my son who is 17 months. He REALLY struggles with rashes on his bum and perineum areas. He has eczema on his legs, so that may also contribute to worse butt rashes. We know that his rashes are linked somehow to food he eats. We’ve narrowed it down to fruits and vegetables that have ANY acidity. (These rashes began only after he turned 1 and we’ve always used the same diaper brand, so I’m pretty certain it isn’t the diaper itself, but may be further affecting once the rash has come)

    Anyway, when he has these horrible rashes it takes several weeks for them to heal and go away. Every poop makes them worse and extremely sore. As a result, every time we change his diaper he says, “Owie” and thrashes about, even when his rash is nearly gone.

    My questions are: Will cloth diapering help with his rash issue? Will they heal the rashes and resulting open wounds faster? How on earth can I change my mindset about this? I’m so new to all this. I know I won’t stick with something that requires special wash loads and line drying (we live in a condo in the wet Pacific Northwest). Are there CD brands that allow you just to wash them like a normal load and then put them in the dryer?

    HELP! I want to do what is best for my son, but I’m terrified of CD and all the extra work!

    • Ginger Garner

      Actually, the only time my sons ever got rashes were because of the few times I put them in disposables. So my first instinct – professionally (I am a physical therapist, and PT’s specialize in wound care) and personally (as a mom who has dealt with the same problem) – is to say – absolutely – cloth diapering will minimize rashes and skin issues.

      I used Fuzzi Bunz – which require 2 washes and then dry as you would any other clothing. Every so often I placed them in the sun to bleach out any stains. That’s it!

      Best of luck to you.

      • Dan

        Our experience with cloth (4 of 5 kids) is that when we had to use disposables that was when they would get rashes 🙁

        We were fanatical enough that we even did airline travel (going to relative w/washer) we wouldn’t use disposable. Since you used the cloth for so long w/o problems they’re probably best as long as you didn’t change your cleaning regimen (including soaps, drying, ANYTHING)

        Just be diligent about changing. My wife told me that the reason we named our second daughter so that here initials are CMH was for my benefit:
        “Check My Hiney” (as in why won’t she stop crying?) I checked her diaper, I know she’s been fed and burped and I just can’t figure it out… Wife checking diaper and finding it wet asks when I checked. “when she first started crying”
        Remember honey, she can’t talk so her cry could mean anything and reasons for crying can change…

        I could hear the difference between pain, fear and “general” but as far as distinguishing the shades of grey within “general” I never mastered that.

        Good luck!

  39. Elissa

    Hi Tsh,
    I’m not a mommy yet, but hubby and I are trying and are biding our time by planning. I love your blog and hubby and I are on board for cloth diapering. I have 2 questions, 1) you mention your changing station is in your bathroom, which is what I would like to do. Unfortunately, most of the baby changing gear is oriented to changing in the bedroom. Could you talk a little more about what your bathroom set up is like? 2) Also, I ran across a changing table ( that goes over the toilet with a sprayer and the whole thing drains into the toilet so you can squirt the bum and all the poo goes right where it needs to go. It can also act as a bathinet. The downsides – Its expensive ($250), and the idea of a wet baby 3 feet up on a piece of plastic sounds like an accident waiting to happen. Have you ever heard of such a thing or think it would be useful in this process? I’m on the fence about it, but was leaning towards it because I can’t find any other info about how to set up a bathroom changing station (see question 1).

    Any direction you could give on that would be fantastic!
    Thanks Much!

    • Dan

      Not sure why you want all the stuff in the bathroom besides it making sense from where does the excrement need to go… We used cloth diapers for 4 of our 5 kids and always had the table/equipment in the bedroom.

      I think the most important thing is that the work surface be at a comfortable height for the changer and of adequate size. If it were above the toilet wouldn’t you have to work on your knees? seems uncomfortable…

      We used a diaper service so didn’t worry about the poop too much. If it was a “roller” or it came off with one or two shakes it went else into the pail. If you’re washing your own, you might even want a scraper in the bathroom.

  40. Cam

    I’ve heard that it is bad to use a diaper rash ointment on cloth diapers because it makes them less absorbant. (though I’ve also heard the best ointment for cloth diapers is california brand at target.) is this true? do I need to be careful about my diaper rash cream?

  41. Mona

    Thanks a lot, this post really helped.

  42. Jena

    I am waiting for my order of CDs and was wondering what wet bag people use. I have 2 small garbage cans that I want to line with a wet bag to put the diapers in before washing. I live in a 3 story home and I know that I will not want to have to run to the top floor to put the diapers in the washer or into a single bucket. What wet bags seems to last the longest and aren’t too expensive?

  43. Christin

    Thank you so much for this!!! It has officially converted me. I am a visual learner and all I needed was videos to show me the ropes. You made even the prefold diapering look like a cinch! Thanks for taking the time to take video!!! I am loving the blog, you have obviously gotten a new follower!!!:)

  44. Kari

    I just wanted to thank you. I have been considering cloth diapers since our first baby (who is now four) but our daycare did not allow them. Four years later, I am now a SAHM and expecting baby number three. I really want to give cloth diapering a shot, but was feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the options, cleaning and care.

    After seeing this post, I feel more reassured that this is as easy I felt it should be. Your suggestion for using a rice paper line was GREAT! I have been to a couple of cloth diaper store and not one person suggested that. And seeing the different types of diapers “in action” on the vlog was helpful.

    In all, appreciate your help in breaking things down for first timers – its gives me something to consider and discuss with my husband.

  45. Stephanie

    My question is: What do you do with the dirty cloth diaper when you have the kids in public; Like while you are running errands/at the mall/ or park?

  46. Pat Mally

    I’ve been told cloth nappies/diapers help with potty training, because the child can feel more when they’re wet or dirty, compared to disposables and tell you that they need changing! does anyone agree or have any experience of this?

  47. jessica

    My husband and I live overseas and are seriously considering cloth diapers for our son who will be born in July. The problem is that we have to buy everything in advance and have our parents bring it to us when they visit. I was thinking that we would probably go with BumGenius and just get enough to last. But after reading other posts, I am worried that if we have problems with leaks or whatever, it will have been a waste of money. Is it wise to buy all BumGenius, or is it better to have a variety of diapers?

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