Cloth Diapers

Why use cloth diapers?

Cloth diapers save money! It is estimated that a disposable diaper costs 36 cents and if your baby is in diapers for 2-3 years you’ll easily spend over $1000 in just one year of diapering. Depending on which cloth diapering system you purchase, how many diapers you get and how many children you use those diapers on – you could spend as little as $100-300 to cloth diaper one child from birth through potty training. There is no exact calculation though because of the varying cost of disposables and cloth diapers. 

For us, now that GG has hit a month old, we sat down and figured up what we would have paid if using disposable diapers vs what we've spent on cloth diapers and inserts. In the first month, with the amount and frequency of GG's pee and poo, we would have already spent between $350-$400 on his diapering. This too because I'm HUGE on changing after every diaper once it is soiled - I don't believe in letting a baby's bottom stay in a dirty diaper for longer than necessary! At this point we have purchased all the cloth (pocket, one size) diapers and inserts that we will need and have spent, taxes included, $210.

Cloth diapers are eco-friendly! Disposable diapers are destined for the landfill where they will sit for over 500 years. Now consider the fact that the average baby will need about 6,000 diaper changes until they are potty trained – that’s a lot of diapers sitting in a landfill – for ONE baby! With cloth diapers you can at least feel good knowing that when your child is potty trained those diapers can be reused by another child.

Cloth diapers are gentle and non-toxic! Do you want to know what ingredients are used to make a disposable diaper? Depending on the brand of disposable diaper purchased they may contain dioxin, sodium polyacrylate, dyes, fragrances, plastics, tolulene, xylene, ethlbenzene, and other cancer causing toxins. Your child is in a diaper full time for 2-3 years and that’s a lot of chemical exposure for their little bodies. Exposure to these chemicals can also cause diaper rash. By choosing cloth diapers you are limiting your child’s exposure to these toxic chemicals. 

Rashes/Sensitivities: Some babies get horrid diaper rashes from disposables and some are just plain allergic to them. Babies in cloth diapers get less diaper rash and the ointments or salves used with them are usually more natural. There are a small percentage of babies that are sensitive to certain materials in some cloth diapers – like suede cloth or microfleece – but there are usually other options available like all cotton that will work for them.

Blowout containment: If you have a baby then you’ve probably dealt with poo explosions before. If you don’t have a baby yet, then picture a baby with poo oozing down their legs and up their backs, coating that super cute outfit you put them in. Cloth diapers are MUCH better for poo containment. Not saying that you won't have a blow out ever, but I have found that doesn't happen as commonly as with disposables!  It's happened twice with us currently and only because we were holding Gregory and he was in a sideways position thus causing it all to gravitate! Not a complete blow out, but pretty close!

But what do you do with the poop?
Get a diaper sprayer and install it in your bathroom, dump poop in the toilet and spray the diaper off. Or, if you’re like us, you get daddy to take the diaper outside and spray it. lol. Our next step is connecting a DIY diaper sprayer up in our toilet room!

What type of diapering system is right for you?
 And what do all of those abbreviations mean?

Prefolds: These are the old school diapers your grandparents (and maybe even your parents) used. They are rectangular pieces of fabric with multiple layers, especially in the middle, that you pin (or snappi/boingo) onto your baby. They are cheap, comparatively speaking, and will likely last through more than a few children. They are usually cotton or some other type of absorbent natural fiber and are not waterproof so you’ll have to put a cover over them.
Flats: Also old school. These are just large squares of fabric that you fold up and pin/snappi/boingo on your baby. Also, you could padfold them and place them in a cover. You can use almost anything as a flat… old receiving blankets, t-shirts, etc. You can also use flour sack towels (FST) that you find at your local Target or Walmart in the kitchen area that are about $1 apiece. These also require a cover. Flats are probably the cheapest option and the easiest to clean with the fastest drying time.
Fitteds: This is a diaper that can consist of any number of materials and usually has elastic around the legs and adjustable waist sizing (with snaps, Velcro/aplix, or even good old fashioned pins) but it is not waterproof so a cover is needed.
Pockets: A pocket is usually made up of a waterproof shell sewn together with a liner that forms an inner pocket that is stuffed with an insert for absorbency. Most pocket diapers will come with microfiber (MF) inserts but you can use almost anything including prefolds or flats to customize the absorbency based on your babies needs.

All-in-One (AIO): Just what it sounds like – all one piece. There is a waterproof (or maybe even wool) outer layer with a soaker sewn in. This is most similar to a disposable and the probably the most daddy/daycare friendly. These can take a long, long time to dry.
All-in-Twos(AI2) or Hybrids: This is a diaper with a waterproof outer layer but with an insert that snaps in place or is just laid into the shell. Unlike a pocket diaper, here the insert will go directly up against the baby’s skin.

Other abbreviations:

OS = one-size. This is a diaper that is meant to last from birth (or soon after) until potty learning. The diapers usually fit from anywhere between 8-35 pounds give or take a few.

MF = microfiber
PUL = polyurethane laminate, what some outerproof layers/covers are made of.
WAHM = work at home mom. There are many fabulous moms out there who are making cloth diapers and selling them on Etsy, Facebook or Hyena Cart.

How many diapers will you need?

You’ll have to decide how often you want to do laundry. If you can wash every day then you don’t need as many diapers. I wash every day to every other day, depending on how many diapers get dirty in one day which keeps the stink factor to a minimum.

If you are planning to start with a newborn you’ll probably need about 36 diapers. Newborns pee and poop all the time. Most go through about 12 diapers per day so you’ll need at least 24 and then some to wear while the laundry is going. As I mentioned earlier, most one-size (OS) diapers don’t start to fit until 8 (more like 10) pounds so you’ll likely need specific diapers for the newborn stage unless you just want to do disposables until your baby fattens up a bit and fits in OS diapers. Older babies go through about 6-10 diapers a day. Keep in mind that cloth diapers should be changed about every 2 hours or so. There are heavy duty or pocket diapers that you can stuff with more absorbent materials (hemp doublers, etc) for nap-times and overnight. 

Another thing to think about – the smaller your stash of diapers is the more use each one will get. That means if you only have 20 diapers and they are washed about every other day then each one will get washed over 150 times per year. 

What else do you need?

Pins, Snappis, or Boingos: These are products that will hold the prefolds, flats, or fitteds on your baby.
Wetbags: These are waterproof bags, some that you can carry with you in your diaper bag, some that hang off a doorknob or your changing table. Basically, it’s a bag to hold your dirty diapers until wash day. And, on wash day turn it inside out and throw it in with your diapers.
Pail liners: These are waterproof bags that go inside your diaper pail to store your dirty diapers until wash day. On wash day, turn it inside out and wash it with your diapers. You’ll want 2 of these – that way when one is in the wash you’ll have the other to use.
Creams: Regular diaper creams are NOT cloth diaper safe. I repeat, these creams are NOT cloth diaper safe. The whole purpose of these creams is to create a moisture barrier, so if you slab that on your baby and then put him in a cloth diaper it will coat your diaper and make it leak. You won’t need to use it that often, but there are cloth diaper safe creams available like That’s BALM! BABY, CJ’s BUTTer, and the Grovia Magic Stick among others.
Cloth wipes: These are optional of course but it makes good sense to use them. That way when you are done wiping up a mess you don’t have to fish the disposable wipe out and throw it in a separate trash can.

How do you wash them?

In your regular home washing machine or a laundromat. Depending on your machine (top vs. front loader) and it’s settings you’ll have to figure out a routine that works for you. You could probably google the type of machine you have + cloth diapers and there will likely be a lot of different threads and posts about how people clean their diapers.
Detergent use is well debated topic. We use All Free & Clear. What about stains? The sun magically bleaches away all poo stains you will run into. Just place your freshly clean, wet diaper/insert/whatever out in direct sunlight and in a few hours the stain will be gone.

Washing: 1 short cycle warm (or cool) water wash without detergent; 1 long/heavy duty hot water wash with detergent; 1 additional rinse cycle

If your diapers are leaking/repelling frequently or if they smell horrible the moment they become wet or soiled then it’s time for a good stripping! 

Diaper Stripping (If needed):

Do several (4-6) hot water washes (no detergent) to get rid of most residues. For extreme hard water build up you may need to use RLR Laundry Treatment. 1/4 cup of vinegar may be added to the first cycle or two (this is optional). *Note: If you have hard water you do NOT want to use vinegar. It may actually make your problems worse.

Homemade Baby Wipes


  • Strong paper towels work the best (for example, Brawny).
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup of baby oil
  • 1/2 cup baby magic baby bath


  1. Cut one roll of paper towels in half.
  2. Take out the core so wipes pull out of the center.
  3. Place 1/2 roll of paper towels in container.
  4. Pour solution over towels.
  5. Store in container. Makes 2 1/2 rolls.

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