Monday, January 7, 2013

Cloth Diapers 101

SO many families are choosing to cloth diaper now!
I have had many inquiries lately as to what we use, how we launder, etc.
I thought, now nearly a year into cloth diapering our son, I'd give some tips and tricks and what-to-buys.

So welcome, my friends, to Cloth Diapers 101.


There are many types of cloth diapers.
You can do prefolds with covers (the cheapest option), pockets, all-in-ones, all-in-twos, hybrids, sized, one-size, etc.
For us?
We use one-size pockets.
It works for us.
These diapers you stuff yourself, for the absorbency you need for your child, and they have snaps to adjust as your baby grows.
They work from 10-35 lbs.
We use disposable diapers when he was first born until he fit into his cloth.
Some buy some extra small cloth diapers and use cloth from the git-go.
For us, it was more cost effective to not invest in an extra-small stash and just use disposables.


For pockets, you stuff the diapers yourself with inserts.
(All-in-ones have the inserts sewn in....hence the name, all-in-one. These are more $$$ and can take longer to dry)
There are a few insert options, but here's the two we use
Microfiber and hemp.

Microfiber is the most common, and most cloth diapers will come with 2 of these inserts with the diaper.
Hemp is lighter, thinner and more absorbent than microfiber.

For stuffing, when Levi was a newborn, we were able to use just one insert.
Now that he's a bigger boy, we double stuff him during the day, and triple stuff at night.
The hemp are great because they are thinner and makes the diaper trimmer.

Snaps or Aplix?

In the beginning, I was all about the snaps.
I had read they held up longer, harder for older babies to undo, etc.
So...initially we got all snap diapers.
Then, on a whim, I got an aplix (velcro) BumGenius diaper.
We loved it.
The middle of the night changes were much easier.
The aplix was easier for newbies (church nursery, grandparents, sitters, etc.)
So we picked up a few more.
Looking back, I wish our stash was 50/50 between the two.

What brands are best?

BumGenius is probably the most popular.
They are readily available (can purchase them in store at Buy Buy Baby with your 20% off coupon!)

These diapers are around $17/ diaper

Then I found some diapers online that were much cheaper.
They are made in China and cost around $5-7/diaper.
So we got a few BumGenius as presents (we registered for them), bought a few in store, and ordered the rest online from Kawaii.
We got 12 diapers for like $60.
So much cheaper.
And we honestly like them just as much as the BumGenius.

Other brands that are popular are Apple Cheeks, Charlie Bananas, Kushies, SwaddleBees, Fuzzi bunz, Bummis, Alvababy (chinese) and Sunbaby (chinese).
I have no experience with these brands, so can't really give an opinion one way or another.

How many do I need?

My suggestion would be 18-24 diapers for one child.
If you plan to have children close together and could be diapering 2 at the same time, you'd obviously need to double that.

We have 24 diapers and do laundry about every 3rd day.

Laundry Routine

When we change Levi's diaper, we first unstuff the dirty diaper, and if its solid, we then take the diaper to the toilet to spray it.
It attaches to the tank of the toilet and is like a little shower head, that you can rinse off the diaper right into the toilet.
We love it!
 When he was exclusively breast fed, you didn't need to rinse of the diaper. It would dissolve in the water.
Once you start feeding solids, you must rinse off the diapers before laundering.

We use a white trash can with a planetwise diaper pail liner to hold his dirty diapers in.
It's done a great job of containing the smell.

So on laundry day, we take his liner full of diapers and dump it all (liner included) in the wash.
I first do a hot rinse to get any yuckies off.
Then a hot wash with my homemade detergent.
Often, I will do an extra rinse after.
I then dry in the dryer on air fluff.
(Drying outside is magical as the sun bleaches the diapers back to white!)
Once a month I will put regular bleach in to kill any bacteria.
(This won't harm the colors..I promise!)
And if we notice an ammonia smell, we put in a little original blue Dawn.

So, here's my detergent recipe:
1 c. baby oxyclean
1 c. borax

Mix together.
Boom. Done.

You can also use any cloth diaper approved detergent (Country Save, Rockin' Green, BumGenius), Original Tide powder, or a Free and Clear detergent.

Diaper Creams

You can't use just any diaper cream on a cloth diapered baby.
Most regular creams will build up on the diaper and cause it to repel liquid (which you DON'T want)
Safe ones include:
Burt's Bees
California Baby
Angel Bottom Butter
CJ's Butter
Mother Love
Coconut Oil

There have been times where Levi was rashy and I needed to pull out the big guns.
Desetin, Butt Paste, the works.
When this happens, I simply put a liner in his diaper to protect it.
You can buy disposable liners, or what I did, was buy a bunch of fleece (can be any color) and cut it into strips to fit the diaper.
No need to sew as fleece won't fray.
And just lay it in the diaper to protect it.
Another bonus with fleece is that it helps wick away moisture from their little bottom!

What about wipes?

We use cloth wipes mostly.
Many people still use disposable wipes.
For us?
We are already doing the laundry, it's easier to clean with, so why not?
We got some BumGenius flannel wipes from Buy Buy Baby and have also sewn our own.
(You can find many on Etsy or sew your own!)
I have a little squirt bottle of water I squirt on his booty, then wipe him clean.

So, what all do I need to cloth diaper?

18-24 diapers
36-48 inserts of choice (most diapers include at least 1 insert with it)
Diaper pail 
Diaper pail liner
Travel wet bag
Diaper-safe cream
Diaper sprayer (optional)
Cloth wipes (optional)
Fleece or disposable liners (optional)

A lot of cloth diapering is trial and error. 
What works for us, may not work for you.
Have patience and try things out.

It's a great choice for your pocket book, the environment and is simply adorable.

If you have any questions or further wisdom, please share!


  1. Love seeing positive cloth articles! They really are so simple to use. I found prefolds/flats and covers to be a favorite, but like pockets, also.

  2. They are much simpler than people imagine! Glad to see another cloth family!

  3. I have always used bumgenius diapers for my kids. They seem to be the only diapers that can make through the night for us! I love cloth diapering and, now that I am in a good routine, it is such a simple way to live more "green." Great review! Happy diapering!

  4. That's wonderful! Our Bumgenius have held up great! It's great seeing so many cloth diapering families!

  5. This is great info all in one place Jenny. We'd hope to cloth diaper another baby in the future, as long as we have our own washer and dryer, Lord willing :) I'm sure I'll re-read this post then. Thanks for sharing your tips!


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