NOTE: There are a LOT of links in this post… I wanted to give you a lot of pictures and examples without having to put so many pictures in the post! 🙂 Contact me if you find a broken link… I’ll fix it for ya! 🙂
I’ve read a lot about cloth diapering. Read a lot of articles, watched a lot of videos. The thing that is hard for me is that even when I watch/read stuff it seems so complicated… and I’ve been cloth diapering for going on 4 years! And I don’t think it’s complicated. I want people to feel the freedom to cloth diaper without that overwhelmed feeling you get when something seems too difficult. So, here’s my attempt to take the difficulty out of cloth diapering!
First, let me get this out of the way… I am more frugal than anyone I know… so when I say “Use a grocery sack”, you could translate that to be “Use a wetbag”!… just sayin’! I’m all about a cloth diapering system that WORKS… but I’m also pretty conscious of the price of said system.
Select Diapering System
I think this is where people start getting complicated. The selection of diapers & diapering systems is ENORMOUS! Where do you start!? That is the question isn’t it? So many people don’t even make it past this one step.
A quick tour:
As you can see, there are a LOT of choices out there for cloth diapering – the links above are only a sampling of what is available in each category! There are so many brands and styles and options out there! This article being my opinion, because, well, it’s my blog, I’ll tell you what I think.
I have used a variety of diapers in my tenure as a CD mom. And I tell you, I LOVE the system I’m using now. I started with these prefolds & covers. Loved it, until I was introduced to inserts! These inserts are marketed as “doublers” but it’s exactly what I used with my ProRap Diaper Covers. What a convenience to not have to fold anymore! I have also used one-size diaper covers (like this one from Sprout Change)… which, truth be told, are not one size after all. Touted to fit up to 40 pounds, my son outgrew his at 25 pounds. I did LOVE it until he outgrew it though.
So… what do I use?
I use what I consider to be the simplest system, easy to care for, durable, easy to store, easy to travel… key word: EASY! I use inserts & covers. Sure, AIOs might be “easier”… problem is, they are very expensive. And I’m frugal remember?!
First, I suggest purchasing ONE brand & style of cover in the necessary sizes. I have 6 covers in each of 5 sizes. The reason I suggest this is simply because there is less sorting, stuffing, folding, etc. I pile up the covers, I pile up the inserts. Done. I love the ProRap Diaper Covers & suggest the Classic covers in white… though, if you prefer, they do have an adorable line of colors & even prints now! Check here for the whole store! These covers are made with PUL (waterproof fabric), durable Velcro closures, and feature a gusset around the legs which is phenomenal for preventing leaks. I have tried snap diaper covers, and prefer the ease of Velcro. It’s difficult to snap 4-8 little snaps on a squirmy baby!
BTW… for those of you who are using disposables now & have experienced that “blowout” phase… Yeah, that doesn’t happen with cloth diapers! Just a little tidbit.
Second, I suggest Inserts, for the simple reason that you don’t have to fold. There are a variety of inserts available on the market from organic,wool, bamboo, microfleece, and a basic cotton/fleece insert (which is what I prefer because they rinse cleaner faster than the more exotic blends). I haven’t purchased any inserts myself so I can’t tell you which is best (although I have used a microfleece insert and hated it)… but I can tell you they are easy to make. I made all of my inserts… from the plethora of fleece & flannel receiving blankets I had in piles in my kids’ rooms! I’ll try to get a tutorial up soon. I love my fleece/flannel inserts because they are sooo soft and comfortable and easy to clean.
Third, I do suggest using cloth wipes. These can be anything from baby washcloths, to scraps of flannel or terrycloth. I have also made all my own wipes from two serged together layers of flannel & terrycloth.
These are my homemade inserts… some of them!
Organizing Your Diapers
Once you’ve purchased your cloth diapering system you’ll need to set up a system for organizing your collection. I have moved my changing area around the house so many times trying to figure out the perfect place for changing. And I’ve settled on the dryer! I have a contoured changing pad on the dryer, which obviously sits right next to the washer, you know, where I wash the dirty diapers!
I keep four baskets on the shelves above the dryer. Since I have two in diapers, I have one basket for LaLa & one for the Little Monster. These baskets house their size covers, and occasionally some slippers, jammies, whatever. The other two baskets hold the cloth wipes along with a container of water, and the inserts. I also have another small basket with creams in it.
On the floor I have two trash cans. One is for trash, the other is lined with a reusable grocery bag (or you could use a wetbag!). This is where I dump soiled diapers when there is another load of wash running, which happens occasionally around here as you can imagine.
Top two baskets – Kids’ covers
Bottom Left – Wipes & water
Bottom Right – Inserts
Cloth Diapering Basics
So… Onward. Now you have a baby and you need to diaper him. My personal preference is to use a non-scented paper (disposable) diaper until the little belly stump falls off. When that happens, I gladly switch to cloth!
I change at my dryer based changing station.
- If the diaper is wet, I replace the insert, and the cover if it is wet as well.
- If the cover is slightly wet but not stinky, I hang it with a clothespin from one of the baskets to dry.
- If the diaper is soiled and the baby is breastfed only, I just dump the whole thing in the washer, no need to rinse.
- If the diaper is soiled and the baby is eating solids, I set the insert & cover aside, change the baby, and then take the soiled diaper to the bathroom to rinse. I just rinse in the toilet by flushing and swishing (you could use a diaper sprayer), then I carry the rinsed diaper back to the washer in a small bucket (like an ice cream bucket, or you could use a wetbag).
- To wipe baby, I wet a few cloths in the container of water I have with the wipes (I’ve tried homemade solutions and found that plain old water works just as well and stays fresh longer too… the scented water tends to get slimy faster) and wipe. I choose to use cloth wipes because there is much less wiping & scrubbing and baby gets quite a bit cleaner.
- To replace the insert, be sure to fit it inside the gussets of the cover to prevent leaks. If baby is small, fold the insert over in the front, then pull up the cover so it completely covers the insert. There’s no need to even move the cover out from under baby when changing unless it is soiled. Simply remove the wet/soiled insert & put a dry one in it’s place.
Washing Cloth Diapers
It’s time to do the laundry! Since I keep my washer full of water, detergent, and a disinfectant (bleach or vinegar) and put the diapers in as I go, all I have to do is start the machine. Then switch to the dryer or better yet, line dry to reduce stains & further disinfect. This is the regular routine. You may prefer to do an additional rinse cycle, I don’t feel it’s completely necessary unless there is some serious mess in there.
I wash my diapers with homemade detergent and 1/2 cup white vinegar.
Once every couple months I strip my diapers… this involves either hanging the diapers out on the line in a rainstorm, or washing them once with detergent as usual, then once with a couple cups of white vinegar but no detergent, then another time with plain water, and another time in plain water for good measure. The purpose of stripping is to seduce your husband. Whoops… sorry! The purpose of stripping is to rinse out any buildup of soapy residue that has clung to the diapers over time. It’s also helpful if you notice baby has an unexplainable rash… perhaps the diapers just need to be stripped.
I typically wash every 2-3 days. Usually that’s a full load since I have two in cloth. When I only had one, I would go 3-4 days between washings.
TIP: Always close the Velcro before washing!
Traveling / Outings with Cloth
I don’t find that traveling with cloth is terribly different than disposables. Packing the diaper bag is the same except the addition of a plastic grocery sack (or wetbag) for the wet/soiled diapers. You figure out how much you need as you go. I usually pack several inserts, a cover for each kid, one disposable for each (just in case!), and a package of wipes (or I’ve heard of packing cloth wipes & a spray bottle of water! – I may just switch to that since I like cloth wipes so much better). Then I pack those little produce sacks I bring home from the grocery store all the time or some ziplocks… that’s what I pack up the dirtys in. No need for anything fancy in my opinion. Keep it simple!
When I travel… like go for a weekend… I pack the whole shebang in a Rubbermaid tote or cardboard box. Pile of inserts, pile of covers, and a pile of wipes. Then I set up on the dryer at Grandma’s house, or whereever I’m at. If your host is offended by CD, bring a wet bag or a large trash bag and bring it all home to wash.
Nighttime… So far I haven’t figured out a system for nighttime cloth. They always end up smelling of ammonia and I just don’t like that, so yes, I opt for the paper diapers for nighttime.
All in all, I think that’s all you need to know. I really hope this has helped to simplify the cloth diapering process. I know it’s a bit overwhelming at first and you wonder if you’ll even be able to stick it out. At least give it a try… #1 It saves a HUGE amount of money. #2 It’s way better for babys little buns than all that bleachy whiteness and ultra-absorbency of paper diapers. #3 It’s sooo cute! #4 It’s all “save the earth” green! Come on… give it a try! You’ll never turn back. And while you’re at it… ditch the toilet paper and go with family cloth! Haha! One step at a time!
What are your favorite cloth diapering tips?