I’ve been interested in cloth diapering since my pregnancy. I spent what seemed to be hours on my phone, researching what materials I needed, how much, and how extensive the washing process was. Let me tell you this right now: I don’t have half the shit they say you need to be successful at it, and I am doing it with two babies. Here is how I made it work for our family on our service industry income.
Excuse my poorly lit photo, but all I need is what you see on my paint-stained kitchen table. To wash, I use Tide original powder, wooden clothes pins to dry them, and a diaper-safe diaper rash balm. Coconut oil works just as well, which is why I included it in the photo. I used that before I got the diaper balm. Traditional zinc-based creams cause your diapers to lose absorbency by coating the natural fibers in the cotton. They essentially become water-repellent. I have a stack of 3 different types of diapers that I am going to go through in detail for you, and underneath the stack is a cotton prefold and Snappi. The rectangular things to the right are called inserts. They typically go inside pocket diapers, but can sit inside a cover. You’ll see what I mean when I get to the green diaper.
My FAVORITE Way to diaper: Prefolds + Covers
This is a cover with a snap closure.
This is an unbleached organic cotton prefold. I have been using dandelion cotton brand since the girls were newborns. This is the second size I have purchased from them and I love how absorbent they are, and how affordable they are. The mint green rubber thing with teeth is called a Snappi, and that’s used to secure the diaper once you fold it to fit your baby. It’s much easier than pins.
I’ll have a tutorial photo on how to fold this bad boy down at the bottom of the post, but this is how a prefold looks once folded and secured, just imagine a baby in it. It’s a literal cloth diaper.
The cover goes on top of the prefold…
And then you snap it to fit your baby. I really love this particular brand of covers because of the super adjustable waistline. Look on the left tab. The extra snaps make it easy to cloth diaper a newborn because it will fit their tiny body. This particular brand’s covers run about $10 on cloth diapering sites like kellyscloset.com and Nicki’s Diapers. I included the link to KC because I personally prefer to go through that website.
Another feature I really like about this particular brand is the double gusseted legs. It’s like the wing of a pad. I have never had a blowout with a double gusseted cover.
Close up of the brand name for you curious cats.
Another kind of cover is a Hook and Loop, or Aplix closure.
It’s a velcro closure at the waist, which in reality is a fool-proof fit, right? I didn’t mention this when I was talking about the chevron cover, but the hole-looking things on the botton of the diaper are called snap rises, and they adjust the size of your diaper rather than the waist. You can put this over a prefold just the same, or you can put an insert in the flaps at the top and bottom of the diaper like I did in the photo, and just put it on your baby like you would a disposable diaper. This way is definitely quicker than folding prefolds, but prefolds are cheaper. This is just another option for you. These run about $11 on KC. I forgot to take a picture of the logo. It’s the brand Wolbybug.
The last option is what seems to be everyone’s favorite way to diaper, but also the most expensive: Pocket Diapers + inserts.
Imagine Baby diapers run about $13 a piece.
It snaps closed like the other diapers, but this diaper is lined with fleece and has an actual pocket to stick an insert in. I have an insert that came with the diaper sticking out so you can get an idea of how it goes in the diaper. It’s pretty self explanatory.
If you refer back to the first photo, there were 3 rectangular inserts. Let’s get a close up:
The top insert is a microfiber insert. Any time you buy a pocket diaper, it’ll usually come with a microfiber insert to stuff it with. They’re the bulkiest out of the 3 and the least absorbent. In the middle is a bamboo/cotton blend insert. Slightly more absorbent, and at a decent price point. The least bulky of the 3. The bottom is my favorite: a hemp/cotton blend. Hemp inserts are the most absorbent and the most expensive. If you stick around to read the rest of this, I’ll tell you how I got the things in my stash for a discounted price. Never ever put a microfiber insert directly ON your baby’s skin. Stuff the pocket with it ONLY. Bamboo and hemp can touch your baby’s skin directly with no harm.
This is how I wash my diapers. It took me about two weeks to get a solid washing routine down and working efficiently.
- Make sure all of your snaps are undone and all of your inserts are pulled out of the pockets so everything gets washed properly. Throw everything- inserts, covers, pockets, even the pail liner (I haven’t mentioned it yet, don’t worry. You haven’t missed anything.) in the wash. DO NOT ADD DETERGENT. Do a COOL rinse cycle.
- Once the rinse cycle is completed, add your detergent. Like I mentioned before, I use original Tide powder. It’s the leading preference of detergents by cloth diapering parents everywhere. Don’t try to get fancy and use DIY detergent because you don’t want all of the ‘harsh chemicals.’ Would you rather your diapers be clean, or would you rather them be free of harsh chemicals and full of germs and stink? Yeah, didn’t think so. Do a HOT heavy duty wash.
- Most people said to just do another cool rinse cycle and the diapers would be fine, but I found that wasn’t enough to get the detergent out of my prefolds because Violet kept getting rashes on her tush. I do a regular wash cycle with cool water. It works just fine for me.
- When your washing is done, take your pocket diapers and your covers out and set them aside. Do not dry them in the dryer. (You can, I did in the beginning, but keep in mind that with every dryer cycle, your elastics are losing their bounce and are wearing down faster than if you air-dried them.) That’s what the clothes pins are for. You need to have a place to hang your diapers to dry. I ran a piece of twine from one side of my laundry room to the other and dry them in there, but if you have a clothes line, that’s all you need. *if you have staining, you can hang them outside and let the sun bleach them out when you pull them out of the washing machine*
- Put your inserts and prefolds in the dryer. Don’t use the highest heat setting, use a medium heat setting. Sometimes for them to get completely dry, I have to run my dryer twice.
My girls are eating baby food now, so their poops have done a complete 180 and are smelly and disgusting. Tons of people say to invest in a diaper sprayer that attaches to your toilet. You know what I do? I spray mine with the water hose outside in my backyard. It works wonderfully and guess what? I didn’t spend $45 on the sprayer, so I can take that money and buy stuff to add to my diaper stash.
Where do you put the diapers in between washes? Tons of people suggest a diaper pail specifically, but I personally keep a wicker hamper that closes lined with a planet wise pail liner and toss them in there. The smell is contained just fine. Just make sure you spray the poop out of the diapers before putting them in the pail or else it will literally smell like shit.
How many diapers do you need? That depends on what system you are going with. Are you doing prefolds and covers or pocket diapers? Covers can be worn over multiple prefolds in one day unless your baby gets poop on it, or you have a leak and it gets soaked. I can get away with using 4-6 diapers per cover. A good prefold to cover ratio is 2:1. Pocket diapers are essentially one time use diapers, so track how many times you change your baby’s diaper and add 3-4 more just in case. If you change your baby’s diaper 8 times a day and are washing every day, you can probably get away with 12 diapers. If you want to go two days without washing, you need about 20 diapers or so.
Don’t go more than 3 days without washing because by then your pee diapers start to smell like ammonia and it’s hard to get that smell out, and don’t wait until you’re on your last diaper to start washing them.
My Personal Stash:
*I got 20 inserts and 17 pockets from a lady on craigslist for $40. I soaked the diapers and inserts in a bleach + water mixture that I looked up online to disinfect them, washed them 3 times, dried the pockets in the sun to solar bleach them and remove further staining, then washed another 3 times until the bleach smell was gone. Don’t be a snooty Trudy and snub your nose at buying used diapers. If you don’t have money and want to get started, this is a good way to go. Think about it. What kind of people cloth diaper? Generally the ones that care about their babies and the environment and whether or not their kitchen and bathroom cleaner is all natural or not. You’re not going to get a disease from buying used diapers.
I linked KC earlier and I really suggest going through that site to buy your covers and diapers. If you buy 6 or more (I think it’s 6) diapers, you get them at a discounted price. You get reward dollars for shopping through them, and you get free gifts when you spend x amount of money. When I got my first order, they were advertising a free pocket diaper when you spent $119 which isn’t a lot at all considering a box of diapers ranges $25-$40 depending on where you go. Boxes of diapers lasted us about 5-6 days so you can only imagine the money we are saving.
Kelly’s closet sells inserts and prefolds as well, but I personally prefer going through amazon for that. The links I used are to the exact products I use for diapering and love them!
Absolutely none of this is sponsored, all of this is what I do and what works for me. Do your own research to make sure you’re comfortable with your choices, but hopefully this was enough to get your started.
BONUS: How to fold a prefold
Have the top of the prefold lined up with your baby’s belly button. Fold each of the sides in toward the middle, then again once more. Bring it up between the legs, making sure that it’s snug around the inside of the thighs. Bring the left corner behind your baby over the middle, then do the same with the right like you would a disposable. Holding it in place and using a snappi, snag the teeth on the left tab to the prefold and then stretch it over and snag the teeth on the right tab, then bring the middle tab down and snag it. You can roll the cotton around the thighs inward to make it a little tighter if you need to. Adjust the rises on the cover to fit your baby’s height, then snap the tabs in the middle to fit snugly around the waist.