Cloth Diapering 101

Baby in a cloth diaper Have you ever thought about cloth diapering? Here’s the 411 on our cloth diaper adventure and everything you need to know to get started!

Cloth diapers; Did the image of cloth rags and safety pins just pop in your head? Cloth diapers have come a long way in the last few generations. Modern diapers make it easier (and cuter!) than ever to use cloth. 

If you have already made the conscious decision to use disposables that is great. It will be nice to not have to worry about extra laundry. If you’re thinking about using cloth or already know you want to use fluff on your babies, then this post is for you. I knew right away when I got pregnant that I wanted to use cloth diapers, but never did I know that I would enjoy it so much and become quite the cloth diaper geek. 😉 

In this post, we will go over 5 reasons to consider cloth, the different types of cloth diapers and cloth diaper accessories, how to put on a cloth diaper, and how to wash your cloth diapers. 

Cloth diapers save money, are better for baby and the enviornment, and are just plain cute! Let me help you make your cloth journey a success by getting off on the right foot!

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links of products I highly recommend. Clicking on these links wont cost you anything, but may help me offset the costs of maintaining this blog. See my full disclosure here.

Five Reasons to Consider Cloth 

  1. To save money
    Cloth diapers may cost more up front, but in the long run they save so much money, especially if you plan to use cloth on your next little ones. Plus, cloth diapers have resale value; can’t get that with disposables.
  2. Better for the environment
    Cloth diapers may require water, but it’s actually not as much as you would think. Our water bill has only gone up about $3 – $5 per month and that is with all the other extra baby laundry, baths, and washing bottles & pump parts.  It also takes much more water to produce disposables than cloth. It’s a no-brainer that plastic is harmful to our environment. Its takes about 450 years for disposable diapers to degrade. Our earth is becoming huge piles of plastic bags, Keurig cups, and disposable diapers.  Reuse and Recycle. 
  3. Less chemicals on baby’s bum
    Disposable diapers are extremely convenient; however, they often contain chemicals, such as dioxins, which are linked to long-term health conditions. No, thank you. 
  4. Less blowouts (seriously barely any!)
    The contoured shape and elastic around baby’s bum and legs are great for containing blowouts. I seriously love that I don’t have to deal with blowouts.
  5. They are super duper cute

Where Do I Even Begin With Cloth Diapering? 

The first step is to get all of your supplies. When searching for cloth diapers, you’ll quickly find out that there are so many options out there, as well as some new terminology to learn. So, let me break it down for you. There are:

AIO “All in One”  These diapers are exactly what it sounds like. All in ones have absorbent material sewn right into the diaper cover. They are the easiest to use. No covers and no stuffing required. They are great for the busy parents and perfect for the sitter.

AI2  “All in Two” – All in two diapers have a detachable insert that is either snapped in or just laid inside the waterproof shell. The shell can usually be reused for more than one diaper change, simply by changing out the soiled insert with a clean one.

Pockets – Pocket diapers have an opening between the waterproof shell and the inner layer that touches baby’s skin. This pocket opening is where you stuff the inserts. Pocket diapers are nice because you can change the absorbency of them by changing the type or number of inserts you put in them. They are great for nighttime solutions.

Prefolds & Flats – Prefolds and flats are the most affordable & most durable cloth diapering options.  These are the “old-fashioned” diapers. Flats are nice and trim, but only have one or two layers of material, and need to be changed often. Prefolds are much more absorbent, as they have multiple absorbency layers. Both require a waterproof cover used over them. The cover can usually be reused a few times before throwing it in with the dirties. If folding prefolds or flats seems intimidating to you, don’t worry! You can always just fold it like a pad. Baby’s don’t pee out of their hips. 😉 We did tri-folds secured with a snappi when our little one was a newborn, but then she got super chunky and we started doing pad-folds from there on out.

Fitted – Fitteds are shaped just like any regular ol’ diaper, but are solely made of absorbent material. They require a waterproof cover used over them. 

Covers – Covers are waterproof shells to put over prefolds, flats, and fitted diapers.

Cloth diapers close with hooks and loops (Velcro) or snaps. We prefer snaps, as they are more durable and make it more difficult for baby to get their diaper off. We do have some AIO Velcro diapers to make life easy for my mom when she is babysitting.

Which Brand Should I Buy?

I recommend purchasing a variety of types and brands because different brands fit each baby different, and each brand will fit baby different at different times as they grow. Sites like Nicki’s Diapers and Diaper Junction are nice because they carry multiple brands & styles. Plus, they have other baby necessities and customer rewards. Hundreds of natural parenting products at great prices at both sites. 

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What Else Do I Need for Cloth Diapering? 

You will also need wipes, a place to store the dirty diapers, cloth diaper friendly rash cream & laundry detergent, and a diaper sprayer.

Here is our cloth diaper set up:

cabinet with cloth diapers and accessories In this cabinet of the dresser we keep diapers, cloth wipes, snappi diaper closures, a spray bottle filled with water, hand sanitizer, coconut oil,  Grandma Els diaper rash cream, and some lotion. This is only about half of our stash. We have somewhere around 30 diapers and three dozen wipes.  I would recommend getting between 24-36 diapers and 2-3 dozen wipes. We used to use the spray bottle to wet down the wipes when our little was a newborn, but when we were able to carry her around with one arm, we just started wetting them down in the sink. We use coconut oil most of the time to help prevent diaper rashes, but if she starts to get a little red, we will put some Grandma Els on her. These are both cloth diaper friendly creams. Some diaper creams can actually cause repelling issues, so be sure to use cloth diaper friendly ones.

drawer with prefolds & linersIn this drawer, we have all of our prefolds, best bottom inserts, fleece liners, a pail liner, wool covers, and a container of disposable wipes for emergencies. The fleece liners are super nice for when baby starts solid food. It makes the poop more “plopable,” and it helps wick moisture away from baby’s skin.  If the poop is really just that bad, you can always just throw the liner away 😉 We just bought some $2.50 microfleece blankets from Walmart and cut up about 35-40 liners per blanket. Super cheap & convenient!

Our cloth diapers are probably the most organized thing in our home, but there are many times when the diapers just come straight out of the clean pile each diaper change. Sometimes stuffing diapers turns into chasing the baby around the room or taking all the liners away from her before they go into that little mouth of hers. bag of clean cloth diapers


Wet BagsWe have two small wet bags for the daily travels, and one big wet bag for longer travels. Works great for when we go to the in-laws.

Dirty diaper pail For storing the dirty diapers between washing, we have two pail liners that we use inside of just a regular ol’ trash can. We did buy a trash can with a lid, but then we realized that the more air equals less stink, so we leave it open now. Those stand up laundry baskets with holes on the side also work well for storing the dirty diapers.

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What Do You Do With the Poop?!?

Our cloth diaper sprayer has been a lifesaver for us. It hooks right up to the toilet. Just spray the poop right into the toilet. When your littles are mainly on solid food, it will be easy enough to just “plop” the poop into the toilet. It’s really not bad. If you don’t want to cloth diaper because of the poop, then you might want to do some more research on babies. At some point, you WILL get poop (and pee) on you. No matter if you are using sposies or cloth.

How Do You Put On a Cloth Diaper?

My husband and I spent a good portion of my pregnancy watching cloth diaper tutorials and practicing on stuffed animals. It is much more challenging trying to put cloth on a squirmy baby trying to move every which way or screaming about getting her diaper changed. Don’t worry though, that doesn’t come until baby is a little older. 😉 You will have plenty of time to practice and become a cloth diaper pro during those early cuddly months.

Here is a how a cloth diaper should fit:

front of cloth diaper Should be able to fit fingers between baby’s tummy and the diaper. A gap here is OKAY. 

diaper with rise snaps adjustedFold the rise down. Fingers up, not down.

The “rise” refers to the snaps going vertically. Adjust the rise to reflect baby’s height and leg thickness.

diaper with no gaps around the legs No gaps around the legs. 

Baby crawling away with cloth diaper onBaby is good to go!

Try to change diapers about every two hours during the day to avoid diaper rash. For newborns, change before or after every feeding. We would change before feedings because little one had reflux, and we needed to keep her upright for 20-30 minutes after feedings.

How Do You Wash Cloth Diapers? dirty diapers in the washer

Cloth diapers may be the only laundry that I actually enjoy doing these days. Everyone’s cloth diaper wash routine is going to vary because it will depend on the type of washer and dryer you have, how hard/soft your water is, and what kind of detergent you prefer. Experiment and try to keep it simple.

Here is our wash routine:

  1. Pre-rinse with cold water and one cap of detergent. Be sure to do a pre-rinse or shorter wash cycle before the main wash, otherwise you will just be washing your diapers in urine water.
  2. Fluff up the diapers and get them unstuck from the sides of the washer
  3. Wash on heavy with hot water (need to use hot water with plant-based detergents), two caps of detergent, and one rinse.
  4. Dry on low. The dryer is your best friend! Use it! Wait until your diapers cool until taking them out of the dryer, so the elastic won’t get stretched out. (Like us moms actually have time to get to the laundry as soon as its done anyways…)We do like to line dry outside in the summer. We lay the diapers out hot-dog style, so the elastic won’t get worn out.

What about stains? SUN those diapers! Leave your diapers outside in the sun or sit them in the window to naturally bleach those stains out!

What kind of laundry detergent should you use? We use Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus for laundry detergent. Here are some other recommended laundry detergents:

Synthetic: Tide Powder, Gain, Foca, Purex

Plant-Based: Amway Legacy of Clean SA8, Boulder, Kirkland Environmentally Friendly/Responsible, Ecover

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When Should I Start Cloth Diapering?

This is totally up to you. There are some people that start right away, even in the hospital, while some wait a few months until baby fits into the one size diapers. We started at about 5 weeks old.  Our little was only 5 lbs when she was born, so she didn’t even fit into the newborn diapers yet. Being first time parents, it was also nice to just give ourselves time to get adjusted without having to worry about extra laundry. We chose to buy a newborn stash, and I am really glad we did. They were only worn for a few months, but it sure did save us money. We can use them on our next children, and there is also resale value.

What About You? 

Are you ready to start your cloth diaper journey? Are you already a pro at cloth diapering and would love to share some of your tips? Comment below and let us know your cloth diaper secrets. Be sure to share this post with your expecting mom friends.

Happy Cloth Diapering!


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“Detergent Index.” Fluff Love University. 2014-2016. 19 Mar 2017.

Nicki’s Diapers. 2003-2017. 18 Mar 2017.

U.S. National Park Service; Mote Marine Laboratory. “Time it Takes for Garbage to Decompose in the Environment.” New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. 2017. water/wmb/coastal/trash/documents/marine_debris.pdf. 19 Mar 2017. 

11 Replies to “Cloth Diapering 101”

  1. Really nice post. We cloth diaper part time and I learned some things here thank you! I love how cute these modern day cloth diapers are. Much better than the old cloth with pins and rubber cover from back in the day.

  2. I’m sorry to say, I never used cloth diapers. Now, as many years have passed, I wish I had done so. Thanks for this wonderful post and I will be sharing it with someone I know who will be having a baby soon.

  3. My baby #3 is 8 months old. The other “babies” are 19 and 11 years old. My mom clothe diapered me 39 years ago. I remember hearing the stories about the pins and such. But wow… how times have changed. These new diapers look awesome. I will concern clothe diapers now. I’ll come back and let you know if we do it. LOL

  4. Thanks for all the info- such a great post ❤️ Not sure I’m ready to make the cloth diapering dive but you’ve given me a lot to consider!

    1. Thank you for the kind words Jamie! I’m glad I have given you things to consider. Cloth diapering really isn’t that hard once you get started. But, every family is different, and I am sure you will figure out what fits your family best.

  5. This was such a good read. I learned so much that I wish I had known with my son. If we ever have another kid, we will be using cloth diapers!

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