Sunday, April 20, 2008

All about cloth diapers

I am reposting advice and reviews from the comments section here. Come back often, since I imagine I'll be updating this as more suggestions come in!

From moi:

I sewed my own all-in-one (AIO) diapers with a Chloe Toes pattern. I made 24 newborn, 24 small (10-20 lbs), and 18 medium (13-26 lbs). I have tried out the following fabrics: cotton terry, hemp terry, hemp fleece, and bamboo velour. My favorite is the bamboo velour. I loved the hemp fleece at first--it was marvelously soft and fluffy--but I found that it became hard and compacted after a lot of wear & washing. It still worked fine, though.

I modified the Chloe Toes pattern to close with hook & loop (velcro). I prefer velcro over snap closures--more adjustable and easier to do with one hand. I used Aplix for the loop side and Touch Tape for the hook side. For the NB and S sizes, I made a soaker flap that was sewn down to the front of the diaper, rather than sandwiching it inside. It did cut down slightly on drying time. I found that once Zari was active & mobile, especially walking, the flap would tend to get scrunched up a bit. So for the next size of diapers (M), I put the soaker back inside the inner layers of the diaper. I used 1 mil PUL for the waterproof layer.

I like the Chloe Toes pattern a lot. I had 3-4 layers of absorbent fabric total, including the soaker, so it doesn't hold a lot of liquid. But I kind of wanted it that way, since I change her as soon as she wets. Okay, within a few minutes that is! They do leak around the legs when she pees a lot if I don't change her right away, because the moisture wicks on the fold-over-elastic (FOE). I hear that can be remedied by spraying Camp Dry on the elastic, but I haven't tried that.

Washing: I dry pail with a large stainless steel flip-top trash can that has a plastic liner. It was around $35 at Wal-Mart. I don't use any odor eliminators or anything, just put the diapers right in the can. When her poop became more solid, I'd dump it into the toilet first (sometimes use a bit of toilet paper to wipe it off). I do two full wash cycles. The first one I put a little OxyClean and a little detergent (have used a variety, whatever is on hand) and a scoop of baking soda. If I remember, I'll put a little vinegar in the rinse cycle. Then I do second full wash cycle with nothing added, except perhaps a few drops of Tea Tree Oil.

I dry in the dryer. for 70-80 minutes on high. Too cold & wet most of the year to dry them outside.

From Märia:

Mothering magazine came out with like 3 articles about cloth diapering last month. I decided to switch then. I am using mostly all-in-ones Thristies brands. They work wonderfully, the best part about them are the leg gussets, no leaks. They are kinda expensive, $17 each. If you buy them at you can buy 6 and get 6 free inserts, which are not necessary, but why not. I'd suggest reading the article though to gegt a more comprehensive idea. Since I had no idea there were so many different kinds, and brands.

From Rebecca:

I was happiest with snap-to-fit fitted diapers (I had a stash given to me and then made more myself I loved them so much) and wool covers.I cloth diapered all 5 of my children and I probably have used everything out there and that's what worked the best for us. I always had a nice stash of thick prefolds on hand too and the Snappi fasteners were fabulous. Much better than the traditional diaper pins I used with my first born! Yikes.I don't miss those days...

From Annie:

I just put this together for a friend of mine.

Here are my recommendations for a budget conscious newborn diaper
stash, that will last you the first 4-5 months until he's 15lbs. Then
you need to get the next size up.
With this setup, you'll do laundry 3x/week.
I have put this together from 2 vendors I love, both of which do registries.
But browse around, there are many options!

From Wildflower Diapers:

Kissaluvs contours - 12
Inexpensive but work quite well.
Size NB/Small

Kissaluvs Fitted - 12
You will want to order the accompanying liners
Size 0

Chinese Prefolds - 12
These can be tricky to figure out at first, but they are definitely
the most economical.
Size Infant

BumGenius One-Size pockets - 6
These are great for night time & they will grow with the baby. I am
saving up to buy some for Bea.

2 Wahmies pail liners:
One will always be diner


Odor Remover:

Foaming pump bottle:

Microfleece doublers - 6
These will boost your pockets at night, or pad your prefolds for extra

Cotton Doublers - 10
Less absorbent/trimmer than microfleece. I have a combo & use both.

EcoBabies fitteds
These are a little pricy but I love them & wish I had more. They're a
good "luxury" item for your registry. The do need doublers.

From Natural Babies:

Bummis Super Brite covers - 3 NB, 3 S

Bummis Super Whisper Wrap - 3 NB, 3 S

Sugar Peas Wool Jersey cover - 1 S
Wool is absorbent & soft

Swaddlebees Wool Cover - 1 NB, 1 S
Great w/prefolds

Sugarpeas Fleece - 2 Small
Fleece acts like wool--I like both eqyally

If you get wool covers you'll need lanolin & wool wash:

More wipes:
I love these.

Bottom Cleaner & Baby Bits:

These keep your diapers closed

From Amy:

We used prefolds with covers and Kissaluv's fitted diapers. I tried Fuzzibunz and BumGenius, but I really didn't like the whole all-in-one thing. Rosie would pee out the top (like a boy!?!) and the legs would leak badly. The prefolds were perfect because they hardly ever leak, they are simple to wash and quick to dry, and we only had to buy two sets--the infant size, then the regular size. When we bought the regular size, we kept the infant size to use as tri-folded inserts for overnight. I used snappis instead of pins. I like Indian prefolds the best, but we also had some Chinese ones. Just be sure they don't buy those thin Gerber ones! I actually think used prefolds are better than new ones because quality prefolds get softer and more absorbent the more they are washed and used. (To a point, of course.) We bought three dozen tie dyed infant prefolds (for only $30, great deal), and we were the third family to have them. They are sooo fluffy! I've saved them all for the next baby. I can't wait to get them back out again.

For older babies, the Mother-ease covers are my favorite. The Kissaluv's were my favorite for the newborn days, along with covers that had leg gussets. The gussets are SO important, otherwise that poop can just flow right out when you least expect it. Prowraps are kind of ugly covers that work very, very well. No poop ever escaped from ours! I also liked Bumpy Day covers. I tried Thirsties covers, and they worked well for a couple months, then they started falling apart! All of the stuff came unsewed, and I wasn't rough on them or anything.

As far as numbers go, for the infant stage we got 12 Kissaluvs, plus three dozen prefolds, and about 10 covers. I would say start with two dozen diapers and 6 covers then see how fast they are used up and figure out how many more you need.

For washing the diapers, I use Purex free and clear, just a drop, in the cold soak. I've been looking for an affordable natural detergent, but I haven't settled on one yet. After soaking, I do a prewash or two with a splash of vinegar, then a hot wash with a teaspoon of baking soda and some Calgon because we have crazy hard water, then an extra hot rinse. I'm lazy, so I usually dry them in the dryer.

I think that's everything, hah.

From Doreen:

The most economical, and absorbant IMO, are chinese prefolds. I have two sizes, infant and premium. The infant size will last until 4-6 months, the premiums until potty training. I snappi them. For covers, I really like bummis super whisper wraps. They fit nicely, and are very durable. I do use fleece liners once baby starts solid foods. For wipes, I just use some cheap Gerber washcloths. I did get some bumgenius one size pocket diapers for Elly, and so far I absolutely LOVE them. I started using them when she was probably about 8.5 pounds, and they fit really well. I'll be interested to see how long they are going to fit her, and how they are going to hold up. So far, so good.

As for laundry, I do a load once a week. I dry pail the diapers (I have a bummis waterproof bag that I use as a pail liner). As long as baby is breastfed exclusively, all diapers go straight in the pail. Once I start solids, I use fleece liners, which make poop clean-ups really easy. On wash day, I put the diapers in the washer and soak them with some borax and some bac-out, in cold water, for at least an hour. On my washer, I use the extra rinse cycle for this. When done soaking, just turn on the washer and it'll finish the rinse cycle. Then I wash the diapers in hot water with some detergent (we use bio-kleen, and you need very little), and I also put some TTO in. Finish with two rinse cycles, and put some vinegar in the first rinse cycle (will help get out detergent build-up).

Line drying in the sun will get out stains quite nicely. Drying in the dryer gets the prefolds nice and fluffy. When I line dry, I'll often throw the diapers in the dryer afterwards for a few minutes to fluff them up a little, but that's just personal preference. :o) Anyway, I think that's all, tried to make it short. Funny you posted this, I'm actually going to teach a cloth diapering class in a couple of weeks. :p

A couple more reviews:

Fuzzi bunz - there was quite a hype about these when they came out. I like them pretty well, but I've decided I prefer diapers with velcro instead of snaps. I seem to get a better fit that way. I do still use the fuzzi bunz I have, though, and they work well especially with the joey bunz hemp inserts.

Kissaluvs fitted diapers. I like them okay, though I've found the elastic really wears out over time.

Crickett's fitted hemp diapers. These are nice, but hemp is prone to getting holes after a while, so they're not as durable as the prefolds I have.

Wool covers. Nice to have if baby has diaper rash, as they allow for better air circulation. They are thick, though, and you can't really put clothes on top. So if you're a freak about matching outfits and such, these may not work well for you. There are some really cute ones out there, though, that can be combined into an outfit with just a shirt. Wool covers also are a more "green" way to cloth diaper, since wool is a natural fiber (unlike PUL, haha). And some people love wool covers for nighttime diapering.

Imse Vimse covers. I have a couple, and like them a lot. They fit nicely. A little more expensive, though.

From Kate in Ottawa:

As a tiny newborn we used 24 infant prefolds with bummis super whisper wraps. They worked really well. I had 6 kissaluv fitted size 0's and disliked them - they got super soaking wet and leaked all the time. And I found the snaps finickety.

When he outgrew infant prefolds we bought some bigger prefolds and a size up in the super whisper wraps (6 wraps). By this time prefolds were getting harder to use since he got so wiggly (and I could never get a snappy to work well for me).

We bought 10 bumgenius pocket dipes and my husband and I LOVE these diapers. They hold quite a bit of liquid, dry quickly, the velcro is holding up well, etc...

We were having problems with nighttime leaks. We bought a jamtots hemp contour diaper - it's okay. What has ended up working really well are the TotBot Bamboozle bamboo diapers (with a bummis super whisper wrap). These are SUPER absorbant and DS usually wears one for 12+ hours overnight with ZERO leaks. It took a few washes to get them this absorbant, but they're now working really well.

I wash diapers every other day and my 10 bumgenius + 3 bamboozles + 1 or 2 prefolds get me by. I use bioliners flushable liners now that he's eating solids so I can just peel it off and flush the poop. I use Nelly's laundry soda (1/2 Tbsp per load). I just do a hot wash/cold rinse regular cycle unless they're really poopy and then I might do a cold rinse (no soap) first. My washing machine is super low-tech and my dipes seem nice and clean with no smells and no stains yet.

I use a dry "pail" - it's the Mother of Eden washable bag. It hangs on a door knob and is never completely closed. Apparently, because air circulates in it, the pee doesn't turn to ammonia and get all stinky. I can't believe it, but this actually seems to be true. The room with the dirty diaper smells fine. I just toss the bag in the wash every time I do diapers.

Have fun diaper shopping:)

From Birdie:

Another idea is using a diaper service until they can decide on what to actually buy. Sometimes they offer a few kinds of diapers, or they could be used as a good reference for the best kind to purchase in the long run.

As with so many parenting things, everybody will have his/her own ideas of what works best. For us, after three kids in cloth, here's my "must have/do" list:

* 2-3 dozen Chinese Prefolds
* Snappis (the modern alternative to pins)
* 1-2 dozen one-size cotton fitted diapers (i.e. Mother-Ease)
* PUL covers
* Wool covers
* Kissaluv size 0 for newborns (opposite of the previous poster, these are favorite diaper EVER for a newborn LOL. I had no leaks, great fit, and got almost 4 months out of them (my babies were all around 7 lb at birth)).
* Cloth wipes! Don't forget these. So many people I know still use those chemical-laden wipes when CDing. Cloth wipes work so much better, and you avoid all the nasty additives.
* Fuzzi Bunz. I have tried a few different all-in-ones (AIOs) and pocket diapers, and these are by far our favorites. The medium size have lasted a really long time - from about 4 months to potty training time! I did like having smalls, but to be cheap, just wait a little longer until baby is in a medium and you'll get so much more use out of them.
*A washable pail liner - so you can wash it with the diapers on wash day, and it serves as a glove to shove all the dirties into the washer
*a wet bag with a zipper closure for the diaper bag. Yes, you can use plastic too, but these are great to have for other things as well (wet swimsuits for example).
* Flushable liners (not the Kushies brand - Imse Vimse has good ones). These are great once baby is on solids and the poops get stinkier/stickier/messier. If it only gets wet, it goes in the pail with the diapers, and can be washed and reused. If poopy, you lift the whole thing out of the diaper and flush - voila! So much better than trying to scrape off the icky stuff LOL
* Not necessary, but my new favorite toy for CDing: a sprayer that hooks up to your toilet! Makes solid poops much easier to clean :)

I use a Target-bought, flip-top plastic trash can with the washable liner (I have 2, so when one is washing, the other is in use...I use the ones from Blue Penguin). Infant (breastmilk) poop does not need to be rinsed - diapers just go straight into the pail. Bigger baby poop I dump in the toilet first. I don't use anything for smell...occasionally with a bad batch (i.e. sick kid, nastier poop) I'll add some sprinkled baking powder in the pail).

My washing routine (top-loader or front loader - I've used both):

1. Prewash cycle with a tiny bit of detergent - about 1/3 what you would otherwise use. Sometimes I add some borax or baking soda as booster.
2. Hot wash with cold rinse, no additional detergent. Vinegar in the softener dispenser if you have it, or in the rinse cycle (not necessary every time)
3. Another cold rinse (nothing added unless you want to use vinegar and/or TTO or lavender oil drops (some say never use TTO with infants...).
4. Line dry the pockets, fluff the cottons in the dryer for ~20 minutes and line dry for the rest (of course, I live in AZ so this is extra easy)

Some of my favorite sites:

* Green Mountain Diapers (I think one of the best resources on fit/use...not the best prices however
* Wildflower Diapers (it's local :))
* Babyworks (the economy wipes from here are amazing - my favorite; I got my original diapers from here - the CPFs I still use now, 6 years and 3 babies later)

More random tips:
* Never use bleach - it destroys diapers

* Don't use regular commercial detergent - it has optical brighteners, fragrance and softeners added, all of which are bad for diapers...Free and Clear styles are OK in general; Charlie's Soap and Allen's Detergent come highly recommended.

*If your diapers start to smell or repel pee, you have detergent build-up and you'll need to strip them and be sure to use way less soap in the future.

There's my novel for the night. I'm sure I have more, but baby needs me :)

From womantowomancbe:

The most economical way to go (as far as I've found), is to get prefolds (, with nylon diaper pants (, and diaper pins. Do NOT get Gerber vinyl pants -- they tear after a few weeks, even laundering them carefully and air-drying. I've used the nylon pants for at least 2 years now (two different kids), and while I've had to throw 2-3 pairs away because the leak-proof stuff wore off of the inside, they've yet to tear -- and I've dried them in the dryer on high heat most of the time.

To be honest, I've not tried any of the other diapers; but am quite happy and content with mine--they're thick and absorbent, but not so thick that they take a lifetime to dry, y'know? Plus, once the kids outgrow them, they have a thousand other uses until they finally wear out even as dust-rags. :-)

From Judit:

Wow! So much advice, it's a weeklong project just to shift though it! I will make my post stand out by virtue of its brevity. Chinese prefolds, snappi, thirsties covers for the not-yet mobile newborn. AIOs thereafter. More $ does not necessarily = proportionate increase in performance.

From Laureen:

We did elimination communication with our sons. And I still have the 25 DSQ organic newborn prefolds I used with DS #1, and the 25 or so Poquito pants he grew into after that, for use with Baby #3, cause with EC, there's not much wear and tear on the diaper. And bonus, they're done so much faster. Kes was a graduate at 15 months, Rowan was a grad by 24. Sooooooo nice to have it done with fast!

We use prefolds and me-made fitteds with Motherease Airflow covers, and the occasional piece of wool. I plan on repeating this system with the new baby too, as it took a long time to figure out what worked best for us and this is by far the easiest and most pleasant method we've come up with. Motherease Airflow covers are awesome: bulletproof, indestructible, they last forever, and they fit even over the biggest bulkiest prefold. Plus I love that they come in sizes that can fit my almost 40-lb. toddler.

We do dry pail too. The thought of a big stinky pail of "diaper stew" turns my stomach (no offense to anyone who uses one). We use a regular trash can from Wal-Mart with a pop-open lid, and when it gets full it's about a full load of laundry. I just carry it to the washer and dump it in, washing with a regular amount of detergent on Warm/Cold. Normally we used the Gentle Cycle to help the diapers last longer, but I can't figure out how to use the Gentle Cycle on our new washer so I just use the regular cycle. And yes, the diapers always came clean on Gentle. ;)

I only machine-dry our prefolds and doublers. Covers and fitteds go on a folding clothes rack, which you can find anywhere for around $10. It does take the thick fitteds a long time to air-dry, but it's better than running 500 dryer cycles for one load! We also machine-dry our wipes, but I wait until the prefolds and doublers are done (after one 90-minute cycle) and then take them out and pop the wipes in for about 30 minutes. Putting them in with the prefolds winds up with shrunken wipes!

Cloth diapers are so friggin' easy that it baffles me when people say that they don't want to try them beacuse they're "too hard" or "too complicated." The only difference for us is that we dump the dirty diapers into the washer instead of the trash, and of course shake the poop into the toilet (which you're suppoesd to do with disposables too but no one does!). Oh yeah, and there's no running to the store for another pack of sposies, that's nice too. It's not hard or scary or gross, and it can be really enjoyable knowing that you are keeping chemicals off your baby's butt and keeping literal TONS of trash out of landfills!

Laura on using a dry pail:

It is so easy! I don't get it either when people thing it's hard, especially now that more people use a dry pail. We dry pail with a rubbermaid container, the lid keeps any odors from escaping. Sometimes it is lined with a bummies tote, that can just go right in the wash with the diapers which can keep the pail clean and cut back on odor.

Judit on dry pails:

Dry pail: like Kate, we hang our PUL sacks on a doorknob too. Those sacks are so sturdy, we've used the same set for almost a year, even though they can get really heavy when full of damp dipes. (The doorknobs also seems to be holding out just fine!) True, no stink. I do recommend washing every other day in the summer though, unless you like to crank the A/C till you shiver, LOL. In winter, I wash every 3 days. We quasi-EC so that might cut down on volume a little bit.

We use plain old Chinese Cotton Prefolds around here. I have tried pocket diapers but I don't like them nearly enough to use them all the time. Sure, they are convenient but they are also hard to clean those runny "baby had too much fruit yesterday" poops. They are also the most economical. We use Snappis to hold them together and use the reverse angel fold. For covers I have tried many. ProWraps, ProWraps Colors, Bummis Whisper Wrap, originals, and pants. But my favorites so far are Thirsties. I haven't tried fleece and wool is too expensive for my taste. I love the Thirsties because they don't hold the urine odors like I find the Bummis do. They come in so many great colors and look so cute on the baby's bum! They have leg gussets that are inconspicuous and don't add extra bulk to the diaper. I like the PUL covers the best because they go right in the wash with the diapers.

As for cleaning/washing goes... I use BioLiners when I am expecting baby to poop so it makes clean up easier. If the poop is out of control or I don't use a liner, I have a Diaper Duck. Its a neat little contraption that wrings out the diaper after you have shwooshed it around in the toilet to get the solid matter off. You put the diaper in the duck and squeeze out the excess water. I have a 13 gallon kitchen trash can that I line with a nylon wet bag. I use the dry pail method. I just stick the dirty diaper and cover (if needed) in there. Come washing day when its full or I run out of dipes I put it all in the washer (including the bag). I have switched to Charlie's Soap and it is hands down the BEST laundry soap to use for ALL your laundry! It rinses completely out and your clothes are so soft even when hung to dry in the sun! I put 1 scoop on oxyclean with 1 scoop of charlies in the wash and run a long cold cycle. When that is finished, I use 1 scoop of each again and sometimes if I am in the mood add a few drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil. I run it on the longest HOT cycle with an extra rinse. When it's finished I hang the dipes outside to bask in the sun.

It is so easy and I just love using cloth diapers! We have to use sposies at night because my daughter drinks so much water that she gets the cloth too soaked, but I wish I didn't have to. Overall, the money spent and the minimal amount of time spent caring for your diapers is well worth it!

From Kim:

I am a bit of a cloth-a-holic and found a brand that I love so much, I became a reseller for them and started up a website. We use side snapping pocket diapers from Green Acre Designs. LOL If you want to check it out, I have videos of how to use them, my own washing instructions, and tons more.

I wanted it to be a resource for those thinking about going cloth.

I would recommend starting cloth once the kiddo is about 12 pounds or so, they grow so quickly in the beginning they outgrow their first set of diapers in weeks.


  1. This information is GREAT! Thanks so much for this gathering of advice from moms who know.

    One quick clarification, please, what does dry pail mean?

  2. What a great source of everyone's experiences! It's good to know what other families use and do with their cloth because something different works for every baby.

    Dry pail is when you just put the diapers in an empty wet bag or trash can without water or anything wet to soak them in. We do dry pail too.

  3. Dry pail: like Kate, we hang our PUL sacks on a doorknob too. Those sacks are so sturdy, we've used the same set for almost a year, even though they can get really heavy when full of damp dipes. (The doorknobs also seems to be holding out just fine!) True, no stink. I do recommend washing every other day in the summer though, unless you like to crank the A/C till you shiver, LOL. In winter, I wash every 3 days. We quasi-EC so that might cut down on volume a little bit.


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