Sunday, April 20, 2008

Frugal cloth diapering tips & links

Please send me your best frugal cloth diapering tips or links, and I'll repost them here!

Here are a few of mine:
  • Don't buy cloth wipes; just cut up old t-shirts or other cotton knits into squares. No need to hem or serge the edges if it's a knit rather than a woven.
  • Sew your own diapers if you have the skills, time, and equipment.
  • Use recycled materials for some or all of your diapers and wipes: you can use t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc for the absorbent parts (as long as they're a natural fabric or a microfiber) and wool sweaters for covers. Go crazy at the thrift store on their bargain days!
  • Here's a site from Fern and Faerie on frugal diaper sewing: how to make flatfolds, prefolds, and fitteds for a song. '
  • If you buy brand-name diapers to try out, resell the ones you don't want to keep at Diaperswappers. (Or buy yours there!)
From Rebecca:

My last baby was cloth diapered for practically free. We scored an entire stash of cloth diapers (unused!) on Freecycle so I recommend using Freecycle as a resource too! I made wool covers from sweaters. Any other diapers I added to our stash were made from recycled materials like you mentioned ;)

I prefer cloth wipes made from flannel. Flannel receiving blankets can be picked up in nice quantities at yard sales and make great wipes. I usually made mine double sided,with one side being flannel and the other soft terry towling (also used from towels picked up at yard sales).The towley side just makes messy diaper changes that much easier.

From Jill:

I used to Dumpster-dive religiously when I lived in Austin. I would stockpile boxes upon boxes of clothes dug from the trash, and I made an entire stash for my son and my niece for free (not counting cost of the sewing machine I bought, thread, elastic, and Velcro, which were bargains I bought on Ebay). It was a great way to recycle perfectly usable clothes that would have otherwise wound up in a landfill. People are so wasteful!

Sweatshirts/sweatpants make GREAT soaker material, as long as they are at least 50% cotton. You can use just about anything for inners/outers: sheets, flannel PJs, T-shirts, jeans, fleece jackets, pretty much any washable cotton article of clothing that you can cut into a diaper shape! Old ratty towels or holey bathrobes make good soaker material too. And of course don't forget wool sweaters for longies! You can use fleece jackets or blankets for wraps too.

Polyester blend shirts also make good swim diapers (think Hawaiian!), since they are similar to swimsuit material. You can use a thin towel for the inner, or anything cotton would be fine. I made an adorable bikini w/diaper for my niece out of a polyester dress.

The best part of using recycled clothes is that you can come up with cool and unique looks that you would never find on a rack at a fabric store. Well, okay, the best part is that they're FREE, but the coolness factor is the second best part for sure!

I learned how to sew diapers from this tutorial: It took me about a year of practicing and tweaking to perfect my own pattern, which fits my son better than any diaper I've ever bought! That's another bonus of sewig your own dipes: total custom-ability. You can combine things you like or need from other diapers all into one and get the PERFECT fit.

From Julie:

Hi! We've got a great list going here with lots of free sewing and knitting patterns. :)


  1. Hi! We've got a great list going here
    with lots of free sewing and knitting patterns. :)

  2. Okay, this is an area that I wasn't remotely interested in before, but now I'm starting to think otherwise. Thanks for the cool tips.

  3. Rixa, I am now thoroughly interested after reading all this. I want to make my own. I've looked at the Chloe Toes website, and I have a question for you. Do you use separate diaper covers with the diapers you made? Also, what would you estimate it cost you to make them? Also, how easy it is REALLY to cloth diaper if you have to deal with washing and drying and all that? I've used nothing but disposables with my first 3, but I'm starting to cringe at the total cost of diapering over a 2-3 year period. Of course, I've never tried EC either, but I think I need to read up on that, too. Yikes! Lots to read and do in the next few weeks. We do have a stash of at least 100 disposables in newborn size that a friend gave us, so I guess I have some time to work all this out. Thanks for all the suggestions.

  4. Another microfiber a good thing to use for cloth diapers?

  5. Kelley,

    I made AIO (all-in-one) Chloe Toes diapers so there's no need for a separate cover. You can also make the CT diapers without the waterproof layer, and then they'll need a separate cover. I personally like AIOs because they go on just like disposables, especially the ones that close with hook & loop (ie, velcro). The downside is they take longer to dry.

    Using fancy materials, they cost around $5-6 each. That includes all of the fabric (absorbent & PUL), hook & loop tape, fold-over elastic, needles, glue sticks (for holding things together without using pins) and thread. That's probably the upper end of what you'd spend making them yourself. Of course, it's a very time-consuming project so you need to weigh that into the equation.

    You might be interested in trying prefolds (or fitteds) and covers, because it's super cheap. And if you want to make your own prefolds, it's still really cheap. Microfiber makes a great soaker material (as long as it's the kind meant to absorb water, rather than attract dust--I hear they're different, although I could be wrong about that). Then you could either buy or make covers (you don't need that many anyway) and give it a whirl.

    If you have a washer and dryer in your apartment, it's a cinch to wash diapers. I mean, how hard is it to dump them in the washer and press "start"? Pretty much I just run mine through 2 full wash cycles one after another, then throw them in the dryer. That's it!

  6. (I must be such a slacker! I only do one heavy duty wash with extra rinse. I do two only when they start to smell, LOL.)
    Kelley, I found that snappi'ing a prefold is honestly no more work than fastening velcro tabs. You'd be saving huge money by using prefolds. On the other hand, I do have like a dozen or two used (not by us) size small fitteds that you're welcome to! They are somewhat worn and a pretty old make, Indisposables I think. I tried them and they do work, but they were already too small when they were passed down to us. Let me know if you're interested!

  7. Practice elimination communication with your baby - every time your baby pees and poops in a toilet/pot/sink/outdoors, it's one less diaper you have to wash.

  8. havent you ever thought that "dumpster diving" and reuising materials from thrift stores is a little unsanitary? i mean, to put someone elses dirty clothes on your newborn seems awfuly irresponsible.

    what are your problems with disposable diapers?

  9. Okay anonymous, your comment just about got pulled by Miss Moderator. Why the rudeness? Anyway, we have lovely contraptions called washing machines that will make dirty clothes clean.

    The reasons I use cloth instead of disposables:

    1: $$$$$. Cloth diapers are much, much less expensive. My super-fancy diaper stash (3 sizes that will fit a 6 lb newborn up to a 30+ pound toddler) cost a few hundred dollars (and you can do cloth for much less if you get creative). I can reuse them for future children at no additional expense.

    2: Environmental impact. So many benefits from using cloth--such as using fewer raw materials, keeping a huge amount of waste out of landfills, keeping fecal matter in the sewer system rather than in landfills--that I won't enumerate them all here.

    3: The cute factor. Why use a disposable when you can wrap a Canadian flag diaper on your baby's bottom?

  10. Hey, you've got me convinced. I was up until 1:00 in the morning reading info all over the Internet about CDing and how to make them. The only problem with that, though, (*rolling my eyes*) is that I dreamed about them all night, and ended up wired and unable to go back to sleep when I woke up at 5:15. Short night! Anyway, I think I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do.

    I do have a question, though. I'm leaning mostly towards fitteds, but I'm also interested in the prefolds. I am now the proud owner of 10 yards of microfiber, and I'm wondering if I could use that to make prefolds.

  11. Okay, so call me crazy but I opted not to do cloth with my first after I realized how much expense there was with the washing and large amount of extra use on the washer and dryer.
    Do you know if anyone has ever done research to find out if this is even good for the environment as far as we may not be filling the landfills with disposable diapers but the resorces it takes to keep the cloth clean? Please forgive my naiveness when it comes to this. I am going on five and a half years of nonstop diapers here and there is no end in sight as number 4 is on the way!

  12. Hi.In response to Katies query, try this link.
    Keep in mind thats comparisons are not between apples and oranges. Water usage in cloth nappies is measured by including cotton production involved so try buying bamboo or hemp cloth or recycled cottons, DON'T use the dryer- these machines are the No. 1 household chewer of electricity. Use the washing line or a clothes horse inside. Sunshine is the best anti bacterial known to humans - so single wash for nappies is OK and they do not need heavy nappy detergents.

  13. Here is another link and interesting article about the environmental impact among other topics:


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