Everything You Wanna Know About Cloth Diapers

Countless times I’ve received emails from friends and readers asking about the basics of cloth diapering. It’s a big world filled with lots of lingo and choices so it’s no wonder it can be confusing to a new mama (or even a seasoned one thinking about giving cloth a go). 
Today, I’m going to collaborate all those email responses I’ve sent over the years and give you a summary of cloth diapering from my perspective. This is the info I’d tell my dearest friends after cloth diapering my two baby’s fluffy bums. Ready? Here it goes … 
First of all, cloth diapering can easily be broken into what you need and what you want. Cloth diapering as its’ foundation is a great way to save money and opt for a healthier and more environmentally friendly option for your baby’s bum. But, as with any baby purchase you can easily go overboard with styles, prints and “must have” gadgets. In my opinion, here’s a culmination of what you’ll absolutely need to successfully cloth diaper.   
24 pocket or all in one (AIO) diapers | These are the easiest and most daddy/grandparent/caregiver friendly. My favorites are the bumGenius 4.0 and the bumGenius Freetimes. I’ve also had luck with Fuzzibunz and Thirsties Duo and AIO diapers.

Covers and Inserts | As an alternative to pockets or AIO diapers you can also use a hybrid system with a PUL (waterproof) cover and prefolds or microfiber inserts. This is a more cost effective option as you only need to wash the covers if they get soiled. So, overall you can purchase fewer covers than pre folds/inserts. If you go 100% this route I’d recommend 8 covers and 24 prefolds or inserts. My all time favorite covers are by Thirsties; they’re called the Duo Wrap Diaper. They come in two sizes for a good fit and have a double gusset at the leg openings to minimize blow outs and leaks. I’ve used Econobum and Flip covers as well and have no complaints. The Flip organic prefolds are my top pick followed by the Flip stay-dry microfiber inserts. The great thing about covers/inserts is that they can be used interchangeable. So if you find a great cover, you aren’t necessarily tied to that brands insert – you can mix and match for whatever works for you! 

Personally, I have a mix of pockets and covers with prefolds and inserts. I use pockets for on the go changes and covers and prefolds or inserts when we are at home. Either option can be amped up when it comes to absorbency by adding hemp insert underneath your normal insert. This is what I do to turn any of the above into a night diaper. 
Also, the decision between snaps and aplix (also known as hook/loop or Velcro) … I am 100% a snap girl. I find that my diapers have a much longer lifespan and my kids can’t undo the snaps themselves. Yes, snaps do take two seconds longer to put on, but to me, the trade off is worth it. You’ll find die hard Velcro gals out there too, so ask around and see what everyone’s reasons are before taking the plunge with one or the other.   
Dirty Diaper Storage | Other necessities include some type of wet bag storage for dirties. I opted for a garbage can (this is the exact one I got) and a PlanetWise pail liner. You can also consider a hanging zippered wet bag. It’s nice to have a smaller version for diapering on the go too. This one is by far the best since it has a wet space (for dirties) and a dry space (for clean dipes).   
Diaper Soap | Last, but not least, diaper soap. It’s extremely important to research what type of detergent is best for the diapers you have. After such an investment you definitely don’t want the wrong detergent clogging up or compromising the absorbency of your diapers. Personally, I purchase the Rockin’ Green Soap and absolutely love it. I’ve tried a handful of others, but none compare to the cleanliness I experience from a good ol’ wash with Rockin’ Green. 
These are the must-have necessities to get you started. You won’t NEED much else. But what you might want is a totally different story … 

So, now I’m going to delve into some of the wants/extras you may consider when cloth diapering. These things are by no means necessary. If you’re on a budget, skip them. But, if you’re adding cloth diapers and their accessories to your baby registry or have a generous grandparent or some mama money in your secret stash, here’s what if recommend …  

Diaper Sprayer | You won’t need this until closer to your little one’s first birthday, when they are eating more and their poo reflects that fact. At that point, it is a definitely blessing to have!  

Extra Diapers in Fun Prints | Kind of like clothing, cloth diapers have become a style statement. As much as you don’t need more than the basic 24 diapers, it’s fun to have some fun and pretty extras and if you ever get behind in laundry you don’t have to sweat it.  

Funk Rock and Deodorizer | I mean, we are talking about diapers here, so sometimes the smell can be a little ripe. Funk Rock by Rockin’ Green is an extra soaking mix that gives your diapers a deep clean. their pail deodorizer helps keep the smell at bay between washing.  

Wool | Wool shorties and longies are some of my favorite accessories with cloth diapering. It’s a whole other means of creating a waterproof layer and is great for all seasons. You’d be amazed at the properties of this natural fiber. In 2011, when I started using it I wrote all about the wonders of wool in case you are interested in learning more. Best part of all, you can totally make your own woolies if you don’t want to spend a bucket of dollars on these beauties (which I still don’t own, but really would love to add to my stash).  

Clothesline | Your diapers will inevitable end up with some stains. An outdoor clothes line will fix that in a jif with a day or two of sunning.  

Drying Rack | I live in the Pacific Northwest so the majority of the year I air dry my diapers indoors. This rack from IKEA has been a perfect addition to my laundry room.  

Cloth Wipe and Wipe Warmer | If your cloth diapering it makes no sense to use disposable wipes. Making them is one of the easiest sewing projects, but you can purchase them as well. These cloth wipes from Punkin Butt are my favorite to buy and when I’ve sewn a few batches I’ve done one side a fun flannel and the other side a soft bamboo. Etsy have a great selection so don’t forget to check them out! For wetting the wipes you can either use a spray bottle of wipe solution or a wipe warmer. I love the a Prince Lionhart warmer.

Swim Diaper | Rather than spend much too much on disposable swim diapers, consider buying a washable pair. I’ve had great success with this Kushies swim dipe.

That about wraps up all my cloth diapering wants and the extras you may want to consider. I know there are quite a few of cloth diaper mama experts reading so please, chime in with your wants and others cloth diapering knowledge!

Oh, and before I forget, I wanted to share these great resources that I find myself referencing over and over again:
What to look for when buying used
Cloth diaper safe diaper cream
Cost savings over the course of diapering with cloth
Cloth wipe solution

This post is a culmination of two posts originally published on the Baby Gizmo Blog here and here.


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  1. says

    I got the hanging zippered wet bag to contain our dirties this time- I hope it works as well as the reviews said it would because I'd have to say containing the mess and stink was my number one complaint when we CD'd Seth. I'm also planning to use more prefolds/covers this time. We still have all our Bum Genius diapers from before but some are so worn out! All of them are velcro closure, too- I'd definitely prefer the snap.

  2. says

    Brilliant tips!We are sharing cloth diapering posts at this week's Empty Your Archive and I would absolutely love for you to link up – Alice @ Mums Make Listshttp://mumsmakelists.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/empty-your-archive-26.html