Document 117076

A Simple, Comprehensive Guide to
Using Cloth Diapers
By Erin Odom
Creator/Editor of|
@Erinwrites |#ClothConvert
All contents copyright © 2013 by Erin Odom
All rights reserved.
No part of this document or the related links may be reproduced or
redistributed in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, or
otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author.
Edited by Jessica Sibley of Word Well Editing
Front Cover Design by Will Odom of Vida Creations Designs
Interior Design and Formatting by Jami Balmet of Fount of Inspiration
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I dedicate this, my first solo-authored eBook to:
My three little redheaded girls, who gave me the wonderful experience of
diapering their cute little fluffy bums.
My husband, Will, who listened to my endless discussions on cloth
diapers, even late into the night. He thought I was crazy--until I decided
to turn all my research into a book.
And, most of all, to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who I believe gifts
us each uniquely. Without Him, I’d be nothing. Glory to His name in
everything-- even in changing diapers!
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Erin is a Jesus-loving, cloth diapering,
natural birthing, real-food eating,
breastfeeding natural wife and mama to
three little redheaded girls.
Several years ago, she was the recipient
of a loan through the now-extinct Cloth
Diaper Foundation. This was the only way her family was
able to begin cloth diapering, and they were so grateful.
Instead of building an entire stash of one diaper type, as
many cloth diapering parents do, Erin had the unique
opportunity to diaper her babies in an assortment of
every diaper type until her family had the money to
purchase their own stash. From flats to prefolds to
pockets and all-in-ones, Erin has used it all!
Erin spent hours and hours researching and
troubleshooting because...she’s called the humbleD
homemaker for a reason: She made every mistake in the
book. But through doing that, Erin learned how to teach
others how to avoid those same mistakes. She began
inviting young moms to her home and introducing them
to cloth diapers, and she began working as an online
consultant for a cloth diapering store. Erin helped
hundreds of customers choose the best diapers for them
and how to overcome cloth diapering challenges.
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More than anything, Erin is a follower of Jesus Christ,
who has taught her so much through many of life’s
humbling trials.
She writes for her local newspaper and blogs about her
far-from-perfect homemaking at The Humbled
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Part 1: 10 Cloth Diaper Confessions
Confession #1: There are Many Reasons to Use Cloth Diapers
Confession #2: There is a Cloth Diaper Type for Everyone
Confession #3: Anyone Can Use Cloth Diapers
Section 1: Convincing Daddies
Section 2: Convincing Other Caregivers
Confession #4: Building a Cloth Diaper Stash is Easier Than You
Section 1: Building a Cloth Diaper Stash Before Baby is Born
Section 2: Building a Cloth Diaper Stash After Baby is Born
Section 3: Building a Cloth Diaper Stash on a Budget
Section 4: Using a Diaper Service
Confession #5: Establishing a Cloth Diaper Routine Can Make or
Break Your Experience: How to Prep, Gather Your Accessories,
Wash, Strip and Get Over the Poop
Confession #6: You Can Successfully Cloth Diaper from Newborn
to Potty Training
Section 1: Cloth Diapering a Newborn
Section 2: Cloth Diapering a Toddler
Section 3: Cloth Diapering an Older Child
Section 4: Potty Training
Section 5: Cloth Diapering Two or More Children at the Same Time
Confession #7: You Can Cloth Diaper at Night
Confession #8: You Can Overcome Any Cloth Diapering Challenge
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Challenge #1: Fit
Challenge #2: Stink
Challenge #3: Leaks
Challenge #4: Rashes
Challenge #5: Stains
Challenge #6: Naked Toddlers
Challenge #7: Nighttime Diapering
Challenge #8: Yeast
Challenge #9: Diaper Cream
Cloth Diapering No-Nos
Confession #9: You CAN Travel with Cloth Diapers--But You May
Not Always Want To
Section 1: Daytime Trips
Section 2: Weekend Trips
Section 3: Extended Vacations
Section 4: Special Circumstances
Section 5: Swim Diapers
Confession #10: Cloth Diapering Can Be Addicting
Section 1: The Cloth Diaper Addiction
Section 2: When the Cloth Diapering Honeymoon Ends: Taking a Break-or Calling it Quits
Part 2: The Heart and History Behind the Diapers
Using Your Cloth Diapers to Bless Others
Cloth Diaper Advocacy
History of Diapers
Diapering Around the World
Closing Remarks
Cloth Diaper Abbreviations
Recommended Resources
Chapter Index
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Disclaimer & Disclosure
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An entire book? On cloth diapering? Could there possibly be so much to say
on the topic?
When I began using cloth diapers on my firstborn over eight years ago, I
truthfully had no idea of the complexity that is cloth diapering today. I set
out with a $100 budget to buy my entire stash and diaper pail, all the money
that we could possibly spare at that time, feeling sure that I would nimbly
step through the baby specialty store in my town, grab the appropriate
items and leave feeling confident and prepared to deck my baby out in cloth.
What I didn’t anticipate was that 1) there were more options than I could
have dreamed of, 2) they were more expensive than I expected and 3) I was
more clueless than I thought I would be.
This isn’t our grandmas’ cloth diapering, ladies! Gone are the days of simple,
bleached prefolds with clunky safety pins and squeaky vinyl Gerber covers.
In the eight years since I entered the cloth diapering scene, it has quite
literally exploded (no pun intended) with options.
Do you want fleece, PUL or minky? Or how about 100 percent renewablysourced, moisture-wicking wool? Hot pink, lemon yellow, pistachio green or
zebra print? Snaps or Velcro? One size or tiered sizing? Covers, pockets or
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all-in-ones? Dry pail or wet pail? Soap nuts, Rockin' Green powder or makeyour-own liquid? All cloth or part-time sposies?
What once was not only the only choice, but an easy one at that, has
become an entire industry with its own jargon and enough options and
opinions to keep your head spinning until your baby is old enough to do their
own laundry (or clean the toilet, whichever you prefer-- this day will come,
dear moms of little ones!).
Unless, of course, you’re reading Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert by
my dear friend Erin Odom, and you really should be grateful to have this
valuable little book in your hands. If only someone had written this for me so
many years ago, I wouldn’t have had to walk into (and back out of) that
store dumbfounded and shell-shocked. I wouldn’t have wrecked my first set
of covers by allowing an unsightly mold to develop on them. I wouldn’t have
wasted my money on covers that didn’t fit my baby properly, leaving me
with laundry piles and wet, stinky jeans. I wouldn’t have struggled so much
with knowing how to treat yeast infections, sore rashes, and diapers that
needed to be stripped. For that matter, I would have understood the term
“stripping your diapers” and wouldn’t have been lost in the terminology. I
would have made my peace with cloth diapers in public, at night, and with
other caregivers far faster than I did.
Regardless of my bumpy beginnings, I (like Erin) still found myself becoming
a through-and-through cloth diaper convert, and, I even daresay, an addict.
It thrills me to pad the sweet little tushes of my babies with adorably bold
colored patterns. I rest easy knowing that no chemicals are touching their
delicate skin. I feel deeply satisfied at keeping waste out of the landfill and
doing my part to make ecological choices, and I know my husband truly
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appreciates the thousands upon thousands of dollars I’ve saved us by using
cloth on all four of our babes.
The research has all been done for you. Every problem, every option, every
question, every I'm-not-quite-sure-how-to situation is answered and
expanded on. Erin has given naturally-minded mothers a gift in this
thorough and utterly helpful handbook.
With this book in hand, I leave you with a cloth diaper benediction: may
your baby’s bottom be colorful and squishy, may your wallet retain its cash
for purposes other than bodily functions, and may the cloth ever flap
peacefully on your laundry line.
Stephanie Langford
Happy cloth diapering mom of four
Creator/editor of Keeper of the Home -- Naturally inspired living for
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Why I Wrote This Book
I never set out to use cloth diapers. In fact, it wasn’t until my oldest child
was almost 2 1/2 that I even began to consider switching to cloth.
I had the common misconceptions:
 They wouldn’t work.
 They’d take too much work.
 They’d smell worse than disposables.
 They’d leak.
 And the poop...who could forget that poop on cloth diapers is so
much grosser.
But when my second daughter came home from
the hospital, she developed a rash almost
immediately. I tried switching her to a different
brand diaper and treating the rash with almost
every type of diaper cream imaginable, but the
rash simply wouldn’t go away--or even improve.
I couldn’t imagine the pain my sweet baby was
enduring, but nothing seemed to work.
At the same time, it became increasingly obvious
that our 2 year old was not close to potty
training. I spent many days scrubbing the carpet
where she had had accidents, and it was wearing
on me. We were living on a very low income, and
I couldn’t imagine how we could continue to buy
disposable diapers for both our daughters.
Well, let me
tell you,
poop is poop-no matter
what type of
happens to
catch it!
A friend of mine who had also just had her second baby started talking to
me about cloth diapers. Her mother convinced her to try them, and she
discovered they really were as easy to use as disposables. She introduced
me to the world of modern cloth diapers--diapers that look and work just
like disposables--no pins or folding required!
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I was intrigued, and I asked her to show a diaper to my husband. He,
too, was amazed at how simple she made using these diapers look.
And a miracle happened: he agreed that we could try them!
My husband and I quickly learned that the cloth diapering stereotypes are
myths. Cloth diapers are no harder to use, work just as well or--might I
suggest--better than their disposable counterparts, and, although it
would be nice, poop is gross no matter what.
When we saw how easy these diapers
were to use and calculated the savings,
making the full switch was a no-brainer.
Soon after converting to cloth, cloth diapering became a passion. I spent
hours researching the best methods of cloth diapering, educating friends
on the benefits of using cloth and even organizing several diaper parties
to teach newbies the ropes.
I began working for a local cloth diapering store. I helped customers
troubleshoot issues and make decisions about the best types of cloth
diapers for their families.
I hated seeing other parents become frustrated and want to give up
cloth. It’s not like I hadn’t been there....I had. As you will see in the
pages of this book, there were times that I just wanted to throw my
hands in the air and give up altogether.
How This Book Can Help You
When I started cloth, I knew that if I were going to invest in a stash of
modern cloth diapers, I wanted to do my research and get diapers that
were going to last. I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize my diapers.
But, really? I ended up making just about every mistake in the book.
When I received my first diaper in the mail, I had no clue how to wash it.
I used a diaper rash cream on my diapers that was not cloth diaper safe.
And I almost quit using cloth diapers when I realized I had to do a special
disinfecting wash to rid them of yeast after my baby had an infection.
13 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Through many, many frustrating days, I persevered.
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I made every mistake in the
book…so you wouldn’t have to.
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And I’m here to save you from that same frustration.
I’ve spent hours researching the sea of cloth diapering information
available today, so you won’t have to waste precious time with your
babies while you’re trying to maneuver the ropes of cloth.
In this book, I’ll take you through 10 cloth diaper “confessions.” Through
them, you’ll learn:
The Reasons to Use Cloth Diapers
A Detailed Breakdown of the Many Different Types of Cloth Diapers
How Anyone Can Use Cloth Diapers
How to Build a Cloth Diaper Stash
How to Establish a Cloth Diapering Routine
How to Cloth Diaper from Newborn to Potty Training
How to Cloth Diaper at Night
How to Overcome Cloth Diapering Challenges
How to Travel with Cloth Diapers
How Cloth Diapering Can Become Addicting
and more!
Along with this, I’ve also included an abbreviation key as well as a
glossary and chapter index in a resources section at the end of the book.
Although I refrain from using the abbreviations in this book for the
benefits of those brand new to the world of cloth diapering, I realize that
you will encounter these terms all over the web, and I don’t want to leave
you without them! I do highly encourage you to go ahead and preview
the glossary, as all of these terms will come up in the book.
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In the second part of this book, you will discover many ways in which you
can bless others with your diapers after your children grow out of them or
potty train. You will also learn about ways to advocate for cloth diapering
and even a little bit of the history behind diapering in general.
How To Read This Book
I’m assuming that if you’ve purchased this book you already have an
interest in cloth diapers and don’t really need to be convinced of using
them. This is not a cloth diapering “bible”; it’s a manual--a simple,
comprehensive guide to get you started and make sure your cloth
diapering experience is successful. I’ve written this book to help you
troubleshoot any cloth diapering challenge--and, if you read this book
before you even get started, you may eliminate any challenges
This book is designed in such a way that you can flip through to the
specific section you need to read. Therefore, you may encounter some
repeated information, but that is on purpose for thoroughness. To best
take advantage of this, I encourage you to check out the table of
contents before you begin and reference the index in the back of the
book frequently. These were built with your convenience in mind.
How To Use an eBook
An eBook is designed to be read on your computer, phone or to be
printed out.
You can print the entire book or print specific
sections and staple the pages together or
place them in a 3-ring binder. You could even
take the book on a jump drive to an office
supply store and get it bound.
I have included photos throughout this book.
To reduce printing costs, I suggest highlighting
the text that you want printed and printing
that section only. That way, the pictures will
not print.
15 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
printing the
entire book,
please note
that it is over
200 pages
If you have a Kindle on your phone or other mobile device, you can email
the PDF version of the book to your device. To find your personal Kindle
email address, check out this information page from Amazon:
You can also download a FREE Kindle app for your phone, mobile device
or computer, which may make this book easier to read:
Sharing this Book
In a few words--please don’t share this book. I spent countless hours
researching and writing this book. This was time away from my family. I
have worked very hard to produce a book at a very low cost to you, so
that you won’t have to spend all that time researching and
troubleshooting. Plus, the tips you will learn in this book will help you
ditch disposable diapers and keep from ruining your cloth diapers. That
alone will save you money!
As with any book, feel free to share various quotes or what you learn
from it with your friends, but if they want the entire book, please suggest
they purchase their own copies at or
This entire publication is protected under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976
and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws, and all
rights are reserved, including resale rights. You are not allowed to give or
sell this book to anyone else without paying for it. If you have this
content (digitally or in printed form) and didn’t pay for it, you are
depriving me of royalties for my hard work. Any trademarks, service
marks, product names or named features are assumed to be the property
of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no
implied endorsement if I use one of these terms. Copyright ©2013 Erin
Odom. All rights reserved worldwide.
16 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Cloth Diapering Saves You
It’s true; using cloth will save you
money. This is the primary reason
my husband and I even considered
using cloth diapers in the first place.
But I’ll be honest: there may be
some sticker shock if you are
planning on using modern cloth
diapers, like pocket diapers (which I
mainly use) or all-in-ones. However,
spending some money up front to
build your stash will most definitely
save you money in the long run,
especially if you use your diapers on
more than one child!
I’m now using the same stash of
diapers on my third child. My
diapers paid for themselves long
ago, and I’ve been saving money ever since by NOT having to buy
diapers or even spend gas to run to the store to get them.
A Cost Comparison
The average cost of disposable diapers for two years is more than
$1,400*! Some even estimate double this number! This cost is higher if
your child potty trains later than age two. The cost will also be more if
you choose to use premium-priced, environmentally-friendly diapers,
such as Seventh Generation, Earth’s Best or Huggies Naturals brands.
A cloth diaper stash can feasibly cost $300 or less and can be used for
your next little one! Cloth diapers also have a very good resale value, so
you can realistically get back much of the cost by selling your diapers
after your child outgrows them or potty trains.
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Let’s look at a cost comparison of several diaper brands versus cloth
diapers. Keep in mind that you can cloth diaper from newborn to potty
training for around $300, and that number can be divided by two if you
cloth diaper two children using the same diapers--or three if you cloth
diaper a third with the same ones (as I am now doing!).
Individual Cost of Disposable Diapers
Brand Name
Budget Brand
Daily Cost of Disposable Diapers
assumes newborn will average 12 diapers per day and toddlers will average 6 diapers per day
Brand Name
Budget Brand
Monthly Cost of Disposable Diapers
assumes newborn will average 12 diapers per day and toddlers will average 6 diapers per day
Brand Name
Budget Brand
Two-Year Total Cost of Disposable Diapers
assumes newborn will average 12 diapers per day and toddlers will average 6 diapers per day
assumes 3 months at
newborn cost and 21
months at toddler cost
Brand Name
Budget Brand
Cost Comparison Chart created by Barry Myers of Stacy Makes Cents and From Debtor to Better
20 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
As the chart clearly shows, even with using a budget brand, you will still
pay at the very least more than $900 on diapers, not even counting
wipes. When I saw that I could cloth diaper for one third of that price, it
became a no-brainer to convert to cloth.
Nighttime diapers are not counted in the total cost of diapering. Most
children continue to wear some type of diaper or trainers at night even
after they daytime potty train. Fifteen percent of 5-year-old children in
the United States are still not night trained, and some children still wet
the bed to age 6 or beyond.1 Hence, the cost of nighttime diapering will
be much higher.
*The prices in the table are based on prices listed on in February
2013. sells diapers at a considerably lower price than other retailers,
so keep in mind that getting diapers at a brick-and-mortar store will most likely
result in an even larger gap between the cost of disposable and cloth diapers. Using
coupons may make the price per diaper lower, but coupons are not always
available. This cost comparison does not take into account the price of gas to get to
the store or shipping when ordering diapers online. The newborn price is based on
the use of 12 diapers per day for 3 months. The toddler price is based on the use of
six diapers per day for 21 months. This cost comparison is based on the average
price of modern cloth diapers ($15 per diaper). It does not take into account buying
diapers used, nor does it consider using more traditional cloth diapers, such as flats
or prefolds. Purchasing used or using the cheaper cloth diaper types will result in
even more savings.
The previous chart gives a very conservative estimate on the cost
comparison of using disposable versus cloth diapers. However, the
evidence is clear that using cloth diapers can save you a lot of money,
and they probably save much more than the chart shows.
Again, keep in mind that the total cost of purchasing cloth diapers will be
divided in half if you use your diapers on two children, in thirds if you use
the same stash on three (as I am now doing), and so on.
And if you resell your diapers, the savings is even more maximized.
For an even better estimate on how much money your family can save by
using cloth diapers, fill out the cloth diaper cost calculator at Or, view this chart:
21 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved., which
takes into consideration various cloth diaper types and the cost of energy
it takes to launder them.
But Won’t the Cost of Washing the Diapers Discount
Any Savings?
I must confess: I am blessed that our family currently lives in a
community that shares a water bill. It is included in our homeowner’s
association fees, and those fees are included in our monthly rent.
Therefore, we do not have—and have never had as long as we’ve cloth
diapered—a water bill.
Those with well water will be in much the same scenario.
For those in my situation, the savings of using cloth diapers is even
However, I know that only a small portion of the population lives without
a water bill, and the cost of water is something to consider before you
dive in to cloth diapering.
The cost of water differs greatly from community to community. Consider
your current monthly water bill. You will average two to three extra loads
of laundry per week.
Based on your estimations, will cloth diapering save you money even with
an increased water bill?
Seek out friends, neighbors, etc. in your community who use cloth
diapers. Ask them how using cloth diapers has affected their water bills.
Only you can determine whether or not the cost difference will make or
break your decision to use cloth diapers.
22 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Much like water, the cost of energy can vary greatly from household to
household. If you are a mathematician, you may be able to determine the
cost of energy or gas per load to run your washing machine. I, however,
am not. Again, I would seek out other cloth diaper users in your
community and ask how their use of cloth has affected their energy bills.
Keep in mind that many cloth diapering mothers line dry their diapers.
This is not a necessity, but it most definitely can save money in the long
run (as can line drying the rest of your laundry!). Not only does line
drying save you money, but the sun actually helps disinfect!2
Again, the cost of detergent can vary greatly. There are almost as many
detergent brands on the market today as there are cloth diaper brands
themselves. You need to use a cloth diaper-safe detergent (more about
this in confession 5), but that does not mean you have to use a pricey
detergent. Many factors will determine which detergent works best for
I purchased several boxes of detergent from another cloth diapering
mother off of Craigslist two years ago, and I am still using it. The price of
detergent has cost me next to nothing.
But doesn’t the cost of buying cloth diapering accessories
add up?
We will discuss cloth diapering accessories in more detail in confession 5,
but I do not think the cost of cloth diapering accessories will add up to
anywhere near the cost of using disposables--especially if you purchase
And we must consider that disposable diapers also call for accessories,
such as a diaper bag, wipes and wipes containers, diaper rash cream, and
a diaper genie.
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Cloth Diapers are Better for the
This one is really a no-brainer. In her 2003 “Disposable Nappies: A Case
Study in Waste Prevention,” Ann Link estimated that it can take
disposable diapers up to 500 years to dispose of themselves in a landfill. 3
Five hundred years! And the feces that stays in the diapers can be
contaminated with viruses, bacteria and diseases that make their way
back into our environment.
So why would you or I care about an environmental affect that may
never personally impact us--or even our immediate families?
For me personally, the reason is two-fold:
1) First of all, even though we may never reap the consequences of
poor environmental stewardship, our decedents will. My children
and their children and their children’s children will live in a dirtier
world unless our generation stops it.
2) I believe that God created the earth and wants us to take care of
his creation.
Cloth Diapers are Better for
Your Baby’s Health
Not only are disposable diapers bad for the environment, but they can
potentially pose a risk to our children’s health. The effects may not be
immediate, but no one is sure of the long-term consequences of
prolonged exposure to the chemicals contained in today’s disposable
diapers. 4
To read more about the potential health hazards of prolonged use of
disposable diapers, read these diaper facts from The Real Diaper
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Cloth Diapering Can Potentially
Lead to Earlier Potty Training
Some cloth diapering parents claim that their children potty trained faster
than their peers. The theory is that babies do not like the wet feeling that
cloth diapers produce compared to stay-dry disposable diapers.
Of course, if you are using modern stay-dry cloth diapers, which we will
discuss in confession 2, there may not be much of a difference.
Does cloth diapering really lead to earlier potty training and, thus,
maximize diaper savings even further?
To be honest, I do not know. I have not had this experience. My oldest
did not fully potty train until she was 4, and my 2 year old has still not
potty trained.
I think a lot of factors go into potty training, including the temperament
of the child, the parents’ training philosophy, family dynamics, health of
the child and more. Cloth diapers may factor slightly into this equation,
but I would not cloth diaper just in the hopes that your child will be out of
diapers sooner.
Cloth Diapers Work Better
I would have never dreamed in a million years that cloth diapers would
work better than disposables. After all, who in their right mind would
spend money on diapers that are subpar?
But I’m here to tell you: Cloth diapers do work better! Now there are
many, many cloth diaper types and brands on the market today. And not
all of them are high quality. However, if you do your research and invest
in a brand with good reviews (not necessarily pricey, but a tried and true
brand), I think you will find that they work just as well and most likely
better than their disposable counterparts.
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I didn’t “convert to cloth” until my oldest was 2 years old. Much of her
infant clothing was ruined by “blowout” disposable diapers. My second
may have had one or two “blowouts” with cloth. My laundry load may
have increased a bit with adding in cloth diapers to the routine, but the
extra loads of diapers have more than compensated with the fewer loads
of baby clothes.
Simply put, cloth contains the poop.
Cloth Diapers are Typically
Gentler on Baby’s Skin
Disposable diapers contain chemicals and toxins that can lead to rashes
on a sensitive baby’s skin. 4 I started considering cloth when my second
baby would not heal from a persistent rash.
I will say, though, that it is a myth that babies that are cloth diapered will
never get diaper rashes. There are some babies who wear cloth diapers
that don’t get rashes, but there are also babies who wear disposables
that never get rashes. Many factors come into play here.
See more about diaper rashes in confession 8.
Cloth Diapers are Cute!
This may sound silly, but it’s true! Cloth diapers today come in a wide
array of colors, patterns and styles. In fact, the disposable diaper brands
are picking up on parents’ new preference for cute diapers, as several
companies have released versions that come in denim or with flowers or
other designs.
Why diaper your child in drab white when your baby girl can don pink
flowers and your baby boy can sport blue airplanes?
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Why Did I Personally Choose to Use Cloth Diapers?
It all came down to the money factor for my family. When it became
apparent that we’d have two in diapers at the same time, I started
researching, and I quickly became a cloth diaper convert.
7 Reasons to Use Cloth
1. Saves Money
2. Cares for Creation
3. Protects Baby
4. Fosters Earlier Potty
5. Creates Less Mess (Cloth
works better!)
6. Gentler on Baby’s Skin
7. They’re just plain cute!
27 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
There are nine basic types of cloth diapers. Yes--nine! Don’t worry; I’ve
given you the basics of each diaper type in this chapter!
Natural vs. Synthetic Diapers
Before we can dive into the nine different types of cloth diapers, we must
first distinguish between diapers made of natural and synthetic fibers.
Just because a diaper is “cloth,” it doesn’t mean that the cloth is made
with a natural fiber.
Natural-fibered diapers are easier to clean, but
synthetic-fibered diapers are typically more
Natural Fabrics
Cotton, bamboo and hemp are typical natural fabrics used to make cloth
diapers. Some diapers are made with a blend of these fabrics. Wool is a
natural fabric used to make cloth diaper covers. These fabrics are
typically more absorbent than synthetic fabrics, but they are not “staydry” fabrics, meaning that your child will feel wetness against the skin
unless you use a stay-dry liner. This can be a good thing if you desire for
your child to feel wetness in hopes of early potty training.
Synthetic Fabrics
There are many different synthetic fabrics used to make cloth diapers.
These include:
Suede Cloth
PUL (polyurethane laminate)
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 TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane)
 Minky
 Velour
Let’s explore each fabric in more detail.
Microfiber: Microfiber is very absorbent and is often used as an insert
for pocket diapers. It is very important to note that microfiber should
never be used directly against your baby’s skin. It very likely will cause
skin irritations or rashes if used this way.
Microfiber insert
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Microfleece: Microfleece looks and feels very similar to any fleece. Do
you have a soft fleece jacket? That same softness is what your baby
experiences while wearing microfleece-lined diapers.
Microfleece is not absorbent and is typically used as the inner liner of a
pocket diaper. Microfleece allows your baby to remain dry because the
urine soaks through it and absorbs into the insert below it. So even
though your baby may have a wet diaper, his or her skin will stay dry!
Microfleece inner
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Suede Cloth: There is nothing leather about suede cloth. That used to
really confuse me when I first started researching cloth diapers! Suede
cloth works the same as microfleece and is another popular fabric used as
the inner lining of pocket diapers. Suede cloth is smoother than
Some parents note that microfleece is gentler on their babies’ skin than
suede cloth but that poop seems to “slide off” of suede cloth better than
it does with microfleece. Suede cloth is also a stay-dry material.
Suede cloth pocket diaper
PUL or TPU: Both PUL and TPU are waterproof materials used in the
outer shells of all-in-one, all-in-two and pocket diapers as well as in many
cloth diaper covers. Some babies may be sensitive to PUL and TPU since
they are not as breathable as a natural fabric, like wool. Both can
potentially delaminate if exposed to extremely hot temperatures. In this
case, the diapers would become useless--and thus ruined. I almost
always air dry my covers and shells made of PUL or TPU.
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Minky: Minky is a very soft, fleece-like fabric sometimes used as the
outside fabric of a modern cloth diaper--over the PUL or TPU as more of a
decoration than anything else.
one-size bamboo minky pocket diaper on largest setting
Velour: This material can be both natural and synthetic. Some velours
are made from a blend of cotton or bamboo. Others are made from
polyester. Velour is sometimes used as the inside lining of a pocket
Note: Most diapers--especially modern cloth diapers, such as all-in-ones,
all-in-twos or pocket diapers--are a combination of several of these fabric
types. For example, my favorite brand of diapers is Kawaii. The Kawaii
Mom Label Minkies are a combination of bamboo, TPU and minky.
Prepping Natural vs. Synthetic Fabrics
It is important to note that natural and synthetic fabrics must be prepped
separately. To read more about prepping, see confession 5.
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One-Sized vs. Sized Diapers
Unlike disposable diapers, which are sized according to your baby’s
weight, many cloth diaper brands will actually grow with your baby!
These are called one-size diapers, and they are very economical, as you
can potentially use the exact same diaper on a newborn and on a child
who is ready to potty train.
One-size diapers normally work with the use of adjustable hook and loop
(like Velcro) or snap closures.
one-size pocket on smallest setting
One-size diapers help stretch your stash bucks,
but they often don’t fit well until your baby is
two to three months old.
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one-size pocket on largest setting
However, there are a few downfalls of one-size diapers. Most one-size
diapers do not fit a baby under eight pounds (and the diaper may still be
a little too big on an eight-pound baby). Some parents simply use
disposable diapers or the most affordable prefold (or flat) diapers until a
newborn is able to fit into a one-size diaper that will last him or her
throughout baby and toddlerhood.
For parents who desire a more accurate fit on their babies, nearly all
brands make sized diapers.
I personally chose to build the bulk of my stash with one-size diapers.
Stay-dry vs. Not
Some cloth diapers are “stay-dry,” meaning that, much like a disposable
diaper, they allow the child to feel dry even while their diapers are wet.
These diapers are made with synthetic fabrics like fleece or suede cloth.
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These fabrics allow urine to flow through them and absorb into an insert-usually made of microfiber--underneath.
stay-dry fleece liner
Diapers made of natural fabrics are not stay dry, but the same stay-dry
affect can be achieved in any diaper by using a stay-dry liner. There are
several stay-dry liners on the market, but the most economical way to
make a diaper stay dry is by placing a strip of fleece in the diaper,
essentially making your own stay-dry liner. Most fabric stores sell fleece
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Cover Types
PUL cover
Inside of PUL cover
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Cloth diaper covers--to go on top of flat, prefold, contoured or fitted
diapers--come in several different fabric types, including:
A cloth diaper needs to be absorbent but not necessarily waterproof-unless it has a built-in cover (like an all-in-one does, which we will
discuss later in this confession). A cover, however, must be made with a
waterproof fabric.
We have already discussed PUL/TPU in the section on synthetic fabrics.
Let’s take a closer look at fleece and wool covers.
The name says it all. A fleece cover is made of fleece. There are many
work-at-home moms with Etsy shops that sell upcycled fleece diaper
covers made out of old fleece jackets, pants, shirts, etc. Fleece is soft and
comfortable and resistant to wetness, although most people find that
they do not work as well as some other cover types for long time periods,
like overnight.
Fleece Cover
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Most fleece covers are pull ons (like disposable pull ups), meaning that
they do not have hook and loop or snap closures, although some do.
Fleece covers are often a very affordable option, especially if you buy
upcycled fleece or even make your own.
A mainstream popular brand is the Eco Fleece by Organic Caboose.
31 Rubies one-size wool cover
Some people claim that wool is a “bullet-proof” waterproof solution. Wool
covers are made of just that--wool. Wool is highly absorbent and very
breathable,1 and the lanolin used to enhance wool’s water resistance
makes it both antibacterial and antifungal! 2 Contrary to the wool
stereotype, wool diaper covers are also normally very soft.
Wool is self-cleaning, 1so you can use the covers several times without
washing them!
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Wool covers are usually pricier than other covers, but considering that
you can use them several times without washing them and the fact that
they work so well, the investment is usually well worth it.
Like fleece, wool covers are often made to just pull on and don’t come
with a closure. For this reason, most are sized--meaning you will have to
buy more covers as your baby grows.
However, 31 Rubies makes a one-size cover with a hook and loop
closure. The hook and loop adjusts as your baby grows. It can potentially
be the only wool cover you would ever need! I use and absolutely love
this wool cover!
Caring for Wool Diaper Covers
Wool must be cared for differently than other fabrics.
This article from Zany Zebra Designs gives an excellent tutorial for
washing wool--and even includes a recipe for a homemade wool wash:
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As you will read in the next section, flats, prefolds and contoured diapers
are not made with any closures. These diapers must be secured with
either a Snappi or a diaper pin.
Snappis are T-shaped plastic fasteners that most cloth diapering parents
prefer today because they are very easy to use and do not risk the baby
getting stuck. Read more about Snappis in confession 5.
Diaper pins look like big safety pins. They are the traditional cloth diaper
fastener. Not many cloth diapering parents use these today.
Modern cloth diapers--fitteds, pockets, sleeves, hybrids, all-in-twos, and
all-in-ones--come with either a hook and loop or snap closure.
Hook and loop is basically the same as Velcro. It is a very good choice for
anyone apprehensive about using cloth diapers because it basically
fastens the same way as a disposable diaper. Hook and loop diapers allow
for the snuggest fit, and are, therefore, a good choice for the newborn
stage. Hook and loop diapers are also less intimidating for caregivers. I
usually use a hook and loop diaper when my girls will be in the church
nursery. Another term for hook and loop is aplix.
Snaps are more durable than a hook and loop. For this reason, I chose to
build the majority of my stash with diapers that snap. Each brand will
have a different number of snaps. I prefer to use snaps during the toddler
stage because a diaper that is snapped is much harder to get off than a
diaper fastened with a hook and loop.
Cloth Diaper Types
Type #1: Flats
Flat diapers are the diapers that your grandma probably used. They are
large squares of single-layered fabric that can be folded in a variety of
ways. The fabric is usually made of cotton.
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Flats had declined in popularity due to the invention of modern cloth
diapers that require no folding, but there has recently been a resurgence,
in part thanks to the advocacy efforts of Kim Rosas of the blog Dirty
Diaper Laundry. Kim holds a “Flats and Handwashing Challenge” each
spring to bring awareness to this diapering method that even the most
low-income parent can afford.3
I have personally only used flats on my third baby. They are really not as
intimidating as they seem! They are also the cheapest diapers you will
find! If push came to shove, you could even use a dish towel, receiving
blanket or T-shirt as a flat diaper. You must use flats with a cover.
Pros of Using Flat Diapers:
1) Flats are cheap.
2) Flats are easy to find. (You can usually get them at Target or
Walmart, or you can make them yourself.)
Flats dry faster than other diapers because when they are unfolded
they are very thin.
4) Flats work very well when folded properly.
5) Flats are not stay-dry, which would be ideal for parents wanting
their child to feel wetness in hopes of early potty training.
6) Flats do not require extra prepping before using. You can wash
them once, and they are ready for use. (See confession 5 for more
on prepping cloth diapers.)
7) Flats can be used as cloth rags when your child is done with
Cons of Using Flat Diapers:
1) Flats are not daddy/daycare/babysitter/grandparent-friendly.
2) Flats require some type of fastener (either a Snappi or a pin) and
a cover.
Flats must be folded. They are not “ready to go” right off the line
or out of the dryer.
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4) Flats may need the extra absorbency of a doubler (extra layer of
5) Flats are not stay-dry, which may be a con for parents who do not
want their babies to feel any wetness. This can especially be an
issue if the baby is prone to diaper rashes or yeast infections.
There are a number of ways you can fold a flat diaper.
In the collage, I have demonstrated the diaper bag fold, which was
created by a mother on This is my favorite way to
fold a flat diaper.
Folding a Flat Diaper
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This video tutorial from Dirty Diaper Laundry gives an excellent
demonstration of how to fold a flat the origami way:
Here is another great tutorial with various ways you can fold flats:
Step-by-Step Process of Using a Flat Diaper:
Fold diaper using preferred fold.
Place diaper on baby.
Fasten diaper with a Snappi or pin.
Place cover around diaper. The cover will be fastened with either
snaps or a hook and loop.
When the baby soils the diaper, remove the cover and the diaper.
Hang the cover to dry (unless it has been soiled with poop) and
toss the flat in the diaper pail/wetbag after flushing away any
Diaper baby with a new flat diaper and cover.
Where to Buy:
Most cloth diaper stores have a section where they sell flats, and even
Walmart and Target normally sell them. (Make sure the package of the
diapers says “flat fold diapers.”) You can also just use upcycled cotton
material that you have on hand in your house or even flour sack towels,
making this the very cheapest diapering method.
If you would like to make your own flat diapers, the dimensions should be
anywhere from 27.5 inches x 27.5 inches to 29 inches x 29 inches.
Some popular brands include:
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Type #2: Prefolds
Prefold diapers are rectangular pieces of cloth folded into three sections.
The outside sections contain four layers of fabric and the middle contains
either six or eight layers. The middle section is the most absorbent.
Prefolds are usually made out of cotton, but there are also some made
from bamboo or hemp.
Prefolds can be folded around a baby and fastened with regular diaper
pins or a Snappi, or they can be folded in a trifold and laid inside of a
cover. You must always use a cover with prefolds.
Prefolds are a great diaper for the newborn stage because they are
cheap, do not take long to put on and take off and launder very easily (all
characteristics you need in a diaper that will be changed up to 12 times
per day for breastfed newborns!).
It is important to note that prefolds come in different sizes. Green
Mountain Diapers is a very reputable prefold brand. The threading used
on their prefolds is color coded according to size: orange for newborn,
yellow for small, white for a wide baby, red for medium, brown for large
and green for extra large toddler. You can view these diapers on their
Other brands come in just one thread color, and some brands just come
in one size. One-size prefolds will probably be very bulky on newborns. I
suggest going with a sized diaper instead.
If you choose to use a different system, prefolds can still be used as extra
inserts to add more absorbency.
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Folding a Prefold Diaper
Before step two, you can also add the optional step of folding back the
front for extra absorbency for boy babies who wet more in the front, or of
folding up the back for girl babies who wet more in the back. See an
example of this in the pictures below.
Optional Fold
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Trifolded Prefold in a Wool Cover
Bleached vs. Unbleached Prefolds
Bleached Vs. Unbleached
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Bleached Prefolds
Bleached prefold diapers are white because the cotton was bleached in
the factory before the diapers were made. The bleaching process
removes the natural cotton oils in the fibers. This makes the fabric
slightly less durable and potentially releases some pollutants into the
Unbleached Prefolds
Unbleached prefolds are preferred by many parents. They are softer and
more durable than their bleached counterparts.
Unbleached prefold cloth diapers retain the natural oils from the cotton. 4
Indian vs. Chinese Prefolds
Prefolds are often referred to as either “Indian” or “Chinese.” Indian
prefolds are usually softer but wear out quicker. Chinese prefolds are
rougher but last longer.
Pros of Using Prefold Diapers:
1) Prefolds are cheap.
2) Prefolds are easy to come by. (You can usually get them at Target
or Wal-mart, although, in my experience, the Gerber brand diapers
sold there are not very high quality.)
3) Prefolds work very well.
4) Prefolds are not stay-dry, which would be ideal for parents wanting
their child to feel wetness in hopes of early potty training.
5) Prefolds are easy to use (contrary to popular belief!). Using them
trifolded in a cover is an especially quick and easy way to use them
because it doesn’t require a fastener!
6) Prefolds can be reused as inserts, doublers or even cloth rags when
your child outgrows them.
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Cons of Using Prefold Diapers:
1) Prefolds are not daddy/daycare/babysitter/grandparent-friendly.
2) Prefolds require some type of fastener (either a Snappi or a pin)
unless you are trifolding them and lying them inside of a cover.
They always require the use of a cover.
Prefolds are not stay-dry, which may be a con for parents who do
not want their babies to feel any wetness. This can especially be an
issue if the baby is prone to diaper rashes or yeast infections.
Step-by-Step Process of Using a Prefold Diaper:
1) Fold diaper using preferred fold.
2) If using a regular prefold fold, place diaper around the baby and
fasten with a pin or Snappi. If using a trifold fold, place trifolded
diaper inside of a cover.
3) Place cover on top of diaper and fasten.
4) When the baby has soiled the diaper, remove the diaper and cover.
5) Hang the cover to dry and later reuse, and toss the soiled diaper in
the diaper pail/wetbag after flushing away any poop.
6) Diaper baby with a new prefold diaper and cover.
Where to Buy:
Most cloth diaper stores have a section where they sell prefolds, and even
Walmart and Target normally sell them.
Popular Brands include:
Green Mountain Diapers
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Type #3: Contours
Contoured diapers are a cross between prefolds and fitteds. They are
already shaped, but they require pins or a Snappi for closure. They also
require a cover. I used some contours when I had my loan from the Cloth
Diaper Foundation.
Contours are made from natural fibers, so they are not stay-dry.
However, because they are normally made from cotton, bamboo or
hemp, they are very absorbent.
Pros of Using Contoured Diapers:
1) Contours require no folding.
2) Contours work very well.
3) Contours are easy to use. You simply place the diaper around the
baby, fasten it and place a cover over it.
4) Contours are not stay-dry, which would be ideal for parents
wanting their child to feel wetness in hopes of early potty training.
5) Contours can easily be converted to fitted diapers later if you
decide you want your toddler to have a snap or hook and loop
closure instead of a Snappi or pins. (Note: This requires some
sewing ability or the financial ability to pay someone else to do it
for you.)
Cons of Using Contoured Diapers:
1) Contours are not daddy/daycare/babysitter/grandparent-friendly.
2) Contours require some type of fastener (either a Snappi or a pin)
and a cover.
Contours are not stay-dry, which may be a con for parents who do
not want their babies to feel any wetness. This can especially be an
issue if the baby is prone to diaper rashes or yeast infections.
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Step-by-Step Process of Using a Contoured Diaper:
1) Place diaper around baby.
2) Fasten with a Snappi or pin.
3) Place cover around diaper and fasten.
4) When the baby has soiled the diaper, remove the diaper and cover.
5) Hang the cover to dry and later reuse, and toss the soiled diaper in
the diaper pail/wetbag after flushing away any poop.
6) Diaper baby with a new contour diaper/cover.
Inside of a Contour Diaper
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Folding a Contour
Unfastened Contour
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Where to Buy:
You can find contour diapers at most any cloth diapering store online.
Popular Brands include:
Imse Vimse
Type #4: Fitteds
fitted diaper with hook and loop closure
Fitted diapers are usually made of cotton, bamboo, hemp or fleece and
are very absorbent--but not waterproof. You do not have to fold them
yourself like with flats or prefolds, so they are ready-made to "fit" your
baby's body. Fitteds come in snaps or with hook and loop closures. You
must use a cover with a fitted, although they are absorbent enough that
you can probably get by without using a cover around the house--but
only for a short period of time.
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I have a few fitteds and really like the ease of washing them. They are
ready to use right out of the dryer or off the line.
Pros of Using Fitted Diapers:
1) Fitteds work very well.
2) Fitteds are not stay-dry, which would be ideal for parents wanting
their child to feel wetness in hopes of early potty training.
Fitteds are easy to use. They can be used just like a disposable
diaper, except that they require a cover.
Cons of Using Fitted Diapers:
Fitteds are not as daddy/daycare/babysitter/grandparent-friendly
as some other modern cloth diapers, but they are still more
caregiver-friendly than flats, prefolds or contours.
2) Fitteds require the use of a cover.
3) Fitteds are not stay-dry, which may be a con for parents who do
not want their babies to feel any wetness. This can especially be an
issue if the baby is prone to diaper rashes or yeast infections.
Step-by-Step Process of Using a Fitted Diaper:
1) Place diaper around baby and fasten.
2) Place cover around diaper and fasten.
3) When the baby has soiled the diaper, remove the diaper and cover.
4) Hang the cover to dry and later reuse, and toss the soiled diaper in
the diaper pail/wetbag after flushing away any poop.
5) Diaper baby with a new diaper and cover.
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Fitted diaper made out of hemp-cotton blend
Where to Buy:
Fitteds are a very popular cloth diaper type and can be found at any
online cloth diapering store.
Popular brands include:
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So far, we have discussed diapers that require covers: flats,
prefolds, contours and fitteds.
Cloth diaper covers are what make natural-fibered diapers
waterproof. Otherwise, these diapers, although highly
absorbent, will still leak all over the place.
Covers are either made of TPU, PUL, fleece or wool.
You will need one cover for about every four to six diapers
you have. Covers can be reused a few times by airing them
out between changes unless there is poop on them.
Type #5: Hybrids
Hybrid diapers are a cross between disposable and cloth diapers. Often,
they come with a washable outer cover, and you have the option of using
a biodegradable disposable insert or a washable, cloth insert.
The most widely-known hybrid diaper system brand is gDiaper. I tried
gDiapers, but I found them pricey and didn’t care for them. To be honest,
they were probably my least favorite type of diaper!
This option might be best for someone who is just using cloth for the
environmental factor. Otherwise, most of the other options are cheaper.
However, you can also use a cloth insert inside the diapers. This makes
them a little like all-in-twos, which you will read more about later in this
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Hybrid Diaper Stuffed With a Prefold
Pros of Using Hybrid Diapers:
1) Hybrids require no folding.
2) Hybrids are very similar to disposable diapers, making them very
Hybrids allow you to reuse the outer cover but ditch the
messy/poopy insert.
Cons of Using Hybrid Diapers:
Hybrids can get expensive if you rely on the disposable inserts, making
them no cheaper and possibly more expensive than disposable diapers.
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Step-by-Step Process of Using a Hybrid Diaper:
1) Place insert (whether disposable or cloth) inside of cover.
2) Place entire cover/insert combo on baby just as you would with a
disposable diaper.
Fasten diaper. (Most hybrids come with snaps or hook and loop
4) When the baby has soiled the diaper, remove the insert and either
flush (for a disposable insert) or toss the insert into the diaper
pail/wetbag after flushing the poop.
5) Place a clean insert into the cover and re-fasten the diaper around
the baby.
6) If the cover got soiled, toss it into the diaper pail/wetbag and use a
clean cover.
Where to Buy: Hybrid diapers can be purchased online at most cloth
diapering stores or on
The most popular brand is the gDiaper.
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Type #6: Pockets
pocket diaper on smallest setting
Pocket diapers are what I mainly use--although I really like fitted diapers
just as much. Pocket diapers are known as “modern” cloth diapers, and
they are very caregiver friendly. They require no cover and come in either
a snap or hook and loop closure.
They are called pocket diapers because each diaper comes with a pocket
that must be stuffed with an absorbent insert. Most pocket diapers are
lined in either fleece or suede cloth. Both are stay-dry materials, meaning
that your baby will still feel dry even when he/she is wet because the
urine passes through the liner and absorbs into the insert that is inside
the pocket. Inserts are either microfiber, cotton, bamboo or hemp. I like
using fleece or suede cloth diapers during the day and bamboo diapers at
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Large Bamboo Pocket Diaper
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Inside of bamboo pocket
Stuffed diaper
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Pros of Using Pocket Diapers:
Pockets are similar to disposable diapers, making them very
daddy/daycare/babysitter/grandparent friendly.
2) Pockets don’t require covers. The cover is part of the diaper;
everything is already sewn together.
Pockets can be stuffed with more than one insert for extra
4) Pocket diapers are usually made with a stay-dry material on the
inside, so your baby will feel minimal dampness against skin.
5) Pocket diapers made of natural fibers, such as cotton or bamboo,
will allow your baby to feel wetness, which could possibly lead to
earlier potty training.
Cons of Using Pocket Diapers:
Pocket diapers can be pricier than some of the more traditional
cloth diaper types, like flats or prefolds.
2) Pocket diapers require the extra step of stuffing the diaper after
the inserts and shells are dried. You cannot just pull a diaper off
the line or out of the dryer and use it immediately.
Step-by-Step Process of Using a Pocket Diaper:
1) Stuff pocket of diaper with insert (s).
2) Place diaper around baby and fasten.
3) When the baby has soiled the diaper, remove the diaper.
4) Flush any poop down the toilet.
5) Remove the inserts from the diaper. If the diaper has a hook and
loop fastener, fasten the hook tabs to the tabs on the upper back
part of the diaper (see picture later in this section). This will keep
the hook from fastening to other diapers in the washing machine or
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6) Toss both diaper and insert into the diaper pail/wetbag.
7) Diaper baby with a new diaper.
Microfleeced lined pocket diaper
Stuffing a pocket diaper
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Securing hook and look on laundry tabs before laundering
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Where to Buy:
Pocket diapers can be purchased online at most cloth diapering stores, on or even at Target.
Popular brands include:
Bum Genius
Fuzzi Bunz
Type #7: Sleeves
Double opening of a sleeve/pocket diaper
Sleeve diapers are very, very similar to pockets*. The difference? They
have two openings in the pocket--one on each end! The benefit is that
you don’t have to unstuff the diaper when it is soiled. You simply toss the
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whole thing into the wash, and the washing machine will agitate the
insert out!
Pros of Using Sleeve Diapers:
Sleeves are similar to disposable diapers, making them very
daddy/daycare/babysitter/grandparent friendly.
2) Sleeves don’t require covers. The cover is part of the diaper;
everything is already sewn together.
Sleeves can be stuffed with more than one insert for extra
4) Sleeve diapers are usually made with a stay-dry material on the
inside, so your baby will feel minimal dampness against the skin.
5) Sleeves do not have to be unstuffed, making them less messy to
handle than a pocket diaper.
Cons of Using Sleeve Diapers:
Sleeve diapers can be pricier than some of the more traditional
cloth diaper types, like flats or prefolds.
2) Sleeve diapers require the extra step of stuffing the diaper after
the inserts and shells are dried. You cannot just pull a diaper off
the line or out of the dryer and use it immediately.
Step-by-Step Process of Using a Sleeve Diaper:
1) Stuff sleeve of diaper with insert (s).
2) Place diaper around baby and fasten.
3) When the baby has soiled the diaper, remove the diaper.
4) If the diaper has a hook and loop fastener, fasten the tabs to the
upper back part of the diaper (see picture in the section on pocket
diapers). This will keep the hooks from fastening to other diapers
in the washing machine or dryer. Do not take the insert out, but
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toss the entire thing into the diaper pail/wet bag after flushing any
poop down the toilet.
5) Diaper baby with a new diaper.
*Sleeves are so similar to pockets that a lot of people just refer to this
type as pockets. The only difference is the double opening to the pocket.
Where to Buy:
Sleeve diapers can be purchased online at most cloth diapering stores, on or even online at Target.
The most popular brand is Thirsties.
Type #8: All-in-Twos (AI2s)
Stuffed all-in-two diaper
All-in-twos are similar to pocket diapers except that instead of stuffing a
pocket, you snap or place the insert or soaker inside the diaper. They are
almost like an inside-out pocket, and they work like a trifolded prefold
inside of a cover. I really like all-in-twos, but I only own a couple of
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All in two insert
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Pros of Using AI2 Diapers:
AI2s are similar to disposable diapers, making them very
daddy/daycare/babysitter/grandparent friendly.
2) AI2s don’t require covers. The cover is part of the diaper.
Everything is already sewn together, and you just snap or place
the insert or soaker inside the shell (which is essentially the
cover/waterproof part of the diaper).
AI2s do not have to be unstuffed, making them less messy to
handle than a pocket diaper.
Cons of Using AI2 Diapers:
AI2 diapers can be pricier than some of the more traditional cloth
diaper types, like flats or prefolds.
2) AI2 diapers require the extra step of snapping in or placing the
insert or soaker into the shells before using. You cannot just pull a
diaper off of the line or out of the dryer and use it immediately.
Step-by-Step Process of Using an AI2 Diaper:
1) Snap or place insert/soaker inside of diaper shell.
2) Place diaper around baby and fasten.
3) When the baby has soiled the diaper, remove the diaper and flush
any poop.
4) If the diaper has a hook and loop fastener, fasten the tabs to the
upper back part of the diaper (see picture in the section on pocket
diapers). This will keep the hook from fastening to other diapers in
the washing machine or dryer. Toss the entire diaper into the
diaper pail/wet bag.*
5) Diaper baby with a new diaper.
*Some AI2s work the same as hybrids, and you can reuse the shell with
a new insert/soaker. In this case, you would just throw the soiled insert
into the diaper pail/wet bag and snap or place a clean insert/soaker into
the shell.
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Where to Buy:
AI2s can be purchased online at most cloth diapering stores.
A very popular brand is the GroVia.
Type #9: All-in-Ones (AIOs)
All-in-ones are a premium type of cloth diaper and are usually pricier
than the other types. The benefit is that there are absolutely no other
steps. They require no covers or stuffing. They are all one piece--just like
a disposable! This fact makes them especially popular with dads,
grandparents and sitters!
However, I tried a few all-in-ones, and they are not my favorites. They
take a really long time to dry*, which is a huge disadvantage if you only
have a small stash. Instead of saving energy and using my line, I’m more
tempted to put my all-in-ones in the dryer to speed up their drying time.
Even with using the dryer, they still take a long time to dry.
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Inside of AIO
Pros of Using AIO Diapers:
AIOs are exactly like disposable diapers except they are reusable,
making them very daddy/daycare/babysitter/grandparent friendly.
2) AIOs don’t require covers. The cover is essentially part of the
diaper. Everything is already sewn together, including the insert.
AIOs do not have to be unstuffed, making them less messy to
handle than a pocket diaper.
4) Some AIOs do contain pockets that can be stuffed for extra
absorbency, but this feature is only if you want to or if your baby is
a heavy wetter.
5) AIOs can be used as soon as they dry. There are no extra steps
from clothesline/dryer to baby’s bum.
6) Some AIOs are made with stay-dry material, meaning your baby’s
bum will remain dry.
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Cons of Using AIO Diapers:
AIO diapers can be pricier than some of the more traditional cloth
diaper types, like flats or prefolds.
2) AIO diapers typically take longer to dry than the other diaper
Step-by-Step Process of Using an AIO Diaper:
1) Place diaper on baby just like you would a disposable diaper.
2) When the baby has soiled the diaper, remove the diaper and flush
any poop.
If the diaper has a hook and loop fastener, fasten the tabs to the
upper back part of the diaper (see picture in the section on pocket
diapers). This will keep the hook from fastening to other diapers in
the washing machine or dryer. Toss the entire diaper into the
diaper pail/wet bag.
4) Diaper baby with a new diaper.
Where to Buy:
AIOs can be purchased online at most cloth diapering stores.
Popular brands include Bum Genius and Blueberry.
*I have heard that the Bum Genius Freetime diaper is an AIO that does
not take as long to dry. I have not personally tried this diaper.
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9 Cloth Diaper Types at a Glance
Require a
● ●
● ●
● ●
For a newborn, you will need approximately 24 to 36
diapers if you want to wash every other day. After
introducing solid foods, you should only need about 18
to 24 diapers total.
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#10: A Compromise: Environmentally-Friendly Alternatives
Even the most hard-core cloth diapering parent will need to take a break
from cloth every now and then. We’ll talk about why anyone would even
need a respite from cloth diapering in confession 10, but, for now, let’s
look at some cloth alternatives that are still safe for your baby and kind
to creation.
Compostable Diapers
I had never heard of compostable diapers until a few years ago. Instead
of reusing these diapers or throwing them away, you can actually
compost them!5 Some diaper services will compost these diapers for you,
so you don’t have to worry about handling the mess--or the ick factor.
Read more about compostable diapers in this article:
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Environmentally-Friendly Disposable Diapers
I have not done in-depth research and therefore do not endorse the
following brands, as that is not the point of this book. However, these are
the most widely-known “natural” disposable diapers. These may have
fewer chemicals in them than other mainstream diapers:
Seventh Generation
Earth’s Best
Huggies Naturals
Keep in mind that these diapers will not save you money. They are, in
fact, much pricier than other mainstream or store-brand disposable
diapers. If your reason for using cloth diapers is to save money, you
would be better off using a store brand during any breaks.
Which diaper type do I prefer?
I have been blessed with a large diaper stash comprised of almost every
diaper type. However, the bulk of my stash is pocket diapers. It’s the
type my husband and I agreed upon when we decided to cloth diaper, so
it’s where we invested most of our diaper money. My favorite brand
pocket diaper is Kawaii. My Kawaiis work just as well as the pricier brands
in my stash, yet they are a fraction of the price.
Although my stash is mainly comprised of pockets, I have to admit that
I’ve fallen in love with fitteds. They are much easier to launder, and I
love that they require no stuffing and are ready to use right off the line or
out of the dryer. I especially love using fitteds with a wool cover.
My least favorite diaper type is the hybrid, and I have never tried
compostable diapers.
When we take cloth diapering breaks, I forgo the pricey “natural” diaper
brands and use whatever I can get the best deal on that will still work-normally Luvs or Target brand.
I prefer natural-fibered and synthetic-fibered diapers for different
occasions. I like that the synthetic-fibered diapers are stay-dry, meaning
that the suede cloth and microfleece are designed in such a way that the
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urine absorbs through them and into the inserts, wicking the moisture
away from the skin so that my baby “stays dry.”
I prefer using a natural-fibered diaper overnight. My Kawaii bamboos are
my go-to overnight diaper. Sometimes I will pair the diaper with a staydry fleece liner, so I get the absorbency of the bamboo with the stay-dry
feature of the fleece.
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When I first mentioned to my husband that I wanted to use cloth diapers,
he looked at me like I was crazy. “Absolutely not!” he said. He had a
picture of the traditional prefolds fastened with safety pins.
But when a friend of mine showed him her cloth diapers in our church
nursery one Sunday, he realized that cloth diapers don’t have to fit the
stereotype. I had recently become friends with another cloth diapering
mama, so I asked her to come over and show both of us the ins and outs
of cloth diapering.
Once he saw how easy they would be to use and calculated the cost
effectiveness, we gave cloth diapers a try. Now he touts the benefits to
other parents!
The first obstacle for many moms wanting to cloth diaper can be getting
their husbands to realize that cloth diapering really isn’t that bad–and can
actually be FUN!
I recently surveyed some other mommies to find out what convinced
their hubbies to give cloth a try. Check out their suggestions:
1. Show him how much money you’ll save.
Print out the chart from confession 1 to show him how much money you
can save. And remember: this chart is a very, very conservative
estimate. Let the numbers speak for themselves, and that may be the
only convincing your husband will ever need.
2. Show him how easy modern cloth diapers are.
It’s true that many people still use and love traditional flats and prefolds,
but modern cloth diapers, such as pockets and all-in-ones, are a viable
option for daddies who want the easiest diaper possible. In fact, many
daddies feel like these types of diapers are just as easy to use as
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If you think about it, after you change the disposable diaper you have to
make a trip to the garbage or diaper genie. With a cloth diaper, you make
a trip to the toilet to flush the poop. Either way you have to get up and
do something with your diaper.
3. Show him the research on the health benefits of cloth
Baby skin is very sensitive and absorbent, and, simply put, the chemicals
from disposable diapers get absorbed by their skin. Studies are
inconclusive on the long-term affects of exposure to these chemicals, but
why take a chance?
4. Show him how cute and comfy they are.
Now, not all daddies really care what their little one is wearing, but some
might! What dad would choose a scratchy paper diaper over a soft minky
blue for their boy or warm pink fleece for their girl? You might just have a
case here!
5. Show him that YOU will do the diaper changing (and
So, it’s ideal that dads pitch in, but sometimes it takes drastic measures
to convince them to switch to cloth. If your husband is really, really
hesitant, why not volunteer to take over diaper duty (including diaper
laundry) during a trial period? Once he sees you doing it and how easy it
is, he might be volunteering to help in no time!
What convinced my hubby? The savings! However, since then, he also
sees that cloth diapers are really just as easy to use as disposables.
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A word from daddies who have been “converted”:
● ●
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● ●
"I am excited about cloth diapering because it garners me a
huge cost savings with my diaper bills. Babies are very
expensive, so cloth diapering is an effective way to reduce
those costs. My twin boys go through an enormous amount of
diapers per day, so it saves a us a LOT of money by using cloth
diapers!" ~Jason Balmet, of A Biblical Marriage and husband to
Jami of Young Wife’s Guide and author of Apartment
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“I thought cloth diapering was going to be one of those things
Stacy would try and quickly abandon. Cloth diapers cost a lot
more, have to be washed, and the thought of scraping poop?
NOT FOR ME! Then, about six months in, I realized the
investment (not expense) was/is totally worth it because we
weren't buying diapers any more. Not only did we spend less
money on diapers for our first baby and potty train her
earlier than expected, we're now using the same diapers for
our second baby. I’ve learned that some cloth diaper to be
‘green.’ We do it to save green! Cloth diapering is the only
way to go.” ~Barry Myers, author of From Debtor to Better
and husband of Stacy of Stacy Makes Cents and Crock On: A
Semi-Whole Foods Slow Cooker Cookbook
And from my hubby:
● ●
● ●
● ●
“I was vehemently opposed to the idea of cloth diapering and
all that it entailed, but after a trial run, I gained a new
perspective on all it could do for our family. Everything from
saving us money to protecting our children from chemicals
convinced me that cloth diapering is the best choice for our
family.” ~Will Odom
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● ●
Convincing grandparents and childcare workers to use cloth diapers on
your child may be a little trickier. As with your husband, you must take
care to guard your relationships with these people, and, at the same
time, certain childcare workers’ hands may be tied by the law.
Many of the same methods of convincing daddies may help “convert”
other caregivers to cloth. When my children are with caregivers, I try to
always diaper them in an easy-to-use modern cloth diaper, such as a
pocket diaper with a hook and loop fastener. These diapers work in the
same way as disposables and are less intimidating than other cloth diaper
This post is a little outdated, but the site owner took great care to
compile many of the documents outlining state regulations of cloth diaper
use in daycare centers. You can view the post and check out your state’s
laws here:
If you cannot find your state’s laws via the blog post above, I recommend
you visit your state’s government website and search childcare facility
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I surveyed some childcare workers on their views of cloth
diapers. Here is what they had to say:
“I am a parent who cloth diapered and now have a small home
childcare where I have a little one in cloth diapers. I have one
in disposables, too, and, honestly, I’d rather have them in
cloth.” ~Elizabeth Jette
● ●
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● ●
“I run a small daycare, and I cloth diaper. I have encouraged
the parents to cloth diaper but none of them have started
yet!” ~Brandi Brown
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● ●
“I’m a nanny, and the little girl I keep is cloth diapered, but
my son is not. I have no problems with cloth diapering her. I’ll
probably do it with my next baby.” ~Jamie Hildebrand
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“I am a foster mom who uses cloth diapers; it just makes sense
since they can be used for years.” ~Wendy England
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And regarding grandparents:
“I cloth diaper, and my mom watches my daughter. I basically
told her she has no choice. I do all the laundry for them.”
~Beth Hannah
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● ●
● ●
● ●
“I cloth diaper and whenever my mother-in-law watches the
girls she has no problem using them, too. I had to give her a
crash course in how-to’s, but she’s totally okay with it. I’ve had
a couple times where the diaper got put on backwards in the
nursery at church, but so far no one’s complained about me
cloth diapering and them having to deal with it. I include a wet
bag, and they just throw everything--wipes and all--in it, and I
deal with it at home.” ~April Yates
● ●
● ●
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“I used cloth diapers with my children. I was amazed at how
convenient cloth diapers are now and am so glad that
Rebecca decided to use them with her children. They are
really not that much more work than using throwaways. It
takes a little more planning when traveling, but I think it is
worth it. There is just something comforting about natural
fibers going on your little one’s skin.”
~Sandi Greene, grandmother
And here are some ways in which parents did the actual
● ●
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● ●
“All I did was give crash courses in changing and say ‘treat it
like a disposable.’ If there was poop, I said to leave it and I’d
care for it. Once they saw how easy it was, no one even
minded!” ~Allison Reyes
● ●
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“When I first met my sitter, I took the cloth diapers and
showed her how easy they are to use. I never asked if it was
okay, and she never had a problem with it. All she did was
take them off, put them in a wet bag and send them home.”
~Leigh Blanton
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● ●
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“There wasn’t ever a need for convincing. All my sitters have
been willing to use my cloth diapers. It doesn’t mean they all
liked it. I think it helps that I only sent pocket style and not
prefolds, as prefolds with covers are a little confusing and
harder to get the hang of.” ~Gloria Paul
● ●
● ●
● ●
If grandparents or other caregivers will not cloth diaper, you can always
choose to just cloth diaper part time. Using cloth diapers while you are at
home will still save you money--even if you do have to buy disposables
for those times when your child is cared for by someone else.
Daddies often
prefer pocket or
diapers because
they are most
like disposables.
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Now comes the fun part! I will warn you, though: building a cloth diaper
stash can become quite the addiction! No, truly--there are women who
literally spend hours and hours checking out cloth diaper stores online
and visiting forums where they trade around their stashes.
But there’s a caveat: although building your cloth diaper stash can be
fun, you don’t want to overdo it to the point where you actually spend
more money on your cloth diapers than you would have on disposables!
That’s defeating one of the reasons to use cloth diapers in the first place!
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Building a Cloth Diaper Stash
Before Baby is Born
If you know you want to cloth diaper before your baby is born, you have
an advantage over parents who decide to make the switch later; you can
request that friends and family gift you with cloth diapers at your baby
showers! In fact, most online cloth diapering stores even allow you to
register for them!
A word of caution, though: A cloth diaper type or brand that may work
well for your friend’s baby or even the baby of a blogger or cloth diaper
book author (ahem) may not work well for your child.
Each child is unique. Not only are there “long and lean” versus “short and
plump,” but some babies are heavier wetters than others. And some
parents simply prefer one type of diaper over another, and there is really
no way of knowing what diaper will work best for your family until after
your baby arrives.
So am I suggesting you not request diapers on your registry? Not at all.
There are two ways you can build your stash via gifts that will still allow
you peace of mind that the diapers won’t go to waste if they don’t work
for you later:
You can simply request gift cards/store credit. That way, you can
purchase the diapers--perhaps one of each kind until you’ve found
the one you absolutely love--and then build your stash from there.
2) You can register for a variety of diaper types and only prep and use
the diapers one at a time. If the store allows you to return unused
diapers, you can return the ones you did not use and use store
credit to purchase more of the ones you like. Or, if you use all of
them and then discover one type does not work for your child, you
can resell them. Some stores buy back used diapers and resell
them themselves. You can also resell diapers on such websites at or for a good resale value.
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Keep in mind that many cloth diaper stores offer a trial package option.
In this option, the store will send you a variety of diapers to try for a
small, often refundable fee. You usually only pay for the diapers you end
up keeping.
If you do not think you will receive many diapers as gifts, you can always
purchase one or two diapers yourself during each month of your
pregnancy. This way, at the end of your pregnancy, you should have
anywhere from nine to 18 diapers, and 18 diapers is almost an entire
But, again, you will be taking the risk that you will really love the diapers
you are buying once your child is born. For this reason, you may want to
vary the diapers and brands you purchase before your baby arrives.
I would, in the very least, suggest asking other friends or other cloth
diapering moms via cloth diapering forums what brands they recommend.
Building a Cloth Diaper Stash
After Baby is Born
Although it may be tempting to quickly purchase
an entire diaper stash the minute you decide to
switch from disposables to cloth, I recommend
trying several different diaper types until you’ve
found the one that best works for your family
and your baby. You can then sell the ones you
don’t like and complete your cloth diaper stash.
And, like I mentioned above, you can always
check into a “try before you buy” program.
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Don’t buy your
entire stash before
your baby is born.
You may discover
you prefer one
diaper type over
another once you
begin to use them.
Building a Cloth Diaper Stash on
a Budget
Although they will save you money in the long run, cloth diapers do come
with an up front cost--especially modern cloth diapers, like pockets, allin-ones and sleeve diapers. So how can you build a stash without
breaking the bank?
Well, there are several ways. And through it all, keep in mind that once
your stash is built and you are using cloth diapers full or even part-time,
they WILL save you money.
11 ways to build a modern cloth diaper stash-on the cheap:
1. If you are low income, apply for a cloth diaper loan through
Giving Diapers, Giving Hope.
In this post, I wrote extensively about how my family was blessed with a
loan from The Cloth Diaper Foundation. Basically, this organization sent
us 24 gently-used diapers to use on our two girls for as long as we
needed or until our family had the chance to build a stash of our own.
I found The Cloth Diaper Foundation through an online search because I
was determined to use cloth diapers but knew my husband would only
use modern cloth, and we couldn’t afford modern cloth at retail price
(much less an entire stash all at once!).
Sadly, the Cloth Diaper Foundation has now closed. However, Giving
Diapers, Giving Hope is a similar organization.
Giving Diapers, Giving Hope started in early 2011 as another diaperlending organization for low-income families. Cloth diapering mom Kristen
McCarthy began the program after losing her job and house and finding
herself in a tough financial situation.
“I started to think, what WOULD other people do if they were in a similar
situation and DIDN’T cloth diaper? How would they diaper their children?”
Kristen says on the Giving Diapers, Giving Hope website.
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The program is open to anyone within the continental United States.
Applicants must meet certain income requirements and pay for the
shipping of the diapers. Recipients must return their diapers at the end of
their loans.
2. Buy gently-used (or sometimes new!) cloth diapers.
Craigslist,,, your local Mommies
Network and even Facebook buy/sell/trade groups are great places to
purchase cloth diapers on the cheap! As a caution, be sure the person
you are buying from has good references, and if meeting in person, be
sure to meet them in a public place! I prefer to seek out local sellers, so I
don’t have to add in shipping costs.
Also check consignment stores and sales. I've found several diapers this
way as well!
If you decide to purchase used diapers that are damaged, I would not
pay that much for them. If you have any sewing skills, you may be able
to repair them yourself. There are also a variety of online services that
offer cloth diaper repairs, especially on the elastic. These same
businesses usually offer hook and loop to snap conversion if you decide
that you would rather go with a snap closure. I have never used one of
these, but I found Convert My Diapers on
3. Enter cloth diaper giveaways.
If you search the web, you can always find cloth diaper giveaways going
on somewhere! Cloth diaper giveaways are extremely popular and it
never hurts to try winning one. I added an Oh, Katy brand diaper to my
stash this way!
4. Volunteer to be a "tester" for new diaper brands, styles, etc.
Cloth diaper stores and companies need individuals to test out their new
inventory from time to time to make sure their customers will be
satisfied. If you follow your favorite stores or companies on Facebook or
Twitter, you may see them giving a shout-out for testers. I acquired
several diapers this way--a few free and a few for a fraction of the price
I’d normally pay.
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If you don’t use social media, you could always email the store or
company and ask if they are looking for testers. It never hurts to ask!
5. Sign up for cloth diaper company seconds lists.
Not all companies may offer this, but I know for a fact that Cotton Babies
does. I signed up for their list and received emails when their secondquality diapers were going on sale. At the time, they sold these diapers
for less than half price, and there was virtually nothing wrong with them
that I could see! I think I had one out of five diapers that had a broken
snap, and the rest may have had a smudge or something on them that
easily came off in the wash.
6. Ask your favorite cloth diaper store if they need any online
help--and if you can barter for diapers!
For a time, I worked for a cloth diaper store. I did get paid, but I also got
free diapers.
Most online businesses desperately need HELP--especially in the social
media realm! Do you have some online skills that you can trade for
diapers? Again, it doesn’t hurt to ask!
7. Purchase an off brand.
My first friend to introduce me to cloth diapers exclusively uses a popular
name brand. For a stay-at-home mom on a moderately low income, the
sticker shock was, um, alarming. I simply couldn’t fork out nearly $20 per
diaper--even when I knew the money I spent up front would save me
money later.
So I started searching for an alternate brand. The only problem is that I
wanted a brand with rave reviews. The last thing I wanted to do was
spend my money on a cheap diaper that was cheaply made and didn’t
I was so happy to find an off brand of diapers--which cost about half the
price of name-brand diapers, yet they are very, very similar to them.
90 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
8. Watch out for sales!
Holidays are a key time that cloth diaper stores will run specials. When I
was actively building my stash, I always checked the Facebook pages of
cloth diaper stores for coupon codes during these times.
9. Share diapers with a friend.
Do you have diapers that your baby has outgrown that a friend could use
and vice versa? If you hand down clothes, why not hand down diapers?
You can switch back and forth with each new baby.
10. Make your own.
I’ve tried to sew. Really, I have. (And my poor hubby bought me a nice
machine for my 28th birthday four years ago...and it’s been gathering
dust for about, oh, 3 1/2 years now!) Sewing simply does not come
naturally to me.
But for others, sewing is a piece of cake! Maybe that’s you. You can make
a hobby out of sewing cloth diapers for yourself and maybe even for your
friends! Here’s a cloth diaper tutorial from my friend Kate over at Modern
Alternative Mama.
Cotton Babies also has an excellent tutorial on making your own cloth
diapers—even if you don’t know how to sew!
11. Participate in a local diaper lending program.
Giving Diapers, Giving Hope operates on a national level, but many other
communities offer smaller programs to local families in need.
Sweet Cheeks Diaper Kits is a North Carolina non-profit that makes,
collects and distributes cloth diapering supplies in their area. Each kit
contains everything a parent needs to cloth diaper one child full-time,
including a diaper pail, handmade T-shirt diapers, donated brand name
diapers and covers, handmade wipes, a spray bottle, detergent, diaper
cream, stay-dry liners AND on-going support!
Volunteers from the community get together for a Diaper Derby each
month, where they upcycle old T-shirts to make the fitted T-shirt diapers
for the kits.
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Lastly, if you want to build a cloth diaper stash on the cheap, once your
stash is built, stop looking. Seriously--if you continue to peruse the sales
and don’t unsubscribe from the various store newsletters, you will be
tempted to buy more. And if you buy more you’re defeating the purpose
of saving money by using cloth--unless, of course, this is just your hobby
and you’ve built “fun” money into your budget. In that case, browse
Also remember: You don’t need every single cloth diapering accessory on
the market. If you get the diapers, you can be creative with the rest.
At a Glance:
10 Ways to Build Your
1. Gifts
2. Online Cloth Stores
3. Walmart/Target/Amazon
4. Craigslist/Facebook
5. Diaperswappers
6. Giveaways
7. Trade
8. Borrow
9. Barter
10. Make Your Own
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Using a Diaper Service
Some cloth diapering parents chose not to purchase their own stash at
all. Instead, they opt to use a traditional cloth diaper service.
What is a diaper service?
Basically, a diaper service maintains ownership of the diapers and rents
them out to families. A major bonus of a diaper service is that they also
launder the diapers. This makes cloth diapering very easy and especially
more manageable for working moms who may not have time for the
extra laundry that comes with cloth diapering.
Most diapering services only offer prefold diapers, but it’s worth checking
into whether or not you have a local diaper service that may also offer
other cloth diaper types.
To find a diaper service near you, check out this directory:
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Prep Your Diapers
If you’ve started building your stash, then you may already have little
bundles of fluff (a slang term for cloth diapers) already arriving in the
mail. And if you’re anything like me, you’re more than excited about
ripping into your fluffy packages and getting your new diapers on your
When my very first package arrived, I tore into it . . . and then just sat
there looking at the bright-green, flowered pocket diaper. The company I
had ordered from hadn’t sent any instructions, so I felt stuck!
What should I do?! Should I wash it first? And, if so, how should I wash
it? The last thing I wanted to do was ruin my new cloth diaper before I
even put it on my baby!
Thankfully, a good friend was gracious enough to come over to my house
and show me the ropes of cloth diapering. She explained that I needed to
prep the diapers before using them.
Prepping the diapers basically means washing them before using them.
Prepping Synthetic-Fibered Diapers
With synthetic-fibered diapers--like pocket diapers made out of fleece or
suede-cloth with microfiber inserts--all you have to do is wash them once
with a cloth diaper-safe detergent. (We’ll be talking about detergents and
the wash routine later in this section.) You can begin using these diapers
as soon as they are dry. You can even prep them with diapers you
already own . . . or with your regular laundry.
Prepping Natural-Fibered Diapers
To prep diapers made of natural fibers--like cotton, bamboo or hemp-you will need to wash them SEPARATELY from your other diapers for two
to three times before using them. You can simply toss them into the wash
with your regular laundry as long as you use a cloth-safe detergent. You
can dry in between washes, but it’s not necessary.
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What’s the difference? Diapers made out of natural fibers contain oils that
will rub off in the wash. These diapers actually end up being your most
absorbent diapers--much more absorbent than synthetic fabrics like
microfiber. However, the oils need to be washed away before they will
reach their full absorbency.
A Word of Caution
You never want to prep your natural-fibered diapers with your other
diapers or with new synthetic-fibered diapers because the oils that will
rub away in the wash can rub onto your other diapers and make them
lose absorbency.
You can use your cotton, bamboo or hemp diapers after you prep them,
but keep in mind that they do not reach their full absorbency until after
about 10 washes. You can still use these diapers after two or three
washes, but be aware that you may need to change your baby more
frequently to prevent leaks.
So, if you use a natural-fibered diaper after its initial prep and the diaper
leaks or doesn’t seem to hold the same amount of urine as your
synthetic-fibered diapers, do not get frustrated. It probably just means
that your diapers have not yet reached their maximum absorbency.
Gather Your Accessories
You can successfully cloth diaper with very little extra supplies. However,
there are a few things that make the job of a
● ● ●
cloth diapering parent just a little easier.
You can cloth
These supplies include wipes, wipes solution,
diaper with
liners, inserts, doublers, diaper pails,
very little
wetbags, stain fighters, detergent, dryer
balls, diaper sprayers, diaper bags, diaper
accessories-creams, Snappis/pins and covers.
but they do
Let’s explore each cloth diapering accessory
make things
on its own:
● ● ●
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Cloth Wipes
Not all cloth diapering parents even use cloth wipes. Some continue to
use disposable or even flushable wipes (which do come in handy with
cloth!) with their cloth diapers. However, using cloth wipes can save
money and help reduce waste.
Most cloth diaper stores offer cloth wipes in a variety of fabrics--from
terrycloth to bamboo to cotton. And a plethora of work-at-home moms
sell homemade wipes from Etsy shops.
But I personally choose to use baby washcloths as wipes. Baby
washcloths are cheap, durable and thin enough to get inside those little
cracks and crevices you want to be sure stay clean.
And while I’ll sometimes go back and forth between these and disposable
wipes, I actually prefer using reusable wipes with cloth diapers because
instead of having to walk the soiled diaper to my wetbag and the dirty
wipes to the trash can (and who wants a poopy wipe sitting on top of the
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trash can?), I simply wrap the soiled wipe up inside the diaper, just as I
would a disposable.
So are cloth wipes necessary? In a word--no. But are they cheap and
convenient? Yes, especially if you use baby wash cloths.
Wipes Solution
I have personally never used a baby wipe solution. There are some
lovely-smelling solutions on the market today, but most are pricey, and I
don’t want to fork out the big bucks for an item that I could easily
substitute at home with homemade baby wash or even plain water.
So how do I personally moisten my wipes (because, unlike their
disposable counterparts, cloth wipes do not come pre-moistened!). My
typical routine is to either:
Pre-moisten with a baby wash solution.
Fill a container with warm water. Squirt some baby wash into the
container and either mix with a spoon or place a top on the container
and shake the container vigorously. Place your clean, dried wipes in
the container and drench with the solution. Ring out each wipe and
store inside a small wetbag or in a plastic baby wipes container. Store
the wetbag or wipes container in your diaper changing station or in
your diaper bag. Alternately, you can store the wipes in a Ziploc bag.
Moisten wipes with plain water.
When I don’t want to take the time to make up a whole batch of premoistened wipes at once, I just wet the wipes with water from my
sink right before I change my baby’s diaper. You can also keep a
squirt bottle with plain water near your diaper changing station and
use that to wet your wipes. If the bottom is very dirty, I can always
squirt the wet wipe with a baby-safe soap.
There are many homemade wipes solutions recipes available today.
Check out this post for a few:
So is a wipes solution necessary? Absolutely not. Save your money
and make your own--or just use water.
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In the cloth diapering world, the word “liner” can refer to several different
things. Primarily, liners will refer to stay-dry liners or disposable/flushable
Stay-Dry Liners: Stay-dry liners are typically made of fleece. Parents
who desire the functionality of natural-fibered diapers (like cotton or
bamboo) but want their child to not feel wetness can use these liners in
between baby’s skin and the diaper to keep the baby dry. Several
different brands sell stay-dry liners, but you can easily make your own
with fleece fabric scraps.
flushable Liner
Disposable/Flushable Liners: There are several different
disposable/flushable liners on the market today. These are typically very,
very thin, and they serve to “catch the poop” and help eliminate messes.
The idea is that the parent can easily scoop out the soiled liner and flush
it. This alleviates the mess of a blowout diaper.
I personally use and love Imse Vimse flushable liners. An added bonus of
these is that they can be washed up to three to four times if the child
does not poop on the liner. I feel like I get my money’s worth with these
because they last so long.
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Make-Shift Liners: For whatever reason, a parent may need a liner in
between the baby’s skin and the diaper. One reason may be during a
yeast infection, when the yeast can spread to the diapers. In this case,
the liner itself will be contaminated, so the parents can either disinfect
those separately or just use a cheap enough liner that they can throw
them out once the baby has soiled the diaper. Another instance where a
parent may want to use a make-shift liner would be if the baby is using a
non-cloth diaper safe rash cream. We will discuss this in more detail later
in this chapter, but you absolutely do not want to get regular diaper
cream on your cloth diapers because you can ruin them!
A make-shift liner can really be any old piece of cloth, a rag, etc. I have
even used a sock in a pinch.
So are liners necessary? In a word--no. But they are very, very
helpful. I am very frugal, but, to me, the flushable/washable liners are
well worth my money. Make your own stay-dry liners and invest in the
flushable ones if you purchase any liners at all.
bamboo insert
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Microfiber Insert
Whether or not you will need inserts depends on the type of diaper you
are using. I primarily use pocket diapers, so inserts are a must for me.
In pocket and sleeve diapers, inserts are the absorbent part of the diaper.
Without the inserts, the diaper would not be a diaper. Urine passes
through a sewn-in liner and absorbs into the
You can use
The nice thing about pocket and sleeve diapers
is that you can stuff with more than one insert
to increase absorbency. Some all-in-ones also
come with pockets to give parents the option of
stuffing for added functionality as well.
Inserts for pocket, sleeve or all-in-one diapers
are usually made out of microfiber, bamboo or
a cotton blend. Please note that microfiber
should never go directly against your baby’s
skin. Bamboo and cotton are more absorbent
than microfiber, but microfiber is cheaper.
baby wash
cloths for
wipes and
fleece scraps
for stay-dry
liners. Save
that money,
All-in-twos and hybrid diapers also require
inserts, but these inserts are made of a fabric
that can go directly against the baby’s skin, as the inserts are not stuffed
inside the diaper but, rather, lie on top of the diaper. Hybrid diapers, like
gDiapers, can be used with both reusable an d disposable inserts. The
disposable inserts are biodegradable and flushable.
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So are inserts necessary? If you are using pocket, sleeve or all-in-two
diapers, inserts are absolutely necessary. They are optional for all-inones. But don’t worry about this accessory too much. If you decide to go
with a diaper type that requires inserts, they will most likely come with
one or two inserts. It is up to you to decide if you want to purchase
extras. And you can always use a trifolded prefold as an insert if you get
in a bind.
Another money saving tip here is to use any microfiber cleaning rag
folded as an insert as well. Some suggest the bulk packs of auto cleaning
rags from Sam’s or Costco.
Doublers are thinner and less absorbent than inserts but thicker and
more absorbent than liners. Whereas the job of a liner is primarily to help
create a barrier in between the baby’s bum and the diaper itself, a
doubler exists to add more absorbency.
Why not just use an extra insert? Well, you can, but too many inserts will
create too bulky of a diaper, which will hinder the diaper’s fit, especially
around the legs. If the diaper does not fit correctly, it may leak.
Fitted diaper with a doubler
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Most doublers are made out of natural fibers, such as bamboo.
So are doublers necessary? No, they aren’t. I’ve cloth diapered several
years without ever buying a doubler. You can always use extra inserts or
prefolds as doublers without having to fork out extra cash, and using
bamboo inserts, which are much, much thinner than microfiber, will
eliminate the bulk. I triple stuff my bamboo pocket diapers with bamboo
inserts at night, and they work just fine.
Diaper Pails
A diaper pail is where you store your dirty diapers until wash day. It can
really be any trash can that is either lined with a washable wetbag-like
liner or with no liner at all (as long as it can be thoroughly wiped down
and cleaned when needed). I recommend using a diaper pail with a lid, so
your children may be less tempted to climb inside and get covered in. . .
In previous generations, many cloth diapering parents used what is
known as “wet pails.” These pails would already contain water, and the
parents would soak the dirty diapers until wash day. Some cloth
diapering parents today do still use wet pails, but the majority use dry
pails. I would personally be leery of the safety of standing wet pails
around children who could fall inside and drown.
So are diaper pails necessary? No, they actually aren’t, although they
may be preferable for people who have the space for them. I have never
used a diaper pail. I use a large wetbag instead.
Wetbags are waterproof and usually smell-proof bags that allow you to
store dirty diapers that won’t leak through onto your other belongings.
They come in a variety of sizes. Small ones will usually store one diaper
or cloth wipes. Medium wetbags will fit inside diaper bags and store
several diapers. Large wetbags can hold enough diapers to last for a
weekend trip.
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Inside of wetbag
I actually use a large hanging wetbag instead of a diaper pail. I live in a
small home with a closet-like laundry room, and we simply do not have
the space for a diaper pail. I use a hanging wetbag on a hook on the back
of the laundry room door, and it works perfectly.
Most wetbags will also contain a small swatch of fabric on the inside,
where you can dab some essential oils to help keep smells at bay.
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Fabric swatch on wetbag
So are wetbags necessary? Well, I guess you could technically use
Ziploc bags all the time, but that would get old and pretty gross. I would
rank wetbags pretty high on the needs lists. I own several in each size,
and I use them often. I absolutely love my hanging wetbag. It zips up,
and I recommend that over a hanging wet pail with no zipper. I had one
of those for my first year of cloth diapering, and let’s just say that the
smell definitely wafted out of my laundry room, and my hubby wasn’t too
Stain Fighters
There are several stain fighters on the market today, and we will talk
about them in more detail in confession 8. My personal recommendation
is to not spend too much money here. Who else sees the diapers but you
and your child? If your diapers are clean then why does it matter if they
are stained? And the sun is an excellent, FREE stain fighter!
So are stain fighters necessary? No, they aren’t. You can 100 percent
make it without ever buying a stain fighter.
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Soaker for an all-in-two diaper
A soaker can really be one of several things:
1) a wool or fleece diaper cover
2) the absorbent middle section of a diaper
3) another word for an insert
4) another word for a doubler
So are soakers necessary? Well, it depends on what type of soaker it
is. You can get by without ever purchasing a wool or fleece soaker/cover,
but they do work very well. You absolutely must have an absorbent part
of a diaper--or it doesn’t work! So, in that sense, a soaker is necessary.
Inserts/Soakers are optional depending on the diaper type.
Doublers/Soakers are optional as well.
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Detergent--oh, the elusive cloth diapering detergent. Where are you?
Which one of you is the best?
If you are new to cloth diapering, you need to know two things when it
comes to detergent:
1) You must use a detergent that is safe for cloth diapers. Yes, there is
a difference in regular detergents and detergents that are cloth
diaper safe. We will discuss this more below.
2) Which cloth diaper detergent is best is highly subjective and
dependent upon a number of factors.
In a nutshell, if you use a detergent that contains dyes, perfumes and
other additives, those things may leave residue on your diapers, which
may eventually lead to the diapers not functioning properly. However, the
detergent brand that works well for one cloth diapering family may not
work well for another family. Water type (hard or soft), the type of
washing machine you are using and even the type of diapers you use can
all factor into whether or not a detergent will work for you.
I recommend getting suggestions for detergents from other cloth
diapering parents in your local community, as their water type should be
similar to yours. And know that the detergent you start with may not be
the one you end up sticking with for the long haul.
But it’s okay. You can always use that detergent on your clothes! In fact,
I highly recommend only using a cloth-safe detergent on your other
laundry. Otherwise, you may risk residue building up in your washing
machine, which can eventually rub off on your diapers.
Be sure the cloth diaper detergent you choose is free of:
 fabric softeners, which will cause your diapers to repel liquid.
 optical brighteners, which give the illusion that fabric is
whiter/brighter than it really is. These also can cause build-up-which causes leaks--and even skin irritations.
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 stain guards, which coat fabrics and can, again, cause leaks.
 soaps, which can leave a filmy residue (even natural ones, like
Castile soap).
 oils, which can rub off on your diapers and cause leaking. As we
discussed in the section on prepping, it’s important to get all the
oils out of your natural-fibered diapers before washing them
together with your other diapers. These oils must be washed out in
order to trigger absorbency. Any detergents that contain oils can
cause your diapers to stop working as well.
What about homemade detergents?
I have never made my own, although many cloth diapering parents do.
To be honest, I have been leery of leaving residue on my diapers with a
homemade detergent, and, therefore, I’ve never even tried it. I’ve found
what works for me, so I’m sticking with it!
Determining the Best Detergent for YOU!
This handy little tool will rate detergents for you as you seek out which
ones to try--and which ones to stay away from: Here are two other handy charts
that rate detergents:
So is detergent necessary? Yes! You can’t use cloth diapers without
detergent to wash them!
Wool Dryer Balls
I had never heard of wool dryer balls until I started using cloth diapers,
and now I love them! Dryer sheets are a big no-no with cloth diapering
because they can leave residue on your diapers. Instead, you can use
wool dryer balls to help soften both your clothes and diapers--and also
help speed up drying time!
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I wrote about my experience with using wool dryer balls here:
You can use anywhere from three to nine dryer balls in your dryer at a
time. The more balls you use, the faster your drying time should be.
Some people also scent their balls with essential oils. I have been using
the same dryer balls for nearly three years now. It has been nice not to
have to buy dryer sheets any more, and it’s been one more step in
detoxing my laundry room!
So are dryer balls necessary? You can definitely live without wool
dryer balls. You can use something like tennis balls instead, but I do
really enjoy using the wool ones. Wool is naturally antibacterial and
antifungal,1 which is a huge plus. They seem to last forever as well. You
can purchase “dressed” up wool dryer balls that comes in snazzy colors,
and in an assortment of scents, but you can save your money and
purchase plainly-made scentless ones that work just as well.
As an aside, dryer balls do make quite a bit of noise in the dryer. I am so
used to it by now, though, that I don’t even hear them.
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Diaper Sprayers
A diaper sprayer is essentially a small hose with a sprayable nozzle that
attaches to your toilet. They are much like the sprayers that attach to
most kitchen sinks. The sprayer serves to knock solid waste off the
diapers and into the toilet and can also be used to pre-rinse your wet
diapers right after they are soiled.
Some plumbing systems are not set up to accommodate diaper sprayers,
so please be sure you can hook one up to your toilet before you buy one.
Diaper sprayers are not cheap. The following link provides a tutorial for a
do-it-yourself diaper sprayer if you are on a tight budget:
So are diaper sprayers necessary? No, they really are not necessary.
I know plenty of cloth diapering parents who do not use them. But I do
personally own one. It does come in handy when a baby has an especially
messy diaper, but you can totally live without one.
Diaper Bags
I do not personally own any special cloth diaper bag. I just use my
regular diaper bag. You mainly want to make sure your diaper bag is big
enough to fit several cloth diapers, a wetbag and wipes or anything else
you may carry in your diaper bag. Cloth diapers take up more space--a
lot more space--than disposables, so you have to keep that in mind.
So are diaper bags necessary? A special one made for cloth diapers?
No. A diaper bag big enough to fit cloth diapers AND everything else for
baby AND everything else for mom? Yes, that is most definitely needed!
Diaper Creams
You must absolutely not use a regular diaper cream on a cloth diaper. I
discuss this more in confession 8, under “cloth diapering no-nos,” but
suffice it to say that you can ruin your cloth diapers by using a cream on
them that is not cloth safe.
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Some parents will claim that cloth-diapered babies never get diaper
rashes. That is simply not true. At some point, all of my children have
had diaper rashes while using cloth.
There are many cloth-safe creams on the market today. Get
recommendations and take the plunge and buy one. I do suggest going
ahead and keeping one tube of cloth diaper-safe cream on hand for
An alternative to a cloth diaper-safe cream would be to use regular rash
cream with a heavy-duty liner (a good, thick rag can do the trick). I do
not suggest using disposable liners as a barrier in this instance because
they are really too thin, and the cream will still get onto the diapers
(been there!).
You can also just use coconut oil. Coconut oil has many health properties
and is cloth-diaper safe.
So are diaper creams necessary? If your baby is one of the few that
never gets diaper rashes, then you may be okay without diaper creams,
but most babies do get them at some point, so I recommend keeping at
least one tube of cream on hand. Plus, most of the cloth-safe creams
double as moisturizers--for both you and your baby. They will not go to
waste even if your baby never has a rash.
Ahhh--the stereotypical diaper pin. Does anyone still use those? Well,
yes, actually there are quite a few parents who do still use diaper pins to
fasten their prefolds or flat diapers. But more parents use what is known
as a Snappi. Snappis are made of plastic and hold a diaper together
without the risk of the baby getting stuck with a sharp pin.
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Check out this picture of a Snappi below:
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So are Snappis/pins necessary? Snappis and/or pins are only
necessary if you are using prefold, flat, or contoured diapers. You should
only need one to two pins or Snappis total.
Cloth diaper covers are waterproof and are what make natural-fibered
diapers like prefolds, flats, fitteds and contoured diapers work. Otherwise,
these diapers, although highly absorbent, will still leak all over the place.
Covers are either made of TPU, PUL, fleece or wool.
So are covers necessary? Covers are absolutely necessary if you are
using prefold, flat, fitted or contoured diapers. You will need one cover for
about every four to six diapers you have. Covers can be reused a few
times by airing them out between changes unless there is poop on them.
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Cloth Diapering Accessories
Cloth Wipes
Wipes Solution
How Many
3-4 dozen
baby wash cloths
plain water
fleece scraps
Diaper Pail
Wetbag (s)
Stain Fighters
Dryer Balls
Diaper Sprayer
Special Diaper Bag
Cloth-Safe Creams
1-2 for each
natural fibered
3-S, M, L
1-2 total
1 for every 4-6
microfiber rags
microfiber rags
plain trashcan
ziplock bags*
the sun
tennis balls
kitchen sink hose
regular diaper bag
coconut oil
safety pins*
plastic bloomers*
*not recommended
Establish a Wash Routine
Now let’s tackle the cloth diapering wash routine!
First of all, I’d like to point out that, in case you haven’t realized it by
now, most things cloth diaper related are subjective, meaning there are
really very little absolutes when it comes to cloth diapering. What works
for one person may not work for everyone.
I recommend washing your diapers every other day or at least every
third day, but you can technically go up to four or five days. Some people
wash every day!
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Here is my personal cloth diapering wash
Every other day, I dump my soiled diapers from the wetbag
into the washing machine. Between two in diapers, this
usually equates to somewhere around 15 to 18 diapers. Then,
I drop the wetbag (which should be washed as well) into the
2) I turn the water on cold and turn the setting on the machine
up to the highest amount of water possible.
3) I run one rinse cycle.
4) I then pour in one scoop of detergent and turn the water to
hot. If my diapers are especially dirty (or have been sitting for
longer than 3 days), I will also include a couple scoops of pure
oxygen in the wash cycle.
5) I run one hot cycle, which includes an automatic cold rinse at
the end.
6) I then turn the water back to cold and run a rinse cycle.
7) After the diapers are finished washing, I either hang them on
my drying rack or dry them on medium in the dryer. I always
hang my covers to dry.
When the diapers are dry, I sometimes pre-stuff them, so
they are all ready to put on my babies. Otherwise, I will keep
the inserts in one container and the shells in another
container and just stuff when it’s time to change the diaper.
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Top Loader vs. HE (High Efficiency) Washing Machines
I have a top loading washing machine. Although these machines use
more water and are therefore not as environmentally friendly as HE
machines, top loading machines are known to get cloth diapers much
cleaner than HE machines. Because HE machines do not use as much
water, they may not always use the amount of water needed to get the
diapers clean enough. You can “trick” the machine by adding a towel to
the wash cycle. This will cause the machine to fill up with more water and
do a better job.
Alternately, some cloth diapering parents purchase an extra machine just
to wash their diapers! If you have the space and money, a simple top
loading machine may work very well for this. But most families probably
have neither the space nor the extra money.
Hard vs. Soft Water
Water can be hard or soft. Hard water retains more of the minerals
naturally present in water, and, thus, requires more detergent to clean
effectively. Soft water, on the other hand, can reduce the need for
detergent by up to 50 percent!2 Contacting your city water supplier to
determine if you have hard or soft water may help you figure out if you
need more or less detergent to get your diapers sparkling clean.
Some detergents are designed to work better with soft water, and some
work better with hard water.
A very simple way to find a good cloth diapering detergent for your local
water type is to ask other cloth diapering mothers in your community
what type of detergent works for them. You can also just do some trialand-error testing on your own.
Here are 10 Tips to Remember When Establishing Your
Wash Routine:
1. Rinse/Wash/Rinse
This is the most basic foundation of a good wash routine.
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The first rinse is to knock off any solids that may have stuck to the
diaper. Some people add a small amount of detergent to this step. I do
I personally rinse in cold water. And some cloth diapering
advocates suggest that rinsing in any other temperature
will risk setting in stains.
However, other cloth diapering parents tout the benefits
of pre-rinsing in warm water, pointing to the fact that
stains (warm body fluids) are best removed at the
temperature in which they were created.
I personally rinse in cold because it saves me money, and
I have not had a problem with much staining.
The hot wash with detergent cleans the diapers. (Note: Do not use the
“sanitizing” cycle with an HE machine. Just use the setting that allows for
the most water possible, and set the temperature to “hot.”)
The cold rinse gets out detergent residue.
(Many people add a second cold rinse to guarantee that all detergent
rinses out. I personally do this, but like I stated above, my first cold rinse
it automatically included after my hot wash. Yours may be, too.)
2. Full load of diapers = no more than 15-17 diapers
I count each diaper shell and inserts as one diaper. Yes, I know your
machine looks like it can fit more, but in my experience, if you shove
more diapers than this in, they won’t get clean.
3. Cloth diapers like LOTS of WATER.
Use the maximum amount of water possible with your diapers! Again, if
you have a HE machine, you might have to trick the machine to add more
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water by adding a towel to the load. I have a top-loader washing
machine, so I just set it on the “super” setting.
4. Use a good, cloth-safe detergent.
There are a LOT of good detergents on the
It’s important to remember that what works
for one person may not work for another.
Discover what works for you, and stick with it.
Your diapers will thank you!
rinse out
better than
If you have any questions about a particular
liquid ones
detergent, don’t forget to check out the Real
Diaper Association’s online Detergent
● ● ● I
LOVE this little tool! It helps you determine if the detergent you want to
try is cloth safe!
5. Use a cloth-safe detergent for your regular laundry.
Using detergents with dyes, perfumes and optical brighteners on your
regular laundry can leave residue in the drum of your washing machine,
which will, in turn, leave residue on your diapers. Some people will say
this isn’t true, but I have personally experienced it. While on vacation one
time, I used a washing machine full of detergent residue--and my diapers
did not work when I returned from my trip.
6. Realize it might take time to figure out the amount of detergent
that you need.
The amount of detergent you’ll need is not only dependent upon your
type of washing machine (HE machines take less) but also upon the
water type (hard water takes more and soft water takes less). Realize
you may need to experiment a little before finding what works for you.
7. A weekly soak does wonders for stains.
I highly recommend soaking with pure oxygen once per week for extra
whitening and brightening and extra disinfecting. You can soak from from
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one hour to all night, depending on how clean you want your diapers.
Always do a pre-rinse and soak on hot.
8. The sun is a natural stain-fighter.
If all else fails, sunning (sometimes for more than one day) should get rid
of your stains (and disinfect naturally as well!). Sun your diapers and
inserts while they are still wet. Spraying a little lemon water or diluted
white vinegar on the stains may also help.
9. You should be able to machine or line dry most of your diapers.
Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, but most diapers can be
either line dried or dried in a dryer. I line dry (or, rather, I lay them on a
drying rack since my homeowner’s association doesn’t allow lines) when
weather permits, or I dry on low to medium. Line drying your covers and
shells keep them nicer for longer.
I should mention that your diapers will not feel as soft right off the line as
they will out of the dryer. A quick fix to this is to fluff them in the dryer
for about five minutes.
I will mention this again in confession 8, but do NOT use dryer sheets, as
these contain perfumes and other ingredients that can leave residue on
your diapers and cause them to leak! I personally use wool dryer balls
instead of dryer sheets. They help speed up the drying process and don’t
leave any chemicals on my diapers--or other laundry!
10. Give yourself time to get down a good routine.
Learning the routine that works for your family takes time in the
beginning, but once you have it, you’re good to go!
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Washing Diapers at a
Step 1: Toss soiled diapers into
washing machine.
Step 2: Rinse diapers.
Step 3: Wash diapers on hot
with detergent.
Step 4: Rinse diapers.
Step 5: Hang to dry or toss in
the dryer.
Stripping Your Diapers
Oh, the dreaded word: Strip! It’s something I heard of early in my cloth
diapering journey, but I hoped to never have to do it.
That now makes me chuckle.
After having dealt with several yeast rashes, urine and detergent residue
and plenty of user-error, I’ve had to strip my diapers several times.
And now I’m quite thankful that there is such a thing.
The ability to strip your diapers is the ability to revitalize them, and, in
essence, to save them. It’s a light at the end of a leaky-stinky diaper
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It means that no matter what cloth diapering mistakes you make, you
can, at least most of the time, undo them.
There are several methods of stripping. In one method, you simply run
your diapers through a HOT wash with NO detergent and then run them
through several rinses. The theory behind this method is that the
detergent and/or urine that is built up in the
diapers can be rinsed away with so many extra
fibered diapers
Another method is the dishwasher strip. With
are much more
this method, you place your diapers and inserts
prone to build
(minus the covers or any diapers with PUL/TPU)
on the top rack of your dishwasher and run
up than
them through a wash cycle without detergent.
The theory here is that the water in the
dishwasher gets hotter than the water in your
diapers, and,
washing machine. I personally have never tried
therefore, may
this method because I think it could pose a fire
hazard. Plus, it just seems a little icky to me to
need to be
clean my diapers in the same place where I
stripped more
clean my dishes! If you want to use the hottest
water possible, the solution is simple: turn up
the temperature on your hot water heater.
And then there is the Dawn dish liquid strip. This is my preferred method.
The Dawn Dish Soap Diaper Strip
Supplies Needed:
original blue Dawn dish soap
Add a squirt or two of Dawn to your washing machine. Add in clean
diapers. Wash on HOT. Run the load through several rinses until there
are no more bubbles in the water.
The theory behind this method is that the Dawn soap is a degreaser that
can remove oily residue.
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Disinfecting Diapers
If your diapers get contaminated with yeast, a regular strip will just not
cut it. You will need to do a special disinfecting wash on them. I have
developed my own disinfecting strip that works wonders! I have included
instructions for this strip in confession 8 under challenge #8: yeast.
Laundering Aids*
Besides adding a little pure oxygen bleach every once in a while if my
diapers are especially dirty, I use very little laundering aids. However, the
following list gives some possible cloth-safe additives that just might give
your diapers an extra boost, depending on your water and machine type:
This is a natural stain and odor eliminator. I have personally never used
it, but some cloth diapering parents even use it to strip their diapers.
Baking Soda
When I first started cloth diapering, I would occasionally add 1/2 cup to 1
cup of baking soda to the wash for an added cleaning boost. Now, I
mostly use baking soda to help neutralize the odors in my wet bag. I’ll
just shake a bit in the bag when I feel like the diapers are especially
I see bleach as a last resort, and some diaper brands will void their
warranties if you have used bleach. However, other brands recommend
adding a little bit of bleach to the wash once in a while. I have never
been brave enough to try--and, thankfully, my disinfecting strip has
worked so well that I haven’t had to try.
If you have especially hard water, you may need a water softener to
break down the hard water minerals and help the detergent do its job.
This will also help prevent build up. You may need to add extra rinse
cycles if you are using a water softener like Calgon.
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Dawn Dish Soap
I’ve already mentioned that I use Dawn to both strip and give my diapers
a disinfecting strip. A little goes a long way, and you will want to make
sure all the bubbles are gone and the soap has completely been rinsed. I
have also used Dawn to scrub out any non-cloth-safe diaper creams that
may have stained my diapers.
Essential Oils
You can add a few drops of tea tree oil to your wash to disinfect your
diapers. You can also add a few drops of lavender, orange or other
essential oils to your wool dryer balls to leave a pleasant scent on your
diapers. I do not suggest overdoing it, though, or the oils may soak into
your diapers and cause them to repel urine.
Oxygen Bleach
This is the one additive that I use on a semi-normal basis as part of my
wash routine. Oxygen bleach is much gentler and safer than chlorine
bleach, yet it disinfects and whitens. If I feel my diapers are especially
dirty, I will add a tablespoon or two of pure oxygen bleach. I also use
oxygen bleach in my disinfecting strip.
Some cloth diapering parents use the OxiClean brand, but I prefer to use
a pure oxygen bleach that contains no fillers. There are several brands
available today that you can get via or at a cloth diapering
RLR is another additive that is useful for those with hard water. It is a
special treatment that helps remove build up. Some people use RLR to
strip their diapers. It can also be used to whiten and brighten regular
White Vinegar
White vinegar is a natural fabric softener and reduces static cling. It also
neutralizes odors. You can add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of vinegar to your rinse
cycle. I don’t do this on a regular basis, but I have before. Your laundry
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won’t smell like vinegar! As an aside, I will sometimes add 1/2 cup
vinegar to my regular laundry and re-rinse if I’ve left the wet clothes
sitting in the washing machine too long. This will take the sour smell out.
*Please follow your diaper manufacturer’s recommendations.
Get over the Poop!
“It’s vital to remember here that the poop task, technically,
isn’t exclusive to cloth. Read any disposable diaper box and
you’ll see the note about putting solid waste in the sewer
system, not the landfills. Poop doesn’t belong in landfills,
but every disposable diaper-er I know (including my former
self) just wraps it up and throws it away. They’re supposed
to dump it out anyway.
“My husband watched me scrape poop once and said, ‘This.
This is what would be the last straw for me and we’d be back
to disposables.’ Bummer, I thought, I guess the poop duty is
up to me for the next two years…” ~Katie Kimball, author
and creator/editor of Kitchen Stewardship
The number one reason why I never considered using cloth diapers until
my second child was born is because I thought they would somehow be
messier to change. I envisioned the stereotypical soaked and leaking
prefold, with pee and poop all over my hands, my lap and everything else
in my house.
I honestly don’t even think I knew there were such things as cloth diaper
covers that keep all the mess inside the diaper--whether you are using a
prefold or another type.
And I couldn’t imagine putting. . . poop. . . in my washing machine. How
in the world would our clothes, linens and everything else I washed stay
clean if I were constantly filling my machine with human feces?
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But it can be done!
● ●
● ●
● ●
I quickly learned that cloth diapers not only
contain messy diapers just as well as disposables,
but I actually think they work better.
● ●
● ●
● ●
You CAN Get the Poop Out!
The golden question: What do you do with the poop? Do you just toss
the dirty diapers in the washing machine and the poop somehow
magically disappears while the detergent and water get the diapers
sparkling clean?
Well, no--not really.
Let me walk you step-by-step through the poop removal process, and
your diapers will be looking and smelling clean in no time!
This process looks different for newborns and older babies, as well as for
formula-fed babies and breastfed babies. Let’s start with the exclusively
breastfed newborn.
Disposing of Poop from a Breastfed Newborn:
Step 1: Remove diaper from baby.
Step 2: Optional: Rinse diaper. (Some people believe rinsing the soiled
diaper right away will help prevent stains. This step is not necessary
unless you are the stain police. Even if you rinse, your diapers may still
get stained, but that does not mean they are not clean. We will talk about
stain removal in confession 8.)
Step 3: Toss soiled diaper, without dumping poop, into your wetbag or
diaper pail with the rest of your dirty diapers.
Step 4: On wash day, dump all of your soiled diapers into the washing
machine and launder as normal.
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See? Easy peasy! Poop from breastfed babies is not solid. Therefore,
there is no way you can simply dump the poop into the toilet. But there is
no need to scrub! In fact, the only reason you should ever have to scrub
your diapers is if you somehow get non-organic material on them,such as
a non-cloth-diaper-safe cream or your preschooler’s magic markers.
Disposing of Poop from a Formula-Fed Newborn, an
Older Baby or a Toddler:
Step 1: Remove diaper from baby.
Step 2: Take diaper to the bathroom.
Step 3: Lift the toilet seat, and, holding diaper with both hands on ends
or top and bottom, let poop slide off diaper and plop into the toilet.
Step 4: Flush poop.
Step 3: Toss soiled diaper into your wetbag or diaper pail with the rest of
your dirty diapers. (If you have a pocket diaper, you may have the extra
step of “unstuffing” or separating the soiled insert from the diaper shell.
Not all brands require this. See confession 2 for more information. If you
are using a diaper with a hook and loop closure, you will need to fasten
the tabs on the backside of the diaper on either side. This helps keep the
hooks from sticking to other diapers in the wash, leading to a diaper
“train” that can tear at the fibers of the individual diapers.)
Step 4: On wash day, dump all your soiled diapers into the washing
machine and launder as normal.
See? It’s not that hard or gross. In fact, as long as you keep your diapers
contained in a well-sealed wetbag or closed-in diaper pail, your house
should smell fresher than if you just keep soiled disposables in a diaper
pail. Yes, the diapers will stink (all diapers do!), but you will not have
solid waste sitting in a corner of your house somewhere; it will be long
gone in the sewage!
As an aside, did you know that the most sanitary way to dispose of all
baby poop is by flushing it down the toilet? I never knew this until I
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started using cloth diapers. If you look on a disposable diaper package, it
actually states that feces should be flushed.
Flushing poop down the toilet is cleaner for your home and for the
environment, no matter what type of diaper you choose to use.
Disposing of a Very Messy Poopy Diaper:
Now, you may have read the previous steps and thought: “Well, that all
sounds great in theory, but my baby’s poop does not just ‘plop’ in the
toilet. It sticks to the diaper and is incredibly messy.
I hear ya. No, really, I do. I’ve been there. I am still there sometimes.
When I first started using cloth and heard this description of disposing of
poop, I thought something might be wrong with me. It just wasn’t
working out like that. I fell in love with using cloth diapers, but I still
despised the steps it took to flush the poop down the toilet. I had to use
toilet paper to pick the poop off the diapers. And it just didn’t feel
sanitary--not in the least.
And it’s for that reason that I credit cloth
diaper use with helping me discover that my
daughters have food sensitivities. If your
children are not digesting their food well, you
may want to consult with your trusted
healthcare provider to determine the reason
why your child is not properly digesting their
Once we figured out that our children could
not tolerate gluten or dairy, and we changed
their diets accordingly, cloth diapering (and
diapering in general) became much less
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Save the squirt
bottle they give
you at the
hospital. You can
use it to clean
poop off your
diapers or use it
to moisten your
cloth wipes.
Tools for Making Cleaning up the Poop
Flushable Liners
Flushable liners were a lifesaver to me when I began cloth diapering.
Flushable liners are very thin, like a single layer of a paper towel. Some
brands seem rough and scratchy at first, but they soften up in the wash
after the first use.
To use them, you simply place the liner flat in the diaper, and it will
“catch” the poop.
Several brands make flushable liners, but I prefer the Imse Vimse liners
because they are also washable. I don’t feel like I am wasting my money
if my baby does not poop in them. Instead of having to throw away a
liner that has not been soiled, I can simply toss it in the wetbag or diaper
pail with the dirty diaper, wash, dry and reuse.
You do not want to rewash a liner that has been soiled. That would really
be defeating the purpose of the liner making disposing of the poop less
If the liner has been soiled, you simply scoop out the dirty liner and toss
it into the toilet to flush. This is especially helpful if your child does
struggle with really messy poops. Otherwise, I’d probably save your
money and just let the poop fall into the toilet by itself.
A Diaper Sprayer
Many, many parents can successfully cloth diaper their children without
the use of a diaper sprayer. BUT, for those who have children who
produce especially messy diapers--or on those days when your baby may
have a stomach virus or have eaten something that messed up his or her
stomach--a diaper sprayer can help save you some sanity (and messy
A diaper sprayer looks much like the sprayer that most people have on
their sinks to aid in washing the dishes. Much like a sink sprayer uses the
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water pressure to help get extra tough food off of your cookware, etc., a
diaper sprayer uses water pressure to help get extra messy poop from
your child’s diaper to inside the toilet.
There are many different models and brands available, but my husband
and I simply got ours online from We read the reviews and
went with one that people raved about and still fit within our budget.
You simply hook the diaper sprayer up to the toilet following the
directions on whatever model you purchase. (Make sure that your toilet
has the proper tubing needed to accommodate a diaper sprayer before
purchasing one. Some toilets do not.)
As an added bonus, you can use the sprayer to help clean the toilet!
A Spray or Squirt Bottle
A spray bottle will inevitably be less effective than a diaper sprayer since
the water pressure will be minimal, but it can still help knock some of the
solids into the toilet.
I saved the squirt bottles the hospital sent home with me, and I used
these before I used a diaper sprayer.
A Spatula
I know—gross. Or maybe you don’t think this is gross at all. Some cloth
diapering parents have had success with using an old spatula to knock
solids into the toilet. This would obviously save them money from having
to invest in either liners or a sprayer. But I would honestly worry about
how sanitary this is. If you do go this route, I encourage you to keep the
spatula well-guarded and away from your children who may find it and
want to play with it (or worse). You would also want to clean the spatula
well in between uses, which would add more time.
Let the Diaper Soak
If a diaper is especially soiled to the point that even a diaper sprayer will
not knock the solids into the toilet, you may want to consider letting the
diaper soak. On a few rare occasions, I have left a diaper sitting inside
the toilet. The water usually helps to loosen the poop to the point that it
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will fall off more easily. Just be sure to warn anyone who needs to use
the toilet!
What about when you’re out and about?
It really depends on how you dispose of the poop at home. You will
probably do something similar while you’re out. If you use flushable liners
and are near a bathroom, simply dispose of the poop the same way you
do while you are home.
If you use a sprayer, you may want to consider investing in a small spray
bottle to keep in your diaper bag.
Worst case scenario, wrap up the poopy diaper as you would a
disposable, keep it in a travel-sized wetbag, and dispose of the poop at
home. This is actually what I tend to do most of the time.
Do you need both a diaper sprayer and flushable liners?
Probably not. Sometimes some of the poop will get outside of the liners,
and you may like that the sprayer can finish rinsing the excess poop from
the edges. OR, you may just want to pre-rinse your diapers. A diaper
sprayer can definitely make this easier.
But you obviously cannot take a diaper sprayer out with you, and you can
take liners out with you. If I had to choose one, I’d go with the liners.
If money is an issue, however, a diaper sprayer is a one-time investment,
whereas you will need to continue to replace the liners.
It’s ultimately your decision. You have to decide what route will work best
for your family’s setup.
What if there is still some poop around the edges of the
A little bit of poop will be okay and will wash away in the machine.
If you are concerned about your washing machine becoming dirty or
unsanitary, you can occasionally wash your machine itself. In this post,
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Lexie of Lexie: Naturals gives instructions on how to clean a washing
But all this poop mess sounds so complicated!
I wanted to include all of these options because everyone and every baby
is different. But really? Most cloth diaper users should have no issues with
simply knocking the solids into the toilet, flushing them away, tossing the
soiled diaper into the wetbag or pail and washing as normal on wash day.
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Cloth Diapering a Newborn
Cloth diapering a newborn is really the easiest stage. Even if you don’t
use cloth right away, I would suggest you start out before you baby
starts eating solid foods.
Breastfed poop is water soluble, so you don’t even have to flush away
any poop. You literally just have to change the diaper, toss it into your
diaper pail or wetbag and toss all the dirty diapers into the washing
machine on the day you launder.
I have many friends who use and prefer prefolds in the newborn stage.
With the number of diaper changes that a newborn has, you will go
through a LOT of diapers, and having to stuff pocket diapers is just one
extra step. You could use all-in-ones, but all-in-ones tend to be pricey,
and most brands take a long time to dry, which you would not want if you
are needing more diapers for a heavy wetter or frequent pooper.
If you don’t care for folding the prefolds and securing with a Snappi or
pins (in the old-fashioned, stereotypical cloth diaper fashion) then you
can always trifold them and stick them inside a cover. In this way, the
prefold and cover combination are almost acting more like an all-in-two.
There’s no folding around baby required. The only disadvantage to this
would be if your baby were to have a blow-out that leaked onto the sides
of the diaper. Folding and securing the prefold or flat diaper around the
baby helps contain the mess.
Theoretically you can use one-size diapers from the time your baby is
born, but that does not always work out if your baby is small. Most onesize diapers do not fit until your baby reaches at least eight pounds.
What about meconium? Won’t it stain?
Most babies will only pass a few--maybe even one--meconium diaper. If
you birth in a hospital, you may want to just go with the disposables that
are available in your room. Otherwise, you can always use a cheap
prefold or flat for your baby’s first several diapers, or you can use a thick
rag as a liner to make sure the meconium does not leave stains.
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Cloth Diapering a Toddler
The main difference in cloth diapering a newborn and cloth diapering a
toddler can be summed up in one word: poop.
In all seriousness, if you haven’t figured it out already, once your child
starts eating solid foods, his or her poop will change. Especially if you
have exclusively breastfed your child, expect that slightly-sweet, buttered
popcorn smell to turn a bit sour.
Whereas breastfed poop is water soluble and requires no pre-treatment,
you simply cannot dump a diaper full of solid fecal matter into your
washing machine. You must first dispose of it. And you dispose of it in the
same way you dispose of any human waste--in your toilet.
It still amazes me that for years I never batted an eyelash at wrapping up
soiled diapers and tossing them in the garbage. I exclusively used
disposables on my oldest for two years, and I never once thought of how
gross it was to toss a poopy diaper in a pail. But once I started cloth
diapering I realized how much more sanitary it is--both for your home
and the environment--to flush all feces down the toilet.
When your toddler’s poop transitions into solid waste, you simply need to
plop it in to the toilet. Wet diapers will remain the same and need no
extra care.
I have discussed disposing of poop at length in confession 5.
The Best Diapers for Toddlers
At some point in your cloth diapering journey, your baby will probably
figure out how to take his or her diaper off. This happens with disposable
diapers as well! I tend to use diapers that fasten with a hook and loop
when my babies are little, but once they figure out how to get the diapers
off, I normally switch to a snap fastener since they are harder to take off.
As your child gets older, he or she may also become either a heavier or a
lighter wetter. I notice that my children tend to urinate less frequently
but more each time they do. For this reason, you may need to switch to a
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more absorbent diaper--like one made with natural fibers (bamboo or
cotton), or you may need to start double stuffing your pocket diapers if
you didn’t before.
Cloth Diapering an Older Child
It is possible to cloth diaper an older or special needs child, but it will be
more difficult to find diapers to fit children much heavier than 36 pounds.
Your best bet for finding diapers to fit these children is through a workat-home mom via Etsy. Most can custom-make diapers for your children
if you give them the proper measurements.
Potty Training
GroVia cloth trainer
Do cloth diapered babies really potty train earlier than their peers?
If you use modern cloth diapers that do not allow your child to feel
wetness, then the benefits of early potty training will probably not be
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I personally think a lot of factors go into potty training, including a child’s
personality, the home environment, food allergies/illnesses that may
hinder digestion and more.
My children, so far, have not potty trained early. But I have primarily
used stay-dry diapers.
Is early potty training worth it enough to you to use cloth diapers? If
that’s one of your primary reasons in converting to cloth, then you should
stick to natural-fibered diapers, like those made out of bamboo or cotton.
Otherwise, you will be defeating your purpose in using cloth in the first
Cloth Diapering Two or More
Children at the Same Time
I have spent the majority of my cloth diapering journey with two babies
in diapers at the same time. It is really not hard. In fact, it can be more
convenient than using disposables if you use one-size diapers. Plus, you
will save a fortune in not having to buy diapers for multiple children!
Since I mainly use one-size diapers, I do not even separate my babies’
diapers. I keep them all stored in the same container and just readjust
the hook and loop or snaps quickly right before I diaper whichever child
needs to be changed.
If, however, you use sized diapers or if one child is a heavier wetter and,
therefore, needs extra inserts, you may want to keep the diapers
The key here is staying on top of laundry (which can, honestly, be a huge
struggle for me!). You will probably not be able to go more than two days
in between washing the diapers since your diaper pail will fill up twice as
quickly as someone who is only cloth diapering one baby.
I own about 36 pocket diapers, 10 prefolds, three covers, and five fitteds.
You can get by on a lot less. I started out with just an assortment of 24
diapers from my Cloth Diaper Foundation loan. The 36 pocket diapers
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would really be more than enough to diaper my two girls, but I have
collected the others along the way.
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Double (or Triple)
Stuff a Pocket Diaper
Cloth diapering at night can pose a challenge. Although I believe cloth
diapers contain poop better than disposables, even the most absorbent
cloth diaper will not hold as much urine as a disposable diaper. However,
there are ways to successfully cloth diaper overnight, and double or triple
stuffing a pocket diaper is one way.
You can double stuff with microfiber inserts, but triple stuffing with
microfiber inserts usually makes the diaper so bulky that it creates gaps
in the leg holes, which will, in turn, cause the diaper to leak. Instead, you
can triple stuff with much thinner bamboo inserts. Alternately, you can
double stuff with one microfiber insert and one bamboo insert, or you can
even try stuffing with a prefold since the cotton will absorb more than the
When using an extra insert, you will refer to that insert as a doubler. Or,
you can also use inserts specifically made to be doublers. These will be
trimmer than inserts and help lesson the bulkiness.
Use a Flat,
Prefold, Contoured or Fitted with a Wool
Diapers made of natural fibers, like bamboo, hemp or cotton, will absorb
more than diapers made of synthetic fibers. Therefore, natural-fibered
diapers are often preferred for night. You can use these diapers with any
type cover, but wool covers are especially absorbent and make an
excellent match for any natural-fibered diaper.
The benefits of wool are many, including the fact that it is:
highly absorbent, and
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Did you catch the last one? You don’t even
have to wash wool covers after each use! You
can reuse them for several days before
having to wash them.
Wool covers can even serve as extra
protection over pocket or all-in-one diapers
at night.
Read more about the benefits of wool in the
following articles:
Wool is
absorbent, and
What more
could you
“Why Wool’s Cool”:
● ● ●
“Organic Wool Diaper Covers: Do They Really Work?”:
“Wool Diaper Covers: A Perfect Nighttime Cloth Diaper Solution”:
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Natural FiberedDiapers
bamboo pocket diaper
You may have thought we covered natural-fibered diapers in the last
section, but there we were only referring to diapers requiring covers.
There are several pocket and all-in-one diapers on the market today that
are also made of natural fibers.
Although I personally prefer to use stay-dry pocket diapers made out of
synthetic fabrics during the day, I use bamboo pocket diapers, triple
stuffed with bamboo inserts, at night. This has been a “bullet proof”
solution for me, and I can probably count on one hand the number of
leaks we have had while using this method of overnight diapering.
If all else fails, you may need to use disposable diapers at night. I feel
confident one of the above solutions will work for you, but if it doesn’t,
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don’t despair. Even if you only cloth diaper during the day, you are still
saving money you wouldn’t save if you were using disposables full-time.
Nighttime Solutions at a
Double or Triple
Stuffed Pocket Diaper
2. Natural Fibered
Wool Covers
4. Disposables
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Once you’ve figured out what cloth diaper works best for you, have
established a wash routine and have gotten into a cloth diapering
“groove,” things should be pretty smooth sailing.
Especially in the early days, you may occasionally encounter a cloth
diapering challenge.
Some challenges are quick fixes.
But others may make you want to throw in the towel on cloth diapering
One reason I wrote this book was because I have experienced just about
every cloth diapering challenge you can experience. In fact, there was a
point where I almost quit cloth diapering because of my daughter’s
ongoing yeast infection, which was spreading to her diapers!
If you’re in that place right now, breathe a sigh of relief and keep
reading. I’m here to help.
Diaper Doesn’t Fit My Baby
Getting the correct diaper fit on your baby isn’t really that difficult, but it
may take a little trial and error on your part. This is why I highly, highly
recommend that new moms not invest in an entire diaper stash before
their babies are born. Each and every baby has his or her own unique
shape, and a diaper that works for one baby may not work for all babies.
Long and lean babies may need a more narrow diaper, whereas plumper
babies may need a wider one.
I recommend using a diaper with a hook and loop closure when your
baby is very small because this closure will get a snugger fit.
Most diapers come sized small, medium, or large. The distributor’s
website will list weight limits on those. However, most pockets come in
one-size options. I LOVE this because it saves more money! This is the
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option we chose. Do keep in mind that most pocket diapers do not fit
until the baby reaches at least eight pounds.
It’s important to note that even when your cloth diapers may fit your
baby, your baby’s clothes may not fit! Many cloth diapering parents have
to go a size up in pants because cloth diapers are bulkier than disposable
Diapers Still Stink Even When Clean
There are two main reasons your diapers may stink even after you wash
them: either they are not getting clean enough or there is a residue.
If your diapers smell badly as soon as your baby wets, they probably
need to be stripped. Most likely, the diapers contain either detergent or
urine residue. We will discuss residue at length in challenge #3. If you
want to jump right to how to strip your diapers, go back to confession 5.
If your diapers stink right out of the dryer/off the line, they are most
likely not getting clean enough.
There are five reasons why your wash routine may not be working for
your diapers:
1. You may not be using enough detergent.
When I first started cloth diapering, I kept reading that it took far less
detergent to wash diapers than it did to wash regular laundry. And so I
cut the recommended amount on my detergent box in half.
But I couldn’t figure out why my diapers still had the faint scent of poop
when I took them out of the dryer.
It was really quite disgusting!
And I’d have to wash and re-wash my diapers until I felt they were clean.
What a waste of time, energy, water and detergent!
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Finally, a seasoned cloth diapering friend mentioned that I may want to
try using a bit more detergent. Since I had already established a second
rinse into my wash routine, she was pretty certain that alone would take
care of getting all of the detergent out.
So I tried it. I actually ended up doubling the amount of detergent I had
been using. Instead of using half the recommended amount for a full load
of diapers, I used the full amount.
And my diapers came out of the wash not only sparkling clean but also
smelling fresh!
I personally use a standard top-loading washing machine. These
machines are actually the easiest to use in getting cloth diapers clean. If
you own an energy-efficient front-loading washer, you probably will be
able to use much less detergent.
Now, I am not suggesting that you use the full amount or double your
detergent amount right away. Again, cloth diapering is so much trial and
error. So many factors will determine the amount of detergent you should
What I am suggesting is that you not give up if your diapers do not come
out of the wash clean the first few times you wash them. It may take
some trial and error on your part, but you will eventually get it down!
And if you are still having trouble getting your diapers clean after testing
out several different amounts of detergent, you may want to look into
switching your detergent brand.
2. Your diapers may stink if you don’t remember to prerinse.
Pre-rinsing or, as some call it, pre-washing, helps break down any solids
remaining on your diapers. Running the full wash cycle with solid fecal
matter will just create more of a mess.
3. Your diapers may stink if you forget to flush the solids.
We all have moments (or days...or years!) of mommy brain. It’s possible
to toss your diaper into the pail and forget to flush altogether. This will
definitely create a mess and stink.
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4. Your diapers may stink if you aren’t using enough
Diapers LOVE water! Always use the maximum amount of water possible.
On my particular machine, it’s the “super” setting. If you have a HE
machine, you may have to trick the washer to use more water by adding
a towel to the wash. Some cloth diapering parents designate a specific
towel just for this.
5. Your diapers may stink if you are washing too many--or
too little--at a time.
As I suggested in confession 5, wash 15 to 17 diapers at at time. If you
wash more than this, the water will not circulate enough to get the
diapers clean. If you wash less than 15 diapers in one load, the diapers
will not create enough friction to get clean.
If you are sure numbers one through five are not the issue, you may
need to strip your diapers because, most likely, build up is preventing
them from getting clean and also hindering them from functioning
properly. As I stated at the beginning of this section, diapers with buildup may or may not stink right out of the wash, but they will stink as soon
as your child urinates.
If your diapers are still stinking, ask yourself these
Am I using enough detergent?
2. Am I remembering to pre-rinse?
3. Am I flushing the solids down the toilet before
tossing my diapers in the pail?
4. Am I using enough water?
5. Are my diapers exhibiting other “symptoms” that
may indicate they need to be stripped? (See
confession 5 for more on stripping diapers.)
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Diapers Leak
There are three reasons why your child’s diapers may leak:
1) Poor Fit
2) Urine or Detergent Residue
3) User-error
We have already explored getting the right diaper fit in cloth diapering
challenge #1 of this confession. If you are still in doubt as to whether or
not your child’s diaper is leaking due to fit or build-up that is causing
urine to repel, there is a simple test you can do.
How to Determine if your Child’s Cloth Diaper is Repelling
To determine if your child’s diaper is repelling urine, simply hold a clean
diaper or insert over a sink, press down with one hand* and slowly pour a
small amount of water into the diaper.
Does the water absorb into the diaper (or insert if you are using a pocket
diaper)? Or does the water bead up and run off the edge?
If your child’s diaper absorbs the water, then the leaky diaper is most
likely the result of a poor fit. It may be that your child has outgrown the
diaper, the diaper is still too big, or the specific diaper brand and/or style
is not a good match for your child’s body type.
If the water beads up, then the diaper contains residue of some sort and
needs to be stripped.
Now let’s explore urine and detergent residue in more detail, so you can
get back to the joys of cloth diapering--without all the leaks!
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*It is important to put some weight on the diaper or insert during this test, as your
child’s weight will aid the urine in soaking in instead of rolling off the diaper when it
is in place.
Determining if Your Child’s Diaper is Leaking Due to Urine
or Detergent Residue
Detergent Residue
Detergent residue is a common reason for leaky diapers. This type of
residue can occur from:
 using a non-cloth-safe detergent on your diapers,
 using a non-cloth-safe detergent in the same machine where you
wash your diapers (for your clothes, etc.),
 using too much detergent,
 using dryer sheets, or
 not using enough water.1
Another possible reason for detergent residue is the introduction of a new
detergent. If you have recently started using a new detergent, it may not
be that the detergent itself caused the residue but that the detergent
caused old residues to be brought to the surface of your laundry. This is
really a good thing because, otherwise, those old residues would have
continued to build up.
Urine Residue
Urine residue happens when the diapers have not gotten clean enough
because of either too little detergent or too little water. When this
happens, the urine is not fully rinsed away.
Diapers with urine residue leave a strong odor as soon as the child
urinates, and they may also cause your child to have a bad diaper rash.1
Along with leaky diapers, strong odors and rashes, residues can also
cause your diapers to appear discolored. Thankfully, both types of residue
can be fixed with a good strip. Refer back to confession 5 for detailed
instructions for stripping.
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Both types of residue go back to the wash routine. After you have
stripped your diapers and they are working properly again, you may need
to revisit your routine to see whether or not you need to make some
changes to ensure your diapers will not build up with either detergent or
urine residue again.
Please don’t be offended, but you may be using your diapers incorrectly.
And the fact that your diapers are leaking may be as simple as that.
If your diapers seem to be fitting correctly and aren’t repelling due to
urine or detergent residue, ask yourself these questions:
1. Have I fastened the diaper correctly?
Is the diaper on tightly enough? Do you need to readjust the hook and
loop or snaps to get a snugger fit?
2. Have I inserted the insert correctly?
Is the insert inside the diaper? (Never lie microfiber inserts next to
your baby’s skin!) Is the insert smoothed out, or does it bunch or
wrinkle up? (It needs to be smooth.)
3. Have I recently used any new laundry aids? Have I recently
switched detergents?
4. Have I recently introduced a new diaper cream?
There are many cloth diaper-safe creams, but as we will discuss later,
there are some creams you should never use on cloth diapers, or they
will create a barrier on your diapers and cause them to leak.
5. Have you kept your baby in one diaper for too long?
It sounds like a no-brainer, but cloth diapers can leak for the same
reason that disposables will eventually leak. If the diaper gets too full,
there is nowhere for the excess urine to go but out. Be sure to change
your baby’s diaper frequently to avoid leaks. A good rule of thumb is
to change your baby every two to three hours during the day. You can
successfully keep your baby dry all night by employing some of the
techniques we discussed for nighttime diapering in confession 7.
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Diapers Give My Baby a Rash
When I first started cloth diapering, I read a rumor that said clothdiapered babies never get diaper rashes.
Ha! That is so far from the truth! Now, some babies who use both cloth
and disposable diapers may never get rashes, but there are some babies
who just have sensitive skin or are prone to rashes in general.
If your baby is suffering from a diaper rash, ask yourself these questions:
1. Is the detergent I’m using irritating my baby’s skin?
Most cloth diaper-safe detergents should NOT irritate your baby’s skin
because cloth diaper-safe detergents should be free of synthetic dyes,
perfumes and other possible additives that would hurt sensitive skin in
the first place. However, detergents affect people differently. Was your
child’s skin okay until you recently switched detergents? If that’s the
case, you may have your answer right there. Try changing detergents
to see if it makes any difference.
2. Is your wash routine doing its job?
Are you making sure to rinse out the detergent until there are no more
bubbles in the water? If there are bubbles, then there is most likely
detergent residue. Residue may lead to rashes AND leaky diapers. Add
an extra rinse to your routine and see if that makes a difference.
3. Is your baby sensitive to the fabric?
Some babies do very, very well with synthetic fabrics that comprise
many modern cloth diaper styles and brands. These fabrics include
microfleece, microfiber, and suede cloth, among others (see
confession 2 for more information on cloth diaper fabrics).
However, other babies can only tolerate diapers made with natural
fabrics--like cotton, bamboo, hemp or wool.
And in a very few instances, some babies may be allergic to natural
fibers like wool.
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There are truly pros and cons to both natural and synthetic-fibered
diapers, but if your baby cannot tolerate one or the other, it’s time to
make a change.
This is one of many reasons that I recommend that expectant parents
not purchase an entire diaper stash before their babies are born. You
really don’t know what will work best for your child and your family
until your baby arrives.
4. How long is your baby sitting in a soiled diaper?
On average, cloth diapers should be changed every two to three hours
and more often for a newborn. If the diaper is always soaked--and
even to the point of leaking--by the time you change it, then, more
than likely, the built-up moisture is irritating your baby’s skin and
causing a rash to develop.
5. Does your baby have a food allergy or sensitivity?
Some foods will cause eczema and all kinds of other skin irritations.2
In fact, if my baby had chronic skin issues, the first thing I’d look into
doing would be to change my baby’s diet or my own diet if I were
Does your child not properly digest his or her food or have frequent
diarrhea? Frequent bowl movements will eventually rub your baby’s
skin raw no matter what type of diaper you are using.
All three of my children are somewhat sensitive to both dairy and
gluten. It took some trial and error to figure this out, but once we did,
their skin and stomach issues resolved themselves.
6. Does your child have a yeast infection?
Oh yeast--the dreaded yeast! Yeast has been, by far, my biggest cloth
diapering challenge. But if I can make it through a yeast rash*, so can
you! The problem with yeast is that it lingers on cloth. You will have to
do a special disinfecting wash to rid the diapers of the yeast.
Otherwise, your child will continue with a yeast rash, and he or she
may spread the rash to his or her siblings if you use the same diapers
on more than one child!
I will discuss yeast in more detail in challenge #8.
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*Even though yeast infections are typically thought to be a female
issue, both male and female babies can get yeast diaper rashes.
7. Is your child teething?
Many mothers claim that the extra saliva that teething produces lends
itself to more stomach acid, which, in turn, results in diaper rashes. If
your child is getting his or her pearly whites, this may be your answer.
I noticed this with my third baby. She battled a diaper rash for about a
week before her first two teeth appeared. Once they popped through,
the rash disappeared.
8. Did you recently strip your diapers?
It is very important to make sure ALL the bubbles from the detergent
are gone during the rinsing portion of a cloth diaper strip. If you
recently stripped your diapers and your child just developed a rash, it
could be because you did not rinse well enough.
9. Is your baby too wet (even if your diapers aren’t leaking)?
Cloth diapers made of natural fibers will allow your baby to feel
dampness against his or her skin. Some parents like this because it
could potentially help babies to potty train earlier.
But some babies are sensitive to a wet diaper area, especially at night.
There is really a quick fix to this. If you like using natural-fibered
diapers but prefer that your baby’s diaper area stay dry, you merely
need to line the diaper with a stay-dry fabric--such as fleece.
Many cloth diapering stores sell stay-dry liners, but a very economical
option is to simply purchase scraps of fleece fabric and cut them up to
make your own. Line each diaper with the fabric, and your baby’s skin
will remain much dryer. This may even help some babies sleep better
at night because they do not feel dampness against their skin.
10. Do your diapers contain urine residue?
I have discussed urine residue at length in cloth diaper challenge #3.
If the rash is accompanied by diapers that give off a strong ammonia
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smell as soon as your baby urinates, then this is most likely the
culprit. Ammonia will burn your baby’s skin.
Diapers are Stained
Just because your cloth diaper may have stains, it does not mean that
they are not clean. The smell test (see challenge #2) is a better test of
their cleanliness than whether or not they look pretty.
Sure, it may feel a little gross since you know that stain came from
human feces, but think about something for a minute: have you ever
stained your shirt with a squirt of mustard?
Mustard is incredibly difficult to get out. But once you have washed your
shirt, does it still contain the mustard--or merely the evidence that the
mustard was once there?
Your baby’s diapers are the same way.
But, thankfully, poop stains are much easier to get out than mustard
Stain Fighters
I have personally never used a stain pre-treater to fight poop stains. I’ve
noticed that, in most cases, the diapers will not stain for even the
“fullest” poop. And I haven’t wanted to waste money on stain removers.
However, I have spoken with other cloth diapering mamas who regularly
use the following:
1. Chlorine Bleach: Bleach is actually very controversial in the cloth
diapering community. Some cloth diapering parents stand strongly
against it, whereas others bleach their diapers on a regular basis. I
have personally never used bleach and feel that it is too harsh for me
to consider using on my diapers. However, if I were to use it, I would
only do so on prefolds, flats, contours or fitteds--because these
diapers are made from natural fibers. I figure if cotton T-shirts can
handle bleach then so can cotton diapers. However, it’s important to
note that the makers of some pocket diapers do recommend
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occasionally using bleach to disinfect the diapers. Be aware that if you
use bleach on a diaper brand that does not issue this recommendation,
any warranties your diapers carry will probably be voided.
2. Oxygen Bleach: This is my laundering aid of choice. I do personally
use pure oxygen as a laundry aid but not as a specific stain remover
per se. I use pure oxygen bleach when I give my diapers a disinfecting
strip or when I soak my diapers if they are especially dirty. Soaking
your diapers in oxygen bleach can help remove stains.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide: This stain fighter also disinfects, although I
have read that over use can damage your diapers, so I have always
strayed away from trying it. To use, pour ½ cup directly into the water
and let the machine start before adding in your diapers.
4. Bac-Out: This is another stain fighter I have never used, but some of
my friends use it regularly.
5. Baking Soda: This is known to whiten and brighten, and it is very
cost effective. Again, I would not overuse it, but it’s worth a try to add
1/2 cup to the wash if your diapers are especially soiled.
Make sure your stain removers are cloth
safe. Do not use conventional stain
removers like Shout or Spray and Wash
on your diapers!
The Sun is Your Friend!
One reason that I have not invested much money in stain removers is
that I have discovered that the very best stain remover is both natural
and free: the sun.
In fact, using cloth diapers has revamped my entire laundry care routine.
Before I converted to cloth, I never realized the sun’s power to both
disinfect and naturally bleach out any laundry.
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I enjoy hanging my diapers to dry. There is just something relaxing about
hanging freshly-washed diapers on a clothesline or drying rack on a
breezy spring day.
And I’ve found that if I lay any stained diapers in direct sunlight, that
their stains are usually gone--or at least significantly faded--at the end of
the day.
If you have an especially tough stain, you can try spraying it with diluted
lemon juice before you lay the diaper out in the sun.
I sometimes fluff my diapers and inserts in the dryer for five minutes or
so to remove the rough, “crunchy” feeling of being sun dried.
But What If You Live in an Apartment?
If you live in an apartment, you may not have anywhere to hang a
clothesline, making it more difficult to sun your diapers. If you do have a
small balcony or patio, you can still lie your diapers on a blanket or mat
on the ground. Or, you can use a folding drying rack if space allows. If
you live in an apartment with no balcony or patio, you can sun your
diapers in a window seal or on the dashboard of your car. If neither of
these are a possibility, you may want to ask a friend if you can borrow his
or her clothesline for a day, or you can take your children to the park and
sun your diapers on the ground there. You just might have to get
Toddler is Taking the Diapers Off and
Running Around Naked
This challenge may sound funny to those of you expecting your first
baby--or for those of you with infants. But, at some point in time, most
babies will go through a phase where they take off their diapers and like
to run around the house naked.
Is there a way to prevent this? Maybe and maybe not. My
recommendation is to use diapers that have a snap fastener in lieu of
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hook and loop during this stage. It is a lot easier for a toddler to learn
how to unfasten hook and loop than to unfasten snaps.
Other than that, you may have to duct tape the diaper to the baby--or
just potty train early.
Check out what Katie of Kitchen Stewardship had to say about her
conversion from hook and loop to snap closures:
“I officially converted from a ‘quick and easy hook and loop’
fan to a staunch snap supporter once I experienced these
three strong arguments against hook and loop:
They come open too easily. When baby is scooting
around on his belly, the last thing you want to see is bare
buns moving across the floor.
They can BE opened too easily. Like by a curious 9
month old (see above for problem). Snaps usually are too
tough for kids to open until about age two.
Longevity. This type of closure may only last about 6
months, which puts your cloth diaper investment in
jeopardy far too quickly for my liking.
“When it comes to snap closure, you’ll find either two or
three snaps. There’s a reason for three: stability. Sometimes
that extra snap can prevent the diaper from gapping at the
upper leg.
“Perhaps on thinner babies, that’s an issue, but with my
guy, user error is a much greater concern. Three snaps has
proven too confusing for dads and grandmas, so I rest
firmly in the camp of ‘two snaps is best.’”
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My Baby
Soaks Through Several Diapers Per Night
Nighttime diapering--it can be quite the challenge! In confession 7, I gave
you 4 solutions to nighttime diapering.
If you are experiencing this challenge, rest assured that you are not the
only cloth diapering parent who is struggling!
● ●
● ●
● ●
● ●
● ●
“As my baby became a toddler, we started having
problems with our cloth diaper system leaking at
night. For a while we actually switched to
disposables at night, but, then, even those started
leaking. It was so frustrating to have him wake up
in the middle of the night soaked through and to
have to change his sheets and his pajamas. Finally, I
turned to the many wise cloth diapering mamas in
my life for advice. I was so happy to find out that I
wasn’t the only one going through that challenge!
Instead of giving up on cloth diapering at night, we
are working toward finding a nighttime solution.”
~Shannon Brown, Growing Slower
● ●
● ●
● ●
● ●
● ●
What is my personal nighttime solution?
I personally use and love the Kawaii brand Mom Label bamboo pocket
diapers for night. I triple stuff these diapers with bamboo inserts.
Sometimes I line them with fleece, but sometimes I don’t. Overall, I have
been very satisfied with these diapers and have had very few leaks.
More recently, I have also been using a fitted diaper with a prefold
doubler and my 31 Rubies wool cover on my baby at night. I have been
very, very pleased with this solution as well. In fact, I am considering
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making the full switch to just using fitteds and wool at night. There is just
something comforting in knowing that your baby is wearing cloth that is
100 percent natural, especially when it involves wearing the same diaper
upwards of eight hours or more each night.
Do note that when using a diaper made of natural fibers--such as
bamboo--it can take up to 10 washes before they reach their maximum
absorbency. You can go ahead and use the diapers after two or three
washes, but you may want to wait to use them at night until you have
washed them at least 10 times.
Diapers Have Been Contaminated with
As I have mentioned several times, one of my daughters struggled with
yeast rashes in her diaper area from the time we brought her home from
the hospital.
Tell-tale signs of yeast rashes include:
 a persistent rash with well-defined borders that will not heal despite
continued application of creams
 rash accompanied by oral thrush
 rash on the baby’s bottom while the breastfeeding mother has thrush
on her nipples
 rash in the groin area with “satellite” rash spots on the upper thigh
Yeast rashes often occur after or during a bout with thrush. Breastfed
babies are especially prone to thrush. Basically, thrush itself is a result of
overgrowth of yeast in the intestines. If a baby has thrush, white spots
will often show up in its mouth (but not always). The baby can infect the
mother’s nipples with thrush. The thrush will cause her nipples to itch and
burn. The baby and mother will continue to reinfect each other unless
they treat the yeast.2
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I did have thrush during the time my baby had a yeast rash, but she did
not have any white patches present in her mouth. Not all babies will
exhibit these, but the fact that I had thrush myself and my baby had a
persistent, well-defined rash with satellite patches on her thighs were key
clues for me.
My baby’s rash lasted five months! I took her to the doctor several times,
but the rash was never inflamed to the point where the doctor could
diagnose it correctly. But we were finally able to determine that it was
It is very important to either use a very strong barrier that can be
disposed of or disposable diapers as long as your child has a yeast rash.
The yeast will spread to the diapers. I personally chose to use disposable
diapers once we determined that my baby’s rash was the result of yeast.
I continued to use disposables until two weeks after her rash healed.
Why Do Yeast Rashes Occur?
An overgrowth of yeast has to do with compromised gut health. If your
child has been on antibiotics--or, if you are breastfeeding and you have
been on antibiotics--then the good bacteria that helps the gut flora
remain balanced has been altered.2
Even though I had a natural labor and delivery with my second baby, I
was group beta strep positive, which requires the administration of
antibiotics. Although I can never be certain, I personally believe the
antibiotics I received during labor helped contribute to my baby’s
overgrowth of yeast.
If I had known then what I know now, I would have upped my own
probiotic intake before birth and continued on a probiotic-rich diet after
she was born while I was breastfeeding. I would have also started giving
her probiotics at birth--either through infant probiotic drops or by putting
powdered probiotics on my nipples.
Yeast thrives in warm, dark, moist places, so diapers are the ideal
environment for its growth. It is very important to change your child’s
diaper frequently, especially during a yeast infection. 2
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Ridding Your Child of a Yeast Rash
I want to be transparent and let you know that I eventually had to use a
prescription cream to rid my child of her yeast rash. But keep in mind
that my child had the rash undiagnosed for five months. The rash itself
was one reason why we even started looking into using cloth diapers!
But if you catch the yeast rash early enough, there are several other
methods of healing the rash that you can try:
 apple cider vinegar
 a cream with neem oil, such as CJ’s BUTTer Plus (a favorite of mine!)
 a probiotic paste (make by combining acidophilus powder with a little
bit of water)
 plain yogurt
 an over-the-counter anti-fungal cream
I have used a combination of the above methods when ridding my baby
of subsequent yeast rashes that occurred after our first lengthy bout with
I also found an excellent-looking remedy on the Pooters Diapers website
that calls for combining apple cider vinegar, water and garlic:
Erin’s Disinfecting Strip
When my daughter was battling a yeast infection, and I needed the
diapers to get super clean, the regular strip just didn’t cut it. I needed
to disinfect the diapers because the yeast had spread to them. But I
also thought this was an ideal time to give them the fresh boost of a
good strip. So I developed the following treatment:
Supplies Needed: oxygen bleach, tea tree oil, blue Dawn dish
detergent, the sun
Soak your clean cloth diapers on hot overnight with up to one
half cup of pure oxygen bleach.
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2) In the morning, add tea tree oil and a big squirt of blue original
Dawn dish detergent to your wash. I would use no more than 2
drops of tea tree oil in a front loader and no more than 4 drops
of tea tree oil in a top loader. You will need to add it to the
detergent compartment for a front loader. If you use too much
oil, your diapers may repel.
Wash on HOT. (I turn my hot water heater up as high as it
4) Run your diapers through about 3 rinse cycles after they have
finished washing. Rinse until you see no more bubbles. (Just as
your would with a regular strip.)
5) Lay your diapers out in the full sun. (No shade!)
Note: You will also need to do this special wash with your cloth wipes,
so go ahead and throw everything in the machine together!
I Can’t
Find a Good Diaper Rash Cream
First of all, conventional diaper rash creams, such as Desitin or Butt
Paste, are big no-nos with cloth diapers. (You will read more about cloth
diapering “no-nos” in the next section.)
If you are struggling to find a cloth diaper-safe cream that actually works,
look for a brand that contains a combination of natural oils, such as shea
butter, olive oil, coconut oil, etc. I also use a brand that contains a little
bit of neem oil when we are dealing with a yeast rash. You can also use
plain coconut oil, plain yogurt (especially for yeast) or make a paste with
probiotic powder and water.
The most important ingredient to avoid in a diaper cream is fish oil. Fish
oil will leave a fishy smell no matter how much you wash the diapers. It
is a common ingredient in mainstream diaper creams, so check your label
well! This chart rates the cloth diaper compatibility of various creams on
the market today:
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I personally stay away from creams that are a zinc oxide base, as they
tend to be barrier-based creams and can easily create a barrier on your
diapers. Whereas you do want a barrier on your baby's bum if he or she
has a rash, you don't want a barrier in between the urine and the soaker
that is supposed to absorb it!
Regardless of whether or not a cream is deemed "cloth safe," never just
slather it directly onto your diapers. Even natural oils that most cloth-safe
creams are comprised of can eventually cause build-up if the creams are
My friend Anne, owner/editor at Authentic Simplicity and author of Your
Grocery Budget Toolbox, uses essential oils to treat diaper rashes:
“I just put a few drops of jojoba oil into my hand
(maybe five or six) and then a drop of lavender oil.
I swirl it around then rub it into the clean skin on
my baby’s bottom. I only do it in worse- case
scenarios because apparently there’s some evidence
that too much lavender and tea tree oil can
negatively affect male hormones. But girls
shouldn’t have any problem with it, and I think it’s
fine for occasional use in boys.”
Like everything with cloth diapering, it may take some trial and error on
your part to determine which diaper cream works the best for your child.
Please be sure to verify with the manufacturer if a cream is safe for your
cloth diapers. You may also want to contact the manufacturer or your
specific diaper brand to ask their recommendations for a cloth-safe
163 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Cloth Diapering No-Nos
You can avoid many of the challenges discussed above by avoiding the
following cloth diapering “no-nos”:
No microfiber against baby’s skin: It may cause a rash or skin
No dryer sheets: They will leave residue.
No conventional stain removers: They will leave residue.
No diaper creams that aren’t cloth safe: These are made to create a
barrier on your baby’s bottom, and, guess what? They will also leave a
barrier on your diapers, which will inhibit their absorption. You will also
want to warn other caregivers not to use regular diaper creams on your
Getting Diaper Cream Out of Cloth Diapers
I won’t beat around the bush: It is difficult to get some barrier-based
creams (like Desitin) out of cloth diapers. My suggestion is to rub blue
Dawn liquid dish soap directly into the diaper cream stain, let it sit for a
little while and then scrub it with a scrub brush or old toothbrush. Then,
wash the diaper until you see no more bubbles. You may have to do this
several times.
If you are not able to get the cream out and your diapers start to leak, do
not despair. I don’t recommend selling malfunctioning diapers, but you
can always use them as swim diapers. Read more about swim diapers in
confession 9. If you are a seamstress, you may even be able to switch
out the fabric and salvage the diaper altogether.
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Whether or not you travel with cloth diapers is a decision that only you
and your family can make. Only you know if toting the diapers and
diapering supplies around will make or break your vacation.
I’ve done both.
When I first started cloth diapering, I was pretty hardcore about it. If I
was going to use cloth, I was going to fully throw myself into it; I tend to
be an all-or-nothing type person.
So when my family took a 10-hour trip to visit friends when my baby was
six months old, I didn’t take one disposable diaper. Plus, the friend we
were visiting was expecting her fourth baby at the time, and I knew the
trip would be an opportunity to educate her about the many wonderful
aspects of cloth. I also wanted to show her how to use them since she
was already pretty convinced she wanted to give them a try.
I’ve since lightened up a little and learned that it is sometimes okay to
leave the cloth at home.
Questions to Ponder Before Traveling
What is the duration of your trip?
Are you going away for one night or a short weekend? Will you be
able to get by without laundering the diapers while you are gone, or
will you need to find somewhere to wash them?
2) What do your hosts think about cloth diapers?
Will you be staying with family and friends who also use cloth diapers
and are accustomed to caring for them? Or do your hosts cringe at
even the thought of cloth diapers? Will you be taking advantage of
their hospitality by asking to wash your poopy diapers in their
Where will you wash the diapers?
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Will your place of lodging include a washing machine and dryer or
place to hang your diapers to dry? Will you need to seek out a
laundry facility? Will you have to hand wash the diapers in a sink or
Will you be able to wash in a clean/residue-free
washing machine?
It’s still up in the air whether or not non-cloth-safe detergents leave
a residue in the washing machine that rub off on your diapers,
therefore hindering their ability to properly absorb. But I like to play
it safe. Once while visiting family, my diapers were contaminated
with detergent residue. The residue was very evident in the washing
machine, and I had to strip my diapers when we returned home
because they had started leaking.
Do you have room for all your supplies?
You will most certainly need a wetbag (or two), detergent, any other
cleaning aids you use in your routine and maybe even wool dryer
balls. Will your luggage accommodate all of that?
What will you do with the poop while on the road (or in
the air)?
You won’t be able to take a diaper sprayer on the road, and if you
are accustomed to using one then you might need to consider how
else you will dispose of the poop.
How will you keep the diapers from staining?
To be honest, I don’t really stress out about stains. The diapers will
get clean in the wash; a stain does not indicate that they are dirty.
But the longer the diapers sit before being washed, the more likely
they will stain. If not having stains is important to you, then you
need to consider that traveling with cloth will increase your risk of
stained diapers. (Of course, the sun can zap those stains out when
you get home!)
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Will you have time to stop along the way for extra
diaper changes?
If your baby is not wearing a stay-dry diaper or liner, he or she will
feel the wetness. It might be impossible to travel for more than two
or three hours without stopping to change your baby.
Will you really save money by traveling with cloth?
If your primary reason to use cloth diapers is to save money, you
must consider whether or not you will truly save money by traveling
with them. Will you have to pay to wash your diapers at a hotel
laundry facility? If so, will the cost savings of using cloth make much
of a difference--or any difference at all?
10) How much of your vacation do you want to spend
washing diapers?
Would you rather spend time washing diapers or lounging by the
pool? You decide.
Above all, as with any vacation, be prepared to expect the
unexpected. Even if you do decide to travel with cloth, you may
want to pack some disposable diapers just in case you get to your
location and decide using cloth isn’t ideal.
I suggest giving your diapers a good disinfecting strip (see confession 8,
challenge 8 for instructions) when you get home. This will help rid your
diapers of any residue they may have acquired on the trip.
Day-Time Trips
Using cloth diapers during quick day-time trips is really no different than
using disposable diapers. In fact, all I do is toss a diaper or two in my
oversized purse/diaper bag and go. I keep a medium-sized wetbag and
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wipes in the bag. My current baby does not get many rashes, so I don’t
even keep diaper cream on hand.
But most people probably want to be more prepared than I am. (And I
really should be more prepared!)
So let’s look at:
Packing the Cloth Diaper Diaper Bag
Make sure your bag includes:
 2-3 diapers
 wipes (whether pre-moistened cloth wipes in a small wetbag or
disposable wipes)
 a medium-sized wetbag for dirty diapers
 cloth-safe diaper cream
I suggest using a large diaper bag, as cloth diapers take up much more
space than disposable diapers.
What To Do With Poopy Diapers
If your child has a poopy diaper while out, you can seek out a bathroom,
where you can dispose of the poop in the toilet. Or, you can simply wrap
up the poopy diaper as you would a disposable, place it in your wetbag
and dispose of the poop once you get home. This is what I typically do.
Weekend Trips
Weekend trips will require bringing along a few more diapers. (The
number will vary depending on the age of your child. Newborns will
require more than older babies.) You will also need a larger wetbag. The
key here is determining whether or not you will be gone long enough to
need to launder the diapers. I suggest washing diapers at least every
three days. So if you are just gone for the weekend, it should be no
problem to wash them when you get home.
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Extended Vacations
If you are going to be away longer than a weekend, you will have to
launder your diapers. In this case, you may need to check with your host
to determine whether or not you can wash your diapers at their house or
if you will have to seek out a laundromat. In addition to diapers and
wipes, you will need to pack:
a large wetbag
any stain removers you are accustomed to using*
wool dryer balls*
Special Circumstances
Traveling with cloth diapers is a very gray area: sometimes it can be
ideal, but sometimes it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
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My friend Stephanie, creator of the website Keeper of the Home, is
currently traveling the world with her family, including her 1-year-old
cloth-diapered son.
Here is what she had to say about traveling with cloth diapers:
“I opted for a bit of a hybrid solution for this year abroad. I
packed a small set of cloth diapers (I chose three Flip
covers and four Flip inserts). I’ve also purchased
biodegradable disposable inserts (both Flip and gDiaper
brands) that I will have sent to us once we are preparing to
go to countries where I can no longer purchase disposables.
“For now, however, while I’m in countries where
disposables are readily available, that’s what I’m using for
the most part. The exception to that is when I have regular
access to my own washing machine (which I will have in
some of our accommodations, although not in most of
them). Then I will use cloth occasionally while we’re at
home and purchase disposables for outings. I don’t have a
large enough stash to rely heavily on them, but it’s nice to
use less disposables whenever possible.
“Once we hit countries in places like East Africa, India,
China, etc. where disposables are far harder to come by (or
even dispose of in a responsible manner), I will rely
heavily on the cloth diapers and the biodegradable inserts,
and I may end up washing cloth diapers by hand. That is a
reality of traveling in developing countries, and hence the
reason that I’ve had to come up with creative solutions to
get us through this year! Now, if only he would potty train
early, all my problems would be solved!”
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Swim Diapers
Many families spend their summers at the beach, lake or pool, and there
are a variety of reusable swim diapers on the market today. This would
even be a good option for someone who normally uses disposables
because the cost of disposable swim diapers is especially high.
The key to a good swim diaper is for the leg elastic to be tight enough to
keep any poop in until you can get the baby out of the water. It is
perfectly fine to use an unstuffed pocket diaper as a swim diaper. In fact,
that is what I use. It is up for debate whether or not pool chemicals can
damage the PUL/TPU in your diapers. For that reason, I typically
designate specific diapers to only be used in the pool. My “swim” diapers
are the ones that I ruined by using a non-cloth-safe cream on them when
I first started cloth diapering.
You don’t really need more than one or two swim diapers--unless your
baby is on the swim team.
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The Cloth Diaper Addiction
Once you’ve been around the cloth diapering “community” for any length
of time, you will begin to notice that cloth diapering can become quite the
addiction. While I blog about a wide-range of topics on my website, The
Humbled Homemaker, you will find entire blogs, forums, Facebook
groups, etc. devoted to the sole purpose of educating on cloth diapering
and building your stash.
You could literally spend hours upon hours in their groups and pages
learning about cloth diapering.
I hope to save you from that because I’ve already done all the work for
you. I think your time is more valuable than investing it in researching
how to use cloth diapers.
But you can still have a little fun with cloth. If you enjoy shopping, then
browse away! Just be aware: Cloth diapering can become addicting! You
don’t need a stash of 100 diapers for one baby! Twenty-four diapers for a
newborn and 12 to 18 for a toddler will do just fine!
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When the Cloth Diaper
Honeymoon Ends: Taking a Break--or
Calling it Quits
● ●
● ●
● ●
“As a first-time mama on our first long road trip to
Montana, I was determined to keep cloth diapering... for all
of about 43 hours. It wasn’t even two days into the trip
that I realized it would simply not happen. Not only did my
wee girl get a rash on the pressure point where her sweet
cheeks met up with a wet diaper for four hours straight
(she was sleeping, so we kept driving!), but my in-laws
would NOT allow me to wash the dirties in their washer.
Faced with an angry baby and horrified family members,
I must admit I was grateful to give in and take a break.
The rash had cleared up the time we returned home, and call me lazy, but - I never did use cloth on long trips ever
again.” ~Beth Learn, owner of Fit2B Studio
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● ●
● ●
Perhaps not for a small percentage of cloth diaper users, but for almost
everyone, there will come a day when the “cloth diaper honeymoon” is
over. You will realize--in a different light--that just as poop is poop,
diapers are diapers. And though you may delight in the cuteness of your
fluffy-bummed baby, at the end of the day, there’s still laundry to do . . .
and diapers to wash.
Maybe your excitement has turned to dread as you realize that you have
to wash diapers every other day on top of three, four, five or more
(maybe many more!) other people’s dirty clothes, linens, etc.
There are various reasons why this may happen. Maybe you’re just
behind on laundry in general. Maybe all you can keep clean these days
are diapers. (I have most definitely been there myself!)
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For Nikki Hughes, author of Your Blogging Business and co-owner of
Butterfly Ministries, it was a messy diaper that almost made her call it
“The moment my daughter had diarrhea I asked myself why, oh why, did
I do this to myself? But it's worth it the rest of the time,” she said.
So what happens when the excitement of cloth diapering ends? Do you
just go back to disposables?
It’s at this point that it may be time to take a cloth diapering break. Did I
really just say that? Yes, I did! You see, when I first started cloth
diapering, I thought that I needed to cloth diaper no matter what other
life circumstances I was facing. But I’ve since realized there are times in
our lives when we have to give up any “extras” to maintain our sanity.
Extra laundry may be one of those things you need to give up during
times of family illness, vacations, holidays, traveling, while you’re writing
a book (ahem), or even after the birth of a child. This is especially true if
you have two, three, four, etc. other little ones at home or even in
diapers themselves! I’ve been there!
It’s important not to beat yourself up over this temporary hiatus from
cloth diapering and not be ashamed to tell your other cloth
diapering/crunchy mama friends that you are simply taking a break!
Life happens, and although using cloth diapers is, in my opinion, no
harder than using disposables, I do think that the extra laundry is reason
for a temporary break if you are living in an especially busy or stressful
If you are too bothered by the health or environmental concerns of using
disposable diapers, even for a short time, you can always opt to use a
diaper service.
176 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Using Your Cloth Diapers to Bless
“I most likely wouldn’t have used cloth diapers if it had not
been for my friend giving me more than a dozen of her
own assorted diapers, covers and inserts. Most of them had
been given to her through the Cloth Diaper Foundation, and
I only had to purchase a few more to complete my stash. It
was such a blessing to me at that time. I will now be able to
pass most of them on to my sister to use with her baby and
hopefully bless her just the same.” Lexie, owner of Lexie:
My family could not have even started using cloth diapers if it had not been
for the generosity of others through a loan we received from the now-extinct
Cloth Diaper Foundation.
Perhaps your child is now potty trained--or on their way--and you want to
know what to do with your well-loved but still-functioning cloth diapers.
You can always sell them, of course. Cloth diapers have a very good resale
But you could also give them away.
And so, I leave you with a challenge.
Giving Diapers, Giving Hope
After your child potty trains or outgrows his or her diapers, will you consider
donating them to Giving Diapers, Giving Hope or another lending
You can donate your gently-used diapers, new diapers or even a monetary
178 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Many mamas want to cloth diaper their babies and think that they can’t
because they can’t afford the up-front costs.
Can you help them?
Along with Giving Diapers, Giving Hope, check out these organizations that
are helping others cloth diaper:
Sweet Cheeks Diaper Kits
This organization puts together homemade diaper kits for families in need in
the Triad area of North Carolina. Sweet Cheeks partners with North Carolina
WIC offices to supply the kits. The response has been so overwhelming that
there is currently a waiting list of parents hoping to convert to cloth with the
use of donated diapers!
Each free Sweet Cheeks kit includes everything a family needs to cloth
diaper one child. A family can receive a kit for each child in their family who
is in diapers. The organization also provides ongoing instruction and support
to the families.
Each kit includes:
1 diaper pail
18 or 24 handmade fitted T-shirt diapers (size small receives 24 in kit)
6 donated brand name diapers (if available)
6 donated or purchased waterproof covers
36 handmade cloth wipes
1 spray bottle
1 bottle/bag of donated detergent
1 bottle diaper cream
10 stay-dry liners
Like other loaning programs, the families return the kits upon completion of
the program so that other families can benefit.
Sweet Cheeks is in need of 100 percent cotton T-shirts, new and used
diapers, detergent, diaper cream, fabric and other supplies. You can find
Sweet Cheeks on Facebook here: To get
involved, email [email protected] for more information.
179 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved. sells gently used diapers, but they also have a small diaper
loaning program. The diapers are distributed to low income and foster
families. Donated diapers must be functional with good elastic, snaps, and
PUL, although stains are fine! To get involved, email [email protected]
for more information.
Cotton Babies
Cotton Babies is the owner of the extremely popular Bum Genius diaper. I
have quite a few Bum Genius diapers in my stash, and I love them!
But the owners of Cotton Babies go beyond business. They give extremely
generously to families in need and unable to afford the up front costs of
cloth diapering!
Cotton Babies has built a multi-faceted “Share the Love” program to give
back to others—all over the world!
Among several other programs, Share the Love includes:
Diaper Grants for Missionary Families
This is perhaps the program that excites me the most. My husband and I
actually met while serving as short-term missionaries in Costa Rica. And
while we obviously did not have children at that time, I think a cloth
diaper grant would have been a tremendous blessing if we did have
them! I have several missionary friends who have benefited from this
program. In fact, I was visiting one friend when her grant package
arrived! I could not believe the generosity of Cotton Babies! My friend
received a huge box of brand new Bum Genius diapers with all the
accessories she needed to successfully cloth diaper her baby in Brazil!
Applicants must provide documentation that they are actively serving as
international missionaries.
Anyone can donate money to keep this program going. For more
information on this program, visit:
180 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
2) Give Love/Share the Love Programs
Much like Giving Diapers, Giving Hope, this program collects donated
used cloth diapers and distributes them to needy families in cities across
the United States. To see if a city near you is a host site, visit:
Sheltering Wings
Cotton Babies is in partnership with Sheltering Wings orphanage in
Burkina Faso, West Africa to provide formula and cloth diapers to needy
4) Teen Parents
Through this program, Cotton Babies offers basic cloth diaper education
as well as supplies for struggling young moms.
To get involved with any of these programs, visit here: or email
[email protected]
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Cloth Diaper Advocacy
As more and more parents discover the many benefits of cloth diapering,
advocacy groups have sprung up to educate those who are still on the fence
when it comes to ditching disposables and converting to cloth.
Some of these include:
1) Change 3 Things
This challenge was started by Cotton Babies. The goal of this challenge is
simple: recruit as many parents as possible to use just three cloth diapers
per day--for a solid year.
For more information, visit the Change 3 Things website:
2) The Great Cloth Diaper Change
This world-wide annual event started on Earth Day 2011. Each year,
families across the globe gather with their babies and change their cloth
diapers simultaneously with the goal of breaking the Guinness World
Record of the number of cloth diapers changed all at once.
To find a host near you, visit or email
[email protected]
3) Real Diaper Circle Meetings
Members of the Real Diaper Association host monthly Real Diaper Circle
Meetings across the United States and Canada. These meetings provide
education, encouragement and support to cloth diapering parents and to
those interested in using cloth.
To find a circle near you or to apply to become a leader visit:
182 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
4) Flats and Handwashing Challenge
This is a challenge that Kim Rosas, the blogger behind Dirty Diaper
Laundry and Cloth Diaper Finder, put together in 2011 as a way to bring
attention to the accessibility and affordability of cloth diapers when using
flats. The challenge came about after Kim read an article about low
income mothers were reusing disposable diapers, which is not only
unsanitary but also dangerous. Kim continues to hold this challenge each
spring, usually in May.
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● ●
● ●
“When I was a baby, there was really not much
choice. Almost everyone used cloth. And I know
they were not near as good quality as today.”
~Christine Fields, 38-year-old mom of two
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● ●
History of Diapers
Diapering Through the Ages
There is not space in this book to give an exhaustive history of diapers, but
for you history buffs out there, check out these articles:
“The History of Diapers--Disposable and Cloth”: This post gives links to a
valuable timeline--and goes all the way back to ancient times, when parents
supposedly used animal skins and leaves to diaper!
“A Short History of Diapering in America”: In this post, a history teacher
writes about how pioneers didn’t even wash their diapers, the invention of
the prefold diaper in the 1950s and the surge of the modern cloth diaper in
recent years.
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“A History of Diapers”: This post includes vintage pictures and claims that in
the 1400s in England diapers were only changed once every few days!
Diapering Around the World
I was interested in diapering practices around the world, so I surveyed a
sampling of friends and readers who live and or have lived overseas. Here is
what they had to say:
“Cloth diapering in India is now changing. Earlier (5 years ago
when my daughter was a baby), we used prefolds, and it was
such a time sink. Now, though, we get Bum Genius cloth
diapers here, too, and they’re a blessing.” ~Prerna Malik,
owner/editor of The Mom Writes
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● ●
“Where I was in Uganda, many moms used cloths/rags on
babies early on and then basically did elimination
communication. They knew when pee or poo was coming and
held the baby out over grass or dirt when it was time. There
was mention of it being shameful if one missed baby’s cues and
baby went on mom’s clothes.” ~Kelly Lawrence
● ●
● ●
184 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
● ●
“In China many children don’t wear diapers because people
think it’s unhealthy.” ~Dario Sadoc
The Philippines
● ●
● ●
● ●
“Philippines: yes, there are cloth diapers, but they are nothing
fancy. They started selling disposables, but many who buy
them are the people who have a little bit more money. Street
children walk around with no ‘undies’ or diapers on.”
~MayMay Chappell
● ●
● ●
● ●
“The most common thing in developed areas is to use
disposables. There are also women who choose to use basic
cloth diapers with plastic shorts. Many indigenous or
extremely poor women will fold and tie whatever kind of
cloth they have on hand. Some will tie a plastic bag over the
‘diaper’ to catch leaks. Other women just go diaper free and
let their children poop and pee wherever.You do find a few
women who buy the snap cloth diapers, use cloth wipes, wipe
spray, etc…but not many. Most children in Mexico are potty
trained by 1 1/2 years old. Some families will use training
potties.” ~Katie Mae, Nourishing Simplicity
185 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Closing Remarks
Thank you for taking time to read this book. I put a lot of time and energy
into it because I wanted to give you a resource that I wish I had had when I
first started cloth diapering.
I’d love to have you visit my website, The Humbled Homemaker, where I
blog about all things natural mothering. We have an active Facebook
community as well. Please stop in and say “hi”!
186 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Cloth Diapering Abbreviations &
Although I refrain from using much of the cloth diapering lingo in this book,
it is important for you to know it if you will be visiting cloth diapering forums
to buy, sell or trade diapers or simply to learn more about the world of cloth.
Yes, it is very much a “community” with a language all its own!
And it can make your head spin if you’re new to cloth diapering! That’s
why I’m here to help.
AIO: all-in-one diaper
AI2: all-in-two diaper
AP: attachment parenting
BF: breastfeed
CD: cloth diaper
CPF: Chinese prefold
DD: dear daughter OR disposable diapers
DH: dear husband
DS: dear son
DSQ: diaper service quality
EC: excellent condition
EUC: excellent used condition
F&C: free & clear (used referring to detergents)
188 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
FL: front loader washing machine
FM: fluffy mail
FS: for sale
FSOT: for sale or trade
HE: high efficiency (when referring to washing machines)
IPF: Indian prefold
IMO: in my opinion
ISO: in search of
ITA: I totally agree
KWIM: know what I mean
LMK: let me know
LO: little one
NAK: nursing at keyboard
NATCH: naturally
NIP: new in package
OC: organic cotton
POSO: pull on snap off
PUL: polyurethane laminate
QD: quick dry
SAHD: stay-at-home dad
SAHM: stay-at-home mom
189 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
TL: top loader washing machine
TPU: thermoplastic polyurethane
T&T: turned and topstitched
TTO: tea tree oil
UBCPF: unbleached Chinese prefolds
UBIPF: unbleached Indian prefolds
WAHD: work-at-home dad
WAHM: work-at-home mom
WI2: wool-in-two
WIO: wool-in-one
Diaper Brands Commonly Referred To With Abbreviations:
BG: Bum Genius
FB: Fuzzi Bunz
GADS:Green Acre Designs Diapers
HH: Happy Heiny’s
LC: Little Caboose
JB: Joey Bunz
SEZ: Snap- EZ Diapers
190 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Since I have written Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert to be
understandable to even the most novice cloth diaper user, you may not
find all of these terms in this book. However, it is important to know
them as you begin or continue to build your stash.
All-in-One -- A cloth diaper that is all in one piece, just like a disposable.
No extra cover and no pre-assembly is required
All-in-Two -- A cloth diaper that is all in two pieces--an outer cover or
shell and an inner soaker or insert
Aplix -- hook and loop closure, much like Velcro
Contour -- a diaper that is shaped but does not come with a closure and
requires a cover
Doubler -- an absorbent soaker or insert that can be added to a diaper for
more absorbency as needed
Fitteds -- formed diapers that come with a snap or hook and loop closure
and require a cover
Flats -- large squares of single-layered fabric that can be folded in a
variety of ways
Fluffy Mail -- diaper mail
Hook & Loop -- a common diaper closure similar to Velcro
Hybrid -- a cross between disposable and cloth diapers
Insert -- an absorbent soaker that can be added to a diaper for absorbency
Liner -- a layer of fabric laid into a diaper to protect the diaper or provide a
wetness barrier
Longies -- wool or fleece pants that act as a diaper cover but cover the
entire legs of a child
One-Size Diaper -- a diaper that adjusts the size from newborn to toddler
191 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Pocket Diaper -- a diaper that comes with a pocket that must be stuffed
with an absorbent insert
Prefold -- rectangular pieces of cloth folded into three sections
ProRap/ProWrap -- a diaper cover
Sleeve -- a pocket diaper with two openings instead of one
Shell -- the outer part of a pocket or all-in-two diaper (everything excluding
the insert)
Shorties -- wool or fleece diaper covers that look like shorts
Snappi -- a stretchy closure used to hold flat, prefold, fitted or contour
diapers in place
Soaker -1. a wool or fleece diaper cover
2. the absorbent middle section of a diaper
3. another word for an insert
4. another word for a doubler
Sposies -- a term used for disposable diapers
Stash -- a collection of cloth diapers
Strip -- a special wash to revitalize stinky or leaky diapers
Wetbag -- a waterproof bag used for storing cloth diapers
Wicking -- the movement of liquid through fabric
192 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Recommended Resources
Although I’ve tried to make this book as comprehensive as possible, I know
you may have additional questions at some point in your cloth diapering
journey. I highly recommend the following resources for further reading:
All About Cloth Diapers:
Dirty Diaper Laundry:
The Real Diaper Association:
Diaper Pin:
Diaper Swappers:
Where to Buy
I am excited to offer The Humbled Homemaker’s Natural Living Directory on
my website. Here, you will find online shops where you can purchase all
things natural, including cloth diapers and diapering accessories. The
directory is updated frequently, so check in often!
Resources Mentioned in This Book
Benefits of Wool:
193 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Buying, Selling and Donating Diapers:
Buying, Selling and Trading Diapers & Cloth Diaper Support:
Change 3 Things:
Cloth Diaper Cost Analysis (takes into consideration diaper type and cost of
energy to launder):
Cloth Diaper Cost Calculator:
Cloth Diaper Finder:
Cloth Diapering and Potty Training:
Cloth Diaper Sewing Tutorial:
Compostable Diapers:
Convert My Diapers (to snaps or hook and loop):
Cotton Babies:
Detergent Determiner Tool:
Detergent Rating Charts:
Diaper Service Directory:
194 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Flat Diaper Folds:
Giving Diapers, Giving Hope:
Health Hazards Associated with Prolonged Use of Disposable Diapers:
History of Diapers:
Homemade Baby Wash:
Homemade Cloth Wipes Solutions:
Homemade Diaper Sprayer Tutorial:
Homemade Wool Wash:
How to Clean a Washing Machine:
How to Get a FREE Kindle App on Your Phone or Computer:
How to Send a PDF eBook to Your Kindle:
195 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
My Website:
No-Sew Homemade Diaper Ideas:
Prefold Sizing:
One-Size Wool Cover:
Origami Fold:
Real Diaper Circle Meetings:
Share the Love Program:
State Regulations on Cloth Diapers in Child Care Facilities:
Sweet Cheeks Diaper Kits:
The Great Cloth Diaper Change:
The Mommies Network:
Washing Wool Diaper Covers:
Wool Dryer Balls:
Yeast Rash Cure:
196 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Chapter Index
Why I Wrote This Book
How This Book Can Help You
How to Read This Book
How to Use an Ebook
Sharing This Book
Part 1: 10 Cloth Diaper Confessions
Confession #1: There are Many Reasons to Use Cloth Diapers
Reason #1: Cloth Diapering Saves You Money
A Cost Comparison
The Cost of Washing Diapers
The Cost of Cloth Diapering Accessories
Reason #2: Cloth Diapers are Better for the Environment
Reason #3: Cloth Diapers are Better for Your Baby’s Health
Reason #4: Cloth Diapering Can Potentially Lead to Earlier Potty Training
Reason #5: Cloth Diapers Work Better
Reason #6: Cloth Diapers are Typically Gentler on Baby’s Skin
Reason #7: Cloth Diapers are Cute!
My Personal Reasons for Using Cloth Diapers
Confession #2: There is a Cloth Diaper Type for Everyone
Natural vs. Synthetic
Suede Cloth
One Sized vs. Sized
Stay-Dry vs. Not
Cover Types
197 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Caring for Wool Diaper Covers
Diaper Pins
Hook and Loop
Cloth Diaper Types
A Compromise:
Compostable Diapers
Environmentally-Friendly Disposables
My Preferences
Confession #3: Anyone Can Use Cloth Diapers
Section 1: Convincing Daddies
Section 2: Convincing Other Caregivers
Confession #4: Building a Cloth Diaper Stash is Easier Than You Think
Section 1: Building a Cloth Diaper Stash Before Baby Born
Section 2: Building a Cloth Diaper Stash After Baby Born
Section 3: Building a Cloth Diaper Stash On a Budget
Section 4: Using a Diaper Service
Confession #5: Establishing a Cloth Diaper Routine Can Make or Break Your
Experience: How to Prep, Gather Your Accessories, Wash, Strip, and Get
Over the Poop
Step 1: Prep
Step 2: Gather Accessories
Cloth Wipes
Wipes Solution
Diaper Pails
Stain Fighters
198 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Dryer Balls
Diaper Sprayer
Diaper Bag
Diaper Creams
Step 3: Establish a Wash Routine
My Personal Routine
Top Loader vs. HE Machines
Hard vs. Soft Water
10 Tips
Stripping Diapers
Laundering Aids
Step 4: Get Over the Poop!
Disposing of Poop From a Breastfed Newborn
Disposing of Poop from a Formula-Fed Newborn, Older Baby or Toddler
Disposing of a Very Messy Poopy Diaper
Tools for Making Clean Up Easier
Flushable Liners
Diaper Sprayer
Spray Bottle
What About While Out and About?
Do You Need Both a Diaper Sprayer and Flushable Liners?
What About Poop Around the Edges?
Confession #6: You Can Successfully Cloth Diaper From Newborn through
Potty Training
Section 1: Cloth Diapering a Newborn
Section 2: Cloth Diapering a Toddler
Section 3: Cloth Diapering an Older Child
Section 4: Potty Training
Section 5: Cloth Diapering Two or More Children at the Same Time
Confession #7: You Can Cloth Diaper at Night
Confession #8: You Can Overcome Any Cloth Diapering Challenge
Challenge #1: Fit
Challenge #2: Stink
Challenge #3: Leaks
Detergent Residue
Urine Residue
Challenge #4: Rash
Challenge #5: Stains
Stain Fighters
199 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Challenge #6: Naked Toddlers
Challenge #7: Nighttime Diapering
Challenge #8: Yeast
Determining a Yeast Rash
Why Do Yeast Rashes Occur?
Treating a Yeast Rash
Erin’s Disinfecting Strip
Challenge #10: Diaper Cream
Cloth Diapering No-Nos
Confession #9: You CAN Travel with Cloth Diapers--But You May Not Always
Want To
Questions to Ponder
Section 1: Daytime Trips
Packing a Diaper Bag
Disposing of Poopy Diapers While Out
Section 2: Weekend Trips
Section 3: Extended Vacations
Section 4: Special Circumstances
Section 5: Swim Diapers
Confession #10: Cloth Diapering Can Be Addicting
Section 1: The Addiction
Section 2: When the Honeymoon Ends: Taking a Break or Calling it Quits
Part 2: The Heart and History Behind the Diapers
Section 1: Using Your Cloth Diapers to Bless Others
Section 2: Cloth Diaper Advocacy
Section 3: History of Diapers
Section 4: Diapering Around the World
Closing Remarks
Cloth Diaper Abbreviations & Terminology
Recommended Resources
Where to Buy
Resources Mentioned in This Book
Chapter Index
Disclaimer and Disclosure
200 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Confession 1
1. “Enuresis (Bed Wetting).” Kyla Boyse, R.N. University of Michigan Health
System. Sept. 2008.
2. “Natural Alternatives to Bleach for Disinfecting.” Bethany Wieman.
National Geographic: Green Living.
3. “Disposable Nappies: A Case Study in Waste Prevention.” Ann Link.
Women’s Environmental Network. April 2003.
4. “Chemicals in Disposable Diapers.” Noreen Kassem.
March 10, 2011.
Confession 2
1. “Characteristics of Wool Fact Sheet.”
2. “Lanolin, Wool and Hand Cream.” Mike Bullivant. January
3. “Second Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge!” Kim Rosas. Dirty
Diaper Laundry. April 18, 2012.
4. “Bleached or Unbleached Cloth Diapers.” 2011.
5. “Green Disposable Service.” Ivy’s Diaper Service. 2011.
Confession 5
1. “Lanolin, Wool and Hand Cream.” Mike Bullivant. January
2. “Hard Facts About Tap Water.” Chicago Tribune News. Danielle Braff.
April 25, 2012.
201 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
Confession 7
1. “Lanolin, Wool and Hand Cream.” Mike Bullivant. January
Confession 8
1. “Residues.”
2. “Eczema.”
3. “Skin Conditions and Eczema.” WebMd.
4. “Fungal Infections of the Skin.” WebMd.
5. “Oral Thrush.” Mayo Clinic. Aug. 20, 2011.
202 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
No book is written alone, and I am grateful for so many people who helped
me along the way! But there are a few who stand out:
Will (my husband): I know you thought I was crazy when I even suggested
we consider using cloth diapers! Thank you for spending many hours
watching our girls and eating subpar food while I speed-wrote this book in a
little over a month. Now, will you ever let me write a book again? I promise
to spread it out a little better next time! Thank you for also designing my
fabulous cover. It looks AMAZING!
My three little girls: Thank you for being my little fluffy bummed test pilots.
You inspired this book.
My parents: Thank you for watching the girls more than usual and listening
when I said I wanted to give up!
The Bloggy Mamas: Leigh Ann, Nikki, Stacy, Anne, Mindy, Rachel and Jami,
thank you for putting up with my endless questions and humoring me as I
introduced each phase of my “marketing plan.”
Barry Myers and Nikki Hughes: Thank you for looking over and fixing the
mistakes in my cloth diaper cost analysis. You know, I’m a writer for a
reason. Math? Well, we just don’t mix.
Jessica Sibley of Word Well Editing: You were my editor in college, and who
in the world would have dreamed we would BOTH be cloth diapering our
babies? This book would have been a muddled mess without you.
Jami of Young Wife’s Guide: Thank you for making the inside of my book
look pretty. Because design? Well, design and math are about the same to
Nicole: Thank you for working your “marketing magic.” Woo hoo! It’s done!
To Stephanie and Katie: Thank you for inspiring me to blog and to write an
ebook in the first place...and for answering my endless emails.
203 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.
To Heather, Sarah, Stacy and John: Thank you for introducing me to the
world of cloth diapering. I credit you with instilling in me a passion--that I
now hope to pass on to others.
To each of you, I’m forever grateful.
Dislaimer: This book is for entertainment and educational purposes only.
Please use it as a starting place, and do your own research. Please consult
the manufacturer of your diaper brand before using laundering aids or
changing your wash routine. I cannot be held responsible for any damaged
diapers, diaper rashes or any other harm.
Disclosure: I have included a few affiliate links in this book. These links are
for products that I use and love.
204 Erin Odom © 2013 | All rights reserved.