Cloth Diapering 101

I’ve been wanting to write this post for awhile now, not because I’m already an expert…I’m probably the furthest thing from it…but because I think it’s super important for people to realize how truly easy this is and to give it a shot.

I think we should try cloth diapers.

When I first uttered those words shortly after finding out were finally expecting a baby, my husband just rolled his eyes, snorted, and clearly expressed his feelings of no way in hell are we doing that.

Fast forward a few months, I’ve been researching our options, and after reading this awesome review by Young House Love, I’m convinced I want to at least give it a shot. Because my husband was so hesitant to even try it, I decided to go the easiest route possible that I could find, so we registered for the bumGenius Elemental One-size cloth diapers.

Looking for organic, natural fibers next to your baby’s bottom? Our award winning one-size bumGenius design is now available with luxuriously soft, 100% organic cotton inside.  bumGenius Organic One-Size Cloth Diapers offer an industry first – tabs that stretch for a perfect fit. Stretchy tabs combined with our brand-new snap fasteners make cloth diapering easy. Our new, “no-stuff” system available only in the bumGenius Organic One-Size Cloth Diaper is an ideal solution for families with a child in day-care or family members resistant to cloth diapers! It really is as easy to use as a disposable diaper. Using the snaps on the front of the diaper, adjust the size if needed, put the diaper on your baby, wash, dry and re-use. No extra steps. No stuffing. No cover required. Our one-size diapers are designed to fit most babies weighing between 7 and 35 pounds. 

No inserts. No extra steps. Organic cotton against my baby’s bottom. I like it.

I registered for 15 diapers – 5 sets of 3, each a different color. I picked all neutral colors (orange, green, light blue, yellow, and purple), figuring that if we liked them, they’d work for a boy in the future if we ended up being blessed with a #2 that was of the opposite gender. So far that number has been fine, though just for outfit purposes, I might invest in three more in a pink color, just because I think Stella is so darn cute in pink. 🙂 Also, she is currently going through up to 10 diapers a day, so having three more would allow me to do laundry every other day instead of every day and a half.

Since we didn’t invest in any newborn sized cloth diapers (which they do sell!), Stella spent the first four weeks in disposables (which I’d highly recommend for the first week anyway thanks to the disgusting, thick, sticky, tar-like meconium poops your darling baby will be passing). If you are sure of the baby’s size, you can buy a bigger box of disposable diapers for cost savings. In our case, we were using Huggies Snugglers NB, which were $20 for 72 diapers. That means about $20/week or $85/month (I’m sure there are other disposable options out there that cost more of less, but that seems like a pretty typical middle ground number). Now we keep some disposables on hand for those times that I haven’t gotten around to doing laundry in time and/or want to throw a quick disposable in my purse or something. In think in the past 2 1/2 weeks of cloth diapering, we’ve used maybe five disposables. As I get in the habit of the laundry thing, I’m guessing that number will go down even more. I also have a small wet bag that I throw a cloth diaper and some wipes in and then throw in the diaper bag now, so I really don’t need disposables even when I’m on the go.

The cloth diapers we chose to use run about $25/diaper, or $265/12 pack. That means that within 3-4 months of using cloth, we’ll have already broke even on what we would have spent on disposables, and every day beyond that is a cost savings. Since the kiddo could opt to use a big girl potty anytime from 18 months to over four years (please God let it be closer to 18 months), that adds up quickly to savings in the thousands!!

So that’s the cost incentive that I used to talk my husband into trying this out. The next selling point (for me) was the good I was doing for the environment. Yes, I’m using a little more water, but I’m keeping roughly 10,000 diapers out of the landfill. That’s a huge number!

The final hurdle, as I mentioned before, was convenience. Everyone was telling me that I’d regret having to “mess with the cloth thing,” but IT IS SO EASY. I cannot say that enough.

(1) Take wet/dirty diaper off of baby.
…(1a) If very poopy, set aside to spray off
…(1b) If wet or barely poopy, toss in the wet bag that is hanging next to clothing hamper and zip the bag shut.
(2) Put new diaper on the baby.

That’s it!

Once I’ve changed Stella, if it was a bad poopy diaper, I’ll spray it off quick with the sprayer attachment we installed on our toilet, and then toss it in the wet bag. Every day and a half (or whenever we have about 3 clean diapers left), I grab the bag, bring it into the laundry room, empty the bag into the washer and toss the entire bag into the washing machine with the diapers (it’s just under 1/2 load in my washer). I run one rinse cycle on cold with a little bit of laundry detergent (I’ve been using Charlie’s Soap) to clean up the diapers, then add in whatever clothes of Stella’s I have in the laundry basket and run a full wash cycle on warm or hot with a regular amount of detergent (1/2 Tbsp of Charlie’s for us). So far that works out well – poop and spit up stains don’t sit forever on Stella’s clothes and have a chance to set, and everything is clean every second day. Our dryer is old and sucks, so I often have to run the cycle twice to get everything nice and dry, but in the summer I’ll be hanging them out on a line to dry (both for economical reasons and for bleaching purposes), further increasing our cost savings.

A few final points/tips…

*If the inner cloth of the diaper is getting stained (the organic cotton is super absorbent and holds onto discoloration sometimes!), lay the clean, damp diaper in the sun to dry and it will bleach it back white again.
*Cloth diapers have both velcro and snap closure options – we’ve read that snaps hold up better to the test of time, so that’s what we went with!
*Since we switched to cloth, Stella hasn’t had a diaper rash. She was getting maybe one per week that first month, and I’m glad to see her little butt isn’t red and sore anymore!

For good tips on cloth diapering twins (and for a review of other types of cloth diapers, including ones with covers and inserts), click here!

**EDITED TO ANSWER A FEW QUESTIONS FROM THE COMMENTS**

@Nico – I based the 10k number on a kid that potty trained later, and I didn’t realize how soon the number of diapers used per day drops. Like you said – 5,000 is still a crap load of diapers.

@Kristin – I’d say the cloth diapers are MORE absorbent than disposable. We’ve had a couple of blowouts with cloth, but the blowouts were deserved – i.e. so huge that they easily would have been blowouts with disposables too. Poo and pee are going to get on you when you have a kid, it’s just a fact of life. 🙂

@Holly – there are types of cloth diapers with flushable inserts (which, yes, I’d assume are horrible for septic systems). There are also cloth diapers with cloth inserts that you wash and stuff. We just happened to go with the all-in-ones so there’s no stuffing or anything involved.

@Jackie – The post I linked to up top by YHL mentions that they have a front loader washer/dryer combo and no problems. They’ve been using CD for 18+ months with no issues. Also, another reason we chose the all-in-ones is b/c daycares that aren’t CD friendly will often make exceptions for the all-in-ones b/c there are NO extra steps for them – just drop the CD in the wet bag you supply instead of their trash can, and you take care of the washing.

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20 comments

  1. Great post. We love using our cloth diapers!

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  2. Thanks for writing this! I've been thinking about trying it!

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  3. Love this post! I'm excited to try and convince my hubby to use cloth diapers on our baby when he/she arrive 8 months from now :-)My question is, are the diapers as absorbent as disposable diapers? Or do you have to deal with poo and pee getting on you, blankets or Stella's clothes?I'm totally on board, but I need this info to convince the hubby!!

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  4. LOVED this post. I've been interested in doing cloth diapers, but didn't bother because of where we're living. I thought all cloth diapers had the poop catcher insert that you flush, which is why I didn't bother, because we live in the country and it'd clog something important having to do with the septic system…I'd love to learn more about all-in-ones. Thanks for posting it!

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  5. I'm getting more and more sold the more I read!Where did you get the 10,000 number from though? I think that's really high! I would estimate we used 8 diapers a day for the first 6 months (a few more at the beginning, less towards the end, probably a high estimate overall) and 4 a day after that until 2.5-3… that's under 5000. Which yes, is still a crapload. Literally. 🙂 I've never actually done the math before. yikes!

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  6. I love, love, love this post!!! 🙂 We're going cloth for sure!!! I'm a little torn on which brand to use, so it's great to hear reviews from mamas that use the brands we're considering! Thank you for a great post!!!

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  7. i'm sold!

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  8. Thanks for writing about your experience so far with cloth diapers. Though I don't think we will ever use them, it's good to know what our options are should we change our minds.

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  9. Yay! Great post. I ❤ CD's in a huge way – they are the best! Not to mention they are as cute as anything!

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  10. I love this post. I have an almost three year old that we have always used disposables for, mainly because he is in a cloth-diaper unfriendly daycare! But, I'm expecting #2 and would love to use cloth. My biggest question that I would love to hear from anyone about…I have a front-loading washer and I've heard they are not the best for washing cloth diapers. Anyone have any experience with cloth diapers and a front-loader? Thanks!!

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  11. @Nico – I based the 10k number on a kid that potty trained later, and I didn't realize how soon the number of diapers used per day drops. Like you said – 5,000 is still a crap load of diapers.@Kristin – I'd say the cloth diapers are MORE absorbent than disposable. We've had a couple of blowouts with cloth, but the blowouts were deserved – i.e. so huge that they easily would have been blowouts with disposables too. Poo and pee are going to get on you when you have a kid, it's just a fact of life. 🙂 @Holly – there are types of cloth diapers with flushable inserts (which, yes, I'd assume are horrible for septic systems). There are also cloth diapers with cloth inserts that you wash and stuff. We just happened to go with the all-in-ones so there's no stuffing or anything involved. @Jackie – The post I linked to up top by YHL mentions that they have a front loader washer/dryer combo and no problems. They've been using CD for 18+ months with no issues. Also, another reason we chose the all-in-ones is b/c daycares that aren't CD friendly will often make exceptions for the all-in-ones b/c there are NO extra steps for them – just drop the CD in the wet bag you supply instead of their trash can, and you take care of the washing.

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  12. Yaaaay cloth!We're about eight months in – like you, we did disposables for the first month and it's wonderful! We still do disposables at night because I'm too afraid to mess with her sleep schedule to experiment with absorbency and I sure as hell am not trying to change a diaper in the middle of the night! Maybe I'll get up the nerve one day… Are you doing cloth at night? If so, how is that going?

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  13. This is awesome Josey! I too read those posts by YHL, and decided I would do cloth for sure righ then and there. Thanks for proving how easy it can be. I want to get started, where's my baby? 🙂

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  14. We have been cloth diapering our 6 month old since 4 weeks. I can't imagine doing any differently now. Not sure if this will make a difference to you, but breastmilk (or formula) poo is water soluble. So you don't have to spray the diapers until you introduce solids. Spraying may help with staining or stink though. Some days I wish I'd gone with an all in one.

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  15. THANK YOU for writing this! I am so looking forward to learning more and checking out more cloth options. I just emailed J a link to your blog and said READ THIS. Like your husband, he scoffed when I first mentioned it. Why? Because a guy he works with said it was horrible. His oldest kid is almost 8! I had to explain how much they've changed since then! 🙂

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  16. Ok, I have had so many questions about this subject. Thanks for the post as usual!

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  17. So glad to read this review as these are the diapers I've been leaning towards. My current biggest concern is that we don't have hot water running to our wash room. I'm open to looking at getting the plumbing done so that we can still do this, are you aware if diaper services will take these all in one cloth diapers?

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  18. I have no idea about diaper services – I live in a rural area without any. 🙂 So you wash all of your laundry in cold water? I believe that if you dry your diapers in the sun, that can also sanitize them (which is normally what the hot/cold wash cycle is for), but I'm not sure. Email me if you have more questions!

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  19. […] the first couple of weeks of using them, I wrote this. I loved them. After four months of using them, I wrote this. I still loved them. After eight […]

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  20. […] Cloth Diapering 101 (written 2 weeks after starting to use them on our newborn) […]

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