Everything You Need To Know About Cloth Diapers

cloth diapers 101
The thought of using cloth diapers for my baby never crossed my mind when I was pregnant. And I mean NEVER. They weren’t even an option.  A thousand reasons prevented me from testing out cloth diapers. Not to mention a thousand questions:
  • Wouldn’t poop get in my washing machine and on our laundry?
  • Why were cloth diapers so expensive?
  • How do you get all the stains out?
  • Did I need to buy special heavy duty soap?
  • What happens at night time?
I knew nothing about the process and because of that, was quick to judge. Plus, there was the time factor. At that point when I had my first kid I was a working mom in the corporate world and mama ain’t got time for more loads of laundry! Clothing piled up around the house as it was. I didn’t want gross diapers piling up too!
But, then I sat down one day and started adding up how much we spent on diapers and wipes. And my earthy heart started feeling super guilty about the waste diapers produce for the environment. So when we made the investment in a new washer and dryer, I started to consider cloth diapers as an option for our son. 
Talking to a fellow mama friend was really all I needed to convince me to give them a try. She had a daughter a year older than my son, so clearly she knew her stuff!  According to her, cloth diapers were just as simply to use as traditional disposable ones. I was not entirely certain that cloth diapers were easy, so I signed my skeptical self up for a class at a local baby retail shop to learn more. I highly recommend taking a class in person if you’re skeptical too. Take a look at Austin Born, Baby Earth in Round Rock or Enlightened Baby in South Austin to see if they have any classes coming up.
For me, once I saw the vibrant colors and cute patterns of the diapers, I wanted all of them for my little guy! Touching and feeling the diapers helped me see how they technically worked too. I was able to learn the different parts of a the diapers and learn the new vocabulary! After the class I purchased a very small cloth diaper kit to start. Cloth diapers tend to have a high resale value, so I figured we could always sell them to another mama down the road if it didn’t work out. Convincing my husband took some time, but were the type of family to try anything once.

You can too! If you haven’t considered cloth or on the fence, follow these tips before jumping in:

Research Cloth Diaper Brands

Charlie Banana, bum Genius, Rumparooz, Thirsties, or GroVia all make great cloth diapering products. We went with GroVia, but they all have great educational websites, videos and tips.

Decide Which Type of Diaper is Best For Your Child

Cloth diapers come in a variety of shapes and forms. From pre-folds to fitted, flat to all-in-one, shells to inserts, hybrid or pockets, become familiar with the types of diapers. I really like the hybrids because they come with a detachable insert pad. This way if the insert is the only thing soiled you can still use the shell or outside cover with a new pad. With an all-in-one you need to remove and wash the outside shell and the pad from your child because they are one whole piece. These also tend to be more expensive than the two-piece cloth diapers. 

Gather The Proper Cloth Diaper Supplies

First and foremost, cloth diapers require a special laundry detergent. Since the fibers in the cloth need to breathe, you can’t use soap that contains plastics or other synthetic additives because it will leave a film on the textile and block absorption.  Trust me, you want these to absorb as MUCH as possible. Most Free and Clear detergents will do the job, but this cloth diaper laundry detergent chart is very handy and compares tons of soaps for both top-loading and front-loading machines.  

You’ll also want to purchase another agent that will “strip” or deep clean the diapers once a month. While bleach is safe to use, it can become harsh on the fibers and start to eat away at threads. Be sure to dilute bleach with water by mixing 1/4 cup of bleach in one medium load. This will help kill bacteria, like yeast, while removing stains. 

There are special “stripping” detergents you can use instead of bleach if that’s not your thing.
Finally, refrain from drying the diapers in a machine. Hanging them outside instead. This will help naturally remove stains and bacteria. The sun makes anything white so much whiter!

Load Up on Diapering Accessories 

Things like wipes, bum spray, diaper rash cream and disposable inserts are a great accessories to add to your supply list. Traditional diaper cream will again clog the pores of the fiber, so stay away from zinc-based product for rashes. It’s also important to get a travel wet bag or two for when you’re on the go. You don’t want those messy diapers getting lost in your handbag!

We have a few for home and a few that go back and forth between school and our washing machine. These can be found in baby stores or look for a custom wetbag on Etsy. Soiled diapers also need to be kept in a larger wetbag at home in-between washes as well. You can use a traditional diaper pail, but we’ve found that a top line trash can like Simple Genius works just as good for containing smells. 
You may also want to invest in a sprayer. This is a little water shooter that attaches to your toilet water hose, much like a bidet bum sprayer. Spend the $40. You will thank me later.

Prep and Go For It!

Before you snap these colorful diapers on your little one, research the proper way to prep them for optimal absorption. Each brand is different.  For example, with GroVia you need to wash AND dry the insert soaker pads 5 times before initial use. This opens up the fibers so they become loose and ready for liquids.

How you treat and launder your cloth diapers also will depend on the type of washing machine used and how much detergent is added. Do the research for you particular brand. As a general rule of thumb, you don’t want to go more than 36 hours in between washes or the diapers will start to trap and breed bacteria. 


After going cloth I’ve never looked back and so happy we made the switch. With my son, it definitely helped transition him to the toilet at an early age. With my almost 2-year-old daughter, she is now so much more aware of her bodily functions and we plan to transition her soon. Bum changes take place more frequently, but I don’t actually mind. Leaks are minimal and only happen when she’s had a lot to drink. All- in- all I’m proud we’re a cloth diaper family!
Once you calm the fears and get the process down, it becomes part of your day. There are so many resources and tips available, give it a try and see if it may be right for your child. A simple cloth diaper Pros and Cons list can help too!

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