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The Ultimate Cloth Diaper Guide for Beginners



As a mother of four, my journey with cloth diapering has spanned more than a decade. Initially driven by financial considerations, I embarked on this path of cloth diapering, only to discover a world of convenience and practicality that far exceeded my expectations.


What began as a necessity soon turned into a passion, as I marveled at the ease and simplicity that cloth diapers brought to my daily routine. The durability, eco-friendliness, and cost-effectiveness of cloth diapers not only saved us money but also provided a healthier and more comfortable option for my little ones.


Over the many years as a birth doula, my experience with cloth diapering has come up over and over again. So, I've now compiled all my knowledge and insights into a comprehensive cloth diapering guide that I'm excited to share with other parents, like you, embarking on this wonderful journey.




Cloth Diaper Guide


This cloth diapering guide is designed to assist you in navigating the intricacies of cloth diapering and discovering how to fit it seamlessly into your daily life to help ensure a smooth and successful cloth diapering experience. There are 3 Important Steps in using this Cloth Diaper Guide:



 

Step One: Picking the Right Type of Cloth Diaper for Your Lifestyle


First and foremost, it's important to consider your lifestyle when deciding which type of cloth diaper would be the best fit for your family. While price can be a determining factor, it shouldn't be the determining factor. Opting to just buy the most affordable cloth diaper on the market, but if it doesn't flow with your lifestyle, it will likely become too overwhelming and discouraging to continue using. To succeed in cloth diapering, it's crucial to consider how much time and energy you actually have to manage them. Cloth diapering can be as complicated or as simple as you would like it to be. The choice is yours.



Step 1: Picking the Right Type of Cloth Diaper for Your Lifestyle

First, let's see how busy your schedule is. From the 3 categories below, which do you feel fits closest to your family's lifestyle once your baby is here?


Once you've established how much time you will have (or not have) to commit to diaper management, use the chart to find recommended cloth diaper types.


  1. Very Active We often have practices or events to attend during weekdays. Weekends are enjoyed with park trips, visiting friends and family, or shopping. We say yes often to outings, dinner invites, or travel plans.

  2. Intermediate We enjoy a balance of being home and exploring our community throughout the week. Weekends often include 2 to 3 family outings.

  3. Very Relaxed Someone is often home during the week, whether it's a stay-at-home parent or one parent who works from home. On the weekends, we enjoy a healthy mix of both outings and staying home.







My Top 3 Picks for Each Cloth Diaper Type


All-In-Ones


All-In-Twos


Pocket


Fitted

You will also need 3-5 covers.


Prefolds

You will need 3-5 covers. Optional 2-3 fasteners.


Flats

You will need at least 30 flat diapers and 3-5 covers. Optional 2-3 fasteners.



Additional Goodies




 


Step Two: Developing A Cloth Diaper Routine That Works for You


This is by far the most intimidating part of starting the cloth diapering journey. While it is a lot of new information to take in, process, and choose from, cloth diapering itself doesn't have to be complicated once you get started!


If you need more in-depth information on developing a cloth diaper routine, I suggest you check out Fluff Love University. This is a wonderful, free online resource! There are 3 main systems to consider when developing your cloth diaper routine. Those are storing dirty diapers between wash days, establishing a wash routine, and creating a storage system for your clean diapers.





  • Dirty Storage

It wouldn't be realistic or environmentally friendly to wash your cloth diapers every day. Regardless of which diaper type you choose, it is recommended to wash your cloth diapers every 3 days. In order to do this in an odor-free way, you're going to need a couple of things! You will need a dirty diaper storage system for both at home and on the go.


Listed below are the items I strongly recommend considering when creating your system for storing dirty diapers between washes. This can be as expensive or affordable as you choose. You can utilize any type of container you would like, here's one for less than $12, as long as it has a lid for odor control.

At Home:

I recommend using a diaper pail of your choice with a washable liner in it. If you usually finish a load of laundry on the same day you start it, you only need 1 pail liner. If laundry takes more than 1 day, get at least 2 liners.


On The Go:

Consider getting two washable wet bags for your diaper bag. Some diaper bags even come with a matching wet bag already!


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  • Wash Routine

As I mentioned above, I recommend washing your diapers and pail liner about every 3 days. Babies use about 12 diapers per day, so make sure you have about 36 to 42 cloth diapers to ensure you do not have to do diaper laundry more often. The primary concern for many parents revolves around managing soiled diapers, which is entirely understandable. Fortunately, if your baby is exclusively breastfed, their waste is water-soluble, meaning it doesn't necessarily require pre-cleaning before laundering. However, for formula-fed babies or if the idea of not pre-rinsing breastmilk-soiled diapers bothers you, there are effective solutions available. One option is to utilize a convenient sprayer system (details provided below), or you can employ the "swish & flush" method. This method involves swishing the diaper in a clean toilet while holding one corner and flushing, effectively removing any excess waste before placing the diaper in your diaper pail.


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My Cloth Diaper Wash Routine


Empty diaper pail contents, including diaper pail liner, into your washing machine. If you have pocket diapers, pull all the inserts out of the diaper center beforehand. (I usually do this before even placing them in the diaper pail.)


Step 1: Prewash/Quick Wash Cycle

If you do not have prewash or quick wash cycles, just find the shortest wash cycle on your washing machine. Add 1 TBSP of detergent and wash on cold


Step 2: Heavy Soil Wash Cycle

If you do not have a heavy soil wash cycle, just find the longest wash cycle on your washing machine. Add 2 TBSP of detergent and wash on hot


Step 3: Drying or Sunning

Place cloth diapers in your dryer on low heat until dry or place them on a line outside to dry and whiten in the sun.


I recommend laying diaper covers on a drying rack to dry or only drying them on air dry, as high and low heat will wear out their PUL waterproof lining over time.


(Note: All-in-One cloth diapers have absorbancy pads and waterproof covering sown into one. This means you will need to always dry them on low heat and it may take longer to dry due to thickness, as well as reduce the life of the diaper. To extend the life of your AIOs, line dry if you have time & space.)





  • Clean Storage

Once your diapers are clean and dry, it's time to reassemble your diapers and put them away somewhere. You should create a storage system based on your day-to-day routine with your baby, as well as how much space you have in your home.


Consider stacking and storing your clean cloth diapers in a place and way that ensures ease of use during diaper changes. Also think about any additional diapering supplies you may need, like diaper balm and wipes.



The Simplest Cloth Diaper Storage Ideas


Use the Top Drawers of Your Baby's Changing Table

Organize them on a Rolling Cart to Move Easily from Laundry to Nursery

Place them in Multipurpose Baskets and Store on a Shelf (Use for toys later!)

Keep Overflow in a Nearby Closet Using This Over The Door System




 

Step Three: Troubleshooting Common Cloth Diaper Issues


Cloth diapering can have bumps in the road, most of which can be easily solved! Below are common troubleshooting topics and resources to consider if you're struggling on your cloth diapering journey.


Leaks

Leaks can occur due to improper fit, worn-out elastics, or insufficient absorbency. Check the fit of the diaper, ensure proper elastic function, and consider boosting absorbency with inserts or doublers if needed. If leaks persist, check for diaper compression from tight-fitting onesies or car seat buckles.


For heavy wetters or overnight leaks, use overnight-specific diapers made of hemp or bamboo for added absorbency, or diaper covers with extra leak protection.


Diaper Fit

Diapers that are too tight or too loose can cause discomfort and leaks. Adjust diaper fit according to your baby's growth and body shape, ensuring a snug yet comfortable fit around the legs and waist.


Odor

Persistent odors can be caused by detergent buildup, inadequate rinsing, or bacterial growth. Adjust your wash routine, use cloth-safe detergents, add a vinegar rinse or odor neutralizer to your wash cycle, and sun-dry diapers occasionally for natural freshening.


Build Up

Hard water can affect diaper cleanliness and lead to mineral buildup. Consider using water softeners or additives in your wash routine, and periodically strip diapers to remove mineral deposits. If you purchase used cloth diapers, be sure to strip them!


Stains

Stains can happen, especially with newborn or solid waste. Sunning stained diapers can help fade stains naturally. Pre-treat stains with diaper-safe stain removers or use diaper liners to minimize staining.


Relaxed Elastics

Over time, diaper elastics can lose their stretchiness, leading to fit issues and leaks. Replace worn-out elastics or consider adjusting the fit using snap placements if possible. If you choose to purchase used cloth diapers, pay special attention to the wear and tear of the elastics, PUL waterproof lining, and snaps.


For All of the BEST Troubleshooting Tips: Visit Fluff Love University

 

Remember to be flexible and extend yourself grace. You can also cloth diaper part-time as well! With my fourth baby, I cloth-diapered about 90% of the time, only using disposables on long family outings as well as vacations. I did this primarily to save space packing.


Your cloth diapering journey can look however it needs to for your family's unique needs and lifestyle!



Namaste Friends

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