Cloth Diapers: 10 Tips to Get Started

Are you thinking about cloth diapering your new baby? Or, maybe you’re tired of buying boxes of expensive diapers only to see them go into the trash. Cloth diapers have made a huge comeback in recent years and for many reasons: they are environmentally friendly, relatively inexpensive, and chemical-free. They are also incredibly cute on a little baby bum and come in a variety of colors, patterns, and designs. While cloth diapers have their definite pros, any small amount of research will show you that it can easily become an overwhelming and sometimes confusing world of diapering, sending your mind in circles and wondering if you should make the leap. If you are considering cloth diapering, here are some simple things that any veteran cloth diapering mama will tell you to help you start and adjust to this new venture!

Gone are the days of cotton cloths and safety pins, and now we welcome prefolds, all in ones (AIOs) and all in twos (AI2), pocket diapers, and fitted diapers. Some snap, some use modified pins, some include inserts for absorbency, and some require the purchase of additional inserts. The list goes on and on, and don’t forget that mostly all of the cloth diaper producers will recommend using an all-natural laundry detergent, free of fragrances, dyes, chemicals, parabens, nitrates, sulfates… and basically everything else your store-bought conventional detergent contains. So, what should we use? 

It all seems overwhelming at first, but if you are ready to take the plunge and try something economical and environmentally friendly, here are our top ten tips for making the jump:


1. Do some research

YouTube and blogging moms will be your go-to for everything cloth diaper related in the beginning. There are endless amounts of videos on the various styles of cloth diapers, washing routines, the best fit for your baby, and how to strip your diapers (if you don’t know what this is, you will definitely want to do some research or you may find some very stinky diapers in your future). Before going all in, watch and study a few videos, take notes on what you’ll need, what interests you, and their routines so that you are set up for success. 

2. Borrow from a friend

If you are considering cloth diapers, you most likely have a friend that sparked your interest – if they can do it, so can I, right? Most likely that friend is more than willing to help you get on your way as well, so start by asking to borrow a few of her diapers to give it a good try before committing. Borrow enough to get you through at least one or two days and a full wash cycle so that you can quickly learn the ins and outs of using cloth diapers. Borrowing, or even purchasing a few used diapers before buying an entire lot for your little one will ensure that you don’t waste your money on diaper styles that don’t work for you and that you are ready to make the adjustment in your lifestyle. 

Bonus Tip: We know you would probably never buy used underwear, but you may just find yourself buying used diapers. Yes, this is a thing and a very BIG thing! Cloth diapering mamas often sell their entire lot of diapers when they are done using them at a hugely discounted price. If money is an issue or your main reason for switching to cloth, try searching eBay, craigslist, or your local cloth diaper exchange Facebook page. Most have been cleaned very often and we suggest stripping them as soon as you purchase them anyway for the best absorbency.

3. Try each style at least once

When borrowing or first purchasing, try each style before committing to a full lot. You may only be familiar with covers and inserts, and after watching some YouTube videos, you may have your mind made up about what style you want. But, after trying all-in-ones or twos, you might find life to be much easier. It really all comes down to your personal preference, as each diaper type has its own pros and cons, but all do the same job. You may also find a particular brand, such as the ever-popular bumGenius, that sells different styles, but all with the same sort of look and really fun designs. You may also want to investigate different materials, as some diapers are 100% cotton, while others feature bamboo, promising a higher absorbency and softer feel on the baby’s bottom. We suggest “trying them on” before spending all of your diaper budget on diapers that may not work for you. Once you’ve found a style you like, purchase in a “lot” from a retailer that offers great discounts for lot purchases. Be sure to purchase enough to get you through about two days before washing.

4. Purchase multiple wet bags

Purchase wet bags, and purchase multiple in various sizes. We like having two large wet bags (one to fill and wash, and another to hold the next load). You will also need a small wet bag to store in your diaper bag. Trust us, you do not want to stick a dirty or pee-soaked cloth diaper in your diaper bag without a wet bag. Wet bags are a must for keeping all moisture and smells inside, and can easily be thrown into the washing machine after use. 

5. Try various detergents

Like diaper creams, there are numerous cloth diaper-safe detergents on the market. Most won’t be available in your average grocery store, but many can be found on Amazon or cloth diaper retailers. We suggest using free samples at first or buying small. Each detergent is slightly different and so are washing machines. You will need to find one that works for front loading vs top loading, or soft water vs hard water. While the thought of buying another detergent can possibly deter some from changing over to cloth, just know that the detergents safe for cloth diapers are also safe for everyday clothing, and are often the gentlest on your skin rather than the many chemicals found in your average household laundry detergent. 

6. Purchase a diaper sprayer

Buy. Now. You might read about “dunking” your diapers and be horrified. Or, the old “scrape” into the toilet method. Trust us when we say that things don’t need to get that dirty. When it comes time to dump a dirty diaper before throwing it in the wash, take advantage of having a diaper sprayer attached to your toilet. The bumGenius Diaper Sprayer, featured above, is incredibly easy to use. By simply attaching the diaper sprayer, much like an extending shower head, you can simply spray the diaper off into the toilet without the mess or hassle of other tried methods. Your hands stay pretty clean and you do minimal work. If you also happen to be one with a weak stomach, the diaper sprayer is an absolute must. (It’s also a great conversation piece when you have company over.)

7. Buy disposable liners

Speaking of weak stomachs, disposable liners are available for cloth diapers and make poopy situations, especially while out and about, less of an ordeal. Throw a disposable liner inside your little one’s diaper before you head out the door and exchange it for a fresh one when needed, throwing the old liner out. This makes carrying around dirty diapers in a wet bag while out pretty rare. 

8. Research diaper rash cream

Hopefully through your research, you will find out that regular old diaper creams cannot be used with cloth diapers, as they will ruin their effectiveness. There are plenty of diaper rash creams made specifically for cloth diapered babies that are effective and all-natural. They also come in some pretty cool forms — such as a stick that makes it easy to rub on baby’s bum without getting your hands messy, or even a spray that takes only a few seconds to cover the entire baby’s bum. If you like an old fashioned salve, large pots can be purchased in an array of scents and essential oils. Buy a diaper rash cream and use it liberally — every day if you want to prevent a rash from forming. 

9. Diaper pails vs. a small kitchen trash can

Some cloth diapering mamas still use the traditional diaper pail with cloth diapers, simply unloading the diapers into the wash and throwing away the disposable bag. While this is certainly a good (stink-free) option, some have found it just as easy (not to mention environmentally and economically-friendly) to use a plain kitchen trashcan with a lid and use your large wet bag inside as the trash bag. This makes it easy to simply grab the wet bag when it is time for a wash and literally throw everything into the washing machine, wet bag included. You will be washing your diapers OFTEN, so keeping smells at bay in your baby’s room shouldn’t be issue enough to need a heavy duty diaper pail. 

10. Don’t give up too soon

Using cloth diapers takes some lifestyle changes and effort, but it can save you a lot of money and a lot of diapers from sitting in a landfill. Cloth diapers can be used for years, through multiple children, if cared for correctly, and are well worth the investment if you are committed. But, know that this change can take some time getting used to and fully understanding. Like most things worth doing, you will find in time that it all becomes easy and natural. You will find your wash routine rhythm, and you will find a diaper style you love, and maybe even your husband will start to understand why you made the change. You may even become one of those moms bidding on the latest design release or “must-have” diaper, and if you’re lucky to own one, you’ll be happy to know that some resell for more than their original purchase price… seriously. 

Looking for Un-Nursing Wear?

If you need to add some nursing clothing to your wardrobe, but don’t want to spend money on pieces you’ll only wear for a short period of time, then head on over to Melody Lane for the best in regular clothing that is versatile enough to wear before, during, and after breastfeeding! They offer trendy, classic, and comfortable clothing that is hand-picked for all the life stages women usually experience. With nothing over $100, always free shipping, and new styles featured every season, Melody Lane makes sure your “fashion meets life”.

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Diving in? Check out more of our cloth diapering tips in 10 Tips to Make Your Cloth Diapers Last!

Photo credits: St. John Photography, Stephanie, Ashley

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Stephanie

Stephanie is a military wife, currently residing in North Carolina, and mama of two exceptionally curious little ones; a rugged pint-size princess and a toddling Evel Knievel-in-training. When she isn't exploring the family's newest dwellings, running trails, farmers' markets, and playgrounds, she spends her down time working from home, feverishly correcting "textspeak" in her college students' essays as an adjunct English instructor for a local community college. Her passion for writing, photography, fitness, and health can be found on her personal blog, https://livingourhighlife.wordpress.com.

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