Cloth Guide

*no part of this guide may be copied or used without prior permission.* copyright 2010

Navigating the world of cloth diapers can be quite the challenge. I am determined to make it easy for you! You can read this guide in its entirety or skip to the parts that you have questions about.

What?? Cloth Diapers?
Why use cloth?
Types of cloth diapers

What do I need?
Starting out with a newborn & newborn diapering tips
Switching to cloth with an older baby (3 months and up)
Diapering supplies

Daily Life with Cloth Diapers
Using cloth diapers
Prefold Folding Guide
Using cloth wipes
Washing cloth diapers
Cloth diaper creams
Cloth diaper detergents
Cloth Diapers and Day Care

Help me! Cloth Diaper Problems!
                            Stripping Cloth Diapers
                            Sunning out Stains on Cloth Diapers

What?? Cloth Diapers?: Why use cloth?
For your baby...
Your baby will spend 2-3 years in diapers. When you choose cloth, your baby can enjoy soft, breathable cotton or hemp fabrics. This is a much better choice than plastic, heat-holding disposables. Cloth diapers are missing some harmful ingredients that are found in disposable diapers. Things like Dioxin—an extremely toxic by-product of the paper bleaching process. Also, Tributyl-tin (causes hormonal damage) + Sodium-Polyacryllate (that gel stuff-causes skin irritancy). Not so nice for baby. Wrap your baby in cozy cloth. Take a look at this great handout from the Real Diaper Association. When it comes to your baby, why take the risk of unnecessary chemical exposure?

For you...
and your money! Using cloth diapers can save you a lot of money. On average, you will spend $1800-2,000 to diaper a child using disposables. Add into that the cost of wipes, diaper creams, and diaper pail refills and you have a small fortune! The worst thing is that all of those things are thrown away and with each additional child, you have to pay it all over again. You can get your cloth diapering supplies for as little as $300. Even the very easy, modern systems will only be about $500-600. That is a quarter to a third of the cost of disposables for one child!
Changes Per Day
Total Diapers
Average Cost Per Diaper Total

It all adds up.
Age Changes per day Total Diapers Average cost per diaper/total
up to 2 months 12 720 (.18) $129.60
2-5 months 10 900 (.24) $216.00
5-12 months 8 1680 (.24) $403.20
12-18 months 6 1080 (.28) $302.40
18-24 months 6  1260  (.30) $378.00
24-28 months+ 6 720 (.38) $273.60
Wipes avg. 6 per day 5472 (.03) $184.69

 All prices for diapers are taken from using the biggest packs possible. A middle-line diaper brand was used. The costs would be more with chlorine free diapers, or slightly less with generic brand diapers. The chart adds up diaper expenses only through age 2.5. You may use more or less changes per day, but the chart is meant to show an average.

Plus, you will soon love the soft feel and cute look of cloth diapers for your baby!

For the earth...
When you start bringing those trash bags full of dirty diapers to the curb every week you will understand just how much trash disposables are! Disposables full of human waste will sit in the landfill because they do not decompose--yuk.



What?? Cloth Diapers?: Types of cloth diapers
Different types of diapers work better for different families and ages of babies.
Here is a quick intro to diaper types.

Prefolds have three panels of absorbent cotton or organic material. While you can use folding and fasteners, the easiest way to use a prefold is to use a velcro-closing, tight-fitting cover and just lay the prefold inside the cover. A diaper cover is necessary as it provides the waterproofing for the diaper. See our Prefold Folding Guide.
Unbleached Indian Cotton Prefolds
Bummis Preemie Prefolds
Contour Contours are like prefolds, expect they are shaped around the legs. They do not have elastic around the waist and must be used with covers. They are the middle between prefolds and fitted diapers. Kissaluvs makes a one size contour diaper with elastic around the legs.
Kissaluvs Contour
Fitted Fitted diapers need an outer cover to provide waterproofing. However, the diaper is one tailored absorbent piece and does not require any folding or fasteners as it has snaps or aplix of its own to stay on the baby.
Kissaluvs Fitted
PUL Diaper Cover A diaper cover is needed with all three of the before-mentioned diapers. It is just a layer of waterproof fabric that tightens with velcro over the diaper. Thirsties Duo Diaper Cover
Bummis Super Brite
Flip Cover
Diaper Shell Systems
Diaper shell systems have an outer waterproof shell and allows for snap-in absorbant liners. When changing, switch the inner liner for a fresh one and reuse the outer shell. Extra inserts can be snapped in for more absorbency.
Gro Baby System
Flip Diaper System
All in one All in one diapers have the absorbent diaper and waterproof diaper in one piece that is easily fastened on the baby with snaps or aplix. It is much like a disposable diaper. They are available in sized or one-size varieties that fit babies from 7-35 pounds. They take longer to dry because of the layers of the diaper being inseparable. bumGenius Organic All in One
bumGenius AIO XS
Pocket Pocket diapers have a waterproof outer with fleece interior. The diaper has a pocket in the back where washable absorbent liners are inserted. You can easily customize the liners to match the absorbency that is required. They fasten with aplix or snaps. Pockets are available in sized or one-size varieties that fit babies from 7-35 pounds.

Tiny Tush Elite
bumGenius 3.0
FuzziBunz One Size


Newborns go through a lot of diapers. Even if prefolds and covers seem scary, many people find them very easy to use during these early weeks. Breastfed diapers are especially easy to wash. This can either be through the a combination of all in one diapers, preemie prefolds, infant prefolds, contours, and fitteds or with all one type.
Check out our great newborn diapering packages for your newborn needs!
Also, see below for our helpful Prefold Folding Guide.

 From our newborn days, we learned the following things:
5 Tips to Cloth Diapering a Newborn
    Have enough diapers. At the least, you need 24 diapers to cloth diaper a newborn. This will have you washing every other day, which is manageable. Any less and you will run out and get frustrated. 36 diapers will spread your laundry out to every 3 days. 
  2. Have Diapers that Fit Well.  
    Ill-fitting diapers can cause leaks. Nothing would be more frustrating than to have leaking diapers all the time. One of the ways to fix this is to make sure that the diapers you are using fit correctly. Newborns will do best in small diapers made for their small size. For many babies, it may just be too early to use one-size diapers. Prefolds and covers work great for newborns and are easier than many people think! Just trifold the prefold and lay it inside the diaper cover. Or, try one of the other folds mentioned in the Prefold Folding Guide. We have a prefold package and a prefold/Kissaluvs package. Remember, even an average 8 pound baby is still very tiny! The bumGenius AIO XS are a very popular choice for newborns as well! Get a cute three-diaper bundle here!
  3. Have Diapering Supplies Handy for Changing Time. To make for quick and easy changes, find a good place to keep all of your diaper changing supplies together. Newborns have a tendency to pee and poop as soon as the diaper is off, so it is a good idea not to use your bedspread as the changing pad!
  4. Plain and Simple Water Wipes are Best.  
    Newborn skin is very sensitive. We highly recommend that you use pure warm water on a cloth wipe for wiping newborns. Store bought wipes contain chemicals that can be irritating to sensitive skin. Warm water will do the clean-up trick well. You may want to consider a premade or homemade wipe solution for when your baby gets older, but for those early weeks, just use plain water.
  5. Try to get all supplies 2 weeks before your due date. This way you can wash it all, organize it all, and have time just to adore how cute newborn diapers are!

What do I need?: Switching to cloth with an older baby (3 months and up) It is never too late to switch to cloth diapers, so don't worry if your little one is older. If you choose one size diapers, you will be able to use them until potty-training, so you still should get plenty of use out of them. Depending on your baby's age, you will find that you may need a smaller number of diapers than one who is looking to diaper a newborn. We will use 8 changes a day as the average, but you can adjust your needs depending on your baby.

Whatever system you choose, you will want a stash of 18-24 diapers to cloth diaper your baby. Choose 18 if you are comfortable washing every other day. 20 diapers will allow for a little buffer room. 24 diapers is enough to go three days between washing. Some families with more than one baby in cloth need 36 diapers.

If you are choosing a diaper with covers, we recommend having 6 diaper covers.

Many families love to mix and match their diaper stash, others get one system and stick with it. If you aren't quite sure what to pick, try our preview pack.

Pocket/All in One Option: One size diapers are a great idea! bumGenius organics are a popular choice, as well as the bumGenius 3.0 diapers. Thirsties and Tiny Tush both make a fabulous pocket diaper. Add ourThirsties hemp inserts or Hempbabies hemp doublers for more absorbency during naps and night times.

Diaper Shell System: Two great systems to choose from include the Gro Baby and Flip Diaper. Both are one size. Get a few covers and lots of inserts. Easily reuse the covers and swap in the inserts for a fresh new change! 
6 covers and 24 inserts is a great full time set of Flip diapers. If you just want a day or two supply, stock up on the day packs in organic or stay dry!
If you are using Gro Baby full-time, exclusively, the full-time LIVE kit comes complete with 12 shells, 24 soaker pads, and 16 booster pads, plenty for 2-3 days without washing. Need less? The Part-time experience kit contains 2 shells, 4 soaker pads, and 2 booster pads. Grab a few packs of these for 1-2 days of diapering.

Prefolds, Contours, and Fitteds, with diaper covers: The most economical choice. Grab our prefolds package or Kissaluvs fitted package for great savings!
We have packages for many different diapering options. You always save money when you buy diaper packages. Check them out here.


What do I need?: Diapering supplies
Here are some other diapering essentials that we have found to be particularly helpful for our family.
  • 2 wetbags -travel size for diaper bag. (One dirty, but some prefer just one wetbag.)
  • 2 diaper pail liners or large/xl hanging wetbags. (One dirty, one in one room, one in another. Some people prefer having just one diaper pail liner.)
  • 24 cloth wipes and (optional) wipe spray
  • Cloth diaper safe diaper cream. Essential! Have a tube on hand! More info on creams below.
  • Cloth Diaper Sprayer. This is very helpful especially when baby starts solids. I love mine and am glad that I didn't wait too long to get one. I was hesitant at first, but am sold now! It is a must-have in our house and makes cloth diapering an older baby easy!
  • Cloth diaper safe detergent.
  • Optional: Dryerballs. These keep diapers fluffy and aid in faster drying times.


You will soon come up with a routine of your own, but this has worked well for our family.
We wash diapers every other day. They are usually washed in the evening and put in the dryer during the night. In the morning, Jonelle and I sit down and stuff all the pockets and fold all the wipes. She loves to get her hands all over the pile of clean diapers. Then they are stuffed, stacked, and ready to go at the changing table.

Daily Life with Cloth Diapers: Prefold Folding Guide

Folding prefold diapers is actually simple. Grab a stuffed animal and try out these 4 different folds. Then, try on your baby!

At different ages, you may find that different folds work better. Experiment and practice until you find the perfect fold! We have prefold packages available for infants and older babies

The Trifold FoldGood for newborns and infants. Lay out the prefold. Trifold it and place in diaper cover. Put on baby. Fasten cover. For tiny babies, fold the prefold in fourths the other way instead of thirds. Then place in cover. This shortens the prefold.

Bikini Twist Fold.Lay the baby on the prefold. Twist the bottom portion of the prefold. Bring up the prefold between legs. Secure with Snappi and sides of diaper, adjusting the front rise as needed. Fasten diaper cover.


The Angel Wings FoldTrifold the prefold. Flare out both sides on the top of the diaper. Place baby on top of the prefold. Bring up the prefold between legs. Secure with Snappi and the “wings” on the side of the diaper, adjusting the rise as needed. Fasten diaper cover.


The Jelly Roll FoldLay the baby on the prefold. Roll both sides in toward the middle making a taper. Bring up the prefold between legs. Secure with Snappi, adjusting the rise as necessary. You can see how the roll around the legs helps to keep messes inside. Fasten diaper cover.




Daily Life with Cloth Diapers:Using cloth wipes
Using cloth wipes with cloth diapers only makes sense! You can put them in the diaper pail or wetbag after use and wash them with your diapers. Using cloth wipes is another way to save money.
Some people like using warm water on their cloth wipes. This is the simplest way to use cloth wipes and a great solution for getting a clean bum. You could also use the clean smelling Kissaluvs Diaper Lotion Potion spray or the bumGenius Bottom Cleaner. Others prefer to use one of these homemade solutions:

Basic Wipe Recipe: 2 Tablespoons baby wash, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, 2 drops tea tree oil, 2 cups water.
Mix well and either put into spray bottle or add to wipes container. Tea tree oil has disinfectant properties as well as a lovely, clean smell. Some babies may be sensitive to the tea tree oil, it can be omitted.

Aloe Vera Wipe Recipe: 1 cup 100% Aloe Vera gel (clear variety), 8 cups hot water, 8 drops tea tree oil.
Shake well. Use in spray bottle or add to wipes container. Some babies may be sensitive to the tea tree oil, it can be omitted.

Daily Life with Cloth Diapers: Washing cloth diapers
Washing cloth diapers may seem like a daunting task at first, but it really isn't! Use these instructions to get started and soon you will find it to be breeze!
  1. Place wet and and soiled (breastfed) diapers in wetbag or diaper pail. Do not soak diapers. For solid waste diapers, use a diaper sprayer and/or diaper liners to remove solids. Place diaper in wetbag, soaking wet.
  2. Empty contents of wetbag or pail into washer. If bag or pail is soiled, add to washer. Run a cold rinse to wash out stains.
  3. Run a regular wash on hot or warm. Use 1/4 of the recommended detergent. Use detergent free of dyes and chemicals. We love Nellie's Natural Laundry Soda. Never use fabric softeners. They will coat the diapers and make them non-absorbent. Optional: Once per month, add 1/4 c. bleach to wash load to keep smells away. This bleach routine works great for microfiber inserts, please check with the manufacturer's suggestions before trying on all other types of diapers.
  4. Run a second rinse on cold. This will be sure that all detergent is rinsed out of the diapers. Extra detergent can cause irritation for baby and smelly diapers.
  5. If using pockets or waterproof wraps, hang dry. Hanging wet diapers in the sun will naturally bleach out stains. All diaper parts can be tumbled dry on low heat. UseNellie's PVC Free Dryer Balls to decrease the drying time.
  6. Stuff pockets or fold diapers to use again. Be happy you saved money & resources, and kept your baby comfy!
Now that wasn't too bad, was it?

Washing Wool Cloth Diaper Covers
Wool care is easy. And the benefits of wool are unmatched by any other diaper cover alternative. Wool covers are fantastic with their breathability, antibacterial properties and natural ability to hold liquid. Indeed, they are self-cleaning (as the the urine reacts with the lanolin to form a soap) for a week or two at which point they simply need to be gently hand washed and/or re-lanolized.

Hand wash your wool covers in lukewarm water using a wool safe wash and little agitation. If the wash contains lanolin, let soak for 15 minutes. Lay flat to dry (after rolling in a towel and gently squeezing to remove excess water). Use our Northern Essence Wool Wash or Eucalan Wash for a simple wool handwashing solution!


Daily Life with Cloth Diapers: Cloth diaper creams
Cloth diapers do a lot of work! Using cloth diaper safe diaper creams will keep them clean and absorbent.
So, how do you know what makes a safe diaper cream? Diaper creams that contain cod liver oil are a no-no when it comes to cloth. This ingredient is found in many of the brands of diaper creams that are found at the local stores. The diaper cream ointment will coat the cloth diaper (just like it does to your baby's skin) and make it non-absorbent. The liquid will start to repel off the fabric.
Three A+D ointment ingredients that are not good for cloth diapers: cod liver oil, wax, and paraffin.
Here are some great alternatives that are all cloth diaper friendly!

Grandma El's Diaper Rash Remedy & Prevention
This is a clear cream that goes on smoothly and protects and heals red spots really quickly. It smells so nice too!
This all natural diaper cream is made by the company that makes Gro Baby diapers. It comes in a convenient push up tube, so no messy hands! Cloth diaper safe!
This natural, vegan, toxin-safe cloth diaper safe cream is simply perfect for your Angel Baby.
Detergent does make a big difference when it comes to cloth diapers. Many detergents contain so many additives that make clothes feel softer appear whiter, and smell cleaner. The truth is, all of those things are not real. Softeners are added that coat fabrics to make them feel softer, optical brighteners are added to make clothes appear whiter, and fragrances and perfumes are added to make clothes smell cleaner. 

The main concern with these additives is the eventual buildup of detergent residue that will occur on your cloth diapers. This leads to leaks. The other concern is that these detergents will cause smelly diapers. 
To couple with the detergent issue is the water issue. All water is not equal. Therefore, what works best for one family may not work well for another. Please keep this in mind when people recommend you to add baking soda, vinegar, water softener, etc. to your wash routine. Keep your wash routine simple and make minor adjustments ONLY as needed. Hard water can be especially difficult to wash clean. 

There are hundreds of detergents available today. Many claim they are natural, free and clear, or environmentally safe. Please take some time to visit the detergent chart put together by Diaper Jungle. It is extremely informative and will help you in making the right choice for your family. It would be hard to test all of these detergents, and here it is all done for you! For a close look at almost every kind of detergent available, please visit Diaper Jungle's Diaper Detergent Chart.

We have tried a number of detergents and have settled upon Nellie's All Natural Laundry Soda for our family. It works well for all of our laundry and leaves our clothes clean and soft. We also like using Nellie's PVC-Free Dryerballs in the dryer. 

You are using day care. No problem! Here are some tips to have a pleasant day care-cloth diapering experience.
  • Check with your Day Care Provider. There are no set laws against cloth diapers, but still, many providers may be hesistant at first. However, there may be some state regulations that are in place regarding cloth diapers. Contact your Department of Health to find out if there are any in your state. Take some time to show your provider what they need to do to use cloth diapers. A simple pocket or all in one diaper is often very new to many people. Providers are very often surprised at how simple cloth diapers actually are! 
  • Have enough diapers. Managing a household, job, and children is a big load! Make sure you have enough diapers to work with your schedule. You probably don't want to be running home and doing laundry every night, so plan accordingly and make it easy on yourself by having enough diapers to get you through however many days you need to not feel stressed out.
  • Keep everything together. Many families that use a day care find the Planet Wise XL hanging wetbag to be a lifesaver for keeping everything together. It has an outside pocket for clean diapers, an inside pocket for dirty diapers, and a nice big handle for transport. That way, all of your cloth diapers stay with your bag and it is easily dropped off and picked up each day, ready for loading and unloading at night. There are no questions as to where your diapers may have ended up. 

    Help! Cloth Diaper Problems!: My cloth diapers LEAK!
    Don't worry, just check these important things to be sure that everything is working properly.
    • Is the inside of the diaper soaked when you have a diaper leak?
    Sometimes buildup forms on the diaper, therefore making it non-absorbent. If this happens, you'll know because your diapers will leak but not be soaked inside. Basically, the wetness is just rolling off the diaper and not absorbing well.
    The fix: Follow the instructions listed below for stripping your diapers.
    • Does the diaper fit well?
    If the diaper is either too big or too small you may have diaper leaks. If you are using one-size diapers, this may be a clue that you have to adjust the rise to the next biggest size. Perhaps the diapers you have are still just too big and leaving gaps around the legs to cause leaks.
    The fix: Try adjusting the diaper for a bigger fit or using smaller diapers until your child grows a little.
    • Is the diaper all tucked in?
    If you are using diaper covers with prefolds or fitteds, sometimes things just don't get all the way tucked into the cover causing leaks. If you are using pockets, be sure that the diaper around the legs is not folded over on itself to expose the fleece interior. If it does, it will surely wick onto clothing.
    The fix: Make sure to thoroughly tuck in all diapers inside covers or make sure pocket/aio diapers lay flat.
    • Is it leaking at night?
    As your child grows, the amount of pee increases while the frequency of night changes decreases. This can make for some night leakage problems!
    The fix: Add extra inserts for night. Try our Hemp Babies Diaper Doublers or Thirsties Hemp Doublers for excellent absorbency without added bulk. The trick is to put them under the current inserts.

    Help me! Cloth Diaper Problems!: Stripping Cloth Diapers

    Occasionally people have the need to strip their cloth diapers. Either they are a holding a smell or there is residue detergent on them that is causing them to not absorb well.

    Begin with a load of washed diapers (not necessarily dried, but they must be clean).
  • Run a hot wash with NO detergent. The water needs to be as hot as possible so either turn up your water heater or add some pots of boiling water. Don't forget to turn down the water heater afterwards!
  • Rinse your cloth diaper in the hottest water your machine will allow. Peek into the washer during the rinse to see if there are any soap bubbles. If there are, rinse again and again! It could take four rinses to get all the bubbles out. Agitation bubbles are ok--those will go away quickly when the washer is opened. Soap bubbles will hang around for a little bit.

    If you have hot water stripped your diapers and still need more measures to keep them odor-free try using a RLR Laundry Treatment tablet. This is found in the laundry section of your grocery store. It is sold in packs of 1 or 2 discs and is inexpensive. It can be used once a month for preventative measures of build-up for your diapers.


     These routines will minimize stains on your cloth diapers.
    1. Always do a cold rinse before you wash the diapers with hot/warm water.
    2. Wash the diapers at least every other day to cut down on the time that the diapers sit with poop on them. Rinse diapers before putting them in the storage pail or bag.
    3. Sunning! It really works! Just put your rinsed, wet diapers out in the sun to naturally bleach the stains out. This also naturally kills bacteria! Here is the proof: I put 24 Kissaluvs fitted diapers out in the sun to dry and here are the results after 2 to 3 hours of sunning:


    BEFORE                                                                                         AFTER


    Have another question?
    Contact us!