SO YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT USING CLOTH DIAPERS.
Updated: Apr 1
I’ll be honest with you guys, I was soooo scared of using cloth in the beginning. We decided we wanted to give it a try early on in my pregnancy with River for several reasons, but we definitely weren’t dead set on it.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of our ancestors who used cloth, right? Having to fold them a perfect way, leaks, blowouts, safety pins, and all the things… While the prehistoric methods of cloth diapering are still an option if you’re a super crunchy mom. However, I’m only a kind of crunchy mom, so we chose the option that best fit our budget and desired convenience.
Now, my husband will even tell you he prefers cloth to disposables. We’re about 5 months into it, and I feel like I know what I’m doing (for the most part), so I’m here to answer 5 common questions I get asked about using cloth.
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1. WHAT KIND DO YOU USE?
There are many different styles of cloth diapers to choose from, and it really just depends on what your budget and desired level of convenience is. I knew that if I was going to get my husband on board, convenience was going to be a big factor. So I’m only going to talk about the 2 most convenient styles of cloth diapers – the pocket diaper and the AIO (all in one).
As far as changing diapers go, these two are essentially the same thing. The only difference is your wash/fold routine.
AIO are the epitome of convenient when it comes to cloth. You can literally just throw them in the wash, dry, and they’re ready to cover another baby bum. However, they are, as expected, the most expensive option.
We chose to use pocket diapers. They are a little more budget friendly and only have one more step in the folding process (you have to stuff the insert inside of the pocket before it is baby bum ready). Easy peasy.
Our pocket diapers have snap closures. Some people prefer velcro for a more accurate fit, but I hate washing anything with velcro, so I bypassed that option.
The majority of our cloth stash is from either Alva Baby or Nora’s Nursery. I would say both fits are about the same.
I prefer Nora’s Nursery just a tiny bit more because they have cuter patterns and come with a more absorbent bamboo insert, rather than the microfiber insert Alva Baby comes with. Both of these brands are on the even more budget friendly side of pocket diapers, and I believe they are just as effective as the more expensive brands. Both of these brands can be found on Amazon.
2. HOW DO YOU WASH THEM?
So this is probably the thing I was most scared of when I was first researching cloth… You will find all sorts of mommy bloggers out there that insist you have this super complicated wash routine, using this really expensive detergent that can only be found every other Wednesday at Target. No, friends. Just no.
My wash routine is sooo simple, especially since River is still exclusively breastfed. Breastmilk is water soluble, so right now, rinsing the poo off his diapers prior to washing isn’t necessary. Whenever we start him on solids, or if your baby is formula fed, that will change though. I’ll keep you updated when we get to that stage.
On every 3rd day I wash my diapers and wet bags on a short, cold cycle (41 minutes) with a little bit of Arm & Hammer detergent with the rest of River’s dirty laundry. I recently had a friend who told me she washes hers in a homemade detergent and it works just fine though, so I may be trying that soon.
After the short, cold cycle, I make sure all of my inserts have agitated out of their pockets. I put his clothes and other laundry in the dryer and put his diapers and inserts back in the washer for a long, hot cycle (80 minutes) with the full amount of detergent. This cycle is for sanitizing.
Lastly, I dry them regularly in the dryer without dryer sheets (dryer sheets can mess with the absorbency of your diapers). Then all you have to do is stuff the inserts back in and they’re ready to go!
At first, I washed diapers separately from everything else, but honestly, it’s not necessary to do and it saves you time to consolidate. I usually do my washing during the day since I am a SAHM, but if you’re away from the house during the day, you could easily, if it’s a priority to you, squeeze it in your evening around cooking/eating dinner, giving baths, and getting everyone to bed.
3. WHAT DOES YOUR DAY TO DAY LOOK LIKE USING CLOTH?
At home, we have our diaper changing station, with a changing pad, disposable wipes(although cloth wipes are a thing), cloth diapers, and a regular trash can with a wet bag insert.
A wet bag is just like what you would use to keep wet swimsuits from mildewing — You want to keep cloth diapers from drying with the pee or poo on them. I personally like this wet bag because it has an extra stretchy mouth that could fit over just about any size trash can.
Every 2-3 hours I change River’s diaper. Every baby’s timeline will be different, obviously, but cloth diapers aren’t as absorbent as disposables, meaning you can’t go 5 hours without a diaper change.
I lay him down on the changing pad, unsnap the diaper, wipe his bum, throw the wipe in the trash, switch the soiled diaper out for a clean one, throw the dirty diaper in wet bag trash can, snap him into a new diaper, and he’s ready to go. Sounds like a “normal” diaper change, right?
When we’re out of the house, the only thing that changes in that routine is that I have a travel size wet bag in my diaper bag to put soiled diapers in. When we get home, I empty the travel size bag into my large wet bag, and wait for wash day.
At night, and sometimes when we travel away from a washing machine, we use disposables. Gasp!! How dare she, right?!
I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes disposables are just better, like at night. River is a heavy wetter, and like I already mentioned, he can’t go 5 hours in a cloth diaper without leaking.
Sleep (or at least the hope of sleep) is more important to us than to be the perfect cloth diapering parents. You can double up on inserts at night if you’re really dead set on not using disposables, but to each their own.
I also think it’s worth mentioning that we have never ever had a blowout in cloth diapers (and River can drop some pretty big dumps). However, we HAVE had blowouts in disposables. Actually, I can’t remember a time he pooped in a disposable that it didn’t blow out the back…….
Also, if you’re using cloth, you can pretty much bet on never having to use diaper rash cream.
4. ARE THEY REALLY CHEAPER THAN DISPOSABLES?
YES. YES. YES. A resounding YES.
We actually used disposables full time with River in the beginning because we didn’t want to buy a whole separate stash of newborn sized cloth diapers that would only get a month’s worth of use.
That first month actually made me really excited for him to finally fit into cloth so we could stop spending so much dang money on disposables! However, I have since come across a special way to rig the cloth diapers to fit a newborn (pictured below).
Most of our cloth diaper stash was gifted to us at River’s baby shower, so we really didn’t invest a whole lot into it. But even if we had bought them all ourselves, we still would have saved so much money. Let’s break it down…
A 7 pack of Nora’s Nursery pocket diapers are $60. A 6 pack of Alva Baby pocket diapers are $30. I wash my diapers on every 3rd day, meaning I need a stash of about 6-8 diapers/day, 18-24 diapers total to get me through. That’s roughly $120-$180 for a stash. Now you might want some extra inserts, so add another $30. You’ll definitely need at least one full size and one travel size wet bag, so add another $30. That’s roughly $180-$240 total. Let’s just say $300 to be super safe. Also, keep in mind that this stash can last your child from birth until potty training, and you could even carry it over to the next child. $300 from birth until potty training.
The average amount spent on disposable diapers from birth until potty training? A quick Google search told me that parents spend an average of $550 on disposable diapers for their babies IN THE FIRST YEAR. That’s not even factoring in the next year or two that they’ll be in diapers.
5. WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE POO?
This questions cracks me up, because honestly, I’ve had to deal with poo more using disposables than I ever have using cloth. One word: blowouts.
I truly think my child would have to drop a nuclear poop-splosion for him to have a blowout in a cloth diaper. They’re just that good.
Right now, like I mentioned before, I don’t have to do any kind of extra rinsing of poo prior to washing because he is exclusively breastfed. However, once we start him on solids, things will change and we’ll have 2 options: We can spray the solids off of the poopy diapers and into the toilet with this fancy pants sprayer (that I have not personally used yet, but have heard good things about), OR we can put a liner (also have not personally tested these out yet) down that “catches” the poo, for lack of a better word, and throw it and its contents in the trash.
We (yes, my husband too) are both incredibly happy with our decision to use cloth. Not only are we saving loads of money, but we are minimizing our carbon footprint and protecting our son’s sweet little bum from potentially harmful chemicals.
I am fully aware cloth just isn’t for everybody, and absolutely no judgement whatsoever coming from me. But I do hope this post has answered some of your questions and that using cloth doesn’t seem so daunting anymore. If you have questions I haven’t answered, please comment below or send me an email/direct message and I’d be happy to answer them as best I can!