Cloth Diapering Basics

cloth diapering baby

Before we even got pregnant, I had made the decision to use cloth diapering. It saves money and it’s eco-friendly, so it was a no-brainer for me. I added cloth diapers and covers to my registry, and our friends were nice enough to oblige. For the things I didn’t get new, I bought used from Facebook Marketplace. You can also check out local mom groups to see if anyone may be selling or giving away their diaper stashes they no longer need. 

There are several different systems of cloth diapering, and I suggest doing your research to find what works. We use fitted cloth diapers and waterproof covers. With this system, you have a cotton fitted diaper looks like a disposable diaper and that snaps to fit your baby. On top of that you put a plastic-lined cover to keep it from soaking through. When you change your baby, you will remove the cotton diaper and replace with a clean one, and the cover can be wiped and reused a few times as long as it doesn’t get pooped on. It’s pretty easy. My husband was a little weary at first, but it’s just as easy as a regular diaper.

We cloth diaper about 90% of the time, with the exception of all-day outings and vacations. It’s definitely a money saver. In total I spent about $300 on my diaper stash that will cover her until she’s about 3 years old/potty trained. This stash can/will be used for subsequent babies as well. To put it in perspective, in the first year most people spend about $600-$1,000 or more in diapers.

What You Need to Start a Diaper Stash 

  • A few Waterproof Wet Bags (for dirty diaper storage)
  • Disposable or Reusable Baby Wipes
  • 20-30 fitted diapers. You will need about 10 diapers a day for your baby, and at least 20 if you don’t plan on doing laundry everyday. I got these mostly used. But you can buy new ones from this site. You will need to prep new ones by washing them 6-10 times to remove the natural cotton oils and make them absorbent.
  • 6-10 diaper covers (I bought whichever ones had a cute print and good reviews on Amazon) Our favorites were the Velcro covers from Thirsties
  • Unscented cloth-diaper friendly detergent (here’s a list) I use Pure Natural Laundry detergent . You don’t bleach cloth diapers unless you buy them used (to disinfect) and you only do this once!
  • A drying rack 
  • Wool Dryer Balls (I got mine from Trader Joes)
  • Cloth diaper friendly baby ointment (I use Maty’s All-Purpose or Burt’s Bees Diaper Ointment)

Cleaning Cloth Diapers

Before babies start eating solids, cloth diapering is easy. Their poop is water-soluble so you can dump the whole diaper in the washing machine without rinsing them first. Once your baby begins eating solids you will need to scrape the poop off first. You can also buy a sprayer attachment for your toilet to “blast” it off of the diaper before you wash them. Another option is diaper liners, and they can be ordered online. 

I wash every 2-3 days (I wouldn’t wait longer than 3 or 4 days to wash). I dump all the diapers and covers and the wet bag into the washing machine. I pre-wash them in hot water first, to disinfect and get the poop out, and then I wash them on a regular warm water, heavy duty load. I use a small (small load) amount of detergent, you don’t need a lot and if you use too much, your diapers won’t absorb like they need to.

Once they are washed, you will hang up the wet bags and the covers to air dry (drying them in the dryer will make the waterproof lining wear off). You will dry the diaper inserts on gentle (or low heat). Depending on how many, you may need to dry them 2-3 times to make sure they are dried completely. I usually dry them with her baby clothes and our delicate’s to cut down on energy waste, or with a couples towels. Wool dryer balls also help them dry a little faster. This sounds like a lot but it’s all about getting into a routine. It not much harder than disposable diapering. Before you know it you will be a cloth-diapering pro!