Cloth Diapering 101
Want to start cloth diapering? Not sure where to start? This post will go over the things I looked into as I began my cloth diapering journey. Cloth Diapering is really simple once you have everything in place, but when you’re starting out it can seem like an overwhelming amount of details. My goal is to make this seem less intimidating than it seems and hopefully make you more interested in learning about making the switch to cloth! (It would be my dream if you do end up switching to cloth!) Here I will break things down and simplify to cover the basics. Keep in mind that there are tons of resources online that explain each step thoroughly, and that everyone’s journey and process varies, so please make sure to supplement and figure out what works best for you and your needs!
I’ll break everything down into these categories: baby’s diet, poop, laundry, and of course the fun part – where to buy cloth diapers!
What baby eats is somewhat of an important factor when it comes to cloth diapering. It’s not totally complicated, at the end of the day, there will be poop and you will need to remove it. However, their diet will determine what kind of poo you’re dealing with and some types are a little easier than others. So, what is baby eating? Is your baby exclusively breastfeeding? Formula? Solids? Mix of things?
Exclusively breast feeding: EBF baby poo is water soluble. This means that their poo will dissolve in water and is one of the easier poops to clean. You really won’t have to worry about poop getting stuck anywhere.
Formula: If your baby is formula fed, then you will want to make sure to dispose of as much poop as possible before the diaper goes into the wash.
Solids: If your baby is eating solids then you can supposedly knock the poop in the toilet and not even have to do any spraying. We haven’t gotten to this stage yet so I’ll report back when we do!
Poop aka Washing the Diaper
Ok hear me out. Poop is the part that turns away most people, but this part of cloth diapering is not as bad as you think!
After you change baby’s diaper, it’s time to clean out the poop. The easiest and most commonly used way to clean your diaper is with the toilet and a hand held spray/bidet. Using the bidet, spray off as much of the poop as possible. You’re not going to get everything out and that’s okay and normal. Some like to use a brush to help remove more. It just depends on your baby’s poop as mentioned above. What you really want to make sure is that you don’t have any solid pieces of poop left in the diaper that can get stuck in your washer machine and pipes. After spraying or brushing as much poop off as you can, place the diaper and inserts into a wet bag until it’s time to wash.
What about pee? You don’t need to rinse anything out if there is only pee. Those can go straight into the wet bag until wash time as well.
We keep our wet bag next to our toilet in the bathroom since its easier to place the sprayed diapers directly into the bag. We then leave it there until it’s time to throw everything into the wash, including the wet bag!
I also think it’s worth mentioning that we haven’t experienced any stink with this! I know that was one of my initial concerns with having the whole wet bag storing system. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there isn’t much smell at all throughout the storing and cleaning of soiled cloth diapers.
Firstly, cloth diaper laundry is my favorite type of laundry. There is just something so satisfying about seeing fresh cloth diapers! Not to mention that prepping them is also way more fun than folding your own clothes. But before we can get to that step, there are a few things to go over int he washing process. I break it down into these sub points: wash frequency, detergent, water hardness, and drying!
Wash Frequency and Wash
When it comes to wash days, most cloth diapering parents will tell you that they do this about ~2x a week. For us, we like to wash every other day so we do about ~3 loads a week. It really depends on how big the size of your cloth diaper stash is as well as your preference. We have enough to probably wash every ~3 days but we like to have a little extra buffer ready to go just in case.
Two days worth of cloth diapers for us usually looks like two wet bags full. Again, you will dump the wet bag of it’s contents into your washer machine. Make sure you inside out the wet bag and throw in into the wash as well!
We wash our cloth diapers (covers, inserts, wet bags, and all), all together on the highest setting for water temperature. Our washing machine also includes a steam and extra rinse option so we do that too. This makes our cycle extra long, about ~2 hours and 40 minutes. I’m not sure what is average, I’ll have to do a poll with other cloth diapering parents! (If you’re reading this, let me know in the comments how long your wash cycle is!)
Detergent and Water Hardness
Two important factors on wash day is your detergent and water hardness level. If you’re like me, you probably never gave these two things much thought for your normal laundry routine (apart from maybe buying the more clean “green” detergents).
Detergent: in short, you will want to use a detergent with no added softeners. These can make it harder for your diapers to absorb over time. It is also recommended to use detergents that are fragrance free and do not contain chemicals since this will be going on baby’s skin. Besides that, there are other things you can consider based on your own preference such as liquid vs. powder, or if you want added enzymes to help remove stains, etc. (We’ll talk about getting rid of stains in the drying section as well).
Water Hardness: depending on where you live, your water supply may contain more minerals which will also impact the quality of your cloth diaper washes. You can look up your water quality by location here. If you live in an area with hard water, the solution is simple. You can buy a water softener to add with each wash.
To preserve the integrity of your cloth diaper, you’ll want to hang dry your diapers! It’s totally fine to dry it in the dryer, but hang drying will make them last longer. On sunny days, I like to hang dry my cloth diapers outside. The added benefit is my favorite part, the sun! This is helpful if your cloth diapers have any stains that the wash was unable to remove. UV rays from the sun can fade stains and kill germs by breaking down their chemical bonds on a molecular level. It’s exciting to see the sun work it’s magic. It’s taken out large stains and made my inserts look BRAND NEW. This is a science experiment you need to try! I’ve also had luck with hanging diapers by the window and was still able to have stains magically disappear.
Where to buy Cloth Diapers
Alright, now that you’ve made it this far… you can now reward yourself with window shopping (or actually shopping) for some cute cloth diapers! The best part about cloth diapers is that the prints are really for mom (or dad). You may take creative liberties here!
Here are some of my favorite brands that I currently use and where you can purchase them. There aren’t many, but I hope to try out and do a more in-depth blog post another time!
Petite Crown: Based in Northern California and owned by an Asian American mama, Petite Crown offers high quality cloth diapers in beautiful bright colors and prints and in several styles. We purchased our first cloth diapers from here because of their newborn cover sizes! Their mission is to provide solutions to make cloth diapering an affordable and casual option. For every cloth diaper purchased, they donate one to a family in need. In 2 short years they have already donated over 6,000 diapers! I also just adore Mari!
Nora’s Nursery: Another favorite of mine is Nora’s. They offer the pocket diaper in gorgeous prints at a lower price point. Best of all, they are transparent about their costs and factories. It’s really easy to grow your diaper stash with Nora’s since they come in packs of multiples! We have their Pacific Neutrals pack and they make for great timeless photos.
Esembly Baby: This brand has it’s marketing on point! They have a great fitted insert and cover system. The fitted cover is something I am looking into more now, as we will need more inserts or higher absorbency as my son gets bigger and starts to sleep through the night. They also have a try kit you can purchase if you want to give cloth diapering a shot!
Jemma + Way: This is the newest cloth diapering boutique on the web. Lauren discovered that a lot of the higher quality cloth diaper brands were mostly overseas and found it difficult to purchase from the US. So she made her dream a reality by bringing these beloved brands to the states! I love her philosophy of trying and finding what solutions and system(s) work best for you! I am now an avid supporter of trying out multiple brands and fits of cloth diapers to make sure I have the best solution I can provide for my son. Plus… the designs she carries are everything. I also have a 10% discount code you can use for your first purchase (GRACE10) – enjoy!
Amazon: I’m so happy that there are more affordable options out there for families to use via Amazon! Some of my cloth diapers are actually from Amazon! We have a pack from Babygoal which from my experience, is practically identical to Nora’s diapers. I’ve also heard similar things about Alva Baby (although I have not used them before). Nora’s is also available on Amazon. I’ve linked a few to my Amazon storefront.
This page contains Amazon affiliate links where I may receive a small commission for qualified purchases made through my links at no additional cost to you.
I know that there are a ton more stores and brands! Please drop your favorites in the comments and let me know what you love about them!
Hope this post was helpful and informative as you begin your cloth diapering journey. Please let me know if you have any questions or topic requests!