Welcome to the SoGreenBaby cloth diaper wiki! We thought that with the constant changes and updates in the cloth diaper industry, a static FAQ type document wouldn't suffice to present all the information we wanted to share with you about using, caring and enjoying cloth diapers! Instead, we're trying out this format because it's quick and easy to update, and with all the knowledge that abounds amongst the green mamas and papas out there maybe soon we'll open up the wiki editing to truly make this a proper resource for cloth diapering newbies and experts alike.
Cloth diapers have come a long way in a very short time. Ten years ago, the standard method for cloth diapering involved using flats. These are considered to be the original cloth diapers, and were basically large rectangular or square pieces of fabric made from layers of gauze. Safety pins were used to keep them in place, and covers kept any leakage contained. In a very short time, some great companies with great products have come about to give us all kinds of alternatives to flats, with the sole intention being to provide easy to use, easy to maintain diapers for your little one, with gentle fabrics and aesthetically beautiful fabrics and designs. Other industries have popped up out of this as well, as diaper sprayers are now a must have, snappis remove the worry and danger of safety pins and a myriad of materials such as hemp, fleece and organic cotton are all used to manufacture leak resistant and wick-friendly liners and inserts.
- Pocket Tots
- What’s the difference between Microfiber, Cotton, Bamboo, and Hemp?
Affordability: Cotton $ < Microfiber $ < Hemp $$ < Bamboo $$$
- Cotton is durable, affordable, and absorbent, but can be bulky if more absorbency is needed.
- Microfiber is fast absorbing and trim but can not hold as much as bamboo or hemp. It can not placed directly against baby’s skin. It will draw moisture from the skin, resulting in irritation.
- Bamboo is the fastest absorbing diapering material, with the trimmest fit, but does not hold as much as hemp can. Good for daytime use and trimness.
- Hemp can hold the most liquid, but takes longer to absorb, so it is ideal for night time and heavy wetters. It is often combined with bamboo or microfiber for a fast-absorbing layer that transfers wetness to the hemp over time.
- Sized diapers versus One-size diapers?
|Sized Diapers||One-size Diapers|
|Pro|| Trim fit. Less bulky extra fabric. Less wear and tear |
since they are only used for the months that a baby
fits in that size. Good for families that plan to cloth
diaper subsequent babies.
| ($$) only have to purchase a set of diapers once to fit
baby until potty learning. Handy if diapering 2 children
who are different sizes.
|Con|| ($$) A full set of diapers needs to be purchased |
each time baby sizes up
| Bulky fit issues when baby is very small. More wear
and tear per diaper since it will be used for a much
longer period of time (years vs. months).
- Snaps versus Hook and loop (Velcro)?
Velcro – fast, convenient, and ability to fine tune the fit on baby. Wear and tear affects performance of Velcro over time.
Velcro noise during a night time change can disturb babies. Larger babies may learn to remove their own diapers if fastened with Velcro!
Snaps – Very durable, do not show wear and tear. Secure fit prevents baby from taking off their own diapers. Fit may be an occasional issue if baby is “between snaps” as he/she grows. Snaps take a little more time and care to fasten (but time difference is a matter of seconds), which can be an issue at night.
- Why do cloth diapered babies potty train faster?
Cloth diapers allow babies to feel when they are wet or dirty. Awareness of this feeling is something that can be lost and is a challenge to re-learn when a baby is diapered in disposables. When they are aware of this feeling, and don’t learn to ignore it, your baby can alert you when they need to be changed. Babies will prefer to be changed sooner rather than stay wet, so if attended to quickly, they will continue to let you know! As baby gets older and recognizes the feeling or urge to wet, his or her developing communication skills will allow them to alert you before the event happens and then you will be quickly on your way to potty-training!
- Do cloth diapered babies really get less diaper rash?
Yes. Frequent changing and breathability make a great rash-free combination!
- Why shouldn’t I use Vaseline or Penaten?
Petroleum based and Zinc Oxide products will leave a residue on your diapers that will give them a water-resistant coating that affects their ability to absorb. You will find that you won’t need to use diaper rash ointments if your baby is changed frequently! On the occasion that a little redness occurs, only then would you use an ointment. We recommend a variety of gentle solutions that are baby and cloth diaper friendly.
- How many diapers do we need to start with?
See our checklist!.
Preparing new diapers for use
- Wash covers, pockets, and inserts in hot water with a small amount of zero-residue detergent before first use.
- Tumble dry on medium or hang to dry.
- Unbleached cotton, hemp, and bamboo need to be washed and dried 3 times to remove natural oils and maximize absorbency. Wash these separately from products that have polyester lining or fleece (pockets, all-in-ones) as the oils released can affect the absorbency of these materials.
- When in doubt, follow manufacturer washing instructions
Storage (2-3 days)
- For exclusively breastfed (EBF) newborns – there’s no need to rinse! “Solids” are water soluble and will wash away in the machine. For solids from older babies, remove the solids by spraying or shaking into the toilet. A diaper sprayer or reusable liners are handy for preventing stains.
- There’s no need to soak diapers in a bucket of water! Just rinse off solids and toss into the pail. Remember to secure Velcro to the laundry tabs to prevent sticking in the laundry.
- Store soiled and wet diapers, and cloth wipes in a diaper pail lined with a reusable pail liner. Cover with a loose fitting lid. We find that a lined stainless steel garbage can works best!
- Smells are decreased if air can circulate through the pail. Tea Tree oil, Pail pal deodorizer disks or pail freshener powder also decrease odors
- Wash between 12- 18 diapers per load. This is usually 1-2 days worth of diapers.
- Take the pail liner and dirty diapers and covers, and dump them into the washing machine. Turn the pail liner inside out to avoid touching diapers. Toss it in with the diapers.
- Run a cold water rinse with no detergent
- Run a HOT wash on the highest water level, with Cloth diaper safe detergent and no more than the recommended amount. It is important to use a detergent that rinses out completely, and is free of brighteners, additives, fragrances, enzymes, and phosphates.
- Do NOT use bleach or fabric softener
- An extra rinse is recommended, but not always necessary. Smell the diapers. If they smell like nothing, they are clean!
- Dry diapers on medium heat, or hang to dry. Do not use softener sheets! Stained diapers can be whitened and disinfected by hanging in direct sunlight. Pocket diapers and covers dry very quickly. Hang them to dry to preserve the life of the elastic, keeping them looking new and last longer!
- Stuff inserts into pockets before putting them away and they’ll be ready for use at change time!
A good plan is to start with 18-24 prefolds or fitteds, 2-3 extra fitteds for night, and 2-3 pockets of a few brands with features that interest you the most. After 1-2 months, you will have an idea of what features work best for your family.
- Diapers: Minimum of 18-24 diapers (can be prefolds, fitteds, pockets, or a combination)
- Covers (if choosing prefolds/fitteds):
- 6-8 covers for newborn/infants, 4-6 covers for larger sizes
- Inserts: One for every pocket, including extras for more overnight absorbency
- 5 Doublers for overnight or extended use
- 5+ Reusable fleece or silk liners – for stay-dry and easy solid removal
- Disposable liners for easy solid disposal while out
- Diaper pail
- 2 diaper pail liners
- 1-2 Snappi diaper fasteners (if using prefolds)
- 2 travel size wet bags
- Pail freshener disks (replace every 2-3 weeks)
- Cloth diaper-friendly detergent
- Cloth diaper-friendly rash ointment
- 2 dozen cloth wipes and wipe solution (wipes are washed with diapers)
- Diaper sprayer for minimizing stains by removing solids into the toilet
For more cloth diaper information, sign up for our workshop!