Cloth Diapering 101


Photo Jul 07, 5 57 38 PM

No matter what you have heard or imagined about the huge scary monster that is diaper duty, I’m here to tell you: cloth diapering is the new black. We have been using cloth diapers for almost 2 years straight and we are still going strong. And trust me, if at any point I had ever felt like it was too much extra work, I would have run to the store for a pack of disposables faster than you can say “number two.”

There are countless benefits to cloth diapering and, in my opinion, they greatly outweigh the negatives. How can you say no to saving money, helping the environment, less diaper rash, and the potential to potty train sooner?! If you still think I’m completely nuts, here are some tips for making cloth diapering super simple and possible for your family:

Stock Up.

There are tons of cloth diaper brands out there and while I’m sure some are obviously better than others, I really think it just comes down to personal preference. In our case, we did a lot of research on different cloth diapering brands and took price, real parent reviews, construction, and ease of use into consideration. We decided to go with a brand that was somewhat middle of the road in terms of price, is designed and manufactured in the USA, and we picked the style that seemed like it would last us the longest, and luckily we have completely loved them.

A note about style: there are TONS of different types of cloth diapers– pre-folds, all-in-ones, disposable or reusable inserts, pocket diapers, velcro, snaps…just like a new car, the options go on and on. We purchased an all-in-one pocket style diaper that has a few different qualities that we really like: multiple rows of snaps to easily change the size and rise of the diaper as baby grows; reusable microfiber inserts that slide easily into a pocket in the diaper; no need for sharp safety pins or other extra closures; easy assembly and washing.

Once you’ve navigated the waters of all the above choices, it’s time to start building your collection. It is usually recommended to purchase between 25 and 35 diapers and 10-15 extra inserts (for when you want extra absorbency i.e. nighttime) to last you throughout your kiddo’s diapered life. This may set you back between $200-$500, but remember–this is a ONE TIME PURCHASE! That is exponentially cheaper than purchasing disposable diapers for years.

Tools of the Trade.

It is important to remember that if you want to keep your cloth diapers in the best shape possible, look for accoutrements specific to cloth diapering. For example, not all diaper rash creams are created equal–make sure you purchase a cream that is noted as safe for cloth diapers. Also some laundry detergents can ruin your diapers over time so make sure you purchase one that is cloth diaper friendly (Here are great lists of cloth-friendly diaper creams and laundry detergents).

Other things to make the process easier:

  • Machine washable diaper pail liners. We have two because it is helpful to have one to put in the diaper pail when the other is in the wash.
  • Diaper pail. We have never needed a super fancy diaper-specific trash can. We use this inexpensive one and have never had an issue with unwelcome smells. As long as the trashcan is big enough to hold all the soiled diapers and has a lid that you can keep closed, you should be good to go.
  • Toilet-attaching diaper sprayer. This is essential for rinsing out the more extreme cases of poop (especially when baby is brand new) before tossing diapers in the washing machine.

Photo Jul 06, 11 58 45 PM

Get in the Groove

Now that you’re set up, it’s time to start perfecting your routine. Here’s how we do it: when our daughter was younger and going through diapers more frequently, we would wash our diapers every 1-2 days. Now it’s more like 2-3 days. We always keep a stack of 5 cloth diapers in her closet and once the drawer with all the rest of the diapers is empty, we do a load of laundry. This way we never run out. We simply throw the diaper pail liner and all the dirty diapers into the washing machine with cloth diaper-friendly laundry detergent and super hot water and let it do it’s thing. Then we either line dry the inserts and diapers outside (the sun is a great disinfectant and stain remover) or dry the inserts in the dryer and hang the diapers inside to dry.

What Goes Wrong?

Nothing is ever completely fool proof so here are a few problems we’ve run into and how we’ve fixed them:

  • Stained diapers. You can add a little bleach to the wash cycle and then line-dry in the sun. Or you can go through a full stripping process to sort of “re-boot” your diapers. One of the toughest culprits we’ve run into is if you don’t rinse a really dirty diaper before washing it–this has been the only instance where we have been unable to remove the stain completely.
  • Smelly diapers. We will add a little bleach in the wash cycle and that usually takes care of it. Or if that’s not working, a full stripping process (like mentioned above) will almost certainly do the trick.
  • Leaky diapers. Usually this is an issue related to the fit of the diaper. When this has happened in the past, if we just move a snap up or fold the diaper down to the next row, it usually fixes the problem immediately. Another remedy can be to add another insert into the diaper if you need more absorption power.

Lucky for all of you Denver-metro families, there are a handful of locations around the area that offer cloth diapering classes to help you get started! Here’s a few to check out:

Okay cloth diapering families, what did I miss? Any tips or tricks you would add? Happy diapering!

Previous articleWait, You have HOW Many Pictures on Your Phone??
Next articleMetro Denver’s Best Farmers’ Markets
Megan Lombardo is mama to two awesome kiddos, proud wife to a family medicine doctor, and a professional musician and piano instructor. She and her family lived in Denver for a handful of years before embarking on their current adventure in the mountain town of Salida. Megan will be focusing on helping your family find the easiest ways to experience all the hidden gems and lovely family-friendly excursions that you can get to within a short drive of the Denver metro area. One of the greatest things about Denver is its proximity to the mountains—so get out there and explore! When she’s not blogging, you can find Megan hiking around the Arkansas River valley, having a beer at a brewery while chasing her kids around, listening to music at Riverside Park with friends, playing music with her husband, or (still) ripping out carpet and tearing down wood paneling in her 1899 home in Salida. Megan is excited to connect with all of you!


  1. I really wish I had read this back when our son was little. I wanted to try cloth diapering but had no clue where to start. I’m passing this along to the new mommies I know!

  2. For those who want to try it out and get through the infant stage first, there are also services that offer cloth diapers that are washable (pre-folds only) that we have found are great for trying out the idea of cloth diapering without having to wash them. We use Eco Baby for the service and then eventually did our own cloth diapers/pull-ups when our son hit the right age. We also experience much less diaper rash with cloth than we do with disposables, but we do use disposables at night (for longer sleep).

    • Also, we had the diaper sprayer that attached to the back of the toilet but I much preferred the flush able liners. I just laid them over the diaper and it worked wonders!

  3. We are still EBF so we don’t use a diaper sprayer yet – but I do use a cold pre-wash in the washer before my heavy duty hot wash. My kiddo also goes through about 15 diapers a day so I wash pretty much every night. I just throw them in after I put him down, move inserts into the dryer befer I go to bed, and then stuff my pockets during the morning nap. It honestly feels like less work than running to Target all the time for diapers (and I don’t spend money on random things while I am there).

    I cut up old t shirts and my husband’s flannels into little squares for reusable wipes.

    I tried one style that didn’t work for us at all and almost gave in to disposables but then tried another brand/style (because it seemed to be the most popular and I figured everyone out there must be on to something) with two different styles and found something that works great. I haven’t put him in a disposable since. I wouldn’t invest in a full stash of anything until you know what you like and what works for you.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here