ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Cloth Diapering -- One Mom's Lessons

Updated on September 16, 2017

Cloth diapers. The very words seem to draw up hard work and icky stench; not very alluring images. I know that when I had my son, I opted immediately for disposable - so much easier, so much more available!

However, by the time he was almost two, I was getting tired of buying that giant Costco box about what seemed like every other week. I was irritated at the smell of perfume soaked in urine that seemed to emanate even through the diaper genie, permeating my bathroom. I hated taking out the sausage rolls of stinky diapers from the diaper pail. In addition, my son has extremely sensitive skin, and most synthetic diapers gave him a rash. We tried brand after brand, but only certain versions of Huggies seemed to work for him.

Fed up with my options, I decided to research cloth diapers. How hard could they be? Besides, I figured, he's almost two years old. He'll potty train soon enough.

Ha. The potty-training joke was on me.

Regarding cloth diapers, though, I was surprised at what I found. I had envisioned the flat-folds that my mother had used, relegated to the scrap-cloth cupboard to be employed as dust rags. Visions of needle-sharp pins, slipping and jabbing into my son's tender skin had danced terrifyingly through my mind. Images of poop-smeared cloth, impossible to ever fully clean, had tickled at the edges of my thoughts. All these fears were for naught, however.

Cloth diapering has come a long way, baby.

An embroidered prefold from Laina's Laundry
An embroidered prefold from Laina's Laundry
A Fussybutt embroidered Fuzzi Bunz pocket diaper
A Fussybutt embroidered Fuzzi Bunz pocket diaper

At the most basic level, there are still flat-folds - a flat square of cloth that can be folded in various manners to create a padded center to, ah, catch the mess, shall we say? The flat-folds can be fastened with either diaper pins or a snappi, and it's best to have a breathable outer pant (generally made out of PUL, although they can also be waterproofed fleece or wool) slipped over the diaper.

If you don't want to learn the various methods of folding a flat fold (and there are many), or you simply don't think you can master it, but you like the traditional look of folded and pinned cloth diapers - there is a solution. Pre-folds are essentially flat-folds, but slightly narrower. They have a thick, padded area sewn down the middle, and are easily manipulated into a useable diaper. These are also fastened with either diaper pins or a snappi.

What I like about even these most basic forms of the cloth diaper is that they are both cost-effective and cute. Pre-folds and flat-folds are the least expensive of the various kinds of cloth diaper out there, and can still be sewn or dyed to show personality and verve. I myself bought some plain white and natural pre-folds. Though I have a minimum of sewing experience, it was the work of minutes to sew a brightly colored Sesame Street flannel panel along the center fold and edge it with rick-rack. There are also services that will personalize the diapers for you; embroidering designs and dyeing or tie-dyeing it to your specifications. Since it's fairly common practice to let the diaper "breath" by letting the child run around at home without their outer pants on, these little works of art are shown off.

There are other kinds of cloth diapers, as well. For those moms who don't fancy the idea of messing about with pins or snappi's, diapers like AIO's (all-in-one's), Fitteds, or Pocket diapers usually fasten with snaps or Velcro. Even better, most of these latter kinds of diapers come with an outer lining of waterproofed fabric. For instance, all-in-ones and pocket diapers always come with an outer lining of waterproofed fabric. These cloth diapers look similar to disposable diapers, being sewn in the same shape.

All-in-ones are exactly what they sound like - an all-inclusive diaper that includes the waterproofed outer shell, the inner padding, and the soft fabric next to baby's skin, all sewn into one handy diaper. While these take longer to dry and often need a second drying cycle, they are very handy diapers that make the whole experience quite easy.

Personally, I preferred pocket diapers the most out of the various diapers I bought for my son. These nifty creations have a PUL outer and the soft cloth inner. They usually have snap fasteners, though I've seen a few with Velcro. At the rear of the diaper is an opening, into which you can put the washable insert. While most diaper sites sell inserts specifically for pocket diapers, it's also possible to use a cut or folded pre-fold or flat fold. The great thing about pocket diapers was their washability. Since you took the heavy insert out and washed it separate from the outer, you didn't have to deal with heavy, waterlogged diapers that took forever to dry.

Fitted diapers were, to me, a sort of cross between pre-folds and the more user-friendly pocket or AIO diapers. These diapers also have the shape of a disposable diaper, but no waterproof outer. Rather, they require a cover (like pre-folds and flat-folds). The benefit to this is that they can be washed separate from the covers - PUL and waterproofing tend to degrade over time, and lukewarm or cold water can slow that. In addition, some people choose not to wash the covers every time if they're only a little damp. On the other hand, you always want to wash cloth diapers at a high temp, with much less soap than recommended on the bottle.

Why, may you ask, do you use less detergent? I asked the same thing. You would think more detergent = more cleaning power, right? And we need all the cleaning power we can get against poop, right? Yeah, so wrong. Apparently, about a quarter of the detergent normally used is plenty. I usually got out a tablespoon and used 1 ½ tablespoons. First off, you don't want the soapy buildup caused by over-use of detergent on those diapers - that can cause irritation and rash on baby's soft skin. Second, we actually use too much detergent in our everyday laundry as it is. The amount recommended for use on most detergent bottles is far above and beyond what's necessary to clean our clothing.

I washed my son's diapers for almost two years (he did eventually potty train, at about 3 ½ years of age) in a mix of a small amount of All Free and Clear detergent with a once a month addition of white vinegar (to counteract build-up). The use of vinegar was highly debated among cloth-diapering moms, but I found it helpful.

Bummis Super Whisper Wrap
Bummis Super Whisper Wrap
Imse Vimse diaper cover
Imse Vimse diaper cover

As mentioned earlier, there are three main types of outer covers: Wool, Fleece, and PUL/Synthetic. I have little to no experience with wool or fleece, although I dearly wanted to try wool. It's terribly expensive, though, and there's a slight possibility of allergic reaction. PUL/Synthetic is the most common and cost-effective, and fairly easy to care for. The other reason I liked PUL/Synthetic is that they come in a variety of colors and patterns, which, let's face it, is fun. I completely admit it: I did not go into cloth diapering with the intention to make the environment better. I went into because it was more cost-effective in the long run, and lots of fun.

How, you may ask, can scraping poop off a diaper be "fun"? Well, that's easy. Don't scrape the poop off. No, seriously - get a diaper sprayer. It's like a little shower head, attached to your toilet. You shake the solids out over the toilet, and then spray it with the diaper sprayer. What I really liked about this method of cleaning the diaper was - it didn't smell. I mean, initially, as you're taking care of the mess, it smells, yeah. But where disposable diapers have chemicals and perfumes imbued in every layer, as well as those absorbent crystals that smell when reacting with urine even if you got the non-perfumed kind of diaper, cloth diapers don't. They're, well, cloth. Once that poo is cleaned off and flushed down the toilet, they don't smell. Once the wet ones are thrown in your diaper bucket and the lid closed, they don't smell. Do you realize the awesomeness of this? Even my husband was disbelieving of the phenomenon. He would stand outside the bathroom, a slightly puzzled look on his face, and ask, "Did you take out the trash today?"

"No, why?" I would ask.

"I don't smell diapers or anything."

"That's because I switched to cloth," I would patiently explain (again). His brow would wrinkle further. "So . . . you did laundry?"


"Weird." Mystery still unsolved in his mind, he would wander off to whatever guy stuff needed to be attended to.

Still, I can hear you protesting, even spraying poop off a diaper isn't my idea of a "good time". Yeah, to be truthful, it's not mine, either. It's more like "less of a chore" time. No, the fun part of cloth diapering was a little different.

You see, there's something of a cloth-diapering community out there, especially on the internet. There are forums you can go to where mothers chat about their children, daily life, and of course, diapering techniques. Usually, there's a sub-forum for trading or selling goods - clean used diapers, baby toys, clothing, etc. This is a good way to get cloth diapers at a very good bargain, if you don't mind used goods. With a little effort, it's possible to find women in your community who cloth diaper, as well. Brick-and-mortar diapering stores or a casual conversation in the bookstore can bring you together with like-minded women. Once you're adept at spotting the tell-tale cloth diapered baby bubble-butt, it's easy to make friends with the accompanying environmentally-friendly momma's.

Besides the social aspect, there's the incredibly cute and personalized aspect. We all know baby clothes are fun. It's neat to be able to dress your little man up in adorable outfits that you had to search all over for; even more so, I'm sure, for those lucky mothers of daughters. Cloth diapers allow you to personalize the outfit all the way down. There's just something inherently pleasing about a fully-customized and matched outfit, shallow as it sounds.

Even beyond the social networking and cute clothing, there's the pleasure of cutting costs. When I started, an initial investment of about $175 on pre-folds and covers would take care of all the diapering years. In addition, if you put them up for trade or sell when you're done with them, you can recoup part of that investment. I'm sure the prices have changed as the economy has, but they're still more cost-effective than spending a bundle every few weeks at your local warehouse club, or even more at the local supermarket.

And for those of you who are environmentally concerned - well, you've probably already chosen cloth diapers, right? But if you haven't, consider this: disposable diapers account for about 2% of all landfill waste in our country - and they don't biodegrade quickly. In fact, some of the first disposable diapers made are still degrading in landfills today. Nice thought, isn't it? There's lots of great starting information online, as well as DIY cloth diapering communities for anyone with an interest in this wonderful and versatile form of diapering since.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • thebiologyofleah profile image

      Leah Kennedy-Jangraw 

      5 years ago from Massachusetts

      I think this option is great for both the cost-saving and the green aspect of it. I haven't looked into this in any detail at all so your informative hub and suggestions for additional resources is a great starting off point. Thanks for sharing.

    • Dads world profile image


      7 years ago

      I think this is a great article, congratulations.

    • that one girl profile imageAUTHOR

      that one girl 

      11 years ago from Washington state

      Oh, hey, wow, thanks for reading! I appreciate you giving me permission to use the image, too -- it's a gorgeous diaper. And you can absolutely link to this article.

    • profile image

      Laina's Laundry 

      11 years ago

      Wow! Great article! Thanks so much for picturing one of my embellished prefolds. I am very grateful for the representation. Keep up the good work of spreading the news about cloth diapering, how "green", easy and fun it is! Is it ok for me to link to this article from my blog? Thanks again, Jenna

    • that one girl profile imageAUTHOR

      that one girl 

      11 years ago from Washington state

      Yeah, the sprayer is a nice option. Since I was thinking, "Oh, he'll potty train any day now!", I didn't buy one. I did it the old-fashioned way, lol. Dump and swish.

      While it's easier to use the dryer, many cloth diapering mama's still like to use the clothes line -- it's asthetically pleasing, saves energy and is thus kinder to the environment, and best of all -- the sun bleaches white diapers whiter!

    • moonlake profile image


      11 years ago from America

      In the old days we droped the poo in the toilet flushed it then cleaned the diaper in the toilet. The spray thingy is news to me. I always loved hanging up a clothes line full of nice white diapers. It wasn't so bad to use cloth diapers.

      Informative hub.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)