Everything You Need To Know About Cloth Diapers

How do I get started With Cloth Diapers?
How Do I Fasten Pre-Fold Cloth Diapers?
How Do I Fold Cloth Diapers?
What is The Difference Between Wet And Dry Pail Methods?
How do I wash my cloth diapers?
How Do I Get The urine Smell Out Of my Cloth Diapers And Covers?
Should I Use Vinegar In The Wash To Clean Cloth Diapers?
How Do I Wash Cloth Diapers In A Coin Operated Machine?
Is There A Good recipe For Cloth Wipes?
Why Aren’t My New Natural Chinese Prefold Cloth Diapers Absorbent?
How Do I Care For My Wool Diaper Covers?
Can My Child Wear A Cloth Diaper At Night?



How Do I get Started With Cloth Diapers?

Cloth diapers are an economical and environmentally friendly way to manage the toilet requirements of infants and toddlers. Some varieties close with special safety pins designed to protect babies against cuts or scratches, while others use Velcro or snap fasteners to hold the diaper in place. Most cloth diaper systems include a flat or prefold absorbent layer that is used next to baby’s sensitive skin with an outer waterproof covering; how these elements are combined determines the type of cloth diaper in question. All-in-one diapers are washable, but otherwise work in much the same way as disposable diapers and provide additional convenience on the go. Fitted diapers are easier to use, but typically are more expensive initially than comparable prefold and flat diaper systems.

What To Buy

Most experts recommend prefolds over flat diapers because of their increased absorbency and improved comfort level for babies. Flat diapers typically offer only one ply of protection, which usually is not absorbent enough for any but the lightest wetters. Doublers are absorbent layers that can be placed inside the normal prefold for overnight use or extra absorbency needs. Cloth wipes are a necessity as well; flat diapers are sometimes used as wipes and can be less expensive in some cases. Parents will also need to purchase waterproof diaper covers unless they elect to go with the more expensive all-in-one diapers. The waterproofing on all-in-one diapers can break down over repeated washings, however, making them a less economical choice both initially and in the long run. At a minimum, most new parents will need:

• Two to three dozen prefold cloth diapers
• Six waterproof diaper covers
• One to two dozen doublers for overnight use
• Diaper pail
• Two to three dozen cloth wipes

All diapers and wipes should be washed at least five times before first use in order to eliminate any traces of processing chemicals and to increase their absorbency.

How Do I Fasten Pre-Fold Cloth Diapers?

For parents new to cloth diapers, the prospect of fastening prefold diapers can be intimidating at first. The adhesive tabs on most disposable diapers are relatively foolproof and convenient; prefold diapers require other methods of fastening that may not be as immediately obvious. Some prefolds incorporate Velcro fasteners for ease of use, but in most cases parents must decide between diaper pins and elastic diaper fasteners in order to keep baby secure in his or her prefold diaper. Some waterproof diaper covers can also be used to hold prefold diapers in place during wear.

Diaper Pins

One of the easiest and most intuitive ways to fasten prefold diapers, diaper pins can be worrisome for some parents who may be concerned that the pin will come undone and poke or scratch the baby. Modern diaper pins are very difficult for babies to unfasten, so these worries are typically unfounded. For most parents, diaper pins are the least expensive and most reliable solution for fastening diapers securely.

Elastic Diaper Fasteners

The best known and most commonly available type of elastic fastener is the Snappi Diaper Fastener. Available in a variety of pastel colors, this innovative and nontoxic device uses plastic “teeth” to grip the prefold diaper in three spots to hold it securely closed. While it lacks the reliable holding power of traditional diaper pins, the Snappi and similar products can provide an alternative to pins for squeamish parents.

Diaper Covers

Some prefold diapers are designed to fit snugly inside waterproof diaper covers, eliminating the need for additional fasteners. In order to get the best results, parents should ensure that the outer cover fits tightly enough to prevent leaks without binding or restricting the baby’s range of movement.

How Do I Fold Cloth Diapers?

Prefold diapers can be folded in a number of ways to provide added protection for babies against wetness, and to give extra insurance against unexpected overflows. There are four basic folds, each with its own particular advantages and uses.

Angel Wings

Sometimes called the trifold method, the angel wings method provides additional protection where it is needed most. First, fold the left third of the diaper over the reinforced middle, and then repeat the process with the right side. Flare the bottom and top ends to create the “angel wings,” and then fasten the front to the back securely with diaper pins or an elastic fastener.

Newspaper Fold

A variant of the angel wings fold, this method is designed to work with a waterproof diaper cover. Essentially, parents can fold the prefold diaper into thirds as in the first steps of the angel wings method, and then place the diaper inside a diaper cover to hold it in place. This method requires no fasteners, but may allow leaks if the prefold diaper shifts or slides inside the diaper cover.

Bikini Twist

A quick and easy way to fold prefold diapers, the bikini twist is best suited to smaller infants. First, fold the prefold into thirds lengthwise. Then twist the resulting length of cloth in the middle. This method produces additional thickness at the twist and is easily attached with diaper pins or elastic fasteners.

Pouch Fold

The pouch fold is not really a fold at all, but simply a method of applying the prefold diaper so that a small pouch is formed between the baby’s legs and at his or her bottom. By allowing the prefold diaper to bunch up in these areas and securing it normally at the top, parents can provide a convenient way to catch bowel movements when they are likely to occur.

What is The Difference Between Wet And Dry Pail Methods?

Parents new to cloth diapers may be confused by discussions of wet pail and dry pail methods as they relate to storing soiled diapers for laundering. While each method has its benefits and drawbacks, both are acceptable as ways of dealing with the problem of dirty cloth diapers. Some parents find that simply tossing the soiled diapers into the washing machine directly resolves most difficulties; however, for parents who want to use a traditional diaper pail method, understanding the differences between dry and wet pail methods can help in making the right decision.

Dry Diaper Pails

Most experts recommend dry diaper pails as safer for children and easier to handle than wet pails. Dry diaper pails are simply containers with loose-fitting covers designed to reduce odors. While rinsing out the soiled diapers is generally recommended, diapers in dry pails do not soak in water prior to being washed, which may make them more difficult to clean when they are eventually laundered. Odors can typically be controlled with baking soda, lavender, or tea tree oils in order to provide a more pleasant environment for both adults and babies.

Wet Diaper Pails

In order to protect the safety of younger children in the household, wet diaper pails must be securely covered. Children can easily drown in only a few inches of water if they fall into the diaper pail; as a result, these containers should be kept well out of reach of children and should remain tightly closed when not in immediate use. The water in wet diaper pails should be changed daily to reduce odors and prevent stains from spreading from one diaper to another. Baking soda, tea tree oil, or vinegar can be added to the mixture to reduce odors.

How do I wash my cloth diapers?

Because the stains and odors associated with cloth diapers can be far more intense than those found in normal laundry, it’s essential to find the best ways to clean and deodorize these items effectively. While parents should experiment to see what methods work best for their particular needs, certain guidelines can ensure fresh, clean diapers for baby’s delicate skin.


Presoaking cloth diapers in cold water can help remove particulate matter and help the fabric release stains and odors more effectively. A second round of soaking in a mixture of cold water and up to half a cup of baking soda can produce whiter diapers and neutralize the ammonia odors caused by urine in cloth diapers. For best results, the second soak should be at least two hours in duration.


Avoid the use of bleach or harsh chemicals when washing cloth diapers; these substances reduce the life of the diaper and can be difficult to rinse away after use. Diapers should be washed in hot water with the recommended amount of laundry detergent; if the baby has sensitive skin, parents should select one of the hypoallergenic detergents designed specifically to rinse away completely after use.


Adding a small amount of white distilled vinegar to the rinse cycle can remove soap residue and further reduce stains, leaving diapers whiter and fresher. In most cases, cloth diapers should be rinsed at least twice in cold water in order to ensure that no soap remains to irritate delicate baby skin.


In order to increase the longevity of cloth diapers, it’s usually best to air dry them on a rack or by hanging them on a line outside. The latter method offers a clean, fresh scent and is more economical than running the dryer, making it an ideal solution for budget and environmentally conscious parents.

How Do I Wash Cloth Diapers In A Coin Operated Machine?

For parents without access to a washing machine at home, it is possible to wash cloth diapers in coin-operated machines available at the local laundromat. Usually, at least two complete wash cycles are required in order to ensure that cloth diapers are clean, fresh and odor free; more may be necessary for heavily soiled diapers or larger loads. It’s usually a good idea to presoak diapers in a sink or basin beforehand when possible, since this can significantly reduce the number of washes necessary and the consequent cost of using coin-operated washing machines.

First cycle

Cold water should be used for the first round in the washing machine. Most laundry experts recommend using no detergent for this first cycle; however, some parents add half a cup of vinegar to the mix to help neutralize urine odors and aid in releasing stains. This first wash cycle can also be used as a substitute for presoaking at home, but may require an additional wash cycle in order to ensure optimal cleaning and odor control.

Second And Subsequent Cycles

Use the hottest available water temperature for the actual wash cycle; it’s best to use about half the recommended amount of detergent when washing diapers and other items that touch baby’s sensitive skin. Never use bleach or harsh stain removers on diapers, since these chemicals can cause serious reactions if they fail to rinse away completely. Check the diapers after the first cycle is completed; if they are fresh and odor free, they can be tossed into the dryer at this point. If not, then repeat the process until the diapers are clean and free of unwanted odors.

How Do I Get The urine Smell Out Of my Cloth Diapers And Covers?

One of the most significant elements in successfully starting out with or switching to cloth diapers is managing the odors associated with this method. Urine and fecal matter can create an overwhelming smell that can discourage many parents, especially when that odor persists after washing. Fortunately, the simple addition of common household products during various points of the laundry cycle can help produce clean, sweet-smelling diapers and eliminate even the toughest odors.

During the wash

Presoaking diapers in a mixture of water and baking soda can help to reduce odors before washing. Adding half a cup of baking soda during the wash cycle can provide even more protection against odors; baking soda helps to whiten cloth diapers and lift stains as well, making it a solid addition to the washday routine. Baking soda is alkaline and reacts with the acidic ammonia in urine to neutralize the strong smell and help remove discolorations from fabrics, especially when combined with liquid detergent in hot water.

Rinse cycle

Adding two cups of white vinegar during the rinse cycle can help to reduce odors and provide a fresh, just-washed scent for cloth diapers. Vinegar naturally removes soap residue from cloth diapers; this can help protect babies against exposure to irritating chemicals that can cause rashes or discomfort. Additionally, adding vinegar to the final rinse cycle for cloth diapers and wipes helps keep them fluffy and improves absorbency. In most cases, baking soda and vinegar together provide adequate control for diaper odors; exceptionally smelly diapers may require multiple laundry cycles in order to eliminate odors and stains.

Should I Use Vinegar In The Wash To Clean Cloth Diapers?

Vinegar in the Wash: All-Natural Protection Against Stains and Odors
Vinegar is one of the most commonly available household products and is useful in numerous ways both in cooking and in cleaning activities. One of the most popular uses for vinegar is as a laundry additive; in some cases, it can be used to boost the effectiveness of commercial detergents and increase their stain removing capabilities. An all-natural product, vinegar is safe for use in septic systems and softens hard water, improving the performance of other cleaning products. It is especially suited for use when washing cloth diapers since it contains no harsh chemicals and actually reacts with urine in the cloth to help neutralize it and wash it safely away.

In The Wash

As a booster for regular laundry detergent, vinegar can provide a mild bleaching action and help soften hard, mineral-rich water. During initial washes of cloth diapers, vinegar can help to strip away any lingering chemical residue to ensure that baby’s skin is protected from these harsh chemicals. Distilled white vinegar prevents yellowing from age and can do the same for persistent urine stains on diapers; it can even be used to pre-treat stains before the diapers go into the washer.

In The Rinse

It is during the rinse cycle that vinegar really shines. Its ability to strip soap residue can protect against rashes and allergic reactions while its natural fabric softening properties leave cloth diapers fresher and fluffier than ever. Vinegar in the rinse cycle also offers superior protection against lint and prevents it from clinging to diapers during drying, making this multipurpose product a must-have for the modern laundry room.

Is There A Good recipe For Cloth Wipes?

Commercially available baby wipes can be expensive and may contain chemicals that can cause irritation and worsen rashes in some cases. Many parents choose to use homemade solutions and reusable cloth wipes rather than purchasing disposable wipes; this can save money and prevent unwanted chemicals from coming into contact with sensitive baby skin. Additionally, reusable cloth wipes are better and safer for the environment because they are washed along with cloth diapers rather than discarded and eventually making their way into limited landfill space. While water is still one of the most popular homemade baby wipe solutions, many parents add a few drops of essential oil, aloe, or vinegar to the mixture to help protect skin and assist in cleaning.

Basic Baby Wipe Solution

Most cloth wipe solutions include soap in one form or another. One of the gentlest and safest is castile soap, which offers superior cleaning capabilities without damaging fragile baby skin.

• 2 cups water
• 2 tablespoons liquid castile soap
• 4 drops of tea tree oil

Moisturizing Baby Wipe Solution

Lanolin and glycerin are added to this solution to add moisture for babies with extra sensitive skin. Some babies experience a mild reaction to lanolin, so it’s best to test this solution on a small area before beginning use.

• 2 cups water
• 2 teaspoons glycerin
• 1/8 teaspoon lanolin
• 1 teaspoon liquid castile soap

Parents can customize these solutions to suit their own personal tastes and their baby’s cleaning needs. Adding a bit more soap can provide extra cleaning power, while substituting aloe, Vitamin E oil, baby oil, or other gentle moisturizers can help soothe rashes and keep baby’s skin healthy.

Why Aren’t My New Natural Chinese prefold Cloth Diapers absorbent?

Many experts recommend unbleached Chinese prefold diapers as the most absorbent and least irritating for delicate skin. However, some parents may be confused when they first unpack their Chinese prefolds since these diapers may not seem absorbent straight from the package. Initially Chinese prefolds may be stiff or hard to the touch; this is because unbleached cotton retains natural oils that can give the fabric a waxy consistency. Bleaching removes this waxy feel from the cloth, but can reduce the softness and durability of prefold diapers. By preparing the unbleached Chinese prefolds correctly, parents can ensure maximum absorbency and long life for their initial investment.

Hot water method

If the water in the washing machine is hot enough, the wax and oils present in the cotton will easily melt and rinse away with a few trips through the washer and dryer, leaving the diapers fluffy and absorbent. The trick is to ensure that the water is steaming hot and that the hot cycle runs for at least fifteen minutes during each round of laundry. By setting both the wash and rinse cycle to hot and drying the diapers completely between each round of washing, parents can often achieve the desired results within three or four laundry cycles.

Detergent method

In cases where the water does not get hot enough to melt the waxy feel away, parents can achieve good results by washing the Chinese prefold diapers with a regular laundry detergent in hot water. This usually takes two rounds of soapy washing followed by drying and one round of hot water rinsing with no detergent. While this can strip oils completely from the diapers, it typically produces a fluffier, more absorbent prefold than hot water rinsing alone. Parents can test absorbency by pouring half a cup of water onto a pre-washed prefold; if it absorbs it readily, then the diapers are ready for use.

How Do I Care For My Wool Diaper Covers?

Wool diaper covers are all-natural, attractive alternatives to plastic and vinyl covers and are available in a variety of styles, colors, and thicknesses. Some parents shy away from wool because of concerns about care methods or fragility; however, in most cases this caution is unnecessary. Many wool diaper covers are just as durable as their plastic counterparts and require very little additional care in return for the value they provide in fashion and natural appeal.

Once Per Week

Wool diaper covers should be hand-washed once every week to every two weeks, or whenever they are soiled. Warm water is recommended for this wash; typically no presoaking is required, although a pre-rinse in cool water may be helpful in removing any particulate matter from the cover. A number of commercial detergents are specifically designed to complement hand washing of wool and other delicate fabrics. Use only the recommended amount of these detergents and do not rinse after washing. Detergent formulations designed for use with wool typically include lanolin, an oily substance naturally found in wool that gives it softness and flexibility. Failure to replenish lanolin in woolen garments can lead to reduced fabric life and the characteristic scratchy, unpleasant feel that some older wool diaper covers may exhibit. After the wash, simply air dry or roll the diaper cover in a towel to dry.

Once Per Month

Wool diaper covers should be treated with lanolin on a monthly basis to increase durability and ensure softness against baby’s skin. Allow one teaspoon of lanolin to dissolve in a full cup of hot water for each diaper cover to be treated. Once the lanolin is thoroughly dissolved, add cool water until the water is at a medium-warm temperature and soak the diaper cover in this mixture for at least fifteen minutes. This increases the waterproofing capability of wool as well, ensuring it is effective in providing a barrier against wetness. Dry as usual on a rack or in a towel.

Can My Child Wear A Cloth Diaper At Night?

Even parents who are committed to using natural products in raising their babies may have concerns about using cloth diapers at night. This is especially true in cases where the baby sleeps through the night; the increased volume of wetness produced during this extended period can be twice or three times that experienced during normal daytime changes. A number of strategies can be helpful in providing adequate protection for baby and bedding without resorting to disposable diapers. With patience and experimentation, parents can usually find a method that works well for them.

Double Up For Protection

Some parents achieve good results by putting two cloth diapers on the baby at night, one on top of the other. While this may create undesirable bulk, it may also keep baby warmer and more secure and can even lead to longer periods of sleep during the night. Be sure to place a waterproof woolen or vinyl cover over the diapers just in case; parents may wish to purchase a set of covers a size larger to accommodate the additional bulk.

Diapers Designed For Night

Some companies offer cloth diapers with added absorbency specifically for night use. These may feature integrated covers or require the use of a waterproof cover for maximum effectiveness. For especially heavy wetters, an added layer of protection in the form of a doubler can often provide extra comfort for baby and absorbency to protect sheets and clothing. Every baby is different, so parents should customize their nighttime diapering arrangements to suit the habits and needs of their own precious bundle of joy.

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