Types of Diapers

Starting with cloth diapering can definitely be confusing when you first start looking at all the different options available to you! However, you have basically four options.

1) Prefolds and covers. Prefolded diapers are squares of cotton with a thick absorbent layer in the middle. They must be folded around your baby and fastened, or they can be laid into a cover and held in place by the cover. Prefolds are fairly inexpensive. They require a separate cover, as well as some learned skill.  (Fleece covers are pictured, but you can use any cover you like.)

 

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2) Fitteds and covers. Fitted diapers are like all in ones but without the waterproof layer. They need a separate cover to be waterproof, or can be worn as is around the house. Fitteds are generally inexpensive, compared to pockets or all in ones. Wallypop offers several quicker-drying options.
Cloth Diapers for Etsy Hemp Fitted

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3) Pockets with inserts. Pockets are as easy as All In Ones once they’ve been “stuffed” with the absorbent layer. They are easier to wash, faster to dry, and longer lasting than all in ones. Pockets are handy for when you’re out and about, and many people prefer pockets for the majority of their stash. They are more expensive than fitteds or prefolds with separate covers, cheaper and more versatile than AIOs.

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4) All In Ones. The most like disposables. Many people find these to be the easiest to use, and like to have some on hand for babysitters, grandparents, even father! The drawbacks are that they can be less absorbent when compared with other types of diapers, and they don’t last as long.

Stars All in One for Etsy

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Covers: Covers come in three materials – PUL, wool, and fleece. Covers provide a waterproof layer to protect baby’s clothes (and yours) from wetness.

Fleece CoversRed Wool Soakers

Consider purchasing just a few of each type of diaper and trying them out. After a few days or weeks of use, you’ll probably develop favorites and find that some diapers sit in the drawer to be used as a last resort. Once you’ve decided what you like, then you can buy more!

Getting Started with Cloth Diapers

How do I get started with cloth diapers??

Starting with cloth diapers is fun!

Has your baby been born yet? If not, you can choose to use only cloth from the beginning, or you can choose to start out with disposables until you get your feet under you, parenting-wise, and then switch to cloth.

You can use both cloth and disposables for a while, or you can just jump in with both feet.

There’s no wrong way to start using cloth diapers.

I personally recommend starting with a variety of different diapers – try a few fitteds with covers, a few prefolds with covers, some pockets, a few all in ones. Try some one-size diapers, some sized diapers. Try several different brands. I would *not* recommend buying an entire stash of the same diaper.

Different families find that different types of diapers work best for their families, and until you know what you like and what works best for your baby, you’re better off not investing in a large stash of the same diaper!

Will my daycare accept cloth diapers?

The only way to know for sure is to ask them! If you’re using a daycare center, they might try to tell you that state law prohibits cloth diapers in the center, and they might actually believe this, too. However, at least in Iowa, there is NO law against using cloth diapers in a daycare or group care setting. Many customers have found that chatting with their daycare provider in advance and showing them how easy it is to use cloth diapers has helped to change a reluctant care provider’s mind.

If you know that you want to use cloth diapers before you start looking for a daycare provider, include this in your interview questions. Then you can narrow your choices to just those who are willing to work with you regarding cloth diapers! (I personally would feel uneasy about leaving my child in the care of someone who was not willing work with me on this issue. What else are they going to argue about?)

You also increase your chances of having success by choosing a diaper system that makes it easy for the daycare. Prestuffed pockets or all in ones are perfect for this situation.

Laundry Basics

Girly Dipes

Laundry basics

Start simple! Unless the detergent you use for your family contains fabric softener, use it. It’s easiest and it will work just fine. (“But don’t I need special cloth diaper detergent?” NO, you don’t.)

  1. Dump diapers into washer.
  2. Add detergent. The amount recommended by the detergent manufacturer. (see Note 1)
  3. Wash on hot, double rinse in cold. (see Note 2)
  4. Put diapers into dryer, set covers aside.
  5. Dry. (Unless your CD manufacturer says otherwise, Hot is fine. Even if they do say otherwise, Hot is probably still fine.)
  6. If you want to dry your covers separately, hang them up or lay them out on the dryer’s top. Or just toss your covers in the dryer. (see Note 3)
  7. How easy was that?

 

Note 1. Honestly, you can probably get away with less, but start with the full amount, and try reducing the amount a bit at a time until you figure out how much *you* need for *your* diapers in *your* washer. (“But wait! The internet says to use a TINY amount!!” Yes. The internet is often wrong. I believe this got started back before my oldest was born, when parents were more prone to use MORE detergent than needed/recommended in the erroneous belief that this was needed. Then “the internet” took over, and we now have parents who are taught, often by the people who sold them their diapers who should know better, to use just a tiny amount. Your diapers have to get clean. To do this, you need to use enough detergent.)

Note 2. Use an appropriate water level for the amount of diapers you have. Because diapers are so absorbent, I use a higher water level than I would for the same volume of clothes (because my clothes do not consist of multiple layers of absorbent materials). If you have a front loader, some people find they have better luck if they throw in a few towels with their diapers.

Note 3. Only poor quality PUL delaminates in the dryer.

 

Laundry extras

Softeners: If you have hard water, adding a softener to your laundry might help get your diapers cleaner. Calgon is excellent for this.

Washing soda: A nice laundry booster, helps make detergent work more effectively and is a softener (but not as good of a softener as Calgon).

Baking Soda: Brightens and removes odors. Use in the wash cycle or in a pre-soak cycle. Some people say it’s not really great for covers. Personally, I sometimes toss a handful in the diaper pail and don’t sort out my covers and I’ve never had a problem.

Vinegar (white): Softens and removes soap residue. Use in the rinse cycle. Can cause stink problems.

Tea Tree Oil: Disinfects and smells pretty. Use a few drops in the wash cycle. Too much oil causes problems, and tea tree oil has been associated with health concerns in boys. Do your own research here. I also think that the amount of disinfecting you’re likely to get from a few drops of TTO in the wash is really quite minimal.

Lavender EO: Antiseptic and nice smelling. Use a few drops in the wash cycle or the rinse cycle. Lavender EO has also been associated with health concerns in boys.

Bac-Out by Bi-O-Kleen: Whitens, removes stains, cleans. Use as a spray-on pre-treatment, or squirt some in a pre-soak or the wash cycle.

Oxygen Bleach like Oxyclean: Whitens, removes stains. Use in the wash cycle. I personally don’t like Oxyclean and do not use it in my laundry, ever.

The Sun: it’s free and it removes stains. Even indirect sun works wonders. Not just for diapers, either. UV light is also good for disinfecting.

Diaper Stripping

Laundry don’ts

No bleach in every cycle. Bleach wears out fibers faster (on diapers as well as clothes). Try sun, baking soda, oxyclean, or Bac-Out instead. Don’t be afraid of the bleachleach is ok as an occasional laundry treatment, but do not use it in every wash cycle.

No fabric softener. Fabric softener coats fabric to make it feel soft. This coating makes it hard for diapers to absorb very well. It also is hard on covers. Try using white vinegar instead.

 

Simple Wash Routine

Here is my usual wash routine:
1. Toss contents of diaper pail into washer.
3. Wash in hot.
4. Rinse in cold.
5. Rinse in cold again.
6. Hang outside on the line to dry or dry in dryer.

Sometimes if I think the diapers need a little sprucing up, I’ll wash them alone (no covers) and add in some baking soda. Sometimes I use vinegar in the first rinse to help remove all of the soap. Sometimes I throw in bleach.

What do I do with my used diapers until laundry day?

Some families opt to toss used diapers directly into the washing machine, but most families use some sort of storage container for their used diapers until laundry day.

Diaper pail options

Our parents used to soak our diapers in a bleach and soap solution in a big pail. We, however, do not need to do this! Not only is it not necessary, but we here at Wallypop actually do not recommend it. This is called the “wet pail” method. Some people prefer to use a wet pail, where they fill the pail with water and let the diapers soak. I personally feel that all this does is give you a heavy diaper pail that is also a drowning hazard.

So what do modern parents do? It’s called the “dry pail” method. Find a pail that suits your fancy, toss the diapers in, and let them sit there until wash day.

There are many options as far as diaper pails go. I use a stainless steel kitchen garbage can with step-action lid. I love it. Various people make and sell pails that are specifically for cloth diapering, but these are usually more expensive and less fashionable than just choosing a nice-looking garbage can. Additionally, you can opt to not use a pail at all – many families buy two or three large wet bags, and use these to store their diapers. If you have a convenient place to hang a bag near your changing area, this is a nice option.

What about poop?

While your baby is exclusively breastfed, don’t treat the dirty diapers any different from the wet ones. The poop is so water soluble, it’ll just dissolve in the wash.

Once your baby starts solids, or if your baby is formula fed, his or her poop will not be as water soluble. You’ll want to shake or scrape off as much poop as you can into the toilet before tossing the diaper into your pail. You can use reusable or flushable liners to help with this, you can purchase a diaper/toilet sprayer, you can use a rubber scraper and rubber gloves, whatever suits your fancy. Personally, I generally just shook off what I could and didn’t worry about it!

My first child was pooping on the potty well before he started eating foods like raisins and peas. (We are an EC family.) So I have no personal experience with this. But I have heard from other parents that these foods, in particular, can go through a child with relatively little change to their skins, and if this poop is not rinsed from a diaper before it is washed, the undigested raisin and pea shells will need to be removed from the clean diapers later. So, if you notice undigested food in the diaper, I would probably recommend rinsing it out or shaking/scraping it off really well before washing.

Does that sound gross? The funny thing is, by the time your child is eating these foods, it won’t even faze you.