Welcome to cloth diapering 101! I have been cloth diapering my youngest daughter for 10 months. At first, I was pretty skeptical about using cloth diapers- Would it be gross & stinky? How could I possibly handle more laundry? Is it really worth the start up cost? Is my baby’s butt really going to look that big? I began doing tons of research, and couldn’t believe what I found! Yes, I found the answers to my questions, but more importantly, learned that using cloth is about far more than saving money or reducing my family’s carbon footprint. I had no idea that disposibles contained so many harsh, dangerous chemicals. Even chemicals that are banned from use in tampons (because they are so toxic) are still being used in disposible diapers today! Needless to say, we started using cloth from day one and never looked back. My only regret is that we didn’t use cloth diapers with our 3 older children. Oh, and to answer that last question, yes, our little one’s butt really did look that big, but now we just think of it as “fluffy” , and wouldn’t have it any other way.
So now, I am a cloth diapering addict, ahem, I mean advocate, and have created cloth diapering 101 to share with you what I wish someone would have shared with me years ago. Here you can find answers to all of your cloth diapering questions, research the benefits of cloth, learn about the different types of modern cloth diapers available, where to find the best deals on cloth and more!
I am also available to answer any additional questions you may have, just shoot me an e-mail at EcoCrazyMom@Gmail.com and I’ll respond in a jiffy!
Is it really worth the start up cost?
The short answer to that question is YES!!!
Cost of cloth: approximately $300-$1500 per baby
Cost of disposables: Over $2,500 per baby
With proper use and laundering, many cloth diaper systems can be used for more than one baby. Cloth diapers also hold their resale value incredibly well and can be sold for more than 50% of their retail value if they are in excellent used condition!!
Even with the cost of an extra load or two of laundry each week that savings compared to disposables is significant!!
Check out this cool cloth diaper savings calculator! http://www.diaperpin.com/calculator/calculator.asp
What harmful chemicals do disposable diapers contain? Are they really that bad?
What is found in diapers will astonish you. There are MANY toxic chemicals found in disposable diapers. How can we be putting our children in these toxic diapers?? Disposable diapers release volatile organic compounds, or VOC. This includes toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and dipentene. These VOC’s have shown to have toxic health effects on the baby, such as cancer or brain damage in some cases.
Disposable diapers contain traces of Dioxin, an extremely toxic by-product of the paper-bleaching process. It is a carcinogenic chemical,
listed by the EPA as the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. It is banned in most countries, but not the U.S.
Disposable diapers contain Tributyl-tin (TBT) – a toxic pollutant known to cause hormonal problems in humans and animals.
Disposable diapers contain sodium polyacrylate, a type of super absorbent polymer (SAP), which becomes a gel-like substance when wet. A similar substance had been used in super-absorbency tampons until the early 1980s when it was revealed that the material increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome by increasing absorbency and improving the environment for the growth of toxin-producing bacteria.
Research also shows that scrotal temperature is increased in boys wearing disposable diapers, and that prolonged use of disposabldiapers will blunt or completely abolish the physiological testicular cooling mechanism important for normal spermatogenesis.
So, um, YES, they really are THAT BAD!!
Would you like to reduce you baby’s carbon footprint?
We throw away about 49 million diapers per day (18 billion per year) in the US alone. It is estimated that in ideal conditions, a disbosable diaper would take hundreds of years to decompose. Most landfills do not have ideal conditions for biodegrading, and even biodegradable diapers will not break down in these conditions.
By using cloth diapers you can lower your baby’s carbon footprint. Using organic cotton and laundering properly can further reduce the carbon footprint of your cloth diapers.
Each baby in cloth diapers helps divert garbage from our landfill systems. In 2007 alone an estimated 3.7 million cloth diapers ended up in the U.S. municipal waste stream. Incorporating just a few cloth diapers into your routine can have a big impact on the planet that your baby will inherit from you!
Did you know that many companies will donate cloth diapers to children in need when you purchase some? If you donate cloth diapers, it counts for you as a tax credit – remember that when you file your taxes with TurboTax online.
Types Of Diapers, Terms and Definitions:
All In One Diapers (AIO)
Also known as AIO’s, all-in-ones are fitted diapers that have an outer waterproof layer. Often they have fewer absorbent layers than their counterparts. These diapers are ideal for out of home use. They are not practical for daily use since frequent washing and drying reduces the effectiveness of the waterproof outer layer.
All In Two Diapers (AI2)
An AI2 diaper consists of an outer waterproof shell with a snap in or lay in insert. AI2′s are mostly made by work at home moms, but some of the bigger brands also carry them, such as the “Snap In One” diaper that Itti Bitti makes. These diapers are a little bit trimmer than most AIO and pocket diapers, and the snap in inserts are almost always made from natural fibers.
Flat, fitted, prefold and countour diapers become a complete diapering system when used with a waterproof diaper cover. The cover can be pull on style, or wrap around style, closing with velcro or snaps.
For the baby with sensitive skin there are also wool and fleece diaper covers. Some prefer these covers for night-time use because they breathe.
Doublers are thick rectangular pads that can be inserted between your baby’s bottom and the diaper to provide extra absorbency. These are great for heavy wetters or for night-time use.
Fitted diapers are similar to AIO diapers, except for they do not have a waterproof layer built in, so a waterproof cover is needed under most circumstances. Personally, I like to let my baby to wear them around the house without a cover so her bottom can “breathe”, and frankly, some fitteds are just too cute to cover up! You must use a cover if your baby is wearing a fitted under clothing. Fitted diapers are fastened with either velcro, snaps or sometimes a snappi (or pin).
Flat diapers refer to the single-ply square shaped diapers that resemble the diapersour mothers and grandmothers used. They are great for anyone that does not have easy access to a washer/dryer as they hand wash very easily and line dry in just a couple hours! There are many different ways to fold flat diapers, and often they can be a little intimidating. I suggest starting with the “pad fold”, it doesn’t require a snappi or pin, and is so simple my 12 year old daughter can do it!! YouTube is an amazing resource for learning to fold flat diapers! Flat diapers are the most economical diaper available, and can even be made out of receiving blankets or towels.
Hemp is a course fiber made from the inner bark of the hemp plant. It is becoming increasingly popular for use in diapers because of its durability, absorbency and natural anti-microbial properties.
Hybrid diapers consist of a 3 part diapering system that includes a waterproof shell/cover, a reuseable insert and a disposable insert option. Several examples are the Flip system, the G-Diaper system and the Grovia system. These are a great for vacations, on the go, daycare or families that still aren’t 100% sure about using cloth and still want to have a disposable option. You use the shell just like you would use a diaper cover (in fact, you CAN use it as a diaper cover as well) and use it with either the cloth or the disposable insert depending on your current preference or situation.
Liners are thin material used between a baby’s bottom and the diaper itself. Most liners are used to keep stool away from diapers for easy clean up. You can also purchase flushable biodegradable liners. As an alternative you can use flat diapers to keep costs down and still keep natural soft fabrics against your baby’s skin.
Pre-fold diapers are rectangular shaped diapers that are divided lengthwise in 3 sections. The outer sections usually have a thickness of 4 layers. The middle section can have 6 or 8 layers. This gives pre-folds absorbency where it is needed most, in the middle. You will often see prefolds defined as 4-6-4, 4-8-4 or more rarely 2-4-2. These numbers refer to the layers of cloth in each section from left to right. Pre-folds are the cheapest alternative in diapers after flats. Like flats, there are many different ways to fold prefold diapers. Some folds will require a pin or snappi, while others do not. YouTube is an incredible resource for learning to fold prefold diapers.
Pocket diapers feature a waterproof exterior, a stay dry poly-fleece lining, elasticized legs and waist with snap or velcro closures. Similar to an AIO, but equipped with a pocket which can be stuffed with various absorbant pads. The advantage of pocket diapers is that you can customize the absorbancy, and they have the ease of an AIO, without the longer drying time.
Snap-to-Fit Diapers A.K.A. ”OS” or “One Size” Diapers
Snap to fit diapers are diapers with added snaps to provide a flexible fit for babies and toddlers. The snaps are located just below the fasteners with tops and bottoms lined up vertically. This allows you to adjust the size of a diaper as the baby grows. This feature allows for one diaper to fit from about 10 pounds all the way up until potty learning!
The term soaker is used for two different things. First, this word refers to the middle layer of the diaper. Often this layer is made of a different fabric than the rest of the diaper, one that is more absorbent. The term soaker is also use in reference to wool or fleece diaper covers. Unlike other diaper covers, wool and fleece are water resistant, rather than waterproof. They do allow some wetness to wick through from the diaper but still manage to keep babies’ clothes dry.
Wool is a fabric made of fleece of sheep or lamb. Its water repelling properties and breathability are what make it popular for use as a diaper cover. Most cloth diaperers save their wool covers for night-time use since it is bulkier than their vinyl or polyester counterparts. Many choose wool because it is natural. Take special care when washing and drying your wool products or they will shrink, dry out and become stiff.
Abbreviations commonly used in the cloth diapering boards:
PPD - “postage paid” means shipping and PayPal fees are included in the price of the item.
AIO – All in One diaper
AI2 – All in Two diaper
BF – Breastfeed(ing)
BTDT – Been there done that
BTW – By the way
CD – cloth diaper
CDF – Cloth Diaper Foundation
Crunchy – Natural lifestyle
CPF – Chinese prefold (refers to where the cotton was grown)
DD – Dear Daughter (can use #s to distinguish birth order)
DH – Dear/Darling/D@$n Husband (depending on the situation)
DS – Dear Son (can use #s to distinguish birth order)
DSQ – Diaper service quality
EC – Excellent condition OR Elimination Communication
EUC – Excellent used condition
F&C – Free & Clear (used referring to detergents)
FLer – Front loader washing machine
FFS – Free for Shipping
FM – Fluffy Mail
FS – For sale
FSOT – For sale or trade
FRB – Flat Rate Box (Priority Mail)
FYI – For your information
GUC – Good used condition
HE – High efficiency (when referring to washing machines)
Hyena – A term for hard to get, popular diapers that are stalked by diaper hungry moms
IHA – I have available
IPF – Indian Prefold (refers to where the cotton was grown)
IMO – In my opinion or IMHO – in my humble/honest opinion
ISO – In search of
ITA – I totally agree
KWIM – Know what I mean
LMK – Let me know
LO – Little one
LOL – Laugh out loud
MF – microfiber inserts
MMAO – Make me an offer
NAK – Nursing at Keyboard
NIP or BNIP – New in Package or brand new in package
NWT – New with Tags (for items that don’t have a package
NWOT – New without Tags (person may have removed tags and then not used the item)
OBO – Or Best Offer
OBV- Organic bamboo velour (type of fabric)
OT- Off topic
PPL or PP – PayPal
PP – previous post(er)
PUL – polyurethane laminate, a material used to make diaper covers/wraps waterproof
RLR – not really an abbreviation but the name of a laundry treatment some use to strip diapers.
ROFLOL – rolling on the floor, laughing out loud
SAHM – stay-at-home mom
Sposies – disposable diapers (any brand)
TLer – Top loader washing machine
TPU – Thermoplastic Polyurethane, anotBher type of waterproofing material used in diapers
WAHM – Work-at-home mom
VGUC – Very Good Used Condition
Diaper Brands Commonly Referred To With Abbreviations:
When I first started chatting on cloth diapering groups and online forums I was totally LOST when it came to the “lingo”! If you are feeling lost as well, or just wonder what the heck some of the abbreviations mean, this handy list will make you very happy…..
BB- Best Bottoms
BG – BumGenius (add 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 or 4.0 to specify version)
BGE- Bumgenius Elemental (organic)
BSRB- Bagshor Row Bamboo
CR – Comfy Rumps
FMBG – Full Moon Baby Gear
FB or FBZ – Fuzzi Bunz
GAD – Green Acre Designs
GMD – Green Mountain Diapers (DSQ prefolds)
GM – Goodmamas
HH – Happy Heiny’s
JSB – Just Simply Baby
LC – Little Caboose
ME – Motherease
RAR or RARZ – Rumparooz
SEZ – Snap E-Z
What Do I Need To Get Started?
- 24-36 Cloth Diapers (Depending on how often you plan to wash, also keep in mind that newborns go through about 12 diapers in 24 hours and older babies go through about 6-8)
- 6-10 Covers if using prefolds, countours or fitteds (Newborns will need more covers since their poo tends to be more runny/messy)
- 48-72 Cloth Wipes
- Cloth Wipe Solution
- 2 Large Wet Bags or Pail Liners
- 1 Small Wetbag For Diaper Bag
- 24-36 Doublers (extra absorbancy for naps, night time or heavy wetters)
- 2-4 Snappis (If using prefolds, countours or fitteds without closures)
- Cloth Diaper Safe Detergent
- Diaper Sprayer (Optional)
- Clothesline or Drying Rack (Optional) (You can also hang diapers to dry on your shower rod, towel racks etc.)
How do I wash my cloth diapers?
There are many different opinions when it comes to cloth diaper washing routines. Below is the routine that has worked best for me, and I believe it is the most popular amongst the various wash routines out there.
Step 1: Remove poo from diaper as soon as possible and place diaper in wetbag or pail liner. (You can omit the step for removing the poo from the diaper if you have an exclusively breastfed newborn, ebf poo just washes right out!)
Step 2: “Pre-rinse”-Take full wetbag or pail to washer, place everything in washer and do a cold wash/rinse cycle with just water.
Step 3: “Wash”- Next, do a hot wash/cool rinse cycle with your favorite cloth diaper friendly detergent.
Step 4: “Post-rinse”- End your wash routine with another cool rinse cycle.
Step 5: Place all prefolds, countours, fitteds &/or pocket inserts in dryer and tumble dry on low heat. Hang dry all covers and shells to keep them in tip-top condition, however, if you are in a pinch it is OKAY to put them in the dryer every now & then. If you use all-in-one cloth diapers hang drying is best, but it can take a long time, so depending on how much time you have you may prefer to dry them in the dryer, which is also okay. NEVER USE FABRIC SOFTNER OR DRYER SHEETS AT ANYTIME!! If you notice the diapers that you air dryed are a bit “crispy” simply place them in the dryer on low heat for 10 min. and they will go back to their soft, fluffy selves.
What about stains?
When I first heard about putting cloth diapers in the sun to get rid of stains I thought “pssshhh, yeah right”!!! I never thought “sunning” would actually work, but much to my surprise, it did! Simply place stained diapers in the sun BEFORE drying them and you too will be amazed at how the stains will virtually disappear within hours.
You can also apply a product called “Bac Out” to diapers right after spraying/removing poo, then place diaper in wetbag/pail liner as an excellent way to prevent stains.
Oxyclean can be added to the pre-rinse cycle to help prevent stains & amonia build-up.
How do I know which detergents are cloth diaper friendly?
Detergents used for cloth diapers should not contain enzymes, perfumes, optical brightners, fabric softners or any other component that is meant to stay on the fabric after washing.
Here is a list of some of the most popular cloth diaper friendly detergents available:
*Country Save Powder
*All Free & Clear
*Mountain Green Free & Clear
*Mountain Green Free & Clear Baby
*Tide Original Powder
*Biokleen Liquid Detergent
*Nellie’s All Natural Laundry Soda
*Planet Ultra Powder
*Planet 2X Ultra
*Seventh Generation Delicate Care
*Thirsties Super Wash
*Vaska Scent Free
Reviews coming soon!! If you are a company with a cloth diaper friendly detergent that you would like to be reviewed on this blog please e-mail email@example.com.
Keeping amonia at bay….
1. Keep an open pail. Many of the reactions that turn urea back into ammonia are
anaerobic (don’t use oxygen), so keeping the lid off will keep a higher
concentration of oxygen circulating around your diapers.
2. Wash frequently with vinegar in the pre-rinse. Ammonia is basic and vinegar is
an acid. An acid plus a base makes a salt and water. Usually the salt is water
soluble, which makes it easier to get rid of in your wash.
3. Keep your diaper pail somewhere cool. Reaction rates double for every 10
degrees celcius rise in temperature. Therefore, if your house goes from 20
degrees in the winter to 30 degrees in the summer, you will get ammonia problems
twice as often in the summer.
4. Don’t use baking soda unless you want to have to use more vinegar. Baking soda
is a base, so you will need more vinegar to neutralize both the baking soda and
5. Use enough soap in the wash to actually get your diapers clean. Getting rid of
the bacteria (soap doesn’t usually kill bacteria, just interacts with their
ability to adhere to the fabric), will keep your ammonia problems at
6. After your cold prerinse, wash in the hottest water you can to completely
dissolve the ammonia salts that are present in the diapers.
What type of soap you use probably won’t affect things much. Some people find that
Bac Out seems to get rid of their problems. It has no caustic ingredients (no
bases), so it will not contribute to the problem anyway. Your cheapest method
will probably be to find cheap vinegar in bulk and a laundry detergent that you
can buy locally that has no dyes, brighteners or enzymes.
Some folks swear by adding normal, cheap white vinegar to every pre-rinse to keep amonia at bay. I have heard too much amonia can damage PUL and elastic, so when I use it I do so sparingly!
If you do get a case of “the stinkies”, or you notice your diapers aren’t absorbing as well as they used to (build up) then ladies, it’s time to start stripping!!
No, I don’t mean it’s time to take your clothes off! About every 3 months it’s a good idea to give your cloth diapers a good stripping. No matter what type of cd friendly detergent you use, after so many washes build up is bound to happen . No need to fret, just follow these 3 easy steps, and you’ll be a professional stripper in no time! (Okay, pun intended, but we’ve got to have a little fun while we’re at it!)
1. Start by putting clean cloth diapers into your washer and do a cold wash cycle with the juice of 1 lemon and a cap of Calgon water softner.
2. Add a couple squirts of blue dawn dishwashing liquid and wash on hot.
3. Continue to do as many hot wash cycles (water only) as needed until you do not see any more bubbles coming out of the rinse water.
Cloth Diaper Reviews- Coming soon!
If you are a cloth diaper manufacturer, retailer or wahm and have a cloth diaper that you would like to be reviewed on this blog and listed on this page contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eco-Crazy Mom’s favorite online cloth diaper retailers:
I am not sponsored or compensated in any way by any of the websites below, I doubt they even know I am promoting them!
www.KellysCloset.com Great rewards program & frequent online coupon codes for FREE diapers!! PLUS free shipping on orders over $50.00.
www.GreenMountainDiapers.com The BEST place to buy flats & prefolds!
Eco-Crazy Mom’s favorite places to buy gently used diapers:
http://community.babycenter.com/groups/a69805/cloth_diaper_swap (Must request membership)
http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/ClothDiaperSwap/?ap=1 (Must Request Membership)
What if I cannot afford to start a stash?
The start up cost of building a stash can be challenging for many families, but I am a firm beliver in the cliche “if there’s a will, there’s a way”! Here a few tips and ideas to help you get started…..
-Start building your stash as early in your pregnancy as possible. At the least, disposables are going to cost you $10-$15 per week, so pretend like you already have that expense and buy 1-2 new diapers every week. Or, if you are going the prefolds/covers route then buy a dozen prefolds every 2 weeks (until you have enough), and then buy a cover or two every week until your stash is complete. Remember, once you complete your stash, you NEVER have to buy diapers again!
-If you are pregnant, register for cloth diapers & accessories for your baby shower.
-Get creative!! Buy gently used covers and use inexpensive receiving blankets, flour sack towels or dish towels as flats. You can also cut up flannel receiving blankets to make wipes & diaper liners. Also, check out this Youtube tutorial on how to make a diaper out of a t-shirt!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZylURee4klQ
-Buy gently used diapers, there are tons of great deals out there if you are patient, and you watch for them. You may even get lucky and come across some FFS (free for shipping) diapers! (See websites for buying used diapers above)
-There are non-profit organizations out there that help low income families with a “starter stash” of cloth diapers. Check out http://www.givingdiapersgivinghope.org/ and http://www.clothcooperative.org/.
What if I do not have access to a washer and dryer?
Flats with diaper covers are an excellent choice if you do not have access to a washer and dryer, or cannot afford to wash your diapers at public laundry facilities. I recently participated in a “flats challenge” which requred handwashing and using only flat diapers with diaper covers for one week. For the challenge I chose to make a “camp style bucket washer” and let the diapers/covers line dry. I was really impressed with how simple this system was and loved using the flat diapers so much I am still using them in my diaper rotation on a regular basis. You can learn all about the flats challenge and see videos on how to fold flats, make a camp style washer and more here http://dirtydiaperlaundry.com/take-the-flats-and-handwashing-challenge-may-23-30/.
More info. on cloth diapers coming soon! In the mean time, if you still have questions that have not been answered please e-mail email@example.com and I will post your question and answer ASAP!