Cloth Diapering Update: What Real Life Experience Has Taught Me

I think it’s about time that I wrote an update to my original posts about cloth diapering.  I love it when I get a chance to talk to people about cloth diapers, especially someone who’s just beginning to consider cloth or is just starting to delve into the world of cloth diapers.  It always brings me right back to the time when I was pregnant with Alex and trying to make sense of all the options and advice out there.  It can be confusing, overwhelming, and daunting!  No, cloth diapering is nothing new (our grandmothers all did it, after all), but, unlike our grandmothers, we have a lot more choices now.  Cloth diapering is more convenient than ever, but the decisions are more difficult.

While I was pregnant the first time, I wrote a post detailing exactly what diapers we purchased to begin with before Alex was born, including prices, pictures, and where we bought them.  At the end there is a summary of the different types of cloth diapers, because that was really confusing for me at first.

Now, here is a short update on what I’ve learned since actually using cloth diapers for two years.  Our original stash was a good one, but there are just a few things we’ve learned along the way:

Types of Diapers-

  1. We really love using prefolds and I would absolutely recommend them as your primary diaper.  P.S. We quit using Snapis a long time ago.  We simply tri-fold them and lay them in the cover.  Snapis might still be nice for really little babies, but once Alex got a little bigger tri-folding was the way to go.  I’ll let you know if we use snapis again with the new baby.

    a size 2 prefold, before initial stripping

    a size 2 prefold, before initial stripping

  2. We have accumulated a few different brands of all-in-ones, but didn’t find them as reliable as the good old prefold and cover.  They are more likely to leak & aren’t as versatile.  They are easier, though, especially for grandparents or babysitters.
  3. We DO love pocket diapers, specifically several Kawaii pockets which we have gotten for free with our orders from Kelly’s Closet.  They’re easy to use, a little more trim than a prefold, and they keep the wetness off of baby’s skin.  Downsides: no double gussets for extra poo insurance, they aren’t made of that nice organic cotton like our prefolds, and you have to wash the whole thing after one use.

    a couple of our Kawaii brand pockets

       a couple of our Kawaii brand pockets

Sizes of Diapers and Covers-

  1. You can get by with using one-size diapers and covers, but I would recommend getting some that come in at least a couple of different sizes.  The one-size diapers can be really bulky on a tiny baby, even after they’ve left the newborn stage.  Another option is to just use disposables for the first couple of weeks until your baby grows into the one-size diapers a little more, but if one of your reasons for cloth diapering includes protecting your baby from the chemicals in sposies, that may not appeal to you. Alex was 8 pounds at birth, so if he was swallowed up in a one-size diaper, a 5 or 6 pound baby would be even more so.  Buying 2 sizes of prefolds and covers wasn’t a huge expense (and we didn’t have to buy the second size right away), but I recognize that if you’re going with pockets or all-in-ones as your main diaper then it’s going to get a little more expensive.  See my post about our beginning stash to compare prices.

    a package of size 2 prefolds

            a package of size 2 prefolds

Number of Diapers

  1. Although the number of prefolds we started out with (24) would have been ok if that was all we could afford, we did end up with another dozen or so to safeguard against running out.  You should estimate that your newborn is going to use at least 12-18 diapers a day at first, so if you only want to wash diapers every other day….. well, you can do the math.
  2. We started out with 6 covers and I think we now have at least 10.  If your baby doesn’t poop as often as ours you will maybe be ok with 6, but certainly no fewer than that!  Once a cover has been pooped in, you pretty much need to wash it.

Types of Covers

  1. We have answered the big velcro vs. snaps question for ourselves.  Definitely snaps.  Takes a little more time to fasten but lasts longer and looks better after a few months of use.
  2. We have tried a few different types of covers and our favorites, hands down, are Thirsties Duo Wrap covers.  We love the gussets for keeping everything in where it should be!  They come in 2 sizes.

    Thirsties Duo Wrap Cover photo source:

    Thirsties Duo Wrap Cover
    photo source:

Washing Cloth Diapers-

I also wrote a post before Alex was born about washing diapers, and not much has changed, but here are some points to recap:

  1. My husband actually, somehow, became the diaper-washer in our house, something I am A-ok with! He faithfully soaks them every other night, turns on the washer on when he wakes up in the morning, and usually puts them in the dryer before he leaves for work.
  2. We have always used a dry pail in the nursery (with a step-lever lid), and it’s totally the way to go.  We put a big wet bag inside, and then just pull the whole thing out when it’s time to wash.

    Kangarooz Pail Liner photo source:

    Kangarooz Pail Liner
    photo source:

  3. We still use and are happy with Charlie’s Soap (we actually use it for all of our laundry now), we use baking soda and vinegar for odor control, and we use a bit of peroxide to disinfect.  When we need to strip our diapers, we just wash them with some blue dawn and then give them lots and lot of rinses.
  4. We give our prefolds, pockets, all-in-ones, covers, and wet bags the same wash treatment, but we let our covers and wet bags air dry to prolong their life.  The covers dry very quickly on top of the dryer or hung on the laundry room shelf.  Every once in awhile we pop them into the dryer to make sure the PUL stays properly sealed.
  5. The sun is still our favorite way to get rid of stains, although (confession time) we’ve been super lazy about sunning them recently.  I’ve been thinking about where to put up a clothesline, however, so we can get back to that, especially once we’re dealing with those super stainy breastfed poops again…… in only a couple more months!!!!

I hope the things I’ve learned will be helpful to you.  I always welcome questions on things I might not have mentioned.  Happy cloth diapering!!!!


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stephan Spurgeon
    Jan 19, 2016 @ 16:49:28

    Hi there! I am a first time mom and new to cloth diapering. I purchased unbleached cotton prefolds for my baby and am washing in Charlie’s soap. I think the soap or my wash regimen is causing my little one to get diaper rash. I read both of your posts on washing and was wondering if you would be willing to send me your updated wash routine? I was curious if you ended up deciding to disinfect every load and if that second cold wash with detergent was necessary. Thank you for your posts, I’ve really found them helpful!


    • travelnole
      Jan 19, 2016 @ 19:58:33

      I’m so glad you’ve found my posts helpful! I’ll tell you what we do now with the washing. First, a prewash (or quick wash) with baking soda. Then a hot wash cycle (our washer has a sanitary cycle) with detergent (Charlie’s), vinegar, and peroxide. We do an extra rinse at the end of that cycle. I will say that our wash routine is probably overkill, but I would recommend sanitizing them each time if you use Charlie’s. We’ve never had a rash from the diapers. If you want a lot more information about washing diapers, there is a very active Facebook group with admins who consider themselves experts in cloth diaper washing. They don’t even recommend a hot wash (unless you’re using a plant-based detergent) because it’s hard on your diapers and shortens their life. My husband has somehow become the diaper washer in our house, though, and says that what we’re doing works and we’re not changing it! I will say that the extra hot wash cycle gets our diapers VERY clean and we never have to strip them anymore.

      Anyway, that’s what we do. Our second baby is 9 months old and still using the diapers we originally bought, so we’re pleased.

      I’ll be happy to answer any more questions you have. :ĺ


      • Stephan Spurgeon
        Feb 01, 2016 @ 12:12:43

        Thank you so much for your response. I started adding vinegar to the wash to disinfect and wash on the largest load size (for more water) and it’s working great – no more rash! Again, thank you!

      • travelnole
        Feb 01, 2016 @ 13:26:47

        Oh wonderful! I’m so happy to know you solved the problem and how.

  2. Ellie
    Jan 30, 2016 @ 17:01:33

    Your posts about cloth diapering are so helpful! We are planning to use cloth, but I’d gotten nervous about Charlie’s; my sister swears by it and has never had trouble, whereas my sister in law has a friend whose baby got a terrible blistering rash, and a lot of the rhetoric online is so stringent! Out of curiosity, do you have hard water in your area? I was wondering how that might affect diaper washing.


    • travelnole
      Jan 30, 2016 @ 19:12:37

      We have very soft water where we currently live. I do know that if you have hard water you are supposed to add borax to your wash. I do think that if you use Charlie’s you need to use peroxide, or something to kill bacteria. If you do feel uncomfortable with Charlie’s, there are other good detergents out there. I guess I’m one of those people who can swear by Charlie’s though, as our babies have virtually never gotten rashes.


      • Ellie
        Jan 30, 2016 @ 19:38:47

        Fair enough! I really do want to give Charlie’s a try, especially since my husband has really sensitive skin and I’ve heard it can really help with that kind of thing. I also have enough chemistry and microbiology background that I am inherently suspicious of some of the more vitriolic accusations against the brand, because some of the things people are saying just don’t make sense. Anyway, its extremely helpful to read your detailed regimen for a good starting point with our own cloth diapering odyssey.

      • travelnole
        Jan 30, 2016 @ 20:24:34

        I’m so glad you’ve found our experience helpful! If you haven’t seen it already, the Charlie’s website does attempt to explain why some people have had problems with it.

        Good luck! I hope you really love cloth diapering. There can be a lot to learn when you get started, but the many benefits are really worth it, in my opinion.

      • Ellie
        Feb 06, 2016 @ 15:51:35

        In doing further research, I have another question for you! I’ve come across several sources that discourage the use of vinegar and/or peroxide on PUL covers, as these apparently will degrade their integrity. Apparently oxygen bleach is pretty safe on PUL, though. I figure I can either separate out covers from cotton and treat them differently, or I could just use oxygen bleach for disinfecting everything. Have you had any trouble with your PULs leaking after several cycles with vinegar and peroxide?

      • travelnole
        Feb 06, 2016 @ 17:00:07

        We haven’t had any problems. Two babies in, and they’re still working fine! Will they pass down to the next generation? Who knows. 🙂

      • Ellie
        Feb 06, 2016 @ 19:47:04

        Good to know! I also wanted to come back in case others are following our conversation and clarify that I had a total *facepalm* moment when I remembered that hydrogen peroxide is PART of oxygen bleach, duh, so I don’t know what I was thinking there. And on the vinegar note, this is from the FAQ section regarding vinegar (in the context of hard water, though they also recommend it for disinfecting.) “Adding ½ cup vinegar to the first rinse cycle may help. Please do not pour directly onto diapers, but in the water after the washer fills or in the fabric softener cup. It was originally thought that using vinegar would damage laminates. Our supplier has stated that as long as it is diluted in the rinse cycle, it should not cause any damage.”
        Since I plan to use Thirsties brand PUL covers, this was comforting to read.

      • travelnole
        Feb 06, 2016 @ 19:57:58

        Oh thank you for sharing that information! Yes, the amount of either peroxide or vinegar we use isn’t a lot when you consider that it’s diluted into a whole load of water. I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable just soaking my covers in straight vinegar!

    • travelnole
      Jan 30, 2016 @ 19:14:14

      We have very soft water where we currently live. I do know that if you have hard water you are supposed to add borax to your wash. I really believe that if you use Charlie’s you need to also use peroxide, or something to kill bacteria. If you ultimately feel uncomfortable with Charlie’s, there are other good detergents out there. I guess I’m one of those people though who can swear by Charlie’s, as our babies have virtually never gotten rashes!


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