Cheap And Easy Cloth Diaper Tutorial

[long post][homemaking] If you're not willing to invest a little bit of time and money in order to save literally thousands of dollars on diapers and wipes, then you might as well stop reading now.

It will take some time, work, and/or money to build your stash. It will also take a little time and effort to get into and maintain a cloth diaper washing routine. If you're still reading, that means you are ready for the next step.

My method is not the easiest way to diaper, nor is it the cheapest way. The easiest way would be to order diapers and wipes online directly to your house. The cheapest way would be to repurpose old towels and t-shirts, use pins and pull-up plastic pants, hand-wash, and hang-dry. Do you want to do either of those? The easiest way will end up costing you thousands of dollars over the course of your first to last diaper change (even on just one baby). The cheapest way sounds like a lot of work and, while sufficient, sounds like it wouldn't be any fun for baby and mama.

You still with me? I'm gonna tell you, in detail, every aspect of my cloth diaper system for the best ratio of ease and cost-effectiveness. Feel free to make adjustments as needed for your family.

I use reusable cloth diapers. My favorite combo is cloth diaper prefolds (100% cotton) with cheap PUL covers. The cotton prefolds are worth investing in. The best ones I could find were still only $2-3 each. They are super absorbent, easy to wash and dry, durable, and multi-use (when no one is using a certain size, I sanitize them and use them for kitchen rags). When you have something so absorbent inside your diapers, your covers don't have to work as hard. I am often able to use a cloth diaper cover multiple times because of how absorbent the prefold is. When Jojo starts getting a little rashy, I switch to wool diaper covers. But even if your child doesn't have sensitive skin, you'll want to pick up one or two wool covers for nighttime use. Wool isn't as waterproof or as easy to care for as PUL but wool does have really cool properties like being able to hold extra moisture, it's naturally antibacterial, and it has way better air flow than the waterproof stuff.

  • Obtaining your cloth diaper stash.
You will save the most money if you buy used cloth diapers or somehow get them for free perhaps via hand-me-downs or put this stuff on your baby registry. If you don't know anyone who cloth diapers that you can buy from, you can try various cloth diaper buy/sell/trade (aka b/s/t) Facebook groups. There are different groups for specific brands and types. Just beware of shady trades - be careful. Here are some of my favorite Facebook cloth diaper b/s/t groups: wool only (I think you can get prefolds on here too), sloomb, the big cloth diaper b/s/t group that I liked was closed but you can find another one easily.

DO NOT BUY that Gerber garbage. You need real 100% cotton prefolds. I am not sponsored by them but I have tried a few brands and have found that Green Mountain Diapers, hands down, sells the best ones. You can buy cloth diapers online. If you buy brand new prefolds, they will come "unprepped". How to prep prefolds: you have to wash and dry them several times before all the natural oils were stripped and they "quilt up" and reached maximum absorbency. You can get away with only washing and drying them two or three times before using, but keep in mind they won't be at full absorbency until a few more wash and dry cycles. You can speed this up, if you want, by boiling the diapers in water with dish soap beforehand. OR you can get them used (just make sure they are thick and "pillowy" and wash with bleach before using). How many diapers: you'll want 24-36 depending on how often you do laundry. (You can get away with 18 if you wash everyday or ever other day and you have a toddler.) (If you are pregnant or have a newborn, you will want 36 unless you do laundry everyday or every other day and YOU WILL NEED the newborn size - yes, even if you make big babies.) The medium size will do the job from infancy to potty-training (excluding the newborn phase). You can skip the small size. If your baby is already big and you don't plan on having more, you can get the intermediate size or whatever it's called. It's like a medium but a tiny bit wider. It works perfectly for laying inside of covers. I am currently cloth diapering a toddler and I have 18 prefolds in my rotation.

YOU WILL WANT this amazing invention called a Snappi. You can roll up the sides of the prefold and use the Snappi to secure the diaper to your baby. They are easier and safer than traditional safety pins. The reason, you want to do this is to prevent runny poops from getting on or out of the cover. If your baby has solid poops already, please disregard this as you can simply use the "tri-fold" method - simply fold the prefold so that it looks like a long skinny rectangle and lay it on the cover - it's way faster and easier.  You can buy Snappi's from GMD - or (by the way, this post contains affiliate links) Amazon - three for $10 on both sites. You can often find these used too.

You'll want to get the cheapest one-size cloth diaper covers you can find OR Diaper Safari one-size covers if you have the money (I have a few and they are, by far, my favorite covers I've ever tried. They don't leak or sag and they look nice.). They are $9.95 each on Amazon. Used covers are totally fine though. You can sanitize them with a non-chlorine bleach like Oxi-clean or just straight hydrogen peroxide. You can also get pocket diaper shells and use them as covers if they're cheaper than regular covers. You can get six for $26.97 on Amazon. Most diaper covers are made out of PUL or TPU. Both of these materials are waterproof and machine-washable. The one-size covers are the best because you can use them from infancy to potty-training. How many cloth diaper covers: you'll want 12-24 depending on how often you do laundry. You can get closer to 12 if you live somewhere warm and plan on letting baby lay coverless on a towel during naps and playtime or if you plan on letting your toddler play outside a lot. I currently have 16 covers in my rotation.

(microfiber vs cotton cloth diapers: If you get pocket diapers, they will come with microfiber inserts. You can use these instead of the prefolds if you want, but they're not as easy to get clean and you have to do a special deep clean wash on them every month or so. Additionally, although the microfiber insert is a bit thinner than a prefold (aka "trim"), it's not natural and is generally not safe to use directly on the baby's skin for prolonged periods. Save them for cleaning or for nighttime use. Plus, they don't prevent "blow-outs" like a Snappi-ed prefold does.)

In my cloth diaper experience, what I'm about to share with you is the only cloth diaper system that lasts all night (and, trust me, I've tried (and wasted money on) A LOT of stuff). I put a microfiber insert and one or two organic bamboo fleece doublers inside the pocket of a pocket diaper. The liner in the pocket diaper wicks moisture away from the baby's skin, keeping them dry and comfortable. The microfiber is the layer closer to the baby because it is thin but absorbs moisture quickly. The organic bamboo fleece absorbs more slowly but holds way more, so that's why you'll want both in there. On top of this all, I also add a wool cover to handle any leaks. If you find that your pocket diaper is leaking about half of the time or more, then add another OBF doubler. So, if you plan to cloth diaper at nighttime, you will need at least two wool covers, at least two pocket diapers, at least two microfiber pocket diaper inserts (they usually come with the pocket diapers), and at least two organic bamboo fleece doublers. You will want more if you don't do laundry everyday or every other day. I only use the Sloomb organic bamboo fleece inserts. Get them used if you can because they are $5 each brand new. (Get a lot if you're open to using them for your period. I do, and the medium ones are suuuuuper comfy in a pair of snug-fitting underwear - way more comfy than a plastic pad. I even turned my best friend on to them and she doesn't even cloth diaper - nor does she have kids. You can double them up if one isn't absorbent enough for you. They also don't STINK like disposable ones do. Just wash them with your cloth diapers - you don't even have to pre-wash them. #mamacloth)

Wool covers for rashy babies. As I mentioned above, I switch to wool covers when Jojo starts to get a little rashy. I also use them at night. For daytime use, you can either use them exactly the same as the PUL diapers or you can use a pull-on cover over a Snappi-ed prefold. I currently have seven wool covers in my rotation. You'll want more if you choose to use wool exclusively. To save money, your best bet will be to get used wool covers. But if you have the money, my favorite are the knit wool covers from Sloomb.

  • Cloth diaper laundry routine
How to wash prefolds: I get as much of the poop off of the poopy ones in the toilet (sometimes even kinda hand-washing them in the toilet if it's not a "roll-off", but you don't have to do that; you can buy something called the Spray Pal if you don't want to touch toilet water) and then put them in with my towels, rags, sheets, socks, and underwear load. I try to get the poop off right away but it's okay to let a couple dirty diapers pile up a little bit sometimes. The pee ones, I just put straight into the laundry. Any detergent is fine but I think Tide powder works the best. DO NOT use fabric softener on your diapers! It will make them repel moisture. I use bleach in every load. You don't have to but I feel like this gets them the cleanest and I never have to rewash because they don't smell clean after one load. I dry them on high heat. (I would hang-dry but the climate here in Tacoma, Washington is not conducive for that and we don't have any kind of dehumidifying system to dry indoors.) I also wash my nighttime inserts with the prefolds.

How to wash cloth diaper covers (PUL): I just throw them in with our clothes since I wash all our clothes on gentle anyway. (I pretreat stains and then wash all of our clothes on gentle to prolong the life of our clothes to ... dun duh dun! ... save money.) I dry it all together on low heat. If any of your covers ever lose all their waterproofing, don't throw them away! You can use those as reusable swim diapers.

How to wash wool diaper covers: Can you machine wash wool diaper covers? Yes, but wool needs special care so you don't accidentally shrink it or strip it of its natural oils. If the wool feels damp from pee, you should hang-dry it. It shouldn't smell after it's dry, but if it does (or if it got poop on it) you'll have to wash it on a cold gentle cycle with a special wool wash that has lanolin in it. Some ladies like to hand wash theirs but I don't got time for that. DO NOT DRY WOOL IN THE DRYER! Stretch the wool after the spin cycle is done and then hang-dry or dry flat on a towel or special drying rack if you have one. It's normal if it takes a long time. How to sanitize wool diaper covers: you can put it in the sun but beware of discoloration if you leave it out for a long time and/or the sunlight is coming in really strong.

  • Cloth diaper storage
I have a place in the bathroom where I store the clean diapers. Once they come out of the dryer (okay, sometimes not right away), I assemble my diapers by trifolding a prefold into a cover. I keep the extra prefolds in a separate pile in the same area. I have a comfy bathroom mat that I lay the baby on to change her. As I mentioned earlier, I clean the poopy prefold in the toilet after the diaper change is over and put the prefold in one laundry basket (will my towels and stuff) and the dirty cover in another laundry basket (with my clothes). If the cover isn't dirty, I use it again right away or later depending on how fast I needed the diaper change to be.

We haven't talked about wipes yet. I have tried to make and use reusable cloth wipes but it wasn't worth it to me. I don't like wiping off poop with a cloth wipe, and then having to prewash the poop off the wipes into the toilet. Since I mostly use cotton prefolds, I just use a corner of the already-dirty diaper to get most of the mess so I only have to clean one thing. I used to finish up with water-less cleanser (like one that Cetaphil or Baby Magic make) and wipe again with another corner of the diaper, but now I just use cheap store-brand wipes that I buy in bulk. It's good to try to have all of this stuff in one place, like a little cloth diaper and accessory station.

If you plan on using cloth diapers out and about, what I like to do is use pocket diapers with a prefold trifolded and inserted into the pocket. I roll the dirty ones up and stash them in my diaper bag until we get home and deal with them there. And cloth diapers for child care situations? Whether it's a babysitter, a family member, or the church nursery, just tell them it's exactly like using a "regular" diaper except you don't throw them away! And you can provide them a reusable "wet bag" or a grocery sack.

I hope you found my tutorial informative! I actually LIKE using cloth diapers. After using (what I feel are yucky) disposable diapers for the past couple of months during a long move, I was really excited to get settled into our own home so I could start cloth diapering again. I think Jojo looks much cuter in cloth, too - so cute that it inspired me to write this blog post! And yes, I could have kept using cloth while moving/traveling but I didn't want to. I just bought Huggies in bulk on Amazon to make life easier without spending too much. I know there are cheaper disposables than Huggies. I tried several and they all made Jojo terribly rashy - Huggies don't.

P.S. If you like learning about simple and easy to apply methods for saving money and getting your budget organized and under control (all that kind of stuff), I highly recommend Mom Mastery University! Yes, there is a monthly membership fee, but I can tell you it is worth it! I save more than what I spend on my membership every month by applying what I've learned from the many amazing finance courses. There is also a money-making opportunity and many courses on other topics designed for moms. If you decide to sign up, let them know sent you so we can be goal mates!

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