Cloth diapers: what images just popped in your head? Granola types who preach the evils of disposables? Upper-class families, who have nannies to take care of the “dirty work”? Stay-at-home parents too poor to pay for “normal” diapers? Or maybe your parents, berating you with stories of plastic pants and leaks galore?

None of this is across-the-board true of cloth diapers anymore. So, let’s park at the basics, and talk about some of the reasons why it’s not totally insane to give cloth diapers a shot. And the end, I’ll share some visual demonstrations of the basic to-dos.

What this isn’t about

The last thing I want to do is discourage an already-tired parent and make them feel sub-par. If you’ve made a conscious choice to go with disposable diapers, then you do you. (We used a combination of cloth and disposable in our household.)

But it’s a good idea to make a well-informed choice because cloth diapering might not be as hard as you think, and there are benefits you might miss. Ultimately, the best choice is the one that works for your family.

“Why should I even bother? Disposables are easy.”

A valid question. And to be honest, disposables are easy, which is why we still use them from time to time.  In fact, it’s common to use both types.

But cloth diapers are easy, too, once you know how to use them. If you haven’t been around them much, there’s a slight learning curve, but with a little bit of patience and grace, you’ll eventually wonder why you thought they’d be more difficult than disposables.

Cloth diapers 101

“I don’t even know where to begin.”

Read stuff online about cloth diapering, and you’ll read words and phrases like “AIOs,” “pocket diapers,” “fitteds,” “liners,” and “wet bags.” What? It’s a whole other language.

“But… What about pins? Blowouts? Laundry? And the smell?”

Even if you’re convinced there are great reasons to try cloth diapering, and once you understand the different options out there, you still might hesitate.

Maybe you don’t want to deal with extra laundry. Maybe you’re concerned that the cost of water usage offsets any savings from buying disposables. Or let’s be honest—maybe cloth diapering sounds like you’ll be dealing with a lot of poop.

Cloth diapers 101

“Okay, I’m willing to try. But… How?

The best way to cloth diaper is just to start, and you’ll learn soon what works for you and what doesn’t. But, I wished I had someone to show me the nuts and bolts behind what it looks like.

Here’s a few videos I made on how to put on a cloth diaper, then how to wash them.

How to Put on a Cloth Diaper

My middle son, Reed, was a willing participant and star of this first video. (He was born in 2007, so that should give you an indication of this video’s age.)

Products in this video:

How to Clean Cloth Diapers

Every washer and dryer is different, of course. In fact, I’ve since returned to the States since this video was made, and my process here is a smidge different.

Right now, I’ve got a top-loading washer, and I run my diapers through two quick rinses of cold water and a splash of vinegar, then one final wash of hot water and eco-friendly laundry soap. Works perfectly, with no remaining residue or smell.

Cloth diaper 101

Cloth Wipes and Wipe Solution

I also use cloth wipes—washcloths, basically. Our changing station is currently in the bathroom, so I keep a drawer full of thin baby washcloths, and when I’m ready to use one, I wet it with the sink faucet. Easy-peasy.

However, I know lots of people prefer using a wipe solution (I used to), and it’s easy to make. Here’s a simple recipe:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons baby shampoo or soap
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • a few drops of essential oil (optional)

Pour all the ingredients into a spray bottle and shake, then simply spray a washcloth when you’re ready to use one. You can also re-use one of the plastic boxes from traditional wipes, fold washcloths to fit, and pour this solution over the stack and give it a quick shake.

I hope this info helps you make the right decision on diapers.