Frequently Asked Questions about Cloth Diapers
How many diapers should I buy?
According to cloth diapering resource/retailer Cotton Babies, you should start out with 12-18 diapers that will fit your newborn. Older babies need fewer than that. Depending on how often you want to do laundry, prepare for about 8 diaper changes a day, plus whatever you’ll use at night.
What else do I need?
A wet bag is good for bringing home a wet diaper or two if you’re out for the day. Lots of parents use reusable wipes since these get thrown in the wash along with the diapers. You can pre-moisten and use a wipes warmer or else buy or make a spray to keep next to your stash. You’ll also want a diaper pail with a liner that can get tossed into the laundry. And once your baby eats solid food, a diaper sprayer that attaches to your toilet is good for initial de-grossing.
Do I need to wash my diapers before using them?
Most all-in-one diapers need only one wash before use. White prefolds should be washed 3-5 times before use. Unbleached prefolds and hemp diapers will need 5-8 washes in hot water to prevent leaks.
How do I wash diapers at home?
- Wash on cold.
- Wash again on warm or hot (with detergent both times).
- Add an extra rinse to the second wash. (This can help eliminate odors.)
- Line dry or tumble dry.
- Skip fabric softeners, whiteners, and pure soap.
- Wool covers should be hand-washed in cold and laid flat to dry.
- Check this list of cloth-diaper-friendly detergents.
- Find more tips at Cloth Diaper 101
- Wash and dry diapers at home in water no hotter than 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line dry (or at least minimize tumble drying).
- Use a high-efficiency washer and dryer.
- Wash as many diapers at a time as possible.
Are there any good disposable diapers out there?
While no single diapering system comes without flaws, there are some really good disposable diapers that address a number of environmental and health concerns. If you’re interested in more natural disposables (gel- and chlorine-free), check Grist’s comprehensive review.
One Dad Shows You His Detailed Steps to Cleaning Cloth Diapers
How do I know when to stop using cloth diapers?
One of the oft-heralded pros of cloth diapering is the speedy potty training it can encourage. Toddlers start to feel wet in cloth diapers and become more attuned to when they need to use the potty. You might stop using diapers altogether at an earlier age.
You might want to take breaks from cloth for a long trip or if you use a diaper service at home and don’t want to lug all the dirty diapers back with you.
We know moms and dads who’ve taken breaks from cloth diapering when they needed to eliminate a chore from the list.
Ultimately some families will find that disposables are the right choice. Others are committed to cloth diapering 24/7 from birth to potty training. As a try-as-much-as-I-can-please-don’t-judge-me-for-not-doing-more cloth diapering mom, I hope diaper choices aren’t just another opportunity for judgment on the playground. If you’re up for cloth diapering, give it a try. If you know it’s not for your family, let’s at least dispose of the guilt.