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Cloth Diapering: How to start


I began cloth diapering my first child at three months, literally trying every kind of diaper and doing laundry in a tiny portable washing machine in our apartment bathroom. With my second and third child, I cloth diapered from birth. My third is five months and recently we have transitioned from pre-folds and all-in-ones to fitted diapers with covers.

Everyone has different reasons for cloth diapering whether it be environmental concerns, skin sensitivities, cost saving. I personally, chose to cloth diaper because I wanted to minimize the chemicals that were in contact with my baby’s skin, prevent diaper rash and ease the toileting transition. A wonderful bonus of course was keeping disposable diapers out of the landfill and seeing my babies’ bums in cute cloth diapers.

You can cloth diaper even if you use a laundromat though you may have to deal with residue from previous patrons’ usage of the machines. You can cloth diaper at home and use disposables when you are out and about. You can use cloth diapers but not cloth wipes. You can do as much or as little cloth diapering as you feel comfortable with. There is no right way, just the way that’s right for you and your baby.

Each cloth diapering family has their preferences and over the course of several articles I will be discussing cloth diapering jargon and recommending different websites, cloth diapers, services, accessories (diaper pails, leg warmers), butt creams, soaps, cloth wipes, etc. But as a cloth diapering mom, the most common questions I get are “how do I get started?” “what is the easiest system to use?” and “can anyone really do it?”

So this post will be for those parents who want to give it a try for the first time with what I consider to be the two simplest and most versatile systems.

For first time cloth diapering parents, I always suggest mastering cloth diapering during the day at home and laundering the diapers before moving on to nighttime cloth diapering, on the go cloth diapering, cloth wipes and wipe recipes, inserts, etc.

It is a an initial financial investment but from personal experience I can say that over the long run you do save money, I am still using the set of diapers that I bought in 2009 for my first baby, now in 2014 for my third and they will have enough wear in them to gift them to a friend once my daughter begins toileting.

Below I have included several different brands for the various diapers, covers, garbage pails etc. Feel free to mix and match.


2 dozen prefold diapers, sized for your baby:

Snappi Cloth Diaper Fasteners


2 dozen fitted diapers, sized for your baby:


6 diaper covers (I prefer snaps to velcro but you may want to buy 3 of each to see which you prefer):

garbage pail with lid:

Earth’s Best Chlorine Free Baby Wipes

Charlie’s soap

washing machine with sanitary or extra hot cycle


  • prefolds require laundering prior to use prepping prefolds for use
  • learn how to fold a prefold diaper using a snappi  or without
  • once the prefold diaper or fitted diaper is snapped on snug, place diaper cover over it and make the cover snug
    • cloth diapers will make your baby’s bum bigger than a disposable diaper so you may need to size pants up
  • for a pee diaper throw it into the pail and let the diaper cover air out
  • for poopy diapers it will be a little messy but you can swish the diaper in the toilet or use a spoon to scrape the poop into the toilet and then place diaper into pail
  • if the diaper cover has a substantial amount of poop on it, place it in pail
    • if it’s just a little smudge, hand wash the spot and air dry so that you don’t run out of diaper covers before you need to do a full load of diaper laundry
  • use disposable wipes as you would if you were using disposable diapers
  • you will need to launder every 2-3 days depending on how fast your baby soils her diapers
  • to launder cloth diapers and covers, use appropriate amount of Charlie’s soap for load size (usually 1 scoop)
    • (optional cold water pre-soak)
    • run extra hot or sanitary cycle
    • (optional extra rinse)
    • you can use Charlie’s soap for all your laundering needs not just diapers to keep things simple
  • dry on high heat
    • when drying the diapers, it helps to include a dry towel which will speed up the drying process
    • I have found that you can launder the Earth’s Best disposable wipes along with the cloth diapers and use them around the house like paper towels
    • you can also dry the diapers/covers with other household laundry that can be dried at high heat
    • when laundering the cloth diapers, make use of the cycle and include other things around the house that may need an extra hot cycle - like mildewy shower curtains, bath mats, towels, dish rags


  • Give it a try and expect mistakes as you go along, there will be leaks, there may be stains, you may discover that you have hard water
  • Some babies have poop that stains which you can either ignore as a cosmetic issue or treat
  • Occasionally, babies have reactions to cloth diapering
  • Check back for further articles on cloth diapering and leave your questions in the comments, I’m happy to help you on your cloth diapering journey!

you may also be interested in:

Essential Potty Training Gear Potty Training at 2 Infant Sleep Training Books