37 weeks

How to Use Cloth Diapers

Let’s start off by saying that to read this, as opposed to seeing it are two very different things.  There will be lots of words below, and it might seem like a complicated mess to read, but it’s totally simple, once you’re actually doing it.

Also, we love to do one-on-one consultations, it’s kind of our thing.  So give us a call and we can chat all about it in person!


First of all, when you get a new cloth diaper, you need to prep it.  This will wash off any residue from the manufacturing process as well as prepare the fibers for their intended absorbency.  If diapers are pre-loved (aka cloth diaper cutesy talk for used) they should be stripped first.  You can read more about this is How to Wash Cloth Diapers.


How to prepare (prep) diapers for first use:

  1. Separate outer pieces (covers, pockets) from inner pieces (inserts, prefolds, flats).  Separate natural fibers (cotton, hemp) from synthetic fibers (microfiber, microterry, bamboo, charcoal bamboo).  Check manufacturer’s specific instructions (especially for AIOs) and defer to their recommendations, if different from these below.
  2. Find the settings you should use for your specific washer.  ( has a directory of manufacturers and models).  Settings will be different if you have a top loader or front loader.
  3. Take inner pieces with natural fibers, and wash (in hot water cycle with cloth-diaper-friendly soap) and dry (NEVER with fabric softener or dryer sheets.  Can use wool dryer balls, if wanted) 4-6 times. This will strip natural oils that prevent full absorbency. You want these oils out of your diapers, so you need to keep the synthetic materials out for now to prevent them from getting these natural oils on them, since these will repel liquids.  Organic, unbleached cotton may need a few more washes and dries to be fully ready. Cotton prefolds will shrink, quilt, and soften the more you wash them.
  4. Wash synthetic fibers and outer pieces in warm or hot cycle (soap is optional, but recommended).  One cycle is enough. This step is to remove any dirties from manufacturing process. Take out outer pieces and line dry.  Dry inner pieces in dryer.


How to put together a diaper to be ready to use:

  1. Snap the rise snaps (the bottom rows) to fit your baby.  Tuck up, not down to get a good fit on the legs.
  2. Choose the inner pieces you want to use, depending on your absorbency needs, and stuff the diaper (or have a prefold/flat/FST/fitted ready to use)
  3. Add a liner, if you are using one (can be disposable or washable)


When it’s time for a diaper change (every 2-3 hours):

  1. Before starting, have a clean diaper put together and snapped to size
  2. Take off the dirty diaper and set it aside.  
  3. Open the clean diaper under the baby.  Cloth diapers hug baby’s hips (instead of fitting high on the back, like a disposable) so they will lay low across baby’s hips.  
  4. Bring the top part to the front, making sure the leg gussets are tucked securely into the crease at baby’s legs.  The front starts out high on baby’s tummy (but will be below baby’s belly button when you’re done.)  Hug the front flat against baby’s tummy.
  5. Take the side tabs from the back and pull up and around to circle and hug around baby’s hips.  Snap into place starting with hip snaps and then remaining snaps, or velcro.
  6. Tuck in any insert/prefold if it’s sticking out.  Make sure there are no gaps in the legs but that it’s not too tight (should easily pull off when you pull with your finger).  It’s ok if there’s a little belly gap. Baby is free to go!
  7. Now the dirty diaper.  If there’s poop, take it off (by flushing the insert, spraying it off, or however you choose.  You can skip this if baby is exclusively breast fed.) Separate the inner piece from the cover/pocket and put both in the dirty diaper pail.  Your pail should have some ventilation to prevent odors.
  8. If it was pee, take out the liner (if using one.  Trash it if disposable.) If AIO, it goes in the wash.  If pocket, separate inner piece and they both go in the wash.  If cover, put the inner piece in the wash, and put the cover aside to use again next time.
37 weeks

Types of Diapers

There are several types of cloth diapers, both the outside pieces and the inner pieces.  This might sound overwhelming at first, but you’ll learn to love it, because it will give you the flexibility to pick the pieces of your diaper stash to best fit your needs.

By the way, we offer one-on-one consultations to help you sort through the fluff and build your perfect stash.  It’s kind of our thing.  Contact us to set one up!


Let’s start with the part that goes on the outside of the diaper.  These typically do not provide the actual absorbency, the inner piece (get it?) will do that job, but we’ll get to it in a minute.


Covers are the most straightforward way to use cloth diapers.  The cover is a waterproof layer that goes on top of an absorbent inner piece.  Covers are usually the cheapest way to cloth diaper.  The biggest benefit is you can use a cover with any type of inner piece you choose.   And if there’s no poop, you can keep using it without dirtying another diaper cover.  They are typically pretty easy to put together and to use.



A pocket diaper has a pocket for the inner piece.  Pockets are separate from inner pieces (like a cover) but they get dirty every time you use it (like an AIO, below).  They are still very customizable, because you can stuff them with any kind of inner piece you want. But they take a little extra work, because you have to stuff the pockets and make sure the inner pieces lay flat and don’t bunch or wrinkle.


All In One (AIO):

These are a cover and inner piece all sewn together.  They are the most convenient to use, because it’s all one piece, like a disposable.  But they are also typically the most expensive. Also, they have to be washed each time they are used.  They are the least customizable option, but you can add layers for extra absorbency.


All In Two (AI2):

These are basically a cover or pocket that has an inner piece that attaches to the outer piece, usually with snaps.  Your inner piece will stay in place and won’t shift or bunch, which is a benefit. Also, once your diaper is snapped together, it is essentially one piece, like an AIO.  But you have to use the same brand for both pieces, which can make them more expensive and less customizable.  However, you can usually unsnap the branded insert, and use any kind of insert you want.  These are sometimes called hybrids because they can behave like an AIO, or a cover or pocket.


Now, let’s talk about the inner pieces that give the diapers their absorbency:


These are a pad that goes in the center of the diaper or in a pocket.  The come in a variety of materials that will vary in absorbency and thickness.  They are most commonly microfiber, bamboo, hemp, cotton, charcoal bamboo, or a combined layering of these.


Flats (or flour sack towels or FSTs)

These are a large square that can be folded down to lots of different shapes and sizes.  They are what you may think of traditionally when you think of cloth diapers. They are usually cotton and are very easy to wash.  They can be folded very simply (half, then half, then thirds) or in more intricate folds that may take a learning curve to use.  They can be very versatile and are a very low cost alternative for inner pieces.



These are several flats sewn together, with additional layers in the center.  They can be folded into a simple pad shape or into more fitted shapes.  They are also a very versatile and low cost piece to have in your diaper stash.



These are flats material sewn into a diaper shape that fits snug to baby’s bottom. These are highly recommended for newborns.  They are not waterproof and need will need a cover.  However, they can be worn without a cover, if you want to air out baby’s tush, without leaving them completely unprotected in case of an accident.


One final note on the types of materials that make up inserts.  As mentioned above, the inserts are made of various materials, each with different characteristics.  They can be chosen depending on what you need (light wetter vs. heavy wetter, daytime vs. nighttime) or layered for a custom solution for your particular baby.  Below is a quick breakdown of the types of fabrics and their pros and cons:

  • Microfiber– A lot of diapers, especially pockets come with microfiber inserts.  They are a synthetic fabric that absorbs quickly and are inexpensive.  However, they are thick and don’t hold liquid well when squished around.  A very important thing to note is that microfiber CANNOT be used directly against baby’s skin.  It is SO absorbent, that it will dry them out and cause a terrible rash.  They can go in pockets though or be wrapped in flats, prefolds, or FSTs.
  • Hemp– These inserts are touchably soft, and thin.  Hemp is a natural fiber, making pieces that hold wetness really well, but don’t absorb very quickly.  Also, since they hold deeply onto wetness, they take a long time to dry after being washed.
  • Bamboo- Bamboo is made from a processed form of rayon so it actually behaves like a synthetic fiber.  It is the thinnnest material for inserts and is soft as well.  Like hemp, it doesn’t absorb wetness very quickly, but it holds onto it very well. 
  • Charcoal bamboo– These tend to be pricey but work extremely well.  They are not a natural material.  They absorb wetness quickly and hold onto it over time and wiggles.  They also dry very quickly after being washed.


It can be a lot to process, but we’re here for you!  Contact us to set up a one-on-one consultation to find the best solution for you, your baby, and your life!  We also have a one-month rental package, which has a range of diaper types and brands, so you can give them a test run and see what you like best!

37 weeks

Why Cloth Diaper?

Putting a disposable diaper on your baby is one of those things that modern life has just kind of built into parenting.  It all seems great at first.  Convenient to use, no need to touch the mess, no hassle with figuring out how to put the thing on, and no time spent washing the nasty stuff out.  What’s not to like?  Well, as with lots of “modern conveniences” that often get taken for granted as great improvements to our life, this one deserves a second thought.


You’ll Save Money

For starters, cloth diapering will save you money in the long run.  Birth to potty training, you can easily spend $1500-$2000 on disposables.  With cloth diapers, you invest your money up front, but will re-use those diapers for the next 2-3 years and can use them on the next baby too.  You can also re-sell them and get some of your money back.

You’ll reduce waste

Disposable diapers can sit in a landfill for 500 years before they decompose!  Using cloth diapers is a responsible choice to do your part in helping the planet.

Natural Materials

Disposable diapers contain chemicals to make them absorbent.  Many diaper companies don’t disclose the materials that are even in their diapers.  These materials are sitting on baby’s skin 24/7 for years of their life!  Cloth diapers are made of soft, natural fibers. They can even be unbleached and organic for the most natural option for baby’s delicate skin.

They’re so Cute!

Let’s face it, cloth diapers are darn cute.  There are several type of diapers, so you can choose what will be most convenient for your family and your life.  And then you get to choose from all the adorable prints and styles!


If you’re thinking about cloth diapering, but nervous to take the leap, contact us!  We’d be happy to answer any questions and help you make the best choice for your family and your lifestyle.