Our cloth diapering routine

We started cloth diapering when Little Sister was 2 months old. (Nerddad would probably dispute that “we”… I MIGHT have made a unilateral decision here…) I really had no higher motive beyond $$ and OMGSOCUTEFLUFFYBOTTOM. But I got a free spendy one from a vendor at Blogher, then inherited a friend’s whole stash – so it seemed like a low risk investment. And here we are, several months later.

So what does this look like?

We have about 25 of these:


Called “Chinese pre-folds”. They go in covers without pins, like so:


These are my workhorse diapers. I rotate through my 5 covers at each change, reusing them and only throwing them in the wash in event of poo. She wears these most of the time.

We also have about 10 “all-in-ones”:

Some have removable inserts, some are one piece. The common thread is they don’t have covers. You put them on like disposables and when they’re wet or poopy, take them off and throw the whole thing in the wash. These are what I throw in my purse for daily outings and what sitters / Nerddad use.

Some disclaimers:

  • Baby girl HATES wet diapers. Can. Not. Stand. So we probably go through diapers faster than most. Thus the 25 prefolds. Most folks probably use less.
  • I like bleach. Diaper companies / reputable sites tell you to use bleach sparingly. They’re probably right. But I like bleach.
  • I don’t rinse poo. We’re still not feeding her solid food, so the diapers can just go in the wash the way they come off her bum. This will probably have to change as she learns to eat things not on tap at Restaurantรฉ Boob.
  • We still use disposables at night – both b/c of the aforementioned pee aversion and because me trying to do snaps without glasses at 3 am is… Hilarious. Yeah. We’ll go with hilarious.

Our routine:

  • Put diapers in wet bag laundry bag (a plastic lined canvas bag) when they come off her bum. Wet, poopy, prefolds, all-in-ones – everybody in the pool.
  • Every other day I dump my wet bag into my 5-yo HE front loader. I do a soak cycle w/ half a scoop of specialty diaper detergent (currently bumGenius brand) and bleach – on hot. I then do a heavy wash (extra agitation & rinsing) with the other half of a scoop of detergent on hot-cold. Finally, I do a rinse-spin cycle on warm-warm.
  • If it’s early enough in the day and sunny I hang everything outside to sun. I then fluff the diapers on hot in the dryer for 15 min (no softener, just dryer balls) to unstiffen them. If it’s rainy or later in the day, I dry the diapers on high for an hour straight from the wash. The covers for the prefolds don’t go in the dryer – rumor has it dryer heat breaks down the plastic & ruins the waterproofing of the covers.

As she gets older I’m slowly trying to build up my stash of the more convenient all-in-ones – mostly through the site http://www.alvababy.com or flash sale sites. She seems particularly long waisted (imagine THAT – whodathunkit), so I am starting to search for diapers made especially for long babies.

I’m still learning in this – I’m not quite happy with my stripping routine (not THAT kind of stripping – gutter brain), and always on the lookout for great hints and tips… If you have some, please share!!


10 Comments on “Our cloth diapering routine”

  1. Carolina says:

    Minicakes also hated being wet at this age. A fleece liner helps wonders when you need/want them to keep a diaper on a little longer.
    You can definitely use bleach on your prefolds, but I would keep it away from your PUL covers or all-in-ones as you will definitely start seeing leaks. I’m sure you already do this, but make sure you rinse the bleach out completely to protect baby’s skin.
    I liked making my own detergent which worked really well: http://theecofriendlyfamily.com/2009/08/cloth-diaper-detergent/ It has oxiclean and washing soda so works really nicely to remove buildup.
    I always put everything in the dryer and used dryer balls instead of dryer sheets – these are really easy to make: http://goodmama.typepad.com/goodmama/2008/05/make-your-own-wool-dryer-balls.html
    The only modification I made was covering them with wool roving since I had quite a few balls that would unravel after 5-6 uses.
    As for stripping, I really liked using vinegar. I would add 1-2 cups into my first wash without detergent, and then wash them again with detergent.

    Good luck!

    • Great to know on the fleece liners and stripping – feel like I really oughta attribute our whole routine to your expertise ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Carolina says:

        I forgot I had sent you my cloth diapers email ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad to hear its going so well!
        Minicakes has been potty trained for a few months so I’ll get a break from diapers until we decide to have another kid.

  2. Pragmaticmom says:

    I wish I had know about these Chinese Fold diapers when my kids were in diapers. The plain cloth ones were too much work for me back then. These look doable, even when very sleep deprived!

  3. Mama C. says:

    Love this post! I hear you loud and clear about your motivation to CD: I wasn’t trying to save the earth; just wanted to save $, although saving the earth was definitely a close second. (No, I do not have my priorities straight, but then, you probably already know this about me.) I use one-size pockets stuffed with different combos of Chinese prefolds, MF inserts, and hemp inserts. My routine is as follows — I say “my” because CDing was unabashedly a unilateral decision in these parts:

    1. warm rinse with 25 squirts of Bac-Out and 1/4 cup of Tide Original
    2. warm wash with a scoop of Tide; fill to the — gasp! — highest line
    3. one final warm rinse
    4. **on the 15th of every month I add 1/4 cup of bleach to keep the stinkies at bay**
    5. I line dry pockets and dry everything else on high; in the summer, tho, everything is dried in the sun on the deck. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I don’t know anything about stripping but for when baby girl starts to do more mature pooping, there were liners we used, Kushies made them, basically like a ten-ply toilet paper and you put a strip in the diaper and then if it’s poop you flush the whole thing. Avoids the whole ‘spraying poop off a diaper over a toilet’ routine. Also if the Kushies liner just gets wet not pooped on, you can wash with the dipes and reuse maybe four or five times?

    Keep the prefolds (unless you are passing them on) because they are THE BEST CLEANING CLOTHS EVER. I haven’t diapered in cloth for..two years?, but I still keep the prefolds around to wash windows, floors, and especially to mop up spills. They are WAY more absorbant than any dishtowel or paper towel. I keep a stack close to the kitchen table because my 7 year old spills a drink almost every meal.

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