That's a Wrap: The Ultimate Guide to Cloth Diapering

We've been cloth diapering for 15 months. I'd never go back! We've been cloth diapering for 15 months. I'd never go back! I know cloth diapering is not for everyone, but it has worked great for us. I think one of the reasons a lot of people end up quitting it is they don't jump in with both feet. Of course disposables are easier, and if you're only using a few cloth diapers here and there, the laundry probably feels like a nuisance.

I also think it feels really, really overwhelming before you start. It took me almost 3 months to work up the courage to get going! But I've never looked back, and I know we'll keep using them until Cullen, our little one, is ready to try potty training (gulp).

We'll also continue to use this same set of diapers as long as they last, to use for any future babies.

So if you're considering diving into cloth diapering, or already have and are struggling, here's a mini -- yet totally complete -- guide to everything you need to know.

Here are 5 tips on cloth diapering:

1.) Storage
Instead of storing cloth diapers in a hanging wet bag, put them in a regular trash can. We learned early on that hanging wet bags can be cumbersome because cloth diapers weigh a lot when taken apart. And wet bags can't hold many diapers at a time. I bought the trash can at Target, and its design allowed me to open it with only one hand. This was especially important as Cullen got older because I always had to have (at least) one hand on him. Inside the cloth diaper can, I use the Planet Wise Diaper Pail Liner. These liners are gigantic and awesome. They would fit almost any size indoor trash can, and they stay in place and have held up through many many washes. I have two of the liner bags so there's always a clean one ready to replace when the dirty one goes into the wash!

Cloth Diaper Pail Cloth Diaper Pail

2.) Disposal

One of the biggest hesitations new parents have with cloth diapering is dealing with, well, poop. Back in the newborn days, I just pulled the inserts out of the diapers and tossed everything into the liner bag. Everything went into the washing machine -- poop included. I promise you, it wasn't that gross, and it's no different from washing muddy jeans or something. But now that we're onto solids, the poop has changed. It's…well, poop. And I'm not going to put turds in the washing machine. I originally bought a diaper sprayer, but our bathroom is down the hall and that sounded like a lot of extra work. Then I discovered the Bummis diaper liners. They're simply thin sheets of tissue that are cut perfectly to the size of the diaper that I lay in the bottom of the clean diaper each time he gets changed. Ninety percent of the time, all poop is captured in the liner, and it can just be lifted out and thrown away (into the regular diaper pail). The other ten percent of the time, I take the diaper into the bathroom and remove whatever is left with toilet paper. Problem solved.

Related: 8 breastfeeding supplies that will last through the toddler years

So, recap: The regular diaper pail gets the disposables, which we use overnight, the dirty wipes, and the poopy liners. The cloth trash can just gets the cloth diapers -- nothing else. I will add here that I think using a regular trash can only works if it is only for wet diapers (no poop). I know people who have used regular trash cans for disposables and other messy diapers, and trust me -- it stinks. Trash cans and diaper pails are not the same.

Diaper Lines Diaper Lines

3.) Washing

I probably wash my diapers every 3-4 days, depending on how many I've used. I just remove the wet bag from the trash can and dump the whole thing into our washing machine. Easy as that! I turn it over and make sure the diapers come out, and then I toss the bag in at the end and wash everything together. I wash all the cloth diapers and inserts with Rockin' Green laundry detergent. Then I add detergent and set it to the hot "sanitize" setting. It takes about two hours to wash, and they always come out smelling fresh! I have heard people complain about ammonia stink and staining, but in a year of cloth diapering we haven't had any of these issues yet. I throw all the diapers and liners into the dryer and dry them on a low/medium heat setting. This usually dries them just enough, without over-drying them and damaging the diapers from too much heat.

4.) Styles and Choices
There are several brands to choose from, and we decided to try three to see what would work best for Cullen. We have 24 diapers total, and it definitely seems like more than enough. I usually wash them every 3 days or so.

BumGenius 4.0 All-In-Ones (Snap Closure)
When I first started cloth diapering, these were my least favorite. I found them to be too bulky and wide between the legs when Cullen was teeny tiny. Now Cullen is 15 months old, they are far and away my favorite.

Charlie Banana One-Size Diapers
I loved these when Cullen was really small because they seemed to fit his little body best. I also really like that the inside is made of soft fleece. These days we still use these a lot, but they tend to leak faster than the others, so I don't usually use them for long trips away from the house. That said, they are great for playing at home or napping in the crib. I am seriously coveting the new bootcamp collection with crazy adorable camouflage patterns.

Bummis Tots Bots Easy Fit One-Piece Diaper
These have worked well for all ages, and for a long time we used them exclusively overnight (until Cullen started sleeping longer and longer through the night). I love that the velcro is fast and easy, and the insert is attached which means less sorting and stuffing. They are thicker, so they do take a little longer to dry.

5.) General Tips on The Cloth Diapering Lifestyle
We've been using our diapers now for over a year, and I really love it. These days, Cullen probably wears 4-5 diapers a day, and one disposable for overnights. We gave up cloth diapering at night last summer because we were dealing with too many leaks -- causing nighttime wake ups. We also use disposables when we travel. But other than that we are all cloth all the time -- outings, play dates, afternoons at home -- whatever.

He's comfy in cloth diapers, so I'm comfy with using them too.He's comfy in cloth diapers, so I'm comfy with using them too.

Happy cloth diapering!

- By Emily B. Malone
Follow Emily on Babble

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