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Cloth Diapers 101: Six Lessons Learned by Trying Cloth Diapering

Cloth Diapers 101

I’ve been experimenting with cloth diapers with my 2 year old in order to decide if we want to use them full time with baby #2 this winter.

I’ve found that there is a bit of a learning curve in finding my way to using cloth diapers. Compared to disposable diapers it feels like a lot of work to have to get a system in place, but once you have a system that works it doesn’t feel like that much more work.

As a bonus, the laundry pile never gets so big that I procrastinate dealing with it!

Here are some Cloth Diaper 101 tips that I’ve learned through this process:

Check out the Fluff Love & CD (cloth diaper) Science website

Reader beware: this website may overwhelm you at first. But there is a lot of useful information and reviews on it that will make your cloth diapering life a whole lot easier. If you want to avoid getting too much information right away, I’ve listed a few of the most helpful pages below.

Lesson learned: Sometimes taking some time to do your research before just doing what you think should work will save you time, frustration, and possibly some cash.

Before investing in a full collection try out a few different well reviewed cloth diaper brands and options. What you think you’ll like, or what works for other families or babies may not be right for you.

Lessons learned: I thought that velcro (or hook and loop) closures would be easier than snaps, but the velcro started to age much faster and the snaps weren’t that hard to do up (snaps are also trickier for a toddler to undo). I also thought the Grovia snap in inserts were pretty cool, until it came to sticking my fingers into a heavily soiled diaper to unsnap later…

Lesson learned: Spend a bit of time organising your laundry routine BEFORE you wash the diapers for the first time!

Beware that the washing recommendations of most cloth diaper manufacturers is often not going to clean them sufficiently, and depending on the detergent, may leave residues that can cause your diapers to repel liquids, smell funny due to inadequate cleaning, etc.

Lesson learned: save yourself the frustration of stains, smells, and possibly needing to strip or bleach your diapers (which is really hard on the fabric and elastics) by ensuring you’re using a recommended detergent, the correct volume of detergent, and optimal washing machine cycles and settings.

Dirty diapers will probably be the dirtiest things you ever put in your washing machine. You need to make sure your using a good detergent in sufficient quantities to fully clean the diapers.

Fluff Love has an easy to use detergent listing. Type in the brand of soap you have at home and check whether or not it is recommended for cloth diapers, and what quantity you should be using in the pre-wash and full wash cycles.

If you’re feeling lazy just type in “top pick” and choose whichever brand is readily available at your regular grocery store. There are only 7 “top pick” brands so it’s not too overwhelming to choose.

Lesson Learned: Optimize Washing Machine settings

Cloth diapers generally require a short pre-rinse cycle prior to the main wash cycle. It’s important not to skip this. Dirty diapers are probably the most heavily soiled items you will put through the wash, and to avoid staining, smells, repelling problems, etc. they need to totally clean.

If you’re thinking this sounds like a lot, take these two things into account:

The pre-wash setting is generally the shortest setting on your washer, and gets most of really gross stuff out. It doesn’t take a lot of time and water/energy.

You can (and often should) add other smaller laundry items (as in no larger than a receiving blanket) in with the main wash. The main wash is usually the longest cycle on your machine.
Look up your washing machine on Fluff Love to get the exact settings to use:

Non High Efficiency (Standard) Machines and Cloth Diapers

High Efficiency Washing Machines and Cloth Diapers

Lessons Learned: The laundry didn’t feel like as much work as I had anticipated that it would be. BONUS: When I do all the laundry in the house every other day it never exceeds one regular size basket, and never gets to a state of overwhelming that I begin to procrastinate either washing or folding.

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