Cloth Diapering 101

Cloth diapering 101: How to Wash Cloth Diapers

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Oh boy, this dreaded topic! There are so many different answers out there! How do I pick? Let me start off with saying you really don’t need the specialized cloth diaper detergents. You must be thinking I am nuts. No really, you don’t need it (if you are using it with success, ignore me, do what works for YOU). One it is expensive and why have special detergent that you only use for ONE thing. Why not one that can do everything?

People make washing diapers more complex than it actually is. When I was researching I was over saturated with information overload and half of it was no help! Hopefully I can make it easier to swallow.

Onto the cloth diaper detergents… 

Look I’ve tried special detergents and I used the recommended amount. I did my research and all that jazz. I found that these detergents just didn’t cut it. My diapers still smelled and they had a odd residue build up. And before you jump to conclusions, no I don’t use fabric softener at all.

So what detergent do I use and have been using for almost a year without ONE SINGLE problem? Tide Powder Original. Yep, you heard that right. Good ol’ Tide. Let me tell you I have never had an issue with stink. Use the RIGHT amount, too. Not half like some people have been saying. I promise you using the RIGHT amount will NOT ruin your diapers. In fact using half will ruin your diapers. They will end up stinking.

Make sure to read your cloth diaper washing instructions! Some wash in warm others in hot. To be honest I wash all of mine on hot. A good hot rinse will wash the smell away. So I am going to break down my washing routine for you! Hopefully it will give you some insight. I will also through in some tips and tricks.

How I wash my diapers

(for a whole year no problems..)

  1. I load in my tide powder original and 1/2 of vinegar into the softer well or some people use a fabric softer ball that will release the vinegar as the diapers wash
  2. I always pre-wash cold, then wash hot, then rinse with warm water (I don’t do an extra rinse, hey, it has been working for me)
  3. I hang dry my diapers, but dry my inserts. Nothing like trying to stuff a stiff insert into a diaper.
  4. If I notice stains on my diapers I hang them in front of a window or outside, even if it isn’t sunny! The UV rays will make those stains disappear within an hour or less!
  5. If I notice a stain on my insert I dry it then hang it where there is sun, with the same results

You may have noticed I use vinegar. Vinegar helps with the stink, it does an amazing job getting rid of the ammonia smell.

When drying my inserts I also toss in some wool dryer balls. They are a life savor.


Okay, you must be thinking well how much detergent should I be using? Well this handy little table should help.



Please for the love of everything cloth diapering, do not use fabric softer at all in any of your washing routines. Use wool dryer balls instead. Any residue that is left over in your previous wash may get onto your diapers and cause your diapers to repel. That will be a sad day when your little one begins to leak.

How about other detergents?

Now if you can’t use powder, Tide Simply Clean & Fresh (liquid), or purex liquid is a good alternative. Any tide works, really. Just be mindful of softens added in!

I would love to hear from you, drop a comment below. Happy cloth diapering!

**DISCLAIMER: Although I recommend the use of Tide (Purex,Gain, arm and hammer…etc) the detergent contains optical brighteners as well as enzymes. The use of the additives could void the warranty of your diapers. Please check the manufacturer warranty guidelines before using these products.**

Cloth Diapering 101

What You Need for Cloth Diapering

What you need for cloth diapering, the essentials needed for cloth diapers

How many diapers will I need?

Needs honestly vary, but you need about 24 diapers minimum. I own 36 pocket diapers (various brands) and a few fitteds. I find that having 24+ allows you to rotate through them. More rotation, the less wear and tear they get.

Now 24+ diapers means something different to a prefold or flat mama. This means 2-4 dozen  prefolds (or flats) in various sizes (again needs differ, .i.e. how often will you be doing laundry).  You’ll need about 8-10 OS covers, or 8-10 covers per size. Remember that covers are reusable with flats, prefolds, and fitteds.

What am I talking about flats, prefolds, covers, pocket diapers? Check out What types of Cloth Diapers are There? For the inside scoop!

How many diapers a day does an infant go through?

Well this depends on how old they are. At first they are pooping machines. I mean it, they poop a lot. Cloth diapers are really good at holding blow outs, but once in a while the baby masters the diaper. Hey it happens. Baby’s are poop cannons. Don’t believe me…you just wait!

The image below can help you determine how many diapers you need based on age, daily use, and how often you will wash.


How many diapers will I need?

What essentials do I need?

Cloth wipes are a MUST

If you’re going to do cloth diapers you might as well add in cloth wipes. Less trash = happy environment. Or however you want to see it!

CFlannel cloth wipes, 2 ply. Cloth diapering essentialsloth wipes come in different shapes, sizes, and materials. Some are flannel, cotton, or bamboo. I’d recommend two ply and this is coming from experience. Having one ply between you and a massive poop isn’t a great feeling. Two ply feels a bit more durable and less flimsy. I personally like cotton flannel wipes, they are just the right thickness and they are soft.

How many cloth wipes will I need? 

Okay, so, personal experience you’ll need at least 50. I have 150 wipes and sometimes I run out. That could be due to the fact that I do laundry every 2-3 days. But having some extra on hand isn’t a bad thing. Looking for a good cloth wipe? Check these out.

Cloth Wipe Solution

Diaper Spray, cloth wipe solution by Elyfant Cheek Boutique on ETSYWhen I first started researching cloth diapers I didn’t even think about wipe solution. Because, hey, all store bought wipes are already wet. DOH! So a cloth wipe solution is a must.

Cloth wipe solution comes in different forms, spray or cloth wipe bits (or cubes)

  • With cloth wipe bits (or cubes) you need to melt the cubes/bits in hot water. You can dump these over cloth wipes in a container or place in a spray bottle.
  • Sprays are convenient because you simply spray onto the baby’s bottom and wipe away with a cloth wipe. No need to be melting and mixing!

I make an organic diaper spray here at Elyfant Cheek Boutique! Want 5% off you first purchase? Subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom!

Sprayer & Spray Shield

This is a sprayer that attaches to your toilet. Its main purpose? To spray poop into the toilet. Yep you read that right. It sounds gross, but if you get this AWESOME spray shield, it lessens the gross factor…a wee bit. Trust me you’re going to need the sprayer. You don’t want to be scrapping the poop off yourself do you?

Back to the shield.. 

Look you are going to need this. This helps prevent poop water or straight up poop splashing onto you. I thought I wouldn’t need one. Big mistake. The first time water poop splashed onto my cloths I screamed on the inside. I bought one that day. Best investment ever.

Wet Bag

A wet bag is what holds your dirty diapers. The insides are usually made with a waterproof material. I own two large ones and two medium sized ones (I travel with these). I do laundry every 2-3 days, so I only need 2 large bags. If you stretch it out, I’d recommend three.

I personally recommend planet wise wet bags. They hold the stink in VERY well. I don’t even notice the smell even after 3 days.

There are many different wet bags, some are hang pails like this one or you can get this Thirsties one and place it in a regular pail up to 54 quarts.  I have even seen some people use a diaper genie.

Other Essentials

Extra inserts – Most diaper systems come with them, but having extra is always helpful, especially if you have a heavy wetter.

Snappi’s- if you are using flats, prefolds, or fitteds. You won’t need these if you are not using any of them.

Liners – Oh these puppies. They catch poop and you simply throw the liner away. Most are bio-degradable. So if you are not a fan of spraying poop away, these may be an option.

Cloth diaper safe creams – Okay here is the truth, cloth diapers rarely cause diaper rash. My little one is ten months and ZERO diaper rash. But sometimes when teething, starting new foods, or exposed to wetness (especially overnights) their skin can get irritated.  A cream is helpful here. You can find my organic and cloth diaper safe cream here.

Cloth Diapering 101

What Types of Cloth Diapers Are There?

Cloth diapering 101, what types are there?

So you want to cloth diaper? I bet your first thought was, “Holy crap where do I start?” There is so much out there with cloth diapering that it is a bit overwhelming. I don’t know how many times I searched “differences between this and that diaper”. Well, I am going to go over every single type of cloth diaper.

First Let’s Go Over Some Lingo

PUL – It is a type of  of laminated fabric. PUL stands for Polyurethane Laminate. It is the water proof fabric part of a diaper.

Snappi – A snappi is a fastener that holds flats or prefolds together. It replaces the old fashion pin. No more poking baby.

Cover – A cover is the waterproof portion that goes over a flat, fitted, or prefold. They come in OS (one size) or fitted sizes.

OS – one size, meaning these diapers usually fit 7ibs-35ibs.

Flats and Covers

The least expensive of them all. Flats are these rectangles that are made of cotton. You fold these in many different ways depending on your baby’s needs. A good tutorial on how to fold flats can be found here.

Think of your grandmother’s diaper. This is it. It needs to be closed with a snappi. Thought they were closed with a pin? Nope, we have moved onto bigger and better things.

Now the cotton flat is not waterproof, so you’ll need a cover to keep your little one’s clothes dry. This goes over the flat.

Covers are usually made of PUL and fasten with snaps or velcro.

With flats you simply remove the flat and reuse the cover. Yep, you read that right. You can reuse the cover as long as it is not soiled.

Prefolds and Covers 

Prefolds are like flats, but they are folded into three sections and much smaller. You can either fold them into a trifold and lay them right into a cover, or fold them like you would a flat, then fasten them with a snappi. Prefolds must be used with a cover! Prefolds are great for the newborn stage.

Prefolds can be made with cotton or bamboo.

With prefolds you simply remove the prefold and reuse the cover. Yep, you read that right. You can reuse the cover as long as it is not soiled.

Pocket Diapers

 These are the most popular and are considered dad and baby sitter friendly. There is no folding, cover, or snappi required. This diaper has an opening at the end in which you stuff an absorbent insert into.

They are usually OS, one size fits all. Fitting babies from 7ibs-35ibs. Diapers fasten with snaps or velcro. Snaps are used for the adjustment of size.

The inside of the pocket diaper is made of mircofleece, this touches your baby. The material is soft and won’t irritate your baby’s skin. This material wicks away moisture away from your baby. So with prefolds and flats you baby will still feel the moisture as the material doesn’t wick. Some babies are bothered and some are not.

Now the inserts. Inserts can be made of microfiber, hemp, bamboo, or cotton. I use hemp inserts and mircofiber. With mircofiber, don’t let this insert touch you baby’s skin as it is irritating. This is why you stuff the inserts, the mircofleece protects your baby’s skin.

The great thing about the pocket diaper is that you can customize the absorbency of the diaper. This means you can add more than one insert in the pocket for heavy wetters and nighttime.

All in One Cloth Diaper or AIOs

All-in-one cloth diapers are like disposables, without of course the disposing of. The whole diaper is all you need. Put on baby and wallah! No stuffing, folding, or cover required.  The only downfall is they take longer to dry.

These are another easy diaper to use. They are dad, baby sitter, and even day care friendly. They have absorbent material (the insert portion to so speak) sewn into the diaper cover.  The diapers may be made of natural or synthetic fibers.

Diapers can fasten with snaps or velcro. An AIO can come in OS or a sized diaper (this just means newborn size and up).


All in Two or Hybrid Diapers

This is a two part diapering system. Like most diapers it is made of a waterproof outer shell. The difference is that the inert can be detached. Just like a flat or a prefold system you can reuse the cover. 

Inserts either snap or tuck into the cover (depending on the brand). These allow you to customize for heavy wetters or night time by using different or extra inserts.

People like these because they are trim fitting. They are not as bulky as the all in one or pocket diaper.



Fitteds are like flats, but without the folding. Yep, they are “pre-folded” so to speak. The diapers fasten together with a snappi or snaps.

They are the shape of a diaper. They have elastic at the legs and waist that make for a snug, leak-proof fit. Some have snaps that make them easy to adjust as your baby grows.

Fitteds only provide absorbency, so they do require a cover. But with any system that uses covers, they can be reused if not soiled.

They are made with bamboo, cotton, or hemp.

Woah that was a lot of info!

It does seem like a lot. Now you are probably wondering, “Well, what one do I go with?” My advice get a little of each at first and see which works with your family and little one. This doesn’t mean to spend a fortune on each type, just sample before diving into a brand or type.

Some people start with covers, flats and/or prefolds for the newborn stage. Then eventually add pockets, AIOs, fitteds, or hybrids, when they figure out the needs of their little one.

Hope I helped clear some of the confusion!

Do you have any questions about any of the diapers above? Feel free to drop me a line at or comment below.