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Cloth Diapering Frequently Ask Questions

  1. Why should I use cloth diapers?
  2. Isn't it difficult to use and wash cloth diapers? I just don't think I have time for that....
  3. What are the different types of cloth diapers?
  4. Which type of cloth diaper is the best to use?
  5. How often should I wash the cloth diapers?
  6. Where do you put or store the dirty diapers before washing it?
  7. What can I do to avoid the diaper pail/bad stinky smell?
  8. How do you wash the cloth diapers and what laundry soap should I use?
  9. Do I need to always wash microfiber/ microfleece diapers and bamboo diapers/inserts separately?

Why should I use cloth diapers?

Do you know that the regular disposable diapers can take up to 500 years to decompose and the plastic component will never biodegrade? These diapers in landfills are also filled with untreated body excrement. Thinking how many diapers are in landfills, that could be carrying intestinal viruses. Groundwater contamination could be attributed to this form of disposal.

By using cloth diapers you are reducing your household waste that end up in the landfills. Baby cloth diapers are fun, cute, economical and eco-friendly!

Isn't it difficult to use and wash cloth diapers? I just don't think I have time for that...

Washing is the main difference between cloth and disposable diapers. As with other kind of change, you will just need to know the routine. Once you have established a wash routine, it's as easy as washing your baby clothes especially with the help of washing machine! Modern Cloth diapers are easy to wash. You can use diaper flushable liner for easy clean up of mess. You can also use a diaper sprayer to easily clean a mess before tosing to your dirty diaper pail.

After all, babies should be wearing cloth underwear and not paper!

What are the different types of cloth diapers?

Here is the summary, including the definition, advantages and disadvantages of each type.

Requires Waterproof Cover

Flats– This is plain one layer fabric, can be birds–eye cotton, cotton flannel, terry etc., bamboo fiber, that you need to fold and use together with a diaper cover, diaper pins or fasteners. It dries fast, versatile when it comes to folding, easier to wash than AIO (All–in–One) and economical but takes more time to fold.

Pre–folds– These are rectangular cloth diapers. They are divided into three sections, with middle section having more layers. Inexpensive, easier to wash than AIO, takes less effort than flats as it is already pre folded. You will need a diaper cover, diaper pins or fasteners with pre–folds.

Fitted– This is 'formed' cloth diapers, does not need folding, trim and very absorbent . With fitted you need to have the proper cover as not all diaper covers will fit over a fitted diaper. Fitted diapers generally have elastics around the legs so it help contains messes inside. Depending on the brand and the type of fabric, fitted diapers can be expensive. Fitted diapers can be in hook and loop closure, snap closure or "free style". Free style means that you can adjust it anyway you want on the waistline, it has no closure.

Do not require a separate Waterproof Covers
All–in–One (AIO) – This cloth diaper is designed like disposable diaper. With waterproof fabric outside. Inner and absorbent layers are sewn in. It does not require folding and very convenient to use. Many brands of this type can take longer to dry than flats, pre–folds and fitted, however, there are new designs now in the market that makes it "quick–dry" than the older versions.

AI2 – (All in Twos) – These are AIO diapers with inner soakers that can be removed. This makes cleaning and drying more efficient . Some AI2s are hybrid, meaning, they offer disposable type or reusable cloth options for inner soakers. You can reuse the diaper cover just like a separate cloth diaper cover.

Pocket Diapers – These are two–part cloth diapering system, the waterproof diaper cover has an opening where you can put the absorbent soaker which can be prefold, flats or specially designed inserts (most convenient type of inserts as it requires no folding). It dries quickly and they are trim fitting. You will need to put the inserts/ doublers back inside the cover after washing them.

NOTE: AIO, AI2 and Pocker Diapers can be in snap closure or hook and loop closure.

Which type of diaper is best to use?

To be honest, it depends on your preference, the built of your baby and your budget. Some parents prefer to use pre–folds with diaper covers because it is cheaper. While others prefer the AIO diaper because they are like the disposable ones. For parents who are just starting to use cloth diaper, I suggest trying each type to see which one works best. This is how I learned which ones work best. You can ask suggestions from friends but there is no comparison when it comes to trying it by yourself because your baby may have a different built and you might find that your preference is different from other parents.

You can also use credible online websites that shows the rating of each diaper you are planning to buy to see how they are rated in terms of fit, prices etc.
As to my personal preference, I really like diapers with natural fabric as much as possible although I find that stay–dry fabric like micro–fleece is also great for night time or during nap times, but again if your baby is sensitive to synthetic material like polyester , I would go for natural fiber like cotton , bamboo or hemp for the fabric next to skin (inner part of the diaper).

How often should I wash the cloth diapers?

Diapers should be washed within 3 days. This is to avoid mold and odor buildup.

Where do you put or store the dirty diapers before washing it?

There are two methods, wet pail and dry pail method. I find that dry pail method works best. Diaper can be stored in a waterproof diaper bag or diaper pails; covered or uncovered, the wet ones without the mess can be tossed directly inside. You will find that it is better to keep them uncovered for proper ventilation.

For the messy diapers, the one that contain poops, flush the poop as much as you can in the toilet. I find that using diaper sprayer is best for cleaning as much mess as I can before tossing dirty diaper in a separate poopy diaper pail. Biodegradable disposable diaper liners are also helpful, you just removed it and flush! All done!

At the end of the day, if I find that there are some stains that is hard to get rid of even after using the sprayer, I hand rinse them with cold water and then soak it with a little bit of washing soda (only for an hour or so) and I hand rinse them again with warm water in my laundry area and voila all the stains are gone! You can also use laundry stain removal bar like soapworks. Drying them under the sun is also a good way to remove stains and sanitize the diapers.

What can I do to avoid the diaper pail/bad stinky smell?

You can use few drops of antibacterial essential oil (e.g. lavender essential oil or tea tree essential oil) on a cloth rag or scrap of fabric and / or sprinkle your diaper pail with some baking soda, few times a day.

How do you wash the cloth diapers and what laundry soap should I use?

I have experimented on the different ways to wash the cloth diapers and I find that this is the one that works best. Using washing machine, rinse all the cloth diapers using cold water (no detergent or other additives). Make sure that there are no solids in there. I don’t think it is sanitary. Please see the above tip regarding the poop pre–rinsing.

Wash the diapers normal wash, warm temperature setting using large load setting for 2–3 days of cloth diapers. I only use hot temperature once a month. Use quarter– half laundry detergent solution. For example, if the laundry detergent instruction says, use 1 cup for a large laundry setting, then use no more than a half of cup. There can be a detergent buildup in diapers if you use too much detergent.

Then rinse warm followed by extra rinse using cold or warm water setting. Quarter to half a cup of vinegar for the last rinse will neutralize the PH balance and/ or smell. I use biodegradable natural detergent for cloth diapers and I don’t use chlorine bleach, better for your baby and the environment.

To remove stains and to whiten the diapers, hang it outside under the sun especially during summer season. This will also extend the life of your diapers. Hanging your cloth diapers is the best way to dry it followed by a quick dryer cycle just to soften the stiffness of the fabric (about 20–25 minutes works fine). If I need to use the dryer, I never put it to a very hot temperature, I only use low to medium press for about 60–70 minutes, followed by line–dry if some of them are still dump.

Do I need to always wash microfiber/ microfleece diapers and bamboo diapers/inserts separately?

You will only need to wash them separately before your first use. There is no need to wash them separately after you have prepped them.