how to use cloth diaper

How to Use Cloth Diapers: A Beginner's Guide

This guide explains how to use cloth diapers effectively, covering choosing the right size, proper fitting techniques, washing methods, and maintenance. Keep reading!


As more and more parents become conscious of their environmental impact and the potential health risks associated with disposable diapers, cloth diapering has gained significant popularity. However, for those new to the world of cloth diapers, it can seem daunting and overwhelming. Fear not! This beginner's guide is here to walk you through everything you need to know about using cloth diapers, from choosing the right type to washing and caring for them effectively.

Choosing the Right Cloth Diaper

The first step in your cloth diapering journey is to decide which type of cloth diaper best suits your needs. There are several options available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

  1. Prefolds and Covers: Prefolds are rectangular pieces of absorbent fabric that are folded and secured with a waterproof cover. They are affordable, easy to use, and highly absorbent. However, they require more effort when it comes to folding and securing them properly.
  2. Fitted Diapers: are shaped like disposable diapers and come with elastic around the legs and waist. They are easy to use and provide a trim fit, but they require a separate waterproof cover and are generally more expensive than pre-folds.
  3. All-in-Ones (AIOs): are the most convenient option as they have the absorbent material and waterproof layer sewn together. They function just like disposable diapers but are more expensive and can take longer to dry after washing.
  4. Pocket Diapers: consist of a waterproof outer layer and an inner layer with a pocket opening where you can stuff absorbent inserts. They offer the convenience of AIOs with the option to adjust the absorbency level by adding or removing inserts.

Regardless of the type you choose, make sure to have enough diapers and covers to last between washes, typically 24-36 diapers for a newborn and 12-18 covers.

Preparing for Use

Once you've chosen your cloth diaper system, it's important to prepare them properly before use. Most cloth diapers require prepping to remove any natural oils or residues that could affect their absorbency.

For pre-folds, fitted diapers, and inserts:

  • Wash them once or twice with a cloth diaper-safe detergent in hot water to remove any residues.
  • Dry them completely before use.

For covers and AIOs:

  • Wash them once or twice on a gentle cycle with cloth diaper-safe detergent to prep the waterproof layers.

Changing and Storing Dirty Diapers

Changing your little one in cloth diapers is similar to using disposables but with a few extra steps.

  1. Gather your supplies: clean diapers, wipes, diaper cream (if needed), and a wet bag or pail for storing dirty diapers.
  2. Remove the dirty diaper and clean your baby as usual.
  3. If using prefolds or inserts, shake off any solid waste into the toilet. For AIOs or pocket diapers, remove any inserts first.
  4. Store the dirty diaper and inserts in a wet bag or pail until laundry day. Wet bags are great for on-the-go changes, while pails work well at home.
  5. Apply any necessary diaper cream and put on a fresh, clean diaper.

Washing Cloth Diapers

Proper washing is crucial for maintaining the absorbency and longevity of your cloth diapers. Here's a step-by-step guide:

Prepare for Washing

  • Remove any solid waste into the toilet.
  • For diapers with inserts, remove the inserts and wash them separately.
  • Separate diapers into two loads: one for light stains and one for heavily soiled diapers.


  • Run a cold cycle with no detergent to remove any excess waste or liquid.

Main Wash

  • Use a cloth diaper-safe detergent in the recommended amount for your machine and load size.
  • For heavily soiled diapers, consider adding a cloth diaper-safe sanitizer or oxygen cleaner.
  • Wash on a hot water cycle with an extra rinse.


  • Line drying in direct sunlight is the most effective way to dry cloth diapers and helps remove stains and deodorize.
  • If using a dryer, use low heat and consider adding wool dryer balls to help soften and fluff the diapers.
  • Stripping and Deodorizing
  • Over time, cloth diapers can build up residues from detergents, creams, and minerals in hard water, reducing their absorbency. This is where stripping and deodorizing come into play.


  • Every few months, strip your diapers to remove any built-up residues.
  • There are various stripping methods, but a common one involves washing with a small amount of detergent and hot water, followed by several rinse cycles.


  • If your diapers start to develop a lingering odor, it's time to deodorize them.
  • Sunning your diapers outdoors is an effective and natural way to deodorize.
  • You can also use a cloth diaper-safe deodorizer or baking soda in the wash cycle.


Even with the best practices, you may encounter some common challenges when using cloth diapers. Here are a few tips for troubleshooting:


  • Check for proper fit and make sure the diaper is secured properly.
  • Increase the absorbency by adding inserts or using a more absorbent material.
  • Ensure that you're changing frequently enough.


  • Sunning your diapers can help remove stubborn stains.
  • Use a cloth diaper-safe stain remover or oxygen cleaner.
  • Avoid using bleach, as it can damage the fibers and waterproof layers.

Ammonia Smell

  • This can be caused by a buildup of urine residues.
  • Strip your diapers and ensure you're using enough detergent.
  • Consider adding a cloth diaper-safe sanitizer or using a deodorizing wash routine.

Cloth Diapering on the Go

Cloth diapering doesn't have to stop when you're away from home. With a little preparation, you can easily use cloth diapers while traveling or running errands.

  • Pack a wet bag or small pail for storing dirty diapers.
  • Bring extra clean diapers, wipes, and any necessary accessories.
  • If you have access to a washing machine, pack enough diapers for your trip.
  • If not, consider using disposable liners or bringing enough diapers to last until you return home.

A World of Comfort, Crafted for Your Baby: Born Babies

Born Babies specializes in one-of-a-kind, environmentally friendly items for moms and newborns. Our product line consists of plant-based, mild infant care products, including balms, lotions, and creams that are enhanced with healthy components like shea butter and coconut oil. We also provide garments made of organic cotton, eco-friendly diapering options, and cutting-edge feeding equipment.

We supply absorbent breast pads, natural nipple creams, and cozy nursing apparel for nursing moms. Our unique selling point is our commitment to providing helpful and educational information on our platforms for new parents in addition to our product line. Parents who care about the environment choose Born Babies because of our superior, thoughtful, and sustainable goods.  

Wrapping Thoughts

Cloth diapering may seem intimidating at first, but with the right knowledge and preparation, it can be a rewarding and eco-friendly choice for your family. Remember, it's a journey, and it may take some time to find the system that works best for you and your little one. Embrace the learning curve, and don't hesitate to seek advice from other cloth diapering families or join online communities for support and tips.

How To Use Cloth Diapers: FAQs

1. What are the benefits of using cloth diapers?

Cloth diapers are eco-friendly, cost-effective, and gentle on your baby's skin. They reduce landfill waste and can save you money in the long run. Additionally, they come in various styles and patterns, making diapering a fun and fashionable experience.

2. How many cloth diapers do I need to start?

For a newborn, aim for 20-24 cloth diapers if you plan to wash every other day. This amount allows for a comfortable rotation between washes, ensuring you always have a clean supply on hand.

3. How do I choose the right size cloth diaper?

Most cloth diapers come in adjustable sizes to fit your baby as they grow. Look for diapers with snaps or Velcro that can be adjusted for a snug, leak-proof fit. Consider your baby's weight and growth rate when selecting the size.

4. How do I properly put on a cloth diaper?

Lay the diaper flat, place your baby on top, and pull the front up between their legs. Secure the diaper at the waist with snaps or Velcro, ensuring it's snug but not too tight. The diaper should cover the entire bottom and fit around the legs without gaps.

5. How often should I change my baby's cloth diaper?

Change cloth diapers every 2-3 hours or immediately after they're soiled. Newborns may need more frequent changes, while older babies might go longer between changes. Always change the diaper promptly to prevent rashes and discomfort.

6. How do I wash cloth diapers?

Pre-rinse with cold water to remove waste, then wash in hot water with a cloth diaper-safe detergent. Perform an extra rinse to ensure all soap is removed. Dry on a clothesline or in a dryer on low heat. Avoid fabric softeners and bleach, as they can decrease absorbency and irritate your baby's skin.

7. Can I use cloth diapers overnight?

Yes, cloth diapers can be used overnight. Consider using a more absorbent diaper or adding extra inserts to prevent leaks. Ensure the diaper fits well around the waist and legs to keep everything contained until morning.

8. How do I store used cloth diapers until laundry day?

Store used diapers in a dry pail with a liner or a wet bag. Keep the pail or bag in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Avoid soaking diapers in water, as this can lead to mold and odor issues. Wash diapers every 2-3 days to keep them fresh and clean.

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