Let’s, just for a moment, set a precedent.  I’m going to be real and raw about pretty much everything, especially cloth diapers.  Too much in this world is sugar coated and glazed to be shiny and pretty.


Changing diapers sucks.
Changing cloth diapers sucks more.
But I LOVE our cloth diapers.

If you have to change diapers, why not have them be inexpensive, pretty, and environmentally friendly all at the same time?

The PROs

1. They Save You Money*

*It would be a lie if I told you it was rabbit-hole proof.  Everything in moderation!

The following is what we spent, as a family, on our cloth diaper “stash.”  There are people who have double/triple/quadruple this amount.

  • Start-up Best Bottoms AI2 system used from a sister-in-law: $120
    • 9 covers and ~ 40 inserts
  • 5 additional Buttons covers (2 were gifts): $34.50
  • 1 Harry Potter Best Bottoms cover (I couldn’t resist): $18.95
  • Materials to make 11 of my own covers: $57
  • ~40 flour sack towels to replace the microfiber inserts I grew to abhor: $40

Grand Total: $270.45
Considering I get to use these all again with our second child, I’d say that’s a win.  At approximately twelve cents per diaper for a disposable, I’d much rather do cloth.  And this is the main reason we chose to cloth diaper our daughter, Kenna.

2. They’re Ridiculously Cute*

No, I can’t really think of a caveat.  I’ll just leave these here:

3. It’s *Better for the Environment

*Obviously there’s still some impact on the environment, depending on what fibers you choose in your diapers, but at least they aren’t getting thrown directly into a landfill!

PSA: You’re supposed to dump solids into the toilet even with disposable diapers, but I can pretty much guarantee most people don’t do that.

Sure, you use more water in your house than the average person, but that water simply gets treated at a facility and sent back out to be reused.

4. I Hear it’s Easier to Potty Train in Cloth

I haven’t been able to evaluate the merit to this one yet; Kenna is still under a year old.  The theory goes that baby feels wetness more in cloth diapers, so they are more eager to quit using their pants as a toilet.

The CONs

1. They Smell… Sometimes

Cloth diapers are basically the dirtiest, stinkiest, most foul laundry you’ll ever wash.  I’m not going to sugar coat it for you.  They smell like ammonia, and when baby eats fruit it’s the grossest thing ever.

2. Cleaning Them is Inconceivably Time Consuming

If you have an HE machine and you want to clean them right, it’s probably going to take half the day, no joke.
I have a standard top-loading spiral agitator washer and it takes roughly 2.5 hours to wash them and 1.5 hours to dry them in the dryer on high (I air dry my covers to keep them in better shape longer).  That’s a total of 4 hours.  That’s half a day for my husband, you guys.  Oh, then you have to fold them if you have flats like I do.

3. You Have to do Something with the Poop

I have a sprayer, and we use reusable fleece liners.  It’s not that bad.  Would I rather throw the poop-y diapers away sometimes?  *&$%, yes.
You can also do some other things to make life easier but I found this the simplest and most cost effective.

4. Sometimes There’s Mold… and Other Gross Stuff

Bugs, mold, and yeast from rashes love moist, warm diapers! Just use common sense, be smart, and stave off these things; you’ll be fine.  If it happens, it happens.  Luckily its really hard to ruin a cloth diaper!

5. It’s Hard to Nail Down a Night-time Diaper

If your baby sleeps through the night, which mine never did, you’ll want a diaper that holds up to 12 hours of pee.  That’s hard to do, even for disposables.  Luckily, Kenna has never been a “heavy wetter” as they call it, so we had no issue with this from the get-go.

Okay, so Now You’re Scared

It’s not that bad.  Set yourself up for success and you simply won’t fail.  Here are my life-saving, “semi-professional” tips:

  • Treat cloth diapers like the dirty laundry they are!
    • You’re gonna need to run two washes on those suckers
    • You’ve got to use a LOT of detergent

Detergent buildup is a myth, soap buildup is not.  Don’t use soap in your washer machine.

  • Get. A. Good. Wash. Routine.
    • Join the Fluff Love and CD Science group on Facebook and check out their website.  It will literally change your life.  All the ladies there are super helpful and will even help you diagnose issues like repelling and stink.  HALLELUJAH.
    • If you don’t want to use a toxic laundry detergent, they can help you find plant based or cruelty free detergent that fits your needs
  • DO NOT use mainstream cloth diaper detergent or homemade “detergent”
    • These detergents simply aren’t strong enough to clean human waste.  Don’t waste your money.  Some of them can even cause chemical burns.
  • DO NOT strip your diapers regularly.
    • It breaks down the fibers and greatly decreases the life of your diapers.  You should only have to strip if you messed up your routine several times, or if you bought a used stash and you know they were washed incorrectly.
    • If have to strip your diapers regularly, you’ve got a deeper problem.
  • Be aware of what kind of water you have, get test strips.
    • Hard or Soft?  This makes the world of a difference in maintaining the absorbent nature of your inserts.  Hard water has many minerals in it that get trapped in the fibers of your diapers (and regular clothes, too) and will make them start “repelling” and holding onto stink.
  • For the love of fluff, get a diaper sprayer OR buy disposable liners*
    • *Disposable liners are NOT flush-able, no matter what the package says.
    • *You STILL have to dispose of poop in the toilet, you can’t just throw those bad boys away.
  • If you live in warm, humid climate…
    • Take precautions against mold and maggots.  Hang dry your dirty diapers and wash on hot to kill anything yucky.

I could probably think of a lot more to say on this topic, but I’m going to stop at the basics.  If you all want to read more about the different types of cloth diapers and/or would like resources for making your own, let me know in the comments below.

Until next time,

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Lots of great points and I like your honesty!