13 Most Commonly Asked Cloth Diaper Questions

Over the last 5 years I have received thousands of questions from readers.  Not surprisingly many of them are the same questions.

Sometimes you need answers to the truly annoying problems, but other times you just want a handy tip or favorite list.  Many of you also send me questions not related to cloth diapers but about babywearing, breastfeeding, homebirthing or, most commonly, homeschooling.

Today I will give you answers to the 13 most commonly asked cloth diaper questions.  Tomorrow you’ll receive the 7 most commonly asked non-cloth diaper questions.

1) What is your wash routine?  Prewash, wash, extra rinse.  I still use Bac Out in the prewash but BioKleen has changed the formula and I am hesitant to fully endorse it.  How much BacOut do you add to the prewash? 1/3 cup or 3 big squirts.  I add it directly on the diapers.

2) What detergent do you use?  By far the most commonly asked cloth diaper question.   There is much more freedom in what you wash your diapers with than one is usually led to believe.  Definitely say no to detergents with fabric softeners.  Optical brighteners, scents and enzymes can cause buildup or repelling issues but not necessarily.  Over the last 2 years I have used Purex Natural Elements and currently Kirkland’s Environmentally Friendly detergent.

3) What is your nighttime diaper choice?  I have several I like.  Here are my top choices: Rumparooz stuffed with microfiber 6r soaker + Geffen Baby Newborn Quick Absorber, Peachy Baby with bamboo/cotton inserts + Geffen Baby NQA, or my favorite a Little Fancy Pants fleece sleepy + Responsible Mother wool cover

4) What do you recommend for a family on a budget that wants Made in the USA? My instant recommendation is always Thirsties.  Great quality, affordable prices and widely available.  There are many lower profile brands made by hardworking moms that can be used as well.  One example would be Nana’s Bottoms on Hyena Cart.  Although not the most budget friendly, bumGenius has brought the production of the new Elementals to the USA.  bumGenius is a solid brand, widely available and a great starter diaper.

5) What is the easiest one-sized system for more than one in cloth diapers? An AI2 system is optimal.  Specifically, SoftBums are great because of the easy to adjust leg elastic.  You can go from tiny for a newborn to big for a toddler in a couple of seconds.  Pockets are also easy to use between two children because of the ability to adjust the absorbency for each.  I prefer the simplicity of an AI2 over stuffing pockets but each family has their favorites!

6) How do you store your dirty cloth diapers?  I use large and x-large wet bags for storing dirty diapers.  Monkey Foot Designs, Rumparooz and RagaBabe are my favorites.  You can read about them in 4 Things Needed to Cloth Diaper Successfully

7) Do you use cloth diapers when you travel?  Yes and no.  There have been a couple of times, one camping trip and when we moved out to California last August, that I used disposable inserts.  Both times I ended up wishing I had used cloth.  The usual routine though is to use cloth diapers.  I have washed cloth diapers in a number of very different machines, water types and sand content thanks to the beach house.  Cloth diapers are much more resilient than we give them credit for.  A wash in my friend’s or mom’s machine or the yellow sandy beach water has never left me with problems to fix when I get home.

The bigger issue is space.  When we travel I take either AI2s or pack lightly with another system.  We recently went to my mom’s for 5 days and I packed 15 fitteds and 2 covers for Finley and 6 AIOs for Camden.  I washed while there and only had to resort to a disposable insert once when I ran out of clean cloth diapers.

8) How do you strip your diapers? If I have a front loader I use the bathtub and soak all the diapers in hot water and RLR.  If I have a top loader I fill the machine and stop it, then soak.  If I have a top loader and soft water I do a vinegar soak.

9) My baby had a yeast infection, do I need to treat the diapers?  Yes!  Bleach, extremely hot water (over 122) and tea tree oil will rid the diapers of the fungus but not the spores.  The spores can and will remain dormant in the diapers until the environment is nice and cozy to attack.  Aside from the obvious of ensuring that the environment is not ever nice and cozy, I suggest using 1/2 – 1 teaspoon grapefruit seed extract (gfse) to kill the yeast spores.  A very hot wash with detergent and gfse in the rinse cycle should get the critters.

10) What is your favorite newborn diaper?  For Paisley, Sterling and Camden I loved using fitteds and covers.  Goodmama velour diapers are amazing but are expensive and harder to buy in bulk.  Other brands I have used and would recommend: Short Rounds, Little Boppers, Little Fancy Pants, Tangerine Baby, Sustainablebabyish (Sbish) and Muttaqin Baby (Mutts).  For covers I love SweetPea and xs Thirsties.

With Finley I ended up using more AIOs and AI2s.  RagaBabe and Peachy Baby were my most grabbed for diapers.

But, don’t get stressed out about spending money on a stash that your baby will outgrow in 2 months.  You can rent newborn diapers from a number of different retailers and then return them for a store credit.  I love this option that retailers have begun offering parents!  A comprehensive (not exhaustive) list can be found in the Directory of Newborn Cloth Diaper Rental Programs.

11) How many cloth diapers do I need?  So hard to answer!  At least 15 is a doable number.  I realize that many families have a hard time getting their stash started.  I suggest starting with 6 and building up to 24.  Depending on the age of your baby the number of diapers needed per day will vary.  Check out How Many Cloth Diapers Do You Need? for more information on the topic.

12) What is a good cloth diaper safe rash cream?  Thankfully, there are lots to choose from!  As with everything, what works for one might not work for another.  Scarlet’s Naturals Hiney Honey Creme has always worked very well for my children.  Other brands I use often and are cloth diaper safe: CJ’s Butter (I love the spritz and the Plus formula for yeast), Growing Up Herbal, and Delish Naturals.  A more comprehensive list can be found in Cloth Diaper Safe Diaper Rash Creams.

13) Do you use a diaper sprayer? What is the best diaper sprayer? I used a diaper sprayer for about a year back in 2010. I had the bumGenius diaper sprayer and found it easy to install and adjust the flow.  Many cloth diaper users prefer the DIY version.  Many of you also wonder what I do with the solid if I don’t use a sprayer.  Except for the short time I had a diaper sprayer I have followed the same method: shake off and dump what I can, then toss in wet bag.  I wash every other day or two and I’ve never had a fungus or maggot problem (ewwww. just writing that word makes me wretch)  My prewash with BacOut removes any remaining solid.


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About Autumn Beck

Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ. She began cloth diapering in 2005 and has experienced many joys and trials throughout the years. You can read more from Autumn over at https://www.facebook.com/beautifullyblessedlashes.

View all posts by Autumn Beck

8 Responses to “13 Most Commonly Asked Cloth Diaper Questions”

  1. lara jane Says:

    I’m so bummed that Bac-Out’s formula has changed. I haven’t tried the new stuff but I’m reading a lot of negative reviews… Any other options you’d recommend? I really relied on it!


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      I have used the “new” formula without any issues. I am awaiting an official response from Biokleen but I have seen sources that state the ingredients did not change. The label has simply been updated to be more thorough. We shall see what they say ;)


  2. Nicole Says:

    What has bac-out done to the formula? I wasn’t aware of the change!


  3. Caitlin Says:

    Thanks for the great post! Do you have any advice, I think I may have ammonia build up, or else I’m not sure what is going on, but I’ve tried everything I can think of. My daughter will get raw-red where she pees after a few days in diapers, and it starts appearing usually the first or second day. I’ve tried hotter washes, more detergent (country save), different detergent (purex and original tide), vinegar, bleach, disinfecting with GSE, sunning them, stripping with dawn, adding washing soda. Nothing is working, so she has been in disposables for almost two months now. :-( any advice? My wash routine is: cold wash/rinse with nothing, hot wash with country save detergent and rinse, cold wash/rinse with nothing. Any help or advice you have would be greatly appreciated.


  4. Morgan Says:

    GREAT article!

    We are currently using miralax bc of my two-year-old daughter’s constipation and I’m wondering how much is too much solid (diarhea in our case) to leave on the dipe for our front loader machine? we dont have a sprayer. I’m glad you mentioned that you also have a FL and no sprayer.

    Do you still add a little water softener to your FL routine?


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