5 Simple Steps To Begin Cloth Diapering

October 12, 2011

How-to, New to Cloth Diapers?

If you are just beginning to research the modern world of cloth diapers you are no doubt overwhelmed.

I have written extensively on how to cloth diaper from every aspect but compiling it all together can be confusing to the new reader.

Below I will very briefly lay out steps to take to begin cloth diapering today…or as soon as your order arrives ;)

  • Choose a system: (answering yes to the questions indicates that you would like that system)
  1. Pockets: Do you want to stuff diapers before use? Do you want the versatility to make it a nighttime diaper?
  2. All In Ones (AIO): Do you want the diaper ready to go straight out of the dryer? Do you mind having a diaper that most likely will not work at night? Will you line dry? Do you mind a diaper that takes a bit longer to dry?
  3. Prefolds or Flats and covers: Do you want a simple, no snaps, no elastic system? Do you need to save money and go the cheapest route? Will you travel a lot? Will you be in a foreign country? Will you be without a washer and/or dryer? Do you prefer an all natural fiber system?
  4. Hybrids: Do you want the option of using cloth and disposable inserts interchangeably?
  5. All In Twos (AI2): Do you want to change just the snap-in insert every change? Do you travel or camp often? Do you need to save space?
  6. Once you have decided on a system check out the My Recommendations tab and read reviews.
  7. Evaluate the size and shape of your baby and compare your choices to Best Cloth Diaper for Your Baby’s Body.
  1. One size: Do you want a diaper to last from 10-35lbs (estimate)? Do you plan on diapering more than one child at the same time?
  2. Sized: Do you want a snug fit? Do you prefer not to see rows of snaps? (many os have internal adjustments)
  1. Wet pail: Do you like the idea of soaking diapers before washing? Are you okay with the potential risk it poses?
  2. Dry pail: Do you want to use an easy to open trash can with a pail liner?
  3. Wet bag: Do you want a bag you can travel with or leave at home? Do you want something you can zip up? Do you want a cute, stylish print?
  • Where to buy:
  1. Online boutiques: Do you do all your shopping online? Do you want a one stop shop? Do you want to earn points/dollars/rewards for every dollar you spend?
  2. Brick and mortar store: Do you need to see and feel all the options? Do you want a face to face relationship with other like-minded people?
  • Washing:
  1. Is the detergent you are currently using safe for cloth diapers?
  2. I recommend Bac out. Highly recommend it.

Once you have answered these major questions, you are ready to make a purchase.

If your baby is a newborn you will need at least 24 diapers. If your baby is 9 months-2, you will need at least 15 (and you will be washing every day).

It isn’t necessary to buy everything on your first purchase.  Cloth diaper safe diaper rash creams, doublers, disposable liners, diaper sprayer, cloth wipes and wipes solution can all wait until needed or on your follow up purchases.

All you really need to cloth diaper is a baby, cloth diapers and good detergent. The rest is extra.

This list is far from exhaustive but it will get you started on the right path.  Hopefully, it will clear some cobwebs and fuel your excitement to begin this journey!

It may seem weird but cloth diapering is fun and highly addictive. Not that I know anything about the latter. :)

This post may contain affiliate links.


, ,

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

45 Responses to “5 Simple Steps To Begin Cloth Diapering”

  1. Justine Says:

    Hubby and I are expecting our first this December and I really want to cloth diaper!
    We will be buying a mini washer and line drying. I’d like to stay as cheap as possible without sacrificing proper function. One size would probably work for us, but what diapers come in one size? What would you recommend for us? Can I wash breast feeding poo diapers with regular clothes too? Especially if using the Bac Out? What are the potential risks of using a wet pail?


    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      Congrats! I would just do a warm prewash on the diapers first. Then it would be no problem to wash with regular clothes. Many people do it in fact. As for a wet pail as little one gets older it becomes a drowning risk. It’s also very harsh on elastics and PUL in covers. It would be fine for flats and prefolds if that is all you are using though. Finally for the diapers, many, many brands are availabe in one size. I would just caution you to not stock up on all one brand or type. Nothing works on every baby nor will you like every brand. Buy a few of a couple different brands to try first. Then you will know what works and what doesn’t before stocking up. Good luck momma! <3


  2. Kaley Says:

    Hi! My husband and I are expecting baby #2 and are also on a pay off our debt mission. Everyone has suggested cloth diapers and I have to say I’m skeptical. We used disposables with our son and I can’t even count the number of blow outs and leaks we had because he was what I call “a super soaker”. I am willing to give it a try, especially with a newborn who barely wets a diaper and you go through gobs of them! But I keep hearing about the challenges of washing. I see yours wash routine but are you saying, I cant just rinse them off and toss them in the washer? We have a front loader so no soaking in the machine and have very sensitive skin in our house (we currently use All Free & Clear). I’m a working mom and I can’t imagine having to spray, soak in a bucket, hand wash and then line dry. The thought is making me want to walk away right now . . . can it all be done in the machine?


    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry Kaley, I just found this comments in the pending que. Are you still having issues? You don’t need to soak if you aren’t haing issues. And I swear newborn poo is water soluble until they start solid food. It’s because they are on a liquid diet, the poo literally just rinses away in the prewash. Here are a few tips that work for any washer: Tips for getting clean cloth diapers no matter the type of machine:

      -Try to keep your wash routine as simple as possible and use common sense.
      -Use a prerinse/wash that agitates and spins. If it isn’t doing those two things, it’s kind of a waste.
      -Use the LONGEST available HOT wash setting. The longer cycle allows the detergent and machine time to do its job properly.
      -Use an appropriate amount of water for the load size. The diapers need to rub against each other as part of the cleaning process. If you use too much water they are just going for a swim; too little water and they won’t be able to move and therefor won’t get clean. For a top loader, a wash cycle should look like a stew, not a soup.
      -Use an appropriate amount of detergent. Soft water requires a little less and hard water requires a little more. I recommend that you use the same amount of detergent for cloth diapers that you would use for a same size load of heavily soiled clothing.
      -Don’t overload your washing machine. Consult the manual if you have questions on how to load your machine (there is a right way) and also the max capacity. An overfilled washer will not clean properly.
      -Clean cloth diapers should not smell. If you smell anything out of the wash, dryer or immediately after a child urinates, there is a problem. Check that you are doing the above tips and then your first step is usually to add a little more detergent. If you have further issues, reach out for help. Consult the manufacturer of your diapers or another trusted source.
      -There is no ONE right way to clean cloth diapers. Clean cloth diapers are dependent on many different factors including water type, washing machine type, detergent, type of cloth diapers being wash and the wash routine itself. Because of this, there are MANY ways that will work. As with anything in life, you may have to research and experiment a little to find what will work best for you and your family.


  3. christene Says:

    I am new to cloth diapers and I had purchased pocket cloth diapers before my baby was born and tried them but could never get them to stop leaking out so I stopped using them and unfortunately and reluctantly went to disposables. But now I really want to try them again and thought they might fit better even though they were one size fits all. I still have some problems leaking and still have no idea what I am doing. Help?


  4. Je'Ne Jordahl Says:

    I an so thankful for all this information in cloth diapering. I look forward to my journey in the near future


  5. Lauren Powell Says:

    Your articles and newsletters have greatly helped me and my husband with our new adventures in cloth diapering. Very honest informative and easy to follow. Thank you for clearing up so much confusion for us I no longer feel like a novice :)


  6. Shannon Hann Says:

    What is the difference between bum genius 3.0 and 4.0?


  7. Ashley Kirkland Says:

    I have a few questions about cloth diapers and I was hoping someone could help me find some answers.
    I think I’m pretty sold on the Bum Genius brand, although I had also heard of Fuzibunz.
    As far as the Bum Genius goes, I know there are two main types that I’m looking into: the all-in-one, and the Bum Genius 4.0 (I believe these come with inserts??). My questions are these:
    Should I buy both kinds? Its my understanding that the all-in-one are not necessarily optimal for overnight use. So should I buy the Bum Genius 4.0 for over night? And do I need to buy extra inserts?
    As far as the all-in-one, which is preferred? The Elemental or Freetime?

    I really appreciate anyone with some suggestions!! Thanks Ladies!!


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      Tough questions! I love both the Elemental and Freetime. The deciding factor would be do you want a stay dry fabric or organic? You are right, neither one of them are truly dependable for night. The 4.0s are excellent diapers and they come with inserts. However, you will need to buy Hemp Babies (or any hemp doubler), also sold at Cottonbabies, to give the microfiber some help in absorbency.


  8. Rhonda Says:

    I am expecting in August of 2012 and would really like to cloth diaper. I’ve always contemplated cloth diapering my other babies, but became overwhelmed at the vast information and difference of opinions on the internet. One thing I have noticed that all people seem to agree on is that the size and build of your baby has alot to do with the diaper you should use. So how do I choose a diaper when I’ve not had my baby yet? Being a veteran mom (I have 8 other children) I know that babies can vary widely in size and build even with the same mom. Is there a starter diaper that would be good for all varieties? I don’t mind spending money for a good diapering system. I just don’t want to waste money going through trial and error processes trying to find something that works.


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      Softbums is a safe choice. They are very adjustable in size and absorbent. I prefer the aplix over the snaps but that’s just my fit preference for this brand.


  9. Bailey Says:


    I am just starting to research cloth diapering, and this post has been a HUGE help! Your website is great!!

    I’ve been trying to convince my husband why we should do it before our daughter was born, and now that our disposables are running out from the shower, I think it’s time to try again. ;)

    I have a couple questions for you before I bombard him with loads of information.

    1. I have it narrowed down to 3 systems- pockets, hybrids, or all-in-2’s- and I just don’t know which would be best for our situation. I’m a WAHM so we don’t go out too much (we only have one car), but in the summer we are campers. She also is babysat by my parents and my husband’s parents from time to time, and we want something that’s fairly easy for them as well. We definitely need something that’s good for night time because she pees a LOT!

    2. How well do the one-sized diapers really fit? My daughter is 7 months, and just about 18 pounds. How often would I have to buy sized ones if we went that route?

    3. Do you use a pail for home and a wet bag for travel? Or can a wet bag be used in the home as well? I know this one sounds kind of silly, but it’s all brand new to me! Which do you prefer for home and which for light travel (like when you do errands)?

    4. What brand of actual diapers do you prefer? I like sylish patterns, but they’re not necessary. I’m also on a budget, so what’s the best deal?

    Thank you so much in advance! Again, this has been a huge help with the research I’m trying to do to convince him ;)



  10. tarin Says:

    Hi autumn
    I bought 12 bg elementals for our new arrival in feb. My son is 2 and has started potty training but is still in diapers about 70% of the time. We use pockets for him which are on their last legs, but still very usable. My problem is that I have come to despise pockets because of the stuffing, removing of dirty inserts etc which is y I bought the elementals. If you were me what would you do: would u abandon the very usable pockets and use the elementals or would you just bite through it and use the pockets until the older kid is fully potty trained. Will using them on my tall 2 year old stretch out the elastic too much for use on a tiny baby later on? Your advice would be much appreciated.


  11. Alyssa Says:

    I am starting to stress a little about having two in diapers. Cloth diapers. We have been using cloth, mainly Econobum and Flip with our 17 month old for the last year. With our third due in Feb, we decided to get a little easier diaper to use. We have fallen in love with SoftBums and are trying to get our stash replaced with them. How many covers, pods and inserts would you suggest our stash have to begin with at least?


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      I would look at Softbums website and check out their packages. That would give you an idea of how many they recommend. You will still need 24 “diapers” for a newborn and you will need more covers than you would for a toddler.


    • Michelle Bottorff Says:

      Hi Alyssa,

      If you want to replace your full stash of diapers with SoftBums only keep in mind that in the beginning you will need more covers because of the newborn runny (and frequent poops). I would say a minimum of 8 shells and a minimum of 24 inserts (though 30 is more realistic since sometimes you don’t always get to the laundry exactly every 48hrs)


  12. LISA Says:

    Autumn, someone, please help!
    I love your site and have been trying to post a comment to ask some specific questions and for some reason my post keeps getting deleted after a few days without reply (or acknowledgement). What am I doing wrong? Please help, this is getting very discouraging :( I think this will be my last attempt to post…


  13. Heather Says:

    I wish I could have read this post when I first started out cloth diapering, it’s so clear and concise. I have a bunch of cloth diaper blogs I’ve bookmarked but yours is the one I always look at first because you seem to have the most practical information and I feel like you are giving your real honest opinions about products. Thanks!


  14. Alexis S Says:

    I was wondering how you use Bac out. Do you use it as detergent or do you use it with your detergent?


  15. Chanda Says:

    Hi Autumn

    I have a question about Diaper Storage. I noticed when you listed Wet Pail Storage you mentioned it could have a possible risk. What would the risk be if you don’t mind?


  16. Lilli Says:

    Posting with Autumn’s permission.  I have 21 VERY GENTLY used BumGenius AIO Newborn diapers. My little one has used them for a month and a half (we waited until the Meconium poop & erratic pattern was all out-about two weeks) and my baby just hit two months. My monster child has already outgrown them so we have moved on to our FB OS. This is our last child so I’d like to sell them. They retail for $12.95 plus tax. I’m asking $8.95 each or $8.25 each if you want ALL of them. They have only been washed in Rockin Green and line dried or dried inside. Please see my post on my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/Lilli.perez.gonzalez) and message me if you’re interested or if you have other questions. I have:
    1 Blossom
    2 Bubble
    2 Butternut
    1 Clementine -gone
    1 Grasshopper -gone
    1 Moonbeam -gone
    4 Noodle
    1 Ribbit
    2 Sweet
    1 Twilight
    1 Zinnia
    4 White


    • Riei Says:

      I don’t have a facebook, and baby cj is arriving the beginning of April. If you still have ones in neutral colors by then, please let me know :)


  17. Amy Says:

    Hi!! just wanted to thank you for all of the information you post for us. It really is such a blessing. I am hoping you could help me…. I cant find any answers on your site or online. Did you know that it takes about 7 hours to go through all of the information on your site? And that is with a mom visiting and watching your two kids! :) anyway, I researched until I couldnt take anymore and purchased Bummis Organic prefolds and thirsties covers. I was so nervous but so excited. Fast forward…. My newbie came down with a rash ( that spread wherever the diaper was) that took me a week (of going back to disposables) , to get rid of. I washed them exactly like Bummis and your site said, so I know it wasn’t detergent. One thing I didnt realize would happen is that when my baby wet, it would wet the whole prefold. Maybe that is obvious, but I didn’t like how wet her skin felt no matter how often I changed her.
    I’m so frustrated! My little girl is back in disposables which I feel awful about! And I spent so much time trying to figure out the best thing for the little money I had it feels wasted now. Sorry for whining- I was just hoping and praying you
    could help ;) hope your having a great day!


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      go find a fleece blanket and cut strips to lay between baby and wet prefold. see if that helps!


    • Aisha Says:

      Also, if you’re snappi-ing, try just trifolding the prefold and laying it inside. That way less of then wet prefold will touch her skin and you can more easily put some fleece on top to get the “stay dry” feeling.


    • Cristy Says:

      Also, consider trying something called “diaper sleeves” If you sew at all they are super simple to make. Basicly it is a sleeve made of a stay dry fabric (crushed panne-easily found at joanns, microfleece, microchamoise, suedecloth-also easily found at joanns etc) that you put a trifolded prefold into. Then, you lay the sleeved diaper into your cover and snap up your cover.

      There are some diaper sleeves comercially made and sold but I cant remember where it was that I saw them. Hope you are able to figure something out! Some babies skin cant stand the natural fibers against their skin, while others cant tollerate synthetics. Keep trying! And, dont worry. I pretty much cloth diaper my boys full time but the occasional trip into disposables for a rash or other reason wont kill them. :)


  18. Aisha Says:

    If only this post existed when I was mind boggled about where to begin and what to buy a mere few weeks ago..


  19. lisa Says:

    Warning, this is going to be long, lol!
    Ok, I’ve been reading your blog for two days straight and have learned so much, but I do have some lingering questions. I have some experience with CD with my first son, but if I could finally work out the kinks I think I will have a better experience and stick with it. One mistake from the first time around is that I loved the CDs, but for some reason never attempted to figure out an overnight system (defaulted to disposables for nights and traveling). Because we had disposables around, the convenience/laziness factor kicked in and we eventually succumbed to the dark side. The styles I used before were, AI1, AI2, and prefolds with snappi and covers. I really liked them all for different reasons. I was always really bummed out though that the AI1 was really only a one time use, where the others you could just change out the liner if it was just a pee or contained poop. I think I have decided that this time I will focus mostly on the other two styles, except I would really like your advice on pockets since you seem to prefer those (I think). This may sound unrefined, but if the wicking layer that touches baby’s skin works so well (and can be used overnight for 10+ hours) is it possible for daytime use to just change out the insert if baby only pees (I’m thinking reuse once, not all day long). It just kills me to think of laundering the whole thing just for a little pee. If that’s not a good idea, it seems like maybe you could use a pocket diaper like an AI2 by laying the liner on top instead of stuffing (?).

    When it comes to drying, I assume line drying is best to preserve the longevity of the diaper, but is it necessary? Are there certain styles/brands that must be line dried? I would prefer to use a machine :)

    Can you give me the pros/cons of snaps vs velcro or aplix. Velcro styles seem faster, easier and give a more custom fit, but everywhere I look I see snaps so maybe there’s something I’m missing.

    Ok last question. I am expecting my 2nd son to be about the same size as my first (9 lbs) with the goal of being out of diapers by 22 months (~25 lbs) ***First son was trained by 22 months, thanks to Elimination Communication. Very much recommended for all babies!!! Read Early Start Potty Training by Linda Sonna*** would really like to try out the adjustable size diapers this time around, what brands would work best for this size range (I think what I’m saying is that I don’t need or want a diaper that has more rows of snaps than I will need. I don’t need it to go up to 35 lbs, I would rather have a good fit for newborn/infant stages but do want something that will grow with him)?

    My tentative plan is to buy a few Rumparooz lil joey’s for newborn stage as well as using prefolds, then a mix of Kawaii and Sunbaby plus continue with prefolds for infant on up. Obviously I am trying to be budget conscious. What do you think about these choices given my questions and preferences?

    Sorry for the book. Thank you so much for your time and everything that you do for families trying to figure this stuff out! I do plan on purchasing your guide, but would love to get some answers to these specific questions as well.


  20. Shiree Says:

    I second the Bac-out recommendation. I had cloth diapered my little one for about 8 months when we started having mysterious rash issues that I could not solve with switching detergents and rinsing, rinsing, rinsing. I was, sadly, ready to give up cloth diapers. I added Bac-out and the problem is gone! Hooray!


  21. Kelly Says:

    Great job on simplifying cloth diapers! Although, I do think it’s nice to have a variety of types. Prefolds and covers are great for around the house, AIOs are perfect for babysitters, All-in-Twos are perfect for out and about and nothing is better than fitteds and wool for overnight. Something I really recommend is to buy the cheap gerber baby washclothes for wipes and just use water. Baby wipes solutions and cloth wipes are nice but not necessary. Better to save money to spend on diapers!


  22. Jennifer Says:

    Well said. Clear, concise and to the point in an easy-to-read format.

    I like it! =)


Leave a Reply

Pin It on Pinterest

Sharing is caring!