Your Biggest Cloth Diaper Issues Answered

April 18, 2009

Cloth Diapers

In a recent post I asked you what your biggest issues with cloth diapers were and you answered!  In this post I have layed out some of the questions and my responses in red.  I always enjoy the feedback my readers provide to one another.  You have some great suggestions!  If you have a tip that would help someone out leave it in the comments section.

Most questions revolve around nighttime and stink issues.  For past posts on these subjects click on the categories Nighttime and Washing.
Does Bac-Out help with the ammonia stink that you get in pocket diapers (with a microfiber insert)? That has been my biggest problem. I have tried stripping my diapers, RLR laundry treatment, etc. and those things have helped, but nothing has really kicked the problem for good. Thanks for your help!
@Joceline: you might try doing a vinegar soak on your inserts. 2 hour soak in washer with full basin and 3 cups vinegar.

Can you use bac out on all diapers? Is it bad on pul? Do I need to separate my inserts and prefolds from the rest and just use it on them? My current issue is rash. My little one has constant poop (nb) and I change him everytime I know he has poop. It’s just around his hole (sorry! too much info!) so I know it’s not an enzyme issue, but I just don’t know how I’m going to remedy this problem. I make my own diaper creme (it’s actually an oil) and it made it go away once, but now it’s back : ( I don’t think there’s anyway to fix the problem other then change him often, but if anyone has advice I’m all for it!

@Candace: you can use bac-out on all your diapers. as far as the rash, it’s possible that he is having a reaction to something you are eating. If he is formula-fed it could be the formula. I know you said you make your own rash ointment but I have read tremendous reviews for Grandma El’s Diaper Rash Remedy.

my biggest issue is bulk. I used prefold and covers on my 4 month old (20 pound) daughter and they are just so bulky. At night, the folds with the double make for a very very bulky diaper. It doesn’t seem comfortable–all that fabric between her legsand on her tummy…. I know there are trim AIOs but we have opted for prefold for cost and ease of laundering.
@jane: it is possible to nighttime cloth diaper using prefolds you just have to be a bit more creative. have you tried trifolding a prefold around an absorbent doubler (hemp, zorb, bamboo)? for a cover have you considered investing in a bulletproof wool cover? babyology and aristocrats are great and affordable (by wool standards).

Stink is an issue for me, but that I can handle. What I’m having a problem with is leaking. Not leaking from the leg holes or out the back or wicking or from being oversaturated…but leaking through the PUL. I use Thirsties AIO, Drybees AIO, and Bumgenius One Size, and all of them started having this issue. (Well, not so much on the Bumgenius, but definitely the Drybees and sometimes the Thirsties.) It’s like the PUL lost it’s waterproofness. I have heard that putting them in the dryer helps “seal” it together again, but that doesn’t seem to be working for me. I’m not sure what’s going on here. Any ideas? Maybe higher heat? I dry on Medium heat…any hotter is supposedly not good for these AIOs.
@julie: first, i dry my diapers on high heat. always have. second, are you stuffing the pocket aios with a doubler? if your child is saving up their pee for one big flood it can overwhelm the soaker. we are having this problem with my 2yo. feel free to email me with more details ;)

Our biggest problem used to be leaks, but thanks to your great advice about microfiber car-washing cloths, our leaks are no more! (Hallelujah!) Now it’s a toss-up between the stink factor, the babysitter’s freak-out response to the idea of changing a cloth diaper, and the cost of washing them in the pay-per-load washers in our apartment building.(We actually spend as much doing laundry as we would buying disposables. Good thing there are so many good reasons to use cloth besides cost!) Another issue I have is with bleach. If I don’t use it, my diapers just don’t seem to get clean (I use prefolds). But everyone in the cloth diaper world seems anti-bleach. Can you tell me what the problems are with it, and if there are any good alternatives?
@debra: i am not a bleach hater. in moderation it has its place. a better alternative, however, is hydrogen peroxide.

Mine is definitely that stink, ugh…
I’m going to need to look into this bac-out.
Our other issue is finding a nighht cloth solution for our heavy wetting boys (a 23lb. 8 month old & 30lb. 2 yr. old) – they wear the same size diapers (most of the time) …prefolds & covers didn’t allow them much “breathability” …someone suggested dream-eze w/ a wool cover…
@terra: have you looked through the nighttime category? there are many posts with different recommendations. i would definitely suggest using a wool soaker to help keep sheets dry. dream-eze are the most absorbent fitted available. a few good fitteds: goodmama, sbish, patooshie pants nighttime, baby beehind.

My biggest issue with cloth diapers is that I have not found a night-time solution that works. My 2.5 year old leaks through pocket diapers…even with 3 inserts. I tried a fleece cover and it was ENORMOUS. I couldn’t get his pj’s over it. Help???!!

@eve: i feel your pain (((hugs))) what i have been doing with paisley- change her right as she’s going to bed. stuff her blueberry pocket with a green-edged prefold on top of her blueberry microfiber/hemp insert. yes it’s big but not huge. she hasn’t had leaks when i use the prefold. if i forget she’s wet :(

NIGHTIME DIAPERING! Super-do’s in a pocket with a flannel liner seems to work best. My daughter always gets a rash from being up against fleece.

@michelle: if you are looking for a stay-dry liner you could try suede-cloth or athletic wicking material. what pockets are you using?

mine is leaks. I have some minkey diapers that leak every time I put them on. The same brand without the minkey don’t leak at all. I was using fleece outfits this winter to combat the problem but now that it is getting warmer I am just done with them!
@andrea: if the fleece outfits were working well you might buy a few fleece soakers. they are really inexpensive. unfortunately, sometimes a diaper will leak because the PUL wasn’t applied well to the material. i have a couple of print pul aios that leak and the solid don’t.

HaHaHa! Great post, we all can relate! My biggest issue has been leaking in my bum genius 3.0’s. Thankfully you helped me resolve that issue by recommending stripping the diapers with Dawn. When I stripped them, I soaked them in the sink with Dawn while I rubbed each inner suede cloth by sticking one hand inside the diaper where the insert goes and the other hand to add a tiny bit of soap and help scrub from the outside. After I finished, I rinsed several times in the sink before a cold-heavy wash until there were no more bubbles and a hot wash. We have been leak free (and SANE) ever since! There is nothing like a leaky diaper waking your baby from a peaceful, much needed sleep!!! How often do you strip your diapers?
Thanks for your help!
@nicole: i strip my diapers every 2-3 months.

EVE_I was having nighttime issues I tried drybees with hemp and microfiber insert and got the stinkies BAD!!!!YUCK. And so it is in a landfill somewhere. I took Autumn’s advice and got a Sustainablebabyish diaper and WE LOVE IT! We are getting another soon. We cover it with a Thirsties cover-our favorite.

Autumn_have you used bac-out on the SBish diaper? I don’t wanna ruin it. How about Dawn?
Sarah Davis
@sarah: yep we use bac out on all the diapers.

Stink has always been my problem AFTER I washed them 2x, but I just started using Tide Original and stink no more! I guess my bigges tproblem is rash! Help!!
@kelly: is the rash all over and constant? there are so many different things that can cause a rash! do you notice it only with certain diapers?  Cloth Diaper Safe Diaper Rash Creams

My biggest issues are stink and a night solution. I have a small water heater so I can only do 1 cycle on hot before I run out of hot water. I tried stripping with Dawn — it used to work but it didn’t work the last time I tried. I’d like to know if BacOut is safe on PUL. Regarding nighttime, BGs used to work for my heavy wetter but she seems to be drinking more at night now so the BGs were not holding up. I switched to Hiney Lineys which provide a snugger fit with the snap in liner but my little one is so wiggly that it is nearly impossible to get this diaper on her without her wiggling separating and shifting the multiple insert layers from the cover. I have tried fitteds with wool covers and they just weren’t waterproof enough. I am thinking I will need to find yet another option — one that has a stay dry lining, completely bulletproof, and inserts that are absorbent but not too bulky (I currently use 1 BG OS insert, 1 MF insert, 1 hemp trifold, and 1 layer of Zorb).


Our biggest problem is the fit. We cant afford fitted and the prefolds always seem too small or to large. We need a better night option as well. I love wool covers fot leaks at night but she is too wet by morning. As for the red butt, my daughter is 18mo and still gets it sometimes. I think poop is just irritating though ive heard it can be a food allergy.

@karen: i didn’t like the hiney liney’s system. i really love the softbums perfectfit system though. check out my posts on them and see if they may work for you.  Softbums Intro, Softbums Review

@serenity: in addition to the recommendation above i would look into a cloth diaper safe barrier cream.  lil’ outlaws (the store i buy my pail pardner from) als carries a Rump Rub.  a product like this may help your daughter to heal and stay clear.


I don’t know if you can help me but here’s my biggest problem: FIT!!! I love the style of Very Baby’s diapers but the diaper with the right rise is too big in the legs. Sunshine has already tightened them for me and they *appear* to work better, but only while he’s standing. As soon as he lays down, you have a good one inch gap between his thigh and the diaper. What to do?! I have other issues with Sposoeasy’s (supposedly everyone loves those!). The soaker is sewn in the back and so in the front it bunches and when he goes he floods the joint. However, the medium Sposo is very nearly too big on him–rise is perfect, legs are maybe just a tad loose (he’s very skinny legged can you tell) and the tabs are crossed over as far as they can go.

What’s a girl to do with a skinny waisted, skinny thighed son?

@nancy: now i’m nervous! after reading a bazillion reviews on sposoeasy diapers i bought 5. i just got them in today. i really hope they aren’t a waste of money. back to your problem ;) i’d also recommend that you look into the softbums. sterling has tiny legs and with softbums i can get a good thigh fit and tight waste fit by overlapping the aplix tabs.

This site is wonderful! Thanks for all the tips. Our biggest problem is definitely the terrible stink. I’ve found that boiling the inserts for about 20 minutes seems to help, but don’t do it when you have guests arriving; the smell is horrendous! Also, does anyone know the best (cheapest) place to purchase Bac-Out?


@brooke: here are a couple of sites i found… gallon $25.50 @ planet natural and a case of 12 32oz bottles for $80.25 @ goodhumansHere is a full list of retailers.

Hi Autumn,
First, congratulations on your new sweet pea.

My biggest problem is that at daycare my son seems to be leaking out the top of his Nanas Bottoms AIO’s. It’s not a gusher, more like the pee wicks up to the very top of the diaper and makes a ring on his clothing. I have a dozen or so of these diapers and have loved them because they are so easy and daycare is willing to use them for the same reason. Now, not so much as they have to change his clothes daily now. I would be willing to try something else but really don’t know what else to try that would be (1) affordable, and (2) any different really.

Stephanie Ricks

@Stephanie We were having this problem until I started “repositioning” Sterling.  Once he wasn’t pointed up we aren’t soaking through the diaper and clothes anymore.  I also fold the top of the soaker at the top to add more absorbency.  If your diapers don’t have an external soaker you can buy doublers from a number of WAHMs (I really like Sarah’s at

Congrats on your new arrival! Istarted using bac-Out after seeing your video about it and washed 2x w/o it and I could smell the stink!! We will never run out again. We get our Bac-out at a few places..Whole Foods, Kroger, and the health food store.

We are having issues with our Happy Heiny’s leaking around the edges..just damp, like it is wicking. I am wondering if it is b/c they are prints and not solids. Also, have you tried the HH’s O/S?? We were thinking about getting a few, but I don’t know anyone using them.

Another question, is there a good WAHM fitted that is affordable?? I am wanting to add a few fitteds to our stash.

We are also trying to find a good cloth swim diaper for our vacation next month.

@jessica: I have not used HH OS. I did use HH back when I first started cloth diapering. HH prints are notorious for leaking. If you are looking for a one-sized pocket check this post . affordable wahm fitteds: many stores sell cloth swim diapers now. you can also use a pocket for a swim diaper.

My biggest problem is that my LO has grown out of the infant prefolds I have, and yet is still to little without having a HUGE mam0butt in the toddler prefolds I have… Is there another way to fold them that would be less bulky?
@shannan: how are you folding them? there are many ways to fold a prefold. lmk!

My biggest problem was finding what I really liked and worked for us. :)

But, as far as stink or washing goes, I would say the pail getting stinky and we have to take it out of dd’s room. We use a dry pail in a garbage can with lid with a wet bag. The ammonia gets overwhelming.

@melissa: i use lots of pail pardner by lil’ outlaws

Getting my husband, mom, mother-in-law and sister to use cloth when they are watching Abby is my biggest issue. I totally love Bac-out—It is the best for stinks and stains!!

@tina: do you have a small stash of easy-as-disposables diapers?  sposo-easys are good to have on hand for babysitters aka: husband, grandma, mom.  if your diaper pail is by the changing area then cloth becomes easier than disposables…less steps to the trash can lol.


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

View all posts by Autumn Beck

20 Responses to “Your Biggest Cloth Diaper Issues Answered”

  1. Anna Says:

    Hi! My greatest concern with cloth diapering is that my little guy (17mo) has been getting redness around the tip of his penis. I am thinking it is from the ammonia. I have been applying petroleum jelly and placing a sterile pad which seems to be working but I am wondering if there is something else that I can do as it doesn’t seem right that I have to do this. I don’t want to have to do this until he is out of diapers. Please help as I am on the verge of going back to regular diapers! I can’t have my little guy suffering, it’s just not worth it! Thanks!!


  2. Barb Says:

    I have been using cloth for 18mo. I have really struggled with my pocket diapers (Smartipants) with smell, rash, and now leaking around the legs. I wash with Allen’s pwdr., with a cold rinse, hot wash, and one more rinse. I am a homeschooling mom with 4 kiddos and I am looking for a miracle!!! Thanks for any advice.


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      My first suggestion is to try another detergent. Have you been using the same inserts for 18 months? They may be worn out. You can try boiling them and see what comes out. I’ve put inserts in the dishwasher and had great results (if you’re not familiar with the dishwasher strip search the blog).


      • Barb Says:

        Hi Autumn,

        Thanks for getting back to me. I have had the same inserts for 18 months but was not aware they would wear out so quickly (first child using them). I have several and alternate with prefolds which I actually use more often. So they have been used but certainly not every day. I have used Allens since last November and the diapers seem to do ok as long as I can get them in the sun (which in Michigan can be a challenge) otherwise they smell like ammonia after he wets the diaper. The rash started about a month ago and I thought it was teeth. But it seems to be from the pocket diapers and not the prefolds. When he leaks the insert is completely soaked. Do you reccomend a particular detergent for microfiber? Right now I am not a big fan!!! Thanks for your help.


  3. Alana Says:

    I am trying cloth diapers for the first time and I purchased the bumGenius 4.0 pocket diapers and a few best bottom and I am using the bumGenius detergent. My son has been getting rashes through out his groin area and his bottom is frequently red. Which CJ’s butter does help. Hoping that you may have some suggestions.

    Thank You!!


  4. leah Says:

    I searched for info regarding nubunz. Someone is selling some very reasonably and they look a lot like the bumgenius I have and like but I was wondering if you have heard of nubunz and if they work as well as bumgenius, or should I just stick with bg if they have been working for us. Thank you for your help. Just reading through this I learned a lot I did not know. Like rash cream affects.


  5. Jasmine Says:

    Thanks for the great info… I wish I’d found this earlier! My daughter had diaper rash of the worst kind and I tried everything. Finally I found the right combo (I wrote about it at I think the key was GSE (grapefruit seed extract) in the rinse cycle and sprayed on my daughter’s bottom. I found that the vinegar in the rinse made the problem worse.


  6. Jamie Luff Says:

    I need help!! I made a big mistake and used diaper rash cream on my bum genius 3.0!! I tried washing them in the sink with Dawn and gentle scrubbing with Dawn on a toothbrush. I tested them with a dropper and squirted water on them and the water still beads up and rolls off!! AHHH I have 20 diapers 3.0’s and am afraid they are all ruined!!! My daughter is getting diaper rash and leaking with them becuase they are not absorbing the liquid! I would really appreciate if anyone has suggestions!! Thank you!


  7. Jen Says:

    Where do I get the powder for the diaper pail? I have looked every where and I know its on the website somewhere :) Our pail SMELLS


  8. Heather Says:

    About bleach: I had never used bleach before. Then my mother complained about the smell (requesting a return to disposables), and was horrified that I didn’t use bleach. My brother & I wore cloth diapers, and she always bleached them. We each had exactly one instance of rash, the day we cut our 1st tooth. She just made sure she rinsed well. I also make sure I air them well outside. Chlorine does evaporate completely. The stink is gone!


  9. Stephanie Says:

    I just started CD, love it!! I have BG AIO, bumkins(fine for @ house), and sloomb for night. can I strip these? how do I keep the stink out?
    Thank You for giving me courage to start CD!


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      Stephanie, sbish diapers can be stripped in the same fashion other diapers are. keeping the stink out starts with making sure your diapers are thoroughly cleaned and rinsed.


  10. Jessica Says:

    My best tip is to rinse all night diapers with HOT water when you change in the morning. This has made the biggest difference in our ammonia troubles. Cold water didn’t do anything for us.

    My second best tip is to add Bac Out to the initial cold rinse and change the rinse to a short wash cycle. That little extra rinsing really gets things cleaner, fresher, and fewer stains.


  11. Stacey Says:

    I’m always surprised that you mention wool as being better than PUL in regards to nighttime leaks. I have used wool (well lanolized, double layer in wetzone, etc) and have never been pleased with it. It is ALWAYS at least damp, if not wet in the morning. We use Mother-Ease Air Flow covers with absolutely not ONE leak. And the side vents seem to help a bit with air flow. I do agree that it’s a much more natural choice, but it just isn’t fun when it’s always leaky.


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