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25 Brilliant Tips for the Cloth Diaper Newbie

Just getting started with cloth diapers? Looking for all the best tips to help you avoid issues and make cloth diapering a breeze? 

Cloth diapers are great. They’re healthier for your baby, better for the environment, and can even save you loads of money. But, getting started with cloth diapers can certainly be overwhelming. 

There’s a learning curve you have to overcome, familiarizing yourself with all the new lingo, and determining which advice you should follow and which you should ignore. But with the right tips and tricks, cloth diapering can be a cakewalk.  

Listed below are 25 of the best cloth diaper tips to help you succeed at cloth diapering. 

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25 of the Best Cloth Diaper Tips

I’ve learned a lot over the past 3 years of cloth diapering two kiddos. I instantly fell in love with the fluff and became quite the cloth diaper geek. I want you to be successful at cloth diapering as well and enjoy it as much as I have, so I’m sharing 25 of the best cloth diaper tips and tricks you’ll find around. 

1.) 24-36 Diapers Should Do the Trick

How many diapers you have is totally up to you, but as a general rule of thumb, it’s best to have 24-36. If you’re investing in a newborn stash, you may wan’t to lean on the side of 36, as your baby could go through 12 or more diapers in one day alone. 

2.) Use Cloth Wipes

You’re already using cloth for your diapers, so you might as well use cloth for wipes. Simply throw them in the wash with your dirty diapers and reuse them over and over again. 

I actually found cloth wipes to work SO much better when dealing with poop. You only have to use 2-3, maybe 4, compared to 6+ when using disposables. 

We’ve been using the GroVia cloth wipes for over three years now, and they’re still in great condition. I have tried a few other brands, but these are definitely top-notch, as they’re nice and thick, but still ultra soft. 

3.) You Don't Need a Fancy Wipe Solution

Despite what some people may say, you do NOT need a fancy wipe solution. Plain ole’ water works just fine. 🙂 

You could wet your wipes down in the sink before each change or you could keep a peri bottle or small spray bottle at your changing table for easy access. We do the peri bottle during the newborn months and start wetting in the sink when I can carry baby on my hip. 

4.) Try Out Different Types and Styles

Don’t be afraid to try out different styles, brands, and types of fabric. I always recommend buying 1 or 2 diapers of various styles when just starting out to see what you like best before purchasing your entire stash. 

Plus, as your baby grows different diapers may fit him better or worse depending on leg thickness, height, etc. You can check out various brands and styles over at Nicki’s Diapers. They even have a 15 day try, wash, return policy if you’re not fond of what you got. 

5.) Use Natural Fibers for Heavy Wetters

If you find your baby to be a heavy wetter, then I would invest in more natural fibers, as they tend to be more absorbent than their synthetic counter parts. Go ahead and give cotton, hemp, and bamboo a try if your baby is soaking through their diapers. You could even try using some wool covers.  

6.) Store Your Dirties in a DIY Pail

All you need to make your diaper pail is a tall kitchen trash can and an anti-microbial pail liner. I know many moms also use those standing plastic laundry baskets with holes along the side of them. And contrary to what you might think, the more air equals the less stink, so keep those lids and doors to the room open

When laundry day comes, you can easily pull out your pail liner and flip it inside out to throw your dirty diapers in the wash without you even having to even touch them. 

Dirty diaper pail

7.) Get a Wet Bag (or 2) for Traveling

I know some moms skip the pail and just use a large wet bag for storing their dirty diapers at home, but I prefer wet bags strictly for traveling. We have 2 medium size wet bags for daily travels, which fit nicely in the diaper bag, and we also have one large wet bag for when we go on weekend trips. The large ones also work well for storing wet swimsuits and towels when you go swimming. 

8.) Make Sure Your Diaper Cream is Cloth-Safe

Not all diapers creams are safe for cloth, as some can cause repelling and staining. You’ll want to be sure to familiarize yourself with cloth-safe diaper creams in order to choose the right one for your diapers and your baby. We actually mainly just use plain coconut oil as diaper cream at our house. 

9.) The Detergent Makes a Difference

Just like with your diaper cream, you also need to choose a detergent that is safe for cloth diapering. Many detergents can cause repelling issues, ammonia buildup, and even chemical burns. And, homemade soap just doesn’t do the trick when it comes to cleaning and can even destroy your washing machine. 

Be sure to checkout Fluff Love’s Detergent Index to find one that is compatible with your diapers, your water hardness, your baby, and your lifestyle. We use Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus at our house, but I know many moms that stick with trusty old Tide Powder. Here are a few other recommended detergents you could choose from: 

Plant-Based

  • Amway Legacy of Clean SA8
  • Boulder
  • Ecover
  • Kirkland Environmentally Friendly/Responsible

Synthetic

  • Gain
  • Foca
  • Wisk
  • Biz

10.) Change Your Diapers Every 2 Hours

In order to avoid leaks and diaper rash, you should be changing your baby’s diaper AT LEAST every 2 hours during the day. If your baby is a really heavy wetter, you may need to change every 1.5 hours. 

I would continue to change your baby’s diaper every time they wake up at night during the newborn stage, in order to keep track of wet and dirty diapers, but as your baby gets older, you can let them go longer, even the whole night, without a diaper change. You just have to find the right nighttime solutions

11.) Wash Every 2-4 Days

How often you wash is up to you, but I probably wouldn’t go longer than 4 days at most. If you’re washing every 1-2 days, you won’t need as many diapers, but if you need to go every 3-4 days, you’ll probably need to invest in a few more. 

cloth diapers in the washer

12.) No Need to Rinse the Breast Milk Poo

If your baby is exclusively breastfed, there is no need to rinse the poop off before throwing it in the pail. Because breastmilk poop is water soluble, all you need to do is do a pre-rinse or short wash before your main wash in the machine.

However, if the smell bothers you, go ahead and rinse the poo before storing it until wash day. If your baby is formula fed or eating solids, you will need to rinse with each poopy diaper. 

13.) Try & Keep it Simple

While I agree with Fluff Love’s advice on detergents and water hardness, I do find some of their washing recommendations a bit extreme. I believe you should try and keep your wash routine as simple as possible. 

Do a pre-rinse or short wash before your main wash, and be sure to use the heavy soiled setting. Use hot water if you’re using a plant-based or all & clear detergent. 

Related

14.) Always Check Your Fit

Be sure to check your fit with each diaper change to avoid leaks and blowouts. Make sure there’s no gaps in the legs, your rise is on the right setting, and the diaper is not on too tight. Pink marks are completely normal with cloth, but red marks are NOT. If your baby is left with red, loosen that diaper. If you’re unsure how your cloth should fit, you can find a tutorial here

15.) Velcro Doesn't Last

While velcro (hook and loop) is nice for grandparents and day care providers, it just simply doesn’t have the longevity that snaps do. Plus, snaps make it more challenging for your baby to pull their diaper off. 

If you do choose to use velcro, just be sure to attach your tabs to the inside tab savers before throwing them in the wash to extend their life as much as possible. And, if your velcro ever does wear out, you can always replace it with snaps. 

16.) Complex Folds Aren't Necessary

If you’re wanting to use prefolds to get the most bang for your buck, but the origami folds seem too intimidating, then you’re in luck. Truly, no complex folds are necessary.

You can simply fold your prefold like a pad and place it inside your baby’s cover, like displayed in this easy nighttime solution. I do find the more complex folds helpful during the newborn stage, but once baby is about 3 months old, we typically just stick with the pad fold. 

prefold solution

17.) Repurpose Your Prefolds

Prefolds are great because they’re so much more than just a diaper! Their excellent absorbency also makes them great burp cloths. We even like to use them as a changing pad, since you can easily toss them in the wash. 

Once you’re done using your prefolds with your baby, you could resell them or save them for cleaning around the house. 

18.) You Should Rarely Need to Strip

If you’re doing everything right you shouldn’t ever need to strip. So, make sure you’ve got a good wash routine down, the right detergent, and a cloth-safe diaper cream. 

If you buy pre-loved (used), it’s probably best to do a strip, unless you know for a fact that previous owner had a good wash routine.

We’ve gone 3 years now without ever having to strip our cloth diapers, so I’d say we’re doing something right.  😉 

19.) It's Nice to Have Backups

While I hate having to buy disposables, they do come in handy in emergency situations. We always have a pack of disposable water wipes on hand (especially in the diaper bag), and a small pack of backup disposables during the newborn stage. 

Sometimes you just didn’t wet enough wipes for a massive poop, or you don’t have access to water, or you simply don’t get the diapers thrown in the wash on time. Mom life can get pretty crazy. It happens. 

20.) A Diaper Sprayer is a Total Lifesaver

A diaper sprayer isn’t a necessity, but it certainly makes cloth diapering much more manageable. I know some moms just use the dunk and swish method, but my husband and I much more prefer spraying the poop right into the toilet. 

This diaper sprayer hooks right up to your toilet for easy access. Just be sure to turn the water valve off with each use to extend it’s life. To avoid the poo even more, you could use some cloth diaper hacks, and make a DIY splatter shield. 

21.) Line Dry Lengthwise

It’s especially important to hang your heavier diapers, like your all-in-ones (AIOs), lengthwise when line drying. Otherwise, the elastic will get pulled on and possibly stretched out. 

You certainly don’t have to line dry though. The dryer works just fine. But, it is nice to use the sun for getting out those stains. 

22.) Find the Right Pants to Fit Over That Fluff

Unfortunately, most baby clothes made today are accommodated to just fit over thin disposables. You’re either going to need to size up in clothes, or find the right kinds to fit over that fluff. 

I’ve found that Carter’s is probably the worst for pants, while Target’s Cat & Jack brand is one of the best. We’re also very fond of knit pants and wool.

But a lot of the time, we simply don’t even bother with pants and just use baby leg warmers so we can show off our cute cloth. 

23.) Take Lots of Bum Pics!

Commemorate your cloth diapering days by taking loads of bum pics. Those diapers are just too darn cute not to document. They even make for some excellent photo shoots! 

Baby Jade in a cloth diaper

24.) Join the Cloth Diaper Community

Facebook groups can be so helpful when it comes to cloth diapers. They can help troubleshoot your issues, give you encouragement to stick with it, and just be loads of fun with all the cute pics. Here are just a few of my favorite groups: 

25.) It Doesn't Have to Be All or Nothing

You don’t have to go in 100% when it comes to cloth. Even just using cloth part of the time will be healthier for your baby, better for our environment, and of course, save you money. 

Don’t feel bad if you just want to use cloth at home and disposables when you’re out. And, don’t feel like you need to start out right away. It’s okay to use disposables those first few weeks to get yourself adjusted to life with a new baby before having to worry about dirty diaper laundry. Your fluff will be there when you’re ready. 

Love that Fluff

Cloth diapering can seem challenging and intimidating, but with the right tips and tricks, it can be easy peasy.

I’ve gained so much cloth diaper knowledge over these past 3 years and really haven’t ran into any issues. I hope these 25 tips of mine will help you be successful at cloth diapering as well. 

Now get out and love that fluff! 

What About You?

Did you find these tips and tricks helpful? Share some of your best cloth diaper tips in the comments below, and be sure to share this post with all your new cloth mama friends. 

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14 Comments

  1. Heather on April 26, 2019 at 6:08 pm

    Cloth diapers are so intimidating to me! This post really helps. Thank you!

    • Messy Mom Nicolle on April 28, 2019 at 11:37 am

      It can certainly be overwhelming at first, but you quickly get the hang of it. I’m so glad you found this post helpful Heather!

  2. Kay on April 26, 2019 at 1:27 am

    Great tips for cloth diapers. I’m a cloth Mum and these tips are spot on! We absolutely love cloth in our house and once you get used to the routine of using them, they are great!

    • Messy Mom Nicolle on April 26, 2019 at 10:18 am

      Thank you Kay! 🙂 It’s always great to connect with fellow cloth lovers!

  3. Charlene on April 25, 2019 at 10:30 am

    I used to cloth diaper. I did an extensive amount of research before buying my diapers so I wouldn’t do anything wrong. Man, I wish I had just found this list instead! It would have saved me hours of time!!

    • Messy Mom Nicolle on April 25, 2019 at 2:25 pm

      I probably spent way too much time researching before using cloth with our first as well! There’s just so much information out there. Hopefully, this comprehensive list of tips saves other new moms a whole lot of time!

  4. Jennie from Four to Love on April 11, 2019 at 9:18 pm

    I cloth diapered my first child, and these tips are spot on! After diapering is over, the wet bags are perfect for transporting wet swimsuits and towels, too!

    • Messy Mom Nicolle on April 12, 2019 at 1:24 pm

      Thanks Jennie! Yes, we love using our wet bags for swimming. We also use them for our un-paper towels and cloth mama pads. I even have small ones for transporting my manual pump. They’re so versatile!

  5. Kristal Molina on April 11, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    I did cloth with both my children and you covered it all perfectly. Great tips and pointers here.

    • Messy Mom Nicolle on April 12, 2019 at 1:20 pm

      Thanks for the kind words Kristal! It’s always fun to meet fellow cloth diaper mamas!

  6. Natasha @MrsChettyLife on March 26, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    I have never used cloth diapers. Your post is very informative and convincing. I might try cloth with the next one. 🙂

    • Messy Mom Nicolle on March 26, 2019 at 4:02 pm

      Thank you for the kind words Natasha. It can be intimidating at first, but once you get into it, it’s really not too bad, and you kind of get addicted to all the cute prints. Lol.

  7. Valerie on March 25, 2019 at 9:51 pm

    This was a great post! Cloth diapers weren’t for me, but I have made an attempt to hopefully choose chemical free diapers and wipes. But, I had no idea that diaper rash cream did that to cloth. Something to seriously consider when buying diaper cream whether you use cloth diapers or not.

    • Messy Mom Nicolle on March 25, 2019 at 10:42 pm

      Thanks for the kind words Valerie. Cloth diapers aren’t the right fit for everyone, but I hope to make it much easier for those that choose to use them. Luckily, many companies are working hard to provide us with safer and more eco-conscious disposables now as well.

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