True Confessions of a Wannabe Cloth Diaperer

Before El was born, JD and I decided to give cloth diapering a try. Actually, JD made a bargain with me: If I agreed to cloth diaper, he would do the laundry. We bought two dozen newborn prefolds and a handful of covers. We do cheap cloth diapering. Also included in our natural baby store purchases – a diaper sprayer. Lo and behold a device that cleans your diaper without needing to scrub with your own hands! Weeee!!!

But still.

I had a hard time. I used to pray that El’s blowouts would happen when she was in a disposable so I only needed to handle the breastmilk poo once. JD did the laundry as promised and we figured out a decent (but not great!) system. When the time came to move up sizes, we got sort of stuck… And never went back.

We didn’t even try with Claire.

But here we are again with baby number three, an itty bitty income, and all kinds of friends who cloth diaper and believe it is the greatest thing on the planet, second to babies themselves. We’re talking about giving it a go again. Claire and baby in cloth.

Here’s where I need help:

1. I hate poop. All baby poop is gross to me. It seriously grosses me out to handle cloth covered poo, even with the diaper sprayer. I know. I need to grow up and wear big girl pants but I seriously would love to avoid as much contact with poop as possible. Yes, I realize this is my third baby.

2. Laundry. JD will probably help me out with this still, but seeing as he’s working hard to bring home the bacon, I’d like to rely on myself for this one – and I’ll be honest, I’m not great at keeping up with laundry.

Those are my fears. Or confessions. Or whatever…. Advice and encouragement are welcome. I don’t need an argument about why they’re important or why disposables are evil, I just need advice on making it happen. Perhaps baby three will be entirely cloth diapered if I can figure out some systems/products/tips to get over my little barriers….


16 Replies to “True Confessions of a Wannabe Cloth Diaperer”

  1. I could classify myself the same way! Cloth diapering is something I would like to have done, but definitely didn’t do. I admire all those parents who do it. We’ve got two in diapers now, and probably will for another year.

    I just started following your blog! Looking forward to reading more! Congrats on Baby 3, too! Are you going to find out boy or girl?

    1. Ooh we’ve done two in diapers and are getting ready for round two of that!! Thanks so much for the kind words, I’m glad you like what you’ve read so far!!! I *think* we are going to find out the gender – stay tuned!!

  2. I am so with you! That’s why I have avoided cloth as well. A friend with a baby Matthew’s age said she uses G Diapers, a cloth/disposable hybrid. They sell them at There is a considerable start up cost, not sure how it compares to true cloth. But probably cheaper than disposables in the long run. There’s a disposable liner that you toss like a diaper, but a reusable, washable cover. You do have to get new sizes every couple of months so you have to invest some cash every so often. My friend says they just need a few covers, but I’m skeptical because my baby definitely soils beyond the boundaries of his diaper frequently. Would be a good thing to ask for a baby shower gift so you could get started for free and try them out. Like you, I’m a wannabe, but I’m thinking about trying these the next time around!!!

  3. My advice is–if you still have the cloth diapers, use them while the baby is small and breast fed. Odor is no problem then. When he gets older, you may have overcome your disdain for the odors and go with what seems best at that time.

  4. We tried cloth with Jacob (our first), too, but we used a service. Only had to dump the solid stuff in the toilet and then throw the whole thing into the receptacle. (It was specailly designed to contain the odor.) They came and picked up the large plastic bag that we left on the front porch once or twice a week.
    Well, during that time, I read an article (I think it was Reader’s Digest), that thoroughly outlined the cost and environmental impace of cloth vs. disposable. If you have a service, they wash and/or rinse the cloth diapers 14 times (imagine the water and bleach), to make sure that no icky bugs get passed around to their itty bitty customers. Makes me wonder how many times we should be washing them to protect our kids. I also had more trouble with diaper rash since disposables have a wicking feature that takes the moisture from their sensitive skinned hinder parts, and I poked myself and Jacob more times than I would have liked…which was zero! All that said, either choice is viable and it’s a super personal choice due to cost, time, and convenience factors.
    It’s interesting, though, that alot of the supposed environmentally friendly things are actually not as friendly as you’d think. On a similar vein, Jacob was telling me that the emissions and environmental impact of making a Toyota Prius (all of the lightweight chemically altered materials, etc) are more than driving on gas for the life of the car. Wow, I’m long-winded. That baby is going to arrive, imbed itself into your heart, and bring you great joy. The type of diaper you choose will not change that fact, and will not stop it from pooping and peeing on a regular basis. (Profound words…LOL) Love ya!

  5. I ambitiously tried both times too – with #1 I tried the gdiapers, never venturing the full cloth route, but almost every poop went out of the lining and into the covers so it was a lot of mess and I didn’t have enough covers and the flushable liners were actually really expensive. It wasn’t a cheaper route, but I was determined to be semi-enviornmental.

    With #2 I ambitiously I decided to do the fancy cloth route – investing in the top rated BumGenius pocket diapers, getting enough to only have to do laundry every 3 days. I bought all the recommended accessories and was very determined to make it work. I figured my little guy could well be in diapers for 3 years so my investment would be worth it. After just a couple of months I gave up though – the breast milk poop was never a problem for me, it was the ammonia urine smell that made me gag with every load of laundry. I could barely handle removing the inserts and loading the washer each time. Needless to say, some very happy cloth diapering mama’s benefitted greatly from my resale of these premium diapers. Overall it might not have been the cheaper route either as my little guy potty trained very early. I can say I tried though.

    If you do go the disposable route make sure to check for the best deals and available coupons. I bought mine in the largest cases from Amazon with the subscribe and save discount – free shipping, no tax. My faves have always been Pampers – baby dry with my girl, and cruisers with my boy.

  6. i have a 7mo old and he has been in cloth diapers approx 85% of his life. We were very blessed to get several types of cloth diapers as baby shower gifts so our investment on that end has been minimal. We started using one-size “pocket” diapers (the ones with cloth inserts) when B was about 1-2mos old. We have bumgenius 4.0, kissaluvs (our only all-in-ones), fuzzibunz and sunbabies. The sunbabies are my favorite and the cheapest! I have about 28 diapers and do laundry every couple of days. I’ve **never** had any blowout issues with these diapers. I found the prefolds/covers leaked every time. Except when he’s eaten enough solids that his poop is more solid, i never deal with the poop before putting the diapers in the wash. With breastmilk poop, you can just throw the diapers into the wash (i dont even remove the inserts first b/c they come out themselves in the first cycle). So i take all the dirty diapers, put them in on cold wash with a little bit of detergent. Wash. Then wash on hot with more detergent but less than what you’d put in with a similar load of laundry. I sometimes add vinegar or oxyclean. Then I rinse on cold, twice if i used oxyclean. Dry on line or regular. I’m not going to bother with getting the poop off until/unless it’s solid. The best suggestion i’ve read about that is to use an old spatula so you can scrape the poop into the toilet.

    For storing the dirty diapers til wash time, i use a little trash can from target (no lid; just a white plastic office/bathroom one) and we’ve never had any problem with odor. Granted, we live in a VERY dry climate, so you may have to try something different.

    We use disposables for nighttime b/c otherwise we have to do too many middle-of-the-night changes or he gets a rash. We also use them for road-trips, if I don’t get to laundry soon enough, etc. It works for us.

    Laundry isn’t too bad. Some people wait til all the diapers are dirty, then do it, using disposables for that day. Others try to wait til half the diapers are dirty, then do it. I just sort of do it when there seems to be enough diapers to justify running a load. It takes me a bit longer b/c I stuff all the inserts in after I wash the diapers. I know some people have a bin for the inserts and a bin for the covers and just stuff the inserts in when they change the diaper, that’s more convenient if you dont have time/want to stuff them immediately. And, to be honest, I’ve washed pee diapers with normal laundry a couple of times. I dont see it as THAT much different than washing dirty underwear…

    There are lots of sites that have cloth diaper trials. I.e. you pay a hundred bucks or so to “rent” a variety of cloth diapers for a certain time period (usually 30-60 days). If you dont like them, you return them and get most of your deposit back. If you like them, I think you can either buy them or at least put your money towards the kind you liked the best. It’s a great way to try different diapers without making a huge commitment/investment.

  7. We also tried cloth for a while. We were leaning toward the gdiapers with cloth inserts (the disposable ones are just as expensive as regular disposables), but my sister-in-law used those and didn’t like them much (she said that the cover needed to be waterproof, they sometimes leaked). I ended up going with the flip diapers w/ cloth inserts. They are basically the same material as the bum genius all in one, but the covers are separate from the insert so they are a whole lot cheaper. I liked the diapers themselves; my main problem with diapers was laundering them. Our washer/dryer is in the basement, so just getting down there with two toddlers was a major chore. I didn’t find the actual laundering to be that labor intensive, aside from the fact that we were totally bewildered about which diaper sprayer to buy, so I was swishing in the toilet. It’s just that I was having enough trouble getting regular laundry done without adding several loads a week with multiple rinses, etc. I’m thinking of trying it again with baby #3, but I think I’m just going to get a big wet bag to hang on the door in the bathroom downstairs, then I can just toss it down when it’s ready to go. Diaper sprayer might also help. My friend who has done cloth diapering successfully used the disposable liners to make the poo easier to handle. Might do that… I don’t know.

    1. Oh, and we mostly stopped after a long stretch of being out of town a lot. That reminded me how much easier disposables were! I just got out of the habit.

  8. You guys!!! THANK YOU! Your comments really helped me out – now I get to sort through what will work for us and do some research of my own. Thanks for guiding my search!!! Grateful for all of you!

  9. A couple of thoughts from a convert:

    GRACE, grace, and more grace for yourself. Sometimes I feel like there should be a cloth diaperers support group (actually, they probably do exist!).

    Soap will make or break you. The wrong soap will make your diapers hold in ammonia. I learned this the hard way. Now, I am a Charlie’s Soap girl and am looking forward to getting a chance to hang them in the sun throughout the summer to let the UV rays do their natural work.

    An ugly diaper pail in a convenient place is better than a nicely hidden, unused one 🙂 Your system for getting diapers from bum to toilet to washing machine without trailing poo all over is something to put a lot of thought into.

    Cloth diapers and humans are not universally compatible. I also learned this the hard way. After trying 5 brands (thankfully some were given to me), I settled on my favorite, Happy Heiny’s One-Size Pocket Diapers with snap closures. I would encourage you to spend a little money on a few of the types you think you might like and then use them for a while to decide which is compatible with you and baby. You might be able to find a good assortment of used ones at the huge Portland consignment sale in April:

    You can totally do it!

  10. Hey Annie,
    We’ve had Lucy in cloth diapers from day 1 and I’m a fan. Although we’re spoiled by a diaper service that picks them up and launders them for me, I’ve considered trying to do it all on my own to save a little cash when the next time around presents itself — we shall see.

    We use the pre-fold diapers and I think in 20 months we’ve only had 1 massive blow-out that the diaper and cover didn’t contain. We’ve tried a few different types of covers early on: Bummis, Imse Vimse, and one or two others, but by far, our favorite cover is the Litewrap. Good gussets around the legs, velcro and snaps to close which make a difference now that Lucy is older and can pull the velcro open. We order the covers from this website:
    Oh, and if you go back to the pre-fold option, Snappi diaper fasteners are a must if you don’t already know about them.

    Good luck! There’s benefits to both disposable and cloth…you’ll find the mix that works for you!

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