Cloth Diapering Definitions and Terms for Cloth Diapers and Cloth Diaper Accessories

Choosing cloth diapers is much easier with a clear understanding of the cloth diapers and cloth diaper accessories on the market. As the market is constantly improving on itself, with manufacturers and Work-At-Home-Moms (WAHMs) launching new cloth diaper products frequently, we will update these cloth diapering definitions; feel free to bookmark this page for future reference.

The following list is arranged alphabetically.

ALL-IN-ONE DIAPERS (AIOs) - All-In-One Diapers, also seen written as AIOs, are the style of cloth diapers most similar to a disposable diaper. Often purchased by those caregivers seeking absolute convenience, or parents of babies and toddlers in day care, All-In-One diapers are constructed of all the necessary components needed in a diaper - they are an all in one cloth diaper unit.

All-In-One Diapers are easy to put on baby. Most styles of All-In-One Diapers secure around baby with some form of Velcro or hook & loop closure tabs; snaps can also be used. The inner lining that rests against baby's skin is made from any number of fabrics - 100% organic cotton, flannellete, hemp, and even stay-dry microfleece. The outer layer is made from fabrics treated for waterproofing.

CONTOUR DIAPERS - Contour Diapers are hourglassed shape and made to contour to baby; hence the name. They aren't exactly a prefold diaper, although they are sewn in layers. They also aren't exactly a fitted diaper - though they do contour to baby's body. Without the need for any cloth diaper folds, or the use of elastic at the waist or legs, contour diapers boast a trim fit and are secured around baby with diaper pins, snappi fasteners, or a cloth diaper wrap.

There are some Contour Diapers with elastic at the leg, but this is atypical; that style of Contour Diaper is often called a 'semi-fitted' cloth diaper.

DIAPER COVERS - Diaper Covers, also called cloth diaper covers or cloth diaper wraps, are an absolute necessity if you cloth diaper your baby with any style of cloth diaper that doesn't have an outer waterproof fabric layer. Available in an assortment of colors, fabrics and sizes, cloth diaper covers will protect your baby's clothing, crib bedding, car seats, and anything else their bum touches, from being soiled with whatever surprises baby has left for you in his/her cloth diapers.

Most Diaper Covers can be classified as one of two styles; pull-ons that simply pull-up or down, and cloth diaper wraps which come off and on using snap or velcro wings that wrap around baby (much like a disposable). Diaper Covers are made from water-resistant and waterproof fabrics such as nylon, PUL, or heavier fabrics such as wool or fleece. Though the heavier fabrics are not recommended as an everyday cloth diaper cover to use beneath baby's clothes, they do tend to be a favorite for night-time diapering.

DIAPER DOUBLERS - Diaper Doublers are absorbent, multiple-layered pads designed to increase absorbency for heavy-wetting babies or during extended periods of times such as naps, night-time diapering, or even for long car trips. Diaper Doublers are placed atop the inner layer of a cloth diaper, along the length of the crotch.

DIAPER FASTENERS- Diaper Fasteners are varied, but include both the traditional plastic-topped and heavy duty brass locking head diaper pins, as well as the stretchy plastic t-shaped grippers known as Snappi Diaper Fasteners. Diaper Fasteners are simply a means to secure baby's cloth diaper on them in a safe and comfortable way.

FITTED DIAPERS - Fitted Diapers are made from more varieties of fabric than you can imagine; 100% cotton (bleached and unbleached), certified organic cotton, cotton fleece, cotton velour, and even hemps and sherpas. Absorbency, as well as price, will vary with the type of fabric used to sew Fitted Diapers. More often than not, Fitted Diapers are gathered with elastic (encased or not) at the thighs and waist and secure with velcro and snaps on the wrap-around wings; there are a few versions without snaps or velcro closures that require a diaper pin, snappi fastener or a wrap-style diaper cover to secure them to baby. They look and cut resembles a disposable diaper, but without a waterproof outer layer, so Fitted Diapers do require a cloth diaper cover to contain seepage when baby wets. Fitted Diapers do not require any kind of cloth diaper folding to use. Check out our a step-by-step pictorial on how to put on a fitted diaper and pull-on diaper cover.

FLAT DIAPERS - Flat Diapers are most often constructed of a single layer of stretchy, loosely knit birds-eye, they can also be found in muslin, flannel, organic cotton, terry, and various other fabrics. Though the typical cut is a standard 27 or 30 inch square, flat diapers can now be found in a large variety of sizes. Flat Diapers are not prefolded, so they will require cloth diaper folding to get the single-ply diaper layered where baby needs it most. Once folded properly, Flat Diapers can be secured with diaper pins, snappi fasteners, or within any wrap-style cloth diaper cover.

INSERTS- Inserts, much like Diaper Doublers, are absorbent, multi-layered pads, however, Inserts are typically purchased and used to stuff inside a Pocket Diaper. Made from absorbent materials such as cotton, hemp, and microfiber, Inserts do not require any type of folding and can even be used in combination with a Diaper Doubler for babies or toddlers with heavier wetting patterns.

LINERS- Liners were created to ease the clean-up of a poopy cloth diaper and as a means to keep baby's skin dry INSIDE the diaper. A liner is placed atop the length of the stride INSIDE a baby's diaper; this forms a layer of protection for baby's sensitive skin. There are both reusable and single-use liners available. Single-use liners are made of cellulose and are both flushable and biodegradable; they are often referred to as rice paper liners. reusable cloth diaper liners are made of fabrics such as suedecloth, microfleece, knitted silk, wool, or even cotton velour, and wash up for use over and over again.

PREFOLD DIAPERS - Prefold Diapers are constructed of multiple layers sewn in three panels separated by seams that run the length of the cloth diaper. Think of a three lane highway and you can grasp the visual. As would be expected, the middle section of a prefold diaper is designed with more layers, making it thicker than the two side panels; this puts the absorbency right where it is needed. Diaper Service Quality prefolds, like Diaper Rite Cotton Prefolds can be found in layers such as 2-4-2, with the middle layer being 4 panels; as well as 4-6-4 and 4-8-4. Considered the most economical and versatile cloth diaper option, prefold diapers are just a step away from the large flat diapers, the only difference being prefolds are typically rectangular and not single-layered.

Prefold Diapers are sewn from as many different fabrics as any other absorbent cloth diaper, including 100% cotton, organic cotton, flannel, and hemp, to name a few. The Diaper Service Quality (DSQ) Cotton Prefolds come in two colors - bleached and unbleached; unbleached prefold diapers are light tan in color and require additional washing for each diaper to reach full absorbency.

Cloth diaper covers are a necessity with any Prefold Diaper because they do not have a waterproof outer barrier. There are a number of cloth diaper folding techniques when using Prefold Diapers, some require cloth diaper pins or snappi fasteners to secure, and yet others need only a cloth diaper wrap.

POCKET DIAPERS - Pocket Diapers are an anomaly in the cloth diapering world because they really aren't a cloth diaper at all - at least, not until they are assembled or 'stuffed'. A Pocket Diaper is basically a shell made by sewing two separate materials together, while leaving a 'hole' or 'pocket' of sorts to stuff-in an absorbent insert. Pocket Diapers must be assembled with this internal absorbent core BEFORE using.

The outer layer of a Pocket Diaper is typically made from a water-resistant or waterproof fabric, eliminating the need for a cloth diaper cover. The inner layer of Pocket Diapers can be made of many materials, including microfiber, terry cloth, hemp, or even a prefold diaper (great for maximum overnight absorbency). The idea of a Pocket Diaper is to tailor absorbency without losing the convenience of an All-In-One Diaper. Plus, if you select a Pocket Diaper with a microfleece inner lining, the baby's urine will pass through the microfleece, into the absorbent core within the pocket, keeping baby dry to the touch EVEN THOUGH the cloth diaper in the pocket is soaked. Last, but not least, it is as easy to put a pocket diaper on baby as it is a disposable diaper.

Choosing cloth diapers is much easier when you have an understanding of the cloth diapers and diaper accessories available. If there are any product names you are yet unfamiliar with, please contact us and we will be glad to explain any of the cloth diapering definitions for you.

How to Choose Cloth Diapers for Your Baby or Toddler.

There are so many cloth diapers available today it is disconcerting to try and fine one particular style that best fits your needs, but the good news is YOU DON'T HAVE TO! That's right, each style has its strengths and weaknesses, making it perfect for some babies and diapering situations, but no so great for another. For instance, in your home you likely have a great variety of towels; you've bath towels, hand towels and dish towels. You wouldn't use a bath towel to hand dry your dishes and most likely you wouldn't use a hand towel to towel dry your body, right? Just as you need a diversity of towels in your home, a variety of cloth diapers, and even, cloth diaper brands will most likely suit your purpose more effectively than a single style.

The Cloth Diaper System

Rather than worrying over the specific type of cloth diapers you might need, consider instead the type of cloth diapering system you want. What is your daily grind? Is your child an especially heavy wetter, or only at night? Do you enlist the services of a childcare provider or grandparent to help you with your child while you're at work? Is your caregiver comfortable and familiar with cloth diapers or have they expressed concern over the inconvenience?

All of these things are necessary when you choose cloth diapers for your baby. Remember, a solid cloth diapering system means collecting an assortment of diapers that can stretch to meet not only YOUR needs, but the needs of your caregivers as well. This might mean Prefold Diapers and Snappi Diaper Fasteners at home during the day, Pocket Diapers with Microfiber Inserts for the evenings, and the ease of All-In-One Cloth Diapers while your child is in daycare or with grandparents.

ALL-IN-ONE DIAPERS (AIOs) - All-In-One Diapers are most like disposable diapers, except they are NOT thrown away after each use; they are reusable. An All-In-One Diaper has a waterproof outer layer that holds in wetness, an inner absorbent core, and an inner layer of a variety of soft, absorbent fabrics. All-In-One Diapers do not require diaper pins or diaper covers, making them especially convenient for any caregiver already familiar with diapering babies in disposable diapers.

FITTED DIAPERS - Fitted Diapers are not a far cry from All-In-One Cloth Diapers, but slightly more economical. Fitted Diapers do not require any diaper folding, secure around baby just like a disposable diaper, but DO require a cloth diaper cover, because unlike All-In-One Cloth Diapers, Fitted Diapers do not have an outer waterproof layer to guard against moisture seeping through.

ONE-SIZE DIAPERS - One-Size Cloth Diapers are ideally intended to meet your baby's cloth diapering needs from birth to potty training using a snapping system that can be cinched-up or loosened as baby grows. The down side to one-size diapers is the added bulk on newborns and/or smaller size babies. The bonus, if you don't mind putting up with the bulk, is you don't have to purchase multiple sizes for multiple babies in the same household. One-Size Diapers are styled like a fitted diaper, but not always sewn with a waterproof outer fabric, therefore some will need a diaper cover and some won't.

POCKET DIAPERS - Pocket Diapers are the kind of cloth diapering system to buy if you need ONE cloth diaper to meet varying levels of absorption. For instance, your baby is changed more regularly in the day than at night, so you can insert a trim Microfiber Insert into the pocket for daytime use. In the evenings, babies have longer periods of time when their diapers are not changed and need at least double the absorption - a thicker Insert or Prefold Diaper serves this purpose well. Pocket Diapers go on like a disposable diaper - wrap tabs around baby and snap or Velcro closed.

PREFOLD DIAPERS - Prefold Diapers are the most basic and economical diaper you can purchase, but what you gain in savings you give up in convenience. Prefold Diapers require a bit of practice to get used to the cloth diaper folding techniques, but once you get used to it, you can fold'em up quickly and be on your way. While your daycare providers or caregivers might prefer another style of cloth diaper when your baby is in their care, this is another situation where you can choose a cloth diaper you use at home and another style you take in your diaper bag for others. Prefold Diapers are very inexpensive and are easily washed and dried; they do not require diaper pins and fasteners if worn tucked inside a wrap-style cloth diaper cover.

A Sustainable Fabric Choice

ORGANICS - If you have a strong bend toward using ONLY NATURAL FIBERS against your baby's skin, then look for 100% certified organic cloth diapers available in cotton, hemp and bamboo. Organic fabrics should not contain chemicals as the plants harvested for the fabric have not been treated with any harsh pesticides that could compromise baby's immune system. If a cloth diaper boasts an organic fabric, there will not be any synthetic (artificial) fibers woven into it. Organic fabrics are more expensive to produce, and therefore costlier to buy, but they are easier on the environment and therefore, a more sustainable cloth diapering choice.

With so many cloth diapers on the market today, it can seem impossible to choose just one style. Learning the different Cloth Diapering Definitions and Terms will help you select the cloth diapers, diaper covers and accessories to develop your own personalized cloth diapering system.

How Many Diapers Should I Buy to Cloth Diaper My Baby?

Purchasing a cloth diaper stash is not difficult. The question "How many diapers should I buy?" is better asked and answered by "How many diapers are needed?" Cloth diapering is just another step away from the mainstream concept of mass consumption to a simpler, more sustainable way of diapering your baby - nothing more and nothing less.

The truth is you might not need to buy ANY cloth diapers. That's right, you may have a cloth diapering momma in your community who has a potty-trained child and will part with her cloth diapers at no cost to you. You may also be of a crafty sort and sew your own cloth diapers. And finally, you may have already cloth diapered a baby and have a perfectly good diaper stash packed away. Cloth Diapering is nothing new - what worked for baby #1 will likely work for baby #2 (sometimes with some slight modifications). Although there are new cloth diaper styles, fabrics, and prints being released every year, re-using what you already have is the most eco-friendly, viable means to bundle your baby in cloth.

What makes a full-time cloth diaper stash?

A full-time cloth diaper stash is typically 18 to 20 (1 1/2 dozen) cloth diapers, and of course, cloth diaper covers. This remains true from birth to around 18 Months, when a Toddler's wetting patterns change significantly and potty training is on the horizon. Eighteen cloth diapers for eighteen months is easy to remember.

With 18 to 20 cloth diapers you can count on a wash cycle of every other day. Purchasing MORE cloth diapers to extend your wash cycle could actually work against you. As diapers are stored in the diaper pail, stains and stink set in. Cloth diapers will remain fresher and last longer if cared for gently - which means a regular washing cycle.

Part-Time Cloth Diapering

Making the commitment to cloth diaper your baby might not always be shared by those around you; sad, but true. If you are hesitant to invest in a full-time cloth diaper stash because your husband, parents, grandparents, nursery workers, daycare providers, or anyone else is uncomfortable caring for your baby in cloth diapers, then a part-time cloth diaper stash might better suit your needs.

There are many parents who pack disposable diapers with their baby's diaper bag for day-time caregivers and then, cloth diaper in the evenings and on the weekends. Bottom line, you must do what works best for you and respect those who care for your child. In situations like this, we recommend buying 6 (a half-dozen) cloth diapers and perhaps 3 cloth diaper covers.

You will still need to wash every other day, of course, and though you will not have the same overall monetary savings with a part-time system as you would if cloth diapering full-time, it isn't significant enough to stress over it.

Try might like it!

As you can see, how many diapers are needed is dependent upon whether you are ready for a 100% cloth diaper commitment or you want to work it into your baby's evening and weekend routine. Either way, we want to encourage you throughout the process and are always willing to help.

How Many Diapers Are Needed to Cloth Diaper My Baby?

When parents first take to the idea of cloth diapering their baby, they easily overwhelm themselves with both the choices and variety of cloth diapers and cloth diapering accessories available. "How many diapers should I buy?" is the most common question, but the answer is not the same for everyone.

Building a cloth diaper system isn't some type of deep mystery; simply put, no family is the same, and therefore, no cloth diapering system will be exactly the same, but there are some pretty striking patterns we've seen in the last decade. Our cloth diaper stash recommendations are based on the purchases and feedback from parents and caregivers just like you.

The most agreed upon number of cloth diapers preferred in a full-time cloth diaper stash is a minimum of 18 (one and 1/2 dozen cloth diapers). With 18 cloth diapers, you can develop a washing system of every other day. If you desire to wash your diapers less frequently than every 2nd day, you will obviously need a larger stash. Some parents initially purchase MORE cloth diapers for this reason, but please know that cloth diapers are not intended to sit in a pail for more than 3 days without being washed; the longer a soiled diaper remains in a cloth diaper pail unwashed, the longer you will work to treat any stains, not to mention the stink.

Full-Time Cloth Diapering

For the first year and 1/2, full-time cloth diapering requires a minimum of 18 diapers cloth diapers. As your baby grows to toddlerhood, he or she will wet less frequently, and won't need to be changed as often; at this point you will need fewer cloth diapers overall.

NEWBORNS - Newborns need the largest cloth diaper stash. With newborns, especially those breastfeeding, every meal is liquid - as a result, they have more explosive bowel movements and urinate more frequently. As newborns develop and solid meals are added into their diet, these patterns change to allow for less diaper usage overall.

6 - 18 MONTHS - Once baby begins to roll, crawl, pull-up on furniture, and sit up on their own, their wetting patterns typically decrease and their cloth diaper needs change. Whereas before, baby was just lying around, now baby is dynamic and needs a cloth diaper that can move along with them. This is often a time when parents will modify their cloth diaper stash to accommodate more flexibility in the thigh and waist for baby's added comfort. If your newborn stash was made up primarily of prefolds, you can re-purpose them as burp rags, changing pads, or diaper doublers. At this point, 18 cloth diapers are still recommended for a washing cycle of every other day.

18 MONTHS - POTTY LEARNING - When your Toddler begins to gain interest in using the 'big potty', your cloth diaper base can be reduced significantly. Even 12 (a dozen) cloth diapers may be more than enough, because your Toddler will no longer be considered a full-time cloth diapered baby. To assist with 'Diaper Independence' many parents will switch over to the pull-on style of cloth diaper Training Pants during the day and use their regular stash for night-time diapering.

As you can tell, there is really no need to become overwhelmed with the question "How many diapers should I buy?" Though it might alter slightly, overall you can count on needing 18-20 cloth diapers for a full-time cloth diapering system from birth to 18 Months. If you are cloth diapering your baby part-time, you can cut that number in half.

Still have questions? Contact us for more information

How Do I Find the Right Size Cloth Diaper for My Baby?

If you are reading this, CONGRATULATIONS! You will not regret your decision to cloth diaper your baby.

At this point, you may have researched the types of fabric you prefer, selected the cloth diaper style(s) you think best meets yours and your baby's need, and perhaps perhaps even noticed you are partial to a particular cloth diaper brand. The next big question is two-fold; first, you need to get the right size, and next, you need to match it up by choosing a diaper cover.

When it comes to cloth diapers, SIZE DOES MATTER!

I'm sure you've heard the old adage that size doesn't matter, right? *AHEM* Well, let me assure you that with cloth diapers, size matters - in fact, it matters a lot.

Most of our cloth diaper pages will give a variety of ways to match your baby to a particular size. Though we realize it would be much simpler if we could simply assign a weight to a size, it makes as much sense as you going into a store and trying to find a pair of pants by your weight size. Weight doesn't account for your waist size, whether you are hippy or not, whether you need more or less room in the thighs, and your height. It simply would not do to seek out a pair of pants based on weight. The same applies for finding a good fit for a baby's cloth diaper.

To ensure an accurate fit, a baby should be measured at the waist, in the rise, and around the thighs - this takes into account the unique characteristics that make your baby unlike every other baby alive.

Most manufacturers and retailers of cloth diapers offer both weight and measurement guidelines for each size cloth diaper they produce, distribute or sell. Without this information, you have absolutely no starting point by which to ascertain a certain fit.

What about purchasing cloth diapers by baby's age?

The easiest way to answer this question is for me to ask you the same. Do you purchase underwear according to your age? Exactly. It makes about as much sense as purchasing shoes, socks, rings, or belts by your age.

It is very easy to measure your baby for an accurate cloth diaper fit - learn how and you'll never again wonder whether a cloth diaper you ordered online will fit your baby.

Taking your baby's measurements.

When measuring your baby there are three areas to take into account; the waist, thighs and the rise (the length of the diaper from the back waistline, up through the legs, to the front waistline). Accurate measures of each of these areas will take great strides in preventing against leaks and getting a comfortable fit for your baby.

  • Measuring The Waist- Babies come with a natural waist indicator - their belly button. Using the belly button as your guide, wrap a soft tape measure around baby's bare waist; this will give you the proper measure for a cloth diaper. If measuring for a cloth diaper cover, you will need to wrap the soft tape measure around baby's waist ATOP a cloth diaper (or if you do not cloth diaper your baby yet, you can use a disposable diaper). Keep the tape meausre snug, though not too tight - especially if using a disposable diaper as your measure for a cloth diaper cover; disposable diapers tend to be slightly trimmer than cloth diapers.
  • Measuring The Thighs- Many parents make the mistake of measuring where the thigh joins the hip (at the slimmest area of a baby's thigh), but this is not the correct place to measure. Baby's have chubby thighs - and getting a good measure on these little chunks is crucial when selecting a cloth diaper or diaper cover. If you get a measure too tight, then baby is left with a tight fitting cloth diaper or cover that leaves red marks. If you get a measure too loose, then you're left with leaks - believe me, you don't want leaks. To guard against red marks or leaks, measure at the fullest part of the thigh - which is slightly below the hip socket.
  • Measuring The Rise - The rise, also called the 'depth' of a cloth diaper, is taken by placing a soft measuring tape at baby's back waistline, pulling it down through the legs (loosely), and up to meet baby's front waistline. The same applies here as it does for measuring the waist. IF you are measuring for a cloth diaper, you just keep it comfortably loose atop baby's skin while you measure. If you are measuring for a cloth diaper cover, you should measure over a cloth diaper, or if you do not have one, a disposable diaper. And again, remember that disposable diapers are trimmer than most cloth diapers, so allow a bit more room in your measurement.

Once you have measured your baby, you can more accurately find a cloth diaper and cloth diaper cover size that best fits your baby. Before you get too involved in shopping for the right cloth diaper cover, you might want to quickly glance at our article on choosing a diaper cover.

Preparing Cloth Diapers - Getting your cloth diapers ready for use!

Choosing the cloth diapers you will use on your baby is very important; once in your hands you need to know how to prepare your baby's cloth diapers for use. A common rule of thumb is to pre-wash everything. No matter what style of cloth diaper you select, make sure to wash it BEFORE using it on baby for the first time.

Cloth diapers are worn up against baby's most sensitive areas. You are not likely to buy a package of underwear, pull one from the packaging and put it on, right? The same concern applies with baby's cloth diapers. Cloth diapers are a manufacturered item - and that process, whether at the hands of a work-at-home-mom (WAHM) or in a larger manufacturing facility, does not happen within the confines of your own home. A pre-wash cleanses away any of your concerns.

Beyond cleanliness, pre-washing cloth diapers has several benefits.

Some cloth diapers will require more preparation than others before they are 'ready' for baby's use. For instance, the pocket diapers we carry do not require any type of special preparation - your baby 'could' wear them straight out of the box, though again, we recommend a prewash for cleaning purposes. Other cloth diapers, like our prefold diapers, are less than effective when not pre-washed.

So what makes the difference? Why do some cloth diapers require a pre-wash and others don't? The primary difference is associated with what type of fabric makes up the diaper.

  • Pre-washing cotton cloth diapers will 'shrink' them to the correct, projected size for a snugger overall fit. Manufacturers take into consideration the pre-washing process and account for it when cutting fabric to size. If you do not wash and dry the cloth diaper prior to use, you might find the diaper doesn't fit baby as it should.
  • Some cloth diapers, like Hemp or Cotton Prefold Diapers arrive large, flat and stiff from a chemical finishing agent known as fabric sizing. You want this sizing removed before the fabric touches baby's skin.
  • Washing away the fabric sizing begins the process of fluffing up the cotton or hemp fibers for a more quilted, absorbent cloth diaper - soft to the touch.
  • Though all fabrics are different, many cotton fabrics are available in both bleached and unbleached varieties. The unbleached variety still retains a natural wax layer atop the fabric, which is water-resistant enough to hinder absorbency; this is true of hemp fabrics too. Multiple pre-wash and dry cycles will strip away the waxy oils within the material to ready them for use. Sometimes these unbleached cotton and hemp diapers can take 3 to 5 wash and dry cycles before they are fully absorbent.

Fortunately, after the initial wash/dry cycles, most cloth diapers will not require additional special treatment to ensure absorbency and maintain softness. There are special situations that occur where a build-up of petroleum-based rash gels or ointments can cause a build-up to occur which reduces absorbency, but a few hot washes can strip them clean again.

Preparing cloth diapers for use simply means pre-washing them. Choosing cloth diapers was your first smart step and now, pre-washing your cloth diapers to ready them for optimal use is the natural second-step in this process. Here's a tip: Allow at least 24 hours to run cloth diapers through several wash and dry cycles before using them on baby for the first time.

Cloth Diapers can run errands - oh yes, they can!

Can I Take Cloth Diapers on Vacation?You would never give a second thought about packing disposable diapers in your diaper bag to run errands with your baby, meet up with a playdate, or even on vacation, right? Believe it or not, cloth diapers are NO different.

Contrary to mainstream impressions, cloth diapers can run errands, enjoy a good playdate (they'll stir up some interesting conversation, to be certain), and keep baby more comfortable. And once you realize this truth, you will find that the idea of taking cloth diapers on vacation with you isn't so ominous! As always, preparation is key, because all parents know a well-packed diaper bag makes all the difference - no matter what kind of diapering system you choose.

Getting your cloth diaper bag prepared to leave home.

A trip down the baby aisle of your local grocery store or super center will leave your head whirling with all the supposed 'needs' to purchase and have 'at the ready' in your diaper bag, but any seasoned parent will tell you that less is more - especially for your shoulder.

Diaper bags need the same key items whether you use cloth diapers or disposable diapers. Pack these things and you will be set to cloth diaper your baby ANYWHERE.

  • Cloth Diapers 
  • Cloth Baby Wipes
  • Changing Pad 
  • Burp Rag(s)
  • A waterproof toteor wetbag for soiled diapers (you can also use recycled plastic grocery bags and discard them at home).
  • A change of clothesfor baby - just in case.
  • An organic, soothing, diaper ointment .

Our cloth diapers were always prefolded and ready to be used so we could just reach in and pull out the whole 'set' when changing cloth diapers away from home.

Isn't it hard to change a cloth diaper in a public place?

Changing cloth diapers is no different than changing disposable diapers - in both situations you need to get away to a bathroom or more private place; if that isn't available, a flat surface out of the way. Since you will never be sure what surface will be available, remember to use a large changing pad/blanket under baby. Then? Change them JUST LIKE YOU WOULD AT HOME. And when you're done? Instead of tossing your cloth diapers into the trashcan, place it in one of your waterproof diaper totes, close, and put back in your cloth diaper bag. Easy, no?

Admittedly there are cloth diapers that are EASIER to use when cloth diapering away from home. All-in-ones keep you from needing to pull on the additional diaper cover or fumble around with diaper fasteners; pocket diapers offer the same convenience. If you want to make your diaper changes away even easier, you can certainly go that route; we did.

Preparation is key - have what you need at hand and take along your confidence! After a few outings you'll be ready to take your cloth diapers on your vacation the next time you head out of town!

Can I Take Cloth Diapers on Vacation?

Cloth diapers can run errands!Cloth diapers can do anything and venture anywhere disposable diapers can. It stands to reason if you can take cloth diapers on outings - like the grocery store, playdates, and community events without concern, then taking cloth diapers on vacation is the next logical step. Ask yourself this, "Do you pack paper undies when you head out of town?" Of course not! Give your baby the same creature comforts you would want.

Packing cloth diapers for a trip - think of it as an extended errand.

Planning ahead is key for any successful trip - especially when babies are involved. Packing a supply of cloth diapers for a vacation is much like packing a diaper bag for cloth diaper outings - you just pack MORE.

Ask yourself these questions when packing baby's cloth diaper stash for a trip:

  • How long will you be gone?
  • Where will you be staying?
  • How will you get there?
  • What laundry access will you have?

How long will you be gone? This may seem ridiculous to mention, but it does help with the basic math of how many cloth diapers to take on vacation. If you will be gone overnight, you need to pack two (2) days' worth of cloth diapers. If you will be gone for one week, you need to pack enough diapers to take you through three (3) days, including the holdover time while you launder your cloth diapers. We do not recommend taking more than a three day supply of cloth diapers; they can become cumbersome to carry and bottom line, soiled diapers of ANY sort smell. The shorter the periods between washes, the fresher your diapers will remain.

Where will you stay? If you are visiting family, you will most likely have use of a washer and dryer and can follow your normal wash/dry routine. However, don't assume you can use their washer or dryer - call ahead and ask. If they don't like the idea, take a few extra cloth diapers to hold you over between visits to a local laundry facility.

If you are staying in a hotel, an RV, tent camping, or any other temporary set-up, be sure to take along quarters and detergent for a laundry facility; if camping, an environmentally safe natural soap or detergent is needed.

How will you get there? Some vacation trips take only a few hours in your vehicle, but others will involve extended drives or even airplane rides - in both cases, we recommend packing a few pocket diapers. Pocket Diapers are well-suited for long car rides or flights because they can be stuffed for more absorbency and have a built-in stay dry liner for comfort. Your baby will feel drier, even with the compression of sitting in a car seat for hours on end, making it a more comfortable trip for everyone.

What laundry access will you have? There are only a few situations where laundry facilities are unavailable, but even then cloth diapers are truly the best option. The difference is not so much the number of cloth diapers you should pack (again we recommend no more than 3 days' worth), but also the style of cloth diapers you should pack.

If you are tent camping, hiking, or far from any laundry mat, take quick-drying, trim, cloth diapers. Depending on the length of your trip, you may be hand-washing your cloth diapers in a bucket, riverbed or stream, and hang-drying. Fitted or All-In-One style diapers are not a good choice for trips like these, but pocket diapers that come with micro-inserts, or prefold diapers with lightweight diaper covers like cloth diaper wraps or pull-on pants are effective and by comparison, quick-drying.

Cloth Diaper Packing List for Vacations

When you are traveling it isn't the time to pack all the cloth diapers in your stash; this isn't a trunk show, it is a trip - make it easy on yourself. The following recommendations will vary accoding to the age and wetting habits of your baby.

  • Cloth Diapers- Two dozen (24) of any style.
  • Cloth Diaper Covers- Six (6) of any style. Of course, these many be unnecessary if you packed cloth diapers that do not require cloth diaper covers, like pocket diapers or all-in-one diapers.
  • Baby Wipes- About two dozen (24) wipes. You know how many you use when changing diapers. I would pack no less than one baby wipe per diaper change, along with whatever bottom cleaner, diaper ointment, or diaper lotion you use during diaper changes.
  • Waterproof Diaper Tote - Wet and dirty cloth diapers need a waterproof place to be stored and sealed away from clean diapers. Take two (2) large waterproof tote bags or wetbag - one for dirty diapers and one for clean. You might also want an additional small diaper tote to place in the diaper bag.

Taking your cloth diapers on outings or vacation is not as inconvenient as you may think, and at the same time, it keeps your baby or toddler comfortable, which makes the trip better overall for everyone.

How Do I Rinse and Store the Used Diapers?

After a cloth diaper has been used, it should be rinsed (if it was dirty) and stored until it is time to wash cloth diapers. The process should look something like this:

Removing and Treating a Used Diaper

After a soiled cloth diaper is removed from your baby, you have a few options. If the diaper is just wet, throw it into your cloth diaper pail and move on. You can rinse it if you would like, however it is not necessary.

If it is dirty, you first need to remove as much solid waste as possible into the toilet. You can do this by shaking the cloth diaper, using a bit of toilet paper to get any stubborn spots, and even dunking it into the toilet to get the last few pieces off.

Many individuals balk at the idea of dunking anything into the toilet, so there is another solution for rinsing dirty diapers...use a Mini Shower! The Mini Shower Spray wand easily attaches to the toilet and can actually spray the dirty part of a cloth diaper to help remove any remaining poop without having to ever touch toilet water.

Storing the Diapers

Once the diaper is off and rinsed, it is time to store it until cleaning day. There are two ways to store used diapers - wet or dry cloth diaper pail method.

In wet pail storage, the cloth diaper pail is filled with water and the used cloth diapers are left to soak in the water to aid in stain removal. By soaking the diapers for about twenty-four hours before washing, stains are easier to remove. When it is time to wash or put fresh water in the pail, the water is drained from the pail into the toilet or tub before washing.

However, wet storage does have its drawbacks. Stagnant water with dirty diapers can have substantial odor issues and if not washed on a regular schedule, can actually soak the stink into your cloth diapers. Water should be changed every day to avoid as much of this as possible. A bucket of water is not the best choice in an area around children. It can be a severe drowning hazard if not sealed and protected correctly. Also, some cloth diapers, such as AIOs and pockets, have components that must be stored dry necessitating additional storage anyway.

A dry diaper pail is a traditional diaper pail (or plastic trash can) that is either covered or uncovered. The diapers are thrown into the pail after removal and rinsing and they simply sit in the pail until wash day. As you should be washing cloth diapers every other day, wash day is never too far off. If odors become a problem in a dry pail, use a diaper pail deodorizer.

Controlling Odors

The largest problem with storing diapers in either the wet or dry pail is controlling odors. The best way to control odors is to wash your baby's cloth diapers every third day, or even every other day. Remove the lining of the diaper pail to wash routinely and wipe out the diaper pail regularly with the disinfectant of your choice. Special odor fighting products store in the diaper pail for weeks at a time to help eliminate odors. Tea tree oil is another odor fighting agent you might consider.

How to rinse and store cloth diapers is one of the many questions we are asked by new parents and caregivers, which leads us to the next frequently asked question, How do I wash cloth diapers?

What Cloth Diaper Detergent Should I Use?

Washing cloth diapers is not difficult and truly does NOT require special laundry detergents or equipment. That said, the type of cloth diaper detergent you choose, as well as the method you choose to wash your baby's cloth diapers, does determine the level of absorbency and will affect the lifespan of the cloth diapers.

There are some commercial detergents designed and marketed specifically for babies, such as Ivory Snow and Dreft. These detergents have excessive fabric softeners built-in for that "softness" some parents want to feel on their baby's clothes. YOU DO NOT want to use these detergents on cloth diapers; they cause a build-up that renders cloth diapers ineffective. When it comes to detergents, staying simple is best - the less ingredients in your detergent, the better.

We recommend the following brands of cloth diaper detergents. All are free of phosphates, dyes, enzymes, brighteners, fabric softeners and harsh chemicals. All will work with High Efficiency (HE) washing machines.

(Shown in alphabetical order.)

  • bumGenius! Cloth Diaper Detergent - Blended specifically for High Efficiency (HE) washing machines, this detergent was developed in partnership with Country Save, a low-sudsing detergent formulated to work in hard or soft water areas.
  • Country Save Powdered Laundry Detergent - Biodegradable and completely soluble, Country Save is a low-sudsing detergent formulated to work in hard or soft water areas.
  • GroVia Tiny Bubbles Cloth Diaper Detergent - Developed in partnership with The Design for the Environment Program, Tiny Bubbles is completely biodegradable, ultra-concentrated and developed without animal testing nor does it include any animal by-products.
  • Rockin' Green Cloth Diaper Detergent - Available in three different versions (Soft Rock, Classic Rock, and Hard Rock) Rockin' Green can be used in either hard or soft water areas. Rockin' Green does have all-natural scents available, but comes in an unscented version as well. A VEGAN and GREEN detergent, Rockin' Green is also free of enzymes, fillers, and comes in reusable packaging.
  • Thirsties Pre-Wash - Designed to loosen stool and kill bacteria that linger in your baby's cloth diapers, Thirsties Pre-Wash is the only pre-wash solution specifically formulated to pre-clean cloth diapers.
  • Thirsties Super Wash - Naturally whitens and eliminates odors with custom probiotic ingredients. Thirsties recommends using their Pre-Wash (above) first. The Super Wash does NOT contain harmful enzymes, but does introduce constructive bacteria to eat away at the bacteria that leaves residual diaper odors. A highly concentrated cloth diaper detergent, the Super Wash is entirely non-toxic and 100% biodegradable.

The Top 10 Basics of Caring for and Washing Cloth Diapers

1. Detergents Consider what detergent you want to use and be attentive regarding how much of it you use. Read the manufacturer's recommendations for usage; as a rule, commercial detergents tend to exaggerate how much is needed per wash, so we recommend 1/4 of whatever amount they suggest.

While your detergent doesn't have to be a cloth diaper detergent, avoid "baby" detergents such as Dreft and Ivory when washing cloth diapers. We strongly recommend selecting all-natural detergents that are environmentally friendly. Detergents that are free of phosphates, dyes, fragrances, fabric softeners and residue will extend the life of your baby's cloth diapers, reduce risks of skin irritations and alleviate issues with build-up.

The biggest culprit for washing cloth diapers is fabric softener. Fabric softeners, over time, create an impenetrable layer atop the fabric fibers, rendering your baby's cloth diapers incapable of absorbing any moisture. If you choose to use a commercial cloth diaper detergent, just MAKE SURE THERE ARE NO FABRIC SOFTENERS in it!

2. Wet Pail or Dry Pail? You do not need a wet pail. A wet pail poses more risks with young Toddlers in the home than it is worth. We recommend using a dry diaper pail, with a diaper pail liner, and washing every other day.

3. Solid Waste. Before placing your cloth diapers or diaper covers in a diaper pail, be sure to remove as much solid waste as possible. There are different diapering accessories to help reduce the amount of solid waste on your baby's cloth diapers - like stay dry diaper liners, flushable diaper liners, and even a diaper sprayer you can attach near the toilet for hands-free cleansing.

4. Wash Diapers Regularly. Set a cloth diaper washing schedule you can live with, but try not to exceed 3 days. If you wash every other day, or every third day, your cloth diapers will last longer, stay fresher, retain less stains, and as an added bonus, you will not need to purchase as large a supply of cloth diapers and diaper covers.

5. Cold Wash. Always begin your cloth diaper laundry with a cold wash; the cold water will lift and rinse away waste from the diaper and reduces the opportunity for stains to set in.

If using an HE (High-Effiency), front-loading washing machine be sure to set water levels to high so diapers can be cleaned and rinsed thoroughly; sometimes tossing in a towel or two will help increase water levels if your machine bases water level on the weight of the load.

6. Hot Wash. After the cold wash, put the cloth diapers through a HOT wash (120F/60C) to thoroughly cleanse and sanitize.

7. Optional Rinse. When your baby's cloth diapers have completed the hot wash cycle, you may find the need for an additional rinse; we find this to be more true with commercial detergents that tend to be high-sudsing and high-residue. If you are using a commercial detergent DEFINITELY do a final cold rinse.

8. Drying. Whether you tumble dry or hang dry your cloth diapers and diaper covers is a personal preference, however, research has shown that cloth diaper covers hung to dry tend to have less wear and tear and a longer lifespan.

Cloth diapers, covers or diapering accessories made from synthetic fibers should tumble dry on warm/medium. Natural fibers such as hemp or cotton can tumble dry on hot.

Cotton fibers like to be "fluffed" - if you hang dry your cloth diapers, from time to time give them a quick "fluff" in the dryer here and there for maximum absorbency.

9. Oxygen Bleach? While not necessary (and check with the manufacturer - because some of them recommend against it), using oxygen bleach on occasion is fine. It helps to whiten, reduce any stains, sanitize and fights odors.

Please Note: If you remove any solid waste before putting cloth diapers into the pail, and you wash on a regular cycle, oxygen bleach is not a necessary part of your cloth diaper wash.

10. We do not recommend using additives such as baking soda or vinegar in your cloth diaper wash.

Preparing Cloth Diapers

Before your baby's cloth diapers ever wrap his/her bottom, they need to be prepared. A few wash/dry cycles alleviates any dirt or residue that could be left from the manufacturing and/or shipping process. This also ensures the fabric fibers are "prepped" and "fluffed" to ensure their absorbency.

Hemp or Cotton



Wash Cotton 3-5 Times and Hemp or Organic Cotton 5-7 times in HOT water (120F/60C) using manuf. recommendations for appropriate amt. of detergent. These cycles are necessary to ensure your baby's cloth diapers absorb properly.

The cloth diapers DO need to be dried in the dryer between each wash cycle to fluff fibers for absorbency, and ensure appropriate shrinkage occurs.

Wool should be hand washed in lukewarm water with wool shampoo or Woolwash.

Roll or line dry. Do NOT place in dryer.

Wash any Polyester products once, using the manuf. recommendations for appropriate amt. of detergent. If possible, avoid pre-washing synthetic polyester products with natural fibers.

Dry in a single warm dyer load.

PLEASE NOTE: Once your baby's cloth diapers have been prepped, and are ready to be used, future diaper washes can include both synthetic and natural fibers together, excluding wool; wool will always be washed separately.

When Your Cloth Diapers Aren't Getting Clean Enough…

If you notice your cloth diapers are not getting as clean as you'd like, experiment with a different brand of detergent. Sometimes the simple act of switching from one brand to another can make a difference in the overall cleanliness of the diapers.

You should also always be on the look-out for any diaper rash that might be caused by a particular kind of detergent, detergent residue, or any extra ingredients you may not have noticed your detergent contains. If this happens, the quickest remedy is switch to another brand.

Very hard and very soft water makes a difference in how well your baby's cloth diapers are cleaned. Families living in "hard water" areas might not notice the need to install a water softener until they begin washing their baby's cloth diapers.

Always be sure to read the instructions from the manufacturers for your individual cloth diapers; some detergent ingredients may void product warranties from the manufacturer. Some manufacturers will discourage the use of bleach in all forms or have special conditions for detergent, such as using less than would normally be required. In general, however, when washing cloth diapers just follow the above basic guidelines and everything should work beautifully.

How Do I Wash Cloth Diapers?

After you rinse and store your used cloth diapers, it is time to get busy with your cloth diaper wash.

To get cloth diapers very clean, there are several washing steps that should be followed.

1. Load cloth diapers into the washing machine. Avoid placing more than 18 cloth diapers in a single load; too many diapers will not allow diapers to agitate freely and get thoroughly cleansed.

An abundance of cloth diapers in a single load could also increase pilling of the fabrics. Be sure all the diapers are open and that any Velcro fasteners are closed. Also be sure the pockets and inserts are removed.

2. Run a prewash or rinse cycle. The water for this load should be Cold to help lift stains.

3. No Prewash Cycle? NO PROBLEM! Set up your wash load as normal, but bypass the wash setting and go to the rinse setting BEFORE turning your washer on. Although the cycle may not be as long as a standard pre-wash, it will at least give your cloth diapers that initial rinse off. If you have a top loader, you can always lift the lid on your machine to stop the agitation and allow for a pre-rinse period. PLEASE BE ATTENTIVE OF YOUNG CHILDREN if you leave a lid open on a washing machine. Many a climbing Toddler might be interested in what's inside!

4. After the first prewash or rinse, it is time to wash. Use a Hot wash with a Cold rinse for this cycle. Add in about 1/4 of the amount of detergent you would normally use to avoid detergent build up, and let her rip.

Remember, DO NOT USE FABRIC SOFTENERS on your cloth diapers! Fabric Softeners clog the fibers of the cloth diapers and reduce the cloth diaper's ability to absorb, rendering the cloth diaper ineffective.

5. When the cloth diaper wash cycle is done, it is time for a careful determination using your most sensitive organ - your nose. Open the washing machine lid and take a big whiff. Are things nice and clean? Great!

6. If your laundry doesn't smell perfect yet, rinse it again using a Hot wash and Cold rinse. There should be no baking soda, vinegar or detergent in this rinse.

7. Once the diapers are truly fresh and ready, remove them to the dryer for a tumble dry on low to medium heat or take them outside for a line-dry in the sun. (If you plan to line-dry, double-hanging your cloth diapers to allow for a slower dry time will keep them from getting hard and crunchy.)

A Special Note on Vinegar

Though we understand that many cloth diapering sites encourage the use of vinegar for softening cloth diapers (when line-drying) and restoring pH balance, most of the manufacturers DO NOT recommend Vinegar.

Washing cloth diapers is not the burden you may think, especially if you've taken care to rinse and store your used cloth diapers as suggested.

How do I deal with cloth diaper stains?

Part of washing cloth diapers is learning how to deal with the stains that occur.

Stains, like other things in diapers, happen. Be prepared for a certain amount of natural staining that comes with baby’s byproducts on white or light colored material. There are, however, certain steps you can take to at least reduce, if not eliminate, stains from cloth diapers.

Stain Soap

One of the best ways to deal with stains is to treat it with special Stain Soap. The soap is gentler than traditional fabric cleaners and is all natural. To use the soap, you simply wet the affected area, rub in the soap and rinse the soap and stain away. For difficult stains, you can leave the soap on the diaper for a minute or two before rinsing, but be aware that too much use of any product, like Stain Soap, can leave a residue in the diaper affecting absorbency and odor. We recommend this product for natural materials, such as cotton, only.

Sunning-Out Cloth Diaper Stains

The sun is a wonderful bleaching agent. Line drying or sunning diapers regularly can help reduce odor and stains as well as naturally sanitize the cloth diapers. After washing the diapers, lay or hang them in the sunshine to help stains fade. The sunlight, not the heat, is responsible for the bleaching, so temperature is not an issue.

Cloth diaper stains are inevitable.

Sometimes it might be better to just deal with the stains by ignoring them. Cloth diapers are going to get stains, and those stains will fade and even disappear with repeated washings. So long as the diapers have been washed and smell clean, they are. They can be stained and still be perfectly clean and sterilized. Also remember to avoid chlorine bleach and heavy detergents in your efforts to minimize stains.

How do I get rid of diaper odors?

Even when you properly rinse and store your used cloth diapers, you will still deal with the odor that naturally comes from soiled cloth diapers.

Diapers, in general, contain some of the smelliest messes around. Keeping odors at bay can be a concern, but it is easy to deal with. The first step to dealing with odors in cloth diapers is to wash them regularly and rinse them well. The longer dirty or wet diapers stay wet, the longer the fumes have to ingrain themselves in the material. You should be washing every two days or so.

Another chief culprit of cloth diaper odor is the product you're using to remove the odors. Items such as fabric softeners and detergent can build up residue in the diaper material and trap odors. Use the recommended amount of detergent for washing cloth diapers, and when the wash cycle is finished, take a big whiff to see how the diapers smell. Not fresh? Wash again.

Then, run the diapers through another load with no detergent to be sure all current detergent is completely removed from the material before drying. Using a detergent with a heavy perfume to try and mask the odors can also lead to worse odor problems. Stick to a basic detergent without soap, fabric softener or extra ingredients.

A Note About Microfiber In Your Cloth Diaper Stash

Some fabrics, such as microfiber, are especially good at trapping odors. Microfiber in cloth diapers are fabulous because they provide for a very trim fit, yet absorbent insert for pocket diapers or for fitted cloth diapers. However, the material can easily build up with detergent residue which makes them less absorbent and a bit less than fresh - even after washing. For this reason, it is especially crucial to rinse the microfiber inserts well. Once a week or every three washes, you should consider running the microfiber inserts through the wash without any detergent to ensure they are free of any residue.

It is worth repeating that how you rinse and store your used cloth diapers, will have some effect on the amount of cloth diaper odors you will deal with in your cloth diaper pail, decreasing the time between your cloth diaper washes is the best method for cutting cloth diaper odors.

How do I stop leaks with prefolds?

When determining about why and how your prefold diapers are leaking, the very first thing you need to do is be sure the prefolds are even the problem. At times, parents will discover the problem is leaks with diaper covers and not necessarily the prefold diaper, as was initially thought.

Choose the Right Size Diaper Cover.

When using cloth diapers, it is imperative that your baby or toddler wear the right size diaper cover. A diaper cover that is too small will not cover the cloth diaper adequately and leaks will occur. If the cover is too large, gaps will allow leaks as well. Measure your baby correctly when checking to be sure your diaper cover is not the problem. You should also be sure that all of the cloth diaper is tucked within the diaper cover.

Select Diaper Service Quality Prefolds!

Next, use high-quality prefold diapers. High-quality diapers, such as prefold diapers, can help solve many of your leak problems. Many of the cloth diapers available in local stores are very thin and have a sew-in polyester sponge in the middle panel. Unfortunately, that synthetic sponge is not particularly absorbent and tends to breaks down and fall apart with the frequent washes necessary for cloth diapers. Diaper Rite prefolds, and other high-quality cloth diapers, are thicker, more durable and more absorbent overall.

Then, be sure you've taken all the steps for cloth diaper preparation before ever placing them on your baby's bum. If you have not washed the cloth diaper at least 3-6 times, it will not be at maximum absorbency.

Finally, if you are using the wrong size of prefold diaper, leaks are bound to occur. Prefold diapers that are too small (or do not have enough panels for your baby's wetting needs) simply can't hold enough moisture to get the job done adequately, so don't be afraid to move up to the next size if leaking is suddenly occurring. If your child is a heavy wetter, you might consider using a diaper doubler or insert to help absorb more moisture.

If after ensuring your prefolds are the right size, are secured properly, and have been washed adequately for absorption, read more about why the problem may be caused by leaks with the diaper covers.

How do I stop leaks with fitted diapers?

Fitted diapers may leak for several reasons. There are also several things you can do to help solve the problem.

First things first - always check the diaper cover. It is possible that your diaper cover does not fit correctly. More often than not, parents will discover the problem is not with the fitted diaper, but leaks with the diaper covers.

Is baby in the right size fitted diaper?

To determine if your cloth diaper covers are fitting correctly, you'll need to measure baby carefully to figure the correct size to use. The reason cloth diaper sizing is so essential is that if you are using a cover that is too small, the cloth diaper won't be covered adequately and the exposed diaper areas can leak. The same occurs if your diaper cover is too big; there will be gaps at crucial coverage points and leaks can occur then as well.

Have you prepared baby's fitted diapers for use?

The next step, is to ensure you've prepared the diaper adequately. Fitted diapers must be washed three to six times before maximum absorbency is reached. If you have not washed the diapers this many times you cannot expect the diapers to be able to absorb adequately.

Some other options are:

  • Check to be sure the diaper is large enough. A diaper that is too small will draw-up in the stride and leave areas wide open for leaks. If a cloth diaper that hasn't leaked previously is suddenly leaking, consider moving up to the next size.
  • To keep using your current size a while longer, or if your child is a heavy wetter, consider a diaper doubler or insert which can boost absorbency.
  • Check for detergent residue. Washing cloth diapers with too much detergent or with the wrong kinds of laundry products (perfumes, fabric softeners, etc...) can leave a residue in the cloth diaper that blocks absorbency. Certain fabrics are more susceptible to this build-up, especially those that contain polyester, such as microfiber.

A note on residue build-up: To clean off residue, put the diapers into the washing machine for a hot cycle. Do not add any detergent or other products. Open the washer during the wash cycle and check for suds. If you see soap bubbles, your cloth diapers are still retaining some residue. Continue performing hot washes until you no longer see any residue. Only then will the diapers be completely cleansed. After this "strip wash" the diapers should be much more absorbent and softer, too. If a strip wash was necessary, you should switch laundry products and/or reduce the amount of detergent being used.

If after ensuring your fitted diapers are the right size, do not suffer from residue build-up, and have been washed adequately for absorption, read more about why the problem may be caused by leaks with the diaper covers.

How do I stop leaks with all-in-one diapers?

All-in-one diapers (AIO) are most usually designed for a trim fit and ultimate convenience, but don't gain too many merits for maximum absorbency. AIOs are not the same as pocket diapers; leaks with pocket diapers are not unheard of either, but the following troubleshooting ideas are to eliminate leaks with AIO diapers:

Use a doubler - Since many AIO diapers do not have as much absorbency as other types of cloth diapers, you can boost absorbency by adding a diaper doubler or insert to the cloth diaper. This should probably be your first step in trying to fix diaper leaks in your AIOs - giving the moisture more places to absorb inside the diaper.

Check the all-in-ones fit - If your AIO is too small, there will not be enough diaper to absorb as much as you need absorbed. If the AIO is too big, it will have gaps, which are basically leaks waiting to happen. Don't be shy about moving up the next size of all-in-one cloth diaper. Measure accurately first to be sure you're using the right size.

Prewash - Most cloth diapers require 3-5 washes prior to use for maximum absorbency. If you haven't had a chance to prewash your diapers fully, this may be why the diaper is leaking.

Cleanse detergent build-up - Detergents, fabric softeners and more can build up a residue in cloth diapers over time causing them to be less absorbent. This is especially true of any cloth diapers with polyester, such as microfiber. If you feel this might be the case with your diapers, you must strip wash them.

Throw the cloth diapers into a hot wash without any detergent and on the lowest water setting. Take a peek during the wash cycle. If you see suds, you're dealing with residue. Keep repeating washings until you don't see any more suds. Only then will the diapers be clean again, and they will be softer again, too. Once your diapers are cleansed of residue, consider switching detergent brands and/or reducing the amount of detergent you use in each load to prevent the problem from reoccurring. Be sure to adjust your water level back to the highest setting for your normal diaper wash routine.

Check waterproofing - The beauty of the all in one cloth diaper is that it comes with a built-in diaper cover. This cover is waterproof or water resistant. If something happens to make the cover less resistant, it will leak. Items such as bleach or enzyme based stain removers can take a serious toll on diaper covers and remove the waterproofing agents. If there is no more waterproofing, there will be leaks. Cleaning items that cause this deterioration should be avoided, of course.

Remember again that AIOs are not the same as pocket diapers and leaks with pocket diapers will be dealt with in a slightly different manner including consideration for interior and exterior fabrics as well as the type of inserts used.

How do I stop leaks with pocket diapers?

Pocket diapers, designed to tailor absorbency, are often confused with All-in-one diapers (AIOs) because of their equally waterproof or water resistant exterior fabrics and their ease of use. Though similar, eliminating leaks with all-in-one diapers differs slightly from pocket diapers.

Leaks with pocket diapers may have several causes, but the most common solution can be focused on just what makes these diapers so special in the first place - the pocket.

Perhaps you need extra absorption?

The pocket in the pocket diaper is where the absorbent insert is placed. If your pocket diapers are leaking, consider adding more inserts or a diaper doubler to help boost absorbency. You can even use prefold diapers your child has outgrown to stuff in the pocket for extra protection or for a heavier wetter.

Check pocket diapers for detergent Residue

Pocket diapers are primarily made of polyester materials, which make them an easy candidate for detergent build-up. If you suspect that your pocket diapers are leaking due to detergent residue, try to strip wash them by throwing the pocket diapers into a hot wash without any detergent. While the diapers are washing, take a peek inside to see if there are any soap suds. So long as soap suds are appearing during the wash cycle, you need to continue running the diapers through repeat hot washes. Only when the bubbles are gone are your cloth diapers ready to use again. After getting the diapers clean again, strongly consider a new detergent or use less detergent in your wash.

Do your baby's pocket diapers fit poorly?

Pocket diapers with a poor fit, like all other styles of cloth diapers, will leak. If the insert or prefold diaper placed inside the pocket diaper is too small or too narrow, it won't be able to absorb as much as necessary. If the pocket diaper itself is too big, moisture will escape through the gaps left by the loose fit. If you find the pocket diapers have suddenly started leaking, this may the problem. Measure your baby and move up the next size.

Has the waterproof layer started peeling or suffered wear and tear?

Because cloth diapers stand up to rigorous washing regimes, the waterproofing or lamination layer can start peeling or wearing away over time. Bleach and certain chemicals in stain removers can break down this crucial layer, decreasing the life of the pocket diaper, and contribting to leaks, therefore, these agents should not be used when washing cloth diapers. If this is the case, your pocket diaper will likely need to be replaced or worn when maximum dryness is not an issue.

A Note About Microfiber Pocket Diaper Inserts

Many pocket style diapers include a microfiber insert to be used along with the pocket diaper. Microfiber is highly susceptible to detergent build up. Because the fibers of this fabric are...well...micro, the channels can easily become clogged with the detergent thus making it harder for the fabric to properly absorb. This is usually the most common reason for pocket diaper leaks. If this is the case, perform what we call a "strip wash". This basic wash routine consists of repeated washes with plain hot water on the lowest water level until all of the detergent has been released. We suggest a maintenance "strip wash" once a week or every three washes without any detergent to ensure they remain free of detergent residue.

If you have both pocket diapers and all-in-one diapers in your cloth diapering arsenal, you may want to read about how to stop any leaks with all-in-one diapers as well.

How do I stop leaks with diaper covers?

Cloth diaper covers that do not leak are vital to any cloth diapering system, especially with night time diapering when baby is in the diaper cover for an extended period of time.

If you've determined that certain diaper covers are allowing leaks, there are a few possibilities of what might be wrong.

Size and Fit

If your cloth diaper covers are the wrong size you will have leaks. Diaper covers that are too big allow gaps to occur at the thigh and waist and these gaps are invitations for moisture to leak through. Covers that are too small simply cannot cover enough of the cloth diaper to keep all moisture inside.

Measure your baby carefully to make sure your baby is in the right size diaper cover. If they aren't, it is time to move up to the next size.

Detergent Residue

Some cloth diaper covers, especially polyurathane laminate (PUL), are susceptible to residue build-up. If you suspect this is what has occurred with your covers, you can perform a strip wash by doing the following:

  • Throw the covers into the washing machine for a hot wash without detergent.
  • Take a peek during the actual wash cycle to check for suds. Continue washing cycles until you don't see any more suds.
  • Then dry as you normally do.
  • Going forward, consider a new detergent or use less in your normal cloth diaper wash routine.

PLEASE NOTE: This kind of a strip wash will RUIN your wool diaper covers. Do NOT strip wool covers.

The Diaper

If the cloth diaper inside the cover is the wrong size, it will probably leak. The same is true for diapers of poor quality or that suffer from the detergent residue mentioned above. If you suspect the cloth diaper itself is the problem, investigate the diaper or switch to a more absorbent style of cloth diaper. You might also consider using a diaper doubler or insert to boost absorbency and keep moisture in its place.


Cloth Diaper covers are often made with some style of lamination applied to the exterior fabric's surface. If that lamination, or waterproof layer, is damaged, moisture will come through the cloth diaper cover. For the most part, there is no way to fix the lamination once it has separated from the fabric, however, you should try to determine what may have damaged it to protect your remaining covers. For instance, bleach and stain removers can often cause this sort of damage.

Wool diaper covers may need to be lanolized if they are beginning to have issues with resistance to wetness. Wool diaper covers do not have an outer laminate layer, which is why they require you to re-lanolize on occasion.

If your day or night time diapering system is still leaking after troubleshooting your cloth diaper covers, please feel free to contact us for more help.

How do I use cloth diapers at night?

Cloth diapers can certainly be used at night, but care needs to be taken when choosing a diaper cover or even at the start, when selecting your cloth diapering system. There are a few popular options for diapering at night, all of which can be more leak free and comfortable for baby than disposables.

Pocket Diapers with Inserts

Pocket diapers such as BumGenius are great for nights as the absorbency is easily customized for your baby's needs. Use two or three Micro Inserts, or possibly Hemp Inserts, to help boost absorbency even more.

The fleece interior lining of pocket diapers are great at helping wick moisture away from baby's skin for better sleep and to distribute the wetness overall for more uniform absorption.

Prefolds or Fitted with a Doubler

Using a high-quality (also known as "DSQ" for Diaper Service Quality) prefold diaper will not usually be enough to last an entire night if your baby is a heavy wetter or frequently nurses through the night. However, if you layer in a stay dry diaper doubler, it will add absorbency, as well as serve as a sort of make-shift pocket diaper. The fleece-topped doubler will wick moisture away from baby's skin, which leaves baby feeling more dry.

Double Diapering

Double diapering is exactly what it sounds like. You simply place one prefold diaper inside another to help absorb moisture. Yes, it is bulkier, but it works effectively as an economic approach for night time diapering. You simply fold one diaper and place it inside another in the area baby needs it most (boys need extra absorbency in the front and girls need it in the middle.) Then secure the diaper on baby with diaper pins, a snappi fastener, or with a wrap-style diaper cover as usual.

Diaper Covers at Night

To cover the diaper at night, regardless of the cloth diaper style you selected, consider fleece or wool when choosing a diaper cover.

Untreated wool soakers absorb more than one third of their weight in moisture and are water resistant while remaining breathable. Their generous sizing fits over most cloth diapers, helping keep baby dry in whatever cloth diapering system you choose. Fleece is also good, but you may find a multi-layered wool soaker is better with all of its natural wetness protection to keep baby, pajamas and bedding nice and dry.