It took me a few weeks to finally get into a smooth cloth diapering routine. I didn’t have all the necessities when my baby was born and, because of this, my cloth diapering experience didn’t go very smooth. My hope is that this tutorial helps someone prepare for cloth diapering ahead of time so that when baby is born, this is the last thing on their minds!
MY SIMPLE CLOTH DIAPERING ROUTINE
- Prep the diapers, wipes, and accessories.
- Pre-stuff diapers and pre-make wipe solution in a wipe warmer.
- Change baby and toss the soiled diaper and wipe(s) in the diaper trash can. Dump poo if needed.
- At the end of the day, wash your diapers – rinse first, then wash on hot.
- Air dry the diaper shells, heat dry the inserts.
- Pre-stuff diapers and repeat!
Below is a more in-depth explanation of my routine and prep!
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PREPPING YOUR CLOTH DIAPERS & ACCESSORIES
- After purchasing and/or obtaining all of your items (cloth diapers, inserts, wipes, wash clothes, diaper liners, and diaper bags for on the go), wash everything in hot water with a good detergent. I use this one for my cloth diapers.
- Wash your new cloth diaper inserts FIVE MORE TIMES on hot, and then dry them in the dryer WITHOUT fabric softener or dryer sheets. NOTE: you only need to do this for NEW inserts. This is to improve their absorbency. If you bought used cloth diapers and inserts, then this step is not needed.
- AIR DRY your cloth diaper shells. DO NOT dry your cloth diaper shells in the dryer; this can destroy their waterproof layer and cause them to de-laminate. I usually hang my diaper shells over the back of my couch and bar chairs to let them dry overnight.
- AIR DRY your cloth diaper trash can liners and cloth diaper bags (anything with a laminated waterproof layer). These items don’t hold up for very long when dried in the dryer.
- After everything is dry, adjust your pocket diapers to the preferred size. I adjusted to the smallest size both up and down and side to side for my newborn. Pre stuff the diapers with inserts, but leave the side to side snaps open so you can easily place baby in the diaper. I only use one insert per diaper. I used the inserts that came with the diapers and switched to the thicker charcoal inserts around 8 months.
- Arrange your beautiful cloth diapers in a convenient drawer or container that is easy to get to during diaper changes. NOTE: I like to pre-stuff all of my diapers because this is seriously husband-proof. My husband has actually said on multiple occasions that cloth diapering is EASIER than disposables. Yes. That’s right. He actually likes them!
- Place your diaper liner in the trash can.
- Prep a spray bottle with some water and a small squeeze of detergent and set this next to your diaper changing station. Or, use a spray-on stain remover like this one.
You’re all set and ready to start cloth diapering!
SETTING UP THE WIPE WARMER AND CLOTH WIPES
- After washing all of your cloth wipes, fold them all in half and stack them on top of each other.
- Place them inside the wipe warmer and plug in the warmer. NOTE: You don’t need to dry your cloth wipes from the washer as they are just going back into a wet environment.
- Measure THREE cups of water and drop THREE baby bits soap pieces into the water, and microwave for TWO minutes (3, 3, 2!). Stir and pour the solution into the wipe warmer. Now you have ready-to-go wipes!
- I also recommend this wipe warmer as a towel warmer for mama. This can double as a hot towel relief when breastfeeding. If you’re going to do this, I would skip the soap pieces as you don’t want soap residue on your skin when baby nurses. It’s fine to just wipe baby with warm water.
- Place a dry washcloth over your wipe warmer to dry baby’s bottom after the wet cloth wipes.
MY CLOTH DIAPER ROUTINE
- When changing baby, remove soiled diaper and place aside.
- Wipe baby’s bottom with a cloth wipe from the wipe warmer, making sure to squeeze out any excess water and let cool if it’s hot prior to wiping.
- Place soiled wipe on top of soiled diaper.
- Dry baby’s bottom with a clean and dry wash cloth.
- Place drying washcloth back on top of wipe warmer. I usually change these every day or two.
- Place new cloth diaper on baby and snap into place.
- Place baby somewhere safe, or if newborn and not rolling yet, you can do this next step while baby is still on the changing table, just don’t leave baby on the table unattended.
- Inspect soiled diaper—if it’s a pee diaper, I take the insert out, place it on top of the diaper, and fold the diaper (with soiled wipe) and drop it in my cloth-lined trash can.
- If it’s a breastfed poo diaper, I spray the whole stain with the water and detergent solution from the spray bottle—you want to make sure it’s fairly wet because wet poo doesn’t stain as much as dry poo. Once you have sprayed the stain, take the insert out, place on top of the diaper, wrap everything up and drop in the diaper trash can. NOTE: you can wash an exclusively breastfed baby’s diaper in the washing machine because breastfed poop is completely water soluble. There is no need to spray the diaper off or scrape the poop into the toilet.
- At the end of the day, take your trash can liner with all your soiled diapers and wipes and empty it into the washing machine. Throw the empty trash can liner in the wash as well.
- RINSE everything first with just a little detergent to loosen stains.
- Then, WASH everything on HOT with an extra rinse cycle. I put one or two full squeezes of detergent in this cycle along with a LITTLE bit of oxi clean to loosen stains.
- Once the wash cycle is finished, take out all of your diaper shells, your diaper trash can liner, and your cloth wipes. Place ONLY your diaper inserts and your drying wash clothes in the dryer.
- Drape your diaper shells and diaper trash can liner somewhere to dry—I usually drape them over the back of my couch or my bar-stools and let them dry overnight.
- Fold the wet wash cloths in half and place in your wipe warmer—no need to dry them as they are just going back into a wet environment.
- In the morning, stuff your diapers with the dry inserts and place back into your diaper drawer.
- You’re ready for the next day!
ROUTINE CHANGES AFTER STARTING BABY ON SOLIDS
My diaper routine hasn’t changed much since baby started solids at six months. In fact, I thought it would be harder, but it’s actually easier. Here are my routine changes:
- Do everything the same, but when baby has pooped, I usually put baby into a new diaper, put her in her crib for a minute, then take the soiled diaper into the bathroom and dump the poop into the toilet. I don’t have to scrape it or hose it—I just shake the diaper a little and the poop comes right off.
- Take out the insert, place the insert (and soiled wash cloths) on top of the diaper, fold the diaper up and drop into the diaper trash can.
- Since the start of solids, I am now doing diaper laundry every other day because my baby is not going through as many diapers in a day.
- My diaper shells do not stain anymore, but my light colored inserts do stain with solid poop. I finally switched to these darker and thicker inserts and I don’t worry about stains anymore. My diapers look brand new, 14 months later!
TAKEAWAYS & LESSONS LEARNED
- The spray bottle with detergent was really helpful in the first six months when baby poops are very yellow and will stain your shells and inserts, but I don’t use it anymore since baby is on solids.
- If you don’t want to use OxiClean or stain remover, you can ‘sun’ your diapers (hang them to dry outside in the sun). This removes stains as well.
- I only have experience with pocket diapers and exclusively breastfed poops until 6 months. Cloth diapering is a little more difficult if formula feeding, as this poop is not water soluble, so you will need to dump the 0-6 month poop in the toilet if formula feeding.
- The transition between exclusively breastfeeding (EBF) and starting solids was a little rocky; there were a few days of very runny solid poop and I honestly thought about quitting cloth diapering because I wasn’t sure if I could deal with the runny poop. After about a week or two of solid food, my baby’s poop became actually solid and not runny and now they just dump right off of the diaper into the toilet. So, just keep at it – it gets easier!
- Once you get into a routine, cloth diapering is EASY. It may look intimidating with all of the steps and preparation, but keep at it for a few weeks and you will be so thrilled at the amount of money saved and the absence of waste in your home. And, the absence of diaper rashes!
- Remember not to use any fabric softener or dryer sheets when washing cloth diapers and inserts as this can damage waterproofing and absorbency.
- The only things that I dry in the dryer are the diaper inserts and thick washcloths that I use to DRY baby’s bottom. Everything else I air dry to preserve the lamination (waterproofing) layer.
- If you use changing pad liners, this is the ONLY other item that I will wash with my cloth diapers. Everything else (baby clothes, sheets, etc.) I will wash on a separate load. When my baby was younger, I would go through at least one or two changing pad liners in a day, so this worked out well to wash everything together.
- Cloth diapers are less absorbent than disposables, so you will go through more in a day. Expect to check and possibly change your baby every 1-2 hours in the beginning or else you will get leaks.
I wish you well on your cloth diapering adventure! Cloth diapering is not only easy, but rewarding on so many levels. Check out my other post on why I cloth diaper. Message me or leave a comment if you have questions, or would like to share additional tips and tricks for a smooth cloth diapering routine!
Thanks for your article! I found it to be so helpful! After cloth diapering my NB for about a week, I decided we really needed to do cloth wipes also. Just ordered the wipe warmer and the lavender baby bits soap and excited to get the wipe process going also! I’m surprised at how easy cloth diapering really is! Thanks again!