Cloth 101

Cloth Diapers for the Modern Baby

Why should you use cloth diapers? 

  • To save money

    •  The average family spends $3000-$4000 per child to use disposable diapers.  The cost of purchasing cloth diapers ranges depending on style, and will have a one-time cost of $100-$1500.  Cloth diapers can be used for multiple children, so a family can easily save thousands of dollars by switching to cloth. 
    • A third of American families cut back on basic household necessities to afford disposable diapers. 
  •  Better for the environment 

    • About 50% of a family’s weekly trash consists of disposable diapers. 
    • Under optimal conditions, disposable diapers take 500 years to degrade. Most disposable diapers will never degrade due to incineration or disposal in landfills.
  • Better for babies

    • Babies who use cloth diapers experience fewer cases of diaper rash.
    • Babies using cloth diapers frequently potty trainer sooner than disposable diapered peers. 
    • Fragrance and highly absorptive chemicals in disposable diapers can irritate the skin and respiratory systems of some babies.

There are different styles of cloth diapers available


  •  All-in-One: Most similar to disposable diapers, in that the diaper is entirely one piece.  All-in-One diapers may take longer to dry compared to two-part diapering systems, but they are an easy choice for newborn diapering.
  •  Pocket: A diaper cover that has a pocket with a fabric lining. The diaper pocket is stuffed with an absorptive insert.

    Pocket Diaper
  •  Flats: The most rudimentary and least expensive diapering system.  This thin piece of cloth is folded and secured onto baby.  It needs to be covered with a waterproof diaper cover.
  •  Prefolds: A thicker piece of fabric is “prefolded” and sewn into the center of a rectangular cloth. Prefolds must be folded and secured to baby and they need a waterproof diaper cover.
    Prefold diaper

  •  Fitted: An absorptive diaper that is easy to secure without folding.  A fitted needs to be covered by a waterproof diaper cover. 
    Fitted Diaper
  • All-in-Two: A two-part system where an absorptive pad snaps into a diaper cover. When soiled, the pad is removed and a fresh pad is snapped into the cover.  Diaper covers are reused multiple times during the day.
  • Hybrid: Often used as an alternative to All-in-Two diapers.  A reusable diaper cover is used in combination with a disposable insert.  The disposable insert is discarded when soiled.
  • Hybrid Fitted: A fitted diaper with a hidden inner fleece lining that serves as a moisture barrier.  Hybrid fitteds are often used without a diaper cover during the day, but need a waterproof diaper cover for overnight use.

Modern aspects of cloth diapers 

  • Fastening the diaper: Most modern cloth diapers attach with snaps or Velcro.  Velcro allows you to secure the diaper quickly, but is more prone to wear. Snaps do not wear as easily and they make it difficult for baby to remove his diaper.
  • One-Size: Many diapers are available in a “one-size” option that allows the diaper to adjust in size from birth through potty training.


How to care for cloth diapers 

Poopy diapers

  • Exclusively breastfeeding: poop is liquid and will dissolve away during laundering
  • Formula fed/eating solids: Poop is knocked into the toilet and diapers are washed as usual

Wash routine 
  • Run a rinse cycle with no detergent
  • Wash diapers on HOT with cloth-diaper-safe detergent 
  • Follow with a cold water rinse without detergent 
  • Line dry, or dry on low temperature


  1. this is great information. there is a lot of info out there and this is very understandable and makes since. No so overwhelming

  2. Thanks for spelling out the different kids so plainly. I appreciate that as a newb.

  3. I wish more people cloth diapered. I don't know any one else who do. but I LOVE cloth diapering (:

  4. Thank you for this page of Info that all new cloth diaper parents should know( when choosing which cloth too)! What a nice short wrap-up of the basics!

  5. We can only wash once a week. We EC so almost never have poopy diapers. Should we rinse diapers before putting them in the pail? If so, do they need to dry before they go in the pail?

    1. Hi Mirana. I would rinse to remove as much urine as possible and wring out the diapers. Many diaper services are only picking up once per week to wash the diapers. However, have you considered handwashing?