A Beginner's Guide to Cloth Diapering

A Beginner's Guide to Cloth Diapering
Using cloth diapers is a great way to save money and to help protect the environment. Not only are disposable diapers expensive -- they start to add up when you have several diaper changes a day -- but they are also terrible for the environment since they do not biodegrade and just pile up in landfills.
However, cloth diapering can seem confusing and maybe even intimidating to beginners. What do all the abbreviations mean? What do you do with the inserts? How do you wash them? Here's some basic information you need to know to get started with cloth diapering so you can start taking advantage of the money savings and the environmental benefits:

Types of Cloth Diapers
Not all cloth diapers are created the same. Many of the different abbreviations and shorthand jargon that you hear are related to the different styles of cloth diapers. Here are the most common types:
  • Pockets
  • AIOs
  • Fitteds
  • Pre-folds
Pocket diapers are what they sound like: A diaper that has a pocket down the center, which is used to hold the liner. The diaper itself has an outer shell that is water proof, and the liner in the center absorbs waste. You can then remove the liner for washing.
AIO is an abbreviation for "all-in-one." These diapers are the easiest to use, as they do not require the use of a liner or a cover. The diaper has a liner sewn in, and the outer shell is waterproof to prevent leaking. When the diaper is dirty, you throw it in the wash.
Fitted diapers look like pocket diapers and AIOs, but they do not have waterproof layers. That means that you have to use a cover to prevent leaking onto clothing.
Pre-folds are the classic cloth diaper. They are typically long, rectangular pieces of fabric that must be fastened in place by a safety pin or other device.
Using Cloth Diapers
How you use your cloth diapers will depend in large part on the kind that you choose. When you select AIOs, you can use them just like a disposable diaper. You either snap them or velcro them in place, and when they are dirty, you just throw them in the wash.
With diapers that require liners, such as pocket diapers and some fitted diapers, you will need to place the liner inside before putting the diaper on your baby. You would then remove the liner when it is soiled, and throw the liner and the diaper into the wash together. If you are having problems with absorbency, or you have to go longer between diaper changes, you can double up on liners.
Many cloth diapers are one-size-fits-all. This is accomplished through the use of snaps that can bring the diaper in at the sides or down at the top. If you choose a diaper that uses velcro, you will have to shop by size.
Washing Cloth Diapers
The thought of washing cloth diapers leaves a lot of beginners feeling intimidated. Do you wash them in your washing machine? Do they need special detergent? Do they need pre-washing?
In general, you can wash cloth diapers the way you would any other laundry. When they are dirty, you can put them in a wet bag or diaper pail to keep them separate from your other laundry. When it's time to wash a load, just make sure the diapers are separated from their liners and throw them in the machine. For diapers with solid waste, you can invest in a toilet sprayer, which will allow you to spray the diapers directly into the toilet before you throw them in your diaper pail or wet bag.
You can use your regular soap on your cloth diapers, or you can invest in a special brand that is made specifically for cloth diapers.
Over time, your cloth diapers may begin to smell or to lose some of their absorbency. When this happens, you can "strip" your diapers. There are many ways to do this, but some common approaches involve washing them in very hot water with vinegar or with Dawn dish washing soap. This will help to strip away the build-up that is contributing to odors or preventing absorbency. You can also lay your wet diapers in the sun to dry to help whiten or lighten stains.
Cloth diapering doesn't need to be complicated or intimidating. You just have to learn some of the basics, and you'll have everything you need to get started, allowing you to save money and help save the environment.

Amber Satka primarily writes on financial topics, many of which can be found on her app site at http://www.carloancalculator.org/. She is a former office manager and current mother and writer. Her leisure activities include bike riding and spending way too much time on Pinterest.


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