The Truth About Cloth Diapers

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Many of you have asked about cloth diapering, which is so encouraging to me! So far I’m loving them! I’ve been using them for about a month now, but I have a system in place. It’s really not more work, in my opinion, than disposable diapers.

Our Cloth Diapers

In our collection, we have 3 Happy Heinys, 14 Bum Genius 4.0s (a combo of both velcro and snaps), and 7 small & medium gdiapers.

These diapers are one size fits all. The rows of snaps you see are  used to fold the diaper down, snapping it together, to make it smaller or larger. The great thing about one size fits all is that the diaper works from the time your baby is a newborn (or really about 8 lbs) to potty training.

I like how the velcro tabs on Happy Heinys are thicker than the Bum Genius. And the pink on the left can velcro onto the white on the right, making for a tighter fit. On that note, it also seems slimmer than the Bum Genius, in my opinion. I like that about it. However, this diaper does seem to wear more. In a stash of used diapers I bought, Happy Heinys showed much more wear than the Bum Geniuses. I think that may have to do with the type of fabric lining. Update: After a year and a half of cloth diapering, these diapers (which we bought a few years used) are still working great! The velcro is worn, so I try to use them just for nap (and under pants!), when she is more still. But despite the fact that the showed wear so quickly, they are still absorbing great!

I include these two together because the only difference is whether you choose velcro (“hook and loop”) or snaps. Like the Happy Heiny’s, this diaper is one size fits all, a major plus financially.

For both the HH’s and BG’s the cloth insert slides into the diaper’s pocket. This is how it absorbs. They come with newborn and standard size inserts.

I love the snaps option because velcro diapers can create what the cloth diapering world refers to as “diaper trains” in the wash… the velcro adheres to other diapers and snags the fabric, making them more worn.

I’ve had great look with the Bum Geniuses, and would recommend them! They’re great quality. Update: I will no longer recommend these. Read why here.

The gDiaper has a different configuration than the diapers mentioned above. Instead on sliding the cloth insert into a pocket, the cloth insert fits into a liner which snaps into the gpant, shown above.

gDiapers, unlike the two mentioned above, are not one size fits all. The upside to this is that they are as slim as disposables. The downside is the need to buy multiple sizes and spend more money. Still, an entire stash of g’s could end up costing the same as a stash of BG’s or HH’s. At BabiesRUs (BRU), a two-pack of g’s sells for $26. A package of ten cloth inserts is $26 as well. And to buy extra liners, a ten pack is $20 on Amazon. (Mediums and large pants share the same size inserts and liners though, which helps.)

The unique thing about gDiapers is that it can also be a hybrid diaper. So someone who doesn’t want t use cloth but still wants to be green would like this option because it still uses the washable pants and liners, only the insert is disposable and biodegradable. Someone gave us a package of the disposables to try, and I’ll just say that I don’t get it. You have to take the insert to the toilet and rip it down the sides for the filling to fall out. Then drop the outside in as well and swoosh it with the wand the give you before flushing. So basically you get messy! Ew. Not for me.

I have enjoyed how slim these are, due to their individual sizes, but I do prefer the configuration of the HH’s and BG’s, where the cloth insert slips into the diaper, rather than snapping in. We have had some leaks in these, but when I double the cloth inserts up, they work really well. Still, the only reason I decided to add some of these to our stash is because BabiesRUs carries them, which meant I could register for them and use gift cards to purchase more, so it cost me nothing out of pocket.

UPDATE: Since writing this post, I got rid of our medium g diapers. The smalls worked well, but as my baby grew, I had to double the inserts. Without a pocket, this was hard to do and left her diaper really bulky. And even then, the gpants still got damp sometimes. This method just did not work for me. I still have the smalls for a future baby – hopefully they’ll work the first couple months.

For more on cloth diaper brands I have reviewed, see these links:

Using Coth

I have a drawer solely dedicated to cloth diapers. And I have a separate diaper bin to throw soiled cloth diapers in. When I change Lil’s diaper, I go ahead and velcro the laundry tabs in. This prevents those velcro diaper trains I was talking about.

I line it with Kissa’s Antibacterial Pail Liner, which is essentially a wet bag. I have two of these liners, so when the pail is full, I toss the entire bag into the wash and put a new liner into the pail.


I throw the whole bag into the wash! So I do NOT have to pull out each diaper and touch them in order to do laundry, I use a drop (literally – very small amount) of an approved cloth diapering detergent. (Another one is Dapple, which isn’t on this list, but it says on the bottle it’s safe for cloth diapers. I found it at BabiesRUs for $4.99.)

I wash them the first time with a drop of detergent on cold and then again a second time with a drop of detergent on warm. Then I hang them up on the clothes racks to dry, though the dryer works too.

I do this about every 2-3 days.

Diaper Rash

Normal diaper rash cram cannot be used with cloth diapers because it affects the absorbency. Therefore, I use liners, which are strips of flannel or fleece I cut up and lay in the diaper, creating a barrier between the ointment and the diaper. There are approved diaper rash creams though that are cloth diaper safe. You can find a list here. I sometimes use California Baby as well.

Cloth Wipes

I set out to just use cloth diapers, not cloth wipes. But once I was using cloth diapers, I realized it just didn’t make sense not to use cloth wipes. You see, when you change a disposable diaper, you grab a wipe to wipe the baby’s bottom. Then you put the wipe inside the diaper and wrap the diaper around it before throwing it away. You can basically do the same thing when you use a cloth diaper and cloth wipe, only instead of the trash diaper pail, you toss them in the cloth diaper pail. Using a cloth diaper and disposable wipe, you now have trash in one hand and laundry in the other… more gunk to touch… you see why it’s just easier to use for cloth for both.

I bought these GroVia Cotton Cloth Wipes, and I also made some cloth wipes as well by cutting up flannel into squares, double layering them, and sewing an edge. Nothing fancy, but they do the job.

So far I have just been using water with the wipes. I’m sure a master cloth diapering mommy would tell me to slap my hand for that one. But it works. I would like to try this wipe solution recipe that a friend gave me though. Here it is: 4 cups water + 1/4 cup olive oil + 1/8 cup baby wash. She puts the solution into a disposable wipes container and fills it with her cloth wipes. You could also just put some of this solution into a spray bottle to spray onto your wipes. Whatever works for you!

Now for questions from you…
Q: Have you found that it saves money?
A: Let’s look at the cost of disposables real quick. And I am doing this from a money-saving perspective, assuming I were buying these, with my money savvy sense, NOT paying full price. Amazon has the best prices from what I’ve seen.  Pampers Swaddlers Dry Max Diapers, Size 1, 216 Count run for about 19 cents per diaper. 13 cents with the Amazon Mom subscribe and save.
I’m just going to say Lilleigh uses 10 diapers per day. Truthfully, it depends on how often she wakes up during the night, etc. But let’s say 10. That’s $1.30 per day, $39/month. Plus wipes. Referring to Pampers Soft Care Scented Wipes, 720 Count… I’m going to guess I use 3 on average per change, depending on the diaper… you get what I’m saying. Three wipes at 2 cents each (with Amazon Mom discount) times 10 diapers per day times 30 days per month… 900 wipes or $18. So at best, I would be spending $57 per month on diapers and wipes.

I spent $25 for a mixed lot of 7 Happy Heinys and Bum Genius from Craigslist. I then bought 7 refresher kits to do my own repairs (replacing elastic and laundry tabs) for $1 each, so $7 total. I have bought 6 BG 4.0 snaps from Cotton Babies during a sale for $91, plus an addition 4 more BG 4.0 snaps and velcro during the Seconds Sale for $48. The gdiapers are tricky because as I said earlier, we received some as gifts from our registry and some we bought with BRU gift cards. Out of pocket we have spent $20 on gdiapers to get extra snap-in liners and $52 in gift cards to get extra cloth inserts. While we are set for medium gpants, we still need large gpants. To get 4, it will cost about $52 in gift cards. So altogether, we will have spent about $285 on cloth diapers. (The wipes I got for free using a $10 Amazon coupon found in a baby magazine.)

So basically once we hit 5 months of using cloth diapers, we will begin saving! You can see how even if I buy a few more to increase our stash, it won’t make a huge difference. We will still be saving a lot!

Q: Do you use the sprayer, and is it awkward/gross?
A: The sprayer being referred to is this: bumGenius Diaper Sprayer. I do own one. It hooks right up to the toilet and works like the sprayer on your kitchen sink does, only you use it to spray the poop off of the cloth diaper and into the toilet.
Since we haven’t started solids yet, I am not using the sprayer – yet. I wil. But breastfed babies’ poop is liquidy… not solid enough to use this.
I will definitely have a new learning curve to figure out when we start solids, but it seems doable. Our changing table is right next to the bathroom, and the pail is actually in the bathroom, making this step easy. If we could, I’d actually have our changing area IN the bathroom.
Q: What do you do when you’re out and about? Or if someone else is watching her?
A: I always said I’d use disposables when we’re out and about, traveling, or when someone else is watching her. I still do some, but truthfully, cloth is just SO much easier than I expected, that it seems silly to me to use disposables. I’m not really saving any time or energy by doing it. So when out and about, I have been using cloth and just putting dirty diapers in a wet bag. Then, like the pail’s bag, it all goes straight in the wash. Really, you can put a disposable wipe in too. It’s not the end of the world. You just get it out when the wash is done. Or bring a cloth wipe with you if you’re changing the baby near a sink.
As for travel – when we visited family in Houston a few weeks ago, we used disposable. It just seemed too much to carry a big wet bag to Houston to keep used diapers in and then to wash and dry them there. Disposables are just easier for travel, in my opinion. But cloth are definitely doable.
As for babysitters, we haven’t had one yet… but I’d probably use disposables just to be nice, unless the person was familiar with cloth. It’s a lot to explain – and to convince the person how much of a big deal they aren’t! Plus it’s only a few hours, so that’s 1 or 2 diapers. No big deal.
Here are some of the best resources I have found in using cloth diapers:
Any more questions? I’m glad to answer the best I can!
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  1. Kristina says:

    For the wipes solution don’t dump in all four cups. Save what you don’t need in the fridge.
    BRU is out of Dapple and not restocking. Boo.
    The sun will bleach out poop stains. Takes a few times but it really works.

  2. Bookmarking this post for when I have babies. I’m fascinated by cloth diapers and everything I read says they are really no big deal to use! I just found out that my mom used cloth diapers (and this was back in the 70s and 80s when I’m sure they weren’t that great)…so that was kind of exciting to me for some reason. Haha! Thanks so much for this post, Ashleigh!


  3. thanks for the tips!! You always have such helpful posts! I’m in the middle on this right now due to the fact that I will have to go back to work when baby is about 4 months. Hubby also isn’t about the cloth diapering…so we will see! I definitely am going to have a few for when we are just around the house–weekends and days when I am off. I’m sure it means awesome savings…that’s my biggest motivator…so I would love to go for it. Anywho…I’m sure I’ll be emailing you about more info as we weigh our options in even greater detail.

    Thanks again for sharing!

  4. Thanks for the info Ashleigh. I’m excited about trying out my new BG 4.0’s!

  5. Just added this as a link on my post! Thanks for sharing!

  6. so new question on this–(just jumped in and bought my first bumgenius today–well my mom did for us–yay!)–and I was wondering how often you can just change the liner(s) and keep the shell as “clean” before washing it. This may be a silly question?! I do know every baby’s bathroom habits are different and it depends based on if it’s just a wet diaper. Just wanted to know what your experience has been with this. And let me make sure I’m reading it right…you take the whole wet bag (with dirty diapers in it) and throw it in the wash without taking anything out. How is the wet bag on holding down the smell?
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    • Hey! Okay so first Bum Genius is a pocket diaper, which means the liner goes inside it. So once the diaper is wet, the whole thing is wet. You throw the whole diaper in the diaper pail. (And as a side note because I have had questions about this, I do not take the liner out of the diaper before tossing it in the wet bag or the laundry for that matter. During one of the wash cycles (remember you wash them twice), the liners end up falling out. So this is actually really not messy, despite what many believe! The diapers you are referring to with the shells that can be reused despite many liner changes are not pockets. Gdiapers fit into the category you’re talking about. We used this type for awhile, but to be honest, they didn’t work for us. For the most part, the shell would get wet. It lasted us about two diaper changes. But I just didn’t like the fit or the hassle of these diapers.
      As for the diaper pail liner, yes I put the whole thing, liner and all into the wash! I carry the wet bag to the washing machine and then dump it. I shake the bag till all of the diapers fall out, and then I throw the bag into the wash too!
      The wet bag doesn’t hold the smell all that well… we are still on breastmilk, barely solids, so the poop is just musty, not a stench just yet. It’s really all about the pail you have. I haven’t heard of a great one to hold smell in for cloth. I use a 11-gallon trash can with a lid – a pedal to open and close the lid without my hands! Another friend used a plastic bin that shut tight. But then you have to clean out that bin each time you do laundry, as opposed to tossing the pail liner in the wash. Your call. I haven’t really heard of an awesome system for the smell issue, but tell me if you hear of one!
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