Cloth diapers 101

organic cloth diapers

Why bother?

I knew I was going to do cloth diapers long before I became a mom ever since I read that disposable diapers take anywhere from 250-500 years to decompose. I considered the number of diapers changed daily and the fact that a baby wears them for the first 2-3 years of their life…wow! A paramount pile of stinky rotting diapers was not a legacy I wished me and my children to leave this planet with.

Best and most affordable cloth diapers:
Organic wool + organic cotton

AsΒ  I was getting close to having my first baby I started researching the cloth diapering options. I soon felt rather confused with all the options, terms and couldn’t quite figure out what I really needed. But in the end it turned out I didn’t need most of things recommended and the whole ‘diaper system’ that has been working great for us for the past 18 months 2.5 years and two babies is very simple.

organic cloth diapers

Here is all you need:

  • 2 waterproof covers (made of organic wool) – $70.00

    The yellow and green little fluffy woollies on the photos are the waterproof covers for diapers. We use the covers made out of organic wool instead of synthetic ones. As I discovered wool is a rather magical material when it comes to water-proofing and pee in particular. Not only a good woolly cover never leaks through, it also takes a long time before it accumulates any odor. You are probably feeling at least a bit skeptical reading this. I did when I first heard of that πŸ™‚ But it turned out they really do a fantastic job at water-proofing. Plus wool breezes and so does your baby’s sweet little bum’s skin. We never had any rushes since we switched to wool with my first son. And with the second child I used them from the start. Our covers are from Lovey Bums and I found them to have he best fit out of few different ones I tried. They have various sizes, including newborn size.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not order velcro version, as they scratch my babies legs. Go with snaps!

  • 12 or so cotton inserts (made of organic cotton) – $0.00 – $60.00

    These are simply thick pre-folded and sometimes sewn together pieces of cloth that lay inside the cover and absorb the pee. For newborn baby you can just make these by cutting up your old t-shirt and as the baby grows and the amount of pees increases switch to more absorbent ones, like these these organic diaper inserts by Dandelion that I’ve been extremely happy with.

  • Waterproof diaper bag (when going out)

    These are easily found on any cloth diaper website. It should be roomy and have a zipper. These are to store your wet diapers when you are out and about with the baby.

  • Pail of sort

    This is just to store your wet diapers during the day. I am using just some plastic tub I have for cloth washing and it sits in the corner of my deck. Not very sexy, but it works for us πŸ™‚ If you wish to be a bit more elegant you can get something like this metal pail with lid from IKEA that you can also then re-use in many ways throughout the house and garden.


Nothing different is needed for infants. Loveybums sells the wool covers in Infant size, which worked great for us up to about 4 months. And for inserts you can use cloth of your old soft t-shirts, sweat-pants and so on.

How it works

How to use:

And the use is very simple. Put the insert into a woolly cover and the rest is just like you’d use a disposable diaper — put your baby’s bum in it, snap and voila! πŸ™‚

Does it really never leaks?

A good woolly cover and insert system will be just as water-proof as a disposable diaper. However, leaks are possible if the diaper doesn’t fit well, which is also possible with disposables. In the last 18 months 2.5 years and 2 babies we had only a few leaks at night. And I had to adjust his wool cover a bit to prevent that from re-occurring. Also, wearing a onesie that clips bellow helps to keep the diaper more snug.

Also, remember, that cotton inserts do require 5-10 washes in hot water to become truly absorbent.

Cleaning the diapers

I put all my wet diapers into a bucket that I keep on my deck. No special fancy diaper buckets are necessary in my opinion. Then, in the morning I toss them all in the washer. I alternate between short 30 minute cycle and a full cycle and I use pre-wash option. For detergent I use the organic soap nuts. Wool covers do not require frequent washing, may be once a months or so. Treat is as you would any wool garment. I have some more information on that in this post.

What else you should know:

There are few things worth knowing and experimenting with.

  • If your wool cover leaks through – try another brand. Many people swear by Disana covers, but those soaked through for us, while Loveybums never did.
  • Cotton inserts do require 5-10 washes on a hot cycle in your washer to become truly absorbent. This has to do with oils naturally present in cotton that have to be rinsed out before the insert gets properly absorbent.
  • You’d want to use a nice ‘clean’ laundry detergent free of chemicals, perfumes, etc., otherwise the inserts may get clogged with chemicals and loose absorbency. We’ve been using organic soap nuts for all our laundry and they work great! πŸ™‚
  • Since wool breezes it allows evaporation process to occur, which has cooling effect. So if left for long time the wet insert will feel rather cool and so will baby bits. Change often πŸ™‚
  • Some poopies may be more acidic and will irritate baby skin even if you are religious about not letting your baby to seat in the poopies any length of time. HONEST cream always worked really well for us when this was an issue. I put a little cloth between the diaper cotton insert and lotionned skin area to prevent the lotion rubbing into the insert.
  • Lastly, I really recommend Elimination Communication. It can save you many diaper changes and helps your baby to know he is being understood in these matters as well. We rarely had to wash poopie diapers with my first son in his first year and with my second baby I can count on one hand the number of times I had to wash off poopies in his 9 months. It really works great.

What about the poop?

Surprisingly baby poop is quite easy to deal with, and breastfed baby’s poop doesn’t smell at all. Check out this post about how to clean your inserts easily and make them last. And again – try using Elimination Communication.

How about blow-outs?Β 

When poop is loose or abundant it can go out through the leg opening or even up the back side. Yep…fun! πŸ™‚ But from all I heard from people using disposable diapers blow-outs happen there as well. So even though it happens rarely to be safe I always try to keep extra layer of protection and have some sort of wool shorts or tights on top when my baby is on some expensive rug or furniture.

cloth diapers

Still not convinced?
Go with compostable disposables.

If for some reason you are unable to go with cloth diapers — look into compostable disposable diapers instead. Although I’ve never used them, I see them mentioned around and I’m hoping that the companies making such claims are honest about compostability of their product. Definitely worth checking.

Need help?

If you still feel intimidated by the idea of cloth diapers — I’ll be happy to share any other knowledge I’ve gained over the last couple years. It really is easy and makes a huge environmental difference. It is the endeavor worth getting into for the sake of our beautiful planet!

2 thoughts on “Cloth diapers 101

    1. Thank you Heidi! It worked remarkably well for us. When I first read that wool is waterproof and doesn’t accumulate urine smell much I was very skeptical. But it turned out to be true! πŸ™‚

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