SERIOUSLY in need of help getting started!

Merry - posted on 01/11/2011 ( 13 moms have responded )




Hi everyone, here's my story so far and be prepared, there's a lot of questions too!
I have a son Eric, he was exclusively disposable diapered.
Worked well but I hate the amount of garbage I make with diapers alone, and I also hate the price!
So I'm due with a girl in may.
I have been debating to myself about cloth diapers. And if I can get all my questions answered and get this figured out I think I would be quite happily cloth diapering her!
Ok so here's the questions
I have a TON of some type of standerd cloth diapers.
My mom was a foster mom to infants and she used these as spit up rags.
I have No idea what style, brand, etc they are.
They look like rectangles, with a thicker portion lengthwise in the center.
So sort of like three long rectangles side by side with the center one thick.
What are these?
I know I need diaper covers to go over them.
I need some ideas on CHEAP covers, and likely I'll need one size fits all styles.
Eric was bron at a regular albs but by 1mo he was 10lbs, 2 mo he was 14 lbs, 3 mo he was 18lbs, and 4mo he was 20lbs!
By four months e was using size 5 disposable diapers!
His thighs were HUGE!
So if my little girl is like her brother I'm thinking I'll be needing one size diaper covers.
Soooooooo, what brand works best for changing baby sizes, good around thick thighs. And cheap. :)
Ok next question is how do I use these diapers in the covers? Like what special fold do I need to learn?
I hear things about all these different folds and I am clueless!
Last question is, when I have a pee diaper, do I just put it in some diaper pail and if so, how long can it sit before i need to do laundry?
And for a poop diaper, do I do the same? I hear some say rinse it off first, some say that's not necessary..... Help!
And what about the cover, do I use it once? Or repeat use until it gets wet or poopy? Can the covers go in the regular wash?
How many covers do I need?

Oh man I'm so sorry if you can't follow all that I know it's a lot, but I just have to be prepared and I need to find this stuff out before I can decide on cloth diapers.


M - posted on 01/11/2011




Hey mama - here goes...


The diapers you're looking to use are called "prefolds". Gerber used to make some pretty good ones back in the day, but the ones they put out now are horrible and not very absorbent so don't buy the ones you see in stores. Instead, buy prefolds online. You can find them on eBay, craigslist, etc. You'll see them listed as 'chinese prefolds', 'indian prefolds', or sometimes DSQ prefolds. DSQ stands for Diaper Service Quality, meaning they're the kind people would use if they had a diaper service which means they will hold up very well to multiple washes. Expect them to cost around $1.50 to $2.00 a piece. My personal favorite place to buy them is Green Mountain Diapers ( They're great quality and really absorbent.

Here's a video that shows you how to fold them.


The best diaper covers (in my opinion) are Thirsties Duo Wraps or Motherease Air Flow covers. Thirsties Duo Wraps come in 2 sizes to help you make it from newborn to potty training. Motherease come in 3 sizes (I think). Both are great and leak proof and last a really long time. For chunky thighs I recommend Thirsties over Motherease. I've found Motherease tends to leave red marks on my chunky guy but didn't on my skinny guy. You can find them online here: OR you can find them used on sites like,, and


You'll want to use something called the "dry pail" method. What this means is that you'll take your dirty diaper (wet or poopy) and toss it in a pail or trashcan until you're ready to wash. There are 'diaper pails' out there that you can buy or you can just use a 13 gallon trash can from Walmart. You'll want to also put a liner in the pail to hold the diapers and keep the odors from sinking into the pail. These are called 'diaper liners'. They're waterproof and they come sized to fit any 13 gallon pail or trash can. In the early stages when baby is exclusively breastfed you don't need to do anything to the diaper - just toss it in the pail (wet or poopy) and wash every 2 to 3 days. When baby starts eating solids, you'll want to first clean the poop off of the diaper before tossing it in the pail. You can do this in several ways: (a) scrape - some mamas use an old spatula and scrape off the poop into the toilet (b) dunk and swish - this is the old school method your mom probably used. you dunk the diaper in the toilet and swish and rub it together to get the poop off (c) diaper sprayer - this looks like the sprayer on your kitchen sink, only it attaches to your toilet and uses your toilet water to rinse the poop off into the toilet. you can buy one online or if you're creative you can make your own with a few parts from home depot - just tell them you're trying to make a bidet (pronounced buh-day) - or last (d) diaper liners. these are like soft paper towels you lay inside the diaper to catch poop. when you change baby you toss the liner in the trash, flush it or compost it and all you have is a wet diaper to put in your diaper pail. these are great but cost around 7 cents each so i tend to limit them to use when i'm away from home and when i'm at home i use a diaper sprayer.


Washing is pretty simple. Rinse COLD with no detergent, wash HOT with 2 tbsp of detergent, and rinse again COLD or HOT with no detergent and dry. You can line dry or toss your diapers in the dryer. Some say constant drying in a dryer can make them leak, but I've never had a problem. You can wash diapers and covers together. You may also hear people say you need to 'prep' your diapers. Basically, this is the process of washing and drying them multiple times before you first use them. I personally haven't found this necessary. One wash has always worked for me, but if you feel more comfortable 'prepping', then you'll want to wash and dry 3 to 5 times before using them. I DO however recommend washing your diapers if you buy them used just because you never know what the other mama did. When you do this, I recommend following the same washing instructions I previously listed, but add 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar to the final rinse. This will kill any yeast bacteria that could be lingering in the diapers if the previous baby had a yeast rash.


Here's a good chart that shows you how many you need based on age. Prefold diapers don't come in a 'one size' version so you'll need to buy a set for each stage of baby.

Another option you may consider is a one size contour diaper. Its a little more expensive ($6 vs. $2) but you only need to buy one and then just adjust it to fit baby. Plus it has elastic legs and its easy to fold which means it will keep poop in a lot better than a prefold. Here's a link:


You can't use regular detergent and regular diaper rash creams with your diapers - they can cause buildup on your diapers and will make them stink or leak or both. Here's a link for recommended cloth diaper friendly detergents and diaper rash creams.


Hey Mama, all of your questions are great and very logical. At some point, all of us mamas wondered the same thing. Here's a few great online resources to help. Also, I have 2 boys under 2 in cloth diapers and a lot of experience. Feel free to message me directly if / when you have more questions.

Heidi - posted on 01/18/2011




If you wash them all once with a couple drops (if you use more you will have a ton of bubbles everywhere) of Dawn it will get out any detergent and fabric softener that is left over. Never use fabric softener or dryer sheets. It is an oil that coats the fabric, and causes it to repel water.

All Free and Clear HE at about $.10 a load you can't beat it.

Jessica - posted on 01/16/2011




Hi Laura, great to see you considering cloth!
As people have said above, the diapers you have are prefolds. Folding is very easy: put bub on prefold with thick bit running down between legs. Fold sides in at front, bring up between legs. Fold the back corners around bub's hips, pin or Snappi to front section. Add cover, done! There are more different types of folds if you are using flat diapers, which are larger and don't have the thick bit in the middle. I actually find flats easier than prefolds, and cheaper as you only buy one size and then adjust the fold as bub grows. has an excellent page of different folds for flat nappies. They also have lots of other useful info, though they are in the UK.
When you have a pee diaper, you can just put it in the pail and leave for up to two days - much longer than that and they start getting stinky! I rinse mine before they go in the bucket, but you don't have to. For a poop diaper, definitely rinse it off ASAP - poop starts to dry and is harder to get off if you leave it - once they are on solids anyway. (I was never game to try leaving even the poopy newborn dipes, but I've heard fully breastfed babypoop washes out easily.)
With the covers, you can get away with 4 or 5. Alternate between 2 covers, letting them air out between uses, until they get poop on or it's laundry time. Covers can go in the regular wash, but I only do a regular wash twice a week and a diaper wash three times a week, so it's easier to put them in with the diapers.
As bub gets bigger, you might want to look into getting some pocket diapers. You can use the prefolds as the absorbent inner bit, and they're easier to get on a wiggly babe than the two-step diaper-cover combo.
Don't worry about having so many questions, it is confusing to start with but it quickly falls into place. You'll find it's not that much more hassle than using sposies, and it's great to know you are helping save the planet for your precious little ones.

M - posted on 01/12/2011




The medium prefolds are going to be really large on your newborn. You could fold them down but they will be ridiculous large and probably uncomfortable for baby and baby wouldn't be able to move. I personally wouldn't recommend them.

Also, in regards to your washing. Using them as burp cloths vs. putting them on baby's sensitive bum. Since they've been washed in regular detergent, I recommend rinsing them about 5 times to wash out any built up detergent that could lead to a diaper rash for baby.

Kate - posted on 01/12/2011




the best way to answer all of your questions is to do a google search on cloth diapering 101 sites. Hope this helps. You may want to compare prices with diaper services in your area. This will eliminate all the "dirty" work from you giving you more time to focus on your new baby.


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[deleted account]

Oh i love cloth!!! alothough i use morden cloth so they are still reusable but they are already put together and look great and most you dont even need a cover for they do cost a bit but you still save money in comparison to disposables.
I wish u all the best and i hope you love using the cloth :)

Chelsea - posted on 01/13/2011




Hi laura nice to see you in here as well, The world of CD is very overwelming at first but i found a blog that helped me out the most with understanding all there is to CDing. Most the questions i had were answered here, of course i looked at alot of other sites as well but good luck

Leah - posted on 01/12/2011




Definately wash seperate! I personally LOVE cloth diapers, but I was afraid at first. I didn't know if I was doing it "right". But after a few trial and error situations, I've got it down. I don't even like putting disposables on my son now!

One thing I wanted to say is, having a quality prefold is important. I started out with Gerber brand prefolds and had a lot of leaks, etc. Once I switched to an indian prefold (purchased online at cotton babies), we were much happier and drier. I would check the ones you have to see what kind they are. Prefold diapers have a center with several extra layers (the number of layers differs depending on absorbency). Gerber simply adds a layer of poly to the center to make them thicker, but they're not the same. Hope this helps.

Merry - posted on 01/12/2011




Maybe I'll buy a pack of some smaller prefolds to start with!
Do I have to wash the diapers separately from all my other clothes?

Krystle - posted on 01/12/2011




Hi Laura,

1) Sounds like you have a diaper called a "pre-fold"
Here is a link to pictures and instructions on different folds:

I like to use a thing called a "Snappi" to hold the diaper together better:

2) I just use "Bummis" the prefolds and the covers because they are easy to find. (ie. Bo Bebe, etc)

3) How to launder (this confused me when I was learning about it too):

It's called "Dry Pail":

- Get a large pail
- buy something called a "wet bag"

So you will put the wet bag into the pail. Then you will put the dirty diapers into the wet bag. (Breastmilk poops don't need to be rinsed :-D ) Once the wet bag is full, take to washing machine and push bag inside out (push diapers out while you push bag inside out, and then wash the bag too).

Rinse cold (prevents stains). Wash hot with non-phosporus detergent, no bleach. Can use a little vinegar though to help get out the pee smell. Rinse.

Dry outside in the sun to get out stains. Or just put in dryer on med heat ,but don't put a dryer sheet!
If you need to use diaper rash cream, you need to use a disposable. The rash cream doesn't come out in the wash and prevents the material from absorbing liquid.

Once baby is eating solid food, you'll need to buy liners (it's like putting a piece of kleenex in the diaper to catch the poop but let the liquid through, you'll remove it and flush that down the toilet.

Any questions I missed? Just ask...

Merry - posted on 01/12/2011




Hey thanks so much! That is very helpful.
The prefolds I have are used but in great condition, but they are all one size
I have many of them all the same size, can I manage with one size? I measured them and compared to the sizes in that website and mine are all "medium" sized.
Can I just fold then a bit to fit smaller baby?
Also I have always washed all our clothes together, these former burp cloths included.
Would years of normal laundry detergent make them not as absorbent?
If I can manage with the prefolds I own, I would only need to buy the covers, so I'm hoping these will work well enough.
Thanks for all the help! It's a seriously complicated language, cloth diapers, and so complicated!

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