The Story of Cloth.


Cloth diapers are a part of Anna's story. They are something I enjoy in my role as a mom. Mother's Day seems as good a day as any to document a bit about the how & why we use cloth in our family.

With Simon I used cloth when he was an older baby; for Anna I had the intention of starting from birth. I ended up waiting until she was about 9 weeks and we are now going strong. I waited until I was feeling in the mama-to-an-infant groove. I wanted to be feeling good emotionally and physically before I added this element into the mix. It's not that there's a lot more work, but it's just another thing to have to think about.


People choose to cloth diaper for a variety of different reasons: economic, environmental, health, and some people just think they look cool. Are they really better for the environment? Some people claim they are and others respond that you end up using more water so it becomes a wash (no pun intended). 

Here's some of our reasons:

1. I like not having more trash than we need too.

2. I am one of those people that is totally fine with doing the laundry. Having another load every other day is not an issue for me. 

3. I like them. They are soft and colorful and she's not complaining. 



There are tons of options with cloth. TONS. It's not just pieces of cloth and pins anymore. Within each option there are even more choices like snaps or velcro, one size or S, M, L, colors, prints, etc.

We use a bunch of different kinds here in our house. Most recommendations I have read suggest trying out a few different styles to see what works best for you and your family. Depending on what day you ask me I will have a different favorite.

Here's a peek into what we currently use:

• Prefolds with covers (Chinese prefolds from Green Mountain Diapers): this is the most economical, un-fancy, wonderfully simple option. Step by step photos on how to use these can be found here. I just do a tri-fold and stick it inside the cover - no pins. We started out with the orange edge newborn prefolds and are still using those (she is just over 10 pounds). I will probably be ordering the yellow-edge infant prefolds soon. My favorite covers are Thirsties because of the leg gussets. I also like the Super Whisper Wrap with snaps.

• Pockets with covers: FuzziBunz & Bum Genius 3.0. These ones have a cover that you slip an insert into and then remove after it is wet or soiled. It is a one-time use before washing again (you don't pull out the insert and then put a dry one in). These go on just like a disposable - no folding required. We have the most of these in our rotation.

• Fitteds with covers: Good Mama. These ones go on like a regular diaper, are super soft, and then we place a cover (like the Thirsties above) on top. When they are soiled you remove the cover, put on another fitted diaper, and can reuse the cover if it is not wet or soiled. At lot of times if the cover is not soiled I will let it sit out to air out and use another cover for the next fitted diaper.

One-size all-in-ones from Bum Genius (these EASY but take longer to dry) : these go on just like a disposable diaper with no pockets to stuff or folding necessary. They tend to be more expensive than sized diapers and the jury is still out on wether they really last through the years that a baby needs to wear a diaper. I am really liking the snaps on the orgainc all-in-ones.

How do I choose which one to put on her? I don't have a rhyme or reason really. Chris prefers the all-in-ones so I usually leave those for him.


On her changing table I have hung a bag with a clip (see photo at the top of this post) to hold the soiled diapers. I am washing every other day. We use Charlie's Soap for all our washing and do a cold pre-wash, a hot wash, and an extra rinse. When you first get the diapers (any style) you need to prep them before
using them. Most brands recommend a bunch (like four or more) washings
to get them ready + absorbent for use.

I hang dry the Thirstie's covers but dry the rest together on medium time dry for about an hour. Sometimes the one-size all in ones need more drying time.

Here's some of my favorite sites for purchasing diapers and reading tips & information (especially on how many diapers to begin with, etc):

• Green Mountain Diapers (the photos here are great for seeing what the diapers look like on babies at different ages)
• Jillian's Drawers (they have a great trial program available where you get a selection of popular styles)
• Kelly's Closet

I have also learned a ton from reading the cloth diaper message board at Tons of experienced Mamas on there who are ready and willing to share information, trouble-shoot, and support.

For reviews & tips check out Diaper Pin


Hope everyone is having a wonderful Mother's Day!

65 thoughts

  1. Panamomma

    2009-05-11 03:32:32 -0400

    I used cloth diapers on my daughter as the trash from the disposables is a problem to get rid of here on our island. I ended up using disposables at night as she got older. What I can say for the cloth diapers is that my daughter was potty trained well before she was two years old as a result. They are not as easy as disposable for sure, but they are worth it. I used the earlier version of Bum Genius - they lasted as long as my daughter was wearing diapers.

  2. Nichole

    2009-05-11 03:37:39 -0400

    Thanks for getting the word out about cloth diapers. I used them for my daughter 7 years ago, and I absolutely loved them! Aren't they addictive? They were my hobby before I discovered scrapbooking, LOL! I'm only sorry I never documented their daily use like you're doing. I was hanging out size 8 pants on the clothesline today, and missing the days when I saw newborn Kissaluvs hanging out there. :-(
    Hey, you should come to St. Louis to visit the home of bumGenius, then teach some scrapbook classes down the road at For Keeps Sake. We would have such a blast!

  3. Cara

    2009-05-11 03:38:59 -0400

    Thank you so much for this post, Ali! I am a long way off from having kids, but cloth diapers are something I've always wanted to consider for when I *do* have them. I don't know much about them though, and I really appreciate having the info you posted as a jumping off point!

  4. Nicola

    2009-05-11 04:03:07 -0400

    *Sigh* - I've just given up on cloth after 8 months (my little guy is now 13 months). He's grown out of the BumGenius and Happy Heinys at just over 20lbs - we had to open the snaps up all the way in Nov when he was 8 months old. Then, about two months ago, they just started leaking - all the brands (I've got 4 or 5 different brands, with most being HH and BG). I've since read that many babies grow out of them very early if they're long in the rise. They'd also been just not-so-fresh seeming for the past few months, and I'd been feeling like I'd been unable to get them really clean despite stripping and all that. And I found he was actually getting more diaper rashes because I couldn't smell them as well and he'd sit for longer in a dirty dipe. So, I just gave up.....I did buy some regular Tide - which I've heard also cleans really well - and might try one other go with cleaning them. Also, I might try stuffing with the regular insert AND the newborn one to see if absorbancy was the issue. I just really hope he hasn't truely grown out of them after spending so much money on them. Good for you for doing it, though. I was really happy doing it during the time it was working well for us. They're so cute too, and really not the big bulky things they used to be when we were babies. Ohhhh, this got long! Take care!

  5. Amy Brock

    2009-05-11 04:26:38 -0400

    I've been using cloth diapers for the past 11 years with all 4 of my babies. It started when my first baby was allergic to the gel in toss away diapers and just continued through with my other babies. Let me stress that it was not as gross or difficult as most people think. I've used Bum Genius diapers for the past 3 years and have learned which detergents work to best without being harsh on babies' bottoms (I personally like Mrs. Meyers oxygen based detergents. ) But, let me also stress that cloth is not for everyone because it is a commitment, both in money up front to buy the diapers and in time because it does take awhile to get used to the rhythm of washing diapers to always have them on hand. The best way I can suggest getting into cloth is to buy a few diapers of different brands to see which one you like the best before the big investment. I also spoke with Molly Ging of and she gave me some fabulous advice on which diapers to use with which inserts. Advice, patience, and practice is the key! Good luck and thanks Ali for the post on cloth!
    Amy Brock
    Ft. Leavenworth, KS

  6. Christene

    2009-05-11 04:49:13 -0400

    Hi Ali, thanks for all the information. As none of my friends used cloth, I didn't really consider it an option with my son. However, I would be interested if we are lucky enough to have another child. I do have a question, though - what about the going out/daycare issue? Do you find it hard to take care of diapering when you and Anna are out and about? What do you do with the used dipes? That might sound like a strange question, but I am so used to the toss and go method. I am trying to be greener in my everyday life, as we all are, and this is just one more element to which I previously gave no thought! ;)

  7. Anne Alley

    2009-05-11 04:56:22 -0400

    Great post today! I loved using cloth diapers for my daughter, it was not at all as difficult as I feared, and it saved us a fortune. I'm fortunate enough to live in a warm enough climate to line dry them during the summer; when I put them in the dryer I found that adding a dry bath towel to the load helped them dry faster :)

  8. ann marie

    2009-05-11 06:03:13 -0400

    I think it's great that you're using cloth on Anna. I have been cloth diapering for the past two years, since my son was about a month old. I, too, waited until I was a little more settled with being in newborn mode to start with cloth. Had I known about these back when my oldest son was born, I would have used them back then too. :)
    And I use my dryer for the better part of the year as well. I live in Buffalo, NY and there is a lot of snow and rain here too. We all do the best we can don't we? ;)
    You are such a sweetheart, I just love your blog! It's so inspiring.

  9. Ali Edwards

    2009-05-11 06:53:38 -0400

    I may just try that Anne - thanks for the suggestion :).

  10. Ali Edwards

    2009-05-11 06:57:39 -0400

    Anna is just getting ready to start going to a friend's house a couple times a week. My friend is totally willing to do cloth so I will be bringing over a stash in the morning with a bag + then bringing them home in the afternoon when I pick her up. I think if you are able to show your provider how easy they are they may be more willing to work it in to their system.
    For going out we have done a bit of both. It's pretty easy to just store a stash in the car just like you would disposables and carry a wet bag to store the soiled ones in your diaper bag/purse/backpack etc.

  11. Jessica

    2009-05-11 07:03:15 -0400

    I started cloth diapering my son at 5 months old. I educated myself on it a lot before hand and I was really excited to get into it. I too don't mind washing. And I just LOVE all the wondeful colors they have out there. Bum Genius are some of my faves. I also used Thirsties covers with indian prefolds (the indians are super thick and absorbant). I ordered my stuff from, cool thing they offer from time to time is "dirt or defective" discounted diapers on the Bum Genius's, I ordered two smalls at the time because they were only $10 each, verses the almost $18 for each one. So I figured if they just had a little defect they wouldn't be bad. I got them and I totally couldn't find ANYTHING wrong with them. Maybe a tiny bit of dirt on one like it just got rubbed on a box, which totally washed out the first wash. I loved my cloth diapers when I got them all! Although I wasn't able to invest as much into them as I wanted to, and I couldn't afford to add to my collection, and the small all in ones he outgrew along with the prefolds and covers.. I have one one size Bum Genius that I use on him from time to time. But I just can't afford right now to invest in anymore to keep up with the cloth, otherwise I would totally still do it! I love them!
    So for now I am back to buying disposables- the cheap Walmart ones. Another thing I loved with the cloth was not as much garbage build up in the bathroom and we didn't have to clean the trash can out as much and it didn't stink because of dirty diapers, so nice! But for now, I will just have to wait. Another cool diaper is G diapers, they are quite expensive as well, but I really liked them. I bought a starter kit at a local health food store. With the G diapers they come with a cotton cover, a plastic snap in insert and then disposable/flushable biodegradable absorbant inserts. while you'd have to keep up with buying the inserts which could be costly, I stuffed mine with prefolds. I rarely had leaks. Their site is
    One thing I just love about all the cloth diaper options out there are the colors, their so fun and fresh looking! And the fact that they're soft for our babies bottoms! Hope you're able to keep up with it and continue to enjoy it! Thanks for your wonderful comments and story on cloth diapering!

  12. Frances, New Yorker in the OC

    2009-05-11 07:54:13 -0400

    Great post! I did cloth diapers for my daughter until I started working outside the home when she was 18 months. I did it for environmental reasons and we stuck with it while living in an apartment building with the laudromat a very loooong walk away. With a bucket of wet diapers, it was an exhausting walk. But after she started going to daycare (which mandated disposables) I was really amazed at how much garbage we had saved using cloth diapers--I was certainly relieved when she potty trained and I didn't have to buy diapers anymore.
    Thanks for sharing this! I think folks are so daunted by cloth diapers unnecessarily. Unfortunately, I don't think any daycare places offer that option.

  13. Sarah

    2009-05-11 10:11:44 -0400

    It's cool you are using cloth. I used the old school flour sack kind of cloth diapers with pins and rubber pants with both my boys (2003 & 2005) and it wasn't any extra work or hardship. I would have loved the new-age kind, but way to expensive.
    Thanks for the post! If there's a #3, I might need to read this post again.

  14. Theresa

    2009-05-11 13:31:24 -0400

    I can't believe she's just over 10pounds, she must be such a tiny delicate little thing.
    Then again, my son, born on feb 5 was 10lb11oz to start with so maybe my perception is a little skewed!!
    Love the cloth stuff, we use it too :)

  15. Sarah H.

    2009-05-11 18:13:33 -0400

    Hey Ali,
    I asked you a while ago for this info on cloth diapering and I thought it was very informative! It seems to have been popular with many other moms,too! I didn't dare do cloth with my first son, then I had my daughter and started researching cloth when she turned one because my kids just don't tolerate all the chemicals in disposables very well. I used prefolds and covers for about 6 months before she demanded to use the potty! My husband and I aren't ruling out a third child someday...and I want to have ideas in mind if that does happen.
    Thanks so much!

  16. Jeff9

    2009-05-11 23:59:28 -0400

    The best way to clean cloth diapers is to pre-rinse them off in the toilet using a Hand Bathroom Bidet Sprayer. So convenient and if you are trying to help the environment (and your pocket book) you can give it a double whammy by virtually eliminating toilet paper use at the same time as you benefit from using it on the diapers, by using it on yourself. I think Dr. Oz on Oprah said it best: "if you had pee or poop on your hand, you wouldn't wipe it off with paper, would you? You'd wash it off" Available at they come in an inexpensive kit and can be installed without a plumber. And after using one of these you won't know how you lasted all those years with wadded up handfuls of toilet paper. Now we're talking green and helping the environment without any pain. One review:

  17. candy

    2009-05-12 07:46:50 -0400

    What a great post. I appreciate the fact that you waited to start using them rather than feeling you had to from the get-go to get the full cloth experience. I am due in October and this post really helped me realize that it can be done! I do have a weird question for you though....before doing the prewash, what do you do with the soiled diapers? Do you just empty the soiled contents down the bath or sink drain or just stick it into the wash as is? Just wondering if that part is time consuming. Thanks! :)

  18. Gretchen Skovron

    2009-05-12 14:02:51 -0400

    the added bonus of also using cloth is they have a great resale. I've sold all of our fuzi bunz on ebay.

  19. Heather of Washington State, USA

    2009-05-12 18:00:16 -0400

    We did diaper service for the first baby, then when I had two in diapers, I bought some of these:
    They were great because they adjusted to fit both my new baby, and my toddler. I also loved that they were made of plush terry velour -- so incredibly soft! The company makes wonderful nursing pads, too. Highly recommended!

  20. Melissa

    2009-05-13 07:22:14 -0400

    I used cloth and my son went to day care from the time he was about 3 mo. I did need to have my dr. write a note saying that we needed to use cloth because of allergies. You will need to inquire about this when you are looking at your otions for day care. The instructions I gave to the "teachers" at the day care were to remove the dipe and drop it into the Bummis nylon drawstring bag I had for the dirties. I took the bag home every day, washed the diapers as usual, washed the bags (I had 2 to rotate day to day) and started each day with a clean bag and supply of dipes and covers. It was no more difficult for the daycare than using the disposibles. For me, there was the added advantage of knowing how many times he had been changed and what had been produced, if you know what I mean.

  21. ellie and abbie

    2009-05-15 02:44:27 -0400

    Ali, I've bookmarked this post for future reference. thanks so much for the great info & great links!

  22. Suzanne Mattson

    2009-05-16 04:55:37 -0400

    ali, a tip for you... the bum genius all in one- one sizes.. love them! turn them inside out when drying. much quicker!
    love this post! i am forwarding it to friends who are thinking about cloth... you are such a great writer, thanks for all the info and inspiration!

  23. Janet

    2009-06-03 13:31:04 -0400

    Another cloth user here! I started in toddlerhood with my oldest DD (who is 9 now) and then a little earlier with DD2 (who is 7 1/2 now) and then at 1 week old with DS who is 6 months today!! I love CDing and especially picking out cute covers and diapers for him. We love GMD too and also use a few fitted diapers like Piddle Poddles which are super cute. Can't wait to get my hands on one of those Goodmamas, though. Maybe scrappers are meant to CD because it makes for the absolute cutest layouts. Congratulations on your baby girl and good luck with your CD...I love it!
    Janet in NJ

  24. elka

    2009-12-11 07:55:05 -0500

    Wow, by far the most helpful explanation I've read. All the choices are really confusing for a beginner, and this helped a lot. BTW, just read that you won't be writing for CK anymore. I enjoyed your monthly contribution and insights far more than seeing more product to buy, buy, buy. Looking forward to seeing what you do next.

  25. rbenson

    2010-04-29 06:18:57 -0400

    Thank you for sharing with us. It looks like yo are well stocked with your diapers. If you do need any other products please take a look at

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