Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

May 10, 2009

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!


  • 1.
    Kara Whipple said…

    What a great and informative post!!! Thanks for getting the word out about cloth diapering. Another great resource we have used is She is local (in Springfield) and will let you try different diapers on your baby to get an idea of fit. She also gives a locals discount.

  • 2.
    Kara Whipple said…

    What a great and informative post!!! Thanks for getting the word out about cloth diapering. Another great resource we have used is She is local (in Springfield) and will let you try different diapers on your baby to get an idea of fit. She also gives a locals discount.

  • 3.
    amber said…

    Ali: I think the best piece of advice you gave is when you said “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.” I had every intention on cloth diapering my son. My friend sold me on the idea like she was selling tupperware. I was mesmerized and loaded up on a few days worth to make sure I could “do” it. I tried to diaper him when he was 2 days old. I didn’t even get the diaper fastened before he peed and pooped in the diaper. Enough action to send any new mother over the edge. I threw my hands in the air and cried. And quit (i hate to admit). So with all that said I think waiting until you’re in the baby-momma groove is a huge piece advice for anyone new to cloth diapering. Good luck to all those cloth diapering mamas.
    Happpy Mother’s Day!

  • 4.
    Jan Francis said…

    Ali, I read your blog almost everyday but today’s blog was so “inspirational” I had to write and thank you. I just found out Tuesday that I’m going to be a Grandmother for the first time, so I emailed my daughter-in-law about your diaper review. Good stuff!! Then the writings about inspiration vs. creativity and Steiner’s essay are GREAT!!!!! Thank you for sharing your scrapbooking and your life with us all. Rubber hugz, Jan in Tucson :)

  • 5.
    Jan Francis said…

    Oh, and by the way…your children are DARLING!!!! Jan in Tucson

  • 6.
    Honey said…

    I cannot believe you leave a dryer on for one hour. What a HUGE Waste of energy!!!! couldn’t you just hang them outside in the sun to dry by themselves…Unbelievable

  • 7.
    Erin said…

    What a great Mother’s day post, Ali! We both have new lives to celebrate today (and everyday!) Simon and Anna are beautiful-happy mama’s day!

  • 8.
    Ali Edwards said…

    That’s definitely an option for us in the summer time – I live in Oregon and it is rainy and wet a majority of the year.

  • 9.
    Amy B. said…

    Those are some cool diapers! Thanks for sharing your story on cloth!

  • 10.
    Ali Edwards said…

    That’s also the downside of the One-Size All-In-Ones – they are the ones that take that long to dry. The other diapers take much less time in the dryer. Something to consider if people are interested in cloth.
    Putting them out in the sun is also a great way to remove any stains that did not come out in the cold pre-wash.

  • 11.
    Cathy D said…

    Wow this brought back a lot of memories.
    I live in australia and I used cloth nappies with all 3 of my children straight from birth. My eldest is 14 and my youngest 10. Unfortunately I can’t say it was for the environment, it was a cost issue. We just didn’t have the money for disposables,also I felt I had achieved something each day when I saw the rows of nappies hanging outside on the clothesline, especially on those days you didn’t even get around to having a shower let alone clean the house! It was also mildly therapeutic hanging them out each morning.

  • 12.
    Chitra said…

    Hey count me in.
    When I had my twin girls, Lara & Vara, I did not use diapers till they started going to Pre-K (then I used the training pants).
    I am from India and there it is very common practice to use cloth rather than diapers.
    What I did was got soft cotton (muslin) from fabric shop. Cut them into square pieces and stitched the sides and then folded them and wrapped around my girls. it was so comphy for them adn they never ever had rashes or infection.
    But you are right it needs few extra laundary loads.
    Now my girls (8 years old) are into saving environment and have started their own little group at their school for informing parents about the Go Green benefits. Their group is called -
    GGEG – Go Green Environmental Group – Today’s kids saving environment for their future grandkids.

  • 13.
    Kim said…

    I use cloth diapers also….a strange thing in my area…but I love them. THis is my third…used them on all three. I stick to the old fashioned way. Pins and covers….nothing gets through that way. AND, YES! I use my dryer!!

  • 14.
    Dani said…

    Hi Ali, thanks for all the great info :) Don’t let anyone harass you about your choices! Every Mama does what’s right for her kiddos and her family. :) Happy Mother’s Day :)

  • 15.
    Carrie L said…

    I love cloth diapers so much I took picture of them one day too! I think I’m obsessed :-) Thanks for sharing. I love your fluff all lined up!

  • 16.
    Ali W said…

    Good on you Ali! One other advantage you didn’t mention in your post is that with cloth the toddler is more aware of wet and dry and so becomes toilet trained earlier. My daughter is coming up to 8 and we used Kooshies with her from about 2 weeks as despite being an 8lb baby she was very slender and we didn’t have cloth diapers so small! I used a paper liner inside which made it easier to lift poop out and drop it down the toilet and then all my diapers went into a soaking bucket by the washing machine until it was full, at which time I threw them in the washer. We line dried them and then finished them for 10 mins in the dryer to fluff them up and make them more absorbent. At the time I was living in Singapore and was considered completely crazy by my expat friends who were all into disposables big time, but our Sri Lankan amah and all her friends, and the Singaporean neighbours all thought I was totally normal! So yes, good on you for doing this, whatever your reasons. I hope you can stick with it. Ali in NZ

  • 17.
    Laura said…

    Thanks for the great ideas and information. It’s nice to hear from a practical point of view. I have another question, what do you use for wipes? or do you use washclothes? if you use wipes what do you do with them? I have 2 boys and am expecting, I used disposable before and I am looking into cloth this time around!
    I think people that are not in Oregon don’t realize how much rain we really get :) but its worth it to have all the green!

  • 18. said…

    kudos to you for using cloth, I made the choice to go eco friendly and was confronted with alot of odd looks for it, but so glad I made the choice vs the 30+ years one diaper can sit in a landfill–how wasteful. Thank you for making an Earth-Friendly choice and I just think that little dear of yours is adorable—so is Simon!!

  • 19.
    Missy said…

    A friend of mine uses homemade diaper wipes. She really likes them, and they smell better than the store bought ones. Economical too. Here is the recipe:
    Baby Wipes
    1 cup boiling water
    1 tablespoon baby oil
    1 tablespoon baby wash
    Essential oil of choice
    ½ roll VIVA paper towels, cardboard removed
    Gallon Ziploc bag or empty wipe container to fit.
    Cut towels in half with a non-serrated knife, place in container. Fold first towel over to make it easier to find. Boil water, THEN stir in baby oil, wash, and essential oil of choice. Stir well, pour over paper towels.
    Lavender oil is good for antimicrobial/bacterial. Tea tree oil is good for ‘yeasty’ diaper rashes.

  • 20.
    kaly said…

    Thanks for this post! I’m due with my first child in a week and a half and have decided to use disposables, like you, for the first few weeks, then transition to cloth. I’m still learning, but I’m excited to try it out and not have a guilty conscience for throwing away such waste!

  • 21.
    Ali Edwards said…

    I am using both. I got some washcloths from Green Mountain Diapers that I am transitioning to using here at home. With the cloth wipes I either get it wet in advance of the change or use a little spray bottle with some water at the changing table. I have read of people putting the cloth wipes in the diaper warmer too – need to read more on that to see if it really works. Right now I am working through a big box of wipes from Costco ;) .

  • 22.
    kaly said…

    By the way, I’ve decided to go with the AppleCheeks diapers because they look like the best fit. They are really nice and have gotten great reviews. They are also made in Canada (where I am)! You should check them out.

  • 23.
    Sarah B.R said…

    Hi Ali, thanks for a great post. My husband and I are trying to get pregnant right now and I’ve already done a lot of research. My plan is to use elimination communication and cloth diaper as a back up. Have you heard of EC?(My mom actually used this with me from the time I was just a couple of months old because she was tired of washing diapers- I am not from the USA). It just seems like something you might be interested in.
    Hope this helps, Aloha, Sarah

  • 24.
    Sarah said…

    I’ve been waiting on this post Ali and I totally think it’s great you guys are doing cloth. We’ve made changes as a family to be more green and this is another area we’re in the process of changing. I’m actually ordering our diapers this week and I’m getting the Bumgenius brand. Thanks for all the tips and Happy Mothers Day!

  • 25.
    Shawn said…

    Hi Ali
    I read your blog whenever I get a chance and I was so excited to see your post on cloth diapering. I also cloth diapered my daughter (she is now out of diapers) but it was always a great experience. Plus it is so much better for the environment. I loved the wonderoos. They are aio’s and I used the chinese prefolds in them also. You may want to try to hang them to dry. I always made sure I had a large stash of diapers so that I could hang them in the bathroom and they always dried overnight. I wanted to tell you of a local company in Kansas City that my friend has she has some wonderful products and she is a local ap mom. Great great person. Also you can use tto just a few drops in while washing your diapers to prevent smell. It has a great smell I think and works well with cloth diapers. Also on the wipes we used the wipes warmer with a bit of ro water and a few drops of baby oil. It kept them for a few days then I’d switch out and put new solution in. I found that her bottom didn’t break out as much and I always had plenty of baby washcloths to spare! That you for the wonderful blog post about this. I hope more Mommies use cloth diapers!

  • 26.
    Sandy said…

    I don’t think you need to respond to that! You are doing a great thing in a million different ways. There is always an exchange for reusing instead of tossing, and the reusing almost always comes out on top!
    You go! I think it is awesome that you posted about this part of your mothering, no matter how long your dryer is on.

  • 27.
    AnnieM said…

    Hi Ali!
    Thanks for your informative post. I used cloth with baby #2 and baby #3…too chicken with #1! I loved them..used the cheapest option as I was a SAHM. (Chinese prefolds, pins and pull-on nylon pants.) Loved them…used them for 3 years with second child and 2.5 years with 3rd child and they were still great!
    One tip for wipes..I used cheap washcloths that I bought by the dozen from Costco…kept a pump carafe (the coffee kind) on the changing table filled with warm water…works like a charm, and stays warm for a LONG time.
    Simon and Anna are SO lucky to have you as their Mom :) Hope you had a wonderful day celebrating motherhood.

  • 28.
    Kathy F said…

    Funny enough, I am a mom that uses disposible diapers. I think it was only because I have had this “fear” of cloth! :) After reading your post…I not only saw that cloth really isn’t that time consuming or hard to use. If I ever have another baby (mine is gonna be 2 June 5th)I will be looking into these. :) Thanks, Ali! :)

  • 29.
    Jamie said…

    Just wanted to mention that I use Sposoeasy made by Blue Penguin-they are wonderful! I have the ones with the snaps. Read the reviews at Diaper Pin. Green Mountain Diapers sells them, but I like to buy mine at Zoombaby-she seems to have the best price. They work so much better than disposables, no leaks or blowouts with runny breastfood poo. (Seems like the few times I have used disposables, I end up with a blowout every day) And they’re all in ones, so they’re really easy to manage. They are a little bit more expensive-but the sizing is done so that I think I will only have to have two different sizes….so I will be able to use them longer. This is my first baby and I decided to go with cloth after I read about your decision on your blog. Thanks for sharing with us! Also, if anyone says anything about using extra electricity or water, etc. when you use cloth…I find that I have way more baby clothes to wash when I use disposables because they leak so badly…And I don’t buy the cheap brand of disposables, either. They are Huggies. So, I think it’s equal either way-except that cloth seems to be better for my baby’s skin.

  • 30.
    Christina said…

    I’ve always wondered how you wash the diapers when she’s gone, er, “number two.” Do you toss them in the washing machine “as is,” or do you have to do something like hose them off first?
    P.S. To Honey–I’m sure Ali does plenty of “green” things to make up for the long dryer time. Calm down.

  • 31.
    Kara said…

    Ali, thanks for a great post! You make cloth diaper seem so accessible and not at all “better then other moms”! Sometimes I hate to tell people I use cloth because they feel like they have to justify their own disposables…But everyone should do what works for them.
    as for wipes, I sewed my own flannel ones…2 pieces of flannel in whatever size works for you. 15 or 20 is plenty for 1 baby. They are so soft and gentle. I especially appreciate them when my son has a rash. They seem so much more gentle.

  • 32.
    Anna said…

    Love it. We are planning on having a child this year and with 2 of my sister in laws cloth diapering I’ve decided to try it out. We got together and sewed our own (Bum Genius style). They are so cute. I can’t wait to have a baby to put in them. Just makes me feel better to think of putting that on them instead of a disposable.
    And using disposables until you hit a routine is great advice I’ll have to think that over.

  • 33.
    Shannon D said…

    Hey Ali,
    I know you said before you have a wipes warmer, I did read somewhere that they make a disposable wipes warmer and now one specifically for cloth ones, sorry not sure where I read it though.
    Good on you for using cloth, we are using them too and some days they need to go in the dryer even after being in the sun – and I live in Sunny Australia! Every little bit helps and I feel good about using them!

  • 34.
    desiree fawn said…

    Great post — I twittered about it!

  • 35.
    Casey Maupin said…

    Happy Mother’s Day! I used fuzzi bunz with my son when he was an older baby. He had diaper rash since his newborn days, and it just got worse as he aged. I tried everything and finally read that it might be the disposable diapers. This was enough to finally convince my husband to go cloth (I had been trying since my first was born). With cloth diapers and diaper cream without zinc, the rashes all went away!(and they were BAD) I also found them to be barely any more work then disposables, even when we were away from home! I love cloth!

  • 36.
    Andrea Ford said…

    Good job Ali! We are past the nappy (NZ for diaper) stage now but we definitely think about the environment where ever we can in our living. I actually enjoy hanging washing on the line and really enjoying bringing it in, fresh and clean. I love laundry so much that we have one sofa dedicated to holding the pile there jsut to tempt someone to fold it-that’s DH job and he might notice it over the weekend.

  • 37.
    metamorphosis said…

    I´m so happy to get to read about your opinions about cloth nappies, and I agree in so much of what you write!
    I like the options you have when it comes to cloth nappies, from flat nappies with a (wool)cover to pocket nappies and AIOs, and they all have their advantages!
    (I wrote a little about our cloth nappies on my blog a few days ago by the way…)

  • 38.
    Ruth said…

    We use cloth nappies too! well not all the time, as now he is bigger (14 months) I hate carrying the dirty ones home when we are out for the day. It took a long time for me to get over the ‘perfect mum guilt’ for using the odd disposable here and there, but now it’s fine….
    the only trouble we have is they are bigger so when he’s transitioning between clothes sizes some trousers (um.. pants?) are good for disposable days and others for real days!!!
    oh and i use washcloths instead of wipes on real days! i cut them in quarters first so I didn’t have to buy/use so many.
    and Christina, you put a nappy liner in there, it’s kinda like a strong tissue (kleenex) that is plushable with the poo! and then wash the rest as is.
    I hang my nappies to almost dry and then tumle dry the last 15 or 20mins else they comeout very hard and scratchy.
    I’m one of those people who believe that no lanfill outweighs an exta load of washing every 2 days at 40 deg (centigrade) so low…

  • 39.
    sue brown said…

    All 3 of my babies had cloth nappies, just the simple squares folded by me. I loved that I was not adding to the already overfilled landfill amongst other things. Now my babies are older and the nappies are still used, they are used up in the shed for wiping car engines and oil, for cleaning up from renovation projects, for use in my art studio with paints, inks etc and cut down to size for my little girl’s dolls nappies.

  • 40.
    pam said…

    Ali, so glad to read this post as my daughter just gave birth. She decided to use disposables until the baby is 2 weeks old, then buy cloth. She’s researched it extensively but wanted to see how big baby was before ordering cloth.
    I used cloth on both my babies as the disposables were in their infancy and not very good. I would still use cloth today as I’m quite green and think a bit of electricity (which is more renewable here in the West than throwing plastic in the landfill), with soft cloth next to baby’s tender skin is really the way to go.

  • 41.
    Panamomma said…

    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.

  • 42.
    Nichole said…

    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!

  • 43.
    Cara said…

    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!

  • 44.
    Nicola said…

    *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!

  • 45.
    Amy Brock said…

    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

  • 46.
    Christene said…

    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! ;)

  • 47.
    Anne Alley said…

    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 :)

  • 48.
    ann marie said…

    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.

  • 49.
    Ali Edwards said…

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

  • 50.
    Ali Edwards said…

    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.

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