Prepping your cloth diapers for use

Whether you are expecting a newborn and planning to use cloth diapers, new to cloth diapering with an older baby, or getting new cloth for a baby already in them, it is important to know how properly prepare the diapers before you use them. Pre-washing “rules” differ by the type of material the diaper is made of. If not done correctly, the diaper may produce less than desirable results.


Natural fibers such as cotton, bamboo, and hemp take several washing and drying sessions to reach their maximum absorbency. Unbleached cotton contains a natural wax layer that is water-resistant and needs to be stripped away before they are used. They will shrink and become more fluffy and soft with each wash.

We suggest 6-8 initial washes for Bottombumpers on HOT with a very tiny amount of detergent (I recommend 1 tbsp). It is not necessary to dry in between each wash, but doing so will assist in removing any extra lint and making them more absorbent. Make sure to dry on hot at least once to seal the needle holes on the PUL and ensure shrinkage and proper absorbency.


Here are a few important things to remember when caring for your cloth:
1. Use a cloth diaper safe detergent

2. Unsnap the soaker before washing/drying so it doesn’t pull on the surrounding material and cause a hole


3. Allow the diapers to cool before you fold or put them away (or put them on baby) to protect the elastic from stretching out or breaking

Using cloth wipes

If you cloth diaper, it really makes sense to use cloth wipes as well. Otherwise, when you have a dirty diaper you are challenged to make it to two separate containers with a poopy diaper in one hand and disposable wipes in the other. If you use cloth wipes, you can just throw them all in together! It is really very simple.


I use two different systems at home. Upstairs, where we mainly just nap, sleep, and bathe, I keep a basket with dry cloth wipes, bottom spray, and my diaper cream.


When I’m ready to do a change, I just grab my spray and a couple of wipes and I’m set.


I love a pre-made spray with a little scent to it since I am dealing with the smell of poop, but some people choose to use only water in a spray bottle. Others choose to use essential oils or special solutions (I use BabyBits) dissolved in water and add it to their spray bottle.


Downstairs, where we spend most of our time, I use warm, wet cloths for baby’s bottom which I store in a wipes warmer.


I know some people pre-soak their wipes and then place them in the warmer, but I’m all about easy, so this is what I do:

Fill the warmer about half full with distilled water. Tap water is probably fine, but I find it lasts a bit longer if I use distilled water. Usually I add one BabyBit to the water and let it melt. If I run out, I go with plain water-that works too! When it has dissolved, I grab a stack of folded wipes. They fit nicely just folded in half.


I press them into the water so they become saturated.


Then I let them sit that way until I need them.


I find that a great deal of the water evaporates, but we do live in a dry climate. If I run out of wet wipes and the water still seems fresh, I add a new pile of wipes. I dump out the water and rinse the warmer every 3-4 days.

What to look for in your cloth diaper detergent

People often think it is fine to use their regular detergent on their cloth diapers. It may be, but it is a good idea to check the ingredients first to make sure there is nothing listed that may be detrimental to cloth diapers.

These are the main offenders to look for:
Enzymes – naturally break down materials, may also cause children to break out
Dyes & Fragrances – harsh chemicals that may lead to skin irritation
Brighteners – leave build-up leading to smell issueSofteners – waterproof the fibers so that diapers will no longer absorb

I have seen enough detergent problems in cloth diapers to instruct people to start with a detergent known to be safe for cloth diapers from the beginning. There are ways to remove “bad” detergent build-up, but none of them are fun or guaranteed to work. It is also difficult to recommend which detergent will work best for you. Water conditions differ greatly by region, state, and sometimes even by city. Type of washer also plays a huge role in how detergents work. One of the best ways to find out what might work for you is to ask other local cloth diaperers with similar conditions what they use.

My story:

When we lived in Arizona, we had extremely hard water. I have also had front loaders since I started cloth diapering. When I started 11 years ago, I don’t recall there being any detergents specially formulated for cloth diapers. I started with Tide Free & Clear because some friends on recommended it. It seemed to get the diapers clean, but I had to do quite a few rinses on each load to get the suds out of them. I also got a strong ammonia smell frequently, but was able to strip them with some success for short periods of time.

When my second son was born, he broke out almost immediately when I put the cloth diapers his older brother had used on him. I decided to try a different detergent and tried Mountain Green Free & Clear and was fairly successful with that. I didn’t seem to have any build-up issues, but the diapers always seemed to look dingy to me. I used Purex for a bit, but they changed the formula somewhere along the way and the new brew didn’t work as well for me. I used a box of Planet but didn’t feel that it really got the diapers clean with my hard water. I also tried Sun Free and had awful stink issues. I finally found Country Save at a local cloth diaper store and used it successfully for several years and entirely through my third son’s diaper days.

When my fourth son was on the way, I was seduced by the fun names and delicious scents of Rockin’ Green, and used their Hard Rock blend starting with prepping his diapers until we moved to Washington when he was two. Since we moved into a house with a water softener, I switched to the Classic Rock formula and had continued success. I have been happy with Rockin’ Green’s performance, and am excited that I can now justify using it on all of my laundry since we are now OFFICIALLY DONE WITH DIAPERS!

Are you feeling lucky?

One lucky winner will receive 2 One-Size AIO diapers and another will win a pack of wipes!


Details on how to score entries by liking our page, sharing, tweeting the giveaway, etc. can be found here.

The contest starts Friday, March 7, 2014 and ends on Monday, March 10, 2014.

Have fun!

Myth vs Reality

Myth #1: Cloth diapers are difficult to use.
Reality #1: Many people envision cloth diapers of long ago, with large flats, plastic covers, and pointy pins. Today’s cloth diapers are so much simpler. PUL outers, cotton inside, and snap-in soakers are a breeze.

Myth #2: Cloth diapers are expensive.
Reality #2: Yes, cloth diapers do have a much larger price tag than disposables….when you first buy them. But you can use them again, and again, and again….Once you have spent $300-400, you can have a decent cloth diaper stash. I believe most people spend that much within a year of using disposable diapers. You can also use many diapers for subsequent children.

Myth #3: You have to touch the poop.
Reality #3: Google ‘diaper sprayers,’ ‘flushable liners,’ or ‘poop spatula.’

Myth #4: Your regular laundry will have poop on it.
Reality #4: Nobody has ever pointed out poop on my clean clothing in 11 years of cloth diapering four kids. Food and spit-up, yes. Poop, no.

Myth #5: Cloth diapering is unsanitary.
Reality #5: Provided that you remove poop from diapers of babies that are not exclusively breastfed, your washer does truly clean your diapers, just as is does your underwear, or underwear that may have been peed in by your toddler.

Myth #6: It is too much work.
Reality #6: Parenting is hard work. I’d personally rather have to throw on a load of laundry every 2-3 days than to remember to buy more diapers all the time. Or worse, have to pack my kids in the car to go out and get them if I forget. Washing diapers is a very simple process and really only takes a few minutes of your time each week.

Myth #7: You have to use a special detergent to wash cloth diapers.
Reality #7: It is true that you need to use an additive-free detergent for cloth diaper loads, however they are readily available in a variety of formulas, and most can even be used on your normal wash loads.

Myth #8: It raises your electric costs.
Reality #8: My bills have been the same whether I have been cloth diapering or not over the past decade, controlling for regular energy cost increases. I’ve never met another cloth diaperer who has claimed a spike in their electric bill.

Myth #9: It uses too much water.
Reality #9: It does use a lot of water to wash a cloth diaper load properly. However, I believe the environmental impact of that water use still comes out ahead of the output from the manufacturing, transporting, and distributing of paper diaper products. Then there is the landfill consideration. I don’t have any hard evidence, but I’d say cloth diapering wins.

Myth #10: They will make my baby’s butt look ridiculously large.
Reality #10: Babies don’t care how big their butts look. Cloth diapered bums are the cutest!


Dirty diapers on the go

Over the years I have received the question repeatedly…what in the world do you do with your dirty diapers when you are out and about? It is a valid question, and one I had when I began cloth diapering in 2003. Back then, there were only a handful of online cloth diaper retailers, and I wasn’t a big online shopper.

I started by carrying sealable plastic storage bags for containing soiled diapers. Gross. Soggy cloth with urine and poop does not like plastic. Lesson learned.

On an online forum I learned about these fancy little inventions called wet bags. I hunted one down and bought it, and it revolutionized my cloth diapering experience.

The beauty of the wet bag is that it’s waterproof, mostly smell-proof, and washable…with your diapers! That’s right! You can throw your soiled diapers inside your wet bag, put it in your diaper bag, empty it in to your pail when you get home, and throw it in to wash all together. If someone walks by your diaper bag, they won’t be able to smell the soiled diapers either.

Now what to do with poops, you ask? Some people use the dunk & swish method if baby poops out in public and they have a restroom available. I love my diaper sprayer, so I just wrap those diapers up and deal with them when I get home. It does prevent me from just dumping everything into the pail (unless of course baby is still exclusively breastfeeding), but it only takes a few seconds.

There are many sizes and styles of wet bags available, and my personal preference is for zippered wet bags which are great for keeping smells contained. My suggestion is to invest in a few in a variety of sizes. They are useful far beyond your diapering years…for wet swimsuits, gym clothes, makeup, to keep books or electronics dry, and to keep in the car while potty training your toddler.

Cloth diapering newborns

Whether you are birthing in the hospital, birthing center, or at home, cloth diapering the first few days after baby is born is really simple. After you have chosen your newborn stash, make sure to prep everything before baby is born. If you want to pack a bag to take with you, or a small basket to keep at your bedside at home, this information may help you.

How many diapers do I need for the first few days?

Newborn breastfed babies will generally pee and poop one time each per day of life for the first 5 or so days. So day 1: 1 pee, 1 poop. Day 2: 2 pees, 2 poops. Day 3: 3 pees, 3 poops, and so on. Most people return home from birth centers after 1 day, so packing about 6 diapers would be appropriate in this situation. Hospital stays are generally between 2 to 3 days, so a dozen diapers diapers is generally a good amount. If you are planning to stay longer, add diapers accordingly. It is also important to remember that the output baby will have the first few days will not be great in quantity, so your chances of experiencing a blowout is very slim.

What will baby’s first poops be like?

The first few bowel movements baby will pass will actually be meconium, which is a black or green, sticky, tar-like substance. Many people fear this will stain their newborn diapers and choose to use flushable liners to catch it and flush it away. I chose to spray the meconium off of our first few dirty diapers, but I was at home with a sprayer handy. You could also choose to dunk and swish it in a toilet if you are away from home. I have also heard that people have avoiding meconium staining by running a cold rinse before their wash, and others have placed their clean, wet diapers out in the sun to bleach the stains as they dry.

Breastfed babies generally start their “transition” poops between days 2 to 4 of their lives as mom’s milk is coming in. These poops are characterized by their green or yellowish-brown color and may appear grainy or seedy. At this point, I have foregone removing the debris on the diapers. Shortly after this, the typical “breastfed poop” appears. It can appear light yellow to bright green, be runny or curdy, look creamy like mustard, or even be seedy. This might change from diaper to diaper, or day to day. But the best thing about breastfed baby poop is that it is COMPLETELY WATER SOLUBLE! This means that until you add anything else to an infant’s diet, their cloth diapers DO NOT NEED TO BE RINSED! Just throw them in the pail, and wait until laundry day.

What else will I need during the first few days?

Bring a wetbag or pail liner to store your soiled cloth diapers in until you get home. Don’t worry, it won’t smell up the room. Most people claim that breastfed baby poop has very little scent to it at all. Others describe it as “curried yogurt” or “buttery popcorn.” Either way, it will not stink up any space you might be limited to.

Pack about a dozen cloth wipes. I also prefer to use a spray bottom cleaner to wipe off the stubborn sticky first poops. Throw them right into your wetbag or pail liner along with the diapers and wash them all together when you return home.

As previously mentioned, you may want to bring a few flushable liners for the first few diaper changes. After that, you may save the rest of the roll for later when baby is introduced to solid foods.

It is very unlikely that your baby will develop any kind of diaper rash during this period, so don’t worry about packing any creams, ointments, or other types of baby toiletries.

I also like to have a cloth changing pad to change baby on near my bed and in my diaper bag at all times. You may or may not need it in a hospital or birth center, but I find it useful even when changing a wiggly baby on my bed. Cloth changing pads, which can be washed with your linens, can protect your beds, couches, or floors from baby messes. They are also great for changing baby on the go.

What about the umbilical cord?

Until baby’s umbilical stump falls off, it is a good idea to fold or place diapers so that the area is clear to keep it from being rubbed or becoming damp.

What do you need to cloth diaper?

Researching and choosing cloth diapers can be extremely overwhelming! Many parents become stressed out and ask what they really need to successfully cloth diaper their baby. I’ve broken it down for you here into *Must Haves* and *Might Wants*.

*Must Haves*

Diapers – 36 for newborn stage, 24-36 for infant and toddler stage. If you choose sized diapers, you will need 24-36 diapers in each size your baby reaches(some potty train before reaching the largest size. If you choose one-size diapers, you will need 24-36 total. There is a chance that you might need to replace worn items on occasion after extended use.

Wet Bag – Waterproof bags designed for storing your dirty diapers when you are on the go. They keeps messes and smells contained and come with either zipper or drawstring closure in a variety of sizes. Throw them in with your diaper load to clean. Many parents prefer to have two or more.

Cloth Wipes - I suggest 24-36. Many parents claim that they are planning on using disposable wipes, but it really makes sense to throw everything in one container rather than running with a poopy diaper to the pail and poopy wipes to the garbage. And they are useful for other things too…runny noses, bloody knees, spilled juice.

Pail Liner – Waterproof bags used to store dirty diapers at home between washes, either inside diaper pails or hanging on doorknobs or hooks. Simply push your dirty cloth diapers into your washer and push the bag in after them. Many parents prefer to have two.

Detergent – Use a cloth diaper safe detergent free of enzymes, dyes, fragrances, brighteners, and softeners.

Swim Diapers – Many public pools require washable swim diapers now as the stuff the disposables are made of clogs their filters.

*Might Wants*

Diaper Sprayer – Attaches to your toilet and makes the removal of solid waste as easy as a spray. Otherwise, you’ll need to dunk-n-swish or use a poop scraper.

Wipe solution- Designed to use in spray bottles or to otherwise moisten wipes. Made with gentle ingredients for baby’s skin. Must be diluted or mixed by you.

Wipe Spray – Pre-made spray to be applied directly onto baby bottoms and wipe clean with a cloth wipe.

Wipes Warmer – Use a solution or plain water to keep wipes moist and warm at home.

Small Wet Bag – Keep your dry wipes and spray organized and protect from leakage when you are on the go.

Flushable Liners – For easy cleaning of soiled diapers

Soakers or Doublers – Customizable to the needs of your child, these add absorbency to your diapers.

Sized or One-Size?

Are you trying to decide between sized or one-size diapers for your stash? Bottombumpers offers both, so here are a few pros and cons of each to consider before making your choice:

One-size diapers

Can be more economical
Easier when more than one child is in diapers
Will last for last for a longer span of baby’s diapering time
Generally fit babies from 8-10 pounds to 30-35 pounds, depending on the shape of the baby
Provides four size settings

On the smallest settings, the folded material and inserts can create quite a bit of bulk on a tiny baby
If baby is under 8 or so pounds, one size diapers have a tendency to swallow baby up
There is a greater chance for user error when changing the settings of the diaper
May leak if not properly adjusted for baby’s size

Sized diapers

As simple as paper diapers to use…just fasten and go
Provide a trimmer fit, especially on very tiny babies
No size adjustments needed
Price per diaper is less
May last through several children since they are used for a shorter duration
Some children potty learn before reaching the large size

Price of buying several sizes
Inability to share between two diapered children of different sizes
Require storage space when not in use

I personally love sized diapers for newborns and large toddlers, but like the one-size option for my babies between about 2 months and 2 years. Since my children grow quickly and very large, that’s a great combination for us. My newborn and large sized diapers have easily survived wear of 3-4 babies since they were used for short periods of time. My often used one-size diapers have needed some replacing along the way.

Caregivers and your cloth diapers

If someone other than you is caring for your baby, they might be willing to use your Bottombumpers AIOs. Here are some suggestions for speaking with them about it:

1. Take your Bottombumpers AIOs to show them rather an asking, “will you use cloth diapers?” They will see how easy they are to use compared to the flats, diaper pins, and plastic pants that would probably spring to mind if you just mentioned cloth diapers.


2. Consider whether the caregiver is able to use snap diapers, or if aplix is a better option. Certain situations, such as arthritis, may call for the ease of aplix closures.


3. Explain that cloth wipes can be used and thrown in with dirty diapers. Give them the option of pre-moistened wipes that you provide daily or dry wipes with spray.


4. Give the caregiver choices about wet bag types. You might provide separate bags for wet and dirty diapers, so you can deal with the poop later. Some caregivers may be okay with getting rid of the poop themselves. Some may require a small wet bag for each change. If they are watching other children they may require that the wet bag hangs or zips.

5. Provide your own diaper cream and label it with your child’s name. Let them know that some diaper creams are not cloth diaper safe.

6. Tell them cloth diapers need to be changed every time they are soiled. If you have an idea of how often you change baby or how baby acts when they need a change, note this information for the caregiver.

7. Explain the situations that may cause a cloth diaper to leak.

8. Make sure they understand your washing routine if you expect them to do it.

You might be pleasantly surprised that use of your Bottombumpers can extend beyond the times you are with your baby!