Hey fellow parents. Before I tell you what is the best cloth diaper, I have to first clarify a few myths. These things are quite significant so don’t skip them. This is especially true if you are a new parent and aren’t sure of what’s the best for your children so far.
Before you reached this article, you probably already have a general idea of what cloth diapers are capable of. Your friends, family, or other websites probably recommended them. You most likely have your own reasons for going for them instead of disposable. However, some so called “facts” you learned are actually a bit exaggerated and often untrue. Read on and you will get what I mean.
Table Of Contents
- Cloth Diapers Are Always Cheaper Than Disposables – Myth
- The Purchase Is Definitely Cheap
- Washing Cloth Diapers Is An Expensive Task
- How Much Does Baby Friendly Detergent Cost?
- Is There Another Advantage To Using Dr. Bronners?
- Cloth Diapers Last Forever – Myth
- Hook and loop fasteners
- Cloth Diapers Are More Absorbent Than Disposable – Myth
- Cloth Diapers Are More Environmentally Friendly – Myth
- Maintenance Requires A Lot Of Electricity
- What Are Cloth Diapers Good For Then?
- Cloth Diapers Are Great With Blowouts
- Cloth Diapers Have No Chemicals
- Every Wash Makes Cloth Diapers More Absorbent
- They Have Resale Value
- The Different Types Of Cloth Diapers
- Flats/ Prefold Cloth Diapers
- Advantages Of Using Prefolds/Flats
- Disadvantages of Using Prefolds/Flats
- Recommendations For The Day
- 6 pack vs 12 pack
- 12 pack can’t be prepped
- Why we do we prep cloth diapers?
- Recommendations For The Night
- It’s a Diaper Not a Drug
- It’s Not Recommended For Everybody
- Wait, You Are Not Done
- What’s a Snappi?
- Where To Buy A Snappi?
- How To Use The Snappi?
- Waterproof Covers
- Waterproof Covers vs Pocket Diapers
- If Arthritis Is An Issue
- Disposable Liner
- What Are Disposable Liners Used For?
- Where to Buy Disposable Liners
A lot of cloth diapering parents try really hard to convince you that cloth diapering cuts down costs. However, it is absolutely not true. The reason is that there are more to cloth diapering that meets the eye.
The Purchase Is Definitely Cheap
There’s no doubt that cloth diapers are cheap purchases. No matter what you buy, you roughly have to shell out $200 to $300 and you will probably make no more diaper purchases for one to two years (unless you get another baby).
A typical disposable diaper like pampers swaddlers will cost roughly $30 to $40 per month. If, you potty train your child by two years of age (you should, because it’s actually better for the environment.) you would actually spend roughly $1000 on diapers total per child.
If you only compare the costs of the diapers itself, then cloth diapers are the clear winner considering how they have such a low cost and long term use. However, don’t forget the fact that you have to wash them. Depending on how you wash them, you might end up spending the same or even more than buying disposable diapers
Washing Cloth Diapers Is An Expensive Task
Unless you own a washing machine, you will have to wash your clothes or cloth diapers at the laundromat like me. For me, the small washing machines takes $3 for a full wash and that is the cheapest and smallest load in the laundromat.
Typically, you should wash your cloth diapers at least once every three days. Any longer than that, you might get staining, odor, or hygiene issues. If your baby is sick, and produces a lot of diarrhea, that is even more true.
In other words, you have to wash your cloth diapers ten times a month. If you’re washing machine costs the same as mine, then it will cost you $30 per month washing cloth diapers alone. You most likely won’t wash your cloth diapers along with your clothes, so that is a fixed cost you can’t avoid. Even if you do want to wash your clothes along with your diapers, I doubt you need to wash your clothes ten times a month, unless you work for a barn or something.
As you can see here, $30 is practically almost catching up with disposable diapers in terms of cost, unless you want to cut corners and risk your baby’s health. As mentioned earlier, disposable diapers typically cost around $30 to $40 per month.
Some parents might argue that they only spend $.50 per load of washing cloth diapers. In theory, they only spend roughly $5 per month. However, that is assuming that you have a washing machine at home. Not everybody in the world has their own washing machine.
Let’s not forget that you have to purchase extra baby friendly detergents, like Dr. Bronners castile soap for example, to wash your cloth diapers. Some parents might wonder why you can’t use regular laundry detergent to wash your cloth diapers.
There is a fairly important reason for that. Regular laundry detergent has substances that make clothing less absorbent to water. Typically, this is a good thing, because when we spill water on our clothing, some water will be repelled due to the effects of the laundry detergent.
However, for cloth diapers, this is a horrible effect, because regular household laundry detergent will make your cloth diapers less absorbent every time you wash them.
How Much Does Baby Friendly Detergent Cost?
Something versatile like Dr. Bronner’s castile soap (you can wash food with it) will typically cost $17 to $18 per bottle. Each bottle holds around 32oz (4 cups) of soap. This might not sound like a lot, but its heavily concentrated soap.
For one load of soiled laundry you will need to use ⅓ to ½ cup to clean it thoroughly. In other words, you will need at least one bottle of soap each month. This is expensive compared to something like tide, which is typically $24 for 180oz (roughly 45 cups), but you don’t have a choice if you want to maintain good quality cloth diapers.
To sum it up, you are paying roughly $48 per month for the extra laundry in addition to the baby friendly detergent. As you can tell, you are paying more than disposable diapers now. Of course, if you only consider the costs, baby friendly soaps like Dr. Bronner might sound like a big sword stab on your wallet. However, there are other advantages to using Dr. Bronners.
Is There Another Advantage To Using Dr. Bronners?
The cost of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap might have made you peed your pants like your baby, but there are unique advantages to this kind of soap. As mentioned earlier, this soap is perfectly safe and health to wash your cloth diapers with. The key to successful cloth diapering is to make sure that the laundry detergent doesn’t leave behind any harmful chemicals.
However, Dr. Bronner is more versatile than that. You can literally wash anything with it. Of course, it’s also possible to bath your baby with it. However, some of their variety of soaps have essential oils (peppermint for example) that can irritate your baby’s skin, so choose the “mild flavor” ones to be on the safe side if you plan on bathing your baby with it. If, you want to learn more about that, read about the best baby friendly detergent review here.
Another advantage of Dr. Bronner’s soaps is that they kill insects. According to Lisa Bronner, their soaps have the ability to melt exoskeletons (the armor of insects). So if you use this soap to wash your bed sheets, pillow casings, and blankets, then say good-bye to dust mites, and other annoying pests.
One thing I have to point out is to not wash your hair with it. It’s a bit too drying and can cause your hair to tangle. I have short hair so it is no big deal. However, if you have long hair then I highly don’t recommend it.
Nevertheless, when it comes to washing your cloth diapers, I highly recommend Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soaps.
As you can see, washing cloth diapers is expensive. If, you use a cloth diaper laundering service (have a company wash your cloth diapers for you), then it is even more expensive.
For laundering services, you typically pay $25 per week. That is $100 per month. They rent you their cloth diapers, so you don’t have to buy your own, but cost-wise you are already spending three times the amount compared to disposable diapers if you use a laundering service.
As you are aware, cloth diapers itself might be cheap, but washing it is not cheap. Unless you have your own washing machine, or you plan on washing it yourself (it’s very heavy work), you are paying and sacrificing a lot just to get them cleaned.
To make it worse, certain cloth diapers don’t last forever. Many parents make you believe that they are invincible because you can simply wash and reuse. However, if your cloth diapers were made with low quality cotton (low thread count or low quality cotton) then it will start falling apart before you know it.
Even if your cloth diapers are made of high quality cotton, there is an issue of hook and loop fasteners (Velcro) then your diapers will have an even shorter life span.
Hook and loop fasteners (Velcro) do not last forever. We all know that. Almost every disposable diaper uses them nowadays because, well, they are disposable. We don’t need them to last long.
However, for cloth diapers that is a big issue. If they don’t last, then there is no way you can use them until your child is fully potty trained. If, you use this type of cloth diaper, then you will have to buy a new batch of cloth diapers after your child’s first birthday.
Some parents might argue that all you have to do is to use only the cloth diapers with snappy buttons instead of hook and loop fasteners. Of course, that could be a nice solution for children that grows at a steady pace that matches the buttons.
The snappy buttons might last long, but their problems likes in the fact that there’s no “in-between settings”. There will always been a point where your child’s size makes it too tight of a fit for the first button and too loose of a fit for the second button.
This is why some parents like hook and loop fasteners because you can “flexibly adjust their tightness”. As you can see, snappy buttons last forever but they don’t always fit your child right. Velcro always fits, but they don’t last long. Using cloth diapers is all about compromising.
Don’t get me wrong. Cloth diapers can absorb wetness. However, when you compare it to the most absorbent disposable diaper like pampers swaddlers, you will see a huge difference. The reason is that disposable diapers have SAP (super absorbent polymer).
SAP are powdery substances that swells into huge pearl like balls when in contact with water. They are so absorbent, that they can absorb and lock away pee that is at least 80 times their mass. If it’s only distilled water, then SAP can absorb up to 300 times its own mass.
This difference will be obvious when you need to change your baby’s diapers. The faster they get saturated with pee, the more often you will have to change them. Many parents overcome this problem by combining bamboo material along with cotton. More on that later.
I have repeated this point on my blog so many times, people probably think I work for a voice message company. Yes, it is true. Cloth diapers are not environmentally friendly. If this was the selling point to get you to buy cloth diapers, I recommend you think again.
Yes, it is true that cloth diapers don’t fill up the landfills like disposable diapers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t create their own pollution.
Cloth Diapers Uses A Lot Of Water
One problem with cloth diaper is that they are made of cotton, hemp, or bamboo. The problem is these plants are grown in extremely dry environments. However, they require a lot of watering. When you are using it for your baby, you also have to wash it often, so that’s even more water used.
Filtering, and cleaning water requires resources, and the more resources you drain, the harder it hits mother earth. That is a fact no matter who you ask. Considering how cloth diapers uses so much water, you can see why it’s actually a problem rather than a relief.
Maintenance Requires A Lot Of Electricity
Unless you live in an area that uses clean energy like solar power, washing cloth diapers is a big harm to our environment. Washing machine requires electricity, and electricity is generally created by burning fossil fuels.
As you probably know, burning fossil fuels is responsible to the high carbon dioxide emission that punches a hole in the atmosphere. It is also the big contributor to the famous global warming everybody talks about.
Now, before you burn all your cloth diaper discount coupons out of anger and frustration, let me explain that there are good points to them as well.
Cloth Diapers Are Great With Blowouts
I do not know why it works this way, but cloth diapers are great in locking away diarrhea. My guess is that they are flexible and create a tailored fit wrap for your baby, so they can be great at preventing poop leaks.
Cloth Diapers Have No Chemicals
If your baby have very sensitive skin, it’s possible that no disposable diaper will work for you. In that case, cloth diapering is definitely your answer. Cloth diapers are generally chemical free unless you bought it from a sketchy place.
Also, use only baby friendly detergents like I mentioned earlier or the chemicals will make the diapers less absorbent and hurt your baby’s sensitive skin.
Every Wash Makes Cloth Diapers More Absorbent
The interesting thing about cloth diapers is that the more you wash them, the more absorbent they are. This is a good thing. If, you bought high quality ones then they will literally last through several children. The only exception will be microfiber material of course. Most people agree that they won’t last more than a year.
They Have Resale Value
Since cloth diapers are 100% cotton (except for the waterproof cover), they are 100% biodegradable. However, instead of throwing them away after you “ran out of” babies diaper them with, you can sell them to other people who wants to buy cheap cloth diapers. This gives you some money back in your pocket and it’s better for the environment. As I mentioned earlier, growing cotton gives mother earth a big upper cut.
As you can see, cloth diapers have been praised a little too much even though it doesn’t deserve it. If, you have genuine reasons to use cloth diapers like sensitive baby skin, stubborn diaper rashes, or extremely annoying diaper blowouts then I highly recommend them. Without further ado, let’s talk about the best cloth diapers you can purchase out there.
There are different types of cloth diapers. They each come with their own advantages and their own compromises. The different types of cloth diapers are flats, prefolds, fitted, pocket, all-in-one, and hybrids. However, I won’t be discussing all of them here. I will just focus on the best cloth diaper every parent should get.
Flats Vs. Prefolds
Flats and prefolds are almost the same type of diaper. Basically, they are both a piece of square cloth that you need to fold into a diaper for your baby blast her way into. If, you only looked a diagram or read a description of it somewhere you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
However, in reality, if you held them one in each hand, you will be able to tell the difference right away. The thing that distinguishes them is thickness. Flats are thin evenly. In other words, if you took a regular t-shirt and cut a perfectly square cloth out of it, then you have yourself a flat diapers.
On the other hand, prefolds are something entirely different. It’s true that they are also a square piece of cloth, but different parts to it have different thickness. The edges will be thinner and the center will be several layers thicker. That’s why they are called prefolds. Instead of folding layers yourself with flats, you have a prefold cloth that already has its own layers.
Advantages Of Using Prefolds/Flats
When it comes to the cheapest cloth diapers, nothing can beat prefolds or flats. They are so cheap, you can buy 30 to 40 diapers for $50 to $70. They will last you through several children.
Some parents purchase more, because they want to do laundry less often, or they want to have extra “backup” in emergency situations. It depends on your needs.
Another advantage of using flats/prefolds is that they dry very fast after a wash. Of course, if you want to machine dry them, you technically can do that. However, I don’t recommend it, because they can shrink from machine drying.
They are also very versatile. You can use them as burp cloths, or other cleaning purposes. They are absorbent cloth after all.
For flats, they can grow with your baby. As your baby grows, you can re-adjust the folds to custom fit the baby.
As mentioned earlier, washing cloth diapers is pretty expensive. If, you want to save money,
Disadvantages of Using Prefolds/Flats
No matter how versatile, flexible, and cheap they are, sometimes they are still a pain in the butt to work with. The reason is that they require folding.
Unlike other types of cloth diapers, flats and prefolds have no gussets (stretchy waist and thigh openings) to trap poop from blowouts. You have to fold those barriers yourself.
With practice, it is not difficult. For example, if you follow this YouTube video here, you can fold it in a way to avoid blowouts:
Even though this technique exists, it can be a bit intimidating for any caregivers you hire. They might even refuse to work for you because folding cloth diaper is extra work.
Another problem is that your perfect fold can also be ruined if your baby likes to roll around or dance a lot. A solution to that is to buy snappi or pins to hold everything in place inside the waterproof cover.
It might be annoying to make this extra purchase, but you don’t need to buy a lot. You can use the good old diaper pins (the sharp ones) if you want. I recommend the snappi pins though.
They really make things convenient and you won’t hurt your baby by accident like the traditional diaper pins.
Recommendations For The Day
I separated the recommendations into day and night, because I want you to understand the purpose. There’s no such thing as day and night diapers. However, the diapers that I recommend for the night will be more expensive but much more absorbent. I will go into more details later.
Day version will be a lot cheaper, while having moderate absorption capabilities. You can literally buy these in bulk easily without punching a hole in your wallet
OsoCozy 6 Pack Birdseye Flat Unbleached Diapers
6 pack vs 12 pack
The one I am recommending to you is the “6 pack” version. They also have a “12 pack” version which is roughly $1 cheaper per flat diaper. However, their quality is so different (they are terrible). The 12 pack version does not have absorption capabilities. I don’t know why different size packs can have such a difference in quality. I don’t recommend the 12 pack headache.
12 pack can’t be prepped
This has nothing to do with prepping your cloth diapers either. For those who don’t what prepping is. Normally, you are supposed to wash your cloth diapers five to six times before you use them if you want to take advantage of their maximum absorption strength. You can prep the “12 pack” one hundred times and it will still not absorb anything.
Why we do we prep cloth diapers?
Cloth diapers can absorb pee fresh out of the pack. However, you will only get a fraction of its absorption capabilities before it gets prepped. The reason this is the case is that cloth made of cotton, hemp, or bamboo naturally comes with plant oils. These oils resist water absorption.
The prepping process involves washing them a couple of times and sometimes boiling them to remove the oils. This is one of the reasons why cloth diapers get more absorbent the more you wash them.
Osocozy 6 pack – Pros and Cons
- 100% cotton
- unbleached meaning even dioxin (or any other chemical) won’t be a problem
- absorbs liquid fast
- Nice and thick but not too thick (too thick will make it impossible to fold and fit into a waterproof cover)
- Very soft
- Dries super fast (often times, one night is good enough. It depends on the climate in your area)
- the cheapest cloth diapers you can buy
- can be reused for other purposes later like burp cloth or cleaning up messes.
- Can’t hold a lot of pee because it is cotton
- Not bright white, because it is unbleached
Where To Buy Osocozy?
You can buy them anywhere. However, I highly recommend buying them on Amazon. The reason I say that is that Amazon gives you a lot of advantages.
First of all, they deliver very fast. Before I was using Amazon Prime, they were already delivering fast. Sure, the shipping always say it takes a few days. However, often, if I order something today, I get it tomorrow even if the expected shipping date is a week away. Of course that is not always a guarantee, but it’s often the case.
Second of all, Amazon often offers full refunds if something is wrong with the product you bought. Just make sure the “amazon fulfilled the purchase” is labeled for the product. They even pay the shipping fee for you to ship it back. Sometimes, if you ask for a refund on a cheap item, amazon asks you to keep the item and you get your money back at the same time.
Third of all, amazon has a really high reputation. Sellers that sell on Amazon often read reviews left by buyers. If the product you bought is full of crap, you can complain in the reviews. Often times, the manufacturers will contact you and help you when they find out.
Recommendations For The Night
Even though Osocozy is good, it is only made of cotton. If your baby is a heavy wetter, cotton is definitely not enough to save your butt, or your baby’s butt. If, you face consistent leaks and blowouts at night, then get some hemp cloth diapers.
Hemp Babies Flat Weeds
I know that parents probably think about a lot of different things when it comes to hemp or weeds. However, no smoking or THC is being involved here. Hemp plants are related to marijuana (that’s why this cloth diaper is called flat weeds). Some people say that smoking marijuana is a “gateway drug” to smoking tobacco. Does that mean hemp cloth diaper is the “gateway diaper” to cloth diapers? Hmm… anyway.
It’s Not Recommended For Everybody
This is one of the most absorbent material you can find for a cloth diaper. However, not everybody would need such a diaper because it is designed for heavy wetters. I don’t recommend it to everybody because is too freaking expensive. It costs $11 for one diaper.
Another problem with this type of diaper is that you can’t really use it alone. It absorbs fluids too slowly. You need to combine it with the Osocozy cotton diapers I mentioned earlier. The cotton diaper will pull in the fluid quickly, and the hemp diaper will lock away the moisture better.
Hemp Babies Flat Weeds Pros vs Cons
- Very absorbent, can hold roughly eight times more water than cotton
- Materials last for a long time (not including the finished brushing)
- Hemp has antibacterial effects so it can minimize diaper rashes
- Very expensive. Cotton cloth diapers costs $2 – $3 per piece. Hemp costs $10 to $11 per piece
- Absorbs very slowly. Hemp can hold fluid but it takes forever to suck it off the surface.
- Due to slow absorption, need to combine with quick absorption materials like cotton or bamboo.
Where to Buy Hemp Babies Flat Weeds?
Once again, I recommend you purchase them at Amazon. However, shipping is not included this time which is kind of disappointing. However, it is still worth it because of the benefits of Amazon I mentioned earlier.
Cloth diapering is not that simple. There are still two more things you have to buy. And no, I am not talking about diaper ointments. Diaper ointments clogs cloth diapers making them less absorbent. The remaining things you need are “Snappi” and “waterproof covers”.
What’s a Snappi?
This must have crossed your mind after you wrap the cloth diaper. How do you keep such a difficult origami fold held in place? exactly do you secure it you need something called the snappy. Back in the old days you would use sharp pins to secure a flat cloth diaper. However, things have changed and snappy has replaced these sharp and dangerous pens.
Where To Buy A Snappi?
I know I sound like a broken record. I highly recommend you buy the snappi from Amazon. According to their description, if your Snappi breaks or have any problems they’ll replace it for you.
How To Use The Snappi?
It might seem like the snappi is another learning curve. However, it is a lot easier than you think. While you are holding the folded flat diaper with one hand, you hook one end of the snappi to one side of the waist, then stretch the other hook to the opposite waist. Finally, pull the final hook down towards the crotch area and you are done.
The snappi is kind of like a rubber band with claws in the end. Make sure there are slight tensions in the grips so the claws don’t loosen and fall off by accident.
After this, wrap the waterproof cover and you are good to go. This is probably the “ah hah” moment for many parents. You probably wondered how pee stay trapped in the cloth diapers. This is how. Speaking of waterproof covers…
Do You Need Waterproof covers?
In case, you didn’t catch on earlier, you need waterproof covers. Flat cloth diapers are just clothing. They can absorb pee, but they can’t seal it away.
Waterproof Covers vs Pocket Diapers
Don’t confuse pocket diapers with waterproof covers. They look pretty similar in appearance. However, they are not the same thing. Pocket diapers have a liner made of clothing material. Regular waterproof covers is only pure “plastic” (it’s not really plastic. It’s usually PUL, but calling it plastic makes it easier to understand)
In other words, every time you use a pocket diaper, you have to dump it into the diaper pail after one use, or whatever plastic bag you plan on using to seal away the smell for a couple of days.
Regular waterproof covers can simply be reused after every diaper change. If it gets wet, just wipe it dry and you are good to go. However, it is a good idea to change a cover once a day for hygiene purposes.
Waterproof covers are one of the trickiest things of cloth diapering. The reason is that you have to balance between a good fit and lasting long enough until potty training.
Generally, there are two types of waterproof covers. Of course, you can break it down further into different types. I am just generalizing. One type fits a specific size (usually newborns since they are so small), and the other type is the one-size-fits-all. From an economic point of view, obviously one-size-fits-all sounds like a much better deal. Unfortunately, one-size doesn’t literally fit all.
It is better to say that the covers that grows with your baby is better used after your baby weighs fifteen pounds. It should last until your child is two or three. By two or three, your child should be potty trained anyway.
Try The Thirsties Duo Wrap Diaper Cover
For current newborners (it’s not a real word), get the thirsties duo wrap cloth diaper cover. This fits very nicely for newborns and up. They have twenty colors for you to play around with. Their available sizes are:
- size one (6 – 18 pounds)
- size two (18 – 40 pounds)
- size three (40 – 60 pounds) ← don’t recommend. Potty train your child before you have to use this.
They tend to fit well on babies that tends to be on the skinny side.
If Arthritis Is An Issue
The diaper cover I mentioned earlier works well, and lasts long. However, for those with wrist, fingers, or arthritis problem, try the hook and loop fastener version (people usually call this Velcro). Just be warned that these don’t last long, because they eventually start fraying and loosing their “stickiness”. I would say that these will roughly last you one year and you will have to get new ones.
This is optional, but I highly recommend you get them. As you have realized, there’s a lot of things you have to buy upfront when you get yourself into cloth diapering. If, you want to throw in the towel and purchase nothing more, then go ahead. However, let me first explain what disposable liner inserts do before you run away.
What Are Disposable Liners Used For?
The short answer is that they block poop. To be specific, they prevent poop from staining your cloth diapers. Let’s use the flats I mentioned earlier as an example. Before you lay your baby on top of the flat, you add another layer of disposable liner on top.
Let’s say by chance your baby pooped (which happens quite often), you simple wipe your baby’s butt clean, pick up the liner (with the poop inside), and throw it away. This is an extra purchase, and extra work. However, it will make it a lot easier to keep your diapers clean and hygienic.
Where to Buy Disposable Liners
You can buy these disposable liners are amazon. They cost cheap, and they can be used as emergency baby wipes as long you have water nearby. One word of warning I have is to not flush them down the toilet because they cause clogging issues.
I hope this article was helpful to you. I am sure you have a lot of questions. I will address them here since they don’t belong anywhere else logically. I already recommended flat cloth diapers to you.
You might be wondering why I am not recommending prefolds. Prefolds are pretty good since they are nice and thick in the middle. However, they don’t really grow with your baby since their layers have been sewn into place. That’s a bummer, and you will be forced to make extra purchases because of that.
Some parents might also wonder why I didn’t mentioned flour sack towels. The reason is that their quality can’t really be trusted nowadays. Aunt Martha’s flour sack towels might be alright, but they are way too thick to be used as flats. By the time you finish folding them, you would practically have a sponge in your hands. Check them out and you will see what I mean.
Another problem with Aunt Martha’s is that their dimensions too big. They are 33” by 38” or 84cm x 97cm. Flat diapers work best when they are 27” x 27” or 69cm x 69cm.