Cloth diapers for beginners part 3: how to use cloth diapers

We’ve made it! We’ve talked about why you should choose cloth diapers, and we’ve talked about the different types of cloth diapers, now its time to talk about how to use cloth diapers.

So, you probably think that this is about to be the longest post of this 3 part Cloth Diaper for Beginners Series. There has to be a ton of steps and information on how to actually use cloth diapers, right?

Actually, no.

Why? Because cloth diapers are really easy to use!

Cloth Diapers for Beginners Part 3: How to Use Cloth Diapers

I’m going to break down just how easy it is to use cloth diapers in a few simple topics: what you need to buy (as well as what you will probably want to buy), cloth diaper use tips, and a cloth diaper wash routine.

Let’s do it!

Cloth Diaper Shopping List 

  • 20-24 cloth diapers. I recommend trying a few different types and brands of diapers to see which ones you prefer before purchasing all of your diapers. Once you have a feel for what’s out there, you can decide to build your stash with all the same diaper type, or mix it up with multiple different kinds, it’s up to you!

Nicki’s Diapers offers a 15 day try, wash, love or return program, so it takes the risk out of trying cloth diapers!

  • Diaper pail and 2 pail liners. Your diaper pail is where you store dirty diapers until it is time to wash them. You line it with a waterproof cloth “bag” that gets washed along with the diapers on laundry day. For this, you can get away with using a kitchen trash can if you wanted, but if you are used to the diaper genie type system, you’ll want to get something like this. You’ll need 2 pail liners for your diaper pail, one to use now, and one to use while the first is in the wash with your diaper load. These are the cloth pail liners for the diaper pail I linked above, but if you use a kitchen trash can, you’ll need ones like these.

  • 24-36 cloth wipes. You’ll toss the dirty wipes in the diaper pail with the diapers, and wash everything together. You can use baby washcloths, cut up flannel fabric and serge the edges if you sew, or purchase cloth diaper wipes like these.

              Terry Flannel Wipes (12 Pack) (Unbleached)

  • Diaper wipe solution/ spray. There are different wipe spray solution bits you can purchase, but really all you need to do is squirt one small pump of baby wash/soap into a spray bottle with water, and viola! Keep your cloth wipes dry and either spray the wipe itself, or directly onto baby’s bum with each diaper change.


  • 2 travel wet bags. These are what you will keep in your diaper bag to put dirty diapers in until you get home. They also work great for wet clothes or bathing suits too! You’ll want to have at least 2 of these on hand.

  • Diaper sprayer. It’s not a must, but it’s something that will make your life a lot easier. A diaper sprayer is similar to a kitchen sink sprayer that screws right into the waterline behind the toilet. It is super easy to install! You mount it on the wall and it is ready to go anytime you need to take care of business. You can always skip the sprayer and just “dunk and swish”, but I don’t think you’ll ever regret getting one!

  • Spray Pal diaper splatter shield. Again, this is not a must, but it helps make things a whole lot easier. These awesome splatter shields weren’t around when I cloth diapered my first son, so I was excited to try them with my second. They basically keep any of the water that would splash everywhere when spraying a dirty diaper, contained and where it is supposed to be. It also allows you to squeeze out the excess water into the toilet when you’re done without gripping the dirty diaper with your bare hands. Trust me, you will love this thing!

There are lots of other cloth diapering goodies out there, but this is a list of the things you will want to get started!

cloth diapers for beginners part 3: how to use cloth diapers

Cloth Diaper Use Tips

  • Change your baby’s diaper every 2-3 hours during the day
  • ONLY use cloth diaper safe diaper cream!!! Using a diaper ointment or cream that is not cloth diaper safe will ruin your diapers, by making an “oil slick” and preventing absorption, leading to leaks. (This is a really great, cloth diaper safe cream, and is the one I use and love).
  • Even if you have enough diapers to go longer, do not let dirty diapers go longer than 2-3 days between washes. This can lead to stinky ammonia buildup.
  • NEVER use liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets. This will cause your diapers to repel liquid and lead to leaks.

  • If using pocket diapers, remove the insert before placing the dirty diaper into the diaper pail.
  • Until your baby starts eating purees and solids, there is no need to rinse or spray off the poop! EBF poop is water soluble, so it can go straight into the wash. Once baby start eating solids, you will need to dispose of the poop into the toilet before it goes into the diaper pail and/or wash.
  • For suborn stains inside your diapers, hang them in the sun when they are still damp from the wash. The sun’s rays will act as a natural bleach! (If the stains don’t bother you, you can always just leave them. It is a diaper after all!)

Cloth Diaper Wash Routine

Cloth Diapers for Beginners Part 3: How to Use Cloth Diapers

Washing cloth diapers is not complicated. There are a few steps to remember, but once you get in the swing of things, you’ll have it down easy.

I have my diaper wash instructions typed up and in a little frame that I keep in my laundry room. Its a good way to remember all you need before it becomes routine, or like me, it takes away the excuse of “I don’t know what to do” from hubby! 😉

Every washing machine is slightly different, but the gist of your diaper wash routine will be:

Cold prewash, no soap

Hot wash with soap

Cold 2nd rinse, no soap

Dry on high

My washing machine doesn’t have a prewash option, so I just do a “quick wash” with no soap in its place. Play with the options a bit until you come up with something close to the steps above.

There are several different cloth diaper detergents out there, such as Rockin Green, Eco Sprout or Grovia Mighty Bubbles, but I’ve actually had the best luck with plain old Tide!

Just make sure you don’t over do it on the soap. Too much soap can lead to build up in your diapers, which can cause repelling issues and leaks. If during your second rinse you still see bubbles in the water, you are using too much soap. Cut down next time, and add extra rinses as needed to get the remaining soap out.

That’s it! That’s really all there is to it!

We’ve gone over everything you need to know to get up and running with cloth diapers. Will you make the switch to cloth diapers?

XO, Markelle