Thinking about trying cloth diapers or switching from disposables? Though it may seem like a lot to take in, cloth diapering can be fairly simple and easy to do . . . as long as you are set up for success. Like any new endeavor, you should be prepared with all the materials you need before you start, and that's where this list comes in. Keep reading for 6 essentials you'll need as a cloth diapering newbie, then test them out and comment about how it went!
Selecting your cloth diapers may take some time and research. There are many styles to choose from, but try a few different styles that seem appealing to you and then invest in an entire "stash." A great way to try different styles is to find a local cloth diapering group and purchase diapers second-hand. You can easily do a deep cleaning and sun-dry if you are concerned about using something that's been used already. Cloth Diaper Trader and Facebook cloth diaper buy and sell groups are popular options for buying, selling and trading cloth diapers.
Wet Bags or Pail Liner
A container to store the dirty diapers until it’s time for diaper laundry is a must. Some people prefer a trash can or plastic hamper with a pail liner inside, but you may choose to use a wet bag at home or when you go out. Whether you choose a large wet bag or a pail liner, they should have a PUL (a laminated fabric that makes diapers waterproof) layer to prevent leaks.
Cloth Diaper Safe Detergent
Don’t use just any detergent to wash your cloth diapers. If you have invested in good diapers, don’t skimp on the detergent! Make sure you purchase a detergent that is cloth diaper safe to avoid buildup and stinks. Regular detergents contain fabric softeners, whiteners, fragrance, and bleach. These detergent ingredients will cause build-up on the diapers and will lead to repelling, leaks and stinky diapers. Washing every other day, putting them up on the line to dry (in the sun when possible to get rid of stains and any bacteria) and then placing them in the dryer for a few minutes on low heat to fluff them up before putting them in drawers is a great option.
Cloth Diaper Safe Creams and Liners
Same as the detergent, make sure you get a bottom cream suitable to use with cloth diapers. Traditional creams will adhere to the inner fabric of the diapers and may clog the fibers of the fabric, leaving behind a residue layer even after washing. If you have to use a regular diaper rash ointment for an extreme situation, use a thick liner to avoid the ointment getting on the diaper. If you get some on your diaper accidentally, use a degreasing detergent and scrub, scrub, scrub, then rinse, rinse, rinse.
Cloth wipes are a practical and cost-effective way to go, especially if you are already doing diaper laundry! Cut up receiving blankets, washcloths and cotton velour wipes. They all do the same job, but some parents prefer certain fabrics over others. The size of the wipes can also be a deciding factor when choosing your fabric. You can carry moist wipes in your diaper bag or carry dry wipes along with a small spray bottle and spray/wipe as needed. If you prefer DIY projects, check out this easy cloth wipes video tutorial.
Some people consider a diaper sprayer a luxury until they find themselves trying to dump a big mess in the toilet. Many cloth diapering companies manufacture their own sprayers and some hardware stores sell “kits” intended to install them in the bathroom. A long shower hose can work as well.
What are your cloth diapering essentials? Have you tried these? Share your experiences in the comments below!
Marietta Mayo is a native of Puerto Rico currently living with her family in Virginia while navigating the world of cloth diapering, natural parenting, and babywearing. She has a 20-month-old daughter and is a trained scientist who has taught science to grades K-12 since 2003.