Beginner, Troubleshooting, Washing Issues

Cloth Diapers Made Easy – How To Make Cloth Diapering Easier On Your Family

Last week, I was going through my email and found I had received a notification about an article that was written by a Pop Sugar author about why cloth diapering wasn’t for them. I started reading the article and couldn’t help but scratch my head.

Let me start by saying a person’s experience is their experience. I’m not trying to say I don’t believe her. Clearly, she was unhappy with using cloth diapers and was much happier when she quit.

make-cloth-diapering-easierHowever, as I sat there reading the article, I kept asking myself questions like, “WHY are you doing that?” or “Why does that need to be fixed?” I also thought to myself, “That’s not even a problem…” multiple times. It was obvious that this author was making cloth diapering extraordinarily hard on herself. While her experience is her experience, she created a lot of her own problems by trying to overcomplicate something that really isn’t that difficult.

One of the issues she talked about as a reason for quitting was staining. She was struggling with stains on the diapers and got this whole convoluted system set up on her counter to soak diapers in hydrogen peroxide and found she needed to wash a diaper immediately to prevent staining, and it just took too much time out her day.

I will hand it to her, that sounds awful. But it’s also completely unnecessary.

Can staining happen? Sure. I know it does for some people, but I’ve actually never had an issue with staining myself (I will get to that later in the article). But before you start freaking out about stains, ask yourself this: Did the diaper come out clean?

If the answer is yes, then why does it matter, anyway? It’s on the inside of a diaper that nobody sees. Why make your life harder over a stain on the inside of a diaper?

That is just one example. In this article, I will address many common complaints about cloth diapers and how you can avoid it or make it easier on yourself.

1. Choose an Easy Cloth Diapering System

If you are interested in cloth diapering but are concerned that you won’t follow through with it, do yourself a favor and invest in the easiest diapers possible. I would recommend all-in-ones (see my favorites here, here, and here) and all-in-twos/hybrids (here is one of the most popular all-in-two systems).

All-in-twos can actually be pretty economical. All-in-ones can be a little pricier, but they are still cheaper than disposables. Either of these options will be simple, quick & easy to use.

While I personally use a lot of pockets, I have heard of many people giving up cloth diapers because they just couldn’t deal with stuffing pockets anymore. If you think you might be one that will be turned off by having to prep a diaper before you put it on your baby, then do yourself a favor and go for the low prep diapers!

If you already have some pockets, you can just do what I do and not stuff it until you need to put it on the baby. Don’t treat diapers like they’re a load of laundry that needs to be folded and put away. This might be hard for some of you type A folks out there, but it’s really not necessary to turn this into a big chore.

I don’t stuff a single diaper until right before I’m about to use it. After I wash my diapers, I put them all (shells, inserts, everything) in a basket that I keep next to my changing area in my son’s room. When I go to change him, I just randomly grab a shell & some inserts, stuff quickly, and then put it on.

This idea isn’t always very popular in the cloth diapering world. If you join any cloth diaper Facebook groups, you will see beautiful pictures of people’s diaper storage systems. If that makes people happy, good for them! But all I can think about when I see those pictures is how much time people took to stuff, fold them, stack them, and display them so beautifully. Again, more power to them if they enjoy that. I tried it and I was not able to keep up with it, but I did not let that keep me from cloth diapering–I just decided to keep things simple.

No matter how you decide you want to go about it, do not make this a bigger chore than you need to.

2. Get a Good Wash Routine

Make sure you get started with a good wash routine right off the bat. (Tip: If you sign up for my email list, you will get a free printable wash routine emailed to you! Sign up by clicking here, or by filling out the form located on the right-hand sidebar)

For most washing machines and water situations, you will want to do the following:

1. Pre-rinse/wash. This gets the bulk of the soil out of the diapers before the main wash so that the main wash is more effective. Some people can get by with just a rinse, others do a light wash with a small amount of detergent. You can try it both ways and see what you think.

2. Main wash with good amount of detergent. Can use regular or heavy cycle–depends on your washer. You can try it both ways.

3. Optional: extra rinse at the end. My washer has an option I can select to do an extra rinse after the wash cycle. I usually select that to make sure all the detergent is rinsed out. You can try without if you want to save water.

In between washes, store dirty diapers in a dry pail. Do not store in a wet pail. It is unsanitary and pretty hard on the diapers.

Wash every 2-3 days. Unless you only have a small amount of diapers, do not wash every day. It can actually be hard to get the right amount of water to allow the diapers to properly agitate with such a small load. On the other hand, try not to go more than 3 days between washes, 4 days at the most. While some people successfully go a week between washes, your potential for issues like staining and mold go up the longer the diapers sit around. Washing every 2-4 days will help keep your diapers in their best condition.

Getting a good wash routine down is probably the number one thing you can do to make yourself successful with cloth diapering for the long run. It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming routine–just rinse/do a light wash, then do a main wash. The end.

3. Use a Tried and True Detergent

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned staining. While I’ve had a diaper stain here and there, it hasn’t been a consistent issue, and the stain came out on its own after a few washes.

cloth-diapers-made-easyI have a few ideas as to why. My first idea is that it’s thanks to my detergent. We have used Tide Original Powder almost the entire time we have cloth diapered. Tide is known for it’s stain-lifting ability, and is by far the most popular detergent among cloth diapering families.

Tide is not the most natural detergent out there, I get that. One reason I do an extra rinse is to get any excess detergent out of the diapers so less of it is on the skin when the diapers are being worn. However, I do think if you are having issues with staining that are bothering you to the point that you want to quit using cloth diapers, it’s worth a try. You can just use Tide for diapers, and your other preferred detergent for all other laundry. You will probably be happy with how much cleaner the diapers are getting and how many fewer stains you’re dealing with that it will be worth it.

If you can’t or don’t want to use Tide, make sure you are using a recommended detergent for cloth diapers. There are other options out there that will get your diapers clean, and may even help with staining if it is a concern. But if you are following all the guidelines for washing and caring for diapers and still having issues, double check your brand of detergent and also the amount you are using. Make sure you follow manufacturer recommendations for the amount needed for soiled laundry.

And as far as staining is concerned my other idea for why I don’t have this issue is that we wash our diapers every 2-4 days so they aren’t sitting as long. A good wash routine with a good detergent is important!

4. Get Yourself on a Laundry Schedule

Make a laundry schedule for yourself and stick to it. I highly recommend doing at least one load of laundry every day, especially if you cloth diaper. While it may sound like I’m telling you to do extra work, here is why:

  • If you do laundry every day, it becomes a habit, making it easier and less stressful to do.
  • You naturally do smaller loads which are much easier to manage when it comes time to fold/hang laundry. You can spend 5 minutes a day folding clothes because the load was small enough. The alternative is taking one day a week to do it and making it feel like you spend half a day folding laundry because you got so far behind. Which sounds easier to manage?
  • You never get behind on laundry.

Here is a schedule you can try if it helps you:

Sunday: Diapers

Monday: Kids clothes

Tuesday: Adult Clothes

Wednesday: Diapers

Thursday: Sheets/Towels

Friday: Kids Clothes

Saturday: Adult Clothes

5. Get Some Accessories to Help With Your Least Favorite Parts

Removing poop from diapers is most people’s least favorite part. Lucky for these people, there are many accessories out there that can make this super simple.

First of all, remember that you do not need to remove poop from diapers before the baby starts solid food. Poop from breast fed babies is water soluble, and poop from formula is also usually water soluble enough that you don’t need to remove it. Some people do rinse poop off right from the beginning, but I assume you are here because you are looking for a way to make this easier on yourself. Just know that you do not need to worry about poop removal until you start solids, which for most babies is around 6 months old.

Next, consider getting a diaper sprayer. A diaper sprayer combined with a spray shield is a great way to clean off dirty diapers without touching the poop. You just clip the dirty diaper into the shield and spray off the poo right into the toilet.

You can also consider getting disposable diaper liners to use in your diapers. Some of these are flushable. You can put these in your baby’s diaper so that when they poop, you can just dump the whole liner right into the toilet and then you do not need to scrape or spray poop off. I’ve also known people to use a paper towel for this. To me it kind of defeats the purpose of using cloth diapers, but know that it is an option that can make your life a lot easier if that is what you need.

If you’re worried about staining, a liner can definitely help prevent that, too!

6. Look Into A Diaper Service

A diaper service is a company that delivers clean cloth diapers to you and then picks up your dirty diapers, usually on a weekly basis. You don’t need to worry about anything–no scraping poop, no finding the right detergent, nothing. Just take the clean diapers, use them, and then send them back dirty.

Whether or not you want to use a diaper service goes back to your main reason for using cloth diapers in the first place. It is a more expensive way to cloth diaper, but it on par with the costs of disposables. If your reason is not economic, then you may be interested in a diaper service.

I looked into a local company and found that they would also wash your own diaper stash for you. That is much cheaper than using their diapers, so that is something to consider if you would like to invest in your own stash or already have your own stash and are just ready to give up.

Looking into a diaper service is my last suggestion for a reason. I really think everyone can find a way to simplify their cloth diaper routine and expectations enough that they can start to feel they can manage it with no issues. But some of us are just at the end of our rope. If that is you, you may want to try a diaper service for a few weeks before you completely throw in the towel.

So How Can You Make This Easier?

What it boils down to is this: pick easy-to-use brands of cloth diapers, have reasonable expectations (you don’t need to stuff and fold a load of diapers every day and have dedicated shelving units where you can beautifully display them, and you don’t need to worry about a stain here and there), and make sure you have a top-notch wash routine and use a good detergent (and enough of it) and right there, you will eliminate 90% of the possible problems you could have! Combine it with a good laundry schedule, and you’ll save yourself from unending piles of laundry.

If you need to simplify even more, consider trying biodegradable diaper liners or a diaper sprayer if you need some help removing poop from diapers. If you’re at the end of your rope, try a diaper service for a few weeks (if you have one in your area) before you throw in the towel.

If you need help with your wash routine, check out this post: Cloth Diaper Washing Instructions -A How-To Video

If you are looking for a more powerful and effective detergent, check out this post: Cloth Diaper Laundry Detergent -Do I Need A Special Kind?

Are you having trouble with your cloth diapers and ready to give up? What is your struggle and how can I help?

Do you have any advice for someone getting bogged down by their cloth diapers?

Let me know in the comments!

Holly Lee

I'm Holly and I'm the mom of two awesome young boys. We have been cloth diapering for 5 years. My family and I live in Minnesota with our dog, Ruby, and cat, Gherkin. Outside of Rocking the Cloth, I am also a middle school teacher. Thank you for visiting Rocking the Cloth--feel free to email me at holly@rockingthecloth.com if you have any questions or concerns. I'd love to help!

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14 Comments

  1. Oloyede3 says:

    Thank you so much for the article it is quite informative, I do not really have a problem using clothes diapers because i have never really stained myself. I am always conscious of what is going on around me so I hardly spill anything on myself. I really loved this article it is quite helpful i will definitely share this post with my friends and family i believe they will learn something from this post.

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Thanks!

  2. Josh says:

    Great advice!  I wish my wife and I had read your post when our son was still young enough to need diapers.  We struggled with the idea and ended up not giving it a go because of all the potential issues.  I know that I would have been the obsessive one about the cleanliness and the prepping, while she would have just needed it to be easy so that the rest of being a first-time mother would not be affected.  Your post covers all the angles.  Thanks for the quality read!

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Thank you, I’m glad you found it helpful!

  3. Genecia Sathiaseelan says:

    I was so amazed by this article because I have had two boys but 10 years ago and in my day it was too much of a bother to use cloth diapers. Well it just shows you some things never go out of fashion. They really have evolved the cloth diaper  and its always great to know about the new stuff that people come out with or in this case just changing it up from old to new.

    Very informative and good research well done I am really in aw 

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Thank you! Cloth diapers have been making a comeback in recent years–it’s still not the mainstream way to diaper, that’s for sure, but more and more families are considering it. The modern styles of cloth diapers make it much easier than in the past, too!

  4. Abagatan says:

    Reading the post about how a woman dealt unfavorably with cloth diapering I would take the courage that cloth diapering be promoted and be encouraged to all family as their priority than other ways.

    Besides the cheaper financial consideration, cloth diapering is one of the best way to respond to the environmental concern with regards to pollution issue. Disposables are environmental unfriendly and will just bring more burden to any government on proper garbage disposal.

    Cloth diapering is an ancient practice that should be claimed in the modern age for it is healthy and environmental friendly.

    1. Holly Lee says:

      I agree! I fully support that the woman/mom is entitled to her own experience and opinion. I was just worried that someone with as much influence and as many readers as she has would lead people to a lot of wrong ideas about what cloth diapering is and what it takes. It definitely doesn’t need to be as difficult as she made it.

      I do think cloth diapering is a great way for families to take better care of the earth. It’s not the only way, and you can cloth diaper and be harmful to the environment in other ways for sure, but it’s something that every family can at least consider with an open mind.

  5. eohia says:

    Hi Holly, thank you for this informative article. Just like it’s said: “different strokes for different folks”. Everyone has a reason for going for the choices they make.

    I love the way your article is written, it makes the use of cloth diapers look more easy and less cumbersome. In my case I went for disposables not because I was really buoyant to do that, but I saw the use of cloth diapers as being too much work. (I had no help around and I was  working too at the time ).

    Nevertheless, I love the tips you gave on choices of cloth diapers, daily laundry and cleaning of the clothes diaper. It will come in handy for my next baby.

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Thank you, glad you found it helpful!

  6. Hestia says:

    I don’t understand the issue with staining, either. It’s a diaper. That’s kinda its purpose.

    Though I find that two things helped with staining:
    a) a good washing machine (my brand of choice is Bosch)
    b) Using flats. Here’s how I fold them for pockets / Ai2: https://youtu.be/i4wem0hK48s

    1. I’ve heard great things about Bosch appliances! I’ve never owned one though. I just have a standard top-loader. Probably cost $200-$300 when it was purchased. It has an agitator and seems to do the trick.

  7. Monica Booth says:

    This is a great article! The biggest “why we wouldn’t cloth diaper” reason I hear from my friends is that they think the amount of water used for cloth diapering is worse than using disposables. I try to explain to them that it takes more water to create ONE disposable diaper than it is to wash an entire load of cloth, and then the disposable sits in the landfill forever, but I think it’s just kind of their favourite excuse to not get on the CD train when in reality they just don’t want to do the work. And that’s fine! I loved cloth diapering my son and will be cloth diapering my second, due in August, with all the same diapers my son used.

    As for staining, it’s a simple as hanging the diapers in the sun (even in front of a sunny window). The sun will bleach the stains right out!

    1. Thanks Monica! I agree that sometimes people just make excuses that make them feel better about doing things. It’s okay to just not want to do cloth diapers, but silly to pretend that it’s more wasteful than disposables to justify it! Heh.

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