Beginner, Troubleshooting

How To Be Successful With Cloth Diapers – Failproof Your Routine

Many people approach cloth diapers as if they are a force to be reckoned with and believe a pointed strategy is required in order not to fail. The truth is that it does NOT take an iron will and stubborn nature to be successful with cloth diapers.

Many people believe that they are too busy to be successful with cloth diapers. The truth is that cloth diapers don’t really require a lot of time, either. Being time consuming is a myth (but I guess it’s all relative–5 minutes means different things to different people).

While there are many tips and tricks that can make cloth diapering easier, the truth is your success boils down to ONE thing:

The NUMBER ONE Key To Success

What is the only thing you need to be successful with cloth diapering?


That’s it. You just need to be committed.

90% of people that start cloth diapers and fail only do so because they weren’t truly committed to it. I will allot 10% to those that really wanted to use cloth diapers, but gave up due to factors outside of their control, like not having a washing machine (though there are lots of people that do handwash diapers! But I don’t blame you if that’s not your thing). People that truly have factors outside of their control are the minority, though.

Let’s face it–anything that requires even an ounce less effort than something else (like disposable diapers) will be extremely tempting to us at some point unless we are committed to whatever it is that requires the greater effort.

For example, let’s say you’re tired after a long day of work and are supposed to go home and make a healthy dinner from scratch for your family. But you know you could order takeout and give yourself a break. Unless you are dedicated to healthy, scratch cooking, you are probably going to order takeout after a long and frustrating day of work.


Maybe you’re just starting to get into exercise again. You think being able to run a 5k sounds like a great goal, but you don’t make any firm plans for how you are going to get there. You end up giving up on running a week or two after your start date.

But if you are committed to getting fit and you have greater motivators, you will make a plan, you will stick to it (most of the time), and you will stick it out when the going gets tough. If you have a week or two where your runs don’t happen for whatever reason, you will pick it up when you can and continue. You don’t give it up forever.

Commitment is all it takes to separate someone who cloth diapers all of their children from birth to potty training and someone who doesn’t.

There is a difference between deciding cloth isn’t that important to you and saying something wasn’t right for your family. Many people that give up on cloth say, “It just wasn’t right for us” rather than just saying what it really was…which was that it just was not a high priority at the end of the day.

Please know I’m not trying to shame anyone who gave up on cloth diapers. We are all on our own journeys, and at the end of the day, we all do the best that we can to keep what is important to us afloat. Some of us might find that cloth diapers were just not that important to us at the end of the day. Again, that’s absolutely okay and is your prerogative!

I just want to make it clear for those of you that ARE committed, you don’t need to worry about giving up on cloth diapers. You won’t give up because they will be a priority. That’s all it takes.

So now that you are committed, here are some other things that can help you be successful with your cloth diapers.

Be Flexible

It’s a good idea to wait to buy your full stash until you have tried out some different kinds of diapers, but if you do buy your whole stash in advance and decide to use a certain style or brand of cloth diaper and end up not liking it, be flexible enough to try a new kind. You can always sell your used diapers in buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook or in other places online to help recoup some of the costs.

Being flexible also means being willing to try new things if something isn’t clicking with you. If your wash routine doesn’t seem to be working, you’re skeptical about the efficacy of your detergent, or you are struggling to get a good fit on your baby, be flexible enough to seek input, make a change, and try something new.

If you have a strict idea of how you are going to do things or what you’re willing to do, and you aren’t very adaptable or willing to make changes to what your vision was, you might make this harder on yourself than you really need to make it.

Get in a Laundry Routine


Get yourself into a laundry routine. If you’re pregnant and expecting your first child soon, you might as well start building that habit now.

I’m a big advocate of doing one load of laundry a day. Here’s why:

  • Your loads will be a more appropriate size. Overstuffing the washer can break your washer and not get your clothes as clean.
  • Folding laundry and putting it away is a much easier chore when it’s limited to 5 minutes a day rather than a laundry marathon on a weekend day.
  • Your bedrooms look nicer when dirty clothes aren’t thrown all over the place.
  • It’s easier to get items like blankets, sheets, towels, etc. washed when you aren’t backlogged on clothes.

Put your load in the washer in the morning, and when you get home from work (or later in the afternoon) move it to the dryer or hang to dry. If you used the dryer, it will be dry later on in the evening. Put the laundry away before you go to bed.

Alternatively, you can put a load of laundry in the washer before bed, move it to the dryer (or hang) in the morning, and put it away after work. It doesn’t really matter how you do it, the important thing is that you get in a routine.

Cloth diaper laundry is not really that difficult. Sign up for my email list to receive a free downloadable wash routine.

All in all, I spent about 5 minutes actively doing cloth diaper laundry. I do not fold or pre-stuff diapers. Diapers are the easiest laundry that I do, and I do about 2 loads of diapers per week. That leaves 5 days a week for me to wash the never ending piles of clothes, bath towels, sheets, tablecloths, kitchen towels, etc.

Pick A Good Detergent

The best thing you can do to make cloth diapering easy on yourself is to use a tried and true detergent. Check out my detergent recommendations here.

There are so many myths floating around about cloth diapers and detergents. I don’t know how it ever got popular to tell people just to use two tablespoons of what is essentially water softeners to clean soiled laundry, but alas, that myth caught on (and caused a LOT of problems).

You need to use an actual detergent, and you need to use enough to clean soiled laundry. You need something strong enough to remove urine and human waste.

Have a Support System for Troubleshooting


Most likely you will have no issues with your cloth diapers, or just a little bit of trial and error when you’re first getting started. However, it’s possible you will run into bigger issues along the way. Having a go-to support system will get you through those bumps in the road quickly!

I’d LOVE to be your support here are Rocking the Cloth. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

If you have a Facebook account, I also recommend joining a couple groups on Facebook. They are a great resource to use when you’re having an issue and need quick replies. The only thing I want to warn you about with Facebook is to not let yourself get overwhelmed.

Remember that the primary purpose of most cloth diaper groups is help and troubleshooting. That means most of the posts will be about diaper issues. That is not an accurate representation of a day in the life of a cloth diapering parent. That is just the group being used for what it was designed to be used for!

Take Breaks When Needed

Using cloth diapers does NOT have to be all or nothing! Don’t feel like you can’t take a break and use disposables at times. If you are in a season or phase where you just want to simplify your life as much as possible, don’t feel bad about choosing disposables for a while.

But just because you choose to use disposables for a little while doesn’t mean you have to give up cloth forever. Return to using cloth diapers when you feel up for it again.

Last, but Not Least…


Last, but not least, remember your WHY behind cloth diapering.

Are you trying to save money?

Are you trying to reduce household waste?

Are you trying to avoid the chemicals in disposables?

Does your baby have sensitive skin?

If you know and stand behind your WHY, you will be that much more determined to keep using cloth diapers even on your busiest days.

For more info on fail-proofing your cloth diaper routine, check out these posts:

If you are new to cloth diapering, what are you most worried about as a barrier to your success? If you have been cloth diapering for awhile, what tips do you have to help others be successful? Let me know in the comments.


Holly Lee

I'm Holly and I'm the mom of two awesome young boys with a girl due summer 2020. We have been cloth diapering for 6 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 if you have any questions or concerns. I'd love to help!

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  1. Sammynathaniels says:

    Hi Holly,

    Commitment as you said it just everything….not only in cloth diapering. When we are committed to a routine or a pattern, we’ll have more tendency of getting the work done no matter how tedious it is. 

    However, I am new to cloth diapering and my serious concern is time. I live alone and I won’t have that much time everyday to dedicate to cloth diapering. I would love to know if there could be more easy and less time consuming ways to do cloth diapering.


    1. Holly Lee says:

      Hi Sammy! If you have the right resources (a washer and dryer in your home), cloth diapering really doesn’t take that long. I spend about 10 minutes a week maintaining my diapers–that is the amount of time it takes to do a couple loads of laundry. I don’t pre-stufff diapers or fold them or anything, just a wash and dry. Check out these articles for more info: Cloth Diapers Made Easy – How To Make Cloth Diapering Easier On Your Family

      Why I Love Cloth Diapers – Finding The Joy In This Chore

  2. Vapz says:

    I agree that cloth diapering shouldn’t be a herculean task unless the person set expectations that were too high and thought it would be easy. Commitment is a key ingredient in achieving anything meaningful, so approaching cloth diapering without an intention to be fully committed is to fail even before the person started.

    And not having a washing machine can really impact on one’s commitment though. I had to make a contribution for my sister in law to get a washer-dryer because I could see her commitment, but she was struggling with work and hand washing. I’ve never heard of the softener myth but it how could that ever be enough to even disinfect the cloth diaper! Anyway, I believe cloth diapering done right could save a lot of money and be kind on baby’s skin.

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Thank you! I agree that not having a washer would make it very hard to be committed. I’m not sure I would have ever gone for cloth diapers if I didn’t have one in my home. If I were to lose my washer now, I’m committed enough at this point to hand wash, but I definitely didn’t start out that way!

  3. Buck says:

    This was a fantastic write-up about having success with cloth diapers. I know that I personally recommend them over disposable diapers every single time. They’re better for the environment, they’re often softer and rather easy to use once you get the hang of it. 

    Like you said, creating a laundry routine helps so much, and you should always use great detergents. Your tips are spot on and I’ll be sure to pass this around.


    1. Holly Lee says:

      Thanks Buck!

  4. Holly,
    This is a great post. It’s been a long time since I had a baby, but I did use cloth diapers. There’s something you did not mention. For those who hate the thought of washing all those diapers, there is an alternative. There are diaper services out there that provide diaper pails, where the soiled diapers are put and the service comes once a week and exchanges them with clean ones.

    This is what I used and I loved it. I’m not sure how they work anymore, but it is an option for those who don’t like the idea of washing all those diapers.

    1. Thanks, Lynn! That’s a great suggestion for busy parents that live in metropolitan areas.

  5. I wish I did know more about cloth diapers 18 years ago when my daughter was born.
    I had heard about cloth diapers then but I didn’t have a good support system to be able to try it out and I didn’t know anybody then who was using cloth diapers. I was already overwhelmed with a baby and didn’t want to burden myself with something I thought was too hard to deal with. I have always been interested in a sustainable and more responsible lifestyle and I admire people who are committed to it in every area of life.
    I am just wondering about one thing when it comes to using cloth diapers: What if the baby is in daycare? You would have to find a facility with committed staff. I imagine that using cloth diapers might be easier for home-stay-moms?
    Like the article said, commitment is a big factor when it comes to a healthier and more sustainable lifestye. The decision to use cloth diapers is comparable to the decision of breastfeeding or not. Breastfeeding your baby takes practice, patience and commitment.
    Putting cloth diapers on your child and breastfeeding gets both harder the older the child gets. Just imagine the amount of human waste you have to deal with … Not sure if I could have handled that but that’s just my thought …
    Good article and very convincing for people who want to give cloth diapers a shot.
    I also like the other topics of this website (minimalism, sustainability) very useful tips for people who are looking for something more meaningful away from consumerism.

    1. Hi Andrea! Parenting in general without a support system is hard. I don’t blame you for not wanting to use cloth diapers. We all do the best we can with the resources that we have. No need to feel any guilt about that!

      As for your daycare question, not only is it absolutely possible, but it’s much easier than you would think. I am not a stay at home mom. I worked full-time for four years with a baby in cloth diapers that whole time (and am now working part-time). There are very few states that don’t allow cloth diapers in daycares. Every daycare I interviewed was willing to use them, and why wouldn’t they be? They’re no extra work than disposables. They just have to put the diaper in a wet bag for you to take home instead of the garbage. Just putting the diaper in a different receptacle. It’s not a big deal. Every night when I got home, I would take the cloth diapers from daycare and put them in the diaper pail to go in the next load of wash. If you’re interested in learning more, check out this article: Cloth Diapers and Daycare

      I think most people find cloth diapering gets easier the older the baby gets, not harder. That was my experience with breastfeeding, too. By then, you’ve figured out what works for you. For cloth diapers, you know which diapers fit your baby the best, you’re in a good washing routine, and your baby doesn’t need to be changed as often as they did when they were just born. Many people over analyze the amount of work involved with cloth diapers and build it up in their head where they think it’s a crazy chore. The fact of the matter is while it is a little more work than disposables (you do need to wash instead of just throwing away), it really only takes 5-10 minutes a WEEK for me to maintain them. That’s it. Not 10 minutes a day, but 10 minutes a week. That’s how long it takes me to get the laundry going for about 2 loads. Here is another post you might find helpful: How To Make Cloth Diapering Easier On Your Family

      Thank you so much for reading, Andrea!

  6. Henry says:

    Hi Holly! I liked this post very much! And I agree with you: being committed is all it takes to be successful with cloth diapers. And this is valid for so many other things in life. The reason why we give up, most of the times, shows if it really was a priority for us or if it wasn’t.

    The additional suggestions, such as being flexible, laundry routine and a good detergent are all useful. But the key factor is being committed. Thank you very much!

    I appreciate you have mentioned that two tablespoons to clean soiled laundry is just a myth. Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll give it a try!

    1. Holly Lee says:

      Glad you found it helpful, Henry!

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