My diapers are stinky!

Your diapers should smell like clean, wet clothes coming out of the washing machine.  If they don't, something may be awry with your wash routine.  Your usual wash routine for cloth diapers should be reasonably simple - a cold wash with no detergent followed by a hot wash with a small amount of detergent.  However, if the diapers are exhibiting a funky odor, either coming out of the washing machine or immediately when baby pees, some troubleshooting is in order.

If the diapers smell like barnyard, they are likely not getting clean enough.  Try upping your detergent quantity slightly.  Although most people use ~2 tablespoons of detergent, folks with front loaders might need a little less, whereas folks with top loaders may use a little more.

If the diapers smell like ammonia, there's usually detergent residue in the diapers.  Run several hot washes with no detergent to remove existing residue, and moving forward, try decreasing your detergent quantity slightly and using a residue-free detergent such as Country Save or Allen's (available as a powder or a liquid).  (Note that diapers worn overnight for a full 8-12 hours, may smell like ammonia simply due to concentrated urine.  If it's only your night diapers that are stinky, this is normal - just rinse them in cold water in the morning before you throw them in your pail so you're not storing concentrated urine in your diaper pail!)

In all cases, ensure the diapers are encountering enough water and have surfaces on which to rub and move.  Check out our High Efficiency Washing Machine Tips for ideas.

Occasional treatment with a product like GroVia Mighty Bubbles may help to pull minerals and gunk out of the diapers to help reset them, or before packing them up to await use by another child.  You might also try Allen's Stink Out to remove odors from diapers or other items such as gym clothes and towels.  Drying in the sun will also freshen and remove stains.

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Can I add other laundry in with my diapers while washing?

We are frequently asked if other laundry can be added into a diaper load.  Certainly, no harm will come to your other items if you do choose to add them, but since diapers are washed differently (and with less detergent) than how most people do their regular laundry, most of the time, you'll just be running diapers on their own.  That said, we have been known, from time to time, to throw in a baby blanket or outfit that may have gotten soiled or spit up on, but we wanted it to be clean sooner rather than later!!  

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Laundry tips and tricks: high efficiency machines

High efficiency washing machines can sometimes make washing diapers challenging because cloth diapers need three things to get clean:  enough water, things to rub against (other diapers!), and space to move. 

  • Enough water:  Maximize the water in your machine.  This may be as easy as selecting the "more water" setting.  Sometimes running an extra rinse is sufficient.  With other machines, different cycles use different quantities of water.  Check your manual to see which cycle uses the most by default, and select that one for your hot wash - it may be the bulky cycle, or heavy duty, or even delicates.  Many high efficiency machines weigh the load to determine how much water to use.  Try adding a wet bath- or beach towel in with your diapers to make the load weigh more so that the machine will draw more water.
  • Things to rub against:  Some scrubbing of diapers occurs manually, so do not underfill the machine.  Most people have success washing ~18-24 diapers at a time.  If your washing machine is less than 2/3rds full, adding a towel or two will provide more surface area for the diapers to rub and get clean.
  • Space to move:  Do not overfill the washing machine.  A crammed full machine will not allow the diapers to move and get clean.  

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Diaper Fit Tips, Tricks, and Tweaks

The best diapers are those that fit your kid perfectly!  Here are a few pointers on how to get that awesome, leak-proof fit on your baby:

  • Adjust any rise snaps at the front to appropriately reflect the baby's rise height/length.  The diaper shouldn't go up to the kid's ears, but neither should you be able to see baby's bottom peeking out over the back!  You don't need to unsnap the rise snaps for each wash, but do adjust them as baby grows so the diaper always fits the baby correctly.
  • All modern cloth diapers have elastic at the back of the diaper.  Use it to get a snug fit.  A properly put on diaper will be as tight on your baby as a sock is on your ankle - you will likely notice a mark on the baby's body from the elastic when you change their diaper, just as you notice a sock line on your ankle when you remove your socks!  Most leaks result from diapers just not being snug enough.
  • The leg of the diaper should always encircle the smallest part of the baby's leg, which is the groin crease, way up where the baby's leg meets their body.  If your baby has lovely squishy thigh chunk, you will need to make an extra effort to roll that chunk out of the way, and hike the diaper up above it, into the crease of their thigh.  
  • Keep prefolds nice and narrow between the legs, but feel free to expand the front and back edges to allow diaper to go around baby's waist.
  • Make sure any absorbent material is completely covered by the waterproof part of the diaper.  If you can see prefold or fitted material sticking out from beyond the cover, tuck it under the cover.  Any exposed absorbent material is going to wick and cause baby's clothes to get wet.
  • Remember that snaps don't have to be "even" on both sides.  You can have one side on the third snap and the other side on the fourth snap if that's what works for baby's size.  If there are two snaps on each side, these can be offset (snapped "diagonally") to make a slightly smaller waist and bigger leg, or vice versa.

We're always happy to do fit checks, as well.  If you're in the area, please feel free to come by and ask one of our expert staff to take a look at your baby on our changing table so we can provide in-person support and suggestions on achieving a great fit!

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What do I need to do with my cloth diapers if baby has a yeast rash?

If your baby gets a rash that is suspected or confirmed to be yeast, it's important to treat your cloth diapers so that baby will not be recolonized by yeast that may be hanging out in the diaper.  Usually, your pediatrician will prescribe an anti-fungal ointment to use on the rash.  Many people will put baby in disposable diapers for the duration; in this case, the cloth diapers need to be treated as follows one time before you start using them again.  If you choose to continue to use cloth while the baby is recovering from a yeast rash, you will need to take these steps every time you wash the diapers during and for one week beyond the baby's course of treatment:

  • Proceed with your usual laundering of the diapers (cold wash with no detergent followed by a hot wash), but add chlorine bleach to the hot wash cycle along with the usual amount of detergent.  Use no more than 1/4 cup of bleach for a top loading machine and no more than 1/8 cup of bleach for a front loading machine. 
  • You may need to run an extra rinse to ensure all the bleach comes out of the diapers. 
  • Ideally, dry diapers in the sun as the UV rays will also kill yeast.

Once baby's course of prescribed antifungal ointment is completed, you may wish to use an occasional light layer of MotherLove Diaper Balm, which contains an herbal anti-fungal to help keep yeast at bay.

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Help! My diapers are stained!

Although most newborn poop will come right out of cloth diapers when following proper laundry protocol, from time to time, you may find that a diaper (or several!) become stained yellow from newborn poop.  Stains are a cosmetic issue, rather than one of cleanliness.  If the diapers smell clean after washing, they are clean, regardless of how they look.  Just as accidentally spilling ketchup on a white shirt may result in a stain after the shirt is washed, a diaper with newborn poop stains is probably clean - just stained!  As much as possible, try not to let these stains bother you.  When the diapers have been outgrown, or when the stains are really driving you crazy, we suggest stain-removing in the sun.  Simply take the diapers wet but clean out of the washing machine and lay them in the sun to dry.  This method works even through a window (albeit a little slower), so no worries if it's winter or you have no outside hanging space.  In a few hours, the stains will be gone!

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Switching to cloth diapers

While some families begin cloth diapering from the first days, there are many who come to cloth diapers later—even much later. If you are one of these families, we offer a few thoughts and considerations on making the switch.

It isn't an all-or-nothing choice

Even among those who use cloth diapers from the beginning, it can often be a part-time commitment. It's OK to make it a transition, even a slow one. If you're ready to buy a full set and switch immediately you can, but don't feel that it's the only way.

If you're unsure, go part-time

You can begin by just using cloth diapers on weekends, a few days a week when you're at home, or in the evenings and at night. This also allows you to grow your stash of diapers slowly, as you make the switch.

Use cloth diapers most similar to disposables

All-in-one diapers will be the most familiar to disposable users, and can be particularly effective if you are trying to convince uncertain partners to switch to cloth diapers. There are also several diapers (including Flip and GroVia) which have a regualr cloth diaper cover but can use either a cloth or special disposable absorbent insert.

Use flushable liners and/or a diaper sprayer

Taking care of the "big stuff" is often a concern for people with older babies who are switching to cloth diapers. By using flushable diaper liners, however, poop can be easily removed from a diaper with minimal mess. Diaper sprayers, which connect easily to most toilets, are mini power-washers which make pre-cleaning a breeze (and are often the key to convincing reluctant dads).

Take advantage of our trial program

Our Experiment to Own program is a great way to help you learn about cloth diapering and sample brands and styles before you commit. Why guess when in two weeks you can know for certain?

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Learning about diaper styles


All-in-one cloth diapers most closely replicate the disposable diaper. In an all-in-one diaper, the waterproof outer cover, the absorbent middle layer, and a soft inner layer are sewn together as one unit, and fasten together with Velcro or snaps. Changing these diapers is as simple as taking off the dirty diaper and putting on a clean one.Shop Now »

Diaper Lab Results:

This style of diaper can often convince reluctant spouses that cloth diapering is not going to be difficult. All-in-ones are also great if you're worried about your babysitter or mother-in-law trying to sneak in a pack of disposables.



Similar to an all-in-one diaper, pocket diapers consist of a waterproof outer cover and a soft inner layer. The difference is that the absorbent layer is not sewn into the diaper, but inserted into a pocket between the inner and outer layers. These inserts can be anything from a prefold or washcloth to inserts designed specifically for the diaper, and are available in differing levels of absorbency.Shop Now »

Diaper Lab Results:

Pocket diapers are very flexible! Many people use them at night, because you can use a more absorbent insert for heavy wetters.


Diaper Cover

Diaper covers provide the waterproof outer layer for fitted, contour, and prefold diapers. Usually made from polyurethane-laminated cloth (commonly called PUL), cover styles include pull-ups, which are elasticized around the waist and legs, or wraps, which are fastened with Velcro or snaps. Covers are also available in wool, a naturally water-resistant fiber. Because diaper covers are made in specific sizes, a baby might require two or more sizes of diaper covers over the course of diapering.Shop Now »

Diaper Lab Results:

A collection of covers is always helpful to have around, whether for prefolds on infants or with a big fitted at night with a toddler. You can never go wrong!



Fitted diapers are held snug by elasticized waist and legs and secured by hook-and-loop (Velcro) or snaps. They consist of absorbent material covered with a soft layer (often microfleece) that touches the skin. Fitted diapers are not waterproof; these diapers require a separate waterproof cover. Because fitted diapers are made in specific sizes, a baby might require two or more sizes of fitted diapers over the course of diapering.Shop Now »

Diaper Lab Results:

Fitted diapers are another great addition to have on hand. They are particularly useful for infants at nights or with other caregivers, as well as providing extra absorbency at night and naps for older babies or heavy wetters.



Prefold diapers consist of a rectangular absorbent cloth, such as cotton, with a thicker, more absorbent middle section and two thinner side sections. Prefolds are often what people think of when they picture a cloth diaper. This type of diaper requires a cover.Shop Now »

Diaper Lab Results:

If you received a package of this type of diaper at your baby shower, you might have been intending to use them as burp cloths. However, with the addition of a few diaper covers, prefolds become the perfect solution for cloth diapering (and our most popular) during the first two months!



Contour diapers fall in-between prefolds and fitted diapers. Shaped like an hourglass, these diapers do not need to be folded to fit, but they also do not have any of the extra features (elastic, Velcro, or snaps) found with a fitted diaper. Because of their shape, a baby might require two sizes of contour diapers over the course of diapering.Shop Now »

Diaper Lab Results:

Countour diapers are a nice compromise between the excellent value of a prefold and the ease-of-use of a fitted diaper.


Training Pants

As with cloth diapers, there are different styles of cloth training pants. The traditional training pant resembles cotton underwear with a thick absorbent panel. This style is not waterproof, so accidents will occur. Pocket training pants pull up and down like underwear, but have a pocket for absorbable inserts, similar to the pocket diaper. Finally, there are waterproof training pants that consist of thick cotton underpants combined with a waterproof cover.Shop Now »

Diaper Lab Results:

Many people find that cloth-diapered babies potty train more easily than babies in disposables. Cloth Training Pants are also a great way to save money (and trips to the store!) when you still have a few accidents occurring!


Swim Diaper

Swim diapers are designed to hold in solids, not liquids. Pocket diapers can transition into swim diapers easily—just pull out the absorbent insert. Or there are cloth diapers made specifically for the water. Many are made out of swimsuit material and resemble underwear. Some manufacturers make girls swim tops in matching material. There are also swim diapers designed for boys that resemble swim shorts.Shop Now »

Diaper Lab Results:

Not only are they cute and fun, but many pools now require a diaper cover like these!

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An easy overview of cloth diapers

The basic design and construction of all diapering systems—including both disposables and cloth—comes down to only two important features:

  • An external barrier, which servers as a waterproof layer and containment shell to keep solids in.
  • Internal absorbent material, which soaks up and retains liquid.

How these functions are met give cloth diapers their amazing diversity of design and styling. The styles of diapers differ primarily by how the external barrier and internal absorbent material are put together.

The most modern and convenient diapers, known as All-in-Ones (AIOs), combine both components in one package, and are as easy-to-use as a disposable. While not as simple, the most economical approach to cloth diapering uses prefolds, which are the flat, rectangular cloth diapers which most people know from the original days of cloth diapers, and a simple, waterproof cover.

While some people will choose a single brand or style of diaper, many find that they like to have a variety of diapers in their stash, depending upon when, who, and how the diapers will be used. Some special situations which you might consider include:

  • during nighttime or for long naps;
  • for babies who are heavy wetters;
  • if you have twins or multiples;
  • for premature or other special-need infants;
  • for daycare providers, sitters, and other frequent caretakers;
  • for reluctant or uncertain spouses or family members.

Regardless, for full-time cloth diapering of an infant you will need 24 to 30 diapers, while for older babies and toddlers you should have 18 to 24 diapers. With this many diapers, you will only need to wash every two to three days.  Newborns will typically go through 10 to 12 diaper changes a day, while babies six months and older tend to only need 8 to 10 diaper changes each day. Because of this, and since newborns grow so rapidly, many people who begin cloth diapers with their newborn will use prefolds and covers initially, and switching to one of the other styles when their baby is three to six months old.

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Why should I use cloth diapers?

That's really the first question we hear from people when they begin to look at cloth diapering. While there are many different reasons, there are a few we think you should consider. Some you've probably already thought of...but others might surprise you!

Cloth Diapers are Good

Most people begin to look at cloth diapers for one of three major reasons: environmental, financial, and health. To many people, these are the simplest reasons for using cloth diapers, and we feel strongly about each of them.

Environmental Benefits

Disposable diapers generate 3.7 million tons of solid-waste in this country every year¹, with one baby in disposable diapers creating about one ton of refuse while in diapers². While there are tradeoffs which result from washing cloth diapers, many people strongly believe that cloth diapers are the most "earth-friendly" option.

Financial Benefits

Most babies use between 5,000 and 6,500 diapers from birth to potty training, at a typical cost of between 20 and 40 cents per diaper. Total expense into the garbage: $1,000 to $2,500. Switch to cloth diapers and your total cost, including laundry, can be as low as $400, with even the most deluxe set of diapers costing only about $1,000. If you use your diapers for a second—or even third—child, you save even more! With cloth diapers, it's easy to save $1,000!

Health Benefits

While some parents are concerned about long-term health impacts from Super Absorbent Polymers (SAP) and other chemicals used in making disposable diapers, more typical concerns for parents who use disposables are diaper rash and other skin irritations. While there have not been any exhaustive studies, many parents who switch to cloth diapers describe fewer problems with diaper rashes.

Cloth Diapers are Easy

A surprise many people find when they start to consider cloth diapers is the new modern styles are very easy to use and care for. Many are as easy to use as disposables, and the extra laundry is only a few loads a week. In fact, cloth diapers are so easy that many daycare providers and centers will support parents who cloth diaper. And who thinks endless trips to buy more disposables is convenient? With cloth, you'll always have your diapers at home.

Cloth Diapers are Fun

Have you ever looked at a disposable diaper and through it was cute? Didn't think so! With a rainbow of colors and an unimaginable range of prints, patterns, and designs, you'll actually enjoy your diapers! Though your head (and your partner) might like all of the logical reasons, it's hard not to like something this fun.

Cloth Diapers…It Just Feels Right!

Many people start to use cloth diapers for very particular reasons, or decide it's important even if they aren't excited or fully committed. But we keep hearing one thing when we talk to people after a few months: it's a decision they were so glad they made, and so much more rewarding than expected. They may have started just to save money or be green, but they find that it brings so much more in unexpected ways and it just feels right!

It's Simple to Start

With so many reasons why, what's stopping you from learning a little more? Read on to discover more about the exciting world of cloth diapers!

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