Cloth Diapering Basics

Cloth Diapering Basics

When you’re first exploring cloth diapering, it can seem overwhelming. After you’ve figured out what types of cloth diapers you think will work best for your family and invest in them, there are still a few more things that are needed to get started.

Cloth diapering can be expensive but you can cloth diaper on a budget by sticking to the basics.

Paxton{21 months} Weston{1 month} in bumGenius 3.0s


The number of diapers needed vary by family and by the amount of time you’re cloth diapering. For cloth diapering part time, I’d suggest a minimum of 12 diapers per child. If you’re planning on cloth diapering full time, I’d start out with no less than 20.

The number I’m comfortable with is 24 diapers for diapering just one child. When I was just cloth diapering Paxton, we were averaging 8 diapers a day. Having 24 diapers gave us a 3 day supply and I’d wash every other day. Since I line dried everything, having that extra day worth of diapers was nice, I never ran out of diapers!

For cloth diapering my two boys (ages 2 and 5 months) we have 24 pocket diapers, 9 pre-folds/4 covers and 3 overnight pocket diapers. That equals to a total of 36 diapers for 2. There are some days I get a little nervous about running out of clean diapers but we’re washing every 1.5 days so that helps us get by on less.


The type of wipes you use comes down to preference. Some cloth diapering parents are grossed out by cloth wipes. I personally think they’re wonderful, you’re saving money by reusing wipes plus you don’t have to worry about disposable wipes getting in your diaper laundry.

We use cloth wipes. We started out with baby wash cloths which got the job done but weren’t the best size. Before Weston was born, I made cloth wipes from flannel which are wonderful.

I don’t use a wipe solution. I just keep it simple and only dampen about 2 days worth of wipes and store in a wipe container. In 2 years of cloth diapering, I’ve never had them sour. I also think the wet wipe does an adequate job cleaning up messes (and for those really messy diapers that I feel like a simple wet wipe isn’t enough, I’ll just give the child a bath!)

Diaper Pail

Cloth diapering families use all different types of diaper pails but you’re going to need a place to store your diapers. I’ve read that some parents use their washing machine as dirty diaper storage, some use trash cans with pail liners, some use hanging wet bags and others use actual diaper pails.

When we first started we used a plastic diaper pail. It was roomy enough for cloth diapering just one child with an every other day wash routine. When Weston was on the way, I started looking into a larger diaper pail but ended up purchasing a large  Wet Bag. The diaper pail holds all the cloth wipes, inserts and prefolds and the large wet bag (which hangs on the bathroom door) contains the covers. (We wash the covers separate from the inserts, prefolds and wipes.)

There’s no right or wrong way to store your dirty diapers, just do what’s best for your family!

Wet Bag

If you ever plan on cloth diapering outside the home, you’ll need a wet bag. We have a Planet Wise Medium Wet Bag  This bag will hold about 4-6 cloth diapers.

You could get by without a wet bag by just using plastic bags but the wet bags help hold in the stink (and trust me even wet diapers stink…do you really want your car to smell like that?)

Another benefit of the wet bag is it can contain clothes from messy accidents. Many times bibs, shirts and pants have been placed into our wet bag while out.


Washing diapers is a huge part of cloth diapering so you’ll need detergent. Most detergents that local grocery stores carry are not recommended for cloth diapers.

There are many different options like Rockin’ Green, Charlie’s Soap, Soap Nuts, bumGenius Diaper Detergent and some mama’s have had luck with plain ole Tide. Cloth diaper manufacturers often recommend certain detergents to use for their products, so start there when searching for the right detergent for you.

Are there any other basics you think are necessary for cloth diapering?

(And if you’re new to cloth diapering, ask questions! I’ll answer and I’m sure other Intentionally Simple readers who cloth diaper will chime in to answer too!)

Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links.

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responses to “Cloth Diapering Basics” 9

  1. Rachel,

    Great summing-up of supplies! One last thing I would add would be liners! We nearly stopped cloth diapering when Rita hit a year and started eating real food – my pregnant queasy belly was having a hard time handling poop diapers. I did some research online and read about putting a liner in the diaper so I can more easily put the poop in the toilet. I simply used some old flannel, cut and sewed it into rectangles and now lay that where Rita's poop usually hits the diaper. It's cheap, fool-proof and a total life saver!

  2. I cloth diaper my 3mo. old almost full-time, we have 18 diapers and I do laundry every other day. Church (nursery) is about the only time I use disposable on her. I used cloth for a while with my (now) 2 y.o. until I got pregnant with #2 and 24-hr. morning sickness just didn't lend itself to being cloth-diaper friendly. Now the 2y.o. will likely be potty trained by the end of the year (hopefully this summer) and I don't feel like putting $ into cloth for that short amt. of time. I do plan to increase my supply of the med. size diapers and use cloth on baby #2 for a while yet.

    A few things I'm interested in thought about are:
    Wet pail vs. dry pail. I personally prefer a wet pail (FuzziBunz: diaper, insert and wipes all go in the pail) but am curious about "why" for either wet or dry.
    Laundry Detergent: I have always used Dreft but am considering switching to something for cloth diapers. Any recommendations for what works great? (I line-dry outside whenever possible, which works really great for removing stains!)

    BTW, I've just recently stumbled across your blog (from Alicia's Homemaking, I believe) and in some ways I think we are very similar. It's always nice to read blogs of other wives/mamas who are "on the same page". It is always encouraging!

    1. When I just cloth diapered one, everything went into the diaper pail. When my second was born, I started putting wipes/inserts/prefolds into our diaper pail and the covers into a large wet bag. The only reason I'm doing this is because I didn't want to buy a large diaper pail and we also use the large wet bag for going out of town/day trips.

      As far as laundry detergent goes, I can't really make recommendations because I'm currently trying to find out what works for us again. I did use Charlie's Soap for about 18 months and it worked wonderful. Once Weston was born, I wasn't having as much luck with the Charlie's. I'm currently using Rockin' Green but it's so expensive. I've also purchased some bumGenius detergent that I'm going to try out. If the Dreft isn't causing odor issues, I wouldn't worry about changing detergents personally.

      And it is nice to 'meet' like minded mamas.

  3. I find that people always want to know "what do you do with the poo"! I hate the idea of gadgets so I'm a dunk and swisher, but my husband is heavy handed with the liners…so oftentimes I get lucky and it cleans easily.

    I love your posts about cloth diapering. I actually started using cd's on my 2 month old almost a year ago when you posted all the videos about it…you were the reason I started and I thank you for it!

    1. Yes, the poo question is most asked! {I'm actually going to post about that in a few weeks…tactfully of course!} Thank you for sharing that my videos inspired your cloth diapering! 🙂

  4. I invested in some cloth diaper safe rash ointment as my babies have such sensitive skin. My baby boy is so sensitive if I leave him in a poo for more than a few minutes, he has a reaction. 🙁 So grateful for the ointment I have though because it does the trick!

  5. Thank you for this post! I just bought cloth diapers last week and put the first one on my 6 month old this morning. I definitely feel a little out of my comfort zone (my four year old only used disposables). I just couldn't keep spending $80/month on diapers.

    I haven't bought a diaper pail for them yet. Is there a reason I can't just use a small garbage can with a lid?

    1. Yay for cloth diapers…and saving lots of money!! You'll soon be very comfortable cloth diapering, just give it a few weeks. And, you definitely can use a small garbage can with a lid! Some families even use 5 gallon pails with lids, it's just whatever works best for you and your budget.

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