My Cloth Diapering System (Part Two of Cloth Diapering: NOT a Big Deal)

Yesterday I wrote a post explaining why I find cloth diapering to not be a big deal at all. Today, I wanted to go through my cloth diapering system, to show you just how simple it really is. There are hundreds of different ways to deal with your baby’s elimination; this is just what works for us.

The Diapers

Prefold-and-Cover; All-in-One; Fitted

I ended up trying a variety of diaper styles.

We started out with the Bummis newborn pack— a set of prefolds and covers for babies 5-9 lbs. (My Lydia was a small one, at 6 lbs 11 oz. Lots of babies are born too big for this pack!). These lasted us for the first month or so.

From there, we scored a huge “variety pack” of used diapers from a family that we found on Kijiji — over two dozen diapers, plus accessories, for only $100. That was great for introducing us to different kinds of cloth diapers. Some we loved; others, not so much. These diapers lasted us another 6-8 months, at which point we needed to buy some bigger ones. We got the remaining diapers new, which should last her until she is potty trained.

All together, we’ve probably spent about $400 on cloth diapers. Not bad!

If we have more babies — and I hope we do — we will be able to spend exactly zero dollars on diapers. If we don’t, we can easily sell the ones we have for a decent price.

My personal preference is for prefolds with sized covers (with snaps, not Velcro). I find this to be the easiest, most cost-effective choice.

With snaps, you don’t have to worry about snags in the laundry or scratching your baby’s sensitive skin. Snaps also don’t seem to wear out the way Velcro does, and don’t come undone as easily.

Prefolds also create the least amount of bulk in the diaper pail/bag and washing machine, since you’re only washing the insert instead of the whole diaper. You only need two or three covers in any given size, which you can use over and over again unless you get poop on it (which is a rare occurrence). Moreover, prefolds dry much faster than any other type (besides flats, but who uses those?), making them more eco-friendly. You can more easily air-dry them, or, if you use the dryer, you don’t have to run it as long.

Since we practice elimination communication, I also like to use fitted diapers (without a cover) when we’re at home. That way, I can tell right away when she’s wet her diaper, without having to deal with a big puddle, and can cue her and change her immediately. (More on EC here).

The Setup

cloth diapers

Here you can see our change table setup (No, we do not keep our change table in our office; why do you ask?), with a basic lidded garbage can beside it.  It’s the kind with the foot pedal, and you can remove the inner pail, which we take downstairs to our laundry room when it’s full. (We wash them every other day.) The garbage can does an amazing job keeping the smell in: you can NEVER smell the diapers, except for a minute right when you open the can.

As you can see, I keep the diapers on the shelf below (and also her clothes, kept oh-so-tidy, on the bottom shelf). On the shelf above is where we keep the covers, cloth wipes, and wipe spray (and also her leg warmers):

The wipes, of course, go into the “garbage” can with the rest of the diapers after they’re used.

And here is our bathroom setup, which we only had to put together after she was six months old for reasons I explained yesterday:

(No, our toilet isn’t normally a snowman. Just for the holidays. It adds a little whimsy to our bathroom.)

So you can see the diaper sprayer, which I mentioned yesterday, for the odd time we need to spray the poop off a diaper. I highly recommend it. Here’s a closer look at how it attaches:

We keep another lidded garbage can nearby (marked “cloth diapers,” lest any guests get confused) to toss the sprayed diapers into. This almost never gets used, honestly. Most of the poop goes into the potty, which you also see in the pictures. The diaper sprayer comes in handy for rinsing that out, too.


Like I said, we wash the diapers every other day. So three or four nights a week, we just lug the pail of diapers downstairs, dump them into the washing machine, and run it.

Because we practice EC, there is rarely any poop involved, and each diaper has only been peed in once; so we generally don’t bother with long/multiple/hot washes. Just a normal cycle, with my normal, homemade detergent.

(Note: if you have nicer/more expensive diapers, you may want to take more care in how you wash them. Since my diapers were all very inexpensive, and since we practice EC and don’t need them to be super-absorbent, I’m not overly concerned.)

When the wash cycle is done, we just toss them into the dryer.

(I know. I’ve written about line-drying clothes before, and I feel like a hypocrite using the dryer for diapers. But I figure I’m already being pretty earth-friendly with the cloth diapers, and we air-dry all our other laundry. Diapers take a long time to dry indoors, and we usually wash them at night, so . . . this is what we’re doing for now.)

The next morning, I carry the load of diapers upstairs and fold and stack them. This takes me a total of two minutes, MAX — all I’m doing is folding them in half or into thirds, and then putting them into piles under the change table.

If you’re super-tidy, you can fold your cloth wipes as well; if not, you can just stuff them in a box. (I actually usually fold them for some reason.) In Lydia’s earlier months, we used a lot; now that she’s older, we probably have about 4 wipes in a given load.

You will note that none of this involves a whole lot of labour. It just requires one of us to remember to do it. That’s the only real added effort that cloth diapering requires, in my opinion: remembering.

Going Out

diaper bag cloth diapers

Going out with cloth diapers is not a big deal, either. We used to use disposables when going out, but found that it wasn’t necessary. We just keep a wet bag (i.e. a washable, waterproof bag with a drawstring or zipper) in our diaper bag, into which we stuff any wet or dirty diapers. When we get home, we add this to our diaper pail.

I highly recommend getting two wet bags, so you can rotate them in the wash. We have only one, and it’s kind of a pain, trying to make sure it’s always in the diaper bag when we go out.

So there you have it.

At a Glance:

Here’s my cloth diapering system in short, to give you an idea how not a big deal the whole thing is.

Total Equipment Involved:

  • the diapers themselves
  • two lidded garbage cans — a tall one by the change table, a small one in the bathroom
  • a wet bag (preferably two) for the diaper bag
  • a diaper sprayer attached to the toilet
  • optional: 20 or so cloth wipes, and a spray bottle with homemade wipe solution. (If you’re using cloth diapers, I find it’s easier to also use cloth wipes, so everything can go in the same pail afterward)

Total Labour Involved:

  • If there’s poop (and the baby’s eating solids), emptying it into the toilet; maybe spraying it off (one minute per poopy diaper). Most babies over 6 months old don’t poop more than once a day. (And like I explained yesterday, the poop of exclusively breast-fed babies is water soluble, meaning you can just throw the diapers into the wash as they are).
  • Tossing the diapers into the washing machine (30 seconds), three or four times a week
  • Tossing them into the dryer (30 seconds), three or four times a week
  • Folding and stacking the diapers (2 minutes), three or four times a week


Am I forgetting anything? Do you have any questions? If you’re a cloth-diapering veteran, what are some of your tips? Do you think it’s much harder than disposables?

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  1. I don’t know, Kathleen, you’re making it sound pretty easy. . . It seems I remember (with #2) a whole lot more scraping of poop. Is that water sprayer thing super high pressure?

  2. Teehee. I use flats (along with part time EC) and I like them pretty well. They dry wicked fast which is great because I generally wash them by hand and hang them to dry, I bought large ones so as Constance grows I change the way I fold them to just be bigger and bigger. (Though it was pretty crazy how HUGE they were on her when she was a 6lb 4oz newborn.) I use Thirsty’s Duo covers for when we go out. I have yet to buy the larger size for those, though. I’ve been experimenting with making wool soakers for covers lately, so maybe I won’t… I totally love cloth and even though I mostly wash mine by hand I would STILL say not a big deal.
    Christiana recently posted..The HaircutMy Profile

  3. Great post! You inspired me to do a similar one!
    Alison recently posted..My Cloth Diapering SystemMy Profile

  4. What covers do you like to use over prefolds?

  5. We have two big wet bags that we keep in the two main places we change his diaper, and we don’t have to do the poop spraying part yet (you do recommend the diaper sprayer, hmm?), but other than that that’s pretty much what we’ve been doing! Though I have been doing two washes, but I wonder if I could get away with one, especially while it’s still just the breastfed poop. Anyway, if the wet bags get dirty, they can be tossed in the wash along with the diapers, which saves a step of ever having to clean out a trash can. Since we’re washing every other day, things don’t seem to get stinky, but they do zip closed if that becomes a problem.

    Though I have some pocket diapers, I much prefer the prefolds and covers–they don’t seem to leak as much, though maybe that’s because T-Rex has skinny little legs and the pockets don’t fit him tightly enough yet. The biggest problem is that at this point we really do seem to go through every. single. one (we have about fifteen prefolds I think) we have in two days, so I end up trying to get the laundry all done in the span of one diaper, which doesn’t quite work, heh.

    Yay cloth diapers!

  6. Love this post! Mind if I borrow the idea for a post of my own? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… ;-) I wish I had found more posts like this one before Malachi was born! I am a visual learner and I love being able to see things! Pictures make all the difference!
    I still use disposables when we’re out for long periods of time, but I swear, my kid is a super, super soaker. And I hate having leaks and outfit changes when we’re out. Hopefully we’re getting close to him starting to actually communicate his potty needs. Hopefully…
    Bekah recently posted..This time around.My Profile

  7. Very nice!

    I actually think cloth diapers are easier than disposable because I HATE going to the store. Is hate to have to remember to buy or make last-minute runs to the store for diapers.
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  8. Thanks for the info! Love all your posts. Any chance you’d be willing to share the recipe for your homemade detergent? There are so many out there & it’s nice to to know which ones have actually been used by real people!
    Thank you!

  9. Do you have a good recipe for your wipe spray?

    • Hi, Hilary! I usually use 2 cups of water with a Tbsp of olive oil, a Tbsp of castile soap (or other gentle soap), and a few drops of lavendar essential oil. I just keep it in a spray bottle and spray the cloth before using.

  10. Thanks for this awesome detailed post! We’re expecting our first at the beginning of the year and have been working on a list of must haves for the baby! What do you use inside the trash can as a liner? I’ve seen some large zippered wet bags but they get mixed reviews… Thanks!

    • He, Bethany! Congrats on the upcoming birth of your baby!! We actually never lined the inside of the trash can. I just rinsed it out. I thought it would get grosser than it did, but it never did. Of course, since we did part-time EC, our diapers were rarely poopy so there wasn’t much mess. Regardless, I personally think an unlined can is easier to clean than a wet bag, though like you I’ve heard good reviews for them as well.


  1. […] was inspired to write what our cloth diapering system is after reading Kathleen’s over at Becoming Peculiar.  She did she a good job laying it out so that you could see, its not a […]

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