Everything you've ever want to know about

Cloth Diapers

How to use cloth diapers for your new baby!

Babies in cloth diapers

Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers have several advantages over disposable ones...keep reading...

💰 Affordability

They are more affordable. Disposable diapers cost around $0.25 each, adding up to about $1.50 per day over three years. That's a whopping total of $1642.50! On the other hand, a set of 24 cloth diapers, priced at around $20 each, totals just $480.

🗑 Waste Reduction

Cloth diapers create less waste. It takes about 500 years for one disposable diaper to break down in a landfill. With approximately 18 billion disposable diapers ending up in landfills each year, they contribute significantly to environmental pollution. In 1998 alone, diapers made up 3.4 million tons of waste, accounting for 2.1% of all U.S. landfill garbage.

 

🧪 No Chemicals

Cloth diapers are safer for babies' skin. They are free from harmful chemicals and toxins, and some are even made from natural, organic materials. This reduces the likelihood of skin irritation and diaper rashes.

🐣 They're Adorable

Cloth diapers are super cute! They come in a variety of adorable styles, prints, and colors, making babies look absolutely precious. With cloth diapers, not only are you saving money and reducing waste, but you're also keeping your baby's bottom looking stylish and comfortable.

 

Shop cloth diapers

 

To get started with cloth diapering, you'll need a few things:

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I need to start?

24 Diaper Changes

Firstly, you'll want to get 24 cloth diapers in whatever style you like. If you're going for a two-piece system like Lighthouse Kids Wipeable Covers, you might need 24 inserts and 6 covers. This number is based on changing your baby 8-10 times each day and washing your diapers every other day. Washing every other day helps prevent mold and other yucky stuff from building up on your diapers. If you're starting with an older child, you might not need as many diapers. Most folks begin with just a few diapers each day and add more as they go along.

Pail or Wet Bag

Next, you'll need a diaper pail or a wet bag to stash your dirty diapers until laundry day. If you're using a diaper pail, it's best to go for one with vents or one that's open. This helps keep the air flowing and prevents mold. And make sure to keep your diaper pail in a cool, dry place. Putting it in a warm spot can make bacteria grow on your diapers faster. Wet bags are handy for carrying dirty diapers, especially when you're out and about with your little one. They come in different sizes and shapes (like pods), so if you're not using a diaper pail, you'll want one big enough to hold a couple of days' worth of dirty laundry. You might also consider getting a smaller wet bag to hold just a few dirty diapers when you're on the move.

Cloth Diaper Detergent

Lastly, you'll need some cloth-diaper-safe laundry detergent. Different diapers might need different detergents, and it's important to use the one recommended by the manufacturer. Most diapers come with a warranty, and using the right detergent is key to keeping that warranty valid. You can check our product information sheet to find out which detergent is best for your diapers.

There are different types of cloth diapers to choose from:

One-Sized (OS) diapers

These diapers are designed to fit most babies from newborn (around 8 lbs.) to toddler (around 35 lbs.). They have adjustable snaps in the center that let them grow with your baby. 

Pocket diapers

These have a pocket where you can put an absorbent insert. They're convenient to put on, but you have to stuff the insert back in after washing. 

All In One (AIO) cloth diapers

These diapers have a waterproof outer layer and an absorbent inner layer all in one piece. They're easy to use because you don't have to stuff anything after washing. 

Hybrid diapers/Cover Cloth Diapers

These diapers are a mix of cloth and disposable. They have a waterproof cover and an insert that can be cloth or disposable. You can reuse the cover if it's only wet, not dirty with poop.

Covers and prefolds

Covers are waterproof and go over prefolds, which are layers of fabric that you fold and secure with a Snappi. 

Fitted diapers

These diapers are shaped and have a closure, usually made of natural fibers like hemp or cotton. They're more expensive but provide a good fit. 

Trainers

These are for older kids who are learning to use the potty. 

Flat Diapers

These are like prefolds but without the stitching. You fold them and secure them with pins or Snappis. They dry faster than prefolds and are good for hand washing.

Preflat Diapers

These are sewn in the contour shape of a diaper. You fold them around baby and secure them with pins or Snappis. They contain messes very well and are great for on the go.

Sized Diapers

Each brand has its own sizing system, so make sure to check the weight suggestions before buying. Lighthouse Kids Cloth Diapers are technically sized because there is a Size 1 (6-32lbs) and Size 2 (15-55lbs), however these are also considered one-size because they fit the weight range of most one size diapers.

Lighthouse Kids Diaper Size

Once you've picked out the cloth diapers you like, the next big thing is getting them ready to use.  This is called "prepping".

 

How To Prep Your Cloth Diapers

First, check that you have a laundry detergent that's safe for cloth diapers.

Then, figure out if your diapers are made of natural or synthetic fibers. Synthetic fabrics like fleece, polyester, and microfiber are in your stash, you just need to wash them once, because they are man-made fabrics that are polyester based.  If your diapers are made of natural fibers like hemp, cotton, or wool, you need to wash them at least 5 times in hot water with a bit of detergent. Dry them between each wash. This gets rid of natural oils so they'll soak up properly. If you don't prep them well, they might leak because they won't be fully absorbent.  If you need a deeper dive into prepping cloth diapers, check this out.

When you're all set to start using cloth diapers, you've got to figure out how to store them once they're dirty.

 

How to Store Cloth Diapers 

You've got two main options: a wetbag or a pail.

Diaper pails for cloth diapers are a bit different from ones for disposable diapers. Disposable ones try to keep air and smells out, but for cloth diapers, you need some airflow to stop mold from growing on damp diapers. Size matters too. You'll want one that can hold all your diapers until laundry day. If you've got more than one baby using cloth diapers, you might need a bigger pail. Some people like to use a washable fabric liner to make cleaning up easier.

Wetbags are another choice. They're made to let air in and come in lots of fabrics, colors, and prints.  You can get big ones for home or small ones for when you're out and about with just a few dirty diapers.

Deciding how to store your diapers is up to you and your family. Here are some things to think about:

  • Where you usually change your baby's diapers.
  • How much room you have at home.
  • How many kids are using cloth diapers.
  • How far you need to carry the dirty diapers to the laundry room.

The important thing is to store your dirty diapers in a way that lets air circulate around them. This helps stop mold from growing.

 

How to Wash Dirty Cloth Diapers

There are plenty of ways to wash your cloth diapers, but starting simple is usually best! Only change things up if you're having issues. Each type of cloth diaper might have slightly different washing instructions, so make sure to read the manufacturer's recommendations. Keep them handy because as your child grows and their diet changes, your washing routine might need a tweak.

Do you have to use a Mini-Shower/Sprayer for dirty diapers?

Not at all! If your baby is only breastfed, you can toss the diaper in the pail after a cold rinse, since breast milk poop is totally organic and water-soluble. But watch out for stains!

Choosing a detergent:

People have different opinions on which detergents work best for cloth diapers. We think you should use whatever works for you and your baby. And if you're not happy with your detergent, you can always start over. Our top three picks are Original Tide, All Free and Clear, Rockin' Green Dirty Diaper Detergent.

Regular wash routine:

Here are some tips:

  • Wash diapers every other day.
  • Don't wash more than 18 diapers at once.
  • Use the detergent recommended for your diapers.
  • If you're using regular detergent, use the recommended amount for the load size. Change only if needed.
  • If you have an HE (high-efficiency machine) make sure you use the "heavy-duty" or "extra water" setting.

Before washing:

  • For exclusively breastfed babies, just toss the dirty diaper in the pail.
  • If the diaper is soiled and your baby isn't exclusively breastfed, use a diaper sprayer to remove solid waste. Keep the diaper wet until washing to prevent staining.
  • Always fasten Velcro tabs to the laundry tabs inside the diaper.
  • For pocket diapers, take out the insert from the shell.

Washing:

  1. Fill your machine to the highest water level.
  2. Start with a cold water pre-rinse, no detergent.
  3. Use a regular hot water cycle. Avoid the sanitize cycle on HE machines—it's too hot and can damage the diapers.
  4. Finish with a cold rinse.
  5. Dry diapers in the dryer on low or hang them to dry.

Avoid using:

  • Chlorine bleach, which shortens diaper life.
  • Fabric softeners, which reduce absorbency.
  • "Baby" detergents like Dreft which contains fabric softners.

Making your diapers last longer:

  • Hang dry them overnight or partially dry in the dryer and then hang dry.
  • Dry on the lowest dryer setting to keep them soft.
  • Don't use bleach.
  • Avoid fabric softener.
  • Use half a cup of lemon juice to whiten.
  • Sun them, even in cold weather, to freshen and remove stains.

Dealing with smelly diapers?

Try baking soda and vinegar! Here's what to do:

  • Start with a cold rinse.
  • Add your usual detergent.
  • Put half a cup of baking soda and a Downy ball filled with distilled white vinegar in the washer.
  • Start the hot cycle.
  • When the diapers have agitated but before the hot water drains, stop the cycle (some washers let you do this by leaving the lid up).
  • Let the diapers soak overnight.
  • Close the lid in the morning to finish the cycle.

How do baking soda and vinegar work?

Baking soda neutralizes acidic odors, removes acid and protein-based stains, and softens the diapers. Vinegar neutralizes alkaline odors and removes alkaline-based stains.

Final Thoughts about Switching to Cloth Diapers

What makes disposable diapers absorb?

Ever thought about why modern disposable diapers can soak up so much liquid? It's because of a chemical called Sodium Polyacrylate. This stuff can hold 200 to 300 times its weight in liquid, turning from a powder into a squishy gel. It's used in diapers to keep babies dry. But if you've ever noticed tiny jelly-like balls on your baby's skin after changing a diaper, that's Sodium Polyacrylate. And when a diaper gets really wet, it can swell up so much it looks like there's a balloon between a baby's legs!

The process of making disposable diapers involves bleaching, which leaves behind chemicals called "dioxins." These dioxins can mess with your hormones and might even cause cancer. They're in lots of disposable diaper brands, and babies wearing them are exposed to them all day, every day.

Disposable diapers also have other chemicals that can make it hard to breathe, like toluene and xylene. These can even cause asthma in some people. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, don't have ANY chemicals.