Frequently Asked Cloth Diaper Questions

In theory, cloth diapers are super simple. They are a cloth that catches pee and poop. Not rocket science, right? Well, technology and the internet have gotten hold of cloth, and now there are thousands of different options and millions of opinions about them. It can be boggling when you are first thinking about it, so here are some simple (and occasionally cheeky) answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. For (much, much!) more information, check out our Cloth Diaper Workshops.

 How many diapers do I need? 

 If you are starting from newborn, we recommend at least 24 diapers, which will have you doing laundry every 2 days or so. They slow down on the peeing and pooping after a couple of months, so a stash of 15-20 may be enough at that point. 

It depends on which system you choose how many covers/inserts you need, but here is a general idea of what you'll need:

  • Prefolds: 24 prefolds and 6-8 covers
  • Fitteds: 24 fitted and 6-8 covers
  • Pockets: 24 diapers (with 24 inserts) 
  • All-in-ones: 24 diapers
  • All-in-twos: 24 inserts and 6-8 covers
  • Hybrids: 24 inserts and 6-8 covers

What type of diaper is right for my baby? 

It totally depends on you. If convenience is your number one priority, an all-in-one may be your best bet. If your budget is tight, you may lean towards prefolds. Somewhere in between? Maybe an all-in-two system might work best for you. 

If you really have no idea where to start, check out our Diaper Trial Program. You can try all of the styles of diapers that Bumbini carries for 30 days to see which ones you love. We have a nice long rental period to give you lots of time to get used to the routine of cloth diapering! 

What other stuff do I need? 

Accessories can make your life a lot easier, but they aren't completely essential. These ones I find pretty darn handy though: 
  • A diaper pail - we have a plastic garbage can as our diaper pail. It has a lid (to keep nosy toddlers and pets out), and was bought at Walmart for less than $10. 
  • A pail liner - this handy waterproof bag helps hold in any smells, and makes laundry day easier. Means I don't have to scrub out the pail too! 
  • A wetbag (or a few) - somewhere to keep dirty dipes when you are our and about is really handy.
  • Cloth wipes (about 24) - great way to save even more money, and reduce the chemicals getting on your little one's bum. They are super easy to use - just get them wet with water and use, then throw in the diaper pail. Added benefit - they are thicker than disposable wipes, so you are less likely to accidently touch poo!

Is this going to cost me an arm and a leg? 

No! There is a cloth diaper solution for every budget, and even if you go buck wild on, you will still save money compared to using disposables. You can cloth diaper your child from birth to potty training for $400-800, and reuse the diapers for another child or sell them when you are done. With disposables, you will spend abour $2500, and won't have much luck trying to sell them afterward. 

Do I have to do some crazy wash routine? 

Nope! You will be doing another 2-3 loads of laundry a week, and do not need an advanced degree in chemical engineering to do it, I promise. 

There is tons (TONS!) of advice on the internet about how to wash diapers - some good, some bad. I recommend keeping it simple and following the manufacturer's recommendations as closely as possible. That is basically: 

1) Cold rinse (no detergent) 
2) Hot wash with a cloth diaper safe detergent
3) Cold rinse
4) Extra rinse (if you want to)
5) Line dry or machine dry on medium. 

Do I have to use a special detergent? 

Nope As long as your detergent doesn't have fabric softeners or bleach in it, it will work on cloth diapers. Some manufacturers recommend also avoiding fragrances and optical brighteners, as these can build up in fabrics. Depending on your water type, washing machine, type of diapers, etc. some detergents will work better than others for you. If the detergent that works well for you on your clothes doesn't contain fabric softener or bleach, I recommend giving it a try!

That said, there are detergents that are formulated specifically for cloth diapers - they don't have as many chemicals as other detergents, and don't leave any residue behind. We have kids with ridiculously sensitive skin, and find these detergents are the only ones we can use on their diapers without them reacting to them. Plus I love the idea of our family being exposed to less chemicals!

What do I do with the poo? 

People will tell you horror stories and paint graphic pictures of buckets of poopy water, dunk and swish adventures etc.etc. In reality, it's not that big of a deal. You will not be eyeball deep in baby poo and there will not be poo whizzing around in your washing machine ending up on the rest of your laundry - don't worry! Here are the basic stages of poo and what to do with them: 

Exclusively breast fed - this poop is completely water soluble and very easy for your washing machine to deal with. Just throw these diapers in the diaper pail - no extra work necessary.

Starting solids or formula fed - these poops are the most challenging. They are more difficult for your machine to wash off, so you have to remove the majority of it into the toilet before putting the diaper into the diaper pail. There are lots of ways to do this without having to resort to anything gross:
    • Disposable liners: these catch the poop, and then can be thrown away and the diaper put in the diaper pail
    • Diaper sprayers: these hook to your toilet, allowing you to rinse the poop right off the diaper into the toilet.
Mostly on solid foods -  poop at this stage is more formed and will easily "plop" into the toilet with a gentle shake. 

What if I want to know more about cloth diapers? 

We love our cloth diapers, and love to talk about them! If you are close by to one of our workshops, they are a fun way to learn about cloth. They are free, and go through all of the basics of cloth diapering, give you a chance to check out the diapers in person and get all of your questions answered. We currently hold workshops in Vancouver, Ottawa, Edmonton and Brantford. If you are not close to one of these areas, we also have an online workshop with the same great info. 

What if I Have More Cloth Diaper Questions? 

If you have any questions, please give us a shout by phone or by email. It's important to us that our customers have the information they need to have a successful start with cloth diapers, so we are thrilled to help you!