Cloth Diaper Donation Bank Information

Care, Types, and Cloth Diaper Terms


(Follow the manufactures directions on the diapers)

Wash and dry new cloth diapers 4 to 6 times to (remove chemicals from the manufacturing process) for natural fabric and 1-2 times for synthetic fabrics. This will also increase the absorbency of your cloth diapers.

To extend the life of our cloth diapers and covers, hang them dry. It is especially important hang dry your AIO's and diaper covers to preserve their waterproofing ability.

The washing instructions are for a full load of (about 24) cloth diapers. You may include nylon and polyester diapers covers in this load. 

No Soak Method

If you prefer not to soak your diapers or if you only have access to a coin operated machine follow this method:
  • Cold Wash. Place all your soiled cloth diapers in the machine. Add baking soda (optional)
  • Hot Wash. Add your wet cloth diapers to load, add detergent. Add baking soda (optional)
  • Rinse. Rinse cloth diapers with cold water. Add vinegar (optional).
  • 2nd Rinse. Rinse cloth diapers with cold water. (optional)

Overnight Soak Method

  • Pre-Wash. (This step can be skipped if you use the wet pail method.) Place all cloth diapers in the washer, and run a prewash in cold water. This will remove most of the loose particles from the cloth diapers.
  • Overnight Soak. Refill the washer with cold water and 1/2 cup of baking soda. Let it agitate for a minute or two, then turn off the machine and let the cloth diapers soak several hours or overnight. Drain the water (I run a pre-wash to do this.) Baking soda is a base and neutralizes the urine in the cloth diapers. This is very effective in whitening and removing the smell from the cloth diapers.
  • Hot Wash. Empty the bin and run the wash with hot water, detergent and 1/2 cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda. Since my baby has sensitive skin, I use All HypoAllergen detergent.
  • Double Rinse. Add about 1/2 cup of vinegar during the first rinse. If you have a washer with a fabric softener compartment pour the vinegar there when starting the hot wash. Otherwise you can throw in a Downy ball filled with vinegar.

Include baking soda when washing or soaking your cloth diapers.

If you use baking soda in the wash or soak, make sure to use vinegar in the rinse, This will help restore the pH of the cloth diapers. Otherwise your baby may end up with diaper rash.

Striping Cloth Diapers

Stripping Diapers

If you do choose to use soap rather than detergent and it leaves a residue on your diapers, the natural solution to break down the residue is a vinegar rinse. This will help maintain diaper absorbency.

Use no more than ½ cup of distilled white vinegar in the rinse cycle. Make sure it is distilled vinegar to avoid stains from vinegars with color.

Vinegar may also be used in the rinse cycle to help neutralize the urine odor, equalize the pH balance, help prevent stains from setting in, and as a natural fabric softener.

NOTE: If you have hard water, vinegar may cause your diapers to smell bad once urinated on. In that case, we recommend you discontinue the use of soap rather than detergent.

There are 2 basic methods for storing wet and soiled cloth diapers, wet pail and dry pail.

  • Dry pail. All cloth diapers are placed in a covered pail. Sprinkle baking soda to control the odors.
  • Wet pail. All cloth diapers are placed in a pail half filled with water. Make sure this pail is covered to prevent infant drowing.

Cloth Diaper "No No's"

Some things that should not be used when cleaning cloth diapers and will likely decrease their effectiveness and absorbency. 

  • Bleach - Will break down the fibers and could irritate babies sensitive skin.

  • Fabric Softener - leaves a residue on diapers that can irritate baby and will effect the diapers ability to absorb urine.

  • Diaper Cream with zinc oxide, fish oils and waxes - very hard to wash off of cloth diapers.

  • "Baby" Detergents - these have too many added softeners and heavy scents added which will leave too much build up on your diapers.

  • Natural Laundry Detergents -Some often  use ingredients that are good for the earth, but will leave a residue on the diaper, effecting absorbency.

  • Fragrance and Brighteners - can irritate baby's bum and leave a film on your diapers.

  Remember to keep it simple!

How many cloth diapers do I need?

The number of diapers you need will depend on the age of your baby and how often you do laundry. A newborn will go through more diapers than a toddler. Most people choose to do laundry about every other day. If you can afford to buy more diapers you may wish to do laundry every 3 days. You won't want to let them go much longer than that or odor will be a problem.

If you can't afford to buy all the diapers you need all at once, you can start with one day's worth of diapers and then add more each paycheck until you have the number you need. If money is really tight you can buy Regular size prefolds or Flat diapers for infants and fold them down to fit.  You may also be able to find good used diapers or make your own to save money.

Wash Daily Every 2 days Every 3 days
Up to 6 Mos. 10-12 20-24 30-36
6-12 Mos. 8-10 16-20 24-30
12-24 Mos. 6-8 12-16 18-24
Potty Learning 2-4 4-8 6-12

You will need one diaper cover for about every 3-5 diapers you have. Covers can be reused a few times by airing them out between changes unless they are dirty. It is always a good idea to have one more cover than you think you need. It never fails that when they are all dirty and you are in a hurry that the one remaining cover gets dirty too!

Wool diaper covers can go several days or even a week or two between washes if they are properly lanolized when they are washed. PUL diaper covers are easily cleaned and dry quickly if the need to hand wash one arises between loads of laundry.

Pocket diapers and all in one diapers do not need covers. You will need to have at least 1 insert for each pocket diaper and it is a good idea to have a few extras for night time doubling.

Types of Cloth Diapers

Flat or Square Diapers:

Flat diapers refer to the single-ply square shaped diapers that resemble the diapers our mothers and grandmothers used. The types that you find in a store are typically not effective for use as cloth diapers but they make great liners, burp rags or cleaning rags.

Pre-fold Diapers:

These are basic three-panel flat diapers that are "pre-folded" and sewn so that the middle third of the diaper has more layers to absorb where it is needed most. These are sometimes referred to as "Chinese Pre-folds" or "PF’s", and are frequently used as a burp cloth.

When used as diapers, one size fits all, but different sizes are available. They are the cheapest way to go in cloth diapering. This type of cloth diaper gets fluffier, softer and more absorbent with each washing.

When purchasing pre-folds for use as diapers, make sure they state the description "Diaper Service Quality" (or DSQ). Otherwise they will not be durable or absorbent enough for cloth diaper use.

Since PF’s do not have a waterproof layer, they are used in connection with plastic pants, diaper covers or wraps. These can be pinned, used with a Snappi brand fastener, used as an insert in a pocket diaper, or just folded in thirds and layered inside a wrap.

Diaper Cover or Wrap

Cloth Diaper Covers, (also called Cloth diaper wraps) serve the same purpose as rubber pants did years ago. They provide a waterproof outer for pre-fold & fitted diapers. Diaper covers are usually made of Laminated Polyester, Laminated Cotton, Wool, or Polar Fleece. Cloth Diaper covers fasten with Velcro or snaps.  PUL is the common laminate for diaper covers.

Contour Diapers:

Fitted diapers are used in place of pre-folds or contour diapers. They are made to fit snug to the baby to hold messes in better, having elastic around the legs and waist, so no folding is required.

Since they do not have a waterproof layer, they are used in connection with plastic pants, diaper covers or wraps. They typically have either snaps or hook-and-loop (Velcro) fasteners.

All-In-One (AIO):

An All-In-One (AIO) diaper integrates the cloth diaper with an outer moisture-proof shell. They are one piece and are the most similar in look and use to disposable diapers. They have elastic around the legs and many have elastic at the waist as well. These diapers usually use snaps or hook-and-loop (Velcro) fasteners. AIO’s may have pockets and may be used with inserts for added absorbency. This is probably the most convenient, but can also be the most expensive type of cloth diaper.

Pocket Diapers:

A Pocket diaper is a Fitted or AIO diaper that has an inner pocket or sleeve, where additional inserts can be placed for added absorbency.

The ability to insert additional layers, and remove them at time of washing provides increased versatility (more layers for use overnight) and reduced drying time (remove inserts and dry separately).

Depending on style, a Pocket diaper may or may not need an outer shell. These diapers usually use snaps or hook-and-loop (Velcro) fasteners.

One-Size Diapers:

Featuring many of the attributes listed for Fitted, AIO and/or Pocket diapers, this diaper is designed to fit most baby sizes. Despite this feature, these may not be a good fit for small newborns and large toddlers.

The "One Size" feature is generally accomplished via a series of snaps or hook-and-loop (Velcro) fasteners on the front of the diaper, allowing the front panel to be folded over on itself to create a smaller diaper, or opened fully to create a larger diaper. Some brands feature a retractable elastic band in the legs and gussets, which pull the diaper to a smaller size when needed.

Insert, Soaker, Doubler

Insert, Soaker, and Doubler are several layers of absorbent fabric sewn together in a long, trim shape that can be slipped in between the outer waterproof layer & inner stay-dry layer of a pocket cloth diaper as an Insert. When it is sewn into a diaper it is a soaker and when it is layer in a diaper it is a doubler.

Fabric Options
Pocket Cloth Diaper Inserts can be made of several different fabrics. The most popular of these is Microfiber. Microfiber is a polyester blend fabric that can hold 3-4 times its own weight in liquid. Microfiber is also quick-absorbing & inexpensive, making it a great option for diaper inserts. One microfiber insert is usually enough for a young baby. Around age 6 months, you may find that your child requires 2 microfiber inserts.

Hemp is another popular fabric used to make pocket diaper inserts. Hemp is even more absorbent than microfiber, and is even more trim. Hemp is also a natural fiber that resists mold & bacterial growth naturally. Hemp is a great diaper insert choice for a heavy wetting child.

Microfiber & Hemp inserts can also be used simultaneously when extra absorbency is needed. Place the microfiber insert on top of the hemp insert and then put both inserts into the pocket diaper. Many parents find this to be the perfect solution for their children because they get the Benefit of quick-absorbing microfiber plus the super absorbency of hemp.

Prefolds, both cotton & hemp can be used as inserts for pocket diapers as well. Cotton prefolds can usually provide enough absorbency for a regular to moderately heavy wetting child. Hemp prefolds are necessary for super heavy wetters and toddlers during long periods between changes such as nap time and over night.

Cloth Diaper Terms

AIO - All in One diaper

AI2 - All in Two diaper

AP - Attachment parenting

BF - Breastfeed

BTDT - Been there done that

BTW - By the way

CD - cloth diaper

Crunchy - Natural lifestyle

CPF - Chinese prefold

DSQ - Diaper service quality

DYI - Do it yourself

EC - Excellent condition

EUC - Excellent used condition

F&C - Free & Clear (used referring to detergents)

FLer - Front loader washing machine

FS - For sale

FSOT - For sale or trade

FYI - For your information

HE - High efficiency (when referring to washing machines)

Hyena - A term for hard to get, p
opular diapers that are stalked by diaper hungry moms

IPF - Indian Prefold

IMO - In my opinion

ISO - In search of

ITA - I totally agree

KM - Know what I mean

LMK - Let me know

LO - Little one

LOL - Laugh out loud

NAK - Nursing at Keyboard

PUL - polyurethane laminate, a material used to make diaper covers/wraps

ROFLOL - rolling on the floor, laughing out loud

SAHM - stay-at-home mom

Tailer - Top loader washing machine

AWM - work-at-home mom

Diaper Brands Commonly Referred To With Abbreviations:

BG - bumGenius

FM - Fluffy Mail

FMBG - Full Moon Baby Gear

FB - Fuzz Bunz

HH - Happy Heiny's

LC - Little Caboose

ME - Motherease

GAD - Green Acre Designs

SEZ - Snap E-Z

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