Cloth Diapering

AIO, AI2, PUL, OS...the world of cloth diapering can be SO intimidating at first! But navigating it now is totally worth it! Cloth diapers have come such a long way. I know people who CD now, not for the 'green' factor or even economical reasons, but simply because CDs can be so unbelievably cute! We absolutely LOVE CDing. If you are interested in learning more about it, or are a pro and are just looking to do some CD swapping, check out the links below!

1. Helpful Abbreviations Key
2. Types of Cloth Diapers
3. How do I care for Cloth Diapers?
4. What is a Wetbag?
5. What about poop?
6. What about wipes?

But first...
Helpful Abbreviations Key:

1. CD = cloth diaper

2. AIO = All In One - These diapers don't have any 'parts', they look the most like a disposable diaper, but prettier and better for the environment. I think these are the simplest for new cloth diapering mamas to use but the downside is that they take a really long time to dry because they are all one piece. Newer versions have pieces that fold out to try to solve this problem, but it still takes a while.

3. AI2 = All In Two - This is a weird misnomer. It is sometimes called a hybrid or a cover system. Basically, what would constitute as the "insert" in a pocket diaper is laid in, sometimes snapped in, a cover. They are made of fabrics that are absorbent but still safe to have against baby's skin. The novelty is that you may not always have to change the entire diaper when baby wets, just the "insert".

4. PUL = polyurethane laminated fabric. It what makes the diaper waterproof. It can be the exterior (pretty part) of the diaper or hidden within a diaper. What the heck is PUL? 

5. OS = One-Size Often times, you'll see three sets of snaps down the front that allow for a bigger range of sizes, generally infant to toddler, although I do NOT recommend them for newborns.

6. NB = newborn

7. H&L = hook and loop, another term for Velcro or aplixLet me know if there are any other abbreviations you come across that you need translating. Once you get into the B/S/T arena (buy/sell/trade), it gets even crazier! There are also abbreviations for the most popular brands of diapers.


Types of CDs

1. AIO (see abbreviation above)

2. AI2 (see abbreviations above)

3. pocket diapers - look like AIO, but they have to be "stuffed" with an "insert". I like these because they are simple to use and dry faster than AIOs because of the removable insert. Their absorbency can also be adjusted because you can change the amount or type of inserts as needed.

4. covers - These are the waterproof shells of the diaper. It requires a fitted or some other absorbent cloth to go inside of it to hold pee and poo. Covers can close with snaps or with aplix (Velcro). They can be solid colors or a myriad of prints.

5. fitteds - Fitteds are a trim diaper made of various kinds of soft and absorbent materials, often with a particularly absorbent core. They are meant to be used with covers (see #4). They can close with snaps or aplix. They can be OS or sized. I love these for heavy wetters.

6. prefolds - Prefolds with covers are the most cost effective way to cloth diaper. They are made of cotton and can  folded in a variety of ways. They require some kind of cover.
7. woolies or fleece - The covers I described in #4 are the most mainstream. However, there are also wool and fleece covers available. Many times they are handmade to size specifications and are often absolutely adorable and beautiful! They do need to be lanolized. Despite how they look, they are extremely absorbent and breath very well.

There may be other varieties, but I am not as familiar with them. I have found it useful to join CD forums and, if possible, go to a CD store and just start asking questions. People LOVE to talk CDs, so don't be afraid to speak up and ask questions! Please feel free to add some kinds that I have left off that you know of or use.


There are roughly a billion different kinds of CDs currently available on the market today. I have tried many. I believe in investing in cloth diapers that are responsibly made, preferably here in America. For more information on that, please carefully read this incredible article. You can read my response to it here.


How do I care for cloth diapers?

I have heard a myriad of responses to this question. Holy moly, there are people out there who wash their cloth diapers 100x more thoroughly than I was my own body, let alone clothes, or articles of clothing that my children regularly pee and poop in! There are MANY different cloth diaper soaps available on the market nowadays. Here's a page from a local natural parenting store: CD soaps. However, different babies can have different reactions to different detergents. No matter how good the soap is, there is always going to be ONE kid who has an allergic reaction to it. That being said, I would go to a natural baby store and ask the sales clerk his/her opinion and buy the smallest size of what he/she recommends, to be safe and test it out.

Here is THE BEST article I have ever read on caring for cloth diapers. Read it and then print it out and keep it as your Bible.

I set my washer to a hot wash. I also set it to "heavy duty" and put it on the longest clean cycle. I only set the water level to how many diapers I actually have. I know that a lot of people set the water level to the highest level, but I don't see a point to that. So I wash on hot and rinse on cold. Then I do an additional warm rinse to make sure all the soap is gone. I always line dry my diapers to decrease the wear and tear and ultimately increase the life of the diaper. It's the best to line dry them in the sun when you can. It bleaches the white parts of them and makes them look almost new again. You also can't beat the smell of laundry dried outside!

To review:

1. set washer settings to hot wash, cold rinse, heavy duty - let water start filling

2. add detergent

3. add dirty diapers, wipes, and wetbags

5. second warm rinse cycle

6. line dry (inside or out)

What is a wetbag?

A diaper wetbag with elephants and other animals displayed on ita cloth diaper wet bag with storybook illustrations on it

A wetbag is a waterproof sack used to hold your dirty cloth diapers until it is time to wash them. Back in the old days, dirty CDs used to sit in buckets of bleach, which is a turn off for obvious reasons. Not so anymore! Wetbags are lined in PUL like a diaper, so they don't leak. They get washed the same way and with the same frequency as the cloth diapers. They come in a variety of colors, prints, and sizes. You stash small ones in the diaper bags for outings. You have medium-sized ones for trips that last a day or two. I keep my largest ones hanging on the bathroom door for dirty diapers that occur ever day at home. I wash this stash (wetbag included) every other day, generally. Some people use a pail liner, which is a wetbag that you use to line a large pail and you keep the dirty diapers in there. I get wetbags that have hooks and zippers, so I can hang it on the back of the door. It all depends on where and how you want to store the dirty diapers until it's time for a wash. It's all about what's more convenient for you. Quite frankly, I have a small bathroom with no room for a pail but it can be obnoxious to have a bag hanging on the doorknob, too. Maybe when we get a bigger house, I'll have room for a pail.

What about poop?

Don't freak out about poop! It's just poop! You either flush it down the toilet (CDs) or keep it wrapped up in your garbage can (disposable). I prefer the former.

Do yourself a favor and invest in a sprayer. We have the bumGenius Diaper Sprayer
and we love it. I know there are other ones coming out from other brands and I would bet that they are pretty much all the same. They truly save time and the appearance of your CDs.

So when Lydia has a blowout, I take the the diaper in the bathroom and take out the insert. I hose the insert and the diaper off over the toilet with the sprayer. Then I "pretreat" the insert and diaper, so to speak, by rubbing it down with a bar of Imse Vimse Wash Away Stain Soap. I DO NOT rinse; I throw it right in the wetbag with the suds on it and everything. That soap lasts FOREVER and works like a charm! I wish I had started using from day one - I would have "saved" a lot of diapers!

What about wipes?

various diy homemade baby wipes displayed in a circular patternsome more conservative self made cloth wipes

When we first started CDing, we thought disposable wipes would be "easier". I mean, we were already doing enough for the environment by CDing right? So we might as well give ourselves a break by using wipes we can throw away, right? Wrong. It is so weird to have this disposable wipe, with poop on it, to throw away in a garbage can in my baby's room. It sounds counter intuitive, but it is SO MUCH easier to use cloth wipes, too. That way, they ALL get sprayed down together and thrown in the wetbag and washed together. No separate steps.

The best thing about cloth wipes is that they can be made of ANYTHING! We got approximately 1,o00 receiving blankets when we had DD, so we cut up some of those to use. We also received many washcloths that weren't so awesome for bathing but make great wipes. Also, when the washcloths get too ratty or stained to make them suitable for bathing, I cut those up, too. Many moms use old t-shirt or old flannel shirts.

Now, ours all have ratty edges now, but we have been using them for over two years! My MIL recently got a serger (which is some sort of sewing apparatus that quickly finishes raw edges) and has made a new batch of cloth wipes for DS's arrival using it so I am really lucky there. If you are a crafty critter, I have heard that these are invaluable for cloth wipe making. However, if you are craftily challenged like me, I am here to tell you that it is not necessary. If you are still worried, you can sertainly purchase cloth wipes. Many CD companies also sell cloth wipes.

wipe solution

So dispoasable wipes come with a soap solution on them. This can often times be irritating to baby's skin. I learned how to make my own solution to go with my cloth wipes. It is idiot proof, I promise. I used to keep the wipes wet in a container for quick use, but they started to smell musty. So I switched to keeping a pile opf dry wipes next to a spray bottle of solution. We keep a container of dry wipes and mini bottle of solution in the diaper bag, as well. When changing baby, I just give her bottom a few sprays and wipe her dry and clean with the wipe.

1. 1 cup water
2. 1 teaspoon baby soap
3. 1 teaspoon baby oil

There are MANY MANY MANY variations of this recipe available. This is the recipe that I use and that I can attest to the quality of. Try out a few and see what works for you!


  1. How long did this take you to write? lol!
    I like that you have this section here, because now I will have that lady's info ( convert my diapers ) if I ever need any of our diapers fixed!
    I use SunBaby diapers... the main reason was the cost for me. They are only $5/diaper, and they have super cute prints. We have been using them for two months, and have not had any issues with them yet.
    I'm looking forward to summer so I can line dry my diapers outside. For now they hang dry in the basement. Have you line dried the inserts? I haven't tried that yet...

    1. i LOVE to line-dry the inserts! i think it's just as important as line-drying the diaper. it seems to keep them "fluffier", as they do tend to get find of flat after a while. remember, we've been in diapers for 2 years now!

  2. Devin! Its Ana :) I was hoping if you knew if the BG, FB and Swaddlebees inserts were microfiber. I was giving a random bag of these 3 CDs and inserts along with Hemp Baby inserts. I read online that microfiber can't go against skin, I have Grovia shells and wanted to put these inserts inside them but now think I shouldn't. But I don't know for sure. Maybe a BG insert with the hemp between the insert and his skin. Let me know if you know! It would be so helpful to know, I tried looking online but haven't been successful thus far. Thanks! :)

    1. Hey, Ana! I know BG and FB inserts are MF and the information you received in absolutely correct! Never ever ever put MF against baby's skin. I honestly hadn't thought about the other kinds of inserts, though - good question! I posted the question on the cloth diaper facebook page I am a part of. These ladies know EVERYTHING, so I will post there answers ASAP. Also, do you have an prefolds? You could always put one of those between the insert and skin.

  3. Good to know! I did it once, before looking into it, fearing that made his already bleeding bum a little worse. :( Glad I asked before doing it again. I have gerber ones I could put over them! Thanks for the tip!

    1. Okay, the verdict was that bamboo was okay to be directly on baby's skin but that's all. Personally, I'd always put cotton (prefold) between, just to be safe. My babies have sensitive skin, too!