Cloth Diapering the Super Budget and Relaxed Way (Part 2 of 2)


If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, you can find it *here*.

There are many different methods of caring for cloth diapers.  Some diapers, ironically the ones considered more convenient (like the all-in-ones), have very strict care requirements.  Some require a specific detergent (which happen to cost $20+ a bottle) or need to be air-dried only.  Paying that much cash for simply cleaning my super-budget adventure would totally negate the whole thing for me.   And so, I use good-old-fashioned, cheap-as-dirt bleach.

That answer might make the die-hard cloth-diaperer cringe, but it’s worked for us really well.  No smells.  No stains.  No breaking the budget.  Nothing complicated.  It’s the way I like it.

A normal cloth-diapering care routine for me goes like this…

I collect all the soiled diapers in the wetbags over about a four day stretch.  The wetbags do a really good job of keeping the smell where it belongs.  The only time I get a ‘whiff’ of anything is when I unzip the bag to put a new diaper in.   Not too different from tossing a disposable diaper away in a diaper pail.

If you’re interested in how I learned to fold the prefolds, here’s the youtube I learned from. This lady does a great job of showing the different popular folding methods so you can figure out what works best for your little one.  

When I’m running low on clean diapers, I toss everything in the wash (including the wetbag) and wash them on a heavy, hot cycle with a little bleach.  Then I wash them a second time on cold with a little bit more bleach for good measure.  Being the unsure, slightly queasy beginner, I first washed them on the heaviest setting my machine allowed.  I’ve been gradually experimenting with lighter load settings in an effort to see how much water I can save and still get the job done.

When the washing’s done, I quickly separate the covers and wetbags from the true cloth diapers and dry only the cloth pieces on regular high heat.  Then I add the covers and wetbags to the dryer and change the setting to medium/low heat.  It’s important not to wash the waterproof parts on regular heat as they can melt and loose their water/smell-proofness.

And that’s it.  I fold them, put them away, and continue saving tons of money diapering.


Okay, so washing’s easy enough, you say. But what about, you know… the poo?  Are you really okay sticking that stuff in the wash?

THE CONVENIENCE: (taking care of poo)

 Well, as long as your baby is not on solids yet, the poo is nothing to worry about.  It washes away easily and leaves no trace behind.  However, now that I have a ten month old who is quite the baby food fan, things have… shall we say, changed.  

It might surprise you (it surprises me) to know that I have yet to change a truly gross, solid-food-based diaper, even though Matthias has been experimenting with solids for months now.  (And no, silly!  I don’t make my husband change them all.  Although, come to think of it… that’s an option worth considering if it ever comes down to it.)

 You see, the good thing about older-baby poo (the kind you don’t want going in your washer) is that it’s usually prefaced by a bit of obvious straining on the little culprit’s part.  Usually, that’s just enough time for me to stop what I’m doing and rush him to the potty to let him finish the job there. 

 Am I actively potty training him at ten months?  Goodness, no.  I’m not that brave.

Instead, it’s more coincidental potty-training out of necessity or pre-training, if you will.  (In reality, it’s me running to the bathroom shouting “Wait, wait!  I don’t want to change it!  I don’t want to change it!”)   But either way, I suppose the early familiarity will help with future potty training.  At least, I’m hoping he won’t have the same irrational fear of the soul-sucking, black-hole of a toilet that brought Gabriel to tears for months on end.  And personally, it might be worth it just for that.

A little extra work?  Perhaps.  But is it really that much work to run him to the potty right away than it is to wait until he’s finished and clean up the mess afterward?  



 Alas, I am not done.  Do you remember when I mentioned beginning my cloth-diapering adventure with martyr-like resolve?  Well, that has changed.  You see, on top of saving TONS of money, there are two other perks I’ve discovered along the way… and they’re biggies.  Because of them, I’m not sure I’d go back to disposables even if I won the lottery (although, I might start paying a maid to wash them all for me).

No more diaper rash. – Most children don’t have reactions to 100% cotton material, and if you’re using prefolds, that’s probably what you’re working with.  Diaper rash only happens now if we go far too long between diaper changes.

No leaks! – Seriously, with disposables I thought blow-outs were just a necessary part of life, but they really don’t have to be.  Cloth has been amazing as far as containing the worst messes and keeping him dry overnight.  Hooray for waking up to a huggable, dry child!  

I’d love to hear about your thoughts on cloth-diapering.  Tried it?  Liked it?  Trying to work up the courage?

38 thoughts on “Cloth Diapering the Super Budget and Relaxed Way (Part 2 of 2)

  1. Tricia Regar says:

    I faithfully cloth-diapered for what seemed like forever. I was completely SOLD on cloth diapering, too, and I probably (lol) looked down on people who used disposables. The day Matthias was born, everything changed. I had a huge new responsibility (a baby) to add to my already busy life, and I was tired of washing out diapers (under a spicket outside). So I switched to disposables, and completely potty-trained Rachel (so that I had to buy fewer diapers). I buy the diapers at Walmart for $13 or $14/box, and I feel like these boxes last forever, so–at least at this point in my life–I’m okay with spending that money. I also used to make homemade wipes, and now I buy Walmart wipes, too. 😉 But good for you! Maybe some day I’ll journey back to the cloth diapering world (I still have all my cloth diapers, of course, so it’d be an easy return… at least in some senses. ;-))

    • Cleaning under a spicket outside? Goodness, Tricia. That’d be too much for me too! I don’t judge mothers who use disposables at all. I think cloth-diapering is a wonderful money-saving option, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. If it’s in the budget, I’m all for doing whatever is easiest for your family so you can focus on other more important things! Thanks for reading!

  2. Soon to be a starter (38 days till due date). I’ve stocked up on one size pockets, newborn pockets, and 10 prefolds. I still need a few covers and some wet bags. I have no clue how to “prep” them but I’m gonna start some research. And thanks for the bleach tip, all the detergents seem so so expensive I was considering simply bleach. Do u use cloth wipes?

    • Ooh, congratulations! How exciting! You should be able to find prepping instructions online somewhere. Also, be careful about using bleach on your other diapers. I know they can be expensive, and I’ve had no experience with anything but my prefolds. It might be worth trying it out a few times on a single diaper to be sure you can get away with it. I originally bought a bunch of cloth wipes, more as a convenience factor than to save money. I didn’t want to separate the wipes into the trash and the diaper into the wetbag each diaper change. However, I’ve since learned that disposable wipes go through my wash and dryer just fine and I just separate and toss them in the end when everything’s clean. I don’t think of cloth wipes as much of a money saver since they’re expensive and the disposables are relatively cheap, however they’re still worth experimenting with. (I think one package of cloth wipes cost what I spend on disposables in a year) But especially if you’re worried about sticking wipes in the washer/dryer, I’m all for the convenience of the cloth ones! Happy diapering!

      • Thanks! I have a ton of second hand receiving blankets that I got for free so i plan to make cloth wipes out of those bad boys

      • sara says:

        I used to do cloth diapers before my 2nd was born. I found the same annoying problem with separating and throwing away the disposable wipes. I switched to using cloth wipes — but not REAL cloth wipes. just the large stack of tiny little baby washcloths that I had lying around (if you don’t have any lying around, you can buy them fairly cheap). I put these in a wipes warmer with 1/2 c. water and just a tiinyy little bit of baby soap… or liquid castille… whatever you prefer. They soaked up the liquid, stayed nice and moist and warm, and washed up great with the cloth diapers. And i just looovvved having no recurring cost of buying wipes.

        • I'm Kelsey! says:

          That’s a great idea! I need to become more faithful about using my cloth wipes. 🙂 Thanks for the tip, Sara!

  3. Theresa says:

    Another cheap option for cloth diapers is Alvababy diapers. (As long as you’re not opposed to buying from China) they run around $5 a diaper with free shipping. They are pocket diapers (with snaps not velcro) that come with microfiber inserts (do NOT put microfiber against baby’s skin) or for a little more some have the option of bamboo (don’t waste your time finding them or $ on extra, their bamboo inserts aren’t that good) I personally dislike microfiber and the way it drys out my fingers if I stuff the diapers so I use burp cloths/flat diapers I found super cheap at garage sales. It makes it easy to just trifold the flats & lay them inside the pocket diaper and use it like a cover.
    For washing i use a scoop of the fels naptha, borax & washing soda concoction all over pinterest and add a scoop of oxyclean (off brands are cheaper and work well too) with a little dawn dish soap in hot water to make sure they are completely clean

  4. Coco Lucas says:

    I was wondering how you use the bleach, do you add it to the water as is, or do you use one of the ball thingies? Also how much bleach are you using… say for a load of 15-20 diapers? THANKS!

    • Sure! I just put a 1/4 cup or so. I don’t measure it precisely or anything. I have a front loading washer that has a little compartment for putting bleach and detergent in, but if you have a top-loader, I’d probably add it directly to the water. Have fun!

      • Coco Lucas says:

        I ended up washing my diapers with bleach for the first time yesterday, we have a yeast infection we’re trying to clear up so it gave me the push I needed! Anyways, I LOVE IT! Something about them coming out smelling all clean and yummy. Oh I am so glad I did it. No more expensive cloth diaper soap for us. ( I used it on my prefolds and pockets and they both came out looking/smelling great!)

  5. Kimberly says:

    I use Kawaii cloth diapers (another “china cheapie”), and I don’t do anything special with them, just was and dry. Also, my “cloth wipes” are simply cheap baby washcloths that I put in a wipes container with water and a small squirt of baby soap…nothing special and easily washed/dried with the diapers.

  6. Joanna says:

    Confused: doesn’t bleach bleach the color out of the colored Thirsties diaper covers?

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      You would think, right? Actually, I’ve been doing it for almost a year now and have seen no fading whatsoever. I think the covers are made of a different fabric. The cloth part of the diapers do whiten, but that doesn’t bother me at all. It actually enjoy them stain-free! Thanks for reading!

  7. Chris Ant says:

    So, you just use bleach in the diapers? Is that all? Nothing else? I am really curious about this. I might try it on my never used prefolds sitting there not being used because I became discouraged about the smell on the pockets I was using! Now I just need some covers.

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      Yes! That’s it, just bleach! With my Thristies covers, I’ve never noticed any color fading at all. I do have a different brand of wetbag that has faded a bit, but… no smells! Thanks for reading, Chris!

  8. Bleach is a fast easy way to get them white, but some babies with sensitive skin don’t really appreciate it. Also, it tends to destroy the fibers faster, so the diapers don’t last as long.

    That being said, I used cloth diapers with all 8 of mine and I have never been sorry.

  9. Carhartz says:

    It is so encouraging to hear so many young Moms going the extra mile with cloth diapers. Have you ever heard or read of the dangers laundry bleach? I’ve read of a known link between bleach and cancer. I’m not trying to discourage anybody for using cloth…just recommending research. I also read of very safe alternatives to bleach. Anyway, love your blog!!!

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      It’s always good to be informed! No, I have not heard of it before. I haven’t heard of the bleach-cancer link either, but it probably merits some research! Thank you!

  10. Sarah says:

    We bought a box of Country Save detergent when we started cloth diapering. I saw it on all the recommended lists online so I thought we’d give it a try. We use pockets with microfiber and bamboo inserts (Sunbaby, and we LOVE them). I was initially put off by the price of the detergent ($15) but it’s lasted a year now with every-other-day washing, no build up and no odors. They’ve gotten a little dingy over the winter, but as soon as Minnesota starts to thaw out I can dry them in the sun and that should fix that. I use a slightly more involved diaper routine, but I don’t mind it. We’re a no-bleach house 🙂

  11. Robin L. says:

    I’m curious since it’s been a while that you posted this, have you had new experience with solid food poops?? I’m wondering how to rinse them before putting them in the wet bag… Thanks!

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      Great question! I have had a bit more experience now. If it’s ‘solid enough’ I’ll go ahead and dump it into the toilet. If not, I stick it through the wash anyway and so far haven’t had any problems. I do know that many mommas prefer purchasing a diaper sprayer for the not-easily-dumpable kind, so that’s something to look into, but I have a good washer that seems to handle a lot. I still try and rush him to the potty once I notice that he’s working on a #2. I’m hoping it will streamline the potty training process. We’ll see!

  12. I remember my mother toilet-rinsing poopy diapers: she would dangle the diaper in the toilet, flush, and rinse in the swirling water. I have yet to try it myself, but that seems like it would be pretty effective. Of course, that’s also 3 or so gallons of water to each poopy diaper…

  13. Michelle says:

    I use homemade detergent on mine. It’s borax, washing soda, baking soda, and oxyclean. No soap. Cheap and friendly. Also, tide free and gentle works, too.

  14. MIKE MARTINEZ JR says:

    Hello there Kelsey,

    I just finished reading everything you had to offer on life! I must say what a writer you are and amazing advice to boot! My wife and I are expecting our very first so the dipper tips were the boom.

    My main reason for reading your post was to find a better way for budgeting for food and you had so much more to offer and I just couldn’t stop reading.

    Overall I wanted to say thank you for your amazing words of advice and knowledge they will help me and my family, along with my friends once I share this info with them.

    Again, thank you from the Martinez family.


  15. Keena says:

    I bought a sprayer that attaches to the commode for the nasty diapers. It made rinsing them so much easier!

  16. Anne says:

    I just cut up some of my husbands old under shirts and use them for wipes. I had to switch because disposable wipes give her a rash every time.

  17. Catamom says:

    I know this is a bit late, I just found your blog on Pinterest. I wanted to recommend another super budget meathod of cloth diapering–flour sack towels. They can be used as flats, and I find them to be just as absorbent as my osocozy flats (possibly more so). You can find them in the kitchen section of your local Walmart or Target with the dish towels. Not sure of the price at Target, but they’re $4.88 for 5 at Walmart. I have 5 packs of those (~$25), 5 thirsties (gifted, but $13/piece on Amazon), and 5 off-brand OS covers ($8/piece on Amazon). Total stash= $130, but I only paid $65 out of pocket.

    My detergent is a mix of 1c borax, 1c washing powder, 1/2c oxyclean. I use 1-2 tbsp per load (this can also be used for baby’s clothes). During the winter i dry the towels in the dryer, during the summer i dry them on the line to save electricity and sun out any tough stains. Covers are always air dried, either on the line outside or on an octopus hanging rack that I got from Ikea a few years ago.

    For wipes, I cut up a few of hubby’s old shirts and use them with plain water in a squirt bottle. The peri bottle from the hospital actually worked great for this.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Kelsey,

    Just wondering whether you use regular or non-chlorine bleach. I have read that chlorine bleach wears down the fabric more quickly and also can be bad for baby’s skin…any thoughts?

  19. Courtney says:

    We also use thirsties covers and prefolds. I know this post is old but I was just wondering how you manage to cloth diaper over night? Every time we’ve tried the diapers leak badly. So we use disposables at night, which still leak about a third of the time, but my toddler sleeps 12-13 hours at night, so maybe it’s unavoidable?

    • I'm Kelsey! says:

      Hmm, our thirsties seem more leak proof than our disposables. Do you have a properly sized insert? Perhaps it’s not big enough?

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