Cloth Diapering in the McCarty household

Cloth Diapering – We’ve had several requests recently to share our process and setup with friends and family, so we decided to consolidate everything in one place and post a few of the tips and tricks of things that have worked for us

I’m so excited you’ve chosen to think about cloth diapering. My husband and I have embraced it whole-heartedly and have never looked back. It’s ended up being the best solution for our house.

It doesn’t work out for everyone. Some things to consider:

  1. It takes a lot more washing- expect your water and power bills to go up a bit, and also, it’s a question about time as well. We found the early days were hard- after 3 months when I went back to work it was a bit more difficult to keep up on the laundry. Never fear, once they hit 6 months or so, you have fewer dirty diapers and can easily get away with washing once a day
  2. Large expense up-front for diapers, wet bags, etc. However, we’ve found the savings are tremendous, and we’d much rather put in a load of wash than head to the store for disposables
  3. Travel is a difficult thing. We tend to do disposables when we travel very far from home or are without a washer/dryer in a rental home. Honestly, It’s just easier. A day trip is cloth though- overnight tends to be disposable.
  4. Day care/grandparents? If you plan to use a day care, there are big restrictions- some won’t do cloth diapers at all and some will only use pocket style. Also, grandparents can sometimes be easily confused with cloth diapers.

I think the easiest thing might be for me to tell you what our routine/setup is, and then go into some of the options that are out there.

Essential Supplies

1.       Diaper Covers

a.       We chose covers based on ease of use, durability, and economy.  Everyone has their own preference.  We were advised to try several types in the beginning to see what works for us, and then buy them all.  I do recommend buying or registering for a few types, trying them out that first week, and then buying larger quantities.  I’ll give you the heads and tails of why we chose what we chose, but every family and baby is different.  Eleanor is what we call a heavy wetter- she doesn’t go often, and when she does, she goes a ton.

b.      What we Use:  Flip One-Size Diaper Covers – Snaps

c.       Why we use it:  Snaps vs Hook/Loop (Velcro) closure – we find Hook/Loop does ruin the diapers/perfolds in the wash.  For longevity of the diapers and longevity of the cover, sticking with snaps is a better idea.  It just requires a few seconds more to snap than to attach Velcro.  We went with a one-size option because we’ve never had any issues with leaks and it’s easy to adjust- babies tend to grow wide one week and tall the next.  We didn’t want to get a fitted cover and have to purchase additional sizes as she grew.  We find they work great to just stuff a combination of prefolds in them to suit the baby- more layers for a nap or overnight, less for play time, etc.

2.       Diapers (Prefolds)

a.       We spent our money on Prefolds.  These are what really absorb and you want a good, solid one.  Here’s what we did.  I encourage you to go to a store and feel them for yourself if possible.

b.      We chose Indian prefolds in Size Preemie for when she was a newborn- they lasted for a few months and then were too small so we started using them as a double a couple months ago.  Multi-purpose!

c.       We found we loved the Knickernappies brand Indian Prefolds for the remaining size.  This brand wears well, is super thick and absorbent, and oh so soft.

Note: Premium is an extra-long diaper we fold over and use for overnight, sometimes paired with another diaper.   Sizes have colored stitching that makes it easy to identify in the drawer. The beauty of prefolds is you can add and subtract to get the right absorbency for your baby.

3.       Wipes – we prefer cloth because it goes in the same pail and wash as the diapers- no adding to the landfill and it makes it easier on us.  We find that wipes solutions really don’t help for smell, and can cause infections or skin irritation if the solution isn’t changed often

enough.  Simple warm water is enough to get them clean.  Just our take.

a.       We use Thirsties Fab Wipes, but I will say, if I was to do it again, I would probably borrow someone’s sewing machine and make my own using some fleeced cotton material.  These are the best brand we’ve found for durability and softness for baby – as well as coverage; they can clean up a lot.  We started with 4 packs and I think now we have a total of 40 wipes.


4.        Diaper Pail and liner

a.       We just throw all our diapers into a pail (dry- don’t do any wet solution or anything) – we’ve found the combination below is the right size with the right liner.  We didn’t want to get any larger of a pail because honestly, it starts to smell if you have any more than this built up in a pail.

Pail: 15 liter is a good size.

Liner: Planet Wise Diaper Pail Liner


One of the most daunting things for us besides what kind to choose was how to wash and care for our diapers. If you buy diapers, they’ll likely send you care instructions. Here’s our method. I think there are lots of right ways and not one clear best method.

Detergent: honestly, we know everyone tells us not to, but we use Dreft. Everyone says it causes build up, but we found it worked best for E. It doesn’t bother her skin. Use what works, and keep it simple. There are lots of cloth diaper safe detergents out there, and for a while we made our own using this recipe.

Here’s our wash pattern:

  1. Cold wash with no extra rinse
  2. Hot wash with 2 tbsp detergent or less with extra rinse
  3. Cold wash

Drying: Don’t dry any of the waterproof items (covers, pail liners, wet bags) – line dry them and they will last longer

Having an outdoor clothesline is amazing with cloth diapers, if you can make it happen I highly recommend it.


Some things to keep in mind/consider


No matter what it is, you’ll want to purchase enough to last you a day x2 because you’ll always have one set in the washer and one in the drawer/pail.

Hang in there

Newborns pee.  A lot.  All the time.  All you will do is change them and feed them- keep in mind, at about 3 months things will get better and you will have to do a lot less changing.  Hang in there through the first few months and you will be golden.  In the beginning all you are doing is laundry but get through that and on the far end you’ll be so thankful you’re not running to the store every week for diapers (at least we were).

Additional Help?

If you’ll have additional help (e.g. my mom watches E one afternoon and one day each week at her house) you’ll want to increase your quantities to make sure you have enough to cover them as well.

Daily Cadence

Wipes – We leave them in a basket in the bathroom next to the nursery, and on the way to change her, we just run one or two under warm water and head into E’s room.

Once the pail is full (after about 6 months it changed to once daily), just throw the liner and all the interiors into the washer, and wash. See details later…


Potty Training

I can’t write much on this yet as we’re just in the starting phase.

Eleanor is 15 months and has had numerous pees on the potty and even a poo.  We’re working with her to identify when she’s ready.  However, I’m just happy to see that already we’re showing an interest in going on the potty.  I’d heard that cloth diapers can help them potty train sooner, and this would seem to be a good indication.  We will see!


Reference Materials

Books to Read

We really love this book, and it taught us most of what we know. If you can, get it from the library or buy it. Or, we have two copies if you want to borrow one. J Take some of it with a grain of salt, i.e. we wouldn’t recommend a used car seat, but most of it is solid advice, and they’re local parents.—Earth/dp/B004R96TEQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1404097761&sr=8-1&keywords=the+economical+baby+guide

Websites/Stores to know and love

We get our covers, wet bags, wipes, etc from Cotton Babies, they have a storefront here in Vancouver where you can try diapers on dolls, feel the materials, and browse clearance. Check them out. Also, we live about 5 minutes away and you can see our stash too.

We don’t love any of the Prefolds sold at Cottonbabies. We did buy premie Indian prefolds there because they fit better for the first 3 months of life, but that’s all we purchased from them.

We prefer Knickernappies brand prefolds. Not just because the name is awesome, but because they’re super absorbent and they tend to last longer. We buy them from another semi-local place that has good prices.


  • Cloth swim diapers are awesome and I highly recommend them. These need to be purchased by size so expect to go through several. The ones that come built into the swimsuit are much more convenient if you plan to do swim lessons, etc.
  • Also, please note that the links and products posted in this blog are just links to those products we use personally- we wish we were getting paid to say this but it’s just honest reviews of our personal opinion.


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