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Cloth Diaper FAQ


Have questions about using cloth diapers? Salem Cloth Project wants to help. Here are some frequently asked cloth diaper questions. Contact us if you have other questions or if you would like to sign up for a virtual Cloth Diaper 101 course.

What is the best cloth diaper style?

There is no one style of cloth diaper that is better than the other. Each has it's unique benefits & drawbacks. For instance, covers with prefolds or flats are more economical while all-in-one diapers are more expensive. Pocket diapers and all-in-ones are great for first time cloth diaper users because they have less of a learning curve. See our pro & con list here. 

cover & prefold pocket diaper & insert all-in-one cloth diaper

How many cloth diapers do I need?

To determine how many cloth diapers you need, here is a simple math equation: Number of diaper changes per day x how often you plan to wash diapers + 2 diapers, while dirty diapers are in the wash. Reference the table below for assistance. 

Age of Baby Changes / Day Washing Number of Cloth Diapers
Newborn - 3 months 8-10 Every 2 days

16-20 + 2 = 18-22

3-6 months 6-8 Every 3 days 18-24 + 2 = 20-26
6-12 months 5-6 Every 1 day  5-6 + 2 = 7-8

Are cloth diapers really better for the environment?

Yes. Some people will question if the added water usage makes cloth diapers a worse for the environment or they're concerned about the use of textiles to make the cloth diapers. But no matter how you slice it, cloth diapers come out on top.

Disposable diapers use a large amount of resources such as cotton, polyester, chemical fragrances and dyes which all come from somewhere. They have to be grown, produced or manufactured and then transported. All to then be thrown away after one use. While cloth diapers are energy intensive to make, they are made to last and can be used for two or three children. 

Disposable diapers also contribute to added methane gas (a harmful Greenhouse Gas) to be emitted from landfills. You are technically supposed to toss the poop into the toilet even when using disposables, but this rarely happens. And when refuse breaks down, it emits methane which is more harmful than carbon. 

Cloth diapers seem expensive. How do cloth diapers save me money?

Cloth diapers can be expensive. However, there are ways to help reduce the upfront cost such as purchasing pre-loved cloth diapers or utilizing your local cloth diaper bank like Salem Cloth Project. Apply to receive a free kit today.

But even if you purchase brand new cloth diapers, you could spend between $150 - $500 whereas with disposable diapers you would be spending between $1,500 - $2,000 over the course of 2 years. This cost doesn't include the cost of disposable wipes. By using cloth wipes, you can save an additional $20 a month.

How do you wash cloth diapers?

1. Pre-rinse on cold or warm

2. Hot wash + Free & Clear Detergent (follow directions on the bottle)

3. Final rinse on cold

4. Air dry or dry on medium / low heat

There are many suggested cloth diaper washing routines out there, but we like to encourage you to keep it simple. There are variations to this washing routine based on if you have hard or soft water or if you're experiencing bad smells. But this is a good place to start.

What do I do with the poop?

Newborn poop is water soluble, so until your baby is eating solid foods you can toss your poopy diaper directly into the wash without rinsing it. 

Once your baby has started eating solid foods you will need to toss the poop into the toilet before you place it in your hamper. Some poops will come off with a simple shake. Others may need to be dunked in the toilet. You can also purchase a diaper sprayer to spray the poop into the toilet. 

Can I use cloth diapers if I don't have a washer or dryer?

Absolutely! Handwashing cloth diapers is a great option. Prefolds and flats easy to clean and quick to hang dry - so these may be a good option if you're handwashing. Follow the same wash routine above, but use your bath tub or a 5-gallon bucket instead. Here is more information on handwashing.

Using a shared washer / dryer, laundry mat or diaper cleaning service are also options. However, there will be a increased time commitment if you rely on any of these options. 

Are used or secondhand cloth diapers safe?

Yes. Used cloth diapers are safe to use. Cloth diapers are built to last and if cared for properly, they can be used for 2-3 children (or more sometimes). However, you will want to be sure to sanitize any cloth diapers you have received secondhand to remove any potential bacteria.

When purchasing used diapers, always check to make sure the elastics are not stretched and that there are not holes in the absorbent fabric or waterproof PUL liner.

Contact Salem Cloth Project if you have additional questions or if you would like to attend a virtual Cloth Diaper 101 course.

baby in cloth diaper