The wide world of cloth diapers can be a bit overwhelming. There are a ton of brands each with their own unique features and qualities. Each brand also comes with their own washing and care instructions, some of which can conflict with competing brands.
What are the Basics? What do you you really need to know?
If you're in the beginning stages, just considering cloth diapers as a viable option, trying to figure out what you need to know, then this post is for you.
First, you need a cloth diaper that is both waterproof and absorbent. Not all "diapers" have a waterproof exterior. Fitteds, prefolds, flats and contours are all comprised of absorbent materials but require a waterproof cover.
Pocket Diapers and All-In-One Diapers generally each come with a complete system that has materials that are absorbent and a waterproof exterior.
Pocket Diapers have a pocket opening that you stuff absorbent pads into (each pocket diaper usually comes with them) and All-In-One Diapers are all one piece.
Second, there are things you MUST know before cloth diapering successfully.
You CAN NOT use just any diaper rash remedy or ointment with cloth diapers. No Vaseline, no A&D Ointment, no Desitin. These ointments will stick onto the cloth diaper and stain them as well as build-up and cause odor and repelling issues. Think about smearing some on your t-shirt...not a good idea right? Well the same goes for cloth diapers.
Look for a diaper rash remedy that is known for being cloth diaper safe, and even then, apply lightly.
Third, cloth diapers can not be washed with just any detergent. You need something without the fancy added fabric softeners, brighteners and added fragrance. They will coat your diapers and cause many issues including odors, diaper rash and more.
The same goes for dryer sheets. No fabric softeners in liquid or sheet form should be used with cloth diapers.
Lastly, you have to decide in advance how often you want to wash cloth diapers and I personally don't recommend washing any less than 2-3 days.
Knowing how often you want to wash will help you determine how many diapers you need to get through each day.
Also, just as you would not leave wet towels or soiled/wet underwear and bathing suits in your laundry basket for a week, you should not do that with your cloth diapers. The longer your soiled diaper sit the more likely you are to discover stains, mildew (sometimes mold) and ammonia issues.
Make diaper laundry easier on yourself by washing every 24-72 hours or less.
These are just the absolute basics you need to know. Once you feel confident you want to take on the above, you can then look into ways to make cloth diapering easier and accessories that go hand in hand with cloth diapering like diaper sprayers, cloth wipes, wipe solution, wetbags and more.
So, are you ready to switch to cloth diapers? Have you been considering it?