Prefolds: The Easiest Cloth Diapers
I donít know what it is about having a second child, but cloth diaper laundry that never bothered
me with my first is always hanging around in the basket waiting to be folded and put away
until the last minute with my second. I was good about the diapers until I went back to
work part time. Now, even though I still have the entire afternoon at home with my kids, I
just canít seem to get diaper laundry under control this time around. Itís not like anything
has changed since I diapered my daughter (other than the obvious addition of her
brother). I worked part time when she was a baby as well. Itís not like I have two kids in
diapers at the same time so unfortunately thatís not an excuse either. Somehow, just
having two children instead of one, even spaced nearly four years apart, has carved away
at my ďfreeĒ time in such a way that diapers donít often get folded, stuffed, and sorted in a
timely fashion. Of course, other things have gone to the wayside with two kids as well.
Things like regularly dusting the shelves, remembering to wash windows more than a
couple times a year, and changing the sheets on a weekly basis have also gotten pushed
back to a frequency that is frustrating. But back to the diapers. This post is about the
Why we now choose prefolds
Normally we just use pockets stuffed with flats a majority of the time and we supplement
this with fitteds or prefolds only occasionally. But then Baby Bear had a suspicious
looking rash and I was afraid it might be yeast, so to be on the safe side I started using
his cotton prefolds as much as I could until the rash cleared because, according to a study done
by the Real Diaper Association, yeast doesnít stay on cotton after itís been washed.
During that week or so where Bear was in prefolds, my diaper laundry was miraculously
finished and in the baskets on his changing table in record time. Thatís when the light
bulb went off and I discovered that prefolds are definitely the easiest cloth diaper. Yes,
they are easier than pockets. They are even easier than all in ones. At least in my
opinion. All this time, since my four≠year old daughter was born, Iíd been stalwartly using
my pockets and AIOs because they are the easiest. This opinion was based on my
comparing them to disposables, and only keeping in mind time spent at the changing
table. But though these diapers are great, are they really the easiest? I donít really think
so anymore. They can be finicky about how they are washed and dried (especially if you
have an HE washer), they spend more time being washed and dried then prefolds (or
flats), and then the pockets have to be stuffed. Prefolds? Not difficult at all. Granted,
there is an extra step or two at the actual changing table, but during the rest of their life
cycle they are amazingly low maintenance. Theyíre super inexpensive, they get softer
and more absorbent with every wash, they donít need as many rinses as microfiber
because theyíre made of cotton, you can throw them in the dryer without worrying about
taking the life out of PUL or elastics, and they donít need to be folded. I lay mine flat right
out of the wash and then toss them in their basket and theyíre ready to be used. You can
pin them, snappi them, boingo them, or just lay them inside the cover. Theyíre soft, all
natural, absorbent, and often organic. They actually get better with age and use, and yes,
they donít re≠infect your baby with yeast rashes either! Besides, theyíre the cheapest
cloth diaper option, hands down.
Iíll admit, my diaper changes now take a couple of seconds longer, and sometimes
prefolds are more challenging to fasten to a wiggly baby, but Iím saving more time to play
with both my precious kiddos in the meantime because Iíve eliminated that 15 to 25
minutes it takes to stuff and sort my stash of pockets 2 to 4 times a week. We still keep
the pockets (all 30+ of them) and use them regularly for daycare, church, night time, a
hurried diaper change, or just because theyíre darn adorable; but now Iím giving my
pockets and AIOs a longer life by using them less and I donít have to stuff all 30 pockets
at a time at diaper folding time. Besides, I need less prefolds than pocket diapers
because I donít have to line dry anything other than a cover or two once a day. I can
cloth diaper my 7 month old almost full≠time on only 12 prefolds that way. Pockets take a
full 24 hours to be ready from washing to air drying. Prefolds can take as little as a
couple of hours to be ready to wear again, depending upon how quickly you wash and
machine dry them. And the best part? You know that stink that can linger on microfiber
inserts with time and use? Itís non≠existent with prefolds. Yep. Absolutely not even a
All cloth diapers are easy in their own right, and different kinds of diapers are easier for
different families for a variety of reasons. But for me and my family right now, Iím loving
the extra time Iíve gained with both my kiddos by sticking to the cheaper, simpler, old
fashioned diaper and saving the pockets for a pinch. And I think my little guyís bum is
enjoying the luxurious cotton as well. Itís funny because with my daughter, I despised
prefolds most of the time. They sat abandoned in the lowest basket on her changing
table where they were only ever used in a pinch while I grabbed from my ever≠growing
stash of pocket diapers. Now the prefolds are the first ones I grab! So go ahead, stick
with the fancy pocket diapers, AIOs, and fitteds, and Iíll stick with my old≠fashioned
prefolds and pins because after four years, I finally discovered just how awesome they
Karen Date 2/25/2014
I'm also a fan of prefolds for all the reasons you mentioned: soft, absorbent, cheap, durable, versatile and clean easily. I'm expecting my 5th and I've used prefolds and covers almost exclusively with all of them. Pocket diapers are all the rage now, but I've never liked them. I hate the feel of microfiber and I hate stuffing pockets. I hadn't even realized all the prep work that goes into maintaining a stash of pockets until you mentioned it - no thank you! I'll stick with my natural fiber prefolds!
AmberH Date 2/25/2014
I agree with the stink comment! I bought some diapers used and it came with a 8 microfiber inserts and almost 50 prefolds. There was a bit of ammonia stench, so I tossed the inserts and prefolds in the wash on hot with some baking soda (NO detergent since we haven't bought good detergent yet). After one wash and spin in the dryer, the prefolds were stench free! They looked new! The microfiber inserts, however, had to be washed and dried again and though they smell much better, they still have a slight funky stench if I smell them up close.
Mind you, I washed 50 prefolds together, and the inserts by themselves. The inserts also took SO much longer to dry! I'd like to try bamboo and hemp, But I'm definitely happy with the cotton so far:)
Sahar Date 2/25/2014
I'm curious what brand of prefolds do you prefer?
Beth Date 2/25/2014
I have just discovered essential oils, and I read that lemon oil helps with stale laundry. Since my diapers had been having a lingering stink for a while, I thought I would try it on my cloth diapers, and it worked wonderfully! :)
Katy Date 2/25/2014
Prefolds and Flip covers, still our favorites with baby #2. I think they are more absorbent and less likely to leak, too.
Melissa McCarty Date 2/25/2014
We use prefolds at home and pockets at night and in town. I'll admit.. they are easier to wash.
Megan Bailly Date 2/25/2014
I LOVED my prefolds with my first. However, with two in cloth now, I just can't spend the extra time at the changing table. I destashed them to buy a few more pockets for the baby. I don't mind the stuffing. I do it at night when my husband and I watch Netflix.
Valeria Date 2/28/2014
I use prefolds at home all the time. I always recommend prefolds to new mamas, especially for newborns. Best thing? The PRICE!
Kim H Date 2/28/2014
I completely agree! We started with prefolds & covers with baby #1 because they are so cheap & now have 2 in diapers & both are exclusively diapered with prefolds & wraps. I never could bring myself to purchase a more expensive pocket or AIO diaper when the prefolds worked so well and are so simple tp use! I keep hoping to win a different style from somewhere just to try it out, but that hasn't happened yet! ;)
Julie Date 2/28/2014
Prefolds were my go to diaper for the last 3 years until my washer broke. Once I had to hand wash, I quickly re-discovered my love of flats. My back just couldn't handle the amount of rinses I had to do, along with how long they take to dry.
christine k Date 2/28/2014
I hated prefolds with my first. I fell in love with them after #2 was born. It was so much easier on a newborn than pockets!
Suzanne Williams Date 2/28/2014
I love my prefolds!!
Rachel A. Date 2/28/2014
When we found out we were expecting again, I started investigating cloth. I had just about convinced myself that we should try it, but I was worried about the upfront cost. Then we went to a giant consignment sale going on at a local church. There I found a perfect starter stash (in great condition) with 12 newborn and 24 size small GMD cotton prefolds, 4 fitteds, and 4 Thirsties size one covers. And a snappie. I was the only one to show interest in the bundle, and they gave it to me for free. I was so thankful I could have cried. We love using these and have added to our collection since then, and when my son outgrows them, I will gift these to someone else.
Amy Dunn Date 3/1/2014
Thanks for sharing about prefolds. I was recently given some and have been hesitant to use them b/c I thought it would take too long. I'm realizing it would save me more time by using them. I know it will take me a few more seconds at changing time but possibly hours when it comes to laundry. I shared this article with a friend who is interested in doing CDing with her baby who is due later this year...she is very excited.
Shawn Marie Date 3/2/2014
When talking to another cloth diaper mom I got called "hard core" for using pre-folds :) Although the wigglier my daughter gets the more I'm looking at other options. We'll see!
Kimberly Date 3/2/2014
Prefolds and covers are what we'll be using with our first (arriving in the next couple of weeks hopefully.) We have AIOs and pockets for later on but I'm looking forward to using the prefolds first.
Chere Date 3/3/2014
I just don't like how wet the prefolds feel . . . i prefer using them inside a pocket diaper if nothing else. I am new to the whole cloth diaper thing, though. It seems they would be good along with a microfiber in pockets. And I have bamboo and cotton prefolds . . . do they make hemp prefolds, too? Aren't they supposed to be the most absorbent . . hemp. ? But I believe I heard that they don't absorb as quickly as microfiber even though they hold more . . . I may not have all the details right.
Rhonda Date 3/3/2014
I've not tried these yet, but I've been meaning to.
Cynthia Downer Date 3/4/2014
I haven't tried prefolds yet. Sure, stuffing pockets sucks, but I always do it on the floor with my son so we can play/talk/etc. And I don't think prefolds would be very easy with my son.. He's perfect the "death roll" so much so that even sposies are difficult to put on him sometimes. But I've always wanted to try them.
judith martinez Date 3/6/2014
I used prefolds with my oldest 3 as that was about the only option 15-20 years ago. Now I'm finding that I really like flats in pockets!
dara scott Date 3/7/2014
ill be trying prefolds tonight for the first time! i cant wait!!!
firstname.lastname@example.org Knight Date 3/7/2014
I love prefolds, even though they're a lot more difficult with the alligator roll.
Christina L Date 3/9/2014
We use some flats and some prefolds. I like how much faster they dry and are much easier to clean with our HE front loader.
Maggie M Date 3/11/2014
Prefolds used to be my favorite. I used them full time with my first. With my second my favorite are flats. I love flats! I love prefolds! They are both amazing and so underrated. I think everyone should use them!
Desiree Trogdon Date 3/13/2014
I tried prefolds with my oldest when he was born and I could never figure out how to put them on so I gave up and went disposable. With my second (who is 4 months old) we have been using pocket diapers. Some new and some second hand. I am interested in trying prefolds again now! Thank you!
Samantha Yoder Date 3/13/2014
I so agree! I know everyone always says pockets or AIOs are the easiest but I think trifolded prefolds laid in a cover are at least equally as easy while also being cheaper, more durable, and easier to wash and put away. I love love love our prefolds and flats. The only downside is that there are so many more cute prints available in pockets/AIOs than there are for covers (in my opinion).
Amy Calzada Date 3/14/2014
This was a really helpful post. I'm getting ready to start cloth diapering with my two children...and I'm mostly going to be using prefolds...simply because of cost. It's great to hear of some of the added benefits outside of cost.
Thanks for the thoughtful post!
jennifer laur Date 3/14/2014
i used mostly pocket diapers with my son (who is now 4 years old). now that we are building a stash for baby #2, due at the end of june, we are definitely using MORE natural fibers, including plenty of prefolds.
Melissa S Date 3/15/2014
I am one of those people who has made the switch to primarily using prefolds. They are so much cheaper, soft on baby's skin, and easy to wash and dry. While I still like the conveniece of pockets and AIO's for running errands and babysitters, I use prefolds most of the day now. Am planning to use them with our new little newborn as well. :)
Caroline Date 3/15/2014
Thanks for the great advice! I'm thinking of stashing up on prefolds and covers for my coming bundle of joy.
Tiffany G Date 3/17/2014
I am seriously considering some perfolds this time around for my newborn. I have just enough newborn diapers to use if I wash nightly. I don't want to have to do that this time around but also don't want to drop to much money on newborn diapers.
Lisa Date 3/25/2014
I'm due in October with baby #3. I used pockets on my son but started when he was a toddler. I am hoping to use cloth exclusively for this baby but I'm being flexible with my plans. :) my problem is finding covers to go with flats and prefolds. I'm thinking about making my own using PUL and Aplix. Just not sure how good they'll be. Does anyone have a good suggestion for covers for a newborn that won't cost too much? I'm trying to save as much money as possible. :)
Christine Westerhold Date 4/4/2014
This is the route I am going!! 3rd time mommy first time cloth diapering!
A. W. Date 4/11/2014
Prefolds are my favorite - wish we would have started with them right away! So easy to clean and economical.
Holly Wells Date 4/17/2014
Interesting. I would love to try prefolds someday. I just started CDing and are using pockets, however I may have to try prefolds.
Rhiannon Date 4/18/2014
I'm just starting out with cloth diapering, and I have decided to use prefolds as well. Honestly, I wish I had done cloth with my first, because after a brief explanation from a friend on washing and wearing, it really does seem pretty easy. My question is, how many prefolds should I realistically have in my stash if I plan to do wash every other day? This would be starting once my newborn gets home from the hospital.
Jennifer McDonald Date 5/5/2014
I thought I'd hate prefolds, but ended up loving them. They are what I use during the day with my 1 yr old and will use with the baby soon to be here as well :) super cheap, easy to clean and use
Cassandra deNevers Date 5/9/2014
Tried prefolds with covers for my first and wasn't that impressed. But the pockets to hold the diaper had no elastic. Does anyone know if the elastic really holds them in place better?
Sierra Santiago Date 5/30/2014
Thank you for this :)
Autumn Pysarchyk Date 6/25/2014
I have prefolds on the way! I cannot wait to try them! :D
Audrey G. Date 7/10/2014
I've used trifolded prefolds in a Flip cover before and while I liked it, it is not my go to. I still prefer AIOs or pockets. However, I am considering replacing all of my microfiber inserts and stuffing my pockets with prefolds instead.
Megan W Date 10/23/2014
We will be using cloth diapers with our second that is due in 6 weeks. Our current stash is about half prefolds/covers and the other pockets/AIO. I'm excited to start using them all but curious as to which ones will become my favorites.