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Frequently Asked Questions About Cloth Diapers

Q: How many diapers do I need?

A: That depends upon how frequently you want to be washing diapers. If you average six diaper changes a day and can only do laundry once a week you may need several dozen.

Q: How do I wash them?

A: For detailed instructions on the care and laundering of cloth diapers click here for our Diaper Care FAQ. While cloth diapers will save you money over time, initially they are more costly than disposables, but with proper laundering your investment can last for years.

Q: How long will they last?

A: That depends upon how often you use them, how long you allow them to sit in the diaper pail and whether you use bleach and harsh detergents when laundering. Urine and fecal matter contain ammonia and acids that over time will weaken the fabric fibers. Using bleach will accelerate this process and decrease the life of your diapers. With average use, even when washed with bleach you can expect your diapers to last about a year. If you follow the instructions on our diaper care page they may provide comfort and protection for as much as a two or three years.

Q: How do I determine the best diaper size?

A: Our size charts makes it easy by listing a range of waist sizes. If you want to know how to figure the proper length and width on your own use the following method.

To determine the width take your waist size, divide by two and add three to six inches to allow for pinning room on either side. Then add 10% to allow for shrinkage.

To determine the length measure from your back where the top of the diaper will rest, through your legs to the point where the front of the diaper will sit. For most people this measurement is taken from the small of the back to just under the navel.

Q: How is a cloth diaper different than disposable?

A: As a site that sells cloth diapers we obviously have an interest in selling more of them. While I personally find cloth diapers provide greater comfort and leak protection there are times disposables are more practical.

Our experience with disposables is that when wet the absorbent material quickly forms into large clumps. If you are active, these clumps separate from the plastic backing and fall to the crotch. Once this happens there are large areas of the diaper with no absorbent material and the diaper will almost certainly leak with subsequent wettings. Some disposable diapers use a chemical gel to help absorb wetness but in many peoples opinion this sometimes leaves a clammy or slimy residue against the skin.

On the other hand, even when wet, cloth diapers never get lumpy and remain soft and comfortable. Because no matter how wet a cloth diaper becomes the material wicks moisture to the dry area and they can withstand many more subsequent wettings. Cloth diapers provide more absorbent material on the sides than even the best disposable. Even when sleeping on your side a cloth diaper can absorb better than almost any disposable can.

Q: What’s the difference between flannel, birdseye or gauze?

Birdseye's unique weave makes it soft, comfortable and very absorbent. Its woven qualities make it fast drying and the longest lasting of any diapering fabrics. The weave is looser than flannel and it is also less bulky. About 1/3 of the prefolds we sell are made of this fabric.

Gauze is a difficult fabric to find but it is also the most popular diapering cloth. Weighing in as the lightest of all the diaper cloths, gauze is soft, loosely woven, and finely spun. This makes it the softest, most absorbent, comfortable diaper. Since it's looser, porous weave allows air to move about freely it is especially helpful in reducing the occurrence of diaper rash and is fast drying. Our gauze diapers out sell the other fabrics two to one. Our customers simply prefer this superior fabric.

Flannel is the most common diaper fabric. Flannel is the primary fabric offered at some stores since flannel is the easiest fabric to come and is the least expensive. Many diaper companies push flannel because it’s lower cost make them more profitable to sell. But there are downsides to flannel. Because it is a dense weaved fabric it is somewhat less absorbent and can take much longer to dry. It also looses its initial softness over time and the fabric actually becomes harder. We stopped stocking flannel prefolds and only sell birdseye and gauze now. We found that when presented with a choice less than 8% of our customers were buying flannel prefolds anyway. We are happy to make flannel diapers for anyone who wants them on a custom order basis.

Terry Cloth is the most popular diaper fabric used in Europe. European diapers are usually made exclusively of terry cloth. Because of it’s bulkiness in the US it is generally used only in the center panel, if it is used at all. We do not offer an all Terry diaper but we do use it for the inside middle pannels of our prefold diapers. We are happy to make traditional Terry nappies for anyone who wants them on a custom order basis.

Q: How do I fold my new diapers?

A: Usually rectangular prefold style diapers do not need to be folded. Occasionally when a prefold is a little too long or too wide a simple fold is necessary to deal with the excess fabric and obtain a more snug fit. Click here for illustrated directions on two of the most popular diaper folding techniques.