Modern Cloth Diapers/Nappies (MCD) come in an endless range of fabrics, cuts, styles and “other stuff” this is my beginners guide to MCD – it’s not a comprehensive cover all guide, it’s a nice and easy, simple, tried and tested dirty guide.
These are simply the questions that I asked when getting started with MCD – Answered in my own words.
Modern Cloth Diapers are the environmentally friendly, baby bum friendly alternative to disposables. A disposable diaper requires 15 litres of water to manufacture it, and will be decomposing when your children’s children are in diapers.
Another huge advantage of MCD is the cost saving. Even with washing, MCD can save you $1800 per child from start to toilet training.
MCD are “Bum Friendly” you’re not putting harsh chemicals, and petroleum by-products anywhere near your baby’s bum, just nice soft cloth.
MCD are so easy! You can wash them in a regular wash, and if you’re having a lazy day, pop them in the tumble dryer.
And of course MCD are CUTE….. Did I mention they’re cute?!
Types of Diapers
AIO/AI2 – All in Ones or All in 2’s. Basically, this is a diaper that doesn’t require a cover.
All in ones are exactly what they say they are, a complete waterproof diaper, ready to put on.
All in 2’s usually consist of a lay in or snap in booster – to increase absorbency.
All in one’s have the advantage for convenience – but can take a little longer to dry after washing, all in two’s with the removable booster tend to dry faster.
Pocket Diapers – A pocket diaper is a waterproof “pocket” that you stuff the absorbent material into. The advantage of being able to remove the absorbent material is that the diapers dry really quickly, and if you have more than one “insert” you can re-use the diaper faster.
Fitted Diaper– Fitted Dipes are cloth diapers that require a cover.
Flats - The old fashioned diaper, simply a rectangle or square of fabric that you fold into the myriad of diaper folds, and snappi or pin closed. These require a cover. The advantage of flats is the price; they are by far the cheapest, and by far the fastest drying.
Pre-Folds– Similar to flats, except they have been “Prefolded” to include a thicker more absorbent area in the middle of the diaper. They also require a special folding technique, and a cover.
Prefolds can be used as inserts for pocket diapers, by folding the rectangle into thirds and stuffing it in the diaper. The advantage of prefolds is the price, the quick drying time, and their versatility. A prefold and a cover, is a very trim, absorbent diaper.
Basically, diaper fabrics can be classed into Inner Fabrics, the part that’s touching your bub’s skin, Outer Fabrics, the part you see and show off, Waterproof Fabrics, and Absorbant Fabrics.
Microfleece – Wicks moisture away from the babies skin, leaving the skin feeling relatively dry it tends to fluff a little bit.
Flannel – Wicks moisture away, but still feels “damp”. Flannel pills, and fluffs.
Velour– less wicking than microfleece, but doesn’t pill. It looks good wash after wash. Is very absorbent
Suede Cloth– Super wicking, feels dry.
Microfibre– super wicking, feels dry, however isn’t recommended close to the baby’s skin, as it also absorbs the oils from the skin, and can dry it out.
Microfleece– the good old, cheap and cheerful, easy to wash outer. It’s a synthetic fabric, so it prevents “wicking” of moisture. Microfleece tends to keep any wetness well away from clothes.
Minkee – another synthetic fabric with a ‘fur” like pile. It comes in smooth and dot varieties (with a raised dot texture)
PUL(Polyurethane Laminate) – is a laminated Polyester Fabric – basically, it’s a waterproof outer shell for a diaper, being synthetic, it also prevents wicking. (PUL can come in cotton varieties too, but these are less common)
Outer fabrics can come in any variety you can imagine – but the three above are the most common.
The waterproof layer in a diaper is usually PUL – Polyurethane Laminate there are different types of PUL, some with properties including antifungal and antibacterial tendencies. (Such as Procare PUL)
Generally, PUL is simply a polyester fabric treated with a laminate.
Bamboo– Super absorbent, gets more so with washing. It’s eco-friendly. But can take a nice long time to dry.
Hemp– Super absorbent again, but less so than bamboo, is antifungal and antibacterial, it’s eco friendly, and quick drying. It does tend to “hold” smells for some reason, but a quick hot wash with no detergent tends to get rid of smells.
Microfibre – Super absorbent super quick drying. Doesn’t hold as much as bamboo and hemp, and can compression leak (i.e. think of Squeezing a sponge (full of wee) )
Flannel – Cheap and cheerful, absorbent, but it does tend to compression leak
The “recipe” for the absorbent fabric usually includes a couple of the above fabrics, or even sometimes hybrid fabrics such as Hemp/Bamboo/Cotton. Giving the advantages of each fabric.
Care of MCD
Enzyme free detergent is a must NO fabric softeners.
Oil based diaper rash creams build up on the diaper, and can cause it to repel moisture meaning LEAKS (Simple solution, a hot wash with no detergent should do the trick!!!)
With the exception of wool, MCD can be chucked in the machine on a regular wash.
You can tumble dry them, however, this does reduce the life of the PUL. It’s recommended that you line dry, and occasionally tumble dry.
Drypailing – is the recommended way of storing your diapers prior to washing. Simply remove any solids, and chuck them in a bucket. Wet diapers can go straight in. No Soaking, No chemicals.
If the bucket starts to smell, you can sprinkle a few drops of teatree, or lavender oil in.
Or use a product such as Pail Pals, or Citrus Circles, in the bucket. (I use a bit of Bicarb soda, and a few drops of mandarin oil)
If your diapers get “poo stained” the best way to remove the stains is to put them in sunshine. It’s a wonderful thing. It removes smells, stains, and bacteria.
All MCD can be cold or warm washed – again wool is an exception to the rule!!
How Many Will I Need?
The Rule of thumb here is How many Changes per day x How often you want to wash. +2 or 3 diapers for emergency + a night diaper. i.e. I change 7 times day, and wash every 2 days therefore I need approx 17 diapers.
This leaves me with a few in backup for poo blowouts, or massive wee days, or the days where the sun doesn’t dry them quick enough.
It’s good to have a few “cheap and cheerfuls” on hand – i.e. prefolds and covers, for when the washing hasn’t got done.
Abbreviations and Jargon
AI2 All In Two - A diaper that has a detachable booster. It doesn’t require a cover.
AIO All In One - A diaper that doesn’t require a cover or a booster
Booster - A wad of absorbent fabric you add to a diaper to “boost” its absorbency
Congo – A collaborative website with several sellers operating out of the same site
Cover – Waterproof cover that goes over the outside of a fitted diaper. Can be made of Wool, which requires a good deal of care or PUL – chuck it in the wash and wash it.
Wool covers are fantastic if you’re prepared to care for them, as they “evaporate” wee, and break down the urine. (Making them excellent for night)
Drypail - Storing the dirty diapers in bucket until you wash. Using no water or chemicals.
Hyena - To stalk a diaper website, and “pounce” on a product as soon as it becomes available for sale.
Lanolise - How you treat a woollen cover, by spraying it or soaking it with lanolin. This keeps it waterproof (and makes it smell nice if you choose a scented Lanolin product.
MCD – Modern Cloth Diapers
OOAK - One of A Kind
OSFA - One Size Fits All
PUL(PolyUrethane Laminate) – basically, fabric treated with a laminate to make it waterproof.
Snappi- Plastic hook thing that holds fitted diapers closed. Snappi is the brand name, but there are cheaper, similar products available.
Snaps - Press Studs
Soaker - The absorbent part of the diaper
Stripwash – Used to remove any oily product build up. Simply wash the diapers in hot water with no detergent
Touch tape – Similar to Velcro
WAHM – Work At Home Mom
Photo Credit: Bubblebubs Cloth Nappies