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How to use Cloth Diapers A Review

Written by: Hendrik

Category: Zero Waste, Home

Updated on:


Congratulations, you had a baby! Now what?

So many new decisions to make. So many things to think about. After we researched cloth diapers and the different kinds, we settled for the pocket diaper. I will only get into pocket diaper because, for us, it ticked all the boxes.

  • outer waterproof shell
  • inserts that can be removed
  • easy to wash
  • can be used for swimming
  • the grow with your baby

If you want to find out about all the different types there, check out mamanaturals post that goes into more depth. But if you know that you are using pocket diapers or already bought plenty, let’s dive in.

How many cloth diapers do I need to reduce my environmental impact?

If you purchase reusable cloth diapers, you end up throwing around 12-24 of them away by the time your little one goes to the pooper. That’s not too bad considering the pile of pampers that yearly end up in landfills. 2.4 billion in Canada alone. In America, the number is 27 billion.

Now you might think because there is only pee and poo inside that they will rot and break down, but that isn’t the case at all. Diapers are made up of many different synthetic materials that are derived from crude oil. Essentially, what you are throwing in the bin is a piece of soft plastic that will stick around for thousands of years.

Sure, some reusable diapers are also made from synthetic fiber, but you only need a couple of them, as you learned earlier.

pile of diapers

What is the cost of diapers?

With many things in the zero waste world, you have to pay a little more upfront to save later down the road. What does that look like?

1st year of clothdiapering

  • 6 pack of Alva Baby = $50
  • We bought 24 diapers = $200
  • Plus additional inserts = $32
  • A waterproof bag = $15
  • 80 Bamboo wipes = $5 x 12 = 60

total = $357

We have also noticed if you only have a few diapers, you got to do a lot more washing. We ended up washing diapers every two days, which seems like a lot of water. On the other hand, if you buy disposable diapers, they also use a lot of water in making them.

You could buy more diapers which we ended up doing anyway, but we also changed the brand. I will get more into detail further down the article.

1st year of disposable diapers

  • A box of 56 diapers = $32
  • The average child uses 2700 diapers in the first year = $550
  • Whenever we are on the road we primarily use disposable diapers.
  • Bamboo wipes pk of 80 = $60

total: $610

We also tried some fancy brands that say they are biodegradable, here is the verdict:

What about biodegradable diapers?

Diapers advertised as biodegradable or eco-friendly can not be composted because they still include synthetic components. However, there are a few companies that make compostable diapers. Typically only in an industrial composting facility and not in your backyard or compost heap.

The companies listed below still have some components, such as the gusset made of plastic, making them only 85 – 90 % compostable. Using a compostable diaper and researching a facility in your area that accepts them is better than disposable diapers.

Best Biodegradable and compostable diapers

These are the three diaper brands that Nature’s Premiere offers, which are all biodegradable to different degrees. If you choose to invest in these diapers, you’ll need to research commercial composting facilities in your area to see if one actually accepts compostable dirty diapers.


Poof diapers are made from materials like non-GMO corn and bamboo, they’re free of harsh chemicals, chlorine, and fragrance, and they are hypoallergenic. Poof diapers are certified compostable in commercial facilities, and not in home composts. The brand also makes plant-based wipes that it claims are flushable.

Eco by Naty

Eco by Naty’s diapers are certified bio-based, free of “nasty chemicals,” and certified STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX. The company’s website doesn’t actually reference whether the diapers are compostable, but Nature’s Premiere claims to compost them. Eco by Naty also makes a plant-based training potty made out of 95 percent renewable material, along with flushable potty liners and flushable and compostable wipes.

Bambo Nature

Bambo Nature diapers are designed for babies with sensitive skin, they are FSC-certified, and the website mentions that they can be composted. However, they are made with plenty of plastic-based components that would have to be removed before being commercially composted.

source greenmatters

Do reusable diapers work?

Yes, and No.

The inserts are quite absorbent, but it happens quite a lot that they leak. This is due to the diaper not sealing enough around our baby’s leg.

Usually, this is just a bit of pee not being absorbed quickly or when our girl is lying on the side. The little flap doesn’t cover or go over the leg.

Sadly, we have to admit that we have stopped using them as night diapers because they would leak pretty much every night. Let me tell you. It isn’t fun to wake up in a wet bed.

We tried using a different insert for our cloth diapers, the black charcoal ones, but they were actually worse. I am not sure why they are highly rated on amazon because they didn’t absorb anything. They were worse than the standard ones we had.

cloth diaper inserts

So what works best for us is a combination of both. It seems still better than only using disposable ones.

How to clean them?

The best way to clean your cloth diapers we found is to use TruEarth Baby laundry strips and wash them every time they become wet or soiled.

Usually, we would throw the inserts into the washing machine and wash the diaper whenever dirty. But this actually led to a little reaction on our girl’s bum, so we decided to wash everything and pre-soak it in vinegar.

Update: Now, we rinse the diapers in cold water every time they go into the wet bag. When we have enough diapers ready for the washing machine, we presoak them in cold water for a while until they go into the machine. Do not dry them, only hang dry.

Related: How to clean with vinegar

It turns out after a bit of research that the diapers wouldn’t actually clean properly anymore, and our baby’s irritation wouldn’t go away. Instead, we used to throw away diapers for a week or two until the rush was gone.

Unfortunately, this also meant the end of our Alva diapers. However, we didn’t just want to give up on using reusable diapers, so we found a brand that had cotton inserts, and only the outer layer was made from plastic. Yes, Alva Baby is all synthetic fibers, and we think that our girl reacted to that and that it wasn’t possible to get them clean anymore. We are much happier with the cotton pocket diaper from

They, however, recommend not to put your diapers in the dryer while with Alva’s baby. It was actually unclear. One blog post said yes, the other one no.

What if your pocket diapers smell bad?

Every once in a while, it comes to a point where the cloth diapers smell a bit funky, related to the ammoniac in the pee. We found the best way to clean our pocket diapers was by soaking them in bleach( I know not the eco-friendly way here) and then washing them twice to make sure no bleach remains in the fabric. This has done the job so far, and we could continue using the diapers successfully.

Prefer to watch the cloth diaper review on youtube?

If you are more the kind who likes to watch things, I encourage you to watch my cloth diaper review, which also explains how to use the inserts with your pocket diaper.

Cloth Diapers the Zero Waste way for Babies | How to cloth diaper Alva Baby

The Verdict and why to use cloth diapers?

Our little one isn’t so little anymore, and she has started eating solid food for a couple of months now. Also, changing diapers has become less frequent, thankfully.

This seems kind of weird to say, but I am happy that she makes some massive solid poops now, which are super easy to clean and not messy at all. Probably due to the massive amounts of oats she eats for breaky.

We are even back to using reusable diapers at night since she doesn’t pee much at night anymore. She is now 14 months old sleeps in her own bed for the first months. The best thing is she sleeps right through the night.

We know that every baby is different, and we hope that this little review gives you a bit more of an idea of whether you will do cloth diapering. (Is that even a word)?

It is a big bonus that we don’t contribute to the thousands of disposable diapers going to landfill every year. Sure we are not perfect, but zero waste is not about being perfect but trying your best and seeing what works for you.

If you thought this post was helpful, feel free to share it and leave a comment about your own experience. Until then, happy zero wasting 🙂

Photo of author

Hendrik Kaiser

I've studied biology and lived for 3 years on an off-grid permaculture farm. I love kitesurfing and keeping my body healthy and fit. Hence, I care so much about keeping our environment clean and being as zero waste as possible. Being a zerowasteman is a superpower everyone has inside of themselves, and I want to teach you how you can unleash it.

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