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Published on March 16th, 2014 | by Brittney French


Cloth Diaper Basics: How many cloth diapers do I need?

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It's the million dollar question: "What do I need to start using cloth diapers?"

Well, do you know the answer? 

If not, that's okay. We just can't give you $1,000,000. 

Getting started with cloth diapers and building a stash is easy, although it takes a bit of planning.

Here's how you can begin:

  • Purchase 24 cloth diapers in the style of your choice. Why 24? Newborns often go through eight to 10 cloth diapers a day, and we recommend washing your cloth diapers every other day to avoid stink, mold, mildew and other issues. With 24 diapers, you also have a few extra clean cloth diapers to get you through a day or two while the rest are in the wash machine or your diaper pail. If you use two-piece cloth diaper systems like Flip or Econobum, you may want to have at least 10 covers and 14 prefolds or inserts. For multiple children in cloth,  36-40 cloth diapers is a decent-sized stash, especially if you are using a one-size style that can fit both children.
  • Diaper pail or wet bags will allow you to store dirty diapers until laundry day. Vented diaper pails allow air flow, which also helps to prevent mold. Wet bags come in a variety of sizes, fabrics and styles to suit the needs of any family. If you are not using a diaper pail, you will want a wet bag large enough to hold two days worth of dirty laundry. You may also consider a wet bag that is a smaller size to hold a few dirty diapers for your daycare provider or those times you are out and about with your little one.
  • Cloth diaper safe laundry detergents are an ABSOLUTE MUST. These will help prolong the life of your  stash and will help prevent any cloth diaper issues like leaks and odor. Cloth diaper safe detergents do not contain enzymes, brighteners, dyes, scents or fabric softeners, which is why they work so well with cloth diapers. These additives are the reason you may experience leaks and odors. Make things easy on yourself by checking out the natural laundry section on, where we sell detergents recommended for cloth.
  • Diaper sprayers are an easy way to remove the "yuck" from your diapers before laundry day. These certainly aren't required when you use cloth diapers, but can make a world of difference. I mean, come on, do you really want to dunk your dirty diapers in the toilet to remove the waste? 
  • Cloth wipes and bottom cleaner will help you get the most bang for your buck. You're already using a sustainable product by choosing cloth diapers, so why not add another into the mix? Cloth wipes and bottom cleaner are a gentle, all natural way to clean and soothe your baby's bottom. Additionally, cloth wipes can also be used throughout your house when your baby outgrows their diapers.

Preparing for a new baby can be costly. So if you're worried about the upfront cost of purchasing these products at once, start out small. Add certain items to your registries, buy a few diapers here and there when you're able, and give yourself enough time to build your stash before your little one arrives.

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About the Author

Brittney is a social media coordinator for Cotton Babies. She has three sisters, loves pizza and enjoys listening to obscure bands no one has heard of. Outside of posting on the Cotton Babies Facebook page, she babysits a few cloth diaper-wearing kids and cheers for her favorite sports team.

2 Responses to Cloth Diaper Basics: How many cloth diapers do I need?

  1. Alexis says:

    Great article! I have a 3 1/2 month old and have been heavily considering switching to cloth diapers by the time he’s four months. A friend has even let me borrow her stash so I could try it out on him. She gave me pocket diapers, and when I go to change him the cover is still sometimes damp, even though I used two inserts… I think she is using an off brand- could that be why? The thing that is keeping me from expanding my own inventory (I just have a few pre-folds and a diaper cover) is the washing routine. I don’t know if I could faithfully commit knowing that each load of cloth diapers means three cycles (pre-wash, hot wash, rinse, and sometimes extra rinse). Is there an easier routine? My friend initially told me just to use the sanitize cycle, but blogs posts like this one are telling me not to, which might be the tipping point in my cloth diaper debate. Help!

  2. mandy says:

    It’s so usuafull! Thanks for your post!

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