Prepping Cloth Diapers

If you’ve been following along this series over the past few weeks, then you may just be ready to dive into cloth diapering.

But wait–first I need to make sure you know how to prep your cloth diapers!

What does that mean? Don’t worry. I didn’t know I had to prep my diapers when they first came in the mail either. Read along, and I’ll show you how easy it is, and your sweet babe will be sporting a cute little fluffy bum in no time!

As a recap, over the past few weeks we’ve covered:

If you want all this information (and a lot more!) in one resource, check out my complete cloth diapering handbook!

So, if you’ve started building your stash, then you may already have little bundles of fluff (a slang term for cloth diapers) already arriving in the mail. And if you’re anything like me, you’re more than excited about ripping into your fluffy packages and getting them on your baby.

Image by moohaha

When my very first package arrived, I tore into it…and then just sat there looking at the bright-green and flowered Kawaii pocket diaper. The company I had ordered from didn’t send any instructions, so I felt stuck!

What should I do?! Should I wash it first? And, if so, how should I wash it? The last thing I wanted to do was ruin my new cloth diaper before I even put it on my baby!

Thankfully, I’m good friends with Sarah, the owner of The Earthy Baby. At the time, I just knew her online from my local Mommies Network. She was gracious enough to come over to my house and show me the ropes of cloth diapering, and we’ve now become very good real-life friends.

Sarah explained that I needed to prep the diapers before using them.

Prepping the diapers basically means washing them before using them.

Prepping Synthetic-Fibered Diapers

With synthetic-fibered diapers–like pocket diapers made out of fleece or suede-cloth with microfiber inserts–all you have to do is wash them one time with a cloth-diaper-safe detergent (we’ll be talking about detergents and the wash routine next week!). You can begin using these diapers as soon as they are dry.You can even prep them with diapers you already own….or with your regular laundry. Just makes sure you use a cloth-diaper-safe detergent.

Image by simplyla

Prepping Natural-Fibered Diapers

To prep diapers made of natural fibers–like cotton, bamboo or hemp–you will need to wash them SEPARATELY from your other diapers for 2-3 times before using them.

What’s the difference? Diapers made out of natural fibers contain oils that will rub off in the wash. These diapers actually end up being your most absorbent diapers–much more absorbent than synthetic fabrics like microfiber.However, the oils need to be washed away before they will reach their full absorbency.

A Word of Caution

You never want to prep your natural-fibered diapers with your other diapers or with new synthetic-fibered diapers, because the oils that will rub away in the wash can rub onto your other diapers and cause them to not be as absorbent.

You can use your cotton, bamboo or hemp diapers after you prep them, but keep in mind that they do not reach their full absorbency until about 10 washes.

So, if you use a natural-fibered diaper after it’s initial prep and the diaper leaks or doesn’t seem to hold the same amount of urine as your synthetic-fibered diapers, do not get frustrated. It probably just means that your diapers have not yet reached their maximum absorbency.

Which diaper type do I prefer?

I prefer natural-fibered and synthetic-fibered diapers for different occasions. I like that the synthetic-fibered diapers are stay-dry, meaning that the suede cloth and microfleece are designed in such away that the urine absorbs through them and into the inserts, which means the moisture wicks away from your baby’s skin, and your baby “stays dry.”

But I prefer using a natural-fibered diaper overnight. My Kawaii bamboos are bullet proof and my go-to overnight diaper. Sometimes I will pair the diaper with a stay-dry fleece liner, so I get the absorbency of the bamboo with the stay dry feature of the fleece.

So, go ahead and prep your diapers. Next week we’ll be tackling the wash routine!

What cloth diaper type do you prefer–natural or synthetic?

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My eBook, Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert, is a 200+-page handbook that will tell you all you need to know to have a successful cloth diapering journey! To read more about this book, click here.

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  1. Shauna Douglass says

    I am wanting and planning on doing cloth diapers for our first child, due in a few months :)! I was wondering if you knew much about making homemade detergent and if that works well with cloth diapers? I have made one batch and I love it for our regular loads. Cheap and free of chemicals. I am almost out and need to make some more. Before this baby comes, I would love to know if this will work or if I should stick to the stuff you recommended? This is the recipe I used and I will be leaving the Purex crystals out.
    Any advice would be AWESOME :)! Thanks so much and I LOVE reading your blog!!!!

  2. Molly says

    So… what should I do if I, without knowing better, washed my bamboo lined pockets and bamboo blend inserts with my fleece lined and MF inserts?

  3. Anna Berg says

    Thank you for this! If I have different types of natural fibers… A dozen unbleached cotton prefolds, a few Thirsties hemp inserts, some Grovia stay dry inserts, and some bamboo inserts, can I prep them in the same load or would their oils contaminate each other and cause them to lose absorbency ?

    Basically can any natural fibers that need seperate prepping be mixed (natural + natural = ok), or can you only prep hemp with hemp, etc.

    Thanks! I can’t find the answer to this anywhere!

  4. Christina says

    I am new to cloth diapers, just ordering some this week. I am planning on ordering some fuzzibunz elite with microfiber inserts, a bumgenius 4.0 with microfiber, some kawaii snap outer shell pocket diapers without inserts and then ordering a pack of bamboo inserts. So are the bamboo inserts the only things I need to prep separately? Can I wash them with normal laundry (clothes, towels, etc.) Thank you so much!

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