Going Green: Cloth Diaper Review #1

In our efforts to go green, we’ve decided to switch over to cloth diapers for Olivia. (Read more about that decision and the beginning of our experiment here.)

When I began my cloth diapering adventure two weeks ago, I was as much a novice as anyone can be in the world of cding. I scoured cloth diapering blogs only to find myself more bewildered with the more research that I did – this isn’t your mama’s cloth diapering! No sirree, times have definitely changed.

Words like ‘pocket diaper’, ‘hybrid’ and ‘all-in-one’ made me wonder which style and brand would be best for us. Despite all of the reviews for this diaper or that, the only way to truly nail down what worked for Liv and our fam (and to learn the lingo) was to take three of the main cloth diaper styles out for a test drive.

cloth diapering test drive

Clockwise: Thirsties cover, BumGenius and G Diaper

Just to make sure there was no cheating involved, we began our little experiment as soon as we ran out of disposable newborn diapers (alright… I kept a few for traveling) – meaning Kev had to give each one a whirl as well. Above is the line up of the first three cloth diapers we tried out.

And now for the tools of the trade:

Cloth Diaper Diapering Tools

Clockwise: Fuzzi Bunz Hanging Wet Bag, Planet Wise Small Wet Bag, Charlie’s Soap Powder

1. A large hanging diaper pail or wet bag keeps dirty cloth diaper smells in and makes laundering easy. I just pour my entire contents of the bag every other day into the wash (tossing the bag in, too) for a quick cold rinse and a hot cycle – voila! Clean diapers. Most can be tumbled dry as well.

2. A small travel wet bag is key – this zippered version comes in a ton of cute patterns and holds 2-3 cloth diapers on the go.

3. Charlie’s Soap Powder does an excellent job of cleaning tough stains. 1 tb per load means over 80 loads out of this little container – plus it’s biodegradable.

Not bad, right? After all, it’s as one reader put it: You can either drop your dirty diaper into the trash bin or into the washing machine – it doesn’t have to be difficult.


Cloth Diaper Review #1

My top three criteria: ease of use, trimness and durability.

My ideal cloth diaper needs to be easy to use (dad-friendly) whether we were changing diapers at home or on the go. The cd would be trim – it would be nice if the diaper fit nicely beneath Liv’s little newborn clothing (and not resemble an over-sized stuffed bum), and finally (and most importantly!) the diaper needed to do its job and do its job very well.

CLoth Diaper Review

First up: BumGenius

BumGenius is a popular cloth diaper that offers a variety of different sizes and styles for cding. Before Liv was born, I invested in a white, one size pocket diaper after reading rave reviews. “Pocket” refers to an inner lining that fits a pad-like cloth insert for absorbency. The insert can be pulled out for washing and then re-stuffed into its pocket for quick drying (at first I thought that was silly, why have to stuff anything? but I quickly learned that it can take quite a few dryer rounds – or days of hang drying – for an all-in-one diaper to dry, and that the pocket is really sort of genius).

Pros: The diaper does its job well – it easily holds up to long nights (especially when two inserts are added) and is my go-to diaper for absorbency. The one size diaper means one investment on diapers that will fit Liv from 8-35lbs, no need for multiple sizes.

Cons: There is nothing trim about the one-size-fits-all look. Any diaper that can fit an 8lb and 35lb baby (despite the numerous snaps for resizing around the legs and belly) is bound to be bulky on an infant. So bulky, in fact, that I reserve this diaper for night time use only. Kevin doesn’t get the stuffing of the pocket quite yet and finds it a bit silly. My easy remedy is to have the diapers stuffed with their lining and ready to go in the changing table for anyone to use.

Conclusion: Great night time diaper for infants! I think this diaper will begin to get more use as Liv grows into it.

The G Diaper

The G Diaper is a hybrid diaper that can hold both cloth and disposable/biodegradable inserts. I use the cloth inserts 99% of the time but appreciate the flexibility of the disposable inserts for travel. There are three components to the diaper: the insert, a plastic lining snapped into the cover that holds the insert, and the actual cloth cover.

Pros: The G is by far the trimmest of the bunch and hides itself well under any infant outfit. I have found it to be about as reliable as a disposable, meaning it won’t hold in the occasional explosion but does a really great job at containing just about everything else. The disposable insert can be tossed into a landfill and will biodegrade within 30 days (granted it’s not encased in a plastic bag) – better yet, it can even be flushed. When we have our new bathroom I look forward to taking advantage of this feature (I did get to try it out while at the in-laws – fantastic!).

Cons: The three-part diaper is both frustrating and convenient. It’s a lot of pieces to assemble and break down which can get quite annoying, but on the other hand you only have to change out what gets dirty during that diaper change. For example, I usually am replacing the cloth or disposable insert but reuse the cover and plastic lining for future changes (not possible with a pocket diaper). The separate plastic lining helps to contain messes that might come out of a traditional cloth diaper at the legs.

Conclusion: The disposable inserts are nearly as expensive as disposable diapers so motivation to use them is purely environmental. The cloth inserts on the other hand are an easy option and are definitely wallet-friendly. With the reusable lining and cover, plus the slim fit, this is a great around-town diaper!

Cloth Diapering Review

Thirsties Cover + Prefold

Last but not least is the final style of diaper reviewed: a traditional cloth diaper covered by a water repellent (and super cute) cover. I’ve since learned that there’s an actual fitted cloth diaper option for underneath the cover, but since it is also made to cover the most economical cloth diaper out there (a prefold – the rectangular square of cloth that is today used as a burp cloth and twenty years ago was pinned into place) I gave it a trial run.

Pros: Absorbent is this cloth diaper’s middle name. It not only holds in everything, the water repellent cover keeps any wetness on the inside from affecting outfits and blankets on the outside.

Cons: Liv is now 11lbs and super lean (97th percentile in height and just 50% in weight), which means that her skinny legs easily allow messes to sneak through the diaper leg holes. Because this Thirsties cover has no elastic around the legs, I was cleaning up my fair share of outfit messes.

Conclusion: I’d like to try a fitted diaper for under this particular cover. I’d use again for night (yeah, absorbency!) but it wouldn’t be my first choice for everyday use.

Before I can announce any cloth diaper winner…

It was near impossible for me to stop my testing here. After having learned what I love and hate about the above three cloth diapers, I jumped online and purchased three more brands/styles that will hopefully help me track down the best option (do they make a trim, hybrid, tight-elastic-in-the-legs diaper, for example?). Come back soon for Review #2!

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  1. says

    Awesome review!! Been contemplating cloth diapers for our second baby, and this was super helpful. Keeping my eyes peeled for your second review!!

  2. Frannie says

    Thanks for doing this! I’ve been researching too. I do have a question- what kind of washing machine do you have? Mine is at least 5 years old, not the fancy front loading type with many cycles. Was wondering if this was a necessity for cloth diapers- to be sure they get clean and sanitized.
    Thanks! Love the blog. :)

    • Morgan says

      Hi Frannie,

      We have a top loading washer that’s about 5 years old as well – works great with getting cloth diapers clean! Just make sure you use a ‘green’ laundry detergent to help prevent any residue from building up on the diapers. Best of luck!


  3. says

    Having only seen a few cloth diapering reviews before, this so far seems to be the most comprehensive! You definitely make it seem super easy!

  4. says

    My youngest is Olivia and she’s 10 now so I don’t need diapers but I feel like she must be 110 with all the changes that I’ve seen in diapers, strollers, car seats. I hope you can narrow it down quickly. I have to say that Liv looks great in all 3…what a cutie!!

  5. says

    P.S. Shoot, I didn’t mean to follow the first two commenters, also adding a second comment! ;) How do you like Charlie’s? I’ve heard the name a few times and I’m looking for a good natural laundry soap, I’d love to know what you think!

    • Morgan says

      Hi Heidi! I love Charlie’s. It’s my first biodegradable soap (I usually buy chlorine free detergent or the Costco big bucket variety) so I don’t have much to compare on… but as of now that one little tablespoon does an incredible job! I rarely have a stain come out of the washer and I love that it leaves zero residue behind.


  6. says

    Awesome review! I’m nowhere near being able to cloth diaper but I still soak up all the information I can get. (No pun intended!)
    Olivia is so cute!

    • Morgan says

      Thanks for the shout out, Jessica! Great line up of blogs!! Thanks again :).


  7. says

    Oh, thank you for testing these out!!! This is exactly what I needed. I bought the gDiapers with my last child and never used them because I thought the task would be too over-whelming with my busy life of having three kids. Regular diapers are much quicker and easier…but of course, way worse for the planet. Simply said, I was too lazy to try them. :(

    But now, I am pregnant again with my fourth (and last) child, and I want to do everything different this time. Excited to try new things! So, I want to give cloth diapering another shot. Can’t wait to read your final posting on this!


  8. says

    apologies if I already told you that…I know I’ve told at least two people about this recently, but I can’t remember who.

  9. says

    fyi, although it sounds like you may have already covered all the types out there….Jillian’s Drawers has a really easy sample offer where you get to try every kind of disposable diapers she sells in her store for only $10. She sends a whole bunch for $150 (I remember it being like 10 or 12 kinds), you try them for three weeks, and if you like it, you keep them. If you decide cloth diapering is not for you, you send them all back and she refunds your money, minus $10 for shipping. So, its pretty easy to figure out what kind you like without investing a lot of money in stuff you may not use later.

    I ended up sending all mine back (hanging my head in shame over here), but at least I wasn’t out $150.


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