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Cloth Diaper Dictionary
Prefolds, pockets, AIO's,
doublers, inserts...it can be rather confusing! Let us help you
sort it all out. On this page we provide explanations of all the major types of
cloth diapers available on the market today.
AIO - All-In-One
- AIOs are fitted diapers
that have a waterproof outer layer. This layer usually consists of fabric that has
a PUL (PolyUrethane Laminate) backing, polar fleece such as Windpro, or wool.
These are the closest in similarity to disposable diapers since they are a
one-piece diapering system. The absorbent soaker material is often sewn into
the diaper; it may also be detachable.
AI2 - All-In-Two - AI2s are very similar to
AIOs with the exception that the absorbent soaker material is not attached to
the diaper in any way. The soaker is usually a second, separate piece that must
be used in conjunction with the diaper. The drying time for these diapers is
shorter than the traditional AIO.
Diaper Covers - Covers come in many
styles and shapes, but their function is to provide a waterproof outer layer
for non-waterproof diapers (all except AIOs). They are often fitted with
elastic and fasten with snaps or Velcro. Some covers pull-up, like underpants.
Diaper covers are usually made from polyester, Polyurethane laminates (PUL),
waterproof nylon, fleece or wool.
Doublers – Doublers are pad-like
absorbent soakers that can be added to a diaper to increase absorbency. They
are especially useful during times when you know extra protection is needed,
perhaps at nighttime.
Fitted Diapers - Fitted diapers closely
resemble disposable diapers. They are contoured and fitted with elastic around
the legs and back. They fasten with Velcro or snaps, and a waterproof cover
must be worn over them. They are the next step up from flat pre-fold diapers
and much easier to use.
Liners - Liners are thin layers
of cloth or paper that are placed inside the diaper to aid in the cleaning of
solid waste. In the case of paper liners, the solid waste collected on the
liner can be removed from the soiled diaper and either thrown away or flushed.
Cloth liners must be washed, but aid in laundering. They also help protect the
actual diaper from staining.
Pre-folds - Pre-fold diapers are
rectangular shaped diapers that must be folded into the shape of a diaper. They
are similar to flats, but have multiple layers with more layering in the
middle. They often have 2-4 layers of absorbent material on either side and 6-8
layers in the middle. The amount of layers varies according to the size you
choose, generally ranging from preemie to toddler. You may see a pre-fold
described as being 4x8x4. This describes how many layers there are in the outer
and inner sections: 4 layers in both outer sections and 8 layers in the inner
or middle section. Pre-folds are usually the cheapest type of cloth diapers
available. They must be used in conjunction with a cover.
Pocket Diapers - Pocket diapers are like
AIOs orAI2s. They have an outer layer of a waterproof material and an inner
layer of a stay dry material, like microfleece or suedecloth. They close with
Velcro or snaps. They have a pocket opening that allows for the absorbent
material to be stuffed in the pocket during use and then removed for
laundering. The absorbent material for stuffing can be an insert that comes
with the diaper or a pre-fold or doubler. Pocket diapers are a popular choice
among cloth diapering moms because you can customize the amount of absorbent
How to Wash Cloth DiapersThis is the big question everyone asks! Here at the Little Monkey, we have experience using both a Front Loader (Whirlpool Duet Sport) and a Top Loader. If you need help figuring out the perfect cloth diaper wash routine, just ask!
HE Front loaders are great for using less electricity and less water -- great for your utility bills and the environment. With cloth diapers, you need more water, not less. How do you do wash cloth diapers with an HE washer? You need to trick your front loader into thinking there is more in there! Adding extra water through the soap dispenser or a soaking wet towel to increase the weight are two popular methods. Just make sure you don't void your washer's warranty -- check your warranty information before trying any tricks.
With top loaders, you can adjust your water level manually for washing cloth diapers. This makes it the perfect cloth diaper washing machine. With all of these instructions, I recommend setting your water level at 3/4 or full. It may seem like a lot of water, but these will decrease the number of rinses you will have to do to get your cloth diapers clean.
Before you're ready to wash your diapers, you will want to make sure that any poop has been rinsed off. Ideally, this should be done before you store your dirty diapers before washing. Bio-liners or a diaper sprayer are really handy to help with this. For those of you who exclusively breast feed, no need to rinse -- this poop is completely water soluble. But, as soon as you add solids or formula, you will need to rinse. Removing the inserts from pocket diapers before storing in your diaper pail helps too.
- Secure any velcro closures to the laundry tabs on the diaper.
- Pre-wash your diapers on cold to remove any waste and minimize stains. Recently I have read that using warm water helps prevent stains -- I've tried it and have not seen a huge difference, so I stick with cold. Save a little $$ on my Hydro bill. With a front loader I recommend pausing your washer once it's done filling up. Leave it for 30-45 minutes then finish the cycle. This will help get your diapers cleaner. With a top loader, a short wash cycle with maximum water will do the trick.
- Wash your diapers on hot with 1/4 (front loader) to 1/2 (top loader) of a recommended cloth diaper detergent. If it is a cloth diaper detergent such as Rockin' Green, use the full amount recommended. Here's a list of cloth diaper safe laundry detergent.
- Add a second rinse. With washing cloth diapers in a front loader you may need to extend this to a longer wash than just a rinse.
- Once your diapers are washed, you can line dry everything or pop the inserts, prefolds, and fitted diapers in the dryer. We recommend hanging PUL covers to dry as this will help lengthen the lifespan of the PUL and the elastics.
Tips for Washing Cloth Diapers
- Wash your soiled cloth diapers every two - three days. This helps minimize stains and odour.
- Rinse your dirty diapers with a diaper sprayer or use liners to minimize stains before storing in a diaper pail.
- Use only cloth diaper safe detergent.
- Once per month, use 1/4 cup of bleach to sanitize microfiber inserts and fight odour. Do not use bleach on anything else as you will void your diaper warranty.
- Do not use bleach to remove stains, lay clean wet diapers in the sun.
- Wool dryer balls help keep inserts soft and help them to dry quicker.
Washing New Diapers
cloth diapers do not need to go through the full wash routine. A quick
regular wash with a sprinkle of laundry detergent and they are good to
go! If you have an embroidered diaper, such as the BottomBumpers, place
these diapers in the dryer as this will help seal any needle holes in
the PUL outer.
How to Prep Natural Fiber Cloth DiapersNatural
fibers such as, organic cotton, hemp, and bamboo need to be prepped
before you can use them. Prepping removes the natural oils and brings
the diapers to maximum absorbency.
If you have an organic cloth diaper
such as Bummis Organic Cotton Prefolds, you will need to wash and dry
your diapers 3-4 times before the first use. We recommend prepping your
natural fiber diapers with your regular laundry. This way you're not
wasting any water. Just make sure you use a cloth diaper safe laundry
detergent and pick laundry that is not heavily soiled.
With hemp or bamboo cloth diapers or cloth diaper inserts that have not been prewashed, you will need to wash and dry these 6-8 times first.
you're not able to wash your diapers with your regular laundry, you can
wash them however many times you need to in a row and then one final
dry at the end. This will work too. Once your diapers have been fully prepped, you can go ahead and wash them with your other diapers.
Washing WoolWashing wool diaper covers or wool longies is so easy! They only need to be washed once every 3 or 4 weeks, unless they get soiled. When the cover is wet, hang it to dry and you will be able to use it again!
All wool covers need to be washed and lanolized prior to the first use. We recommend lanolizing your covers twice for maximum waterproofing. How do you wash a wool diaper cover?
Fill a large bowl with warm water and add 1tsp of liquid wool wash or scrub with a wool wash bar. Work the soapy water through the cover and rinse with warm water. Your cover is now ready to lanolize.
How to Lanolize Wool
We recommend (and use) Delish Naturals Wool Wash Bar and Lanolin products -- they are very easy to use!
- Fill a large bowl with warm water.
- Boil 1 cup of water and add 1tsp of lanolin to the cup of hot water (per wool cover).
- Add a squirt or two of wool wash and stir until the lanolin is melted and the water looks like milk.
- Add this to the bowl of warm water and stir around.
- Soak your wool cover for a minimum of 15 minutes to an hour. Overnight is ok too!
- Squeeze the excess water out by rolling the cover between two towels or putting in the washer on the spin cycle (no water).
- Lay flat to dry.
That's it! Very easy and takes about 5 minutes total, plus the soaking and drying time.