Want the 411 on cloth diapers?

Answers to common questions about all things Smartipants and everything cloth diapers.

Fluff versus that other stuff - the battle of cloth diapers versus disposables


How to wash these things and other smart little tidbits like that...

Any other brain busters, Smartipants? Why yes....

Why should I cloth diaper my baby?

  1. It's Smart on your wallet and you will save money.
    • Buying disposable diapers is a waste of money, period. With disposable diapers, you are throwing your money down the drain each time you change your baby's diaper. Using Smartipants one size cloth diapers will save you money on each diaper change! How much you will save will depend on how committed you are to solely using cloth diapers and how much your weekly spend would have been on disposables. Current Smarti-Parents, as we like to call them, save up to $3,000 per child on diapers alone.
  2. It's Smart on the Environment and you will help preserve our planet.
    • Disposable diapers go straight to landfills. Smartipants cloth diaper are made of every baby wearing disposable diapers can generate as much as one ton of landfill waste before the age of two. Overwhelmed?
  3. It's Smart for our baby and it's easy to do.
    • Cloth diapers are soft on baby's skin and help reduce diaper rashes unlike disposable diapers. Smartipants were created by a mom for her daughter because she never wanted her daughter to feel uncomfortable in her diapers. Cloth diapering is convenient and easy to do, especially with our smart sleeve design that allows the insert to agitate out in the wash..
    • Tired of blowouts? Who wants to change the diaper AND the outfit? Our leak guard technology will keep blowouts contained and was invented to help prevent leaks. Smartipants cloth diapers are designed to prevent leaks.
    • What happens when you use disposables and you are out of diapers? A quick run to the grocery store in the middle of the night? Why? Use cloth diapers and have them available to you at all times!

Environmental Reasons to Use Cloth Diapers (Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers)

Most parents who are concerned about the environment turn to cloth diapers in order to preserve our planet for generations to come and here are some reasons why:

Based on a report from the Women's Environmental Network, The Real Diaper Association reports:

  • Disposable diapers are the third most common consumer product in landfills today.
  • A disposable diaper may take up to 500 years to decompose.
  • One baby in disposable diapers will contribute at least 1 ton of waste to your local landfill.

The Environmental Protection Agency published this report showing the Characterization of Municipal Solid Waste in the United States and gives starting point for the discussion of how much disposable diaper waste was prevalent in the United states over 10 years ago. The EPA report says, "An estimated 3.1 million tons of disposable diapers were generated in 1997, or 1.4 percent of total MSW generation. (This tonnage includes an adjustment for the urine and feces contained within the discarded diapers.) The materials portion of the diapers includes wood pulp, plastics (including the super-absorbent materials now present in most diapers), and tissue paper. No significant recycling or composting of disposable diapers was identified in 1997."

In 2010, the EPA reported in this report (Municipal Waste in the United States: 2010 Facts & Figures that disposable diapers accounted for 3.7 million tons of waste .

Economic Reasons to Cloth Diaper

Parents turn to cloth diapering for a lot of reasons, but an overwhelming majority of parents turn to cloth diapers because disposable diapers are expensive. According to a recent report about getting started with diapers from Consumer Reports, "You can expect to spend $1,500 to $2,000 or more on disposables by the time your baby is out of them." Depending upon what your monthly household budget is, you could be spending anywhere from $75 to $300 per month on disposable diapers alone. Cloth diapering with Smartipants could be as low as $279.95 for our smart choice 24-pack and you only have to buy diapers once!

Buying disposable diapers is expensive and demanding on a household budget. By using Smartipants cloth diaper your family can save money on each diaper change! How much you will save will depend on how committed you are to solely using cloth diapers and how much your weekly spend would have been on disposables. The money you save can go toward other expenses.

Health Considerations when Choosing Diapers

Most cloth diapers are somewhat hypo-allergenic, and are made with materials that help to alleviate diaper rashes and allergies. Cloth diapers do not contain liquid activated chemicals that are known to potentially have future side effects on your baby. No one really knows what is inside a disposable diaper, but if you wanted to know the only way to find out is to ask your pediatrician to get in touch with one of the disposable diaper brands..

Another issue frequently brought up in cloth diapering circles is dioxin exposure. According to a Mothering Magazine article, entitled The Joy Of Cloth Diapers "Dioxin, which in various forms has been shown to cause cancer, birth defects, liver damage, and skin diseases, is a by-product of the paper-bleaching process used in manufacturing disposable diapers, and trace quantities may exist in the diapers themselves."

Frequently Asked Questions About Cloth Diapers

Do people really still use cloth diapers?

Yes! As a matter of fact, cloth diapering has become quite the vogue thing to do, especially among environmentally conscious parents and even celebrities. All of the new choices in cloth diapers have made cloth diapers as easy to use as disposables.

How many Cloth Diapers do I need?

A newborn can easily go through twelve cloth diapers in one day so we recommend purchasing 12-24 of our "Little Smarti" Newborn Diapers. Once baby grows out of the Little Smarti, you can transition to the Smartipants One Size Diapers and use these diaper until potty training. The Smartipants one size diapers fits most babies from 6-35 pounds. An older baby doesn't need quite as many diapers, but you should still plan for 8 diaper changes and an overnight solution. Once you've picked out your diapers, don't forget to get to get extra smart sleeve inserts and a few smart sleeve hemp inserts for overnight use as well as a smart pail or smart tote diaper bag.

What does everyone buy?

The Little Smarti Newborn Diaper is a popular starting point, but the most popular choice is our Smartipants One Size Cloth Diaper. Those people who are trying to cloth diaper on an even tighter budget may use Chinese, or Gerber prefolds and our Smart Fit Diaper Cover.

What about overnight diapering?

Our top selling overnight cloth diapers are our Smartipants One Size Diaper combined with the smart sleeve hemp inserts which provide more absorbency.

I just received my diapers. How do I start?

Prewash Smartipants, and other polyester diapers once before using. Smart Sleeve Inserts should also be washed once before using.

To reach their full absorbency, unbleached Chinese prefolds and Smartipants Smart Sleeve Hemp Inserts should be washed 5-8 times with very hot water and approximately 2 tablespoons of detergent in each load. This removes oils and waxes from the cotton and hemp (normally removed during the bleaching process) that prevent liquids from absorbing into the diaper. White prefolds only need to be washed 3-5 times before use. To shrink the products to their proper size, we recommend drying between each pre-wash.

My unbleached prefolds/hemp inserts are leaking!!

Make sure that you've prewashed them enough. Remember, they need to be washed 5-8 times in very hot water with a tiny bit of detergent in each load. If you have used your diapers before and haven't encountered this problem, We recommend putting a folded soft terrycloth washcloth inside the prefold diaper. The terrycloth will be able to catch the pee before it rolls off the diaper. The cotton is absorbent, but sometimes it doesn't quite 'grab' the liquid fast enough to keep it from rolling off and around the edge of the cotton. This method will also enable your baby to go coverless in a prefold diaper with fewer leaks.

My baby is in a daycare center. Will I be able to cloth diaper?

More and more daycare centers are open to the idea of using cloth diapers. They will require that you provide a place to store used diapers (smart tote or smart pail) and that you take your diapers home with you each night for washing. Be aware that your daycare center may be governed by state regulations related to diapering. You may find that initial discussion with the daycare will be more successful if you take the time to educate yourself about laws in your state first. Home-based or private daycare providers are probably going to be more willing to cloth diaper your child. Remember that ease of use is going to be an essential bargaining chip! Because public perception of cloth diapering still revolves primarily around flat diapers, vinyl diaper covers and pins, it may help to have one Smartipants One Size diaper on hand that you can use to demonstrate the ease of use.

What do I do about the poop?

Good question! Everybody asks us this question. It is important to note that it is EASY! Modern inventions (like flushable liners and the diaper sprayer) have taken the grossness factor out of this issue.

First of all, your baby will go through different stages as they grow. Poop tends to change as your baby grows.

  1. Breastfed baby poop is water soluble. You do not necessarily need to remove breastfed baby poop before washing.
  2. Around 4-6 months of age, many babies start eating solids through cereal. At this point, stools transition to a thicker "peanut butter" consistency. For best results, this should be removed (as much as possible) from your diapers prior to washing.
  3. Formula fed and older babies typically have firmer stools. This should also be removed from your diapers prior to washing.

The solutions below are what we commonly recommend to families. We have many families who love the diaper sprayers and many others who swear by the flushable liners. We recommend that you evaluate the options and choose the one that you will actually use.

  1. You can lay a diaper liner inside the diaper allow the poop to be easily removed from the diaper. Just peel the biodegradable liner out of the diaper and flush the mess away.
  2. Diaper sprayers are another fantastic solution. This handy little device attaches to the plumbing behind your toilet and allows you to easily spray the mess off. The small holes and concentrated spray allows the Minishower to do a better job cleaning diapers off than any other sprayer available. The Minishower does double duty during potty training as it cleans out potty chairs. The adjustable spray can also be used for feminine hygiene during the postpartum period.
  3. It is easy to shake firmer stools off of the diaper into the toilet (no spray or liner required).
  4. In a pinch, good old fashioned dunking will get the job done.

Will my house smell like a diaper pail?

With cloth diapers you shouldn't have any more odor than you would experience with disposable diapers. Many cloth diapering parents actually claim to smell less diaper pail odor when using cloth diapers simply because their cloth diapers aren't full of perfumes (like disposables).

The best way to combat diaper pail odor is to wash cloth diapers frequently, at least every other day.

Finally, be sure that your diaper pail has a lid on it and keep it closed.

Washing Cloth Diapers

Smartipants Simple Washing Routine:

  1. As you would with the rest of your laundry, separate your diapers into like materials. Wash natural fibers separately from synthetics.
  2. Wash diapers with inserts still inside a hot cycle with detergent. Do not use bleach.
  3. Tumble dry low. We recommend that you line dry your Smart Fit diaper Covers, Smartipants One Size Diapers and anything made with hook & loop closures. Virtually everything else can be tumble tried on low.

Usual Cloth Diaper Washing Routine:

  1. As you would with the rest of your laundry, separate your diapers into like materials. Wash natural fibers separately from synthetics.
  2. Wash the entire load on cold with detergent. Washing once on cold water is important to remove leftover "yuck" from your diapers.
  3. Wash the entire load again on warm or hot - also with detergent.
  4. Do a second rinse.
  5. We recommend that you line dry your Smart Fit diaper Covers, Smartipants One Size Diapers and anything made with hook & loop closures. Virtually everything else can be tumble tried on low.

If you're having problems with diapers that stink after washing:

  1. Try an extra rinse. Sometimes detergent residue can cause diapers to smell.
  2. Wash once with liquid Dawn (the blue formula). Use 1 teaspoon in a front loader and 1 tablespoon in a top loader. Rinse well.
  3. If the previous solutions don't work, try 1/4 cup of bleach in the warm/hot wash cycle.

What detergent should I use when washing my cloth diapers?

Choosing the right detergent for your diapers is essential! You may download a list of detergent recommendations.

What detergents should I avoid?

Do not use detergents containing pure soap, enzymes, fabric whiteners, fabric brighteners, fabric softeners or anything scented. You may download a list of detergent recommendations.

Do I have to sanitize the washing machine after washing my cloth diapers?

Absolutely not. If the diapers are clean, the washing machine is clean.

How do I use baking soda or vinegar when washing my diapers?

Water, detergent, the sun and occasionally a small amount of something sanitizing like bleach is plenty to get your diapers clean and stain free. We do not recommend the use of any other additives when washing your cloth diapers. Additives can damage the waterproofness and elasticity of your diapers. In addition, they can change the pH of your diapers resulting in skin irritations.

My diapers are stained. Now what?

The best stain remover is the sun! Wash your diapers and then lay them out wet on the lawn with the stain facing the sun. It usually only takes a few hours before the stains are gone! If some remnants of the stain still linger, rinse the load again and repeat the process.

What do you do with stinky diapers or covers?

Wash your diapers again! Most of the time, stinky diapers just aren't clean yet. Detergent residue or build up may also cause odors to be retained. Check the rinse water to make sure that you don't see suds. If you do, use less detergent. A warm wash with a squirt of liquid Dawn (the dish detergent), rinsed well, does a great job removing stinky residue from diapers. When all else fails, try 1/4 cup of bleach in a large hot wash load.

My diapers smell like ammonia after being worn. What should I do to fix this problem?

The chief culprit for an ammonia smell is detergent scent or detergent residue. Make sure that you are using an extra rinse when washing your diapers and that you are using a detergent that does not contain any perfumes. A warm wash with a squirt of liquid Dawn (the dish detergent), rinsed well, does a great job removing stinky residue from diapers. Using 1/4 cup of bleach may be occasionally necessary to kill odor causing bacteria in the diapers.

I live in an apartment and need to wash my cloth diapers in a laundromat. How do I do this?

When we started cloth diapering, we lived in an apartment and did not have our own washer and dryer. We were cautious about diving into cloth diapering so we started with a diaper service for three months and then decided that we were ready to venture out on our own. We've discovered that cloth diapering is very doable -- even when you're washing in a laundromat!

The system that we found that worked for us was simple:

  1. Wash everything together.
  2. Wash the load one entire cycle on cold using just a little detergent.
  3. Wash the load again one entire cycle on warm or hot using 1/4 - 1/2 the regular amount of detergent.
  4. Sort the pocket diapers and the covers out of the load and dry everything else.

A few extra things to note
It was important to have enough diapers to wash once or twice a week (at the most). I also used a pail liner to avoid hauling the entire diaper pail to the laundromat. We had 48 prefolds and washed twice a week with a young, breastfed baby.

It cost us $3 a week to wash diapers once a week. I paid $1 for each wash and $1 to dry the diapers. When evaluating the cost benefit of cloth you'll want to calculate how much extra you'll spend washing twice a week versus just buying enough diapers to last all week. If you spend an extra $3 a week washing diapers, in four months you could have purchased another two dozen prefolds with the money you saved by washing once a week. We found that it cost less in the long run to have a seven day supply of diapers.

An important note! If you are going to buy a one week supply of diapers, we strongly suggest that you purchase 100% cotton prefolds. Prefolds are the easiest product to get clean after sitting for a week in a diaper pail.

What Cloth Diapers Do We Use?

Well, we use Smartipants, but before that we used Wonderoos (which we invented and were the first one size pocket diapers). We always were a pocket diaper group, and we have remained loyal to this best of bread in pocket diapers. We have tried all the other brands, but we stay close to home when it comes to our own kids.

What Cloth Diapering Accessories Do You Really Need?

When you are trying to figure out what kind of diapers to get, it seems like there are a million different accessories you can buy. Each accessory has a very specific purpose. Some of those products have a wide audience and others have a narrow application. So, here is what we would recommend as the basics for most families.

  1. At a minimum, you need a diaper pail. A plastic trash bag will work as a liner, but it isn't the most environmentally friendly choice available. We recommend a washable diaper liner and deo-disks to cut down on pail odor.
  2. Cloth baby wipes are absolutely essential. When you are changing a diaper, the wipes usually end up on top of or inside of the dirty diaper. It makes no sense to be trying to keep the wipes separate just so you can throw them in the trash can. If you use cloth wipes, the whole pile just ends up in the diaper pail. You can view our youtube video to see how to make your own baby wipe solution here.
  3. A wipe warmer is a nice thing to have. It keeps your wipes warm, wet and ready to use near your changing area


More About Diaper Fasteners

You have many choices when looking into diaper fasteners. Use this table to help you decide which one is right for you!





Diaper Pins

Usually made of metal and having a plastic or metal head, a diaper pin has a sharp end that is used to pierce through two layers of fabric to secure them together.

Tried and true. This was what your mom probably used. Doesn't wear out often.

Risk of poking baby. Sometimes its difficult to push a pin through the fabric. Tough to use when diapering a wiggly toddler or baby.


Hook and loop fabric usually sewn onto the diaper or diaper cover.

Very fast and easy to use.

Wears out eventually and can cause snags on other items when being washed.


Plastic or metal snaps are usually used in either the diaper or the cover.

Very simple to use and snaps rarely wear out.

Not as adjustable as hook and loop. Snaps take more time to 'snap' which can be an issue when diapering a wiggly toddler or baby.


T-shaped plastic device with plastic hooks on each end used to grab and hold the material.

Very fast and convenient to use.

Must be replaced every six months.

An Explanation of Common Cloth Diapering Terms


Common abbreviation for All In One diapers.


An all-in-one cloth diaper is a diaper that has a waterproof cover and an absorbent inner liner and built in closures. It is all one piece. These diapers commonly fasten with hook and loop or snap fasteners. They may also be made of wool or bamboo as the outer layer. All In Ones are frequently used by parents who need a convenient diaper for a day care, for quick and easy changes on the go, and by parents who just want the convenience of a one-piece diaper along with the ecological advantages of cloth.



Aplix© is a hook and look fastener commonly used on cloth diapers. Other types of for hook and loop fasteners used on cloth diapers include Velcro© and Touch Tape©


Cloth Diaper

A cloth diaper is a washable, reusable diaper made of any one (or several) types of fabrics. A cloth diaper usually requires a cloth diaper cover.


Contoured Diaper

A contoured diaper does not have elastic at the legs or waist. The wings need to be fastened with pins or a Snappi or the diaper should be used in conjunction with a hook and loop style diaper cover. Contoured diapers are generally most appropriate for day-time diapering and always require a diaper cover of some type.


Chinese Prefold Diaper (also abbreviated CPF, UBCPF and IPF)

A flat diaper (thicker in the middle than it is on the sides) that comes in multiple absorbencies and sizes. This diaper is the foundation of an economical cloth diapering system. Chinese Prefold Diapers come in two colors, white and unbleached. The unbleached diapers have not gone through a whitening process. They come with many of the original cotton oils still in the fabric and may require extensive washing to make them absorbent. Once these diapers have become absorbent, they are known for being softer than the white diapers. Quality differences affect the usability of this style. Some products commonly sold in the mass market stores are made with cheaper cotton, fewer layers of fabric or even a foam product as the primary absorbent layer.



Diaper is the American word for nappy.


DD ('sposies)

Disposable Diapers


Diaper Cover

Cloth diaper covers come in all shapes, colors, fabrics and sizes. They are used to 'cover' up a cloth diaper and keep your baby's clothes dry.



In (dire) Search Of... you might see this term used on for sale or trade boards when someone is in a hurry to find a particular item. A few popular cloth diaper trading forums are Diaper Swappers and Diaper Pin.


Flat Diaper (flats)

A "flat" refers to a diaper that is typically 27"x27" square. Flat diapers can also refer to the famous rectangular flats. Flat diapers can be folded many ways to accommodate different ages and shapes. Flats are very flexible and are generally considered a one-size cloth diaper. These are the diapers that our grandmothers used to diaper their children. They come in many different fabrics, including flannel, birdseye cotton, gauze and hemp, and have been staples in diapering for generations. Today, many parents purchase flat diapers to use as a nursing coverup, light-weight blanket, sun shield, pocket diaper insert or a burp cloth. These are the best diaper for traveling or camping as they can be easily washed out in the sink and hung to dry overnight.


Fitted Diaper (fitteds)

A fitted diaper has elastic at the legs and at the waist. It also has some type of closure to hold the diaper on the baby. This closure can be hook and look or snaps. A fitted diaper requires a cover. The absorbency of fitted cloth diapers varies based on the materials used in the construction of the diaper. Cotton fitteds are an inexpensive and popular choice. Hemp fitteds are slightly more expensive and also more absorbent than cotton.



For sale or trade...



Nappy is the European word for diaper.


Nylon Pants

Nylon pants are styled similar to the traditional plastic diaper pants but are made of breathable nylon material.

One size diaper (OS)

A one size diaper usually fits a child from birth up until about 30 or 35 pounds. This sizing is achieved by strategic placement of snaps on the front of the diaper. This allows for the front of the diaper to be folded over and for the closures to be snapped on top of each other. As the baby grows, several snap settings allow for waist and leg growth. Our Smartipants One Size is a one size diaper.


Pocket Diaper

A pocket diaper is usually made of two layers of fabric sewn together to form a pocket for an absorbent insert. The entire diaper fastens onto your child and does not require the additional use of a cloth diaper cover. Pocket Diaper Inserts can be made of microfiber terry, cotton terry, hemp Chinese Prefold Diapers or even a regular kitchen towel folded to size. The Smartipants One Size Diaper is considered a pocket diaper, although we consider it the only Smart Sleeve Diaper in the world and in a category all its own!


Plastic Pants

Plastic pants were commonly used when we were all babies. They are made of vinyl, a material that releases dioxins when warmed. We do not recommend using plastic pants! Plastic pants do not allow air to circulate and help to create the perfect environment for yeast to grow causing severe diaper rash.



This abbreviation is commonly used for "Work At Home Mom". Much of the cloth diapering industry is run through businesses that operate out of homes.


How to Fold Chinese Prefolds

Newspaper Fold
This is the simplest of all cloth diaper folds. Fold the diaper in thirds with the thick part in the middle, fold any excess length towards the back and lay in a
Smart Fit Diaper Cover

Angel Wing Fold
Follow instructions for the Newspaper Fold. After laying the diaper in the cover, fold the back edges open like wings. Use these wings to secure the diaper with a Snappi Diaper Fastener or diaper pins.

Bikini Twist Fold
Lay the diaper flat, place the baby on the back of diaper, pull the diaper between baby's legs, twist 180 degrees. Using the back wings of the diaper, use a Snappi Diaper Fastener or diaper pins to secure the diaper closed.

Too Much Bulk Fold
This is a little harder to manage because it requires an extra step but if you're having problems with the front of the diaper being too bulky you can try one of the two following solutions:

  1. Using the Newspaper Fold, put the excess diaper length folded towards the back of the baby instead of the front. This will cut down on absorbency for a little boy but will reduce the amount of bulk in front.
  2. Using the Angel Wing Fold, fold the diaper down a few inches in back BEFORE starting the instructions for the newspaper fold. This option was the most effective for us.