When I was pregnant I knew I wanted to use cloth diapers. I didn’t know much about the options that were available. I was leaning towards doing diaper service and we received a gift to a local diaper service – so that decision was solved! We used the service and they were fine. At first we really liked the convenience of having someone drop off and pick up our dirty diapers. We struggled from the beginning with leaks. We would take our son on a walk, or he would wake up in the morning, and be soaking wet. Like SOAKING wet. Poor guy. We used many different types of covers. We had some that were made for us, we used Thirsties, Imse Vimsy organic covers, Bum Genius, and several others. Basically you name it, we tried it. We were told to make sure all the cloth was tucked in. We were obsessive about each little piece of cloth being tucked in and we still leaked. I knew we needed to make a change but I didn’t know what we wanted to do. I did want to continue using cloth but washing my own. I also wanted to use organic cloth and organic covers. So I started doing research. When I do research, I do an obsessive amount of research.
I found that even if you are buying organic covers (or not) most are waterproof with PUL. What is PUL? PUL is Polyurethane Laminate. What is Polyurethane Laminate? Well, I had to look that up but before I even looked it up I knew that I didn’t want my baby wearing PUL all day long. If I didn’t know really what it was made up of without doing research it I decided he didn’t need to wear it. Basically, PUL is a highly toxic carcinogen. Besides PUL, several covers use polyester or a polyester fleece on the outside of a waterproof barrier (PUL) in the middle. I prefer natural fibers over synthetic so I was also not interested in these diapers. There is a lot of information out there on polyester but for a baby to be wearing polyester literally all day long with their diapers I think it’s worth doing research on that. What I have found that is most concerning is that polyester can slowly emit phytoestrogens, which is an endocrine disruptor, which can promote certain types of cancer (this from the diaper pin web site). There is a good article on the Diaper Pin that goes into detail of PUL and polyester that is worth reading if you are considering any diaper cover that uses polyester or PUL.
When I went to a local Seattle shop, Bootyland, looking for some eco-friendly baby toys, I found out that they sold diapers. This is where everything changed for me. They had organic cotton diapers & organic cotton / hemp blend diapers (more absorbent than just cotton). There were prefolds and fitted. Then the woman at Bootyland showed me wool covers. WOOL covers. I guess I had known about them but totally forgot. A natural material that works well and no chemicals touching my baby. I have found that you need less wool covers than you do PUL covers. Wool covers are naturally antibacterial, absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture, and are breathable. In cool weather it stays warm, in warm weather it keeps baby cool. You only wash them when they start to smell of urine or if poop leaks onto the cover (we find that they can be washed about every week and a half to two weeks). I came home with a sampling of different diapers and covers and tried them out. Guess what? No more leaks. The running baby poo that would cause blow outs was now being absorbed by the diapers. What a difference! It made me realize how low of quality the diaper service diapers were. My life was changed, and I was unreasonably excited about my new diaper find. I went back and bought enough to get us started.
I feel good knowing that natural products are touching my baby’s skin all day and night. I was so excited about this new diapering system that I literally was telling everyone about it. I couldn’t understand why everyone wouldn’t want to use wool covers. I had more than one person ask how much more expensive it is to buy wool than PUL. I actually think the wool covers are about the same or cheaper than other covers since you needs less wool covers. I haven’t actually run the numbers but just quickly thinking about it that is what I came up with. If even it was the same or more, I think having a natural product over a synthetic is worth it! We do fine with 4 to 5 wool covers. We just air dry between changing. When we were using the other diaper covers we needed easily 10 because of all the poo and leakage issues.
When you think of wool at lot of people think of scratchy, itchy wool. Organic, untreated wool is so, so soft. Most people who are allergic to wool are allergic to the chemicals that are put on the wool, not the wool itself.
These are the diapers and covers we use:
Organic Caboose wool covers.
Babee Greens wool covers.
Babee Greens also has wool covers with cute upsized wool on the outsides.
Disana Wool Pull-On Diaper Cover in natural (For night-time, no more leaks).
Bummis organic cotton prefolds (the premie size makes a great burp cloth!).
Growing Greens Organic Cotton / Hemp fitted diapers.
Growing Greens Organic Cotton fitted diapers.
Willow Sprout pre-fold. I LOVE these pre-folds!
We use a mixture of all of these. I have also found Green Mountain Diapers to be extremely helpful. They have a large selection of wool covers and cloth diapers. They also have a cloth diaper FAQ. I’ve ordered several things from them and they are extremely helpful.
To wash the wool I use Sudz N Dudz organic wool wash. I use both the bar and the liquid. Cleaning the covers doesn’t take much time at all.
I now want everything to be wool. I’m obsessed with it!
Hello, I am enjoying reading your entries. Just wondered what you use for laundry detergent for washing your prefolds?
Hi! I use to use Ecos and now I use Eco Nuts and LOVE them. They are berries from a tree that naturally contain soap. I’ve been using them on our cloth diapers, and the rest of our laundry, for about 6 months and love them. I also use white vinegar in the wash probably every other time just to strip them. I’ll update my post with a link to Eco Nuts. Thanks!
Hey there again! (Old friends by now, huh? LOL!)
I was wondering about something…
Exactly what is up with Wool that makes it non-organic? My mom has some wool yarn (Non-branded, we bought it second-hand) and I was wanting her to knit me some diaper covers (I for serious can’t afford $40/per cover lol) but I’m fairly certain it’s not organic, I was just wondering exactly what harmful things could be in it? Thanks!!
Hey! Having your mom make covers is a great idea! Wool covers are expensive. The nice thing is that you don’t need nearly as many. I didn’t start with wool until my son was 4 or 5 months old and we got 3 mediums and 1 large and we are still using them over a year later. Anyways, it’s hard to say with wool. There can be some nasty stuff that happen to sheep. If you are bored look up mulesing – it’s gross. If the wool is GOTS certified they can’t do that. I would feel bad contributing to that practice. I’ve also heard that some sheep are sprayed with pesticides but I don’t know much about it. I do buy organic lanolin to wash my diapers in just to be safe. I think second-hand wool is totally fine to make the covers in.
I saw you on the non-toxic buy / sell exchange that OBU has on Facebook. That’s great! I hope you get some good things 🙂 She just started that this week and it is such a great idea.
I’ve wanted to try cloth diapering but it seems so confusing and complicated. Do you just place the prefolds in the wool covers and that’s that? How do you wash the prefolds?
Yes, just place them in the wool cover. I have a garbage can that I put all the prefolds in and then I throw them all in the wash every few days. I dumb the poop in the toilet. When he was 100% breastfeed I wouldn’t dump the poo. Since it’s mostly water I would just put it in the wash. I always do a prewash first. It’s super simple! You should give it a try.
After a year plus I decided I like the covers with the snaps (babee greens) or the ones that just pull up ( Disana or Engle soakers) the best. The soakers are bulky but they work great. I’ve just started using them both day and night and love them. I like Organic Caboose too but the Velcro is starting to wear and they don’t stay on as well anymore. My favorite prefolds are the organic cotton and hemp ones listed on in my post and the diapers that snap.
Disposables have a lot of toxic stuff in them. I occasionally use Seventh Generation disposables which are better than most but still not great.
Thanks so much! Right now I’m using disposable diapers from The Honest Co. and Earth’s Best. But, I’m going to give cloth a try. I just ordered the Wool Covers from Organic Caboose and the inserts from Willow Pads. Hoping it works out for us! It seems so much healthier than disposables, I’ve just been too afraid to try.
I think you will love it once you get use to it. It is a little more work than disposables but I really love cloth. Good luck!
So you use Suds N Duds to clean your wool covers, Eco Nuts to wash your prefolds (with vinegar every other wash). What/when/how do you use the Organic Lanolin for and why do you use it? What brand? Thanks!!!!!
The Suds n Duds organic wool wash has lanolin in it. So there is no need for a separate treatment. You can buy organic lanolin that you can use if you feel that the covers need some waterproofing. Whenever that happens to me I usually just wash them because it’s been long enough that I feel like a washing should happen 🙂
Thanks so much! Did you wash your wool covers before the first use? Or just use them? Have you ever had to do the separate lanolin treatment? Or have the suds n duds bar and liquid all you’ve ever needed?
I always wash everything before first use so I did the same with the covers. We have used the lanolin spray a couple of times but really haven’t needed it much. I just feel like if it starts leaking then it’s probably time to wash them anyways 🙂 I use to wash every 2 weeks no matter what, now I pretty much wait until they start to leak or if they have poop on them to wash. It’s usually every 3 to 4 weeks. Good luck! I hope you love them as much as I do 🙂
thanks so much again! how do you strip your cloth diapers? i keep reading that you use bleach and dawn, but I don’t want to use bleach. i think you mentioned vinegar? the eco nuts instructions recommend stripping the diapers before using the eco nuts. thanks so much! i really really appreciate your help!
Yes, I just strip them with organic white wine vinegar. The brand I use is Spectrum Organics. I’ve heard of people boiling them but I don’t think you need to do that. Most definitely don’t use bleach and dawn – that will just make your organic diapers toxic in my opinion! Vinegar works great.
Hi! So I tried out the cloth diapering. I used the Organic Caboose Wool covers and the Bummis prefolds. It’s not working out so well. I feel like maybe I’m doing something wrong? I bought everything according to his weight. The velcro on the wool covers feels like it’s barely staying in place and once I manage to get everything on him it feels very loose, like he’ll definitely end up leaking. And then I can barely get his clothes on him and once I do he looks like a sumo wrestler. There’s so much fabric, even though I can barely get the velcro to fasten. Does that sound right? I’m sure I’m doing something wrong 😦
scratch that. i had the covers on wrong, inside out (the tags confused me). but he definitely still looks very weird with all this fabric. i’m pretty sure most of his clothes won’t fit, have you ever tried pinning? i may give that a try.
Is pinning using a snappy or just diaper pins? We used a snappy for awhile. The Bummis cloth diapers are definitely bulky. The Willow Sprouts one are less bulky. However, cloth diapering in general is much bulkier than disposables. Also I have found that the Babee Green covers look smaller when he is in clothes. I don’t think we have ever had a leak in the organic caboose covers but we do in the Babee Green ones. Pants with elastic waists are great for cloth diapered babies.
Which diapers do you find best for newborn at a reasonable price? It seems like they won’t stay in these for long. Also do you recommend snaps or velcro?
I like the organic caboose as a company better but the snaps on the babee greens are much easier and last longer. The Velcro has started to wear out on my organic caboose and pretty much make them unusable now. I have had my same stash of covers and diapers since my son was 5ish months old and he is now 21 months. He was a pretty big baby then thinned out so I was able to keep using the same ones. I really like the willow sprout pre-folds, much more absorbent and less bulky. When my son was a newborn I just did diaper service because I didn’t know where to start. I think you could start out with the smaller size of willow sprout pre-folds and some small and medium covers. At 5 months my son was wearing both the small and the large wool covers. Hope that helps!
Thanks so much for your useful blog. I have just been looking at Willow sprout-change pre-fold insides, but have been pretty disappointed to see on their website that it says about the sprout-change insides “Double layers of PUL make our diapers last years”. A footnote adds “double waterproof layers of polyurethane laminate are hidden”, but from what I’d understood, you don’t approve of PUL at all, even if it’s under a cover of natural wool or whatever. Can you comment ?
Yes, I don’t like PUL at all. Can you send me the link where you read that. I just looked on their site and don’t see it. Also, a couple of my prefolds have started coming apart from washing them so many times and there is no PUL on the inside. I’m curious about this though. Thanks!
Hi naturalbabymama, Thanks for this. I don’t know how to mail you, so here’s the link :
You can reach this page from their menu by choosing the following headings :
Our Brands ¦ Sprout Change ¦ Information ¦ Why sprout change
Then it’s right at the bottom of the page.
Thanks, and looking forward to hearing what you think once you’ve go to the bottom of this 😉
I emailed with them and they only use PUL in their diaper covers. The prefolds and other diapers do not have PUL. I could tell that my diapers didn’t but didn’t know if this was something new. So I personally wouldn’t use the diaper covers but the diapers are great!
What lanolin would you recommend?
I link it at the bottom of the post 🙂 It’s Sudz N Duds. It is a wool soap bar that has lanolin. It’s organic.
Thank you for all of the helpful responses to my previous posts! I’ve appreciated them all.
Would the Growing Greens hemp/cotton blend diapers with a Babee Greens wool cover work for a newborn? Or do you suggest getting some cotton pre-folds for the first few months? I’ve read mixed opinions online and was just curious about your take.
Hummm, I’m assuming they would be fine. We didn’t start using these diapers until my son was 4 months old. We used a diaper service for the 1st 4 months which used cloth diapers. I will say when we switched over it was amazing how much better the growing greens prefolds worked. I plan on using them with baby #2. Why do people say that they aren’t great for newborns? I will say you can’t use a snappi with them, you would need to use diaper pins or nothing.
What do you use as a swim diaper?
In terms of the Growing Greens hemp/cotton blend diapers, some of the reviews online said they were too big and people used cotton prefolds instead. But I think using diaper pins sounds like it would work.
I had an old bum genius diaper that I used as a swim diaper but we started swimming late (my son was already potty trained). iPlay makes one, I don’t love it and don’t love it is made in China but it might be the best option out there.
Alright, so baby will be arriving in a couple of months and we finally made the plunge and have started our cloth diapering stash! We’re going to try the Cloth-Eez flats because they’re one size and quicker drying, although we need to practice the folds. We also have a Babee Greens one-size fitted and some GMD pre-folds and Babee Greens wool covers.
We had soap nuts already and I’m doing the initial 5 hot water washes. Someone in an earlier post said the diapers should be stripped first, but I didn’t think that would be necessary since they haven’t been used yet. Also, the Babee Greens website said only one of the washes needs to have detergent. Any thoughts on that?
There are reviews online that say long-term use of soap nuts didn’t work on cloth diapers. Naturalbabymama, have you had any trouble since writing this post?
Your blog has been so incredibly helpful as we prepare for this new journey. Thank you!
One more question — do you use the unscented Sudz and Dudz? I’ve read that essential oils can cause repelling so I’m gonna go with unscented, but just curious since the scents sound appealing.
I’m so glad I stumbled upon your website. It’s really helping me make decisions on what I’d like to do for my first born. However, on this particular issue I feel torn. I’ve been doing research on SIDS and came across an argument against the use of wool in newborns, primarily because arsenic found naturally in the wool. The article only mentions not using wool mattresses and blankets such as sheepskin, nothing about wool covers, but it’s still wool. Apparently, the arsenic in the wool converts to arsine which is a toxic nerve gas. Here is the article http://www.preventsids.org/
Your thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance.
Arsenic is found in the soil which is how it gets in the wool (sheep eating off the land). I’ve talked w several organic wool suppliers who do occasionally test their wool and arsenic haven’t been an issue. I’ve just decided organic wool is the best I can do. However sheepskin is another thing entirely because it’s a more chemically intensive process and there is formaldehyde. Babies sleeping on formaldehyde off gassing sheepskin is not good and I could see that being a link to SIDS.
Does anyone know if BumGenius is harmful? I’m looking for a safe all in one cloth diaper and I like that BumGenius Elemental is one size and grows with age. Any recommendations?