Being a Hippy Mama: Step 1, Cloth Diapers and Wipes

In case you couldn’t tell by our obsession with hybrid vehicles and backyard chickens, Y and I try to be as "green" as we can. Things were obviously no different when it came to having a baby. Lucky for us, we’re finding that being environmentally responsible with our baby stuff is actually saving us a LOT of money, too. So I’m going to share with you guys what we have been doing, starting with a little summary of our diapering methods.
Before I start, I have to address an issue that irritates me a lot. There is some amount of controversy about whether or not cloth diapers are truly better for the environment than disposable diapers. I honestly think this is a huge load of crap. We do an extra load of laundry per week in a high efficiency washer – there is simply no way that’s as bad for the environment as 50+ disposable diapers in a landfill – I just don’t believe it. And to be honest, that discussion boils my blood, because I’m pretty sure the people who say cloth is as bad as disposable are just trying to make themselves feel better. But I digress.
We use gDiapers with a combination of cloth and biodegradable inserts.  Because all of the terms I’m going to use can be kind of confusing, I’ve got a couple of little image guides for you, the first of which is here:
There are a bunch of different kinds of cloth diapers, but I’m only going to cover what we use. I’m not an expert on everything, mmkay? So. There are a few different parts that make up a gDiaper. Here’s how it works: you have the gPants, and inside the gPants is a waterproof pouch, which snaps into the pants. The cloth or biodegradable inserts fit inside the pouch. The gPants come in three sizes: small, medium and large.
When Charlie was a wee tot, we bought a whole bunch of small gPants and gCloth inserts from Craigslist (note: small is an easy size to find used, because babies only wear it between 8-12 pounds). I fell in love. Chuck’s little butt looks so darn cute in gDiapers, and they are very easy to use.  I have tried all-in-one diapers a few times and have had nothing but troubles (leaking and such), so I consider myself a loyal gDiapers fan. I especially love that you can use either cloth or disposable (biodegradable!) inserts with them.

During the day, we mostly use cloth, unless we’re going out (more on that below). If you’re doing cloth with gDiapers, you have two options: pre-folds or the gDiapers brand gCloth. Pre-folds are really cheap, and all you have to do is fold them in thirds and stuff them in the gPants. However, they make for a really big bum, whereas the gCloth is much more streamlined (it’s basically flat, but really absorbent). We used gCloth when she was in size small gDiapers (I found them on Craigslist), and we now use pre-folds (because I’m cheap – gCloth is REALLY expensive).


At night time, I find that the cloth isn’t absorbant enough. Thus, we use a biodegradable gRefill, which is more absorbant. To soak up the extra night-time pee, you can either use another gRefill folded in half underneath the main gRefill (which gDiapers recommended), or you can stick a couple of cloth “boosters” underneath the gRefill, which is what we’re doing. Once again, this has a lot to do with our pocketbook. We use Amazon’s Subscribe & Save for gRefills, but they still aren’t cheap.
If I take Charlie somewhere in the car, I generally put her in a gRefill (for some reason, the car seat makes this kid poop almost every time – there’s no greater laxative, I swear!). Although we have a wet bag for carrying around dirty diapers, it’s just easier to get rid of the poop and put the gPant in the wet bag if it’s dirty.
For most people, dealing with the poop is the part that dissuades them from cloth diapering. I’m not going to lie to you: there will be poop. But the poop is honestly not that bad. We bought a diaper sprayer for our guest bathroom, which helps with clean up – no scraping off the poop. Next to the toilet, we have a Simple Human trash can (because it’s pretty and you can open the lid by stepping on it) with a PlanetWise diaper pail liner in it.  If there’s poop, you hold the diaper in the toilet, spray the poop into the toilet, then toss the dipe into the pail. Done and done.
The vast majority of the diapers, though, are pee diapers (did you know that a lot of babies only poop once a week?). We have another can/liner set up next to the changing table, and I mostly just pull the pee diaper out and throw it in the can. End of story. When it’s time to do the laundry, we just turn the bag inside-out into the washer, and voila! You didn’t even have to touch it.
I mean, really, people: the honest truth is that babies poop. Sometimes, they poop everywhere. Their clothes (and, let’s be real here: your clothes too) will get poop on them, especially if you use disposable diapers (which tend to cause "blow outs"). So if you’re afraid of poop, you’ll probably get over it. If you’re afraid of having poop in your washing machine, take comfort: after you spray the poop in the toilet, there really isn’t any left on the diaper to go in the washing machine anyway. If you really don’t want to spray the poop, I’ve heard good things about diaper liners, but I have yet to try them.
Now, onto the wipes.
Reusable wipes are such a no-brainer, I can’t believe more people don’t use them! Even the people I know who use cloth diapers usually use disposable wipes. When Charlie was about a month old, I was horrified to find that we’d gone through a huge box of disposable wipes, which cost about $75. Bad for the environment and bad, bad for the budget.
Reusable wipes are just washcloths. The best kind are thin and small; we have three brands, two of which I love (Gerber and Imse Vimse. Stay away from Spasilk – they’re scratchy and don’t absorb well). When it comes time to change a diaper, I squirt some diaper solution onto a wipe and wipe her butt. Then I throw the dirty diaper and the wipe into the diaper can. Easy peasy! We use squirty bottles like these, filled with water, a little bit of baby shampoo and almond oil, plus a drop of tea tree oil (other recipes here). We have disposable wipes for the diaper bag (and I admit I use them on especially nasty poops).
A few tips:
  • After she outgrew size small, we had to buy a lot of medium gPants new (I recommend buying them at Babies R Us and doubling up on coupons). It’s an investment upfront, but saves a TON of money over disposables in the long run.
  • If you’re wondering exactly how we get the pre-folds in the gDiapers (or want awesome close-up photos of every aspect of gDiapers), check out this post from Joyful Abode.
  • I like gCloth better than pre-folds, but the pre-folds are much, much less expensive. I bought the pre-folds to fit the medium size gPants, but in retrospect, it would make more sense to buy the gCloth for size medium/large instead of size small. She’ll be in mediums until she’s 28 pounds, and the larges use the same size gCloth. Definitely more bang for your buck if you’re going to spend money on gCloth at all. Otherwise, just be cheap like me and buy pre-folds. Three dozen is more than enough.
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37 Responses to Being a Hippy Mama: Step 1, Cloth Diapers and Wipes

  1. Kim says:

    Awesome post Sara! I love it. Jackson was in cloth from birth to potty training and Kate is in cloth from the start too.

    We use a combination of All-in-Ones (didn’t like BumGenius, but GroVia are rocking my world) and fitted diapers.

    Two additional thoughts:

    Disposable diapers are FULL of chemicals – I don’t know how dangerous they are, but they are next to your child’s sensitive bits 24/7. Lots of parents are trying to limit environmental exposure to chemicals.

    Many cloth diaper companies are small businesses started by, run by, and owned by moms. I love that I am on a first name basis with the women who have sewn so many of my kids’ diapers and clothing items. Moms supporting other moms with the added bonus of good green parenting is win win win.

  2. Joanna says:

    Ok, one, THANK YOU!!!

    Two, I think an environmental aspect people don’t mention that’s actually REALLY important is the transportation. How bad is it to gather all the raw materials and ingredients to the diaper factory and then to distribute them to the stores, and then for you to drive to and from the stores buying disposable things (or for amazon to keep delivering them to you)?? Even if your load of laundry is equivalent to 500 years in the dump, cutting down on shipping is a huge hidden environmental impact.

  3. @Kim – such good points! A friend of mine actually switched to gDiapers because her baby was getting such bad rashes from the CHLORINE in disposable diapers. That is super scary to me! We have a whole bunch of GroVia/GroBaby that I bought when I was pregnant, but they do nothing but leak on Charlie. I wonder if I was doing something wrong? Thoughts?

    @Joanna – That is a REALLY good point. Well said!

  4. Kim says:

    @Sara: huh. I don’t know? Kate’s been in them a ton and we haven’t had a leak yet. I wonder if they’ve changed? I just got mine in March. We use the ones with the organic cotton soakers – I haven’t used the shells.

  5. Amber says:

    How many of each size did you get?  I am due any day. We decided to start with 12 tiny G’s (because I have 6lb babies that grow slow) and 12 small’s.  I also have 6 gcloth and 24 prefolds.  Plus we will use grefills when out and about. Think that is enough?

  6. Hayley says:

    We had leaking problems with the Bumgenius at first, but put the diaper on a little tighter and voila! No leaks!

  7. @Kim – I think I need to research this a little further.

    @Amber – yes, I think that’s probably good! You might have to do a lot of laundry in the early days because newborns to through so many diapers, but I don’t think I’d buy any more than that.

    @Hayley – I’m so glad you figured that out!

  8. Melissa says:

    Thank you Sara for your post! Questions – Did you start using CD’ing right away with Charlie?  Did you only buy the Smalls on Craigslist or have you been buying the other sizes as well?  I’ll probably think of more too… lol

  9. When C was born, she was about 6 pounds, so she was too small for the size small. Now they have “tiny g’s”, which we will use the next time we have a little baby. But we had to use disposables until she fit into the smalls.

    We only bought size small on Craigslist because I couldn’t find mediums!

  10. Mr Pants says:

    Great post, but you forgot to give props to the guy who sprays the diapers every night! ;)

  11. From a fellow cloth diaper enthusiast… love this post!  Crazy how worked up we can get about diapers, no?  I think the question about whether cloth or disposable is better came from one old outdated study… not taking into account HE washers and a lot of other factors… but it just doesn’t make sense anyways.  If cloth is no better than disposable, then why don’t we all use disposable clothing?  dishes?  bedding?  Makes no sense!

  12. Melissa says:

    Thanks Sara! Ok another question – Did you find the plastic liners to be a PITA to attach or keep in place? I read the other link you provided from Joyful Adobe (thank you for linking her!) and did you find that sometimes you only had to replace the insert and not the liner too?

  13. @ E – so true!
    @ Melissa – no, definitely not. It seriously could not be easier! And yes, for pee diapers you only need to replace the insert. Nasty poops get on the liners (now they call them “pouches”) too, but for the most part the liner is fine.

  14. amy m says:

    Yes, I do think that was part of it, but he probably believed it would also cause a stress on our water supply. I was pregnant in the height of the drought. He said if we lived anywhere else he would want to do it. It kills me to order all those diapers.

  15. kelly ballou says:

    I have become such a cloth dork. My stash is actually TOO BIG.

    I wanted to mention another option for overnight is hemp fitteds (I use kissaluvs) and WOOL covers (I use lovely bums) Love this combo!

  16. Amy M says:

    I really wanted to do this and my husband was just not on board. He kept up with the water/drought argument and wore me down. I really do regret it and Charlie’s butt does look so cute in that gdiaper. There are of course chlorine free disposables though, the seventh generation. And my kid poops several times a day, so there’s that too. Maybe if there is a next time.

  17. Kim says:


    We LOVE our Loveybums wool covers too! Jackson was in fitteds/wool for much of his diapering time. Prefolds + loveybums wool crepe is our hands down favorite combo for hot days. So light and breathable for their little bums.

    (sorry, can you tell that I love talking about cloth diapers?)

    I once did an experiment to determine whether washing diapers led to a surplus of bacteria in the washer. I should dig up the pictures of the plates on which I cultured the wash water!

  18. Jessica Hinson says:

    LOVE this post. I have a few questions though…
    1.) did you shart from day one? Were you worried about them irritating her umblical?
    2.) did you start with a variety of different brands? Were they all prefold kinds?
    3.)how many of each should one try?
    4.) how long did it take you to “give up” on the other ones?

  19. @Krista – that SUCKS! I would definitely experiment with cloth to see if that helps.

    @Kelly – I can totally see how that could happen, hahaha. I just bought a bunch of crap to make my own inserts!

    @Amy – Do you think he just didn’t want to deal with the poop?

    @Kim – HOLY CRAP girl, you are hardcore!! I would love to hear more about this!!

    @Jessica – we tried one all-in-one brand and gDiapers. The AIO didn’t work for us initially because she was too skinny, and I fell madly in love with gDiapers (we initially thought we’d just get them until she got a little fatter). I would suggest the cloth diaper trial on Jillian’s Drawers:
    We haven’t done this yet but I was considering it!

  20. Melissa says:

    I love coming back and seeing even more info :) 

    my question (another! I told you I’d keep coming back ha ha) how much did she weigh when you made the switch from the disposables to the small? I know it says 8lbs but didn’t know if you were able to start before or had to wait till later.

  21. Krista says:

    This sort of makes me lament not using cloth diapers with mine. I planned to use gdiapers with Ali and then read about how daycares don’t really like that sort of thing, so opted for Pampers. Now of course the point is pretty much moot (except for night time, so it may be worth it after all.) Kellen’s little bottom has been bright red since birth, and I do wonder if it’s from the diapers. :( I think the things I read about possibly being bad for the environment etc. had to do with using the laundry service for cloth diapers. Anyway if I decide to switch Kellen over maybe I will have to get some more details from you…

  22. Hey Melissa! You know, I honestly don’t remember. I think it was right around 8 pounds!

  23. mr pants says:

    @melissa: Hi! Mr Pants here. I’m pretty sure we switched Chuck over at 8 lbs. I remember because we were sad that she was growing so fast but relieved because we hated the Elmo disposable. Elmo was terrible. The other characters were fine but Elmo, he sucked at his diapering job.

  24. Melissa says:

    Ha ha. Thanks Mr. Pants :) Ya Elmo shouldn’t quit his day job ;)

  25. Jessica Hinson says:

    How many “gPants” do you need?

  26. @Jessica – we have about a dozen, but I don’t think you need that many. We have a couple in the diaper bag, one in the car, and the rest are in rotation in the house. I’d start out with four and see how many more you’d like to have!

    @Alexis – Yay! Congrats on coming back to the states, too! That must be exciting. :) I used water only on the wipes for awhile, but I felt like her butt wasn’t very FRESH. Also, the wipes glide a little better with a little bit of oil. Hope that helps!

  27. Alexis Klein says:

    I want to thank you for this. My friend is doing gDiapers and has talked me into it. We just bought a ton. We have to wait till we move back to the states in 14 days (we are military stationed in Germany) but I’m excited to start this new adventure. We have a 22 mth old and a 3.5 mth old. We are hoping these will help with potty training the oldest.

    My question is do you have to use a solution on the cloth wipes. We have been talking about using them too. I read that you can use just water on them and they work just fine.

  28. Ellie says:

    Thank you so much for the info about cloth diapering.  I’ve been following your blog for a while (since the weddingbee days), and Charlie is so adorable.  I have a 6 month old, and after reading your post, I am thinking about switching.  I have a few questions though:

    1)  Will pee leak if the gPants aren’t changed every 3 to 4 hours?  For example, after a full night of sleep? 

    2)  Have you ever had an explosion of poo? 

    My hubby is still skeptical, but I see a lot of pros.  He’s most scared of cleaning out the poo.  :)

  29. Hi Ellie!
    Thanks so much for the comment and questions!

    1) At night, we use a gRefill and a booster underneath to absorb the extra pee. I think it depends on whether your son is a heavy wetter – you might have to experiment a little! The booster and gRefill work well for us, but I know some people use a second gRefill folded up underneath the main one.

    2) We used to have poo-splosions ALL THE TIME when she was in disposables in the first few weeks. Once we started using cloth, they DISAPPEARED. Then last week she got sick and had diarrhea, and we had a few explosions. I will say, though, that even though the poop came outside the pouch, it really only got on her clothes a teeny bit. It would have been a disaster if she’d been in disposables.

    Also, it looks like you guys are starting with solids. We found that solids made everything SO MUCH EASIER to clean up. This is graphic, but I’m gonna tell you anyway. ;) Basically, once they really start on solids, you get nuggets. Like, real human poos. You can just PICK UP THE POO with toilet paper, throw it in the toilet and it’s DONE. So that might be helpful for your husband!

  30. Krista says:

    Just to put my two cents in… Charlie might get “nuggets” (like real, human poos) from eating grown up food, but this is not always the case! May depend on their diet or just their bodies, but my babies still have pretty soft stools for the most part (well, Ali does sometime have to ‘bear down’ to go and then will say, “Look! I made a peacock!” but that is another story.) ;)

    PS I accidentally clicked to be removed from notifications and I didn’t mean to, so I hope this is undoing it now.

  31. Jessica Hinson says:

    I’m trying to figure out how many gcloths are needed. How many do you have and how often do you do laundry?

  32. @Krista – Ali never ceases to make me laugh. Good to know about the nuggets. I guess we are lucky!

    @Jessica – We use less expensive “prefolds,” so we have a LOT. We probably cycle through 2.5 dozen, but we actually HAVE 4 dozen. We do the laundry 1x per week (I know this sounds stinky, but we rinse out the diapers so they don’t smell. Hope that helps!

  33. Jessica Hinson says:

    That is helpful, I was just rereading your blog (for the millionth time!). You said in retrospect, you would only buy med/large cloths instead of small, you think it’ll fit just the same? I could totally be misreading that.
    Where do you get your prefolds and what size?

  34. Hey Jessica! the gCloth are really expensive, and the babies don’t stay in the small size for very long. So I’d buy the prefolds (which are really cheap) instead of the gCloth for the small size (I think you get newborn size to fit in the small gDiapers), and save my money for the medium/large size gCloth instead. Charlie is now 14 months old and has been in the medium size gDiapers since she was about 3 months old! I bought our prefolds from

  35. tb13 says:

    I just need to comment, I don’t think it’s an entirely accurate statement to refer to “50+ diapers in the landfill per week”… I have never gone through 50+ disposable diapers in a week, ever.

  36. @tb13 – I guess you don’t change diapers as often as I do! :)

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