Cloth diaper for under $5 using items in your home!

Do you want to get started using cloth diapers but can’t dig up the funds to buy them? No worries! Use what you already have! Up-cycling items you own into cloth diapers is THE most economical way to diaper a child. It’s also great for the environment! Remember, the only requirement for a cloth diaper is an absorbent layer, covered with a water resistant layer! It really is THAT simple.

Items that work well as diapers:

-Sheets and pillow cases (to use as a flat diaper cut/sew to approximately 29x29 in.)

-Flour sack towels or single layer dish towels (used as a flat diaper)

-Cotton or Jersey knit t-shirts for a T-shirt diaper

-Cotton or flannel receiving blankets (used as a flat diaper)

-Washcloths or fingertip towels (for extra absorbency or to act as a “doubler”)

 *Search flat diaper folds to learn how to fold the above materials into a diaper OR check out this video on folding a t-shirt into a diaper!*











Items that you can turn into covers:

-Micro fleece jackets or blankets

-Wool sweaters (You will also need lanolin and a wool wash to make a wool cover water resistant)

*Search “The Katrina soaker pattern” or check out the “no sew fleece diaper cover” video below by Kim from Dirty Diaper Laundry for diaper covers you can make at home.*












-Store dirty diapers in a clean bucket or your washing machine until washing

-A wetbag (or water resistant bag to hold soiled diapers on the go) can be a large zip closure plastic bag or plastic grocery bags.

-You will need a safe closure device for your up-cycled diapers. Diaper pins, Snappis and Boingos are safe to use as diaper closures and cost between $2-5. (Pins may be easier to use on some tightly woven fabrics.)

In conclusion, whether you sew or not, you probably have everything you need at home to get started with cloth diapering!

This post was written by Janice Roodsari. Janice is a stay at home mom to twins, an RN, an environment and cloth diaper advocate, and a blogger. She also leads the Real Diaper Circle of Ventura County. You can find more posts written by Janice at

RDA Member Profile: Happy 25th Anniversary, Comfy Cotton!

"Comfy Cotton Diaper Service has outfitted more than 15,000 babies in cloth diapers, all with an extreme focus on being environmentally friendly." They have washed over 40 million pounds of diapers (as well as 34 million pounds of other reusable linens), preventing at least that much waste from entering landfills. - from Comfy Cotton's anniversary press release

The following is excerpted from my interview with Sergio in honor of the occasion of their 25th anniversary...

2nd generation Comfy Cotton customer at anniversary celebration Why did you start the business?

We had a customer who started Comfy Cotton but had no idea about laundering. She hired us to wash the diapers and when her babies were potty trained she was not interested in the business any longer. By then, I was "infected" with the "environment virus". I believe that disposable diapers are unhealthy for the baby and an aberration to the environment. The following are some of the reasons: 

1.Health: Through several studies disposables have been linked to asthma, infertility and allergies. There were far less rashes 35 years ago than today. 
2.Environment: Think that all the disposables manufactured in the last 35 or so years are still in the landfills. The very few that are being "recycled" doesn't stop the damage caused by manufacturing them. You still need all the natural resources to make them.
3.Economics: Babies are potty trained earlier using reusables than using disposables, as they are aware when they are soiled. Six to eight months earlier. 

What role has cloth diaper education played in your business?

Education is a very important part in our success. I would love to have more resources to make people aware that reusable diapers exist. In my experience, very few parents are aware of it. We are supported by many different organizations (RDA, La Leche League Canada, RDIA, etc) and send brochures and information to Doulas, Obstetricians and Health Facilities.

How do you participate in your local community?

We are constantly striving to educate new parents in our community.

  • With social media being as prominent as it is, we have recently added a Facebook and Twitter account to our business, thus helping to try and spread the word about cloth diapers and the impact of disposables.
  • We also advocate and participate  in local events that are happening in the communities we serve (such as The Great Cloth Diaper Change) and publish informational monthly newsletters.
  • We also continue to make several donations each year to not-for-profit organizations, both locally and worldwide. Some of our diapers have ended up in places like Kenya, Mexico and Guatemala!

What are the biggest changes you've seen in the cloth diapering community over the years?

Today's society and government put more emphasis on 'recycling', not 're-using' and 'reducing' - therefore sending out the message that disposables are okay, as they are recycled in many green bin programs throughout Toronto. What many people do not know, is that only a partial amount of a disposable is actually recycled, the rest ends up in landfill.

Comfy Cotton serves parts of Greater Toronto and beyond. Find a cloth diaper service in your community.

Cotton Prefolds and Yeast: Initial Results

Project intern, Liam, running tests under the oversight of Liz, our volunteer microbiologist.

A few months ago, the Real Diaper Association began our first phase of scientific experiments designed to determine the best way to treat cloth diapers in the presence of a yeast infection.  

We have been fortunate to work with a fantastic team of volunteers, including two prominent mycologists, one specifically studying Candida albicans at her university lab, a (cloth diapering) microbiologist, and a high school intern who has eagerly learned the ins and outs of sterile technique and working with yeast.

Since we've gotten a lot of questions about our status, I decided to share our initial results, with the expectation that we'll continue to publish interim updates as we learn more.

1. First, we put yeast on a number of cloth diaper samples using a variety of application methods, then ran them through a series of washing processes.

Sometimes we applied the yeast to wet or dry diapers directly from the plates they were growing on. Sometimes we applied them in a solution of apple juice-sweetened oatmeal to approximate a fecal medium on which yeast might grow in diapers. We left the diapers in containers to mimic diaper pail conditions and washed them at various temperatures with and without detergent, sometimes drying and sometimes retesting them right out of the washing machine.

No yeast grew on any plates that had been swabbed with cleaned diapers.

2. Based on those results, we needed to figure out if we were using enough yeast to make it through the dilution expected in the washing machine.  Therefore, we calculated the ratio of yeast to water and tried to play with the dilution levels in test tubes.

Here we had no problem growing yeast even further diluted than expected in a washing machine, meaning that the amount of yeast we were using was, in fact, sufficient.

These results lead to the conclusion that live yeast does not remain on 100% cotton prefolds through a wash cycle.

It IS possible that yeast remains on other cloth diapering fabrics.  And there are a number of further tests we're planning, as described in our initial project outline.  

To learn more, or to support our work by helping us procure the additional materials necessary to continue to run the tests, please visit the project webpage.

- Heather McNamara
Executive Director, Real Diaper Association

RDA Member Profile: Rachel Lawson

Rachel is one of our oldest individual members, and has been supporting the Real Diaper Association since 2006. I recently conducted the following interview to learn about what she's seen related to cloth diapers over the past 7+ years.

Family with baby

Q: Why did you start using cloth diapers? Where did you hear about them?
A: It was my mom who first told me about cloth diapers. I was cloth diapered as baby, but back then the only diaper options were flat diapers with pins. When my mom and I talked about cloth diapers we both assumed that that was my only option, and even then I was fully on board. It wasn't until my first visit to the midwife that I discovered other cloth diaper types existed. She had a fitted diaper displayed in her waiting room (Crickett's Diapers) so I went looking online and that was the first brand of cloth diaper that I purchased. 

Q: What year did you first use cloth diapers? Where did you get them?
A: I started using cloth diapers in 2006 (Feb 2006), although I started purchasing them at the end of 2005. My first round of cloth diapers I purchased all online. Mostly Crickett’s diapers and some “unknown” brand off of eBay. I also bought some gently used Kissaluvs newborn size from eBay. My daughter was born in Naples, FL and I did not know of any stores in our area that carried cloth diapers. When she was 5 weeks old we moved to East Lansing, MI. I was able to find a few stores in the Lansing/Ann Arbor area that carried cloth diapers. That is where I found FuzziBunz (which is the majority of my cloth diaper supply). 

Baby wearing a cloth diaper


Q: Have you noticed any changes in the availability of cloth diapers? 
A: Most definitely. We moved back to Naples, FL in 2011 and I now have two stores in my city that carry cloth diapers (there could be more but that is all I have found so far). I have  also seen them at larger store like Target. There is also a larger selection of online stores that carry them now too.

Q: Did you use the same diapers on both of your children? Why or why not?
A. For the most part I did use the same cloth diapers on all three of my children. The only ones I did not were the diapers that fell apart. My FuzziBunz made it through all three kids. Sadly my Crickett's diapers only made it through two kids and they were no longer usable. For my third child I had a pretty good supply from the first two and I did not purchase any additional diapers for him. 

Q: Have you supported any friends or family in using cloth diapers?
A: Yes, I have two friends that cloth diaper and I gave them tips about cloth diapering. In addition, I knit them some wool soakers to use over the cloth diapers. We swear by wool soakers, they really do help create and nice barrier between the diaper and the clothes. In fact, I used to teach a soaker knitting class at a yarn shop that I worked in. I was able to discuss cloth diapering quite a bit with customers and people that took my class. 

Baby wearing a cloth diaper

Q: Why do you continue to support the Real Diaper Association?A: I continue to support the Real Diaper Association because they believe as I do that babies deserve to wear real diapers. They assist members and local circles in spreading the word about cloth diapering. In addition there are great resource materials on the website and in the newsletters.

Want to add YOUR support to the Real Diaper Association? Individual memberships start at $25:

Pañales ecologicos y más

At Eugenia's store, Zona Kids

In Oaxaca City, Mexico for three weeks with my family to study Spanish, of COURSE I was excited when I came across a store with a sign advertising Pañales Ecologicos. I knew it HAD to be cloth diapers - - and I was right!!

Maria Eugenia has been selling them in her store, Zona Kids, for 3 years. She sells the ecopipo brand, which is manufactured here in Mexico. Of COURSE, I gave her my card and invited her to participate in the Great Cloth Diaper Change next year!

Delfina selling her organic clothing at El Pochote market

Knowing my interest in cloth diapers, Eugenia "kidnapped" me for a tour of a couple of other local places she thought I'd like, too. The first was an organic market where we spent a while talking to the woman selling organic clothes and other products. She told me about the natural plants and insects (cochinillas) they use for dyes.

Pancho Leyva Garcia weaving a king-size blanket

After an intermediate stop to get some chapulines (chili, salt, and lime-covered grasshoppers) and Oaxacan sweets at one of the markets, we headed to another neighborhood, Xochimilco, where we got to watch a local family of weavers who still weave on these huge manual looms that they built themselves.  The loom seemed so complicated with all these pulleys that he was manipulating, but the blanket that I could see was just beautiful!

It's so inspiring to see the devotion to organic and natural fibers and sustainable production happening all around the world. What a great opportunity to see it here in Oaxaca!

Heather McNamara
Executive Director, Real Diaper Association

Looking forward - 2013 Annual Meeting Report

Last week, we held the Real Diaper Association annual meeting via conference call. The first order of business was to vote in our newest volunteer board members, Rachel Dove and Sara Moore. Rachel and Sara are both accredited Real Diaper Circle Leaders in San Diego, CA and the Lehigh Valley, PA, respectively. Both are cloth diaper retailers who have been involved with cloth diaper advocacy and education for years.

Rachel Dove

Rachel Dove is my co-leader in our local San Diego Real Diaper Circle, so I've had the opportunity to see her build our community to nearly a thousand current members through regular meetings and personal attention on our online forum.  She also owns Rock Easy Diaper Company, a retailer of cloth diapers and more natural products for the home and family.

Sara Moore

I've had the opportunity to work with Sara Moore through the Real Diaper Industry Association, where she is also active in advancing the work of the cloth diaper industry.  She owns Ju-Ju Monkey, where she sells cloth diapers and other natural care products.

We're thrilled to have our new Board members jump right in to help on various committees and set direction for the organization that will best serve our constituents!

Speaking of that direction, in the annual meeting, we also set goals for the organization for the coming year. We determined these goals by assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, then closely examining the opportunities and threats in the current environment. Much of this information comes from our members, so we sincerely appreciate the contact you make with us to help us best determine how to advance the movement. Here are the goal areas we identified, with committees formed to better define each specific goal, then develop and implement plans to meet the goal:


Hospitals Project (multi-year) - Just as formula companies like to reach parents in the hospital to improve brand trust and recognition, so disposable diaper companies value placement and use in maternity wards. To empower new parents to use cloth diapers, hospitals should be encouraged to educate and support parents in prenatal classes and in the hours after birth.

Research - responsive research to answer questions regarding yeast and cloth diapers to improve evidence-based laundry recommendations.

Volunteers - develop a process to engage and use volunteers across a broad spectrum of possible activities more quickly

Fundraising - need to raise $30,000 income in the coming year, through the Great Cloth Diaper Change, member recruitment and retention, and/or other campaigns/grants.


If you have any questions about our overall direction or any of our specific goals, please don't hesitate to ask!

Heather McNamara
Executive Director, Real Diaper Association

More cloth diapers in hospitals...

Photo courtesy of Tina Whobrey

A couple of years ago, a group of Real Diaper Association volunteers were inspired to get cloth diapers back into hospital maternity wards. Besides reducing waste at the hospitals, getting cloth diapers onto babies from the beginning, with the tacit approval of the doctors and nurses, seemed to be an important step to returning to mainstream use of cloth diapers.

It turns out their instincts had research support. In 2003, the University of Surrey released a study (Uzzell & Leach, 2003) demonstrating the positive impact of introducing cloth diapers to parents in prenatal classes and on the maternity ward in a hospital.

Project goals and objectives

--1-- Research and publicize the data informing decisions about using cloth diapers in hospital maternity wards so that other hospitals will be able to make similar decisions.

--2-- Implement a grassroots campaign to advocate for cloth diapers in hospitals

--3-- Raise awareness of cloth diapers at the prenatal level. Based on research, the earlier parents are introduced to cloth diapers, the more likely they are to use them.  

Even if maternity wards don't use cloth diapers, new parents should still have access to information about cloth diapers included in hospital prenatal parenting classes.

Several committees at the RDA Board level will be focusing on this project - - the Volunteers Committee, where we'll be training and managing the volunteers to work on the project, the Research Committee, which will guide the investigation into current practices, and the Communications Committee, which will create the internet repository where we'll collect and share the collected data.  To coordinate all the moving parts, we'll have a Steering Committee guide the project, which will likely take 18 months to complete as designed.

Want to help? We're organizing volunteers now! Please email me at heatherm at realdiaperassociation dot org.

Heather McNamara
Executive Director, Real Diaper Association

The 2013 GCDC sets a new Guinness World Record!

It’s official! The 2013 Great Cloth Diaper Change (GCDC) set a new Guinness World Record of 8,301 babies changed into cloth diapers at one time.

The record was set on April 20, 2013 when participants around the globe gathered at 11:00 am local time to change babies into a 100% reusable cloth diaper. We achieved this goal with the hard work and dedication of 182 GCDC hosts in 20 countries around the world. Great Cloth Diaper Change events were held in: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Finland, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We are thrilled with the global reach of the GCDC and very proud of all of our dedicated GCDC Hosts.

The overall numbers for the GCDC, which include events that did not qualify per the stringent Guinness regulations, are 266 events total with 10,029 babies changed. 

That’s a lot of babies showing the world that cloth diapers are a viable option and a smart diapering choice for modern families. The GCDC brings together a diverse group of families, many of whom already use cloth diapers daily, but we also have plenty of participants that have never used a reusable diaper before the event. Regardless of their prior experience with cloth diapers, everyone tells us that the fun and positive nature of the GCDC helps motivate them to continue cloth diapering their children.

Get Involved

Help us keep the momentum going throughout the year by sharing your enthusiasm for cloth diapers with your friends, family and community. As the coordinators of the GCDC, we at the Real Diaper Association (RDA) hope that the connections made on April 20th are maintained throughout the year in local diaper circles, education outreach and cloth diaper advocacy. Every connection makes a difference. The Great Cloth Diaper Change showcases cloth diapers on an international stage, but it's your daily choice to use cloth diapers and share your knowledge within your community that keeps spreading the word from family to family. Together we can show the world that cloth diapers are easy, accessible and fun.

-Michelle Dominguez

Event Coordinator, Real Diaper Association

For more information on the Great Cloth Diaper Change, visit our website at


The Zen of Hanging and Folding Diapers

I received this email following the publication of a news article about the Great Cloth Diaper Change and thought it added some dimensions of cloth diaper benefits we often neglect to recognize.  Read on for the details...

Hi- I read about your organization in the Gainesville (Florida) Sun this morning. I'm delighted such a group exists.

I used cloth diapers exclusively for my only child who was born in 1988. I was the only mother I knew using them. I've read many reasons lots of mothers and fathers prefer them, but I've never read my own reasons, so I decided to share them with you. 

- 1- I washed my son's diapers in my washing machine, but hung them outside to dry. I loved looking at them flapping in the breeze and bleaching in the sunshine. They smelled glorious, too.

- 2- I found hanging diapers to be great exercise, and folding and smoothing them was very therapeutic in terms of giving me a wonderful sense of calm.

- 3- Babies in cloth diapers are very huggable. The covers I used were cotton, also, so there was no crackling or synthetic feel.

- 4- Maybe I was just lucky, but I tend to think babies wearing cloth potty train at an earlier age than those in disposables that wick away all the liquid and store it in a glob of gel. I suspect they don't like feeling wet. My son was completely out of diapers at 17 months old. (I missed my folding, but I have a tall stack of twenty-five-year-old polishing cloths in frequent use that remind me of those good times.)

I had only one child, so I didn't get the added financial benefit of reuse for siblings, and none of my peers or relatives were interested in duplicating my happy experience with cloth diapers. How sad that seems to me.

Mary Tracy
Bronson, Florida

Mary's son is now 25 and engaged to be married. Perhaps she'll be able to use her cloth diapers on a grandchild in the future!

Behind the Scenes: Great Cloth Diaper Change, Lawrenceville, KS.

As we wait for final ratification of the 2013 Guinness World Record, I spoke with one of our qualifying hosts, Megan Blair Bost about her GCDC event. Please read on as she shares her ideas for building community through the GCDC while hosting an inexpensive, low key event.

You hosted a Guinness qualifying event in a small town. Can you share with us how you successfully reached the minimum 25 participants?

This is my second year hosting a GCDC event. The first year I recruited a lot of friends, many of whom did not even use cloth diapers, to help us reach 25. This year, I didn’t recruit many friends since I knew we were going to make the minimum. I hung about 10 flyers around town, but the rest of our promotions came through community connections. We had 38 qualifying adult/baby pairs this year, only 8 of whom participated last year. The 30 new attendees heard about us through word of mouth. We have a strong Facebook community of local mommy groups. There was a lot of cross-posting about the event between different groups and our own GCDC page.

How does the GCDC event help cloth diapering families build community and connect with non-cloth users?

There’s a big group of families that use cloth in our town but we don’t have formal meetings or a diaper circle in our area. This is our only opportunity to get together, socialize, and talk about our shared passion for cloth diapers. I organize the event like a play date with a bunch of people doing the same thing as you, qualifying for the Guinness World Record is an added boost. After our event this year, we did an informal poll of our participants. We asked them whether swag bags and extras were motivating factors for their participation or not. A surprising 85% said they were mostly there to talk to cloth diapering parents and share their passion for cloth diapers with others.

I am happy to hear such positive responses from your participants. How did you boost excitement for your event without freebies and vendor booths?

You do not need a big budget, and a lot of extra stuff like swag bags and freebies to hold a successful GCDC event. The best advice I have is to get people involved. Our event feels special because our participants are invested in the process. They helped with the planning, found door prizes and had family members that were official witnesses.

With all this community involvement, were you able to host the event without a big financial investment?

I put some of my own money up, but we did prepay shirt orders and sold tote bags to recoup costs. We also had several families donate to help with costs so we almost broke even. Snacks were donated by my mom this year. I encourage Hosts to use the manufacturer offers. It’s a great way to get free stuff, especially if there is not a brick and mortar store in your area. If you can find a free space to host the event, that is a big money saver. I think the monetary involvement can seem overwhelming for independent hosts but there are ways to make it work.

-Michelle Dominguez

Event Coordinator, Real Diaper Association

For more information on the Great Cloth Diaper Change, visit our website at