Can You Use Flannel For Cloth Diapers?

You’ve decided to make the transition to cloth diapers. You have a few bolts of flannel or a few flannel shirts laying around. Can flannel even be used for cloth diapers? You’re in luck!

Flannel can be used to make cloth diapers. Flannel is used in diaper covers, inserts, and wipes. A few layers of thick flannel can be sewn together to create inserts to go in the flannel covers. You can also make baby wipes out of flannel.

If you have extra flannel on hand, it really is a versatile material for DIY’ers. Keep reading to discover how you can turn your old Christmas pajamas into a coordinated diaper set for your little one.

Flannel for Cloth Diapers

Flannel is an excellent choice for cloth diapers and the environment. Flannel is 100% cotton. Baby’s bottom will love this because it allows airflow which disposable diapers do not. I find that the more airflow my babies have in their diapers, the less prone they are to diaper rash. The natural material makes them landfill friendly. Your diapers won’t exist when we first fly to Saturn.

This material choice is super soft on your baby. Sharp tabs on disposable diapers tend to scrape the skin on the hips of my babies. Cloth diapers, especially ones made out of extra soft flannel, never leave these terrible scrapes.

Flannel Diaper Cover

Used flannel shirts and pants are easy (and cheap) sources for material. You can also visit your local fabric store if you don’t already have your own stash. If you’re not sure how to DIY your own diaper cover, you can follow this tutorial to walk you through the basic steps. Triple up and use 3 layers of flannel for the outside of the diaper. Add velcro or snap buttons for a sturdier fit.

One thing to keep in mind is that flannel is not a waterproof material. You will need to make an absorbent insert to soak up baby’s urine. A flannel diaper cover is better for younger babies or babies that are not heavy wetters.

Flannel Insert

Inserts are the absorbent part of the cloth diaper. These are placed inside the diaper cover. In this tutorial, flannel is used to make an insert. Four layers of flannel are sewn into a large square. This essentially makes a prefold. The flannel square is then folded into thirds and provides 12 layers of fabric.

If the flannel prefold seems a little intimidating, you can make flannel flat diapers. Flat diapers are simply large pieces of cloth. This cloth is a single layer that is folded around baby to make an absorbent diaper. It is then fastened and a diaper cover is put on top. The flannel isn’t waterproof, so you will need a moisture blocking cover. These are the old school cloth diapers that our grandmothers used.


Flat diapers are the easiest to launder because they have only one layer. The messes and stains easily come out. They also dry lightning fast. To make simple flannel flat diapers, cut a piece of flannel into a 28 by 28 inch square. You can finish it with a rolled hem or use pinking shears with a zig zag stitch. An old flannel sheet is ideal to make these large flat diapers.

Flannel Wipes

While you are designing your baby’s flannel cloth diaper collection, consider making wipes too. Cloth wipes are the easiest thing to make. Since you will already have dirty cloth diapers in your diaper pail, cloth wipes can be easily tossed in. Dirty cloth diapers and wipes can be washed together. A bonus is that you’ll never run out of wipes as long as you keep a few washed.

To make flannel wipes, you can cut eight-inch squares from your fabric. Use pinking shears to help the wipes keep their shape. Stitch the edges of the wipes with an overlock stitch or a zig-zag stitch.

For newborns, arm yourself with at least 50 wipes. Newborns poop frequently and their poops are notorious for their liquid consistency. If you’re making the switch to cloth wipes during toddlerhood, you can get away with making 20. Babies in between these ages can get away with around 35 wipes, depending on the frequency of their bowel movements. Fortunately, these wipes are easy to make if you need to quickly add to your stash.


Other Fabric Options

While flannel can make many parts of your cloth diaper, you may have other materials in your closet that could further expand your stash. Fleece is another popular fabric for cloth diaper DIY’ers. Fleece that is found in cheap baby blankets can make water-repelling diaper covers. These covers aren’t waterproof, but they will repel more moisture than your flannel diaper cover. Plus, it is also very soft on baby’s skin.


If you have an old outdoor sweater made of microfleece, don’t throw it out. Microfleece makes one of the best cloth diaper liners. It is much thinner than regular fleece. Microfleece breathes and wicks away moisture from baby’s skin while transferring it to the absorbent layers below. These would upgrade the performance of your flannel inserts.

Old car or kitchen microfiber cleaning cloths can be repurposed into inserts. Microfiber terry is a popular choice for insert material because it is much cheaper than bamboo or hemp. A few layers of the microfiber terry will help keep baby’s pee contained in your flannel diaper.

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