Reusable Pocket Cloth Diapers With Inserts, A Complete Guide

Are you considering cloth diapering your baby? Maybe pocket cloth diapers?

The world of cloth diapers can be quite overwhelming. There are so many choices out there, and it can be hard to determine what to purchase. After you purchase your cloth diapers, you will then need to know how to use the diapers, wash the diapers, dry the diapers, and how to make sure that you have the right fit for your baby.

The most popular cloth diaper are pocket diapers with inserts. These diapers are extremely easy to use and will save you money in the long run.

What Is a Pocket Cloth Diaper?

A pocket diaper is a diaper sewn on three sides with an opening on one of the edges. You insert a soaker layer (cloth diaper inserts) into the opening. The pocket diaper is well-liked because you get to decide how much stuffing you need in the diaper and what you want to stuff it with. The pocket diaper tends to be a trim diaper option for daytime use and can be as thick as you need for overnight.

What is a stay dry pocket diaper?

A “stay dry” pocket diaper is a diaper that uses an inside layer that has properties in it that “wick” urine away from the baby. This leaves the baby with a dry feeling even though the diaper may be very wet.

Why Use Pocket Cloth Diapers?

Disposable diapers are expensive, and your baby will go through many. The price can quickly add up. With cloth diapers, you can reuse them, making them a great sustainable choice for you and your baby. Disposable diapers also can cause some irritation if your baby is sensitive to the materials used. These diapers can also leak severely and not keep moisture away from your child’s body.

Pocket diapers are well known for being very easy to use. They typically go on as easy as a disposable diaper. Because the insert is removed, the inserts and diaper get very clean in the wash. They can be super trim during the day, allowing you to put that cute pair of jeans on your baby. They can also be super thick at night when you need the extra protection.

How Absorbent Are Pocket Cloth Diapers?

They are as absorbent as you want them to be. You can add a single stuffer to the diaper and have a nice trim daytime diaper or you can add 10 layers of thick hemp and have a super absorbent nighttime diaper. Always remember that all pocket diapers are only as good as what they are stuffed with. This means if you have a 2 layer micro-fiber insert in the diaper it will not last all night and will need to be changed often.

How Often Do I Need To Change My Baby?

You should change your baby every time they pee or poop. For a newborn this is quite frequent but as your baby gets older you will be changing their diaper every 1 1/2 – 3 hours during the day.

Can I Re-Use The Pocket Cloth Diaper?

Yes and no. If you are using the diaper as a true pocket by placing an insert into the pocket, then you must change the entire diaper and insert every time. The pocket will need to be washed between uses. Alternatively, you may also use the pocket diaper as a diaper cover. If using it this way, you may re-use the pocket diaper unless it becomes wet.

How Many do I Need?

For a newborn you will need at least 10 – 12 diaper per day. You will need about 20 – 25 inserts for the diapers. After about 3 months of age you will need 8 – 10 diapers a day with about 16 inserts. Most people want to wash every 2 – 3 days so you will need the above number times the amount of days in between washing.

What Do I Do With The Diapers When My Baby Outgrows Them?

This is one of the big benefits of pocket diapers. The resell value. You can resell your used pocket diaper that is in good condition for about 1/2-3/4 of the cost you paid for the diaper new. Or if you are planning on having more children you may pack the diapers away until the next baby arrives. Either way you will be saving even more money then if you were using disposables.

How to Use Pocket Cloth Diapers

Learning how to use pocket cloth diapers is easy. You use the diaper just like you would a disposable diaper. When you get the diaper out, you will see that it has a pocket area for the insert to go in. This insert absorbs wetness to help keep the baby dry. Never forget to put the insert in, as the diapers will be utterly useless if you do. You will also want to make sure that your baby fits the diaper well.

How to Get a Good Fit

To prevent leaks, you will want to make sure that the pocket cloth diapers fits well. To ensure that your baby fits in the diaper well, lift your baby’s legs. Look to see if the diaper bottom is snug against their bottom. Look for any gaps and sliding as the baby moves. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that it is tight enough for no leaks, but you can still fit a thumb in at the side of the diaper. If you are still experiencing leaks, make sure that you check the insert. If the insert is not seated correctly, it can cause leaks and an improper fit.

Washing Your Pocket Cloth Diapers


These are general washing instructions for pocket cloth diapers. Depending on the manufacturer, these instructions may differ from one to the next.
Wet or soiled diapers should be stored in a dry pail. There is no need to rinse soiled diapers prior to washing. The solid waste of older babies can be removed by gently shaking the diaper over a toilet. Remove inserts from pocket prior to washing. Then:

  • Cold Soak
  • Wash on hot with slightly less than 1/4 cup of detergent
  • You can add a downy ball of vinegar to the wash if desired. I use a recycled downy ball because it releases the vinegar at the right time. You do not need to wait by the machine.
  • Rinse well to ensure all detergent is removed from diapers.
  • Drying in the dryer is allowed.

Detergents to use: We recommend Foca Powder, Tide, Seventh Generation, and Molly’s Suds. You can read my article on my thoughts on cloth diaper specific detergents here.

Detergents NOT to use: Natural soaps are often made with oils. These should NOT be used. Soaps leave a residue on fleece, causing it to repel urine.

The following detergents will cause soap build-up. Do NOT use them. Dr. Bronners Soap, Baby detergents such as Ivory Snow, and Dreft.

Never use fabric softener of any type of cloth diaper. Liquid fabric softeners and dryer sheets both leave a waxy residue on diapers, which causes fleece to repel urine and decreases the absorbency of other diapers. The use of diaper rash creams can cause repelling. For best results, either place a small washcloth on top of the fleece or use a rice paper/Gerber paper liner.

Stripping Diapers:

Build up refers to residue left by detergents, fabric softeners, and other substances used to clean diapers. In rare instances, baking soda will react with certain minerals in water and also cause build-up. If you notice a decrease in the functionality of your diapers, build-up may be the culprit.

Stripping refers to the removal of residue on diapers. To strip diapers, simply handwash your diaper with your regular dish soap (gets the oils out), add a drop or two of dish soap to the fleece, either rub the fleece vigorously together or use a medium bristle dish brush or hard bristle toothbrush to scrub the fleece. Turn inside out and repeat on this side.

Rinse thoroughly, making sure that the water runs clear. You may use this method at any time you feel that the diaper may be repelling or as a preventative measure once a week. If you are still having problems, special cleaning agents may be used to strip diapers. These options include a very hot wash using two scoops Oxyclean, or you may also try a hot wash with one ball of RLR (found at Wal-Mart in the laundry aisle hanging on a clip)

What to Avoid when Washing

You will want to avoid using bleach on your pocket diapers. Bleach can damage the fabric is used too often. Vinegar is usually recommended as a way to clean pocket diapers, but it has a strong cleaning acid that can damage the diaper’s structure.

You will also want to avoid using any fabric softener. Softeners can cause a build-up on cloth diapers, which can be detrimental to the cloth diaper’s absorbency.

Drying Pocket Cloth Diapers

When it comes to drying pocket cloth diapers, the best way to do it is outside on a clothesline. The sun helps to add freshness to the diaper and helps to reduce staining. If you cannot line dry for whatever reason, you can do so inside your home. Just get a drying rack and hang your diapers out. Make sure that you hang the diapers where they can dry thoroughly. You will also want to make sure that you hang them so that the elastic is not stretched out.

Check with the cloth diaper company that you bought your diapers from if you wish to dry them in a dryer. Some may be able to go into a dryer on a low setting. However, keep in mind that using a dryer can cause more wear and tear the more you use it. It can also cause damage to the buttons, snaps, Velcro, and waterproof lining.

Pocket cloth diapers with inserts are extremely easy to use and an excellent choice for your baby. Their care is easy as long as you properly care for them. Remember when washing, not to use fabric softener, and to line dry if possible. The better care you take of your cloth diapers, the longer they will last.

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