1) Preparing New Prefolds:
So you just got your diapers in the mail! You got prefolds and they are brand new!! How exciting! First things first, you must wash them so they are ready to go for your baby.This is really simple.
Put all of your new diapers in your washing machine and set your washing machine on the HOT cycle. Add Soap, about a quarter cup. Anything with no scents or dyes should work. Let your washing machine run through this cycle. Run another Hot cycle. Do this another 3 times so that you have run a total of 5 hot cycles, only using soap for the first cycle. After this is done, throw them in the dryer. They can be dried on a really hot setting. Now check to see if they absorb water. I dripped some water from the sink onto the cleaned diapers to test. If the diapers didn't absorb the water, I put them back in the washer for some more soap and hot cycles. Make sure you get all of the soap out.
Note: in order to prepare your all-in-ones or pockets, just wash them once and you are good to go. I would use a hot cycle but do not put them in a super hot dryer.
2) Cloth diapering your baby:
One of the more valuable things I did was practice cloth diapering on a stuffed animal. That being said, I will walk you step-by-step through the diapering process with prefolds. Flats are more like an origami project and too much work and pockets are self-explanatory.
Meet my beloved bunny. He has been with me since for over 20 years. I've used him for snuggles and I used him to learn to cloth diaper. He sits still and is very patient.
There are many ways to fold a cloth diaper, but they all always ended up looking the same to me.
If your diaper is a little large, fold it in the back:
Lay you lovely baby (or stuffed bunny) on the diaper. Please note the fold in the back of the diaper. This may help to keep poo in:
Fold each side in at the bottom to form a triangle:. Some people like to roll the sides in, this is called the jelly roll technique. I find this is exactly the same and my diaper looks the same either way I do this. Please note there are some other methods for folding the diaper, but I don't like them, so I won't cover them here.
Bring the front of the diaper up to around your baby's belly button:
Now, use that awesome Snappi. Fasten it on one side:
Pull across and attach it to the other side of the diaper:
Now it's time to add the cover. Place the cover under you child:
And pull this up through their legs and use the fastening system (whether it is velcro or snaps):
Look for any places on your child where the prefold may be poking out past the diaper cover:
Poke that back into the diaper cover:
Admire your beautiful baby (or stuffed bunny) in their cloth diaper:
3) Caring for soiled diapers
Go into the bathroom and run your cloth wipe under warm water. If you think it may be a stinky, yucky mess, bring two wipes. Lay your baby down and open up the diaper. If it is wet, and your cover is still dry, toss your prefold into the wet bag, wipe your little one's hiney down, toss your wipe into the wet bag, put some coconut oil on any sore areas, and put on a new prefold diaper. Do not sticky or thick diaper cream. This will seal you cloth diapers and make them not work. If you do accidentally use some, just strip your diapers as described below. Feel free to re-use your cover as long as it is clean and dry.
If there is poop in the diaper, you get to use that handy sprayer. Clip your dirty diaper to the top of your bucket (which is already on top of you toilet). Use your imagination here, as I didn't think anyone wanted to see actual poop.
Let the diaper drip the excess water out, and go about your life for a bit. (pretend the diaper is dripping wet here, also notice our lack of poop)
When you come back, put your rinsed diaper in the wet bag. This may seem yucky, but all human waste (poop) is supposed to be flushed down toilets and not thrown into the trash, by law. I don't think anyone who uses disposables does that, just an interesting fact.
When away from home, you sometimes must put the fully loaded (poopy) diaper directly in your wet bag. Rinse the diaper when you get home. There may be a bit of foul smell, but the smell is rather minimal.
Once you are ready to wash your diapers, empty the wet bag in to the washer and then add your wet bag (that way you have a clean wet bag, too). Run your diapers through a cold rinse. Add your detergent, less is more here. We really want to avoid any soap build up. This build up can irritate baby's bottom and will cause the diaper to become less absorbent. I use about 2 Tablespoons of detergent for a medium to large load of diapers. Run your soaped diapers through a full hot cycle. Make sure your water is very hot. We are not trying to conserve energy in this arena. After that, add about a quarter cup of white vinegar and rinse your diapers through the cold rinse cycle. The vinegar acts as fabric softener and adds no smell. Finally, we hang our diapers up to dry either outside or inside on racks. Depending on time and space, you may find it better to use the dryer. Please do not use dryer sheets. You won't have any problems with static or softness if you use that white vinegar.
When you wash your diapers, feel free to include any baby clothing, bibs, or wipes. The hot water sterilizes everything, and the detergent is super friendly on baby's skin. Also, you may already have clothing that has some diaper mess from baby on it.
Very interestingly, we don't have any poo stains on any of our diapers. This may be because we hang them out to dry and the sun bleaches them or simply because poo is very washable. I don't know.
4) How to strip diapers
You will know when it is time to strip diapers. They will not absorb as well as they once did, and after only being slightly wet, they will have a strong pee smell. Stripping your diapers is very similar to what you do to prepare them the first time. My guess is that we do this anywhere from once a month to once every 5 months depending on when the diapers need it.
Take all of your stinky diapers and put them through a cold rinse. Now add 1 tablespoon of blue Dawn Detergent and a over a quarter cup of bleach. I fill the pictured cup up to the number 3 with bleach. I'm sure you may be able to use other dish detergents, but everything I have read (and what I have always done) uses blue Dawn. If you try a different detergent, let me know about it in the comments section.
Run this through the hot cycle over and over and over again until there are NO suds. If there are suds, your baby's hiney will not be happy.
That in a nutshell is how I cloth diaper. As simple as I know. Hopefully not too much information, not too little. If you have any questions, please let me know and I will answer them to the best of my ability.