My High-Efficiency (he) Wash Routine

Like so many other people out there...I have a high-efficiency washer.  A lot of people with an HE washer find themselves struggling with finding a good wash routine to get clean, ammonia-free diapers.  I thought I'd give a step-by-step of my routine because I've been ammonia-free with this routine and it's pretty simple.
Obviously, not all water types are the same and not all machines are the same, but hopefully if you have something similar to my set-up you can have ammonia-free diapers too!

Important points:
- I have an LG front-loading washer with an option for extra water ('water plus').  It adds maybe an extra litre or two of water (not much, but any little bit helps).
- I have a water softener, meaning I don't struggle with hard water issues in my washing routine.
- I use Rockin Green Classic Rock Detergent (1 Tbsp/load).
- I swish poopy diapers in the toilet but don't rinse any other diapers.
- I wash every 2-3 days
- Sometimes I fill the softener dispenser with vinegar for some softening

My Routine:
1.  Any cold wash cycle for 5 minutes to soak the clothing.  Then stop the cycle completely and move on to step 2.  This 5 minute wash soaks the clothes so that when a new cycle starts the clothes are super heavy and tricks the machine into adding max water.
2.  Cold wash on delicate cycle with no spin, no detergent, extra water option.  This rinses some of the urine out of the diapers and gets off any little pieces of poop off that didn't swish off previously.
3.  Hot wash on cotton cycle with medium spin, heavy soil level, detergent, 1/4 cup baking soda, extra water option, extra rinse.
4.  Cold wash on delicate, no soap, extra water option.
5.  Delicate cycle in dryer or else everything goes out on the line to dry.

There you have it...that's what you can find me doing about every other day at home!  Simple and effective!

Disinfecting your dipes...

     I've been MIA in the blogging world lately as both my boys have been super sick!  It all started with Ben and then spread like wildfire to Eli, causing me to go on a disinfecting rampage to get this thing under control!  This disinfecting made it's way to Eli's diapers which had me searching all the different theories/ways out there as to how to disinfect cloth diapers.
    Everyone knows the most obvious choice; bleach.  Bleach will kill off almost anything in your diapers, including the fabric, elastics and PUL over time.  Still, if you've recently had a bad virus or bacterial issue in your house it might be the best option for you.  It's pretty tough on the diapers though and not the most pleasant thing to use on a fabric nestling up next to your little one's delicate areas, so make sure to only use it when you absolutely need to and to rinse, rinse, rinse afterwards!  This bout of illness in our home was pretty bad (ear infections, pneumonia, the works) so I opted to bleach my inserts but spare the covers.  I use 1/4 cup of bleach in with the hot wash and rinse three times after that wash.
     Another great disinfectant is the sun!  Hanging your diapers out in the sun actually kills lots of what's lurking in them naturally!  As an added bonus, it bleaches out the stains and freshens them up too!
     Tea tree oil and Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) are also great disinfectants (especially GSE).  Just add a few drops to the wash cycle to kill off bacteria and yeast.  A bonus of tea tree oil is it'll also combat the stinkies!  For my covers, I used GSE in a hot cycle and then hung them to dry in the sun.
    Don't forget, HOT water will kill lots of germs, bacteria, viruses as well as long as it's hot enough so if you have a sanitize cycle, use it when you really need to disinfect (not on PUL though and only occasionally on things with elastics).  I've boiled my inserts before to sanitize them when I didn't have a sanitize cycle on my machine and it works well.  Boil in a large pot for 20-30 mins.

If anyone knows of other ways to disinfect diapers, I'd love to hear them!


     I now have a love/hate relationship with cauliflower.  The other day I had some cauliflower puree in the freezer and I thought I'd try it out with the little guy.  He ate it up like it was nobody's business and I was super excited since I have a nice little stash of it already pureed up and ready to go.  What happened next was a new lesson in food for me.  As I was laying in bed, Eli laying next to me, I get this waft of a nasty smell.  Trying to figure out the source, I smell E's diaper to see if maybe he was dirty.  I took a good whiff at him and it was like a punch in the face!  He wasn't dirty and only a tiny bit wet, but the smell was a force to be reckoned with!  Apparantly, and this is news to me, cauliflower falls into that same category as asparagus...sulfur-rich foods.  When the veggie is broken down in the body, specific chemicals are released through the urine and have a less than yummy smell.  I think most of us know this phenomenon from easting asparagus...but cauliflower?  I've eaten my fair share of cauliflower in my lifetime and I've never smelled anything like this before.  E's even eaten asparagus and I never smelled a thing on him.  Apparantly again, not everyone has the gene to break down sulfur-rich foods all the way to the stink-making compound so we're just blessed to have a little boy who does :P
    The next morning I threw the diaper into the diaper pail, but the smell was so overwhelming every time I opened the pail that I HAD to do a load of diapers.  I washed them 3x on hot and not only did that diaper stink still, but it made the entire load stink!  I gave up, figuring eventually the smell would wash out, and hung them up outside.  When I went back to get them , they smelled like fresh spring air!  Wow...what a miracle fresh air is!  So note to all the cloth-loving mama's out there, beware of cauliflower and never underestimate the power of a little fresh air!

Used're kidding right?

     I buy used cloth diapers.  Yep, you heard me right.  They're not my entire stash, but they're there.  In fact, my entire beginning stash for the first three months was entirely second hand diapers.  If you're like I was in the beginning, this is really making you squeemish.  In the end, turns out used diapers are like any other piece of used clothing so long as you make sure you wash them well before putting them on your little one.  Before running out to find some great steals, here's a few points to make sure you're getting a great diaper and not a dud:

  • Ask about the wash routine.  You want to know what temp of water they washed in, if they line or machine dried, how often they washed and what detergent they used (very important). A harsh routine (VERY hot water, always machine drying, etc) could mean the diapers will be very worn down.
  • Ask if any laundry additives were used (bleach, oxyclean, etc) that may have prematurely worn the fabrics down.
  • Check the PUL.  If you're buying anything with PUL, take a good look to make sure there's no damage to it and that it's not starting to bubble and pull away from the fabric it's lining.
  • Sniff them!  I always sniff diapers before buying. Might sound gross, but which of us cloth diapering mamas hasn't sniffed a few dozen diapers?  If they stink, you know you have a residue or ammonia issue to deal with at home.
  • Check the velcro and snaps.  Make sure they're all in good working order.
  • Pull on the elastics and make sure they have lots of strength left in them.
Once you get your diapers home, you'll want to give them a good wash.  I prefer to strip all new diapers using several HOT washes on the inserts (just one hot wash on the covers is usually fine) with a little bit of detergent in the first wash.  I also use a 1/4 cup of bleach on the inserts in the first wash just to be sure.  If you're opposed to using bleach, just skip this step.  Finally, I hang them out on the line to let the sun and fresh air finish off the sterilizing and cleaning...then they're good to go!

Some great places to find second hand cloth diapers:

  • kijiji
  • ebay
  • diaper swappers
  • children's consignment shops
  • friends
  • some online retailers such as The Cloth Diaper Shop

It's Friday...let's HOP!

Time for the friday blog hop!!  

As always, please leave me a comment here so I can follow you back!  Happy Hopping!

Mom Blog Monday blog hop!

    I'm so honoured and excited to be the featured blogger this week for Mom Blog Monday Blog Hop!  Stop on by and get yourself on the list for this amazing hop hosted by some really great blogs!

Sippy Cups and Cloth Bums
Find the hop here!

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Happy Hopping!

One big wet bag don't...

     Wet bags are great and most cloth diapering mama's would agree that trips out of the house are a no-no without one!  Today, I forgot to use my liners with E which taught me a major lesson in on-the-go cloth diapering:  DON'T put a poopy diaper into a wet bag without clearing off those solids first!  This poop wasn't 'shakeable' and so I left 2 diapers in my wet bag with the poop still on them and figured I would clean them off at home.  BAD idea.  The smell was overwhelming whenever I'd open up my bag, and when I would pull anything out to use it, it stunk!  I swear a cashier gave me a dirty look when I hoisted my bag up onto the counter and opened it up to get my wallet.  So the quick lesson of the day...always toss your dirty disposable liners when out or shake your diaper out into the nearest toilet before dropping it into your wet bag or you'll be getting the 'stink' face from everyone you meet!

Cloth Liners...A Must Have When Out & About!

     I started using liners in E's diapers when he started solids, about 6 weeks ago.  A home I use flushable liners because it's one less thing I have to think about...I just pull it out of the diaper and either flush it or toss it into the compost bin.  Today though, we were out for the day and I realized how much I hate paper liners when I'm out and about.  I was changing Eli and ended up having to put aside this poopy liner, balancing it on the edge of the change table so it wouldn't fall onto the floor and make an even bigger mess!  After all the fussing with changing, redressing, putting away the dirty diaper, etc I still had to balance the baby and diaper bag in my arms while reaching for this liner to throw in the garbage.  And whereas a dirty disposable diaper you just close up into a neat little package, the poop on this liner is just sitting in the garbage can for the whole bathroom to look at.  
     So, here's how the situation would have looked at had I been using cloth liners:  I would have taken off the poopy diaper, put it all into my wetbag to deal with at home, put on a fresh diaper and have been done with it all!  Now, I guess with a disposable liner I could just do the same and throw out the liner at home, but the fact of the matter is I wouldn't remember to take the paper out and it would end up tossed into my washing machine with the diaper...a new mess to deal with.  
     Long story short, I'll be packing my cloth liners for trips out of the house from now on!  In case anyone's wondering, I make my own liners out of pieces of microfleece.  Cheap, easy and you can get some cute patterns :)

Insert Choices: Bamboo!

     Bamboo is one of those fabrics people love to love.  From clothing to towels, sheets and diapers, it just feels nice saying "it's bamboo".  
What is it?
     Bamboo fabric is a natural textile that's made from bamboo trees (for the technical people out there, bamboo is actually a grass!). Bamboo fabric can be made mechanically or chemically. Mechanically, the woody parts of the bamboo plant are crushed and then natural enzymes break the bamboo walls into a pulp so that the fibers can be combed out and spun into yarn. This is a pretty labor -intensive method and is how 'bamboo linen' is made.  Chemically,  crushed plant parts are put into a bath of chemicals which break them down, then into more chemicals to produce fibers.  The process is basically the same as getting fibers out of wood for paper making and is the process that's been used when you see 'bamboo rayon' on the tag.  It's also the most common process used.
Good Points:
   Bamboo is a sustainable and renewable resource.  It's also natural and durable.  Bamboo's incredibly soft, antibacterial and hypoallergenic.  It has great absorbency and therefore you can get a nice, trim diaper that absorbs as much as it's bulkier cotton counterpart.  Residue issues are rare with bamboo diapers compared to microfiber.
Not so good points:
    Bamboo diapers and inserts are usually more expensive than cotton and microfiber.  Although it's a durable fabric, it's still not AS durable as cotton or microfiber and therefore might not last as long.

Some awesome bamboo products!

So that's the scoop on bamboo!

Wednesday Blog Hops

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How to remove stains from a wool cover

    Am I ever glad my hubby changed Eli yesterday morning, because he waited until the diaper was off to do his #2!  Although it wasn't too bad to clean up (so I was told), some poop got on the outside of his wool cover that was laying beside him.  Wool is fairly resistant to staining, but poop left on it will stain eventually.  If your LO does have an accident that gets on your cover here's a quick and easy way to get it spotless again!  And as with any stain, the sooner you can treat it the better!

1.  Fill your sink/bucket with some COLD water and set the cover in it, swishing it around a bit to make sure the stained parts get wet.
2.  Let it sit for about 10-15 mins to try and lift the stain out.  

3.  Drain the water and rub the stains with a bar of olive oil soap, some wool wash, or a bar of original Ivory!  Very gently work the soap into the stain.  At this point the stain should be pretty much gone.

4.  Fill the sink back up with cold or tepid water, put the cover in and swish it around.  Again, gently rub the spots where you rubbed the soap on to make sure it's all out.

5.  Drain the water, gently lift the cover and set it onto a towel.  Roll the cover up in the towel to remove excess water.
6. Remove from the towel and lay flat to dry.

If you want to give the whole cover a cleaning while you're at it, just add a capful of Eucerin to step #4 and let it sit for 15 mins before draining :)  The key to each step here is to always handle your wool cover gently, never rubbing too hard or else you might felt it.  Also, never use HOT water or else it'll probably shrink up on you!
Nice & Clean!


Monday Blog Hop!

Here's today's blog hop!  Please let me a comment with a link to your blog so I can follow you back!  If you 'like' on FB, please let me if you'd like a 'like' back :)

Find the Hop here

Insert Choices: Hemp!

      Hemp is one of the earliest known domesticated plants!  In the past 10 years, it's has become very popular and there are currently over 50 000 products that can be made from it; from food to textiles.  It's really taken off in cloth diaper products as well and is personally my favorite fabric for doublers.
What is it?
     Hemp is a fiber that's made from a cannibus plant.  It has the texture of linen which can be slightly rough and is why many doublers/inserts you find will be combined with cotton or fleece (usually in a 55% hemp/ 45% other blend).
Good points:
     Hemp is environmentally friendly because it comes from a renewable resource and can be grown without the need for pesticides.  It's super absorbant and stable; it isn't likely to leak from compression (baby sitting on it when it's soaked and squishing the pee out!). It's easy to wash and is less prone to residue than microfiber.  
Not so good points:
     Hemp is a slower absorber so if your little one has a forceful pee stream, it might not absorb quick enough and you could get leaks out the sides of the diaper.  It can also get pretty stinky if you get residue buildup...and hemp ammonia stink is a beast of a smell!   Hemp also requires prepping before you first use it which is more work than microfiber.

Some awesome hemp products!

   And that's the scoop on hemp!

This article was posted in The Hemp Network News!

Insert choices: Microfiber

   When it comes to diapers there's a few different fabric choices out there, and a lot of people have no idea when or why to choose one over the other.  When it comes to pocket diapers especially, most come with microfiber inserts.  Some people love microfiber, others hate it with a passion!

What is it?
     Microfiber's a synthetic fabric most commonly made of polyester.  It's used in things like clothing, cleaning cloths and diaper inserts!

Good Points:
   Microfiber's known for its softness, durability, absorption and wicking abilities. It absorbs liquid very quickly and holds a ton!  It's trim and dries quickly.  It's also very inexpensive as opposed to cotton, hemp and bamboo.

Not so good points:
   Microfiber comes from a non-renewable resource and doesn't biodegrade, which sucks some of the eco-friendly right out of cloth diapering!  It's also flammable, which might be an important fact for some moms.  
   When it comes to cloth diapers specifically, microfiber has a bad reputation for residue issues leading to stink and repelling, driving many cloth diaperers to replace their microfiber with other fabrics.  Also, because it wicks wetness away you can't use it directly against baby's skin or it'll dry it out in a hurry and irritate it.  One last issue is that microfiber can leak if it's too wet and baby squishes it (sit on it too long in a car ride, sleeping on a full insert, etc);  this is called compression leaking.

So that's the scoop on microfiber!

Make sure you leave me a comment with a link to your blog so I can follow back!

Happy Hopping!

Frontloader vs Fluff: my constant battle

     I feel like I'm having the same fight with my washing machine every time I do diaper laundry...there's just not enough water!  Hey, I like being environmentally friendly as much as the next girl but my 'high efficiency' frontloader is killing me!  Everyone knows the only way to get a really clean diaper is to get as much water through them as possible.  When I started CDing, we had a tiny apartment sized washer and dryer.  I wanted a top loader so incredibly badly because I knew how amazingly more easy it was to get a fabulously clean diaper out of one.  Unfortunately, my space only allowed me to have a stacked frontloading laundry pair so when it came time to shop for them, I drooled at the 'old fashioned' top loaders as I passed them on the way to the fancy new frontloaders (which my hubby drooled over).  We settled on a humongous LG pair that was as best for cloth diapers as I could get. It has an prewash, sanitize, extra rinse, delicate cycle; everything I could need.  Best of all, it has an option to add more water!  I read every page of that manual beforehand and nothing told me just how  much water was 'more' water, but it was better than nothing.  Now, having used the machine, I'd say it gives me only a little more water; enough that I can see about an inch more water in the tub than when I don't choose that option.  I guess a little is still better than nothing so I'll take what I can get!  I do other things as well to 'trick' my machine into filling with more water.

Here's what I do to get the most water through my HE frontloading washer:

  • choose the "water plus" option on the washer
  • run a cold water cycle for about 5 mins or until I know the diapers are soaking wet.  Then, I turn off the washer and restart the cycle.  This way, the diapers are super heavy and the machine thinks it has a large load and adds more water.  (Alternatively, some people add a few sopping wet towels to the load at the beginning to trick the machine in the same way.  I find my way easier and less messy!)
  • Take a bucket and pour water into the soap dispenser.  The water pours directly into the washer this way.  (My machine allows about 2 medium buckets of water this way, after that I get an error message and the machine drains all the water and stops the cycle).  This way gets me the most water but is the most work and messiest.

     We don't get stink too often, and now that we're using Thirsties Pre-wash I'm barely noticing stink at all anymore (maybe once every 6 weeks or so..and even then it's mild).  When we do get stink, I'm pretty sure it's because my hubby has forgotten to fill the water softener with salt and I've been washing in extremely hard water for a week.  One run of my inserts through the sanitize cycle takes care of it though :)  I still dream of top-loaders some days though...

     Anyone have another trick for more H2O??

Time for some blog hops!

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Let's talk diaper pails...

     I recently had a comment from someone about not knowing what to do with their dirty diapers...and thinking about it I realized how many different ways people store their dirty dipes before laundry day.  
A note on poop!:  Breastfed baby poop is water-soluble so until solids or formula are introduced you can just throw all diapers into the need to rinse poop off first :)

Wet Pail:
A wet pail in a pail/bucket filled 1/4 way with water.  When a diaper is changed, it goes straight into the pail where it soaks until laundry day.  The water needs to be changed each day though to keep grime and stink to a minimum.  
  • keeps stains to a minumum
  • usually less stinky than a dry pail
  • decreased microfiber stink because of 'pre-soaking'
  • potential drowning hazard
  • heavy to lug to the washer or sink
Wet pails used to be the standard in cloth diapering before the concerns of them being potential drowning hazards.  They're still used now, but with pails that have locking lids or are off-limits to curious little ones. 

Dry Pail:
With a dry pail system, all diapers are placed straight into the pail or bag without rinsing of any kind.  If the diaper has poop on it, just shake it off into the toilet before tossing into the pail.
  • quick and easy
  • no drowning hazards
  • light load to carry to washer
  • can use a hanging wet bag instead of a pail to save space
  • more chance of staining
  • higher chance of stink
This is the most common type of diaper pail used nowadays.  If you're doing laundry often (every 2-3 days) staining shouldn't be too much of an issue.  If you use liners (disposable or fabric), staining will really be minimal.  Stink can be kept under control with a sprinkle of baking soda on top of the diapers once in a while and by using a pail with a well-fitting lid.  Lots of hanging wet bags have zippers to keep in the odour and some have a small fabric patch inside to put a drop of tea tree oil on for extra help with stink!  Some people swear by an open-pail to keep odour down, which seems crazy but the air circulation is supposed to help. I've never done it but the option is out there!

Wet/dry pail:
A wet/dry pail is just what it sounds like, a mix between the two systems! You don't put any water into the pail, but you rinse each diaper before putting it in.  (You really should use a pail for this one as the diapers get heavy and the bag can still leak with all that liquid in it). 
  • minimizes staining
  • minimizes stink
  • no drowning hazard
  • no pouring out the water and refilling each day
  • heavier than a dry pail
  • no option of a hanging wet bag
  • easier to keep by a sink or toilet so not as convenient as having it beside the change table like a dry pail
My change station
My Wet/Dry Pail equipped
with rubber gloves!
     Personally, I use both a dry pail and a wet/dry pail.  I have a dry pail beside my change table for quick 'pee' changes and 'poo' changes where the liner caught everything!  I just toss the liner into the toilet if soiled or into a tiny trash bin beside my dry pail if not soiled and throw the diaper into the dry pail.  For larger poopy messes, I have a wet/dry pail in the bathroom equipped with rubber gloves and a spatula for scraping off whatever won't swish off!  So far I'm loving the wet/dry pail because it really helps dilute the nasties out of my microfiber and I'm noticing a major decrease in stink after washing!  I've even started rinsing some heavily peed on inserts in the toilet and tossing them in the wet/dry pail just to keep the ammonia at bay (I have a front-loader so any diluting of urine is a huge help!).
My Dry Pail
    Diaper pails don't need to be anything fancy either!  I use a $30 step-on trash can from Canadian Tire as my dry pail and a $10 step-on from Walmart for my wet/dry pail.  My dry pail is in my family room and there's never been an odour from it even when I dont wash until the 3rd day so don't feel like you need to run out and break the bank on a 'cloth diaper pail'!

Stylish Blogger Award!

I want to give a HUGE thank you to 'Home Growing Happiness' for awarding me the Stylish Blogger Award!  Having been working at this blog for about a month now it's so nice to know others are liking it...what a great reward for doing something I love!

Part of accepting this award is to fill everyone in on 7 things about here we go!
  1. I LOVE cheese fondue!  I could eat it for breakfast!
  2. I can't have cheese fondue because Eli has a milk sensitivity :(
  3. I have a Bachelor of Science from the University of Guelph
  4. I had an unassisted waterbirth with Eli (just me and my hubby, midwives were too late!).  He only gave me 1.5 hrs of labor...back labor...but short labor none the less!
  5. My guilty pleasures are David's Tea and Lush 
  6. My oldest son speaks more Ukrainian than he does english which keeps my hubby on his toes!
  7. Blogging is my new favourite hobby :)
Some other seriously stylish blogs!

Emmas Lunch

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The Happy Spitter


To accept this award the recipients are asked to do a few things:
  • Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Award 10-15 blogs you feel deserve the award
  • Contact these bloggers and let them know about the award.

Cloth Diapering Lingo!

    In the world of cloth diapering, there's a whole new language to learn.  Sometimes you get reading a blog, facebook page or anything else fluff-related and 3 sentences in you have no idea what's going on!  Some of this might seem really obvious, but it wasn't all the obvious to me when I started out so maybe someone out there might just get a hand from it!

Here's a list of the most common lingo and abbreviations you might come across:
aplix:  velcro
AIO:  all-in-one diaper
AI2:  all-in-two diaper
BG:  Bumgenius
CD:   cloth diaper
CPF:  chinese prefold
dipes:  diapers
doubler: an insert that 'doubles' the absorbency of the diaper
DSQ: diaper service quality
FB:  Fuzzibunz
FL:  front loader washing machine
fluff:  cloth diapers
HE:  high efficiency (washing machine)
HH:  Happy Heiny's
IP:  Indian Prefold
Lanolize:  adding lanolin to wool covers to make them waterproof
LO:  little one
PUL:  polyurethane laminate.  Added to covers to provide a waterproof            barrier
RnG:  Rockin Green detergent
"Rock a soak":   soaking your diapers in hot water with Rockin Green 
snappi:  a product that takes the place of pins in securing prefolds and 
sposies:  disposables
stripping:  a process of removing detergent residue from diapers

sunning:   laying your wet diapers out in the sun to bleach stains out

TL:  top loader washing machine
wet bag:  a waterproof bag to keep your dirty diapers in whie away from home
wicking:  when the wetness from inside the diaper gets pulled out to the outer  edges of the cover, causing the baby's clothes to get wet

Making sense of diaper styles

     I distinctly remember my first experience at a cloth diaper store.  I walked in thinking I knew what I was looking for, pocket diapers.  When I hit that wall of fluffy goodies though, I was totally thrown back!  There was a sea of diapers in front of me; fitteds, pockets, prefolds, snaps, aplix, wool, hybrids!  Hybrids?  Now I was lost for sure and I no longer had a CLUE what I was doing.  Even after speaking to the wonderful ladies in the store, it was just too much info to take in all at once.  I hope for those of you out there that are new to cloth diapering or are thinking of making the switch this post gives you a little hand in understanding the sea of diapers out there!


     These are the most basic diaper available and also the most economical.  People love flats because they're versatile, easy to wash and dry and inexpensive.  A flat is one layer of fabric (usually cotton) that measures around 30"x30" depending on brand.  It can be folded in many ways to customize for a girl, boy, night-time, etc.  These diapers require a snappi or pins and a waterproof cover.  I personally haven't ever tried flats but I've heard lots of people who really enjoy their ease of use and care.

Average cost/diaper:  $2.00 per flat, $10-20 per cover


                               (A prefold, trifolded into a cover and the cover done up)

     Easy to use, versatile, easy to clean and durable.  Prefolds are essentially rectangular pieces of fabric (usually cotton but you can also buy them in hemp and bamboo) that have more layers in the middle and less on the sides, placing the greatest absorbency where you need it most.  They come in either the 'cadillac' 4x8x4 or a thinner 4x6x4 (# layers on one side x # layers in middle x # layers on other side).  I've always used 4x8x4's and love them.  The thinner ones will dry faster which is a pro, but if you have a heavy wetter, it may not be absorbent enough.  There are lots of ways to use prefolds; pinned, snappi'd, trifolded (like in the picture) in a waterproof cover.  They're also great stuffed into a pocket diaper.  You will need enough prefolds to last one day, and about 3-4 covers per day (you can reuse them as long as they're not soiled).  Prefolds also have lots of other great uses such as burp cloths, change pads, etc.  When you're done diapering, you can also use them as fantastic cleaning cloths!
Average cost/diaper: $3-4 per prefold, $10-20 per cover

           (Motherease Bamboo Sandy's fitted diaper)
     Taking the prefold a step further, you get a fitted diaper.  Fitted are diapers made completely of absorbent fabric such as cotton, hemp or bamboo and do NOT have a waterproof cover.  They'll have snaps or aplix to fasten them around baby (instead of pins or a snappi) and then are wrapped up in a cover. They're great if you want a natural fiber on baby's skin but don't want to fiddle with pins, etc.  If paired with a wool cover, fitteds provide a very breathable diaper which is great to fend off diaper rash.
Average cost/diaper:  $10-20

                                                       (Fuzzibunz Perfect Size pocket diaper)     
A pocket diaper has a waterproof exterior and an inner layer of usually a stay-dry fabric such as microfleece or suedecloth (some don't have a stay-dry lining but use a natural fabric such as bamboo, etc. like the Blueberry Bamboo Deluxe diaper).  There is an opening at the front or back of the diaper that is stuffed with an absorbent insert to catch and hold the baby's pee.  These diapers are very customizable to your absorbency needs and come in sized as well as one-size options.  Since they're waterproof, they don't require a separate cover.
Average cost/diaper:  $15-30
All-in-One (AIO):

                           (Grovia All in One diaper)
     Usually the most expensive option, AIOs are the closest thing to a disposable diaper.  The waterproof layer, absorbent layer and stay-dry layer (in most but not all) are all sewn into the diaper so all you need to do is put it on and then take it off and throw it into the laundry pail.  There are lots of different options for AIOs but they all follow this basic structure.
Average cost/diaper: $25-30
Hybrid diapers:
    Hybrid diapers allow you to use a reusable cloth insert or a biodegradable insert that can be thrown or flushed away.  Usually the inserts snap into a waterproof cover, or some have a pocket for when you want to use the cloth and when you want the biodegradable insert you would just lay it into the cover.  These are getting popular because they offer the convenience of a throw-away insert for travelling, etc while being able to use cloth other times. With this diaper, you can have enough liners for 2-3 days but only need 3-4 covers (the covers can be re-used as long as they're not pooped on!).
Average cost/diaper:  $20 for the shell/cover, $5-10 per cloth insert, $8-10 per 20 pack of biodegradable inserts
    When shopping there are A LOT of options but I hope this helps break them down.  These are also just the most common styles of diapers, I'm sure there are others out there and for each style there are lots of variations on small details.  For most people, there's no one perfect option.  If you check out "What's in my stash" on the right hand side of this blog, you'll see I like to have a little of it all :)