The New Diaper Primer

Chapter 1B: Cloth Diapers

OK, you've heard folks raving about how much better cloth diapers are; they are more comfortable and far more reliable than disposables. Well, if you are new to diapers we would strongly urge you to start with disposables! You will always need to rely on disposables at various times. There is no getting around the absolute convenience of disposables. Even if you were to find cloth diapers are truly for you and you can't imagine needing disposables, believe us, there will be many times when you will find disposables very helpful or just plain necessary, so we urge you to start with disposables and develop some diaper experience with disposables before going on to cloth diapers.

Why would anyone want to go to cloth diapers?

That's a fair question! Why would anyone want to bother? In this day and age of disposables getting better, especially in recent years with the European diapers, the only reasons for switching may involve your getting fed up with some features of disposables! Perhaps you are getting fed up with leaks. While the good diapers are much better than they were, they still frustrate us with leaks at the worst possible times. Perhaps you are getting fed up with the cost of disposables. Just switching to cloth at night will give your budget a significant break.

OK, you have developed experience with disposables and now you want to try cloth. You've heard and read us singing the praises of cloth; the comfort and leak free dependability. Perhaps you've read this primer completely so you know cloth diapers are much bulkier and harder to conceal. You've read about the safety pins, plastic or waterproof pants, diaper pail, washing and drying. You've read how we suggest trying towels for cloth diapers as a way to cut your losses if you find the hassle of cloth is not for you. You've become convinced that you can deal with the hassle (and bulk) of cloth and just want to know how to get started.

Let us caution you at this point that there are lots of "things" out there called "reusable incontinent pants" or garments or what ever, which are NOT diapers. You can spend a lot of hard-won cash buying useless stuff that some would have you believe will save you a fortune and be more comfortable than disposable products. Just as there is a lot of outright junk in the disposable diaper area, there is perhaps even more useless junk in the cloth area! We could write at length about the stuff we have bought and found to be a total joke. In this Primer's Table of Contents, Chapter 4 (How Much Diapering), for example, that we say doubling up on your underpants won't do. Some of the things seen sold as cloth diapers amount to little more than doubled-up underpants!

For now, stay away from anything resembling a pad-and-pant system. Marginally useful only for the lightest level of incontinence, any disposable diaper affords better security with less bulk, than most of the pad-and-pant systems that seasoned users have experienced. Since these pads do not cover the sides, they are highly prone to leakage, especially when seated because the contours do not conform close enough to the body.

We've urged you to start with heavy protection and to work your way down to less protection when trying disposables. This is intended to get you back in the world and to become confident that diapers will work for you. Then, you can cautiously taper back to check when leaks become a problem. The very same is true of cloth. One disposable wearer told this writer how he was "full of baloney" in promoting cloth and saying how much better cloth is than disposables. The wearer tried cloth diapers and found "they were the leakiest things I ever tried". As you may guess, he had bought something sold as a "cloth diaper" that was little more than doubled-up underpants! If he had started "heavy", he may have had a complaint about the bulk, but he would have no leaks and could have reduced the amount of diapering cautiously until he reached the balance of bulk and protection that would work for him. He would never have got down to the product he bought as a cloth diaper and decided cloth diapers are "the pits, they don't work, leak like a sieve" and so on.

Before you decide to try cloth, please read the rest of this Primer that details diaper types and discusses diaper pants, contour diapers and so on. That will give you a little more insight into the options out there.

With cloth diapers, the key word is diapers and note that it's plural. With cloth diapers, plan to wear multiple diaper layers, not just a single thick diaper. We delve into the reasons further on in this Primer. Right now, you may just want to "cut to the chase" and get into cloth diapers.

We'd like to suggest the easiest way to get started, with one stop shopping at As we already mentioned, Gary is a disabled, diaper-wearing, honest businessman who will only tolerate top quality goods on his web-page store. Perhaps you've bought some premium disposable diapers from Gary at this point. For cloth diapers and plastic pants, go to They offer good fitting information and easy shopping with a credit card and discreet mailing. They are reachable by e-mail and possibly by phone for more in-depth consultation.

Cloth diapers can amount to a significant investment, costing up to $35 per diaper! Until you are sure of what you like and want, we want to steer you toward mundane, lower-cost diapers that won't break your budget. You should consider buying only six diapers to begin. We can almost guarantee your first diapers will not be exactly what you want, and the next order will be a different size or type. It is frustrating to have made a large dollar-investment in a dozen or 18 diapers only to find that you really don't like the product as well as something you might find later.

If you buy conservatively, you will slowly build a collection of diapers that may contain some diapers you wish you had NOT bought, but will be useable! You can mix and match and use the diapers that are not your best "picks" as an inner diaper where they work just fine and get your preferred fit from the outer diaper that is one of your good "picks"!

Having various weights (thickness) will give you a lot more flexibility in choosing combinations for security vs. bulk. This is important when (if) you ever decide to wear cloth during daytime, and concealment becomes a concern. Many cloth wearers who wear disposables to work and cloth at night also wear cloth on week ends when around the house and dressed in loose casual clothes that can more easily conceal cloth diapers. The greater absorbency of cloth diapers allows you to schedule changes at wider intervals, sometimes up to six hours, so that your time is less interrupted. You can change when convenient, rather than at often awkward moments during your daily routine.

Even if you have not worn cloth out and about in social situations, you will benefit from the comfort and security each night with a dry comfortable bed and the extended wear for weekends so that you can go about your weekend activities around the house while forgetting about your incontinence for the whole day.

Cloth diapers, in sum, are an optional "second step". They bring a measure of comfort and security that even the best European disposables cannot match. But this added level comes at a price. Not only are quality cloth diapers pricey, they require more time-consuming accessories and attention - pins, diaper pails, laundry and waterproof pants. This decision may mean a change in wardrobe to looser fitting and more amply-sized trousers or skirts to conceal additional bulk around the torso.

These adjustments may take a bit of time for adaptation. Yet cloth diapers become favorites for secure night wear and for some of us, they provide comfortable and dependable daytime wear. Fortunately, the choice of cloth remains open for anyone at any time.

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