Cloth Diapering on a Dime: Part 2 Flats

You can find Part 1 of Cloth Diapering on a Dime here, where I touch on the most economical form of cloth diapering (employing covers/flats) and then elaborate more on current diaper cover options. For the record, I do plan to expound on these articles with my own tutorials which will eventually be linked to these original posts, so thanks for your patience while I build this blog! It’s far from an overnight project, that’s for sure! This section concerns the diaper that goes inside the cover.

20180508_170028-e1530027110351.jpgAs far as the material that goes into the cover to absorb urine and catch stools, a lot of creativity is to be had here. Before, I mentioned that a good starting stash is two dozen diapers. This can quickly become overwhelming when you realize that quality diaper flats and prefolds can cost quite a bit to get started, costing around $2.50+ each. Granted, it is a much more affordable option, but still intimidating for those on a ramen-noodle-budget. So how can someone get started on a dime?

Well, for starters, there are flour sack towels. Some wonderful aspects about flour sack towels (abbreviated FST in online banter) are their availability (found at most major retailers as well as online), their affordability (costing as little as 79 cents each), and their functionality (they need no “prepping” like traditional flats, and there is no hemming or sewing involved, they are ready to use!). Gerber flats are also widely available, but I discuss here why I personally don’t recommend them, as well as compare two of your most widely available, most economic FST options. This is a great way to get started! The only downside to flour sack towels I come across is that they don’t absorb as much as mainstream, quality flat diapers. However, when you do the math, even doubled up, these flour sack towels are often still cheaper than most birdseye cotton flats on the market, and when doubled are comparably absorbent.

Another option is to use cotton flannel receiving blankets! Some people who can afford better diapers still use these anyways for overnights because they are just so incredibly absorbent! Often times, people are bombarded with these at baby showers and, honestly, they don’t get used much by many people who find them too small to properly swaddle their babies. I know many people with a stack of these flannel receiving blankets in their closet. Brand new, they aren’t really worth the investment, but considering its relatively common to find these for free or dirt cheap, they are absolutely worth mentioning! Other than boasting an incredible absorbency, these blankets need little effort to prepare them for diapering. Obviously if used, you want to give them a good washing! It may be beneficial to “strip” them, too, by soaking them in a solution of equal amounts of washing soda, borax, and calgon, just to get any softener residue or mineral buildup out of them (I’ll discuss more on stripping in a future article). When I began looking into cloth diapering, I posted a status on facebook asking if anyone had any they didn’t want that they’d give or sell cheap. I ended up with, collectively, 18 flannel receiving blankets for free. Going to a local clothing bank, they, too, had flannel receiving blankets available there. Most yard sales will have them for about a dime or quarter a piece, and sometimes you can even score brand new ones or lightly used ones from places like Goodwill for 4/$1! The downside to flannel receiving blankets, aside from the necessary prep work to wash used ones in preparation for diapering, is the fact that they don’t pin well. Pins will meet a lot of resistance in the fabric, and likewise Snappis and Boingos don’t grab it well. I have snappi’d on flannel receiving blankets before, but it can be a little cumbersome. Another downside is their bulk. These blankets are quite thick, so they aren’t exactly a trim option, especially for younger babies and newborns. They will also take longer to dry as well. Otherwise, they are readily available, very affordable, and incredibly absorbent!

Yet another in-a-pinch option is using an old t-shirt. You want to be sure that your shirt isn’t made of synthetic materials, you need cotton! 100% cotton is best, but if you shirt has at least 80% cotton, it should be alright. You can use old t shirts you already have, t shirts from yard sales, t shirts from Goodwill, t shirts your friend is giving away… like the flannel receiving blankets, this is not something you shop for new for this purpose, but rather a way to build a diaper stash for as little as nothing. Once you have some, you can cut the t shirt into a flat diaper shape or, even better, just leave the shirt intact and fold it into a diaper! Cutting the diaper will lend you a trimmer (and less absorbent) diaper that can be folded using a lot of traditional flat folds. I recommend using a bigger shirt if you plan to hack it into diapers. For the record, they will not require hemming (hooray!) but if you don’t hem them, the edges may roll severely and shrink your diaper down (bummer) so keep that in mind when deciding what to do. You may want to look for XL or larger shirts if you intend on doing this. Leaving the shirt intact limits your folding options more and makes the diaper a tad bulkier, depending on the size shirt you use, but makes for easy-to-fold, very absorbent diaper with tabs! Folding is as simple as shown below and literally takes 3 seconds or less!

fold tshirt

Honestly, in a pinch, a lot of things can be turned into diapers, such as old bedsheets, tea towels, pillowcases, etc. But if you have a budget to do so and want to build a stash of quality, affordable flat diapers, one of the most economic options is Elemental Joy One Size Flats. They’re the most economic, quality option I can find, and the same flats we incorporated into the local cloth diaper drive kits. At $19 a dozen with free shipping, I dare anyone to find a better deal on quality birdseye cotton flats! On Day 5 of the 2018 Flats & Handwashing Challenge, I compared these Cottonbabies flats to the cheapest flour sack towels I knew available, and that video comparison can be found here. Osocozy is another great brand found on Amazon for about $24 a dozen (although as of the day of posting this article, it’s on sale for $21.49!). I have tried both of these brands and find them very much worth their money if you can afford them! And when you consider that a starting stash of two dozen diapers for either of these brands will only cost as little as $38, easily lasting as diapers for multiple children, it is a worthy investment indeed; certainly worth saving for if you can!

As you probably gathered from the previous post, between the covers and the actual diapers, you’re likely to spend substancially less on the diapers themselves, especially since many things can be used as diapers!

Be wary of going to places like Dollar Tree and using their tea towels or cleaning towels as diapers. Most of these are made of microfiber, which is incredibly absorbent and very useful as a diaper (although prone to compression leaking since the nature of the material functions like a sponge), however they are so absorbent that they will absorb skin oils from your baby’s tush and leave them rashy! So if you decide to use microfiber towels from the dollar store, make sure you put something between the towel and baby’s bottom, like a piece of microfleece (not to be confused with microfiber or polar fleece) or another diaper. They make great doublers for boosting absorbency of your diaper, so long as you make sure it is not touching baby’s skin! Also, Dollar Tree sells t shirts, but they are 100% synthetic materials and not useful as diapers, so check those labels on any shirts you may invest in for your stash!

In Part 3, I’ll touch on your options for “pinning”. Have you repurposed something into a diaper? Did I forget to mention something important? Comment below and help me and other mamas out! Thanks for reading!

5 thoughts on “Cloth Diapering on a Dime: Part 2 Flats

Add yours

  1. Hi there! This article couldnít be written much better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this. I’ll send this post to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a good read. Thanks for sharing!


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