The cheapest way to do cloth diapers/ Question about flats - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 11-15-2012, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello everyone,

I was using disposables for my LO at night and while at daycare (LO only goes a few hours a week). I'm too broke to continue buying disposables, so I have to use only cloth diapers. I don't have a huge supply, and I need to wash my diapers by hand, so I'm looking for advice on how to cloth diaper in the most inexpensive way. I have converted some receiving blankets into flats, and I'm thinking about using only flats because they can be washed and dried the fastest by hand.


So, where can I buy some cheap flats online? Are they sold at any of the major retail stores (Babies R Us, Target, Walmart, etc). Are receiving blankets absorbent enough to use as flats? What are the best types of flats to purchase. What are some other things that can be converted to flats (i.e can t-shirts/towels be used)? How do you make flats absorbent enough for night time diapering?


Also, does anyone have any ideas on ways to convince my daycare to allow LO to wear cloth diapers at daycare?



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#2 of 10 Old 11-15-2012, 03:35 PM
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Hi, I'm afraid I don't know much about flats, but we handwashed prefolds & line-dried them for the first 6 or 7 months, and it worked really well.  Prefolds seemed way easier to me than flats because my DD is a squirmer and I didn't want to have to fold the dipes up every single time I changed her.  I know you can sew prefolds from flats--you could consider it.


Consider getting covers that are adjustable so you can use them pretty much the whole time your kiddo is in diapers--I like the Sweetpea covers and they're only about $11 apiece.  I think they're supposed to go 8-40 lbs.  That'll be cheaper than buying new covers in each size (though I have some Thirsties covers that have been used hard for nearly a year now and they need to be replaced as the waterproofness is dying--you do eventually have to replace your covers).



Good luck and I hope you can find something that works for you!

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#3 of 10 Old 11-15-2012, 06:07 PM
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We used pre-folds (flats) for our DD for a long time.

They are very easy to use, easy to clean and fast to dry.


I have not made any, but have found some good sites with tutorials on making them from t-shirts.


To make them absorbent, you basically want the centre third to be 6-8 layers and the side thirds to be 4 layers thick.


google "sewing pre-folds"

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#4 of 10 Old 11-15-2012, 06:40 PM
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For hand-washing, I would definitely recommend sticking with flats!   Depending on how your baby wets, receiving blankets can definitely work.  If you need too, you could double up.  I have 6 Green Mountain Diaper brand flats and I really like them.  I don't know the cheapest flats out there, I would avoid the Gerber brand ones you can find in stores, they just get all stretched out and weird after washing them (although I used a washing machine, maybe hand washing would be different).  Nicki's diapers is another great online diaper store that sells flats. 


There are also no-sew t-shirt to diaper tutorials.  I'm not sure how much more difficult hand washing a t-shirt over an actual flat would be,  but I don't think it would be that much more difficult. 

Mama to three

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#5 of 10 Old 11-18-2012, 02:31 PM
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If you go to target or Walmart you can buy 'flour sack towels'. They are white thin, and cheap. They make Great flats. I love my flats. Sometime use them on te weekends when in not working because they dry easy and wash up great! Invest in good covers and a snappi.
Good luck!
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#6 of 10 Old 11-24-2012, 06:26 PM
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Get 6 one-size FLIP covers...BOGO at cottonbabies until cyber monday sale ends. Then go to walmart and in their dishtowel section, grab some flour sack towels. Pad fold them and lay them in the Flip. Also buy 4 Thirsties hemp inserts size small to use when you need extra absorbency. Just wrap the padfolded flat around it. Get some cheap baby washcloths and just use water or baby bath soap for your wipe solution. Grab a wetbag and you're good to go!

Consciously mothering 3 girls and 2 boys
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#7 of 10 Old 11-24-2012, 06:43 PM
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Joanns has their flannel on sale right now $1.99 a yard. I've made wipes, flats, and pp pads out of it.

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#8 of 10 Old 12-14-2012, 11:24 AM
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LOVE this post! I'm afraid I am nearing the same predicament. I tried making my own diapers but am sick of sewing and my LO never lets me get passed setting up my machine. I got a thirsties cover from Target and have learned to love flats. I don't know why I thought I could keep up with sewing pocket diapers when flats and a snappi are so much simpler! I've never heard of flour sack towels so I will have to check them out. I find myself wishing I had more than one Thirsties cover so I can abandon my homemade pocket diapers. Thanks for the great info!

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#9 of 10 Old 12-14-2012, 01:07 PM
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I love receiving blankets as flats. More than my store bought birds eye flats. Avoid Gerber flats like the plague. They do make nice rags though.

The origami fold worked best for me, the pad fold (just make it a rectangle) was easiest

I liked pins the best and kept mine in a bar of soap stuck in a baby sock. Snappies worked well too.

I had Bummies covers and wool, so that is what I used. Flip covers or EconoBums will give you the most bang for your buck new (used have lots of use usually and are often super cheap)

You can also stuff pocket diapers with flats if that means that daycare can take her in them.


I hand washed everyday. I had between 8 and 11 diapers in the pail

-I used a home depot bucket and a $2 plunger with holes drilled in it to agitate

-I rinsed the poop of diapers right away since by daughter was on solids

-I soaked everything in warm water for up to an hour

-I soaked them again in hot water and 1T of detergent, mix with plunger to start, soak for an hour, mix again

-soak in warm water for rinse

-rinse by hand

-wring dry

-hang dry. on my deck railing, the clothes line, over the radiator, .... They dry fast.



Daycare. Talk to they about where you are. Many will do cloth if you make it easy for them. Pad fold in a velcro cover all set to go.

You can also contact Giving Diapers Giving Hope about borrowing cloth diapers for as long as you need them. They can help get you set up with ones that will work for handwashing and daycare.

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Mama to J (Jan '09), E (May '11), and C (August, '13)

Professional Cloth Diaper at Diaper Lab in Boston (ask me about laundry)
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#10 of 10 Old 12-14-2012, 01:56 PM
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We use all kinds of crazy stuff as diapers. We have 2 boys in diapers. We use thrifted flannel sheets cut to size. We use towels cut to size (I like flannel better, it doesn't feel as soggy) We fold t-shirts into thirds and then fold down to the right length with the thicker pad in front. We don't have many receiving blankets, but they work as well as anything else.

They all wash pretty easily but don't dry the same. I think t-shirts are softest when line dried.

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