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Are Prefolds the Best Cloth Diaper?
May 28, 2022 6:04 am | by
Real Mom Talk - Prefold Cloth Diapers

For generations, prefolds have been the staple of both cloth diapering families and cloth diaper services. Prefolds may even be the cloth diaper that your grandmother or mother used! They were a preferred diaper because they were durable, easy to wash, easy to use, and multi-purpose.

1. They are cheap. At $4 or less per diaper (depending on size and thickness) this is easily the cheapest way to cloth diaper. You can get enough diapers to get you through your baby’s entire diapering period for less than $200.

2. They are soft. After they quilt up in the first few washes, they are soft and fluffy and comfortable. I know I would be willing to wear them around my sensitive parts if I needed to, so I feel good about my baby wearing them. Simply Prefolds are so softer!

3. It is easy to care for prefolds. Prefolds are the most forgiving diapers to wash. You can do just about anything to them and they still work great. I still recommend following the basic washing instructions and using dye free, scent free detergent, but these diapers release odors easily and seldom develop any absorbency problems. (At least I have never seen it happen.)

4. They make for fast diaper changes. Fold in thirds, drop the diaper in a cover and fasten the cover up. Done.

5. They are versatile. You can use them with virtually any type of cover, you can snappi or pin them, you can try different folds for them, you can use them to stuff pocket diapers, and you can use them with no cover at all if you choose.

6. You can use them for other stuff! I use mine as changing pads, burp rags, nose wipes, bottom wipes. I throw one in the carseat to keep the buckles from getting too hot, mop up spills on the go, let the baby chew on them (clean ones!). Those are only a few of the uses that I could think of that relate to baby care, and I’m sure you’ll find many, many more ways they come in handy.

7. They come in different sizes, but are still cheap enough to afford the different sizes. Most normal babies I have come across will only need the infant size and the premium size. Infant gets my kids up through at least 6 months old, but if you have a chubby baby you will probably get to 4 months with those. Premium gets my kids up through potty training. If your baby is really tiny, start with the Preemie (also called the Newborn) size.

8. Cotton prefold cloth diapers are absorbent. They hold a ton of baby waste, and they absorb it fast. Fast absorption means less leaks. I have read recently that some people have super-wetters and need something even more absorbent. Hemp Babies Bigger Weeds fit all of these descriptions about prefolds. The only caveat with hemp is that you can’t use Snappis and the price is higher. The hemp is a little more expensive.

9. They are easy to double. I seldom have to double a prefold cloth diaper, but sometimes it is worth it. I trifold one and lay it inside another one, then snappi that one on. My baby could wear one of those for DAYS and not wet out of it. Not that I leave them on that long. Sometimes I might double them up if I want the baby to have some cover-free time. This allows plenty of air to get to their little bum, but doesn’t leave me mopping up mess after mess.

10. They dry fast. They wash easy and dry fast, either in the dryer or on the line, these are the first diapers dry in my loads.

And I thought of a couple more benefits of prefold cloth diapers:

11. They last forever. I have diapers that have gone through 5 and 6 kids (being passed around through friends) and are still in nearly as good shape as when they started. Sure, some get retired when they get threadbare, but most are still going strong.

12. They are old-fashioned. This is just the diaper nerd in me speaking, but they are tried and true and have worked for generations. I feel a bit of a connection to my grandmothers and what they did for my parents when I use them. In this case, “retro” is just as good today as it was then.

13. Prefolds also make a great cloth diaper insert for pocket diapers like bumGenius!

About the Author

Jenn is the founder of Cotton Babies & creator of bumGenius, Flip, and Econobum, worldwide leading cloth diaper brands. She has four children (Andrew, Oscar, Elsie and Louis) and holds an MBA from Washington University. When she's not working full time, she enjoys teaching business leaders how to implement sustainable economic & social change.



  • Anonymous said...
    September 24, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    for the question about washing prefolds less often – you could rinse all diapers out after each change and simply add them to your normal wash. When I use prefolds I don’t feel the need to do diaper-only loads. I simply rinse out each dirty diaper so they don’t start smelling up the place and throw into the hamper(maybe wrapped up in other laundry or place it under some other dirty clothes). You could get away with twice a week washes. And the best thing to do with dirty covers is to hand wash and air dry them (They dry fast and will last longer).Also, I LOVE Johnson’s medicated powder with every change. It contains zinc oxide just like creams but it is easy to apply and washes easily from the diaper(creams are a no no with cloth diapers because they stain, stink, and gunk up your diapers). If you NEED to use creams lay in a flushable liner or a paper towel(thats what I do and its cheap) between the prefold and your baby.

  • Anonymous said...
    September 24, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    I LOVE my prefolds.I never have a problem with needing to strip them, unlike my aio’s or pockets.I really notice stinky diapers with synthetic fabrics, like microfiber or poly fleece. Around the house he doesn’t wear a cover(except when he’s sleeping). When the diaper feels a little damp to the touch, change him. And they really are cheap. When you start spending $10-30 per diaper, it’s not costing less and those diapers with elastic, snaps, and velcro wear out and/or look worn within months in HOT washes. And nothing is cuter than my little guy in only a bikini twist unbleached prefold.
    And I also love snappis.
    I’ve bought and made many kinds of diapering systems, so don’t make my mistake; stick with prefolds and actually SAVE money.

  • Anonymous said...
    January 8, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    “My baby could wear one of those for DAYS and not wet out of it.”

    Wow, my son can barely go an hour in a doubled DSQ unbleached Chinese prefold, so I only use them sometimes and stick to the BG’s for the rest of the time.

  • Jenni said...
    June 19, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    If you are not going to be able to wash very often I think prefolds are a great choice. They can take a little more abuse and a little more bleach.

  • Kacie said...
    June 16, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    I’m expecting my first baby around the end of the year, and am really interested in using cloth diapers. My only concern is that we don’t have a washer in our apartment–it’s downstairs and costs $1.25/load.

    Do you know if I can get away with washing prefolds once or twice per week?

    I’ve heard that some of the all-in-one brands do best if they are washed within a day or two after soiled.


  • Bloggin' Mama said...
    June 8, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    I feel the exact same way about my prefolds. I’ve also stitched a few of them into contours because our prefolds are the toddler size and folding them in at the top made them a little too bulky. And what in the world would I do without my snappi?