The Great Cloth Diaper Experiment Part I: Epic Fail

I wanted to write a post about our experiences–good and bad–with cloth diapering. Unfortunately, my draft was closing in on 2,000 words before I even got close to being done. So, breaking it down into several posts, of which this is the first. Will we or won’t we? Stay tuned!

My initial investment in cloth diapers took place in winter 2013–i.e., a full year before we had any idea of the Fustible’s existence (indeed, before she existed, in any form).

This involved me paying $40 to a neighbor for a secondhand Bag o’ Goodies consisting of:

  • ~12 fuzzibunz pocket diapers, soakers and replacement elastics for the legs
  • 1 almost full giant tub of Charlie’s Soap Detergent
  • Several random flip and gdiaper covers and liners
  • At least one BumGenius pocket diaper
  • 1 swim diaper
  • 2 large wet bags
  • 1 small traveling wet bag

First, I dumped the contents of this bag all over our dining room table and started getting acquainted with them. Needless to say, Sam was a bit freaked out when he arrived home and walked, unsuspecting, into that scene.

Here’s what I learned about FuzziBunz, which make up most of this stash: 

  • These are snap closure, waterproof (i.e., no additional cover required) pocket (i.e., you have to stuff the soakers inside) diapers, with a white microfleece lining.
  • A unique feature of the FuzziBunz is that they have adjustable, replaceable elastic in the legs (and waist?). But, frankly, this is a huge pain in the ass to adjust and replace. It has to be threaded through a tiny sleeve and hooked onto the tiniest buttons in the world. I spent hours adjusting the elastic on these, only to find that I’d made it too small and had to spend yet more hours loosening it all back up. Still, in theory this seems like a good idea: with other diapers, if the elastic is shot, I guess the whole cover is done for.
  • I found that the waterproof coating on the inside of the FB shells was too sticky/tacky to stuff the liners in easily. I was constantly afraid of ripping the diapers and indeed, two or three of the ones the neighbors sold me were already torn.

Then, I put everything back in the bag, put the bag in the room that would one day become the Fustible’s, and left it there for many months.

Only when I pulled everything out to show my curious mother the miracle of modern cloth diapering–literally, many months later–did I discover the problem: a lingering, pungent pee smell coming off of everything in the bag. And this would be my nemesis for the next year.


Once the Fustible arrived, we used exclusively disposable diapers for about the first three months. In that time I did momentarily try the secondhand FBs on her, maybe twice, when she was about 8 weeks old (see charming photo). The ammonia stench filled the room the second she peed or even sweat, so I gave up.

Nothing, NOTHING will get this smell out. I’m serious, DO NOT leave your advice in the comments. I have tried everything suggested on the internet. Moreover, I have almost ruined other, new, fresh diapers by throwing these in the wash with them for just one more try. Really, I need to just get these out of my house, because the dream that I’ll one day “fix” them is just a bottomless pit of time, energy, laundry, and frustration. It’s time to just admit: these are someone else’s diapers. I got them cheap. I’m not sure they were washed according to instructions. They’ve seen heavy heavy use for 2+ years. I’ve already spent over a year trying every solution on the internet. We’re done.

The good(?) news is, with all rest of the stuff in the bag–wet bags, swim diaper, detergent–we probably still got our $40 worth.

The fact is, our neighbor sold us some pretty shitty (ha!) diapers, but the damage was minimal, and actually it’s been nice to have an affordable way to get familiar with this whole cloth diaper universe. So, clearly this is really more of a caveat emptor anecdote than a fair review of FuzziBunz.

Indeed, we just learned this past weekend that one of Sam’s cousins used FuzziBuns for her three girls and loved them–and she is renowned throughout the family tree for her sensibility and good taste. So, you know, nothing against them. But, at this point, I’m just not interested in trying more of these. We’ve found other brands/approaches that are getting the job done for us. About which, more later….


6 thoughts on “The Great Cloth Diaper Experiment Part I: Epic Fail

  1. We’ve been cloth diapering at home since Louis was about 6 weeks old. We went with a diaper service and use their prefolds with a variety of covers. Every couple of months we discuss whether to continue, and so far, I’m glad we have – especially now that he’s getting a bit more “vocal” and can let us know when he’s uncomfortable and needs to be changed. Much more pleasant than sticking my finger in his pants to figure it out. I’m looking forward to hearing what worked for you!

    • You’re the second person I’ve heard of using a diaper service lately! I know my mom had one when I was a baby, but for some reason I had no idea these options still existed. It makes so much sense, especially for city living where laundry machines may or may not be full size or available within your unit at all. Would love to hear about your experience (is it convenient? Expensive?).

      • Before Louis was born, we got a huge bag of a variety of covers, AIOs, and inserts that have been passed around a big group of friends. With no onsite laundry until literally the day he was born, we quickly ruled out the use of the AIOs and stuffed inserts. (We now have one washer/dryer for 5 units.)

        I feel like it’s super convenient. Once/week, we leave the diaper pail liner bag full of dirty diapers in the lobby of our building, and we receive a bag of clean diapers in a clean diaper pail liner. We receive the same number of diapers we returned the previous week. We’ve never run out of diapers.

        The only annoyances so far:
        – If the delivery driver is running late, we have to stick a few diapers in a plastic bag until they arrive. Not a big deal.
        – Louis sized out of the infant inserts a few weeks after we started the service, but we didn’t communicate that in time, so we had ill-fitting diapers for a week or two.

        Our service is $23.99/week for prefolds only, discounted if you prepay for multiple months. They also have packages for prefolds + covers, AIOs, and reusable wipes. More expensive than disposables for sure. Every time we come up on paying for another few months, we weigh the costs against disposables (which we use when we’re out for the day, and overnight), but so far have continued to choose cloth!

  2. Pingback: The Great Cloth Diaper Experiment Part II: Fresh Start | Chameleon in Boots

  3. Pingback: The Great Cloth Diaper Experiment Part III: Fully Committed | Chameleon in Boots

  4. Pingback: How life is now, or, “Things I never knew I never knew” | Chameleon in Boots

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