Using Free Materials as Cloth Diaper Inserts: A Money-Saving Guide

by Bailey Bouwman

The amazing thing about using cloth diapers is that are in control, which means you get to set the budget, and can repurpose things in your house as inserts. This helps you cut down on cost, make use of your scraps, and find awesome absorbency. 

In my experience as a cloth diaper parent, many of these materials and products work better than traditional cloth diaper inserts. 

If you don't have these things around your house, it's worth asking on your free pages, your local thrift shops, or friends. Repurposing salvage material should be praised as a great way to make use of the billions of tons of wasted textiles each year. 

 For more ways to save money on Cloth Diapering consider picking up a copy of the Cloth Diaper Coupon Book. 

All of these free cloth diaper inserts can be used in any type of cloth diaper, such as cloth diaper covers, pocket cloth diapers, or to boost all in one diapers. They can be used with whatever you want to pair them with when it comes to an exterior waterproof shell. 

Not sure what I'm talking about, don't forget to grab your very own copy of Cloth Diapers: the ultimate guide to textiles, washing and more to help you learn more about cloth diapers. 

What can I use as a FREE cloth diaper insert?

You can use any material in your home that absorbs liquids.

  • T-Shirts
  • Towels
  • Blankets
  • Sheets
  • Clothing

How will I know if the repurposed material will work as a cloth diaper insert?

Materials made from natural fibres (100% cotton, cotton/bamboo blends, cotton/hemp blends, etcetera) will absorb quickly and effectively.

Stay away from synthetic blends. You're looking for the tag to have at least 90% natural fibre to be fairly effective, some families have found 60 to 70% cotton to be a better threshold. 

No tag? Not sure if it's a natural fibre. Spill some water, and see if the material will absorb the mess. If it just sits around and spreads liquid around, then it's not a good choice. Opt for materials that quickly absorb water. 

piles of repurposed materials

Examples of Free Repurposed Cloth Diaper Inserts 

Over the years, these are a few of our favourite recommendations for up cycling things around your home to use as a cloth diaper insert with your favourite cloth diaper. 

  • Old T-Shirts: that stash of shirts from every 5K you ran, every cancer-fundraiser, and high school field trip comes in handy! You can use the shirt as one single piece, or cut it into two halves, or custom cut it into absorbent squares. Use any size shirt.

  • Receiving Blankets: cotton flannel receiving blankets are incredibly absorbent. They can be big, don't worry about cutting down to size if you need less absorbency, or bulk. 

  • Towels: cut towels down smaller than a flat and use them more as a prefold diaper, the terry cloth is absorbent but bulky. Old towels can be cut down to 8x10 squares. Use two if you need extra absorbent. 

  • Bed Sheets: repurpose natural fibre sheets into flat diapers. These are easy to hand wash and can be a trim absorbent diaper. Avoid any microfibre or micro fleece sheets. These will not absorb efficiently and cause problems. 

If you normally use fabric softeners or dryer sheets with these products, test the absorbency first. If they fail to absorb try washing in hot with detergent. This will often kick out some of the build up that happens from fibre-coating synthetics. 


How do you fold FREE cloth diaper inserts?

Anyway you want. Don't over think it. The goal is to fold it into a rectangle, like Jays Nest says. It needs to be about the same length of the diaper. 

I usually start by folding it in half, and then in half, and then into thirds. To make an insert smaller or larger play around with folding down just a quarter, or a third to make it fit right. 

You can also fold many square products to fit onto baby and use a diaper pin to hold it in place. Ideal square shapes start at 20" square for newborn babies, about 25-27" for infants and babies, and 30" for toddlers and big kids. 




Where to buy NEW cloth diaper inserts?

Shop our small collection of cloth diaper inserts at Nest & Sprout in store or online. As a small boutique, we're slowly growing our collection.

If you want more selection, we recommend visiting our friends at  Cloth Diaper Kids. Stephanie works hard to bring you some of the best selection for cloth diapering in Canada. 

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.