Beyond the Diaper

Welcome to the First Annual Freedom of Cloth Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the Freedom of Cloth Carnival hosted at Natural Parents Network by Melissa of The New Mommy Files and Shannon of The Artful Mama. This year’s carnival will run from Sunday, July 3rd through Saturday, July 9th. Participants are sharing everything they know and love about cloth diapering, including how cloth has inspired them.


We live in the kind of home where when guests spill something and immediately go searching for a paper towel, they end up confused as to why there aren’t any. When I hand them a rag, they tend to blink in confusion before asking me if it’s actually ok if they “ruin” my rag. Ever since my husband and I got married, there’s been cloth in this house. We use cloth napkins I made from fabric scraps that were lying around from unrealized projects and rags that came from a set of jersey sheets. Everything else that we use to clean the house is reusable cotton or microfiber. So when we chose to do cloth diapers, it made the most sense for us. I then went one step further and added cloth wipes to my laundry piles.

Last spring after almost a whole year of successful cloth diapering, I was really getting used to not throwing anything away in the house. We were able to switch to a smaller trash pickup and put the money we saved into a recycling pick up from our home so that I didn’t have to haul my piles of recyclables to the next town over. Then I made an investment in plates and cups that we could reuse for all our parties. A few months later, I found myself sewing reusable produce bags and birthday decorations. Successes from both of those endeavors inspired me to try new food preservation ideas, baking more of my foods from scratch and learning to be less wasteful by relying more on myself than on conventional products.

Cloth diapering for me has been just a continuation of a frugal lifestyle. I’m always on the look-out for new, green options for our home and I’m hoping that by keeping them in the forefront of our minds it will always be a part of our lives. I’m proud to raise my children in a home with cloth. Be it wiping up spills, covering a heiny, or washing windows, cloth makes my life green and frugal. Just like I like it.

Beyond the Diaper – Inspiration and Resources for Reusables

  • Cloth wipes are a perfect addition to your diapering routine. I had a few extra receiving blankets that were worn to the perfect softness, and in a mere ten minutes I’d trimmed those blankets into a pile of wipes.  I kept mine super simple and just cut squares out of the fabric, but you can bind the edges with contrasting thread. Simple Organic has a wonderful tutorial on how to make and store your new wipes. Not a lot of time or spare flannel? Head on over to Etsy for a wide range of styles and fabrics.
  • If you’re interested in making the leap to cloth wipes for the whole family (“family cloth”), Crunchy Chicken is responsible for everything I know about reusable wipes in the bathroom.
  • Once I was fully invested in bringing my own bags to the grocery store, I thought it was time to cut out the produce bags as well. I found good inspiration and ideas in this post from Mindful Momma, but in the end, I wound up making something more like what I found on Etsy. I was able to find cotton mesh fabric and used scraps from a misguided attempt at curtains to make them stand out in my cart.
  • There are a lot of tutorials out there for UNpaper towels, but I’m here to tell you it’s as easy as finding some absorbent fabric and cutting to the desired size. You can serge the edges if you’d like or leave them free. In my case, I had a jersey knit sheet set with a giant hole in it thanks to my dog. Instead of throwing the set away, I cut both the sheets and the pillowcases into large squares and have them stashed all over the house in baskets just waiting for a spill.
  • If you’re looking for a way to ditch the plastic baggies as you head out on your picnics this summer, here’s a great tutorial for sewing reusable wrappers that will add some fun to your lunches!

Photo Credit: Author


Laura Burns is a former biologist turned homemaker and mother. She blogs at A Pug in the Kitchen about her journey in life with food, frugality, and natural living.


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Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants on the following themes. Articles will go live on the scheduled theme day:

  • Sunday, July 3rd, 2011: Cloth Related Recipes — Writers share their best cloth-related recipes and tutorials.
  • Monday, July 4th, 2011: Choosing Your Cloth Style — Today’s posts discuss parents’ individual journeys to finding the cloth diapering “style” that best suits their families.
  • Tuesday, July 5th, 2011: Cloth Diapering Must Haves — Parents talk about the most important items in their diapering “stash” and why they love them.
  • Wednesday, July 6th, 2011: Wordless Wednesday, Inspired by Cloth — We asked parents to share their favorite cloth-related photo with us and turned them into a fluffy Wordless Wednesday photo montage on Natural Parents Network. Link up your own Wordless Wednesday post there!
  • Thursday, July 7th, 2011: Cloth Through the Stages: From Infancy to Potty Independence — Today’s participants explain how cloth diapering has served their families throughout one or more stages of their children’s lives.
  • Friday, July 8th, 2011: Cloth Troubleshooting and Laundry Day — Seasoned cloth diapering parents share their best tips and tricks for handling common cloth problems and tackling the diaper laundry.
  • Saturday, July 9th, 2011: Inspired by Cloth — For today’s theme, we’ve asked writers to explore the ways cloth diapering has inspired them to become “greener” overall.

3 Responses to Beyond the Diaper

  1. Melissa  

    Thanks for such a great resource, Laura! I’m always looking for ideas and ways to think “beyond the diaper,” and you have given me a few ideas. Produce bags are something I have been meaning to cut out, and I’m saddened every time I get to the store and realize I haven’t done that yet. I love Mindful Momma’s idea for upcycling an onion bag and think that may be my answer since I’m not a seamstress!

  2. Laura  

    I have been really pleased with the produce bags… I really like to have them with me at the farmer’s market. Some of the vendors around here provide their own bags for customers and I feel like I get to help them out a little if I bring my own bags. Plus, the green beans I bought last week and haven’t had time to blanch and freeze are being stored in a bag in my fridge and they are still crisp and fresh!

  3. Mrs. Smitty

    I knew hubby would be resistant to switching from paper towels. And I agree with him to a degree. I know there’s nothing wrong with just throwing it in the wash, but some situations just seem to gross to use cloth. On the rare occasion the dog has an accident, I just don’t want to wash dog poop off my rags.

    But to get hubby on board, I just started placing rags all over the house. If he asked for a paper towel, I’d toss him a rag and quickly find something to do so he couldn’t object. If he was grabbing a paper towel for me, I’d point to the nearest rag stash and ask for a rag instead. Even my toddler cooperated in operation: rags only. Finally, I just stopped buying paper towels. (and hid 1 roll in my closet for the rare situation I refused to use cloth). When he asked where they went, I said “oh, I didn’t buy any.” He shrugged his shoulders, called me a hippy and grabbed a rag. He hasn’t asked for a paper towel since.