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All-In-One Cloth Diapers: How do They Work & Should Parents Use Them?

Cloth diapers can be a great alternative for parents who want to make less of an impact on the environment or want to find a more cost-effective diapering solution.

With that said, there are a few different types of cloth diapers you can choose from. Some of which (like hybrids) include disposable inserts. 

However, in this article we’re going to be discussing all-in-one cloth diapers. 

All-in-ones can make the transition to cloth diapers an easy one for parents. Unlike hybrids, no additional layers are needed and these types of diapers can be washed and reused.

Cloth Diapers vs. Disposables

Smiling Baby on the Floor

Choosing a diapering system for your child is one of the most important choices you can make as a parent. The topic itself has been highly debated, and rightfully so. 

After all, diapers are a necessity, and something every parent has to think about because you’re going to be using them several times a day, every single day for a few years.

In the 1940’s, when disposable diapers were first introduced, they were seen as a luxury item. However, this perception changed in the 1980’s due to prices going down and availability skyrocketing.

Around this time, almost every parent had switched from traditional cloth diapers to disposables because they were significantly less labor-intensive.

Using disposables meant you no longer had to wash and fold your baby’s diapers. You also didn’t need to worry about pinning the diapers (not to mention, there was far less contact with a baby’s poop).

While this was great for parents for the sake of convenience, disposables began piling up with soiled diapers, creating an environmental crisis and a call for a return to cloth diapers. 

Millions of disposable diapers still end up in landfills each year, which is why most environmentally-conscious parents today are opting for cloth diapers over disposables.

But, are the cloth diapers of today the same as they were decades ago? The answer is no. There are a few different types of cloth diapers you can buy.

These include traditional prefolds, hybrids, and — today’s topic of discussion — all-in-ones (or AIOs). We’ll help you understand what all-in-ones are below:

What Are All-in-One Cloth Diapers?

When it comes to cloth diapers, all types have a few things in common.

For one, they are all made of a soft, absorbent fabric like cotton, or hemp. However, hemp is less common. The second thing all cloth diapers have in common is reusability. 

While the concept of cloth diapers is pretty straightforward, there are a few different configurations when it comes to cloth-diaper setup.

The most significant of these variations is how the setup deals with waterproofing and absorbency; two necessary features of any diapering system. We’ll break it down below:

baby in all-in-one diaper
Close up of feet and toes of a baby wearing blue cloth diaper.

Diaper Wrap System

In this system, there are two separate pieces: the cloth and the wrap. 

The cloth is the absorbent component of this setup, and is simply just a piece of fabric that parents fold and place again the baby’s butt. The outer wrap is the waterproof component.

Diaper Insert System

In a diaper insert system, there are also two separate parts: a waterproof wrap and an absorbent fabric insert.

The absorbent insert will get tucked into a pocket in the wrap itself, making it less-bulky than the diaper wrap system.


Unlike the two systems above, an all-in-one system has only one part.

The absorbent material in this system is sewn into the waterproof diaper wrap, which makes this type of cloth diaper the closest to a disposable in terms of form and function.

Pros of Using All-In-One Cloth Diapers

The reason all-in-ones are my personal favorite is the fact that there’s only one piece you have to worry about. This makes them easier to use than all of the other cloth diaper types.

Here are some additional benefits:

  • With AIOs, you don’t need to fold, remove, or insert anything. These types of cloth diapers usually have a fastening mechanism — such as velcro or a hook-and-loop — for convenience.
  • While you may pay more initially for AIOs than you would on disposables (like you would with any cloth diaper type), they typically end up costing you less than disposables in the long run, as you won’t need to continue buying entire diapers for your baby.
  • AIOs make it easier to tell how much urine your baby is producing because all cloth diapers get and stay wetter than disposable diapers. This makes it easier to potty train as well.

After all, if the diaper is wet, the baby will fuss and cry. This teaches them to let the parents know when they need to go to the bathroom. 

Cons of Using All-in-Ones

While there’s clearly a lot of benefits to using all-in-ones, there are some downsides, as with other cloth diaper setups. 

  • Because these types of diapers get and stay wetter than disposables do it can make them less comfortable for your baby once they’ve been soiled. 
  • Diaper services don’t pick up and deliver AIOs, which means all the washing will need to be done at home.
  • AIOs (and all cloth diapers, for that matter, no matter the type) tend to leak more than disposables. 

All in all, choosing any cloth diaper is typically done for the benefit of the environment and keeping diapers out of landfills. 

This benefit is what usually outweighs the downsides of having to do some extra laundry and a few more leaky messes.

Babies in cloth diapers
Baby twins girls with cloth diaper on a bed

How Many AIO Cloth Diapers Will You Need?

On average, newborns go through 8-10 diapers on a daily basis.

It’s for this reason — coupled with the fact that babies usually outgrow newborn-sized diapers at a rapid pace — that a lot of parents opt for disposable diapers for the first couple of months.

If you’re fully committed to cloth diapers from birth, then you can invest in newborn sizes.  However, you should have at least 20. 

This may sound like an excessive amount, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Newborns can be unpredictable and poop/urinate very frequently.

When it comes to how many cloth diapers you’ll need after the newborn stage, this will depend on how often you plan on doing laundry.

Most parents prefer at least 24 cloth diapers on hand, but some can get by with as little as 14 cloth diapers. Just remember, the less you have, the more laundry you’re going to be doing.

How to Wash AIO Cloth Diapers

Many parents find the idea of washing AIOs or any cloth diaper daunting. With that said, the process becomes pretty easy once you get used to it.

Let’s break down the process below:

1. Once the diaper has been soiled, take it off and remove the poop

Once your baby has soiled his or her diaper, take it off and dispose of any poop. You can then toss the soiled diaper in a wet bag.

All the diapers and the wet bag should be thrown in the washer every other night.

2. Cold rinse & hot wash your diapers

The first thing you’ll want to do is a cold rinse, which will eliminate any waste remnants, and prep the diapers for washing.

You will then do a hot wash using a cloth-diaper safe detergent. Use half the amount you typically use.

Keep in mind, it’s crucial you use a detergent that is meant for cloth diapers. Most popular detergent brands (especially free and clear ones) can cause your diapers to repel as opposed to absorb. This can lead to leaks.

3. Another cold rinse & hang the diapers to dry

Once the diapers have been in the hot wash, you should do another cold rinse to ensure any detergent is gone. 

You can then hang the diapers on a clothing line to dry overnight. 

While you can dry them in the dryer (something a lot of parents do), we don’t recommend it as it can ruin the elasticity of your diapers over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you really save money using cloth diapers?

Yes. While cloth diapers might cost more than disposable diapers at first, they can actually save you money in the long run as they can be washed and reused.

How much are all-in-one cloth diapers?

Price will vary, but AIO cloth diapers generally start at around $20 each.

Do you need an insert for AIO cloth diapers?

No, AIOs don’t require inserts. You can simply toss the entire diaper into the washer after it becomes soild.

Final Thoughts

While all-in-one cloth diapers — like all cloth diapers, for that matter — can cost a bit more initially and require more laundry work than disposables, more parents are continuing to make the switch.

This is due, in part, to the fact that cloth diapers are more safe for the environment. It’s also a more cost-effective option in the long run as you won’t need to replace diapers regularly.

If you’re considering cloth diapers for your baby, be sure to factor in your needs and schedule. If you don’t have the time necessary to dedicate to keeping cloth diapers clean then they probably aren’t right for you.

all-in-one diapers on a shelf