Baby Cloth Diapers: What You Need In An Emergency

Do you use disposable diapers? What would you do if you couldn’t get them any more at the store? You could try stocking up, but disposable diapers are pretty expensive. Also if you were in an long term disaster situation, potty learning may not be an easy task with stress hormones running high.

The reality is that it would be hard to stock up enough disposable diapers. In this post, I’m going to discuss what you could stock up on in order to be prepared for baby cloth diapers, whether you use disposables or cloth for your primary diaper routine.

There are seven components to cloth diapering: a diaper (the absorbent part), waterproof cover, wipes, a place to store your dirty diapers, laundry detergent, a way to wash your diapers and a way to dry your diapers.

The Absorbent Diaper

Pad Folded Flat DiaperThe most flexible option is going to be two dozen flats. Two dozen will easily last 2-3 days for most babies. Flats are big (around 30″ x 30″ square) single ply pieces of fabric that you fold up into a diaper.

This can be a little bit intimidating at first when you see how some people fold their baby’s diapers. I personally don’t use any fancy folding techniques. I fold it in half, fold it in half again, then fold it into thirds. I then lay it into a diaper cover with snaps (I’ll discuss covers more in the next section).

There are lots of quality flats available online. I actually don’t own any of those. So especially for an emergency stash, I recommend you go to the kitchen supplies section of any of your local retail stores (Walmart, Target, Kmart, etc) and pick up two dozen 100% cotton flour sack towels.

Yes, I am talking about the kind people use to dry dishes. These are cheap, quick drying and can be used to dry dishes while you aren’t in an emergency. Unlike most other cloth diapering options, these are not sized and are therefore flexible enough that you can use the same ones for any size baby from newborn to toddler.

The Easy Snap Cover

Flip Diaper On ToddlerWhen it comes to covers, you have plenty of options, but for your emergency stash, I recommend a minimum of (6) one-size diaper covers with snaps. A quantity of (6) should get you through 2 days.

With this quantity you aren’t changing the cover every time you change the diaper. You wipe out the cover and reuse it with a new flat as long, as it didn’t get poop on it. If your baby poops frequently, you may want to increase the number of covers that you stock.

A one-size diaper usually means from average to large size newborn until from 30-40lbs, depending on the brand. You are going to want to pick a cover that lasts until at least 35-40lbs. I will write a product review soon for my favorite diaper cover, the Flip brand Diaper Cover.

Cloth diaper covers come with either snaps or hook and loop. The hook and loop fastener is more similar to a disposable diaper and you can get a better fit on smaller babies, but they wear out too quickly after being washed and open/closed on a regular basis. Snaps are much longer lasting.

Have You Ever Used Cloth Wipes and Wipe Solution?

Disposable wipes have much the same issue as disposable diapers. There aren’t a huge amount of other functions they can serve, so it would be hard to stock up enough. For reuseable wipes, all you need is any little bits of cut up cloth and a squirt bottle with a wipes solution.

A basic wipe solution has three ingredients: water, oil and baby wash (or any liquid soap). Just fill up the squirt bottle 2/3 of the way with water and put a couple tablespoons oil and a couple tablespoons of baby wash. The coconut oil or olive oil that you would stock up on with your long term food storage plans will work perfectly. Whatever baby wash you use on your baby to bathe them, stock up a little extra on that and you are set.

Dirty Diaper Storage

Diaper Pail LinerYou need to have a place to put the dirty diapers between washing. The easiest solution is to use an old trash can with good quality generously size pail liner, like the Kanga Care Cloth Diaper Pail Liner. I rotate two, one in-use and one being washed.

One of the best features is that this bag can be turned inside out and washed in the same laundry load as the diapers. Another function for this bag (so it isn’t necessarily just sitting in your emergency stash) is as a laundry bag when we spend the weekend away at your in-laws.

Washing Diapers Without Electricity

If you don’t have electricity, this will be tricky. I have read about a few different ways to do this, but don’t currently have a great solution. I am going to do some research and post back here with a link to a new post on how we could effectively plan for this.

Cloth Diaper Friendly Laundry DetergentFor now, we have switched to washing all of our clothes in a cloth diaper friendly laundry detergent and stock up a bit on just one detergent. For a nearly comprehensive list of detergents and a rating of cloth diaper friendliness, check out this Detergent Chart.

Drying Diapers

The best route for this (if no dryer is available) is an old fashioned clothes line. Get some durable paracord and 30+ clothes pins. Hang diapers and covers to dry in the sun. A benefit to drying in the sun, is that ‘sunning’ your diapers will really knock out most staining and keep your diapers bright and cleaner looking.

A Summary of the Cloth Diaper Emergency Kit

So in conclusion, a good emergency cloth diapering kit would include the following:

  • (24) flats or flour sack towels,
  • (6) one-size diaper covers with snaps.
  • A clean squirt bottle (wipes solution will be made from products included in your long term household and food storage)
  • (2) Pail Liners
  • Paracord and 30 clothes pins

The following are items needed from other long term household and food storage:

  • Water
  • Coconut or Olive Oil
  • Baby Wash / Liquid Soap
  • Cloth Diaper Friendly Laundry Detergent

So there you have it. The basic diaper emergency kit. Do you have any other tips or have a good non-electricity solution for washing clothes? Leave me a comment below.

6 thoughts on “Baby Cloth Diapers: What You Need In An Emergency”

  1. Very thorough inventory. I have three daughters, all beyond nappy (diaper) stage now… with my first daughter, we used only organic cloth nappies… with my second and third daughters, we were like, ‘Screw that’… ‘THAT’ being the stinky nappy bucket – having to scrape excess s$%t of them, load the ammonia reeking mass into the washing machine whilst holding one’s breath, trying not to gag… lol! Yep, 2nd and 3rd baby it was good old landfill disposables for us… and this emergency you speak of…. nuclear holocaust?… zombie apocalypse?… mass viral outbreak?…. probably in the case of any of them… I wouldn’t give a damn about nappies! We’d all just crap in the garden! (or our pants) But yes. In everyday abundant western life… If one can use good old fashioned, washable nappies for their babies then that is the ethically, environmentally sensible thing to do 🙂

    • Steve, that is an interesting perspective. We have definitely found the zipper diaper bags to be the key to maintaining using cloth diapers. It makes things so much less stinky.

  2. Hello!
    I read your post twice. I found it very interesting and informative. You left no stones unturned. After reading this a person with a little one and using diapers will have no excuse for not being prepared in an emergency. The advice on the cotton flour sack towels to use for diapers brought back so many pleasent memories. I will definitely pass this information on to my daughter.


Leave a Comment