Why I've Got the Prefolds Love

Prefolds Love | Benefits of Old School Cloth Diapering with Cotton Prefolds

There's a cloth diapering system that works for everyone depending on preferences, lifestyle, and depth of pockets. I have what I've heard other cloth diaper users call the "prefolds love." Basically, we chose prefolds because it fit our preferences, our lifestyle and our shallow pockets and now I love them and even have this blog named after it.

*Affiliate links used; see full note below.

What are Prefolds?

First, depending on where you are in your cloth diapering experience, you might be wondering, What are prefolds?

Old school cloth diapering was originally a large white cloth (along the lines of a flour sack towel, now called flats or flat diapers in the cloth diapering world). Flats have to be folded down to a smaller rectangle that can be safety pinned around the baby. As cloth diapering progressed, they started "prefolding" the cloth and sewing it into the smaller rectangle, so the only step was to safety pin it onto baby, no folding necessary.

Hence the name prefold.

Now prefold diapers come with extra absorbency layered up in the middle where the baby poops and pees, and a little less on the sides so that they can easily be secured. Even old school diaper pins have been mostly replaced with the Snappi--a safer and easier to use pin-alternative.

Flat diapers are still available with the affordability and other benefits of prefolds and are an option some people choose. Prefolds offer us more convenience than flats; more on those benefits below.

Benefits of Cotton Prefolds

Here are a few reasons why I've got "the Prefolds Love"...

Prefolds are affordable.

This was one of the main reasons we chose to use prefolds and diaper covers, and why my husband agreed to cloth diaper at all. There is no other diaper that you can pay about $30/dozen. Add in a couple one-size covers at around $12/ea and this is by far the cheapest diapering system out there. (Okay, so flats are probably cheapest, but they're a close kin to the prefolds.)

For more on pricing, see Cost of Cloth Diapering.

Cotton prefolds are low maintenance.

Any "stink" problems we've had have been with our microfiber inserts. They've had some build-up issues and the stay-dry liner ends up repelling (opposite of absorbing) wetness. Our cotton prefolds have had zero issues with stink or build-up or repelling issues. They don't require special detergents (we use any brand of free + clear detergent) or special rinse and wash processes. Just wash, rinse all the suds out, and you're good to go. And if you wanted to bleach out any stains, not a problem.

For more on washing, see How to Wash Cloth Diapers.

Prefolds have one-size and sized options.

If you're going for the uber economical, just get some premium prefolds and one-size covers and, with a little creative folding, you're set for your baby's diapering lifetime. On the other hand, if you want economical but still prefer diapers that fit, get sized prefolds that fit with one-size or sized covers. Sized prefolds means less unnecessary bulk.

For more on how much and what to buy, see our diaper stash posts: Newborn-6 Months Stash + 6 Months-Toddler Diaper Stash.

Benefits of Prefold Diapers

Prefolds with a good cover are less likely to leak.

Fold them around as a diaper and use with a Snappi and they have extra leg gusset protection against leaks. Choose a cover that offers good leak-protection at the legs and the back, and leaks are virtually non-existent. (We use and love Thirsties Duo Wraps that come in 2 adjustable sizes.) This was essential especially in the exclusively breastfed (EBF) stage when poop goes everywhere. Even the worst diapers were contained within the diaper cover.

For more on choosing a cover, see Cloth Diaper Cover Reviews.

Prefolds are absorbent.

It's necessary when choosing a diaper. If it's not absorbent then why put it on?

Prefolds are easy to double for nighttime.

Extra absorbency is usually necessary when baby starts sleeping through the night. Just put an absorbent hemp insert Snappi'd inside the prefold and you're set to go for the night without too much bulk. You may need to adjust (i.e., add a second insert or change in the middle of the night) depending on how much your baby wets.

Benefits of Prefold Cloth Diapers

Prefolds are versatile in diaper uses.

Not interested in using a Snappi? Just trifold and insert into the cover and put on baby. No problem. And if you like the Snappi concept, you have the option of different "folds" depending on if you need more absorbency or leak protection in the front, back, or around the legs.

For more photos of the fold we use, see Snappi Diaper Change. Or see Trifold Diaper Change if that option interests you.

Prefolds are versatile in non-diaper uses.

We were done with the newborn-sized prefolds almost instantly (we had a large newborn), and now they work perfectly as burp cloths. Their absorbency is so useful with our big spitter. The larger ones make great changing pads for at home and on-the-go. They can also be used for dust rugs and other household uses when baby outgrows them, but we still use them all for baby so they're kept to the nursery and diaper bag.

Prefolds are durable and environmentally friendly.

Because there's not much that can destroy these tough little diapers, they will be around a long time. This makes them even more economical and even better for the environment. Depending on your use of them, they might even make it through another baby (your own or sell them).

Prefolds are easy to use.

Okay, so you may not believe me that prefolds are easy to use. My husband was intimidated at first. But I showed him once and he picked it up like a rockstar. Basically, if my husband can use them with no complaining, then they really are feasible for anyone.

For more of my husband's experience, see Interview of a Cloth Diapering Dad.


also read:
new? start here...
prefolds + covers 101
all posts on cloth, baby, and more

*Note: Affiliate links used in this post. Any purchases made through these links could earn me a small commission with no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!


    1. Thank you for all of the great information especially the part about not having to deal with smell build up. I am sold on making prefolds my choice with my newborn when he comes:)

    2. Ive choosen the prefold way as well due to cost. I also have to hand wash these as I live in an apartment. I hate that I was told to use the special cloth diaper soap. I see you said it isnt necessary how so? If I can only buy one type of soap that would make my life so much easier

      1. Cloth diapers simply need detergent free of perfumes and dyes, and many brands (even store brands) sell a version of "free & clear" detergents. The biggest concern is build-up of the detergent in the diapers. But this isn't as much of an issue in prefolds, because the cotton rinses really easily. Cotton is a lot less finicky in the detergents you use. You still want to be sure you don't use too much (a couple tablespoons for a load of diapers should be plenty), and rinse twice to be sure the detergent is all rinsed out. But the brand of detergent doesn't matter as much--we often use Target or All brand free & clear.

      2. I started cloth diapering late in the game ( 19months and 23lbs) This is so great to hear. I use the All Free and Clear on my everyday clothing. Now I wont have to spend that extra money. Thanks!

    3. This blog is SO HELPFUL! I've been weighing the differences and benefits of a pocket diaper or a prefold and cover option, and this just tipped the scales. You answered all my questions and now I'm not as scared of prefolds haha.
      Thank you!

      1. Yay! I'm so glad it's been helpful! Best wishes in your prefolds journey!

    4. Thank you so much for your amazing blog!! I am starting my cloth diaper journey on my 19 month old, as we get ready to welcome his baby brother in February and I cannot stand the thought of buying and throwing away twice the amount of disposables! My main reason to cloth diaper is financial, so I could not handle paying $20 on one fancy diaper. I was sold on prefolds and covers, but in my research, I felt like everyone used pockets or flats! I was SO relieved to find your blog! It made me feel like I wasn’t alone and confirmed my suspicions that this is the easiest and most economical way to cloth diaper. I LOVE your minimalistic stash and you gave me hope that what I have will work. Thank you!!