Intro to Cloth Diaper Series: What is a Pocket Diaper?

The next video in my Introduction to Cloth Diaper Series is all about pocket diapers! If you are brand new to cloth diapering the terminology is certainly confusing.

A pocket diaper is any cloth diaper that has a pocket opening. I focused on PUL shells (what is PUL?) with a lining and opening, but they are not limited to just that. There are fleece, wool, and even fitted (non waterproof) varieties as well. Still, the PUL shell with a stay dry lining is the most popular, like bumGenius! 4.0 and Fuzzibunz.

The pocket diaper can have an opening at the back (most common), front, or even in the middle.

Openings can be “hidden,” meaning there is a flap over the opening (ex. bumGenius! 4.0/3.0), completely open at the back (ex. Happy Heiny’s), or the envelope style where they tuck in (ex. Tiny Tush Elite), or they can simply have a slit opening.

Linings include:

Stay DryMicrofleece or suedecloth. (comprehensive post on stay dry linings here)

Non Stay DryCotton velour, bamboo velour, hemp/cotton, bamboo looped terry, cotton looped terry, bamboo fleece.

Pockets are popular because they are customizable and dry quicker than All-in-Ones but remain convenient.  They are also less expensive than most All-in-Ones.

Most pocket diapers come with microfiber inserts, the same material used commonly for towels to clean cars or mop pads.  It is cheap and absorbent.  You can also find pockets that come with hemp, cotton, bamboo, zorb, and more.

As shown in the video, there are many styles of pockets.  Middle closing with velcro or snaps, side snapping, one size, sized, and even dual size (another video).

The biggest drawback of pockets comes when it is time to wash (unstuffing the diaper to allow the insert to be throughly washed) and restuffing it when the diaper is clean and dry.  A typical load of pockets (15 diapers) will take 5-10 minutes to stuff.  Expect to wash every 1.5-3 days.  I have a continuous motion video of washing and stuffing diapers to give you an idea.

In its most basic form, a pocket is still just a shell with an opening for you to stuff an absorbent insert.  But wow are there a lot of options!

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  • Ginger

    May seem like a dumb question, but do you have to wash a pocket diaper after every use?  

    • Anonymous

      Yes you’ll need to. Covers don’t need to be though.

      Please excuse typos and brevity. Sent from my iPhone

  • Sarah Gascoine

    i’m due in a couple months and trying to wade through the information! can you use prefolds with a pocket diaper on a regular basis? we love the idea of reusing the cover, but like the option of having an insert if traveling. we’re thinking of the charlie bananas

  • Guest

    Do you just take the whole diaper and throw it in the wash, or do you take the pockets out to wash? I am just starting with cloth diapering and I am trying to figure out where to start.

  • Cheryl Smith

    Sorry, new to cloth diapering, here, and still trying to decide what to get. So every time you change baby, you unstuff, and throw the diaper and insert in the wash? Do wet poopy diapers become more of a hassle with this method? (I have traditionally breastfed my others, and expect that wet poop for at least a few months!) Thank you!

    • kimrosas

      You can pull the insert out about 2 inches or shake them out a little and they will work themselves out the rest of the way. There is a new product called Diaper Dawgs that you can use to pull them out and keep your hands clean if there is poop on the pocket opening.

  • Stephanie Ketcham

    Advice would be really welcomed!!

    So I don’t have a washer/dryer at home, and it costs me 3.25 a load at the laundromat so because of this, I do laundry once a week. I’m expecting my first child in a few months and I’m dead set on cloth. Obviously I couldn’t do the one week thing with cloth diapers because of the smell and hygiene issues so I plan on handwashing and then doing them at the laundromat once as an extra precaution 🙂 My question is, our of all these diapers, what would be the easiest to clean with this method?