My hippie side loves cloth diapering.  Fluff on my little one's bottom not only looks so much more adorable than a disposable diaper, but also helps the environment by reducing waste. My yuppie side even feels happy and nostalgic when seeing all the nappies hanging on the clothing line, swaying in the breeze. However, there is a dirty side to cloth diapering, and I don't mean the actual poop in the diaper. I'm talking about dreaded LEAKS and STINK.
Young mother looking at her infant, both are smiling
You see, my yuppie side loves my beautiful, top-loading HE washing machine. This thing is a beast, and I love it.  I can put in an entire queen size comforter, and it comes out clean. It uses only a teeny tiny amount of water, which is great for my septic system and the environment.  However, this is NOT good for cloth diapers.  Getting cloth diapers clean needs water, in order to properly agitate the diapers and get the soil off the fabric. My hippie side still loves the cloth, so onward I marched into a year long battle between diaper inserts and my washing machine.
HE washing machine overflowing with dirty laundry
First I was using microfiber inserts. You know the ones I'm talking about: white, fluffy, and typically come standard when you purchase a pocket diaper.  Microfiber holds a ton of liquid.  A ridiculous amount, compared to other fibers. But microfiber has a dark secret....
Your baby is happily urinating away in the diaper, as babies do.  Then, the inevitable happens- baby sits down and all of that glorious liquid comes flowing out like a squeezed sponge.  It overwhelms the diaper and then- BOOM.  Pants are wet and you are in the supermarket dealing with finagling an entire outfit and diaper change.  Not good; annoying at best.
Microfiber diaper inserts are prone to compression leaks, and take forever to dry.
Another downside to microfiber is that they can pose a challenge to clean in HE machines. Mine was especially unforgiving.  All of those layers like to hold in the pee and stink.  I found the stink stayed even after a pre-wash and 2 normal wash cycles.  Letting the inserts dry in direct sunlight outdoors (known as "sunning") helped, but it wasn't a solution I could use year round, as frigid temps and outdoor drying doesn't go hand-in-hand.  Also, I just don't have the time for three wash cycles.  Too many issues, so bye Felecia to the microfiber. 
Batter up!  
Charcoal bamboo inserts (CBI's) came next.
They're trim, grey, and keep the pee smell at bay.  What's not to love?  I loved them for quite some time.  We had a solid relationship, and if you have a washing machine that's old school, or one that doesn't use recycled water, I highly recommend them. 
But alas, our relationship was doomed from the start.  I'm still slightly wounded from our breakup, because I really was in love.  The downward turn began when my baby turned into a toddler.  He began holding his pee longer, making more concentrated urine.  I did as most moms do, and researched the heck out of what was happening. 
What I discovered shocked me.  My inserts were leading a double life.  
My beautiful CBI's had a layer of microfiber inside.  This duo of stinky pee and microfiber soon developed into "barnyard stink," which is cock-a-doodle-dreaded by all those who cloth diaper.  I tried to fight it- stripped my diapers, bleach soaks, multiple wash cycles, borax, Tide... you name it I tried it all, to no avail.  It was time for CBI's and me to part ways and end our relationship for good.   
After consulting with some terrific mamas on my local Facebook CD support group, I decided I needed a simple, natural, stable relationship.  I went with the classic standby- flour sack towels (FST's), also known as diaper flats.  
Not only an economically savvy choice at $1 each at the big red dot store, but they are 100% cotton, meaning no compression leaks. They unfold for the wash, so you are only cleaning a single layer.  They take a few extra seconds to fold, but it's a hell of a lot quicker than washing everything 3-4 times.  My personal favorite fold for pocket diapers is to fold in half, then in thirds (lengthwise).  
I also tried cotton pre-folds.  These held more water than FST's and unfolded partially in the wash.  (In fact, OsoCozy prefolds plus covers are my preference for the newborn months.)
However, I still needed to occasionally run them through an extra wash and that annoyed me.  I have two kids under 3 - an extra wash?  No thanks.
You may be wondering, why not bamboo or hemp?  Truly, I like both of these for doublers and soakers on top of the regular inserts.  They both hold a lot of liquid, but they are much slower absorbing than cotton. 
While we're at it- if you're looking for outstanding storage for those inserts and diapers, look no further than wet bags from The Everyday Green (spoilers- this is legit my company... super small 2 woman business, woot!).  Check us out!
Congrats FST's - winner winner, chicken dinner!  

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