Love for Flat Cloth Diapers Series: Flat-Out Fantastic

In this picture (right) you have a bumGenius 4.0 pocket with a microfiber insert. On the left, you have the same pocket with a pad-folded flat inside.

“Flat-Out Fantastic!”

I have spent the past 3 years trying out diapers, and let me tell you… I’ve tried them all! I’ve tried fancy pocket diapers, fancy fitted diapers with wool, and all kinds of expensive diapers. And finally, after 2.5 years of cloth-diapering, I found a new love. And it came in the most inexpensive package possible- cotton flats! These little buggers cost under $2 each, yet they are one of my favorite diapers of all time! I “discovered” these diapers about 7 months ago, and let me tell you, I am now a flats convert or flats fanatic.

First, let’s talk about versatility. Cotton flats are seriously a multi-use diaper. If you have stinky microfiber in your pocket diapers, replace them with folded cotton flats. If you want natural cotton against your baby’s skin and want to do diapers the “old-fashioned” way, fold the diapers on your baby using the “kite fold” or the “origami fold” (you can see videos of these on YouTube) and use pins or a Snappi to hold them on- there is no diaper out there that is trimmer! And if you use covers, and want a simple insert to lay in them, pad-fold a flat and lay it in the cover and you’re good-to-go!

Now the real benefits to flats. These large, square pieces of fabric look like a tablecloth coming out of the package. When I first saw them, I thought, “Huh?” They certainly don’t have the “wow” or cuteness factor that some diapers have. So why do they rock? Well, because if you’ve dealt with microfiber stink, or ammonia problems, or other stink issues, you know that they’re frustrating to deal with. Flats are a single layer of fabric- there’s nowhere for ammonia salts or other “gunk” to get stuck. There’s nowhere for buildup to form. They just clean super well! And, because they are so thin, they also dry SUPER fast. Twenty minutes in the dryer is all it takes to get them dry. And if you prefer to line-dry, they dry overnight easily, or within a couple of hours outside!

I use flats in all of my pocket diapers- I’ve replaced all of my microfiber inserts. I do a “pad fold” in this way: First, fold the flat in half one direction, then in half the other direction, then in thirds. Now the flat is roughly the same shape as a microfiber insert. People ask me if the flat is more bulky than a microfiber insert, so here’s a side-by-side comparison. On the top picture of this blog post, you have a bumGenius 4.0 pocket with a microfiber insert (diaper on right). On the left, you have the same pocket with a pad-folded flat inside. The bulk is almost identical- pretty trim! But the benefit to the flat is that my kids can only go 30 minutes in a diaper with a single microfiber insert, but they can go 2 hours in a pocket with a flat! Not only that, but compression leaks are much less common with flats than with microfiber- they hold onto the pee and don’t let go!


Left picture is a pad fold in a GroVia shell. On the right is a pad fold with looser thirds to fit in a Flip cover.

I also use flats in my covers. I pad fold again, but I will do tight or loose thirds in the final step, depending on how wide the cover is. The pad flat fits PERFECTLY in a GroVia shell, and this is one of my favorite diapering options. You can see that on the left in this picture. On the right is a pad fold with looser thirds to fit in a Flip cover. It works great in both! And in this picture, you can see the trimness of the flats/covers.

I have so much to say about flats that I’m going to be talking about them all month! Stay tuned for the second installment of “How Flats ROCK!” 🙂

From blog contributor, Stacy:

Stacy is a stay-at-home mom to four kids ranging in age from 1 to 8. She has been cloth-diapering for almost 3 years and is a self-proclaimed “diaper addict”. She loves trying new diapers and discussing all things diaper-related. She’s also striving to live more “greenly” in her home and loves finding new ways to do so.
Disclosure: The blog contributor was compensated monetarily for writing this post. The review is honest and written from the blog contributor’s view point.

About Stacy

Stacy is a stay-at-home mom to four kids ranging in age from 1 to 8. She has been cloth-diapering for almost 3 years and is a self-proclaimed “diaper addict”. She loves trying new diapers and discussing all things diaper-related. She’s also striving to live more “greenly” in her home and loves finding new ways to do so.
Tags: bumGenius, by Stacy, flat cloth diapers, frugal cloth diapering, grovia

10 Responses to Love for Flat Cloth Diapers Series: Flat-Out Fantastic

  1. Jill says:

    Are flats one size fits all? Or are they sized? I’ve been seriously considering trading out my OLD microfiber (used with my 2.5 year old) for ‘something else’. Also, these look like they have animals on them? Not just plain white? Could they be tye-dyed safely perhaps if there are only white ones? I want to add to my newborn stash, with the thought of ‘paying it forward’ to my pockets, but was considering prefolds—maybe flats are the answer instead, since they dry faster? Also if they are ALL the same, it will be super easy for my hubby to just put them in and be done with it, instead of taking forever to match pocket to insert. Can you include any of this in another post? Thanks so much!!!!! jill dot shoemaker at gmail dot com !!!

    • Beth says:

      Jill, flats are all one size. They’re just a big square piece of cloth. The least expensive are birdseye cotton (you can get a dozen organic flats for $18 at Nicki’s Diapers, non-organic are even cheaper). They kind of look like flour sack dish towels. You can also buy flats made of hemp jersey but they cost about $7 each. The patterned ones are obviously more expensive than plain (I think they’re made by Swaddlebees but not sure). I’ve just started using flats in the last few months and find them to be awesome. I’m sure you could tie-dye them with no problems since they’re 100% cotton. I stuff pockets with them and use them in Grovia and Flip covers just like shown in the pictures above. I haven’t had any leaks. At night, I use a prefold wrapped around a flat in a Thirsties Duo Wrap and have had no leaks there either with my 23 mo old. We were having serious nighttime leaks before this combo but now his diaper isn’t even soaked through in the morning. I would definitely recommend flats if you’re looking to switch to something new. If you do find that you don’t like them (which I doubt), you haven’t spent much money and they’ll work great for rags or other household use.

    • Brittni says:

      Jill, the great thing about flats is that you can use pretty much anything! Flour sack towels from walmart or target, old receiving blankets that your babe no longer uses, regular old hand towel, actual flats, t-shirts, etc…….you can make a flat from almost anything that is cotton! If you want pretty colorful ones you can dye them. If you want animals/prints you can buy receiving blankets from garage sales, walmart, etc. Also, ikea has some cute blankets people use. I think most flats are one sized and usually a 27×27 square but some places like green mountain diapers has different sizes for newborns and toddler sizes. But if you just want them to pad fold as an insert then a normal size should work. I’ve had the flares love for a while now and here’s hoping we can pass it on to you! Lol,

      Stacy, great post! I look forward to the rest of them!

    • Mandi C says:

      The flats in these pictures are Swaddlebees flats, I know Kelly’s Closet sells them. They have cute little prints on them 🙂 As for your other questions, yes they are one size, you just fold them down to whatever size you need. I’ve never used them, yet, so I can’t say how well they fit very tiny babies but I’m sure they’d fit at least as well as prefolds. I am planning on trying the flour sack towels from Target/Walmart and if I like them I may get some of the cute Swaddlebees flats. I am not sure about dye, I dyed some of my prefolds with dye from Joanns fabric store so I imagine it’d be the same for these?

      • Roxanne Hawkins says:

        I actually believe that my flats from are sized as well as a few others that i have seen. I don’t think i would want to dye ine because of possible skin irration and if they are going in a pocket diaper any how. If your considering them for a new born i would recommend looking for the sized unless you don’t mind a bit of bulk as they are quite large but because of there size like she said they can last longer between changes. Good luck

  2. Erin Rothfus says:

    We’re expecting our first baby this summer, and I’ve been working on building my stash. After reading a lot of horror stories about ammonia stink with microfiber, it is nice to know there are other affordable options out there should the problem arise. But maybe I will pick some up even if ammonia doesn’t become an issue, because I had no idea flats came in such cute prints. Looking forward to your next installment!

  3. Natalie says:

    I have flats but have never used them. Now I am going to try them in my pocket diapers. Thanks!

  4. Aimee says:

    I use cotton flats with a hemp doubler in my toddler’s night time pocket diapers b/c that way there is no ammonia smell in the morning! I don’t have enough to use them during the day, but I love them at night.

  5. Leanne says:

    I’m sold! I have recently (as in this past week) had to purchase new diapers because my Flip Microfibers are giving my lil one rashes and it never fails, they always hold the ammonia smell. I don’t want to have to do a weekly stripping in order to get clean, orderless diapers and I do NOT want to go with disposables.

    Where do I find these flats!?!?

  6. Vicki says:

    I do this too! We use Thirsites Duo, Bummis (BSB and BSWW), Blueberry, Weehugger, Flip, Econobum you name it we use it.. (fluffy’s!) and mostly padfold and lay in for my DD age 2 and my DS age 7mo. And for my two older bedwetters we use HH pocket trainers stuffed with…you guessed it! Flats! Super easy diapering system!

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