cloth diapering at home.

April 29, 2020
esembly cloth diapers | reading my tea leaves
esembly cloth diapers | reading my tea leaves

This post is sponsored by Esembly, a diapering system for sustainability.

We’re two months into diapering our third baby in cloth and I’ve never been more glad to proselytize. If you haven’t yet converted to cloth diapers, consider this my most earnest recruitment. In even the best of times, I’d opt for cloth diapers over disposable, but in a moment when the supply of disposable diapers and wipes is disrupted, when hours spent at home are abundant, and when uncertainty about the future feels especially acute, cloth diapers make even more sense. In fact, I have a feeling they might just be having their moment of glory.

Since Calder’s birth in mid-February, we’ve had the chance to test-drive the new Esembly cloth diapering system. Esembly is the brainchild of Diaperkind, the cloth diaper service we use, which exists for New York City families like ours who don’t have a washer and dryer of their own. Esembly is a new wash-at-home system for cloth diapering that lets families enjoy the convenience, sustainability, and considerable cost savings of cloth diapers, no matter where in the United States they live.

esembly cloth diapers | reading my tea leaves

There are approximately 11 million diaper-age babies in the US right now. Each of those babies uses, on average, 55 diapers per week, resulting in the consumption of over 31 BILLION diapers every year. That means that from birth through potty training, the majority of babies use an astounding 7,000-plus disposable diapers each. But for babies using Esembly, that number plunges to just 48 and those few diapers have the potential to save families thousands of dollars.

esembly cloth diapers | reading my tea leaves

After the initial purchase of Esembly diapers and accessories, the only recurring costs are running the laundry twice per week and purchasing a bag of washing powder every two months. If the diapers get used for an additional child or two, families see even greater savings. For folks who find the initial investment of Esembly out of reach, the company offers an interest-free monthly payment plan making Esembly less expensive than disposables in the long term and the short term.

esembly cloth diapers | reading my tea leaves

While our apartment and building is without the washer and dryer we’d need to be able to regularly wash all of our cloth diapers at home ourselves, we’ve been using Esembly inners and outers along with their skincare line and accessories and loving them. (I even ran a few loads of diapers through a borrowed washing machine and dryer to see the process from start to finish myself.)

esembly cloth diapers | reading my tea leaves
esembly cloth diapers | reading my tea leaves

The Esembly products and system include all of the innovations and thoughtfulness that I’d expect coming from folks who have been running Diaperkind and washing nearly 15,000 diapers a week for the past 11 years. From navigating the Esembly website to select supplies and gather information, to snapping inners and outers onto a tiny baby on her first night home, all the way through pulling my first freshly washed load out of a dryer, the experience has felt both seamless and sensible.

esembly cloth diapers | reading my tea leaves

Esembly provides everything a family needs to diaper sustainably: blowout- proof diapers, organic skincare that’s also cloth-friendly, storage bags in various sizes, and a line of laundry essentials. In the Esembly system, diapering is as simple as using a fitted organic cotton inner paired with a blow-out proof, waterproof outer cover made from 100% post-consumer plastic bottles. Cleaning is as straightforward as using a patent-pending laundry detergent and following a foolproof step-by-step wash process based on more than a decade of experience in getting cloth diapers clean.

esembly cloth diapers | reading my tea leaves

For me, using Esembly feels like having an exceedingly well-qualified and very cheerful friend around to help me along. In all things having to do with taking care of babies, it’s a balm to feel taken care of yourself and I think that’s the thing about Esembly that I like the best. They worked out the kinks, and fussed over the laundry science, and powered through the leak tests, and developed the washing system so that we didn’t have to. In the process, they’ve not only made a cloth diapering system that works, but also one that feels modern and fresh and optimistic.

esembly cloth diapers | reading my tea leaves
esembly cloth diapers | reading my tea leaves

As an added incentive to give cloth a go, Esembly is extending a special 10% discount to Reading My Tea Leaves readers. (To apply the discount to your order, follow the link above or use the code TeaLeaves10.)

This post was sponsored by Esembly, a diapering system for sustainability, designed to help families live less disposably. All opinions are my own. Thanks so much for supporting the brands that support Reading My Tea Leaves.

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  • Reply GalyaB April 29, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    moreover those 48 (or whatever # you use I only had 15 and 2 merino wool topping shells) don’t need to go to trash once the baby is potty trained. I bought mine used from a friend, paid her 50% of the initial cost. And 2 years later I sold them to smn else. And there’s a great chance that smn is not the last mom to use them.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 29, 2020 at 2:06 pm

      The gift that keeps on giving!

      • Reply Danielle Christen April 29, 2020 at 3:31 pm

        Loved this post. I cloth diaper at home and bought the Esembly diapers to try out. They are very nice and will buy more if I decide to have another baby. I was lucky and received my diapers as a hand me down from a neighbor for free. I just bought a hanging rack for drying diaper covers in between changes too.

    • Reply liz April 29, 2020 at 7:44 pm

      Yes to this! We cloth diapered our now 9 year old twins – bought most of our diapers used and passed them on to friends when we were done. We used some disposable for overnights and travel without access to a washer for more than a few days, and it was great! It was easier than expected, we saved tons of money and I’m not sure anything is cuter than a big old cloth diapered baby bum! The esembly look like a great system!!

  • Reply Cam April 29, 2020 at 1:13 pm

    I wasn’t sure if we would cloth diaper my third. I got all the supplies out though so we would have them ready. He was born about 3 weeks ago. It has been so nice not to worry about running to the store just for diapers! Fewer unnecessary trips for us so we can help flatten the curve. And you’re right that since we’re home all day anyway, it’s not any more of a hassle than disposable diapers.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 29, 2020 at 2:06 pm


  • Reply Luisa April 29, 2020 at 1:55 pm

    I’d like to share a variation: we started with disposable diapers, and switched to cloth once my daughter grew out of the newborn stage. My husband was not interested in cloth diapering, and this was the way I could get him to agree to try it. We still use disposables at night, because we found that she was leaking through the cloth diapers and waking up. And we also use liners and disposable wipes.
    With this hybrid approach, we are using one disposable diaper per day, plus however many we used in the newborn stage. It’s not as earth-friendly, but I’d like to think it helps. So if anyone is on the fence about trying cloth and going all-in feels daunting, or to anyone whose partner isn’t totally on board, it needn’t be all-or-nothing. Doing a little of both is always an option!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 29, 2020 at 2:06 pm

      The best part about cloth is that you can tailor it fit your needs! Sounds like you guys developed exactly the system you needed.

      • Reply Luisa April 29, 2020 at 3:17 pm

        Yes, absolutely! I was hoping to do all cloth, but I realized it was important for me to respect my husband’s wishes/comfort level as well. It took a while to come to this compromise (which is funny, because in retrospect, it’s a pretty simple solution!) but I’m glad we figured out our way.

    • Reply Megan April 29, 2020 at 2:38 pm

      We’ve done/been doing the same with our daughter, and will do the same come August for our new baby! We have a diaper sprayer attached to our toilet, not un-bidet-like, and that’s what it took for my partner to be 100% onboard.

    • Reply Kirsten April 29, 2020 at 7:59 pm

      Absolutely this!! We were never able to make the full switch because my super heavy wetting kiddos always leaked/woke up wayyy too much with cloth at night (and believe me, we’ve tried all the combos). We’re 100% cloth all other times, but when I was initially trying to convince my partner I counted every single diaper that didn’t go in the landfill as a win 🙂

  • Reply Hannah April 29, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    I was planning to go with a compostable diaper service (in the SF Bay area –, but this may have convinced me to try cloth!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 29, 2020 at 2:27 pm

      Yay! It’s the best!

  • Reply Nicole April 29, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    Similar to you, I had my daughter 5 weeks early and she is only now 6lbs. Do you think these would work well on a tiny baby? The current cloth diapers I have are better suited for 8lbs and up.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 29, 2020 at 3:14 pm

      Congratulations and yes, absolutely. We put Calder in these from the first day she was home, clocking in at just about 6 pounds on the dot and they were great!

  • Reply Brooke April 29, 2020 at 2:54 pm

    What a beautiful little person. Excited to watch her grow. I just switched to Esembly for my second baby who is 8 months! I’m so glad to see you’re liking them. It has been new territory for me but I figured it was a good time to try something I really wanted to do with my first. Back then it was very intimidating trying to choose what kind of diaper, how to care for them, etc. Esembly made all of that decision making so simple! I am wondering if you are still using your changing table/dresser. With disposables, I changed my daughter on the floor, bes, but now it feels like I need more of a dedicated spot for the wet bag to hang and be easily within reach. I’m sure I’ll figure out my own system but just wanted to see how you’re doing things this go round!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 29, 2020 at 3:24 pm

      I’m so glad you took the leap! We don’t have the same changing table/dresser we had with our other two kiddos so we’ve mostly been using our changing pad on top of my dresser. Since the drawers are already full of my stuff, we use the basket pictured above to stash our supply of inners, outers, wipes, and wipe solution and just slide that under our bed so everything’s all in one spot whenever we need it (and everything’s portable, too!). This time around we keep our diaper pail in a closet that isn’t next to the spot where we usually do the changes, so we’ve actually gotten in the habit of changing the outer with each change. When we take off the wet diaper, we just slide the wet inner (still wrapped in the outer) to the side, and put on a new inner and a dry outer. This way, the wet diaper plus it’s outer can sit on the changing table (or floor, or wherever) until we have a chance to bring it over to our pail. Then we just switch back to the other outer for the next change. Does that make sense?

      • Reply Brooke April 29, 2020 at 7:00 pm

        Yes! I feel so silly that I didn’t even think of that.. Thanks for explaining your process. I think I just may consider YOU the “exceedingly well-qualified and very cheerful friend”. <3

  • Reply Brooke April 29, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    I should also note you were a HUGE reason why I looked into cloth diapering and went with Esembly. Thanks for leading the way and showing us how!

  • Reply Maria April 29, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    Hi Erin, how have you been handling the washing? Are you hand washing? Going to the launderette? How often do you need to wash? Also, do you use a liner? Sorry about all the questions, I’m trying to convert my partner into cloth and most of his questions seem to be around washing (and I can’t find definitive answers anywhere!)

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 29, 2020 at 9:00 pm

      Tried to explain this in the post, but I know there’s a lot of info here! For our regular diapering needs we use the Diaperkind service to wash and dry our diapers since we don’t have laundry in our apartment or building!

  • Reply MissEm April 29, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    I love that they do an interest free payment plan – that’s brilliant and makes it accessible for so many people. What a great idea to make sustainability and beauty something that isn’t just for the rich.

  • Reply April April 29, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    We cloth diapered with our son 3 years ago and are doing it again with our 8 month old. It has given a sense of security during this time of supply chain panic. We are in Denver and use a local company, Bundle, that delivers fresh diaper inserts (prefolds) each week. Even cloth diapering for a short period of baby’s diaper years feels good since you can keep so many disposables out of landfills. We started with disposables at birth and used them during night but were recently encouraged to use “doublers” at night instead and they have proven much more absorbent and leak free. Cloth diapering is really superior to disposables in all ways once you get the hang of it.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 29, 2020 at 8:56 pm

      We’ve found the same to be true! With doublers on older babies we never ever had nighttime leaks or diaper issues!

  • Reply sarah April 29, 2020 at 8:34 pm

    Erin, where’s that sweet wall mounted drying rack from? Look like the perfect size! x

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 29, 2020 at 8:53 pm

      It’s a little homemade vintage one I found on Etsy and painted!

  • Reply Danielle April 29, 2020 at 10:47 pm

    So how are you washing these this time around? Are you taking them to the laundromat with your other laundry? We’ve done cloth and even have some awesome hand-me-down ones from my mother in law, but I can’t imagine doing cloth without a washing machine on site.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 30, 2020 at 9:38 am

      Hi there! Tried to explain above, but because we don’t have a washer and dryer we still use Diaperkind, the NYC service that washes and dries the diapers for us! We’ve been using all of the Esembly covers, inners, skincare line, pail deodorizer, dry bag, &c, &c and loving them!

      • Reply Danielle April 30, 2020 at 11:32 pm

        Oh gotcha gotcha, yeah sorry I didn’t catch that. Silly me.

  • Reply Kellyn April 30, 2020 at 11:37 am

    Huge cloth supporter here! For anyone on the fence, we didn’t have any blowouts, used them overnight with no issues, and loved them lots. Our were used when we got them 🙂

    The first six months are the easiest months to diaper b/c their poop is water-soluble….it all goes in the washing machine 🙂 But even after that, you get used to new the routine very quickly.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE April 30, 2020 at 11:43 am

      Agreed on all counts! Never a blowout or overnight issue here either!

  • Reply Melina May 1, 2020 at 10:46 am

    Does anyone have experience with using one of those portable apartment washers with cloth diapers? The ones that hook up to your sink. We can’t have a regular washer in our apartment, and because of our coop rules can’t use the Diaperkind service either. We ended up doing disposables last time but would love to avoid it this time if possible. I emailed Esembly to ask but if anyone has personal experience I’d love to hear! Thank you!

    • Reply Luisa May 3, 2020 at 8:40 am

      I don’t have any personal experience with that, but I’ve definitely read comments from people talking about going that route on cloth diapering forums, so you might check out some of those!

    • Reply Marie August 3, 2022 at 1:01 am

      We’ve cloth diapered two kiddos with a Haier washer that hooks up to the kitchen sink in our apartment. We wipe the sink out with bleach after doing a load of diapers, but otherwise it’s pretty much the same deal as a regular top loader washer in terms of cleaning diapers. We do have access to a dryer in our building – depending on where you live, line drying diapers in your apartment may not work terribly well. We’re in San Francisco so line drying anything takes forever, and diapers in particular never quite get all the way dry unless we crank the heater way up. Would definitely recommend both Esembly diapers (we’ve tried a ton of different kinds and they’re hands-down the best) and the kitchen sink washer situation!

  • Reply Michelle May 2, 2020 at 5:18 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this! My Esembly system arrived this week in the mail for our baby girl coming due in June. We only personally know one other couple who has used (and is still using) cloth diapers, but they aren’t using the Esembly ones. My own parents have been skeptical, so it’s been helpful to see others write about their experiences. Take care!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 3, 2020 at 8:21 am

      So glad! You can do it!

  • Reply Abby May 3, 2020 at 6:28 pm

    This makes me wish we were just beginning cloth diapering! Esembly sounds amazing. We used Grovia with our first and we’re now ten months in with our second (same diapers). Grovia has been wonderful, but every now and then we struggle with laundering issues, or leaks if we haven’t sized up correctly. Would totally try Esembly! Instead I’m sending its info to all my cloth-diapering interested friends 🙂

  • Reply Amanda Krieger May 5, 2020 at 8:36 pm

    i cloth-diapered my first three babies using hand-me-down diapers from my sister, who used them on her first three. i felt oh-so satisfied about it because WOW! the waste we avoided! the same diapers on SIX babies!
    the irony is that we both puttered out by the time baby #4 was born.
    my fourth baby is now 2, almost potty training time, and i still regret that i could stick with it. there is nothing sweeter than a cloth-bottomed baby!

  • Reply Camille August 18, 2020 at 3:26 am

    Hi there! Your feedback is so precious. We are in August now and I was wondering if you are still using Esembly diapers for your baby and if yes, when did you switch to size 2? Thanks in advance for your anwer!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE August 18, 2020 at 9:23 am

      We’re actually just sizing up this week, but that all depends on the particulars of the baby’s weight!

  • Reply Kelly July 19, 2021 at 5:02 am

    Hi Erin, I just bought a bunch of Esembly inners using your code! I actually live in Europe but my mom will bring them over for me. We’ll be using the size ones under Disana wool diaper covers for our winter baby, since they’re just like little sweatpants, and then we’ll use the Esembly covers for size twos. I’m also going to mix in some Charlie Banana covers with their disposable inserts, since he’ll be at grandma’s part time and that was an okay compromise. Thank you, I really credit reading your blog all these years with demystifying cloth for me.

  • Reply Eliza January 25, 2023 at 6:42 pm

    I didn’t know of a single friend or person IRL who did cloth diapers but I read your post almost three years ago now and you convinced me to do cloth diapers when I got pregnant! Flash forward and I am now in LOVE with my Essembly diapers and I can’t believe everyone doesn’t use them! We are just sizing up to size two diapers now! It’s so so much easier than everyone makes it seem and Essembly is just the greatest company. THANK YOU for posting about this and convincing other people to use them! Signed, a cloth diaper lover.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 25, 2023 at 8:37 pm

      YAY! This made my night!

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