Friday, March 9, 2012

bumGenius Review: How my 4.0's are holding up 18 months later

As many of you already know, the bumGenius 4.0 snap closure diaper is my go-to diaper of choice. I love, love, love them. Did I mention I love them?
During pregnancy, I did painstaking research on cloth diapers and at the end of the day I knew I wanted a pocket diaper that was high quality, affordable and readily available in local stores. I decided on the bG and I've never regretted it. The claim from bG is that their one-size diapers fit from 8lbs to 35lbs, but as many connoisseurs of one-size diapers know, the reality as that they don't start fitting well until about 10lbs and tend to top out before the 35lb mark. This was true for my son as well, the diapers started to fit really well when he was about a month old and have continued to be wonderfully trim and cozy through to his current weight of 24lbs. Sweet baby is tall and skinny as a rail, therefore he is on the the last rise but still has a lot of room left in the diaper.

A few months back, I started to notice a few signs of wear on my diapers. For one thing, they were sagging around the legs. In fact, at one point, I noticed sweet baby playing on the floor in just his t-shirt and diaper and I could see his little baby bits rolling around through the gap in the leg. Secondly, I started experiencing problems with leaking which has NEVER happened in the past. I noticed that the leaking was happening in strange areas. For example, the whole seat of my son's pants would be wet, rather than around the edges of the diaper where one would expect any leaking to occur. It didn't take long to figure out the culprit: cracked PUL. I was truly shocked! I felt that I had taken immaculate care of my diapers: only washing with Claudia's Choices diaper detergent, stripping with Rockin' Green Funk Rock and using only natural laundry additives like vinegar and baking soda. Well as I mentioned in the previous post, it helps when a girl does her homework- and I did not do my homework. The Cotton Babies website recommends using a cloth safe detergent (check!) and refraining from using any laundry additives (fail!) and absolutely no baking soda or vinegar (double fail!) because it WEARS OUT THE LEG ELASTIC. Additionally, they recommend that you use 1/4 cup of bleach once per month which I had previously thought was verboten in the cloth diapering realm. Furthermore, I must admit to soaking the diapers, both inserts and covers together as well as - brace yourselves- putting the covers in the dryer. At the end of the day, it was beginning to look like I had unwittingly ruined my beloved diapers, which were six months outside of their warranty. With my emotions and pocketbook threatened by despair, I sent an email to Cotton Babies. As mentioned in my last point, they basically saved me from myself and shipped me brand new replacement diapers. I was thrilled! Just thinking it over again now, I'm still thrilled! Seeing the brand new diapers gave me an opportunity to do some comparing and contrasting and gave me a lot of insight as to how they hold up to the test of time. I was pleased with what I saw.

From the outside, they look exactly the same. Brand new dipe is on the left and the 18 month old dipe is on the right

Another side by side view. You can see how fluffy the brand new microfiber is! After hundreds of washes, you can expect your microfiber to flatten out but the good news is that with every wash, the cloth becomes even more absorbent.

Side by side view of the diapers opened up. You can see here how stretched out the elastic is on the right. Cotton Babies sent me a dozen of their refresher kits which contain fresh elastic so as soon as I get myself to a sewing machine, you won't be able to tell the difference between these two diapers.

Placing the new diaper on top of the old diaper gives a good sense of the elastic situation. The new dipe is about an inch shorter in length.

Even diapers need vitamin D. Okay... so the inserts have grown a little bit dingy. What can I say... it's winter!

Side by side fluff. Yes, the new inserts are ridiculously fluffy, but keep in mind that fluffier doesn't mean more absorbent. A few more turns in the wash cycle and that fluffy insert will flatten right out.



  1. I'm considering getting the BumGenius 4.0 diapers. Does this mean I must line dry them? It's not the end of the world if I have to, but we have a dry season and a green season here and "green" means days of rain that go on for weeks.
    Also, I can only get Dreft and a European Bio brand laundry soap. So other than the bit that I'll order with my diapers, I'll have to use one of those to wash. Do you think it's even worth doing? Last question: would you suggest I have some newborn disposables on hand for when my kid is born, in case she's not nearing 9 pounds at birth, like her sister?

    1. You can buy detergent online (I use Charlie's Soap on ALL my laundry). With the 4.0's you can dry the inserts in the dryer, but you have to hang dry the shell (the shell dries super quick!). Bumgenius freetime and elementals are the ones you have to hang dry and take ages to dry because the inserts are sewn in.

      I bought a newborn prefold package from as it was the most affordable and the sizing is up to 12 lbs (ensuring they'll fit a newborn, remember they lose weight the first week!). So for a month I'll be using prefolds, and after I can use the prefold in newborn size as a diaper doubler in my one size diapers. You get 2 uses in one product. I think it's 4 covers and 12 unbleached or bleached prefolds for $86. Adding additional prefolds are like $1.50 each, so it's not bad at all!

      Also Tender Bottoms on Etsy has amazing cloth wipes, 30/$10 which is a deal I have yet to see beat and I personally love them!

      Good luck!

  2. Line drying the covers is a must. There are times when I'm in a mad rush and I do toss them into the dryer (don't tell on me!), but this is maybe once every 30 washes- and only out of desperation. I live in Canada- where we have four months of nice weather and WINTER, so I do know about line-drying woes. I strung up a mini-clothesline in my laundry room. When the weather is poor, I wash my diapers in the evening and hang the covers to dry inside, overnight, so I'm all set for the day. As for detergent, you want one that has the fewest 'things' in it. Things like phosphates, optical brighteners, fragrances, dyes and added bleach can damage and create a build-up on your microfiber that reduces absorbency and causes stink. Worst of all- they can wreak havoc on delicate newborn skin, causing terrible rashes and abruptly ending your cloth diapering love affair. BumGenius sells a brand of diaper-friendly detergent on their site and I wholly recommend picking up a box or two with your order because you want to protect your investment.I use a brand called Claudia's Choices (which is Canadian) and Rockin' Green (An American brand that ships internationally). A big ol' bag of Rockin' Green does between 90 and 180 loads which should last you AT LEAST six months. You can order it here: As for your newborn being too small for his dipes, this is likely with any one-size. I used Kissaluvs newborn (size 0)with Bummis and Thirsties covers when my son was first born. They were fluffy and cute and oh so sweet- but they were also $15.50 each, plus the covers at $10-$16 each and he outgrew them in about three weeks. Alas- it wasn't very economical. If this is your last baby- then perhaps a pack of disposables for the first few weeks isn't a bad idea. That's what my sister did and it made her life easier. There's also this option: The Bummis Newborn Pack. For about $40, you get a dozen super soft prefold inserts and two tiny newborn covers. They are for babes from 5-9lbs and so there is no need to wait to get on the cloth wagon, baby can wear his cloth from day one. Hope this information helps and best of luck to you with your new love!

  3. Thank you for all the great info! I'm going to check out the Bummis Newborn Pack.

  4. I have been searching online trying to find a way to fix my bumgenius 4.0 diapers. I too have had problems with leaking and upon close examination I have found cracks in my pul lining of a few of the covers. If you don't mind me asking, what did you email to cotton babies? I have also purchased mine there about 1.5 years ago, and didn't think I had any chance of getting a replacement until I read your comment. If you have time to answer me, that would be wonderful.
    Thank you!

    1. Lacee please send me an email at and I will forward you my correspondence with Cotton Babies. Cheers!

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  6. Hi - I was relieved to read your comments on the bg 4.0 since I felt like I was the only one! My son is 15 months old and has been wearing the 4.0 since he was 4 weeks old (prior to that we used disposable new born nappies; we also use disposables for over-night). For a few months now, his nappies have been leaking on the left side. Almost every nappy leaks during the day - it's getting so frustrating that when we're going out of the house, I consider (and sometimes even!) put him in a disposable. I've tried just about everything to fix the problem - including changing him every 2 hours, adding a booster insert, making them larger, then back to mid position, pointing his willie down / up, soaking them in water before the was, extra rinsing on the wash.... I don't know what else to do. How are the new nappies now? Are you still having issues leaking? What settings is you son on? My lo is about 27lb and is tall - we are using the mid-length and go in 3 poppers on each side (starting to expand to 3 and 2 tho). I'm just not sure they're fitting right. I'm going to check the elastic & the coating tomorrow to see if there is cracking like you found. Thanks for posting!!

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  8. Hello! I am curious if you still have your correspondence with Cotton Babies available? I have 4.0 BG diapers that I purchased from Cotton Babies for my now 18 month old daughter and am having severe leaking issues, which I believe is due to failing PUL. I have cared for my diapers just as instructed and feel absolutely devastated that the diapers I once raved about are now failing me. Any help you can provide would be great!

    Email me at: crouch @ cfl . :) (without the spaces ;) )

    1. ferdalump! are you also Kimberly? I received an email from Kimberly right after this comment was posted with the exact same problem and I assumed it was the same person- but I just noticed that the email address is different. Let me know and I can forward the info to you as well.

    2. Greetings from France!

      I thoroughly enjoyed reading your review. It has totally convinced me to pursue cloth diapering and I will be ordering Bum Genius 4.0 and Freetime this week to decide which one I prefer. I have recently moved from the U.S. to France and am running into obstacles at every turn, so I try to plan one step in advance now. In the event down the road, that I too have PUL problem/leaking issues, would you be so kind as to forward the info to me as well. I certainly hope I do not run into any problems, but it looks like numerous others already have, so I suppose it it best to be prepared.

      Thank you so very much, I look forward to hearing from you,


  9. I like the bumgenius out of all of them- and the bumgenius laundry detergent works well too=)

  10. My daughter is almost 11 months and we've been using prefolds from the beginning. I just got some 4.0 last weekend since they are not as bulky now that she is learning to walk. I see you said no soaking. Is that bad? I use the washer pail method: keeping dirty dipes in a full washer until there are enough to wash.

  11. Hi Ashley,
    I do not recommend washer pail method for your diapers. It's fine to soak the microfiber inserts now and then but doing so excessively can cause premature wear to the fibers in the cloth as well as damage to the PUL waterproof lining on your covers. The covers are the main thing - if the PUL cracks or starts peeling off, your diapers will be done for and Cotton Babies will likely not replace them. To extend the life of your bumGenius investment, I recommend rinsing off any poop and keeping your diapers in a dry pail system (I used a $10 white plastic garbage can with locking lid from Walmart and a washable diaper pail liner bag) or a large hanging wetbag (Planetwise makes a very popular one and now Grovia makes a really cool one that holds up to 36 dirty diapers) and make sure to wash your diapers every second day or third at the very latest. Use a cloth diaper-safe detergent and no laundry additives or baking soda or vinegar. Cotton Babies also recommends adding half a cup of bleach once a month and always hanging the covers to dry- microfiber inserts can go in the dryer so long as theres no fabric softener used and no residue in the dryer drum. If you do use fabric softener on your other clothes, you'll have to wipe the drum out with a cloth or the reisdue will transfer to the microfiber and reduce its absorbency. Good luck!

  12. Diadima:
    We've had our BGs for about 2yrs and just this morning I noticed my son had completely leaked out of his diaper (in the seat not just the legs). Upon inspection, I noticed that the pul is cracked and the elastic is wearing thin. I've always taken pretty good care of my CDs, but on occasion I've used vinegar to strip. That's the only thing I've used that's not recommended, and we always line dry. It bums me out (no pun intended) that some of my cheapies are holding up better than the BGs. Do you still have your Cotton Babies correspondence? If so, I would greatly appreciate knowing what to say to see if they'll replace my damaged ones. Thanks! My email is

    1. Hi Carrie,
      I was wondering if you would be willing to share what brands of cheapies were holding up well for you? I am just starting to look into cloth diapering and BGs sound like a big investment to me so far :)


  13. Wow! Glad you had such luck! When the front strip of velco was completely useless on my 4.0's after 12-15 months of use and in half of them the PUL had literally disintegrated, BG told me my only option was to sew in a new strip of velcro along with an insert - making it both an all-in-one and pre-primed for seepage through the new velco stitching.
    So I bought a whole new set, this time free-times. After only 8 months of use, the PUL is beginning to disintegrate on these, also! And it can't be wash routine for me - I am STILL using a few of my previous child's 3.0's that are still just fine (except I replaced the elastic and tabs on them, but that was after two years of use - totally understandable. After 3.5+ years of use these are still my go-to cover). And thus far the company is NOT accommodating. :(

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  15. The PUL is gone on mine and I want to cry being 3 months after the warranty expired. You said you emailed them and they sent you replacements 6 months after? Is there hope for me?

  16. I have been soaking all my diapers for about an hour before each wash in hot water in the washing machine with Rockin' Green Detergent then I start the wash cycle. Will this ruin the PUL? On the RG bag it says to soak if you have hard water which I do and I notice it makes a huge difference in the dipes not having a smell.

  17. I've noticed that I can't use the "extra hot" setting on my washer (it's the sanitary setting) without potentially damaging the PUL- but the hot works just fine. I love my Charlie's and Rocking Green- although Charlie's is almost always a first choice. (I use the Rocking Green shaker for the diaper pail in between washes). I've been "line drying" my shells around the house (backs of chairs, over doors) because it's too cold right now to dry outside... but I'm seriously looking into splurging on a Dryerpod, which sounds awesome for drying inside year-round.

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  20. Hello my wife and I have been using the 4.0s for about 9.5 months now on our 10.5 month old daughter. We love them but have noticed the diapers leaking lately and couldn't figure out why. I finally just inspected the PUL in them tonight and sure enough there are tons of cracks in them. Ours are still under warranty I guess, but this is ridiculous. A big selling point for us was that we could use them for another child but if they barely last a year that's not possible. We have only ever used Rockin Green detergent and bleach. And our water is about 125 degrees max. I am going to contact the company. Could you email me the correspondence you had with them? My email is long.matthew at roadrunner dot com (trying to avoid spam writing it all out that way) thanks!