A big part of using cloth diapers for many is saving many. And the longer they last…the less you have to buy (unless there’s a new print of course) and the more money you save! If you are anything like me, I’m sure that you agree that a cloth diaper lasting forever would be great. Since that clearly is not a possibility…why not just shoot for as long as possible?
I know there are people out there saying…”Ain’t nobody got time for that”.
But if you do have the time or inclination or maybe you just want to see how I’ve gone nuts trying to get my favorite cloth diapers to last forever… here are my Top 5 Techniques (in reverse to build suspense!)
Number Five Possibly Overboard Technique: Hanging EVERYTHING to Dry
I’m not talking about hanging because you have no dryer. I’m not even talking about doing it because you want to save on energy and the electric bill. I’m talking about hanging everything just for the pure reason of not exposing anything to excessive heat in the dryer. We aren’t talking just shells either…but every single insert, doubler, fitted and cover you own. I’ve not done this myself. I just don’t have enough clothes pins! I do hang dry my shells and wet bags. Which leads me to Technique Number Four…
Number Four Possibly Overboard Technique: Only hanging shells from the side or lying flat to dry
I once posted a pic on Facebook of my shells hanging over my washer and dryer happily drying out. I was quickly told that I was KILLING my elastic. The proper way to hang them was to instead do so from the side and to fully support the full length of the cloth diaper. Obviously lying flat to dry was offered as the highest level of protection. The idea behind this is that the weight of the wet diaper will prematurely strain the elastics. While this might be true of all in ones, covers should be fine. I feel like if hanging a cover the wrong way wears out the elastic quickly, the elastic might have been junk from the start.
Number Three Possibly Overboard Technique: Loop Fabric on Velcro (or hook & loop) closures.
Guilty as charged on this one. Early on I discovered that many of the wash tabs on hook and loop closures just didn’t work. The result was a horrible chain of snarled cloth diapers and wipes. I learned this trick in one of the cloth diaper chat groups I was in. It’s now one of my favorite ones to share. I just cut up loop fabric and cover the velcro (or hook part) before I throw in the wet bag. Keeps them from sticking to each other and also helps to keep most of the lint out of the hook side. Yes, it takes some time…but is totally worth it to me. Click here to see how to do it.
Number Two Possibly Overboard Technique: Washing Cloth Diapers in Mesh Lingerie Bags
I’ve reserved this one for my most special (and pricey) cloth diapers. I think this also be the most labor intense. I make sure that the diaper is folded so the inside is out. I still want them clean! Admittedly, this is for sure overboard. But it makes me feel better when the diaper was an investment ;)
Number One Possibly Overboard Technique: Doing a Separate Load to Wash Shells
This is one that I doubt many have done. It goes like this. Just do two separate loads. One just for shells and the other for everything else. It is believed by some that this separate wash without the hot water temperatures and extra rinses will keep the shells like new longer. This is one that I say…”Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
Might these techniques be over the top? For sure! Am I guilty of one or more of them? I might be! Do you have to do them to get cloth diapers to last…No!
Just use common sense and I think you will be fine. Buy quality cloth diapers. Read reviews and see how they work and last for other people. Be smart with your wash routine. Set your hot water to no more than 120-125 degrees. Higher temps will speed wear on ANY fabric. Many people have found ever lower temps to be sufficient. Hang dry when you can, but don’t feel bad about using the dryer. My fluff has done just fine in the dryer on medium heat. Be smart, but remember that cloth diapers are not made of unicorn hair!
Any other techniques, overboard or otherwise, that you can share for extending the life of a cloth diaper?
Jenn is a long-time cloth diaper educator and a passionate small business advocate. She has worked in the reusable diaper industry for over a decade, helping millions of families via her websites All About Cloth Diapers, Thinking About Cloth Diapers and Cloth Diaper Geek as well as hundreds of small businesses during that time. Her goal always to provide simple, reliable information.