We all want our diapers to last from birth to potty-training... maybe even be able to get some use out of them down the road, if another little one comes along. While diapers don't last forever, there are some things you can do to help keep in in good condition for a longer period of time. Here are some tips:


Have a Good Sized and Evenly Rotated Stash

To cloth diaper your baby full-time, it is recommended you have at least 24 diapers.  This amount is suggested to ensure you will have enough diapers to wash every other day. Doing so not only helps to keep stink and mold issues at bay, but also may allow you to use them for a longer period of time with less wear and tear on your stash. We all have our favorites when it comes to our baby’s diapers. As hard as it may be, try to avoid reaching for the same one over and over. Be sure to evenly rotate you stash so that they all experience the same amount of use.



Avoid Soaking

Back in the day, the way dirty cloth diapers were commonly stored was in a wet pail. Your Grandma may have stored her diapers in a bucket with some water with a bit bleach in it. Times have changed… Nowadays, wet pails are generally not recommended for storing diapers, and especially not soaking with bleach! Modern cloth diapers are not designed to withstand extended periods of soaking. Over time, soaking can degrade the elastics and the waterproof layer. For tips on storing your dirty cloth diapers until wash day, click here.

Line Dry Covers

This one is a bit controversial, but it only makes sense that drying your covers or shells at high temps in the dryer can be hard on elastics, PUL, and hook & loop closures over time. Some say that line drying by hanging the diaper at one end is hard on them too, because the extra weight is causing tension on the elastics. If you do choose to line dry, draping your diapers over the line, instead of hanging from one end helps to put equal weight on both sides.

drying diapers

Don’t Stuff Right Out of the Dryer

If you do choose to use the dryer to dry your covers, be sure to let them cool before stuffing or stretching out the elastic. When the elastics are still hot from the dryer they are more pliable. When stretched, the may not snap back into shape and may start to relax sooner than expected. Let your diapers completely cool before stuffing to help prevent this from happening.

Use Laundry Tabs

If you use hook & loop closures, be sure to use the laundry tabs! If your diaper doesn’t have laundry tabs, fasten the diaper and turn it inside out. There are a couple of things that can happen if you forget… Take a close look at the tabs. The tiny hooks sticking up are made to attach themselves to the tons of tiny loops on the strip on the front of the diaper… hence the name hook & loop. The tabs can attached themselves to other areas of the diaper, hooking into the fabric and causing damage to the material when removed. Also, when they attach to other diapers or the inserts, bits of fabric can be left behind affecting their stickiness. Protect your hook & loop closures and other diapers by using the laundry tabs every time you wash.

damaged diaper

Avoid Overstuffing

Sometimes additional absorbency is needed for heavy wetters, naptimes, and overnights. Doubling up on bulky inserts may stretch the elastics on your diapers. If you are repeatedly stretching the elastics out they will begin to relax sooner than expected. Hemp and bamboo doublers and inserts are trim options that can help to boost absorbency when it is needed without causing excessive bulk that may cause your elastics to relax sooner than you may like.

streched elastic from overstuffing

Cool it with the Bleach

Sometimes bleach is a necessary evil. If you are having trouble with your wash routine and have developed a serious case of ammonia stink or other issues, a small bit of properly diluted bleach may do the trick. But frequently use of bleach can be hard on your diapers. It can eat at the fibers causing holes and frayed edges, and can also deteriorate the elastics and PUL. If you are having trouble with your diapers, contact the manufacturer. They may be able to find a solution for you by simply tweaking something in your wash routine, and avoiding having to use bleach all together. 

What's the oldest diaper in your stash? Have any of your diapers made it through multiple children?


Stephanie Beck is a busy mama of four. She enjoys being outdoors and spending time with her family. Stephanie started her blog, Apron Strings Attached, because she wanted to share her experiences with raising kids, breastfeeding struggles and success, and cloth diapering. She now enjoys blogging about life in cloth diapers for TGN.