The Lifespan of Cloth Diapers
While researching an investment in cloth diapers, it makes sense to think about just how long you can plan on keeping your diapers around. In general, it’s good news: If cloth diapers are well taken care of, they will typically last three years or more and usually through multiple children. Of course, the lifespan of any given diaper depends a lot on how much wear and tear it receives.
To extend the life of cloth diapers, limiting the wear as much as possible is important. A few tips for making diapers last:
Rotating: Make sure you have enough diapers to rotate the stash frequently. Obviously the more often each diaper is worn and washed, the more signs of wear and tear start to appear. Experts (and other cloth diapering mamas!) recommend having at least 15 or more diapers available. That will ensure that each diaper is only washed about every other day.
Wash Routine: Washing cloth diapers is an individual thing and your routine depends a lot on the composition of your water, type of washing machine, detergent and even the chemistry of your child’s poo and pee. You’ll want to run the most gentle washing machine cycle that still gets your diapers clean. More aggressive agitation leads to more stress on the seams and elastic.
Velcro or Snaps: Velcro™-materials require special care as well. Always fold down the laundry tabs to preserve the diaper’s fastening capabilities as well as prevent them from snagging other diapers. Snaps are typically very durable, however, if a snap breaks contact the manufacturer. Many of them will fix the diaper for you or replace it if it’s under warranty.
Quality of Diapers: Just like any other product, there are differing quality levels between cloth diaper brands. Better quality diapers, made with better quality materials, will last longer and be able to endure frequently washing. Look for tightly sewn seams, high-quality, heavy weight fabrics and tight elastic. This is not to say that budget minded diaper won’t last; many of our customers have used these budget brands for several years with no problems. Read online reviews and talk to other cloth families. It’s important to find a manufacturer that stands behind its products, so look closely at warranty and customer service information too.
One-Size or Sized: A few years ago the cloth diaper industry introduced a novel concept: Diapers that will adjust to fit a child from birth to potty training. Usually called “one-size” diapers, these products can be used much longer because they actually fit your child longer. Outgrowing a diaper is the quickest way to limit the diaper’s life. Sized diapers are the other option and while they are sometimes less bulky, they are made to fit a specific size baby (small adjustments can be made here and there). Some moms find that sized diapers last longer in terms of wear and tear because they are meant to be worn only for a specific time period, while one-size diapers can become more worn since they are worn throughout the baby’s diapering years.
Even with careful attention to maintaining your cloth diapers, signs of deterioration may still appear. But with a little bit of elbow grease (OK, not really grease, but you get the expression!), anyone can get their diapers looking new again. Some brands, such as FuzziBunz, provide replacement elastic with every one-size diaper, allowing consumers to replace their own elastic. If replacement elastic is not provided with the brand you have, a good substitute may be found at sewing stores and can be sewn in easily with a little sewing prowess.
With a little attention to detail and some common sense, your diaper investment will look and function well with one, two and maybe even three or more children. Good luck with your diapering!
How old are your diapers? Which ones have lasted you the longest? Do you have any that haven’t lasted as long as you would have liked? Join us on Facebook and let’s continue to the conversation over there.