Top 5 (Possibly Overboard) Ways to Prolong the Life of a Cloth Diaper

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”.

Top 5

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. 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. I have not yet attempted this because I just don’t have enough space and hanging the other way has so far worked fine for me.

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.

Diaper chain

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. All of my Ragababe All in One’s are washed inside of a medium sized mesh lingerie bag. This is the biggest way to limit wear and tear on a cloth diaper in your washer. 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 :)

Cloth Diaper in Mesh Bag

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 am! 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?

*This post may contain affiliate links.

About Jennifer Reinhardt

Jenn is a WAHM to two beautiful little girls. Sophia (4.5 years old) and Norah (4 months). She closed her business, Curves, when she found out she was pregnant so she could stay home with her first daughter. Now Jenn spends her time spreading the love of fluff and sharing common sense answers that help to make cloth diapers easy for everyone.

View all posts by Jennifer Reinhardt

14 Responses to “Top 5 (Possibly Overboard) Ways to Prolong the Life of a Cloth Diaper”

  1. Molly Says:

    I’ve heard mixed thugs on hanging shells and covers. I’ve heard some people say that drying on low is better for the elastics than air drying. Jury is out for me, I don’t know…


  2. Linda Manns Linneman Says:

    Thank you for sharing these five tips. I never knew any of this. I will pass this information on to my niece


  3. Amber Ludwig Says:

    Lol! This would totally be me! Im such a penny pincher and try to save save save and prolong the lasting of pretty much everything! Im also a germaphobe… so these two do not always go hand in hand ;) And I tend to self sabotage by accident when doing so! So frustrating! Thanks for the great tips :)


  4. Ashley F Says:

    There is no way I would do all of these, but I will start hanging my covers up differently since that doesn’t really take any extra time. I am not much of a diaper “collector” and don’t baby them, so I wouldn’t do the lingerie bag. I do, however, sometimes just handwash my covers rather than sending them through the whole wash routine that my flats go through. We’re potty training, so these days our loads are very small.


  5. janine martinez Says:

    i wish i had cloth diapered my son! :-(


  6. Lisa Says:

    After many internet searches I can’t seem to find the answer to an issue that I’m having. I just got some second hand pocket diapers and two of them have a rougher inner lining (the part that would go against the baby inside the diaper). I am new to CDing and this blog has really helped me a lot so I thought maybe someone on here can tell me how to make it soft again, if that’s possible. Of course when I google anything about liners I find tons of things about actual liners (disposable and reusable).. but nothing about what to do or how to fix the actual inside lining. I thought that if this problem is not fixable then I could just put, or sew, a liner into the diaper. I did strip them using dawn and put them in the dryer on low heat (the tag said I could). I haven’t used them yet so Idk if the roughness will effect the functionality or not. Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions? Thanx.


  7. Judith Martinez Says:

    I wash my shells separate from my inserts once a week. I wash M/W/F so the Monday wash is bigger and has been sitting longer. By washing the shells separately it makes the loads smaller and allows me to wash the inserts more intensely. I don’t split the loads until after the pre-wash though.


  8. Bianca @ The Pierogie Mama Says:

    I’m curious if laying them sideways will help. I have a ton of BG 4.0 with relaxed elastic, but diapers that are the same age or older are holding up fine. I was also told that excessive vinegar use will wear out elastic.


    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      It’s not something I’ve done myself. But from what I’ve been told that hanging them like that helps. Although wouldn’t hanging them the other way still have gravity pulling??? I think a lot of it is just the kind and quality of elastic used in different brands.


  9. Roxann Says:

    I wash my pail liners in mesh lingerie bags. It solved the problem of them trapping water and keeping everything from getting clean. :-)


  10. Kate Says:

    I do some of these things and don’t find them too terribly tedious. I wash all of my covers separately from my diapers, I also store soiled ones separate from my soiled diapers. I hang them (and my wet bags and pail liners) flat to dry on a drying rack either outdoors out of direct sunlight or in a warm bathroom inside. I always make sure my hook and look tabs are closed too.


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