How to Reduce the Likelihood of Damaging Your Cloth Diapers

There is a lot of advice out there for preventing cloth diaper damage that makes me cringe. So when an article comes around that is GOOD and gives GOOD advice, I do a bunch of happy cheers! I highly recommend you check out this amazing post over at the Rumparooz Blog written by Elizabeth over at First Time Mom.

I’m not going to go into detail on the whole list, so check it out, but I did want to echo the advice and back it up with some information we found in our articles.

Decreasing cloth diaper damage

Line Drying Diapers Does Increase Damage

Elizabeth puts it perfectly: “Remember Newton’s law of gravity? Well, what goes up must come down! Hanging a diaper, heavy with water, tugs on the elastic and over time will stretch them out.” We found that survey responses echoed this point–showing that the one factor that increases diaper damage the most is line drying.  We talk about it in this post. I do want to make note, however, that it makes a minor difference in diaper damage, so don’t be totally afraid of line drying. Look at the very small difference:

Adding Items Like Bleach

We did find that some people experienced issues with diaper damage and bleach. Again, it is minimal, but some do. Check out the stats:

I found that bleach faded many of my diapers and gave them a weird stink. It may totally depend on your water (I have moderately hard water).

Washing Too Much 

I firmly believe that people are spending so much time using a “cloth diaper safe” detergent that doesn’t work as well that leaves them stripping over and over again and doing multiple trips. Many people fear using something like Tide because they are afraid of cloth diaper damage, but I firmly believe that they are damaging their cloth diapers MORE by doing all of the extra washes. You can see in the graph above that Tide (considered not “cloth diaper safe” by many) actually scored below average in diaper damage. Here at PTS we call for cloth diaper washing simplification.

Here is our SIMPLE recommendation for washing diapers and here is our call to simplify your routine (check it out and see if we think you should simplify your washing routine).  See this article for why we recommend Tide.

Pick Your Brand Wisely 

I really wish we had a part of our survey that accounts for diaper damage, because I have found that some brands get damaged much easier than others. I got a good giggle out of this diaper of Carolyn’s that we used for an article:

I have that same brand (although it is one of my FAVORITES in my stash) and it looks exactly the same as Carolyn’s!

Use the Right Detergent

Elizabeth also recommends using detergents recommended by companies. This is true to some extent, but I think some companies have really poor advice on washing cloth diapers (even well-established companies). So if you want to keep a company warranty, then definitely follow the advice. Otherwise, you can compare statistics on detergents by using our detergent chart here to see what detergent matches well with your machine and water type. On the other hand, companies also know certain tricks about their diapers that might help, so it is worth giving the instructions a scan to see if they have an EASY suggestion for reducing the likelihood of cloth diaper damage.

Drying Too Much

I am so bad at this! My hemp inserts and fitteds are never dry after one cycle, but I am too lazy to fish them out and just dry those, so I just run the cycle for a few. When this laziness starts, I definitely started to notice some delamination. I don’t have survey responses to support this, but I know from personal experience that it makes a huge difference.

Water Temperature

Make SURE your water isn’t too hot. Like Elizabeth says, the sanitize cycle on most machines puts it at WAY too hot of a temperature for cloth diapers. But the temperature on your water heater makes an impact too. Make sure the hot water in your machine is no more than 150 degrees. To test, just set your sink to its hottest setting and put a meat thermometer under it.


Anyway, check out the Rumparooz article, it is fantastic. I didn’t list all of the great advice, just touched on what our information here could add to it, so go read it! There are simple, easy things that you can do. But remember, aside from those simple things, don’t flip out. Cloth diapering shouldn’t be stressful. I love the often passed around phrase of “cloth diapers aren’t made of unicorn hair.” Don’t flip out over preventing damage, but that article lists some great things you could do to prevent damage.

What are some tips you have for reducing damage? What are some things you’ve DONE to get damaged diapers?

Tara Porter

Tara Porter

Tara Porter began using cloth diapers in 2011 when she felt that using disposable diapers was costing too much money. The problem was, a lot of the highly recommended diapers weren’t working for her baby. What she finally discovered was that her baby was skinny and a heavy wetter, and that diapers worked differently for those baby types. Because of her professional work with survey design and statistics, she designed Padded Tush Stats as a way to determine how different cloth diapers worked on different babies.

Tara moved on to other career endeavors in 2014 but can still be found online blogging about health and fitness at Fit Baby Steps.
Tara Porter


  1. Donna-Lynn Craig says

    This is an excellent article!!! I will do some things differently now that I know it’s not so good for the diapers. Everyone should read this if they want their diapers to last.

  2. Leigh says

    I keep a clipy octopus thing from Ikea next to my dryer so I can air dry the covers, pockets, and new Minky Tots Bots that don’t need the dryer and save them the heat.

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