Worn Cloth Diapers: Embarrassment or Achievement?

Are your cloth diapers disintegrating before your eyes?  Do you pull a larger lump of lint out of the dryer with every cycle?  Are you a bit ashamed to send those raggedly cloth diapers off to daycare?  You’re not alone!

My small batch of cloth diapers has seen some serious wear and probably kept thousands of disposable diapers from the landfills.  I bought them secondhand from a cloth diaper service, used them with Roscoe, lent them to a friend for her two children, used them with Jovi, and then passed them onto another baby.  Wow!  I have to confess they were looking a little tired by the end, but I also knew that concerns about their appearance were a little silly considering that their only purpose was to soak up her waste.  All that wear had softened them up quite nicely and while I was a bit embarrassed at times, I knew that she’d only be using that size for a matter of months.

How could I have kept the diapers in better shape?  By avoiding bleach.  When I first started cloth diapering I didn’t realize that you could use things like Bac Out or hydrogen peroxide to clean diapers and eliminate odors.  I also didn’t know that smelly diapers could need to be stripped by washing them in a few loads of hot water without soap.  (By the way, our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down to Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet is PACKED with dozens of cloth diaper care tips we wish we would have known about years ago!)

Jovi is now in the next size of diapers, which are in much better shape, and the most worn diapers have made it into our rag pile.  Those that were mostly intact are now diapering another baby.  I have to say that it thrills me that cloth diapers really don’t hit the trash until they are in shreds, while disposables head there after just one use.

Are you using diapers that are a bit worn?  Have you suffered from diaper embarrassment?  Did you buy your diapers secondhand?  Please share with other parents who may be in the same boat!


  1. Yes! I was gifted used ones from a friend and purchased used from a consignment sale. They were SO tattered (couldn’t see this through packaging before buying) that I had that same thought- I can’t send these to day care!! THe ones from a friend she bought used and they are gently loved, but that makes me proud… even though they sorta leak through the worn out material. The tattered ones are the next size up, so I am wondering if they will hold any wetness at all, especially from my heavy wetter.
    Thx for posting. glad I’m not the only one:)

  2. I’ve bought new and used and gotten hand-me-downs as well. I hope all the diapers I have used are eventually reused by friends or strangers until they are in shreds. I breathed new life into my covers by having the velcro converted to snaps. My sister (who cloth diapered her 6 kids most of the time) now uses her prefolds for rags.

  3. I bought most of ours second-hand but new (they changed their minds before ever using more than one or two of them). They are tattered because i used bleach before i knew better (and my son’s skin was sensitive to it). I will use the heck out of them! Most of them are contour mother-ease, but i also have a dozen prefolds that I actually prefer and I will probably get more next time, because I know they will hold up better anyway. Sadly, I willneed new covers. But I don’t mind at all that they look like crap. At least they have seen my son’s bum more than once 🙂

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