The state of our cloth diapers: durability

Half our diapers and pretty much all the wipes are falling apart.


One possible explanation is that we had our washer and dryer replaced last May. I first noticed some of the diapers getting holes after the upgrade. I think the new machine relies much more on friction for cleaning since it doesn’t have an agitator.


With all the new settings on the washer, we had to go through some trial and error to figure out the best system.

With this machine, “heavy duty” actually refers to large bulky items (i.e. towels) rather than the amount of cleaning required. With that in mind, we’ve been doing a cold “deep wash” followed by a hot “whites” wash with two rinses. We put a splash of vinegar in the Downey ball for the hot wash so that it gets added to the first rinse. We might wash our diapers more intensely than most, but our early experiences with diaper mold scarred me for life, and Bea’s skin is so sensitive that I have no tolerance for diaper buildup.


Since the diapers have been steadily disintegrating for several months now, we’ve just recently switched the second wash to a normal cycle instead of a whites cycle. I had been hesitant to use “normal” because that cycle seems intended for lightweight items, and I didn’t want to confuse the machine by using it for a load of heavy diapers. The machine is still going strong, though, so hopefully we’re ok! I think the whites cycle pummels the diapers to within an inch of their lives, and they really don’t need that after already surviving through the deep wash.

Washing machine aside, the diaper damage also coincided with our one year anniversary of cloth diapering. I guess you can’t fault the diapers for rebelling. They have been getting put through two vigorous wash cycles every 2-3 nights for almost 2 years at this point, so who can blame them? In my mind, however, one perk of cloth diapers is being able to use them for multiple children. Fingers crossed that our diapers live to tell the tale!

Not surprisingly, the diapers in the worst shape are the ones we have been using continuously since the beginning: the wipes and the newborn prefolds.


We have 3 dozen unbleached cotton birdseye wipes from GMD that we have been using since day one. I’ve been trimming the frayed edges off the wipes, but I think I’m going to have to start looking into getting a new set. Lots of people just make their own wipes by using pinking shears to cut old t-shirts or receiving blankets into squares. Maybe I will do that.

The other diapers that have really fallen on hard times are the dozen organic newborn prefolds from GMD, one of our only brand-new (as opposed to used) diaper purchases.


Again, I can’t really blame these diapers, as we have been using them from day one: first as actual diapers for newborn Bea and then as doublers for the overnight diapers and the flat diapers. They have definitely seen a lot of washing machine action. You can see in the photo above how the edge of the top layer has frayed so much that it has split and separated.

The diapers we have used for shorter periods of time are faring much better. Our medium GMD workhorses, which we just retired to transition to the large size, have a few surface holes and tears, but nothing yet that will affect performance in the future.


A couple of the flats have frays after about a year of use, but they still work fine. And they are so CHEAP that I can’t really complain.

The fitted M/L Kissaluvs that we bought in excellent used condition are losing their serged seams, which will probably start to cause some unraveling trouble soon, and if you look closely at the photo, you can see how threadbare they are in spots.


They are good to have in a pinch, though, and if I didn’t have other options, I could easily stuff them with a tri-flolded prefold diaper for more staying power. The Tiny Tush diapers that we bought at the same time, however, are total train wrecks. These holes around the snaps have been growing worse and worse with every wash for months. They were actually the first diapers to start to go! They’ll probably need to be repurposed into something else. I don’t think they could survive another life!


The Pooters hemp overnight diapers are MUCH softer than they originally were thanks to all the washing. They’re not tearing at all and they are still working great, but the elastics are definitely relaxed and the diapers are super floppy. If I look closely, I can see that they are getting threadbare in areas, too. Maybe that is a hemp thing?


At 23 pounds, Beatrice still wears them on almost the smallest setting (the diapers are supposed to fit a baby as small as 8 lbs.), so I can’t imagine how they would work for an infant. From the Pooters website, it doesn’t look like they make the hemp diapers anymore (boo!), so I’d have to give the bamboo version a try or stalk used listings for the hemp if I wanted to replace them. (UPDATE: Pooters contacted me to let me know that the hemp diapers are just out of stock right now but will be coming back soon. Phew!!)

Here are some gratuitous baby-in-a-diaper photos to reward you for tolerating so much diaper talk.


(She insisted on that ridiculous third ponytail at the nape of her neck.)

I’m hoping the diapers we have will keep us going until Beatrice decides she is through with diapers. Very few reviews address the topic of diaper disrepair. This article from GMD is the most I have been able to find in my googling, which makes me feel like the wear and tear is less my fault and more the nature of cloth diapering. Thankfully, we’ve spent very little of our own money on diapers — it’s all been second-hand or gifts. If I do need to replace anything when we get around to having another baby, I’ll just go as simple (read: cheap) as possible with flats and prefolds and maybe a few flour sack towels for good measure. I still love cloth and can’t see us ever switching to disposables, but I wish I’d had a cloth diaper fairy who could have coached me to avoid diaper wear-out. Diaper durability is something I barely considered before my diapers started falling apart — I just assumed they would last indefinitely. We will see what the future holds!

Check out my other cloth diaper posts:

Cloth diapering: The first 6 months

Cloth diapering: Beyond 6 months

Diaper. Rash.

Diaper rash solved, eczema conquered

How flat diapers saved my winter


3 thoughts on “The state of our cloth diapers: durability

  1. M. Bass says:

    Hi – I’m so sorry you’re diapers are falling apart 😦
    I’m the owner of Pooters and I still sell them, I’m just currently out of stock. If you email me your email address, I’ll ping you once I’ve restocked. I’m looking at April.


  2. Jessica ball says:

    Oh my! Those poor diapers! I’ve had my gmd prefolds for about 3 years and they look nothing like that!. It must be your machine.


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