No, Your Cloth Diapers (Most Likely) Aren’t Ruined

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No, your cloth diapers aren't ruined. Quick fixes for common mistakes.

It seems as though there are a lot of rules when it comes to cloth diapers, doesn’t it? Don’t do this, don’t use that or you will ruin your diapers. But what happens when you do something that you shouldn’t either by accident or because you simply didn’t know? Not to worry, I am pretty confident that your cloth diapers aren’t ruined. 

Find out what some of the most common cloth diapering mistakes are and how to fix them if one of them happens to you.

Commercial laundry detergent

Problem: I’m sure you’ve heard that you shouldn’t use commercial detergents, right? I think we’ve all heard that one, especially if you’ve been using cloth diapers for a while now. The truth is, commercial detergents are perfectly fine for washing cloth diapers. In fact, I and many parents prefer it. My diapers haven’t disintegrated and are always clean. 

If you prefer not to use a commercial detergent on your diapers and washed one with your regular laundry by accident, what should you do?

Solution:  Rewash it in your preferred detergent. 

Fabric Softener & dryer sheets

Problem: Uh oh! You accidently washed your cloth diapers with liquid fabric softener or a dryer sheet and now your diapers are ruined! Right? No. Truth be told, accidently washing your diapers with fabric softener or running them through the dryer with a dryer sheet probably won’t do much if only done once. That being said, since fabric softeners coat fabrics to “soften” them, they can affect the absorbency of your cloth diapers.

Note: this is only for commercial fabric softeners. There are plant-based fabric softeners that are cloth diaper safe. 

Solution: Rewash your diapers once or twice to make sure the fabric softener has been washed away. If you still have a coating of softener on your diapers you could try washing with a small squirt of blue Dawn dish soap, but this is a last resort. Dawn is a degreaser and if used too often or in large quantities, it could ruin your washing machine. Use only when necessary. 

Diaper cream

Problem: You used a standard diaper cream and forgot the liner or the liner slipped. Many commercial diaper creams are oil based and can cause repelling if they coat your diapers. Don’t worry, this isn’t the end of the world. It’s actually quite easy to remove diaper cream from your cloth diapers. 

Solution: rub a small amount of blue Dawn dish soap on the diaper cream and let it sit for an hour or so. Wash as normal.

Note: discoloration is possible depending on the brand of cream, but the greasiness will likely be gone. 

Forgotten diapers

Problem: You forgot a dirty diaper in a wet bag in your diaper bag or in the car. A few weeks (or months) later you find it again, but now it’s absolutely disgusting. Maybe even moldy. Now, what?

Solution: I’m not going to lie. In some cases, this diaper could be a goner if it’s been sitting long enough. That being said, you will want to wash, wash, wash that diaper! 

You may have to wash it a few times, but first, rinse it out on the rinse cycle to make sure the waste is gone. Soak it in detergent then wash it on hot with the recommended amount of a commercial detergent. You also may want to add some bleach. I typically use about 1/4 cup on the rare occasions that I have bleached my diapers. If you are against bleach you can certainly try washing without it or try adding some oxygen bleach (OxiClean, etc) for staining. 

Delaminated diapers

Problem: The waterproof lining of your diaper is starting to pull away from the outer fabric. You see bubbles or holes in the PUL and now the diaper is ruined, right? Well, yes and no. 

Solution: If your delaminated diaper is bubbling but doesn’t have holes in the lining, you can still use the diaper for its intended purpose. Keep an eye on it though because once it develops holes it will no longer be waterproof and you can’t fix a delaminated diaper. Even then, the diaper isn’t useless. You can use it as a swim diaper

The few times your diapers are probably ruined

  • Your dog ate them.
  • You ironed them.
  • You put them through the paper shredder.
  • You set them on fire. 

Seriously, though. There are some things that you shouldn’t do to your diapers because it really could ruin them. You shouldn’t boil diaper covers with PUL and/or snaps or put them on the sanitize cycle as this could melt the snaps and shorten the life of your PUL at best, ruin it at worst. You also shouldn’t try to strip your diapers in the dishwasher (yes, there are people who have really done this). 

The moral of the story 

Sometimes your diaper will suffer a catastrophic death, but most accidents and problems can be solved with a good washing. 

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  1. I’m on my second cloth diapered kid and had never heard anyone talk about how to get diaper rash cream out until now, so thanks for that! We usually use our own concoction for butt redness, but it’s still greasy!
    I didn’t think about using a delaminated diaper as a swim diaper. I think I’m going to have to retire one of mine to pool only usage soon because I just saw there was a spot that finally has a hole in it. 🙁

    1. We usually used cloth safe cream that washed right out, but my son’s ph seemed to be quite acidic after eating certain foods. He would get a terrible rash that only Boudreax’s Butt Paste would cure and while we used a fleece liner, some always seemed to get along the sides of the diaper. The Dawn worked like a charm every time!

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