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How Do I Make My Diaper Covers Last?

Image: Bummis Super Whisper Wrap | fabrics and components sourced in North America | guaranteed lead, phthalate and BPA free

Bummis Super Whisper Wrap
Click for more info: US | CDN | UK

Dear Catherine;
Do you need a cover over fitted diapers? If so, what do you recommend?
And how many washings before a cover would start to deteriorate? Do you have to wash a cover as often as the diapers? Do you recommend the snap or the Velcro® style? When washing the Velcro® style covers, wouldn't the Velcro® attach to other diapers and covers in the wash... or even deteriorate over time?

Yes, unless you have all-in-one diapers, which is a cloth diaper with a waterproof outer layer, you will need to add some sort of cover. Most any cover will work well, although if your baby's diapers are bulky, you may need to size up with some covers. Two covers that seem to fit true-to-size, depending on your baby's build, are the Whisper pull-on pants and the Super Industrial Wrap.

How long a cover will last will depend on the type of material the cover is made of. Also what type of soap or detergent you use, your washing method, if you use bleach or bleach alternatives, if you line-dry or use a dryer. How many covers you have to use in rotation, and how often you change them.

Some materials to look for, that last the longest, are poly-coated nylon, industrial poly-knit, polar fleece or industrial vinyl. These materials can stand up to most any washing method - machine wash and drying, even the occasional bit of bleach!

Image: Kushies Taffeta Diaper Wrap | provide protection from leaks | fully adjustable for an optimum fit

Kushies Taffeta Diaper Wrap
Click for more info: US | CDN | UK

For the other fabrics, such as nylon, polyester, cotton, or wool, you can make them last longer with gentle treatment. Hand-washing with a gentle vegetable-based soap, such as Kirk's, Dr. Bonners, Nature Clean, etc. Line drying is best.

If you are machine washing, don't wash your covers with the diapers, but with the baby's clothing, on a gentle setting. Use only warm water, and a gentle soap, as suggested above. If you have hard water, you may get better results with a detergent. Look for the clear type - no fragrance, no colours, no brighteners, etc.

Dry your covers in the machine for only 10-20 minutes, and hang to dry the rest of the way, if they are still damp. Don't use bleach, as it can ruin the elastic, and damage the water-proofing of your covers. Also avoid borax, other whitening products, detergents with chlorine bleach, liquid concentrates, and stain removers. Avoid rubbing detergent directly on the diaper cover. All these products can destroy the water-proofness of your covers.

Covers generally don't have to be washed as often as the diaper. It will depend on the material of the cover. Covers made of vinyl or nylon, usually can be air-dried between changes. However, those made of a cloth material or with mesh inside often need to be washed after every use.

When changing the baby, if the cover is not soiled, you could just run tap water down the inside of the cover to rinse off any urine residue. Pat dry, or hang to dry and re-use.

Image: Thirsties Duo Wrap Snap | Pliable, breathable ultra-comfortable waterproof fabric

Thirsties Duo Wrap Snap
Click for more info: US | CDN | UK

If you are using wool covers, you can go for about two weeks before washing. The natural oils found in wool fibres pull wetness away from baby's skin, allow moisture to evaporate, and helps to neutralize odours. Wool covers can be hung to air-dry between uses, and only need washing when it gets soiled.

If you can afford it, have at least 5-6 covers in each size to rotate. The less often you have to wash your covers, the longer they will last.

For a newborn, I would go with the Velcro® style, as it offers much more adjustability. For an older child, especially one that likes to open the Velcro® and streak, snap diapers and covers are a great alternative!

Most diapers and covers offer a fold-back method to protect the Velcro® during washing. Some methods seem to work better than others. Of course, it also depends on you remembering to do so every time you change the diaper! You can help the Velcro® to last longer by regularly brushing out the lint build-up off the Velcro® hook to ensure a good grip on the Velcro® loop part.


Hope that helps! Write again to if you have a diapering question you would like answered.


P.S. Here are some other articles that might interest you:

Make-Your-Own Baby Bum Sweater

Why Are My Cloth Diapers/Diaper Covers Leaking?

Do Cloth Diapers Seem Too Expensive?


This article compliments of Born to Love.

The Diaper Facts column:

How Do I Get Started With Cloth Diapering?
Cloth Diapering With A Diaper Service
How Do I Wash Cloth Diapers?
Expensive to Wash Cloth Diapers?
The STINK on Stinky Diapers
Why are my cloth diapers and covers stinky?
Here's my Stinky Diaper Solution!
Why are my cloth diapers and/or diaper covers leaking?!?
How Do I Make My Diaper Covers Last?

Other articles that might be of interest:

How to Choose the Perfect Cloth Diapering System
Feeling Confused About Your Cloth Diapering Decision?
Diapering Expert Shares Secrets!
Do Cloth Diapers Seem Too Expensive?
Frugal Diaper Washing
Frugal Diapering
Frugal Baby Tips: Make Your Own Baby Bum Sweaters!
Your Choice Does Make a Difference!
What's Wrong With 'Disposable' Single-Use Diapers?
Environmental Concerns - What Do They Mean For You and Your Baby?
Environmental Concerns II - Looking at Both Sides of the Issue


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Last updated - February 8, 2017