Ruining Your Cloth Diapers with Flair

So you’re whining about having ruined your cloth diapers with a little diaper rash cream?

Waaahhhh! Somebody call the waaaaaahhhmbulance! 

(I could watch this over and over and over and over! And yes, I definitely plan saying this to my kids.)

First, I’d argue that you probably didn’t ruin them – you just need to take some extra steps in washing to get them squeaky clean again.

And secondly, come on – how cliché! If you want to be able to complain that you ruined your cloth diapers, then honey, be a little more creative! We want to hear a great story with impressive photos of the ruination you caused.

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1. Rip ‘Em to Shreds

The fastest way to create impressively tattered-looking diapers is to use heavy amounts of chlorine bleach. This SoftBums pod went from brand-new to shredded in just about two weeks, thanks to a two-hour soak in a chlorine bleach/water mixture. Comes in handy if you’re a newbie trying to impress some veteran cloth-diapering moms – your diapers can look so tattered, they’ll think you’ve been cloth diapering for years and years!

Chlorine bleach damage

2. Delamination in minutes

If you’re really serious about turning a good cloth diaper into a dud, delamination might be the route for you. Delamination involves the breakdown of the waterproof coating of a cloth diaper or a diaper cover. Why wait two or three years for a diaper to delaminate on its own when you can speed the process along with a nice hot iron?!

Damage to PUL after ironing

3. Honey, I Shrunk the Wool Soakers!

Special care instructions for hand-washing wool? Just ignore them and use hot water, the washing machine, or better yet – both! Not only will your wool soaker shrink to an impressively small size, but it will also lose its stretchiness and the stitches will look “blurred”.  This is truly a complaint-worthy mistake!

Felted wool soaker

4. Burn, Baby, Burn!

Do you have a bit of a pyro streak in you? If so, you can strip your diapers in the dishwasher. Cross your fingers that the diaper will fall onto the dishwasher’s heating element and give you something exciting to take pictures of. If you’re lucky, maybe it will ruin the lamination, melt a few snaps, or even catch on fire!

I searched high and low for you for a picture of some dishwasher/diaper destruction, but alas, I couldn’t find anything right on point. Instead, you’ll have to settle for a photo of a rogue spatula of mine that somehow managed to wiggle free of the utensil holder and create a bit of a sizzle on the heating element. My house had a funky plastic smell for days.

Effect of dishwasher heating element

5. Make-Your-Own Mushroom Farm

Warning: This activity takes a bit longer and is not for the faint of heart. You’ve been warned.

This photo is from a woman whose cloth diapers sat in the pail for a month between washes…and they grew mushrooms! Now, I don’t know what her kid had been eating, and I certainly don’t care to find out. However, I’ve got to hand it to her – this is the most creative form of cloth diaper ruination that I’ve ever heard of!

Mushrooms on cloth diapers

How to Wash and Lanolize Wool Diaper Covers

Wool is a popular material for overnight cloth diapering when paired with an absorbent fitted diaper. Wool covers (sometimes called wool soakers) generally have a generous cut through the back to accommodate a bulkier overnight fitted diaper, with a high, elasticized waistband and long leg cuffs that are stretchy and soft. The best wool diaper covers are made of merino, which is finely knit, breathable, and not even remotely scratchy to the touch.

Caring for wool is not difficult, just different. You can’t throw wool covers in the wash with your regular diaper laundry because the heat and agitation will felt the wool, shrinking the cover drastically and making it lose is soft stretchiness. So forget everything you know about washing cloth diapers.

Please look right here for a second.


Ok, let’s continue.

Processed wool itself is not magically waterproof. In order to make a wool diaper cover do its job of repelling moisture, it must be lanolized every now and then; that is, coated with lanolin. In addition, wool covers must be hand-washed and air-dryed.

It may sound like a huge, time-consuming hassle, but it’s really not because wool covers don’t need to be washed after every use. I’ve found that washing every 10-12 uses works for me (and I always lanolize them at the same time). You’ll know it’s time to wash/lanolize them if you feel dampness on the outside of the cover in the morning or if they start harboring a slight urine odor. And of course, you should wash them immediately if they get dirty.

To wash and lanolize your wool cover, you need a few supplies:

  • Liquid soap for delicate garments (I’m using Eucalan because I have a bottle that is going to last me forever at the rate I’m going; plus it’s a “no-rinse” formula that’s environmentally friendly.)
  • Lanolin
  • Small container for the melting the lanolin in hot water mixture
  • Large container for the lukewarm soap/lanolin mixture
  • Towel for pressing the excess water out of your freshly washed cover

1_Lanolization Supplies

You can also use a lanolized soap such as CJ’s Wool Wash instead of using lanolin and soap separately. If you use a lanolized soap, skip step 1 below.3_Creamy CJs wool wash

Step 1: Mix up hot water and 1-2 teaspoons of lanolin. You’ll feel like you are melting worms. This part grosses me out.4_Melting Lanolin

Step 2: Mix lukewarm water and soap – about 1 gallon of water to 1 teaspoon of soap. Swish around to make it bubbly. I like to use a whisk so that I can pretend I’m the Pioneer Woman.5_Stirring Soap

Step 3: Pour the hot water/lanolin mixture into soapy lukewarm water. Stir well.6_Pouring Lanolin into Soap

Step 4: Gently submerge your cover. 7_Submerge

Step 5: Go do something fun while letting it soak, fully submerged, for about 30 minutes. 8_Soak

Step 6: Press out excess water with a towel. Do not wring the wool – be extremely gentle! Let it dry without adding heat. Be patient; this may take 24 hours or longer.9_Dry on Towel

You now have a freshly washed and lanolized wool cover, and you also received a little mini spa treatment for your hands. I just love how soft and smoothe my hands feel after their lanolin bath; don’t you?


PS: If your covers feel sticky after this process, don’t worry. It means they are well lanolized. The sticky feeling will go away after a couple of uses. You should never try to strip wool.



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