Upcycling Cloth Diapers


We’ve been using cloth diapers for nearly 7 years. All of our kids are out of diapers now (our daughter has been out of day time diapers for almost a year) but we’re still using one cloth diaper each night for our daughter.

After being used continuously for 6 years, most of our diapers were in pretty rough condition. Once our youngest potty trained, I went through our stash and pared down to the diapers that were in the best condition to be used as her nighttime diapers and to save for a possible future baby.

What happened to the rest of the diapers?

Swim Diapers

Diaper shells that were leaking due to damaged PUL became swim diapers. I kept two for Cecilia and the rest were passed on to friends.

The bumGenius shells make excellent swim diapers. In my experience, they do a great job keeping in solids (we had a pool for 3 years when our boys were small so I have firsthand experience!)

Cleaning Rags

Cotton prefolds make wonderful cleaning rags. We had several Gerber prefolds that are now my favorite cleaning rag they are great at absorbing spills. They also absorb water really easy which makes them great as a damp cloth for cleaning.

I don’t have any of the thicker prefolds as cleaning rags at this point because I passed on some of these when Cecilia potty trained because they still had quite a bit of life left in them for diapering.

Absorbing and Cleaning Cloths

After being used for nearly 5 years straight, our microfiber inserts still absorbed but smelled horrible after a few wears. It got to where I was stripping nearly every 2 weeks because of microfiber smells. At that point, I replaced all of my microfiber inserts with infant prefolds which took care of the smell issue.

What should you do with all of your microfiber inserts?

They make wonderful cleaning cloths!

My favorite cleaning cloth is the bumGenius newborn insert. When we have a spill, we just place one of these inserts over the spill and it absorbs the liquids up so fast. And, since they’re not being used for diapering, there is no microfiber stink to deal with.

Find a New Home for Useful Diapers

I only suggest upcycling diapers that are no longer useful for diapering babies. If the PUL is still in good condition, the prefolds are not in tatters and your microfiber still has life in it, find a new home for those diapers! Either try to sell them and make back a bit of your investment or just pass them on to another parent who can continue using them.


If you cloth diapered, what did you do with your stash once you were finished diapering your babies? 

responses to “Upcycling Cloth Diapers” 4

  1. This is weird, but I took a bunch of old bamboo and hemp prefolds and cut them into reusable pads for myself! I was inspired here at your blog and elsewhere on the internet to try reusable menstrual products — I decided to try this with the old diapers first instead of spending money and then I would invest if I felt comfortable!

    Sometimes I laugh when I admit to myself that I am literally wearing a diaper, but I have found no reason to purchase the expensive ones even after a year of use.

    Full disclosure: I generally prefer using a menstrual cup for most days, but I have used the reusable prefold pads at night alone and sometimes during the day for extra protection with success. They are super soft and very easy to clean — I have been surprised at the lack of staining.

    Also, I only took the time to do a straight cut and minor sewing to keep the edges from shredding, but if you were craftier, it would be easy to make “wings” or to do a wraparound Velcro or snap like the fancier ones you can buy.

  2. Great idea to use the diapers with damaged PUL as swim diaper covers! Something went wrong in my attempt to cloth diaper. We had an entire set of BumGenius AIO diapers that always smelled and leaked, regardless of washing frequency, soap, use etc. I consulted numerous sources (including the company), and received everything from the detergent (Rockin Green) damaged the PUL to frequent washing damaged the PUL. Whatever the cause, we only got one year and one child use out of them ($400 wasted). I now have a box full of cloth diapers that can't be used or resold. I haven't figured out what to do with them, and haven't been able to bring myself to simply throwing them away. I like the idea of reusing them as swim diaper covers! Perhaps other cloth diapering mamas would be interested in them for this purpose? (And if you have any other ideas for what to do with diapers in this condition, I'd LOVE to know!).

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