Buying used cloth diapers is a great way to test out if you are interested in making the switch, or as a way to build up your existing stash. But sometimes it may seem a little daunting. Fear not, here are a few tips on what to look for when shopping craigslist or consignment sales.
- Look at the velcro. If you know how to use a sewing machine, replacing worn out velcro can be very easy.
- Look at the elastic on the legs. If there isn't really any spring in them, then you'll be looking at replacing those too (not as easy as replacing velcro)
- Snaps - are all the snaps there?
- Smell - clean cloth diapers are not supposed to smell.
- Stains - most stains are easily sunned out. But once the baby starts eating solid foods, there are some stains that are harder to sun out than others. Stains shouldn't necessarily be a deterrent but they can give you a clue as to how they were taken cared for.
- Condition of the PUL - any "snags" in the material or tears? Take a good look around each of the snaps if it is a diaper with snaps. Sometimes pulling too hard on the snaps will begin to tear the PUL (see picture below). Torn PUL = high chance of leaking.
- Price: Used cloth diapers hold their value pretty well. Have an idea of what that brand of cloth diaper sells new.
- Type of detergent used
- Air or machine dried
- Machine drying is not necessarily a bad thing - many companies say it's ok to machine dry. However drying at too high of heat for too long and delaminate the PUL and you've got yourself a diaper that doesn't work. Air drying may take a little longer but it helps prolong the life of the diaper.
Try "stripping" your diapers to start with. "Stripping" means removing any build up in the diaper. All About Cloth Diapers has a good tutorial on cloth diaper stripping. I personally have used the "blue dawn" method when I was given some hand-me-down diapers and after rashes that don't clear up in a day.
There are a ton of cloth diaper retailers who sell "seconds" (which are brand new diapers that may not completely meet all QA standards, but are still useable) or have clearance sales too. My favorite way to get quality used diapers is through the Cotton Babies $1 Diaper Sale. You read that right. Every once in a while, Cotton Babies purges its stashes and sells used cloth diapers for $1-$10. So if you live near St. Louis or Vancouver, WA - you should keep an eye on their facebook and blog for when their next event will be.
It may seem gross to buy used diapers.. but think about it. Cloth diapers are meant to be used over and over, and many families use the same stash on multiple kids if the diaper holds up. So as long as you keep a few things in mind and feel comfortable with the source you are buying the diapers from, there's no reason why not to save a few bucks and go the "pre-loved" route!
Have you ever bought used cloth diapers? What was your experience? Would you add anything to this list?