How can I reuse or recycle worn out cloth diapers/nappies?

disposable_nappiesI put together a “Recycling Baby Stuff” guide the other day and I was surprised how few entries we had in our baby-stuff category.

The biggest surprising omission was cloth diapers/nappies – we’ve covered disposable ones but not the already more eco-friendly cloth version.

Obviously they’re reusable – that’s the point of them – but that doesn’t mean they’re reusable forever: they might wear out at critical points or the fabric become rough/otherwise unsuitable for baby-wear. And of course, the thing about babies is they have a tendency to grow and eventually learn how to use the toilet too – so unless they’re going to siblings or similar, there will be leftovers.

Old-school folded flat square ones obviously have as many reuses as an other square of fabric: one very close reuse might be to cut them up into smaller squares and use them as cloth wipes, a green alternative to toilet paper.

But what about shaped? Any other great reuses for flat ones?

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18 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle worn out cloth diapers/nappies?”

  1. My mum gave me all my cloth nappies/diapers from when I was a child and now I use them 4 decades on to mop up this floor when my kids 4 and 8 spill something or when our fridge door gets left open and defrosts all over the floor. Some of the terrytowelling ones have had their day so they go off to the rag and bone man via the charity shop I help out at. If they are so bad they do go in the rubbish cos it is not worth washing them and clogging my machine. They have definitly been used and used a hundred times.

  2. Bobbie says:

    Make a hot pad for the oven out of them. Just cut a square then sew some binding around the edges. That is what I did, way back when I had babies in the house. ‘Course there was no such thing as disposable diapers back then. Oops…I’m telling my age now.

  3. Rebekah says:

    Once they’re not fit to use anymore as diapers and have been pretty well used as cleaning rags, you can still be a little more use out of them by putting into the compost rather than throwing them away. Cotton biodgrades naturally and will help fertilize a new generaion of plants in the garden.
    Now that I think of gardening, if the old cloth still has enough cloth intact to form a long strip, you can cut and use those strips for tying plant stalks to stakes as well.

  4. Agata says:

    You can sew cute blanket from them,jut dye them in creamy colours!

  5. jane says:

    cleaning. burp rags. cloth menstrual pads. hot pads. pass them on FREECYCLE.
    diapers for stuffed animals. or baby dolls.
    swiffer pads. squares for baby wipes or tp.coasters.

  6. Lisa says:

    They make excellent shop rags for cleaning the cars and polishing. After baby use, I always really bleached mine and washed them in scalding hot water and anything that needed to be scrubbed, soaked up, or polished, they work wonders on. I used to have my daughter use them for dust rags so I could gross her out lol (they were sparkling clean of course, but loads of fun watching her face and hearing BUT MOOOOM. ;) ) We laugh about it now.

  7. shaun says:

    i will buy your old nappies from you.

    • Finealta says:

      Funny you should mention that, My husbands company used to purchase old rags for their machine shop.
      Make-shift swiffer pads are a great idea too.

  8. Fold each diaper once over (they should then be the size of an average doormat) and sew them along the sides and through the middle to make ‘quilted’ doormats.

    I am trying to make ‘mop slippers’ using old terrycloth diapers and worn out shoe insoles. I had a pair of Japanese mop slippers once and they were great for picking up dirt, pet hair and dust. Just cut the diapers into pieces using a basic slipper pattern, slip the insole in between two pieces of diaper material (cut into slipper sole shapes) and sew the top to the bottom halves of the slipper. Do not make a rubber or hard sole for the slippers. The terrycloth material will pick up dirt from your floor. To clean the slippers, give the soles a little scrubbing with soapy water and a brush when you are in the shower, then pop them into the washing machine the next time you are doing the laundry. They hardly take up any space in the machine.

  9. Vicki says:

    We collect second-hand reusable nappies for an orpanage in Tanzania. If you would like to donate your unwanted nappies too, please just let us know – they’d be going to a good home!

    • Julia Hunt says:

      How do I get my large bag of old nappies to you for use in the orphanage in Tanzania?

    • Emma says:

      Hi Vicki,
      Is this still the case? I have some nappies that are no longer required.

    • Anita Parry says:

      Do you still send your old clothes nappies out to Tanzania? Or if you don’t do you know of any other schemes that send old nappies abroad. I have finished using my nappies and I want to recycle them .
      kind regards,
      Anita Parry

  10. Danielle says:

    I used all-in-one, pocket and fitted cloth diapers (I’m American!). There is a very active resale market in the US on I think most good-excellent condition cloth diapers can be resold for +50% of original purchase price. That’s how I bought half of my diapers and how I’ll pass them along.

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  12. Dale says:

    If your cloth nappies are warn out and cannot be used anymore then providing they are clean you could get them recycled. Lots of charity shops accept worn out/damaged fabric items as they can pass them on to a ‘rag man’ (textile recycler) who gives them money for the rags.
    Therefore you can recycle them and help charity.
    I lnow that Mind charity shops do this – just ask!

  13. Mandy Buyukertas says:


    Are you still collecting second-hand reusable nappies for the orphanage in Tanzania? If so, where are you and how do I get them to you?


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