Missed Part 1?
Welcome back! In part 2 of our series, I wanted to talk about the life expectancy of elastic.
But first a little math for you:
The average cloth diaperer washes every 2.5 days, so a diaper is washed approximately 146 times a year…or 438 times if you use a diaper for birth to potty training.
That’s a lot of washes!
*Buying used is a trend in cloth diapers that can prove even more disappointing. You don’t know how many washes that diaper has already endured!
Think about this in terms of a normal piece of clothing- like a t-shirt. If you wore that shirt, once a week it would undergo 52 washes a year. It would take almost 8.5 years to equal the amount of washing that 1 cloth diaper is subjected to. IF that shirt stood up to 8.5 years of washing- what would it look like? My guess is you would have a faded, holey t-shirt suitable for cleaning counters.
So why do we expect more of our cloth diapers?
First things first, let’s look at the lifespan of elastic. Generally speaking elastic is going to be the first thing that will go on your diapers.
A diaper manufacturer has a few options when it comes to choosing elastic for their diapers- they have to factor in cost as well as life span expectancy when choosing the right material. The main two types are:
- Rubber/Latex Based (Woven/Braided and some Fold Over Elastic (FOE)- Life Expectancy Approximately 1 year.
Rubbers are solids that are made by crosslinking polymers. Polymers form entropic springs whose stiffness increase as the temperature increases.” (1) Basically this means: The hotter the water/dryer the quicker your Rubber/Latex based elastic wears out.
- Nylon- (FOE)- Approximately 1 year- Nylon begins to degrade when temperatures go over 50 degrees c or 122 F. (6)
So basically, no matter what type of elastic the manufacturer chooses temperature makes a huge difference in the life expectancy of the diaper. As we see from the chart above- and according to GE, dryer temps range from 125-135 degrees which can begin to degrade elastic.
Tip: To prolong the life or your elastic- or at least to get the full year out of it- avoid the dryer all together and hang dry. If you must use the dryer, avoid stretching elastic when warm as this will stress the polymers at their most fragile state.
Stay tuned for Part 3- where we talk about Microfiber and Natural Fibers.