Here is what we see being big culprits of wear and tear on diapers:
1. Bleach= now, once in a blue moon bleach won’t hurt anything. If you have cotton outers, they will fade, but PUL is dye fast and can hold up to a bleaching or two over time. Microfiber you could likely soak in bleach for 6 years and it would still be fine. In some health issues, bleach is needed. Yeast, staph, MRSA, and other bacterial or fungal issues will need bleach to keep your baby from being reinfected. If you are bleaching in every wash cycle, or presoaking them, or for some customers even on a weekly basis, you will wear those diapers out faster. They are cloth, and just like if you were doing this to your favorite tee shirts, you will see wear on them.
2. Stretching out elastic while it is hot=When you take your pockets or pocket AIOs out of the dryer, let them cool before stuffing them. I know you are right there and if you put them down it will be two snacks, one potty break and one naptime later before you get back to them, but this really goes a long way. Hot elastic does not like to be stretched, it will wear out faster so let them cool first.
3. Infrequent washing= Many of you are going to say “well, duh, washing wears them out, too!”. Yes, there is a line you have to walk between yuor schedules, your quantity of diapers, and how your wash cycle works in your house. That being said, letting diapers sit 3-5 days can cause a myraid of problems. One, they are soaking in ammonia for some time, which will wear down your fabrics. Second, it will be harder to get them clean after letting them stew in a warm, dark pail for that long of a time, and you usually have to resort to laundry aids, or bleach, to get them clean. Washing every other day is best, save the money you would be spending on twice as many diapers to wash every 4 days, and start building your stash for the next size up. It will be easier on you, and easier on the diapers.
4. Vinegar, oxiclean, other laundry aids=These can be hit or miss, but Vinegar will wear on PUL, oxiclean can delaminate diapers, and essential oils can cause buildup. Your wash routine shouldn’t need any of these except in rare cases of very hard or very soft water, or a tricky front loader.
Now, anytime I list things like this I will get emails saying ” I do all of those and my diapers are in pristine condition!”, and of course there will always be exceptions to the majority. If the above steps are working for you, then don’t sweat it, do what works best for your routines