Feelin’ Frugal: Washing Disposable Swim Diapers

You Can Wash Swim Diapers???

Earlier in the summer I read an article by Frugal Girls on how to save money on swim diapers.  The article suggested a couple of ways to save money, but one of them really stuck with me.  They suggested washing your used disposable swim diapers and using them again.  Really???  You can wash disposable swim diapers???

Yes!  Yes you can!!

One of my friends had given me a partially full pack of disposable swim diapers that her girl couldn’t fit into anymore. By washing the diapers, I’ve been able to make all summer without having to buy any swim diapers! As a matter of fact, I still have a few that are completely unused!  I think that is pretty impressive since we’ve gone on two beach vacations, Grace loves swimming in her baby pool in the back yard, and I didn’t even start with a full pack of diapers.

After experimenting a little bit, I’ve found that it is best for you to put the diapers in your washing machine inside out. Doing that helps keeping the outside lining of the diaper attached better.  However, the diaper works just fine even if that lining starts to separate from the diaper.  Honestly, I’m not really sure why the liner is there.

Frugal Girls recommended that you let the diapers air dry, which is exactly what I’ve been doing with good results.

On average, I’ve used each diaper about 3-4 times before I decided they looked pathetic enough to toss.   I haven’t washed any disposable swim diapers that were pooped in.  Those went straight into the trash.

Here are some before and after pictures of the swim diapers. The diaper on the left has never been worn.  The one on the right has been washed once. You can see the difference in the lining.  That will get worse each time the diaper is washed.


I hope this tip will help make a package of swim diapers last you all summer long!

Update from May 2014: This post has been circulating a lot lately and it has received some negative feedback.  I would like to clear up a couple of things.

  1. Cloth swim diapers are a great option and I would encourage anyone to look into buying one. However, washing a disposable swim diaper is nice way to stretch a pack that you already own.  If you are interested in buying a cloth swim diaper, here is a boy themed option and here is a girl themed option.
  2. Disposable swim diapers do not wick away the moisture like regular disposable diapers do. In fact, they barely hold anything in!! They are made out of a completely different material than regular disposable diapers. It is safe to wash them. Do NOT wash and reuse regular disposable diapers. That IS unsafe and shouldn’t be done.

Update from June 2015: This post has become so controversial that it inspired my post The Day The Natural Living Community Turned On Me. I also created a video all about washing swim diapers.

Have you ever tried washing disposable swim diapers?  How did it work for your family?

For more frugal summer tips check out:

This post contains an affiliate link.  Thank you for supporting Simply Rebekah!


  1. Shelah says

    I discovered the washability of swim diapers quite by accident with my 1st baby 6yrs ago…..by washing a diaper, of course. We have not even finished that first pack. That will be 3 kiddos on one pack of swim diapers! (I think I even bought them at a discount at the end of the summer.)

    • Ruth says

      Becasue I’d rather throw out the poopy diapers. I have an infant AND a toddler — I’d rather toss the poopy ones and wash the wet ones.

      • Erica says

        Having two in cloth isn’t that bad (a friend of mine had 5 in cloth at the same time! LOL)… though I do agree I’d prefer to toss the poopy diapers too if I could… but since I can never predict when they will poop (they usually don’t poop in swim diapers, but sometimes they do) & sposies don’t meet our budget, I use cloth. Actually I use unstuffed pocket diapers for swimming because they can be opened up for cleaning & putting on as opposed to many of the pull-on style swim diapers that don’t open up which make for a messy clean up.

        • Ruth says

          FIVE in cloth?? NO THANKS. haha When I just had one, I did cloth, but got nothing but complaints from my husband — so when I had #2, I sold the cloth and now we use disposable. I know – it’s more expensive, BUT he doesn’t complain AND with disposable he helps change — so, this is me choosing my battles. haha 😉

          • Erica says

            Yeah, I hear you… I don’t think I would do 5 either… I mean that would be ALL I would is change diapers all day long & then wash them all! LOL

            My DH will change cloth but I have to make sure it is a velcro diaper because snaps are a disaster for him. He can figure out algebraic formulas like nothing, but snaps on a diaper, not so much! LOL

            YES, very important to choose battles… & if my DH weren’t on board, I’d have to do it differently too ;). Good for you for finding what works for your family & keeping harmony w/daddy!

            It probably helps my DH to know there are some disposables he can reach for if need be, but being a guy he isn’t about to let a cloth DIAPER intimidate him! LOL

            • Erica says

              PS And just to clarify I was not saying your DH is intimidated by them, but my DH is so stubborn so for HIM he wants to conquer them! LOL

      • Grandma says

        I thought that using cloth would have been the most disgusting thing ever, until I had a granddaughter who is allergic to disposable diapers. She would go from happy hiney to bloody rash in a matter of fifteen minutes. (Pampers were the bane of her existence!) After fighting rash after rash for the first year of her life, with two of them developing into staph infections, I am happy to say that she is diaper rash free and rocking the cloth diapers.

        You mentioned throwing the poopy diapers away. ALL diapers, cloth or disposable, are supposed to have the poop dumped and flushed before discarding or washing. It is very unsanitary to throw the poops away.

        As for washing a disposable swim diaper, H*** NO! I guess I am still shell shocked from the bad rashes we have encountered. Please be careful of what you place against your baby’s delicate skin.

        If you do encounter rashes, mix maalox, baby powder, and mineral oil together. It is the BEST diaper rash ointment on the planet! It took care of rashes that otc and rx creams could not treat.

  2. says

    I would suggest buying one cloth diaper per child for swimming if you don’t have any instead of washing disposables. You can get them for $6.25 each including 2 inserts here : http://www.theluvyourbaby.com/brands/Pure-%26-Natural.html

    I remember hearing a story a few years ago about poor women in New York who washed disposables diapers and it caused some major problems for the babies. I think one even died as a result. Diaper rash, infections, etc. I’m sure swim diapers are different and wouldn’t be as dangerous, but there are also websites that show you how to make cloth diapers easily out of t-shirts etc. if money is really that tight.

    Just something to think about.

    • says

      Holy smokes! Well, I certainly don’t recommend washing regular disposable diapers. However, swim diapers are made out of a completely different absorbent material and re-wash very well. I like the idea of using a cloth diaper, but washing a disposable swim diaper is a great way to stretch out a pack if you already have one on hand.

      Thanks for the advice!

    • Jessica Long says

      I read that too. It is no wonder with the crazy chemicals they use to make Disposable diapers. I use Cloth diapers now for Baby number 2. I am thinking about getting a “Swim Diaper” from Target or from Apple Cheeks but we just use one of our normal ones to swim in. THe Little Swimmer swim diapers are not too bad. I still wont buy them but they at least are not full of that jelly crap!

  3. says

    This makes sense to me. Only because I know from first hand experience that they are not absorbent at. all. See, this one time, we ran out of regular diapers, and I put my daughter in a swim diaper thinking it would be okay just in a pinch. Uhh…NO! Lol! She peed and it leaked everywhere! I think they are only designed to protect the pool and other swimmers from a baby’s bowel movement.

    So, just in case you are tempted to try it, don’t ever put them in a swim diaper unless you’re going swimming. Ha. 😛

    • Rebekah says

      Haha! Thanks for taking one for the team and figuring that out for all of us, Becky. I was recently on vacation and was tempted to let my little one take a nap in his dry swim diaper. I’m glad I went with my gut and changed him into a regular diaper. :)

  4. says

    Thanks for the tip! I just bought our first box of disposable swim diapers to use this summer and I’m really hoping to try this out! I shared on my FB page too :)

    • Rebekah says

      Thank you for sharing this post on your FB page. I noticed a nice spike in traffic that day. Thanks!

  5. says

    I discovered this by accident when I threw the swim diaper in with the bathing suits, I was planning on throwing it out. But it’s true they work just fine and I air dry them as well.

  6. says

    It makes sense that you can wash them since the diapers only catch poop and not pee – but you could save a lot of money by just buying cloth swim diapers. I bought one cloth diaper for the price of a pack of disposables and they last until the kiddos grow out of diapers.

    • Rebekah Hoffer says

      Clare, cloth is a great option if you don’t already own disposable swim diapers. Washing disposable ones is great to help stretch out a pack that you already have.

      I am curious though… How many cloth ones do you own? I think I would probably want 2 just so I could have a back up.

      • Erin M says

        Rebekah I have 3 cloth swim diapers. My favorite one so far is definitely Charlie Banana because it’s so soft and can be used as a trainer later. :)

  7. Brandy says

    One advantage of disposable swimmies is not having to wash the poopie ones. Thank goodness my youngest is almost 11 and I dnt have to deal with any of this anymore. I do wish however someone would have told me this about 16yrs ago :)

  8. Chantel says

    I don’t really think this is advisable. I have seen reports of people washing out disposable diapers to make them last and kids get chemical burns from the material breakdown. There are swim diapers that are made to be reused that are made of cloth. Buy a couple of those for the same amount instead of doing this.

    • Rebekah Hoffer says

      Chantel, washing a regular disposable diaper is NOT recommended, but swim diapers are made out of completely different materials. I haven’t had any problems using the same swim diaper 3-4 times.

  9. Kristin says

    I live in Virginia and almost all our pools forbid cloth diapers. (Don’t ask me why.) So this was a VERY helpful post for me. I am a cloth diaper mama so it bums me out to have to use disposables for the pool each summer.

    • Laura says

      I too live in VA and we have never had an issue using cloth diapers at the pools (Including the YMCA) no difference in it compared to a pair of swimming trunks

      • Kristin says

        My apartment complex has a policy specifically stating no cloth. Also, HOA we used to live in specifically stated no cloth diapers at any of their pools. I disobeyed their rule and put my kids in cloth anyway, but they caught sight of one one day and said I had to change my child or leave. :( I know there is no filtration benefit to either diaper, but I wholeheartedly know that when it comes to my children, our cloth diapers catch more solids and semi-solids than the disposables. The lifeguards are not the policy makers and often do not speak excellent english, so I would have to go higher up the “food chain” to fight the policy. Even the public community center pools now have “no cloth” policies posted. I don’t understand how the attitude began and why it is so widespread here in Northern VA.

    • Erin M says

      I would definitely sharing some information with those pools as they are wrong. Neither cloth nor disposable swim diapers have absorbent materials. In fact, cloth swim diapers hold poop in better than disposable ones. Crazy!

    • Rebekah Hoffer says

      That stinks that you aren’t able to use cloth swim diapers, but I’m glad this post will be helpful for you!

  10. Heidi H. says

    you should remind cloth commenters as well (i love cloth) that not all public swimming pools allow cloth swim diapers. they are a great option when they are allowed to be used though.

    • Rebekah Hoffer says

      We hardly ever go to the pool. We mostly hang out in our own baby pool or use these at the beach. The whole cloth vs. disposable debate at the pool is a whole new world to me! Crazy!!

  11. Erin M says

    Hey! Just wanted to share this really cool blog post I found this morning about cloth vs. disposable swim diapers and exclusive breastfeed poop. Very cool little “unscientific” experiment here: http://thegreennursery.com/tgnblog/swim-diapers-and-ebf-babies

    As far as public pools not allowing cloth swim diapers I would definitely be putting up an argument on that one. No way in heck they would get away with that, it’s just silly. It’s actually laughable! Cloth swim diapers hold the mess in better than disposable ones do. :) (see the link above)

    • Rebekah Hoffer says

      That is interesting. I remember my daughter leaking poop all over her baby pool when she was exclusively breastfed. Now it makes sense!

    • Megan Walker says

      I would fight it, too! I haven’t looked into it for our area yet but we plan on starting swim lessons now that she’s old enough so I need to find out. I guess it never occurred to me that it would be their business since they work the same way, but if the policy makers are ill informed they probably don’t realize that.

  12. Erin M says

    P.S. Hope I’m not seeming to be attacking, just wanted to add my piece of information to the conversation. I’m still boiling a little over not allowing cloth swim diapers in pools though haha.

  13. says

    I think you raise a very interesting point about washing disposable swim diapers. Its certainly frugal. My concerns lie in how being frugal may be a health hazard for baby, parents and other users of the pool.

    Disposable swim diapers are designed to be used once or if there is no poo, maybe dry them out and reuse again?

    Washing them concerns me as they are not designed to be washed. After one wash, the integrity of them looks suspicious, as above. There are obvious bits falling off. If a reusable swim diaper looked like that after one wash, then it would be sent back to the manufacturer.

    I am also concerned about the statement, that they are made of different materials. From what I can find they are have less absorbent material. The materials are the same as a normal disposable diaper. If disposable diapers are not designed to be washed and reused, why are disposable swim diapers?

    I agree that being a parent is expensive and wanting to provide the best for our children. I am concerned about the disposable companies not telling us what is in the disposable diapers and then we make the diapers do more than they are intended.

    Do you know what the disposable swim diapers are made of? I would love to know and how this is affected by washing? Does the waterproof membrane break down? How long does the elastic part last?


    • Rebekah Hoffer says

      Regular diapers have the gel beads that absorbs liquids. Swim diapers do not. You can clearly see that when you get them wet that they don’t swell up like a regular diaper.

      If you are highly concerned about the materials breaking down then I suggest skipping this frugal tip and throwing away the diapers after every use. Or you could buy a cloth swim diaper.

      • aj says

        I love how you are so gracious to all the comments of people commenting on re-using disposable diapers(even tho thru so many of these comments you reassured them that you’re not!), and the comments of ” just buy cloth swim diapers!” yup people, if this doesn’t pertain to you, or you don’t like it, don’t follow rebekahs advice! I personally love it, and find it helpful! And we all need to use our own common sense, and if something doesn’t sound right, do our own research! I have half a pack of swim diapers that were given to me as well, and I’m thankful for this tip!

        • Rebekah Hoffer says

          AJ, I really appreciate your comment. I have been “torn apart” on Facebook over this post, which is fine but it does get a bit old. Thanks for sticking up for me a bit. It was a breath of fresh air.

  14. yo, devotional mama says

    “If money is really that tight.” I have two kids under 2 that need swimmies and a child that due to medical issues must wear a swimmer. Thise run 9.00 a pack and have only a few diapers. So once a week I would spend 27 before tax in diapers, because we swim frequently. On top of the cases of diapers I buy every couple of weeks. So something my kids wear for maybe 2 hours a day and holds no pee shouldn’t be rewashed because a mother washed a disposable once and you’re insulted? So I should pay around 200 in swim wear for the summer or be smart and reuse a few and save that money for my kids? Sorry you don’t like the thought of reusing it, but you obviously reuse cloth… when are moms going to stop being so judgemental of other mothers? I think this is a great idea.

  15. Ashley says

    Thank you for sharing this tip. Obviously this seems controversial to many and I stand behind my belief that you must do what you feel is in the best interest for your child. Having a child in diapers currently I would be willing to try this once. If I see that it isnt in good condition or causes a rash then I certainly would not continue HOWEVER if it works for someone else why not share the concept.

    • Rebekah Hoffer says

      Thank you, Ashley. The controversy over this post has been quite surprising to me. Last night I was reading through comments online with my husband and I just had to laugh. Never in my life have so many people told me that I’m a disgusting idiot! Haha!

  16. Andrea says

    While I am all for saving money, especially with littles in the house, this article shines a bad light on cloth swim diapers and I have to say I’m quite disappointed. We have cloth diapered now for just under a year. Since the age of 4 mos we have had my son in swimming lessons and hve used AppleCheeks cloth swim diapers these hold EVERYTHING in. EBF poop? You bet! Any leaks? Never. Cloth swim diapers come in all sorts of diffent styles as the key is to research and purchase a quality swim diap from a reputable company. I also have a ton of girlfriends who have made the switch to AppleCheeks and have never had a leak either. Monkey Doodles is another brand that works fabulously. Plus, they are so much better for the environment. I encourage anyone interested in cloth swim diapers to do some research into the quality brands and try them for yourself.

    • Rebekah Hoffer says

      Andrea, after reading your comment I went back and read this post again because I was very confused by what you said. This post is not at ALL about speaking badly about cloth diapers. However, after I read it again I thought that perhaps you were confused by the update point #2 and thought that I was talking about cloth diapers in that section. I was not. I updated the text so that it is super clear that #2 is all about disposable diapers.

      I hope that clears up any confusion that you might have had about my post. I am not against cloth diapers. The post isn’t meant to be about cloth diapers at all. It is meant to help those who already own disposable diapers save some extra money this summer.

  17. Rachel N says

    Seems like a lot of work to me…. I also would not trust a washed disposable swim diaper to hold in a mess in a pool. Cloth swim diapers are super easy to use. I am pretty sure if you told the pool you were reusing a washed disposable swim diaper they wouldn’t allow you in. Also pretty sure that the company that makes the diapers would not recommend this. Now I understand why our public pool makes babies wear 2 layers, a swim diaper and a waterproof plastic pant overtop.

    • Ruth says

      They actually stand up really well, up to 4-5 washes. Many public pools won’t allow cloth diapers, so I’d use a new swim diaper for that — in my own pool though, I’ll be washing and reusing.

    • Rebekah Hoffer says

      Thank you, Kristina. The response to this post has been fun and shocking all at the same time. Some people think this is just AWFUL. Eh. I guess it isn’t a tip for everyone. :)

  18. says

    I HAVE tried this. A couple of summers ago. It didn’t turn out as well as I hoped. The outside lining pulled away immediately. I wonder if it was because I have a front load? I also air dried. If someone already addressed this, I’m sorry! I didn’t read all the comments.

    • Rebekah Hoffer says

      Tori, I don’t know why your lining would have pulled away so quickly. Perhaps it does have to do with your washer. Was it so bad that you felt like you couldn’t use the swim diaper?

  19. says

    This was at least 5 years ago that I tried this. It seems that they may have just looked really shabby after the wash. I did re-use them a couple of times (I think I washed 3 of them) but then summer was ending and we put the puddle pool away. So,I just tossed the swimmers. My bag lasted all summer! I only used 4 or 5 out of that pack. I did end up getting a cloth swim dipe and LOVED it! Good luck all you Mama’s that try this! It well worth the extra effort if it saves a few bucks! Those swimmers aren’t cheap!

  20. Steve Warmowski says

    I’m still trying to convince my wife that using the diaper covers from our cloth diapers does the same job as swim diapers. They’re just poop containment systems, right?

  21. Mandy says

    I know you received some flack for this post, but try not to let the haters get you down! It’s awesome that you put yourself our there, and I don’t see a lot of the negative commenters doing that.

    On another note, I think this is a good way to be frugal. My mom has done this for years. And those who think it’s gross shouldn’t try cloth diapering!!! Lol

  22. Anne says

    What temp for the water when washing? And do you use a gentle cycle? I have both cloth and disposables and I like that I can have one drying so I’m not keeping a wet dipe on my tot or squeezing one back on her. Thanks for the tip!

    • Rebekah Hoffer says

      I use cold water and wash it on a regular cycle with my clothes. Then I let it air dry. I hope this helps, Anne!

  23. says

    HI! I love this as my little just started swim lessons at our local public pool. And the hard part for me personally was that he is required to wear a disposable swim pants as he is not potty trained yet. Cloth ones are not permitted. :( Thankfully, a Mom friend of mine had two packs left over from her daughter and she gave them to me. Now I will be able to make those babies last by washing them and hopefully be able to pass the other pack on to another Mom friend down the line. Thank you!

    • Rebekah Hoffer says

      I am happy to help, Kelly!

      Could you do me a favor? This post seems to be circulating on Facebook a lot tonight. Is that where you came across it? Do you know what page you saw it on? I would love to know!

      • says

        Why yes, I did see it on Facebook! :) It was posted by The Humbled Homemaker originally but several of my Mom friends shared it as well via the Humbled Homemaker. ☺I am glad to help and I am so happy to find your blog and will be reading you more and following you among our common social medias. :) Keep up the good work! 😀

  24. Rebecca Goyette says

    This has nothing to do with swim diapers, but the other day I ran out of diapers for my 1.5 year old and my husband had our car and I couldn’t go anywhere. I had some training undies, but I didn’t want him peeing through them, so I put a pad in them… yes a pad… for periods. IT WORKED AWESOME! Soaked up the pee and I could just peel it out and throw it away. Although, it only soaks up a small amount of pee (about 1 time is all they could pee in it) so make sure you check their undies often. This really helped me out in a pickle, and a lot of women have pads laying around!

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