When an article about keeping diapers in my stockpile came across my feed, I thought it was some kind of gimmick until I started thinking about it.
I keep tampons, maxi-pads, and mini-pads in there for medical uses, so why not diapers? They’re absorbent and lightweight, and cover more than a maxi-pad would. So I started checking, and found even more survival uses for diapers than I’d thought of.
Cloth or Disposable?
Both! Cloth diapers are typically made out of cotton, which means they’re extremely absorbent tolerated by most people. They’re also washable and even bleachable since they’re made for a pretty heavy-duty purpose.
Many cloth diapers are also reinforced with several layers down the middle third, when absorbency is needed the most.
Disposable diapers have the benefit of sodium polyacrylate, also known as hydrogel. If you’ve ever torn a diaper open, you’ve seen the little crystally popcorn balls, or if they’ve already been exposed to water, it’ll appear as a gel. Hydrogel can absorb up to 300 times its weight in tap water and even more if the water is distilled.
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In addition, you can still buy the diapers that are plastic on the outside, or at least leak-resistant, which opens it up for a whole other world of uses.
This is the obvious use, other than the intended one, that is. Both cloth and disposable diapers make good bandages.
Cloth diapers are a little more resilient because they’re flat and can be folded and molded to fit wherever you need it to, but disposable diapers are good if you want absorbency, or even the ability to fasten it around something without needing pins.
Because there are times when the cloth diapers with the thicker strip down the middle can be too bulky for what you need, but can be extremely beneficial in other times, I recommend getting a couple of stacks of both.
You know those ice packs that are moldable and easy to work with?
You can make those at home by pulling the polyacrylate out of the disposable diaper – or just putting the whole diaper in – and putting it in a Ziploc bag. Add ½ cup-1 cup of alcohol or vodka and about the same amount of water.
If it’s not quite gooey enough, add a little more water. When it’s that gel substance instead of dry, you’re ready to freeze it. It will stay cold longer than regular ice and the alcohol will keep it from freezing solid.
Treat Hoof Issues
Ever tried to get a horse to stand in a bucket for a medicinal soak? I have. And it’s like stuffing a cat in a feed sack. Good luck. But horses get abscesses sometimes. An abscess is an infection in the hoof and will keep your horse lame for months if you don’t treat it properly.
When I was showing horses, we always had a disposable diaper – as well as maxi-pads – in the med kit because if you need to soak a sore knee or cover a wound, a diaper is a great way to do it.
To make a poultice to treat an abscess, dissolve 1 cup Epsom salts in hot water then add 2 cups wheat bran. Add more water if need be to make it into a wet paste.
Clean the hoof well and, if possible, break the wall of the abscess. This may be something you have to wait on, but there’s no need doing the poultice till the abscess works its way to the surface and ruptures.
At that point, make the paste above and pack it into the hoof, then hold it in place with a medium diaper. You may want to add another diaper or wrap it in duct tape or a gauze bandage.
Not for nothing, but this would work if you got sores on your feet, too.
Shoe Padding and Insoles
The last thing you need if you’re in a survival situation is to rub blisters or open sores on your feet. Nor do you want your feet to be sweaty and hot.
Both are breeding grounds for infection. The polyacrylate is fluffy and makes for a great padding that you can use as an insole or on spots that may be rubbing.
Since it’s absorbent, it’s great to use just as a replacement for a fancy insole that you may not have access to or be able to afford.
A cloth diaper is made with tightly woven fibers to help stop leaks, so it’s perfect for filtering water. Just place the diaper over the container you want the water in, leaving it dipped into the container in the middle like a cup or a funnel.
Pour the water into the diaper and let it run through. Remember that this is only filtered, which means you’re removing the debris. It doesn’t kill any pathogens or remove any chemicals.
Heat stroke is a real danger in the summer, especially now that it’s getting so much hotter. Disposable diapers are designed the hold in moisture, so use this to your advantage.
All a cup or two of water to the diaper then refrigerate or freeze. When you’re going outside to do something that’s hot, just put the chilled diaper on the back of your neck – it’ll wick away moisture while helping keep you cool.
When you’re in need, you have to survive with what you have on hand. Diapers might be one of the items that you have around, so be aware of their uses and try to make the most out of it!
These are just a few of the uses that I found for diapers. Can you think of more? If so, tell us about them in the comments section below.
William glass | January 5, 2018
as far as using vodka for an ice pack, i suggest that you use the alcohol and drink the vodka (many uses a drink).
William glass | January 5, 2018
as far as using vodka for the ice pack, i suggest using the alcohol and drinking the vodka (many uses in drinks).
Marilee Lonsberg | January 5, 2018
Great advice! Thanks for the tips.
Clergylady | February 11, 2019
An EMP or being on the run will eliminate the ice pack but it can still cool so still is useful.
I was given a box of old unused adult diapers with a disintegrating plastic layer on the outside. I remove the plastic and mix the rest of the diaper into potting soil to hold moisture longer in desert container gardening. I’m wondering how adding some diaper material would work out in my raised beds and swale/berm planing areas.
My daughter sews the inner layer into a folded bandana to hold moisture when tied around her neck in summertime. She wets it with a 50/50 water/alcohol mixture. She prefers the lightly green tinted alcohol with wintergreen scent. It can be dried out and rehydrated multiple times.
I do have some new adult diapers and adult sized bed pads tucked into my med backpack. I used to do senior care and hospice grief counseling. Families hated to just throw away personal care products when family members passed away. I passed many unopened packages on to families that needed them but they were often reluctant to take open packages so any that weren’t taken went into my med or gardening storage areas. I’ve even used strips cut from the bed pads to hold moisture to test viability of a few seeds from really old seed packages. Lay a few of the seeds on a narrow strip, moisten, then with lay a bit of plastic wrap on top or close up in one those disposable plastic boxed many food items are sold in. I have a saved stack of those food boxes saved by a neighbor. I use them for seed starters in the house. Perfect little greenhouses to hold planting mix and seeds with a bit of water.
Bill in Idaho | February 11, 2019
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rex | February 11, 2019
REX KY dis. diapers work well for leg warmers when working out, or keeping lower legs warm in very cold temps. cold temps work on lower limbs from knees down when out side working 0r just playing, it is very hard to walk when lower leg mussels are numb from very cold temps I saw this in Korea in the 50’s.
Carl | February 2, 2020
Surprised you never used woman’s legg’s. They are surprisingly warm. Like silk long handels, very warm for weight, & worth huge expense.
Rascal Jasper | February 12, 2019
Cloth diaper- arm sling
Jeanne | February 18, 2019
Practical use for concealing things. I have used diapers to waste unused narcotics from hospice patients. Wrap up everything destroyed and the bottles inside a diaper and fold up and tape closed. Would you look through a seemingly used dirty diaper? Just saying.
Zippy | October 20, 2019
I thought diapers and female maxi pads would make a great gunshot wound dressing until I suggested the idea to my son in law who is an emergency room doctor in the local hospital. He said that would be one of the last things to use if possible because they absorb the blood and it keeps you bleeding. He said you needed to STOP the bleeding with pressure and celox dressing if available that clots the blood. He just of kind of laughed, shook his head and said “forget about the diapers and just invest in celox bandages”. Get them on Amazon cheap enough.
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Sandy mckinnon | February 2, 2020
Velocity. Can’t get them in Canada. Use cayenne pepper on open bleeding wound. Will stop bleeding fast. Stings, but stops bleeding. Wrap wound. Alcohol,,use 98% rubbing alcohol to kill germs on hands. Also great. For thawing ice on windshield, and to prevent build up of ice.. put it in small. Spray bottle from dollar store. Mix lavender with alcohol and spray body to keep mosquitoes and tics away!
Sandy mckinnon | February 2, 2020
Should read celox to stop bleeding
Nancy Lee | February 27, 2020
Diapers function admirably for leg warmers when working out, or keeping lower legs warm in freezing temps. cold temps take a shot at drop appendages from knees down when outside working 0r simply playing, it is difficult to walk when lower leg mussels are numb from freezing temps I saw.