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Can you use bleach on cloth diapers? What are the alternatives?

[ 5 ] April 14, 2012 |
Bleach. Just the sound of it does something to my skin…hmmm, it kind of crawls and I get this sensation of being in a sterile room. Plus it makes me want to take my clothes off in fear of getting bleach stains like I’ve done all too often!
There’s no doubting, though, that if you have smell issues more often than not you’re going to be tempted to use bleach on your diapers. When should you use it? Should you even use it? Of course there are differing opinions on this matter but here’s the quick overview of all things bleach related:

  • While bleach is really awesome at sterilizing it can be incredibly rough on your cute stash of fluff. As you can imagine because it has the strength to kill some major bacteria it also has the ability to do damage to your diapers by wearing down the fibers. This hurts the diaper’s absorbency and waterproofing.
  • With the above being said, use bleach sparingly if at all. For stink issues try vinegar, an Eco Sprout overnight soak, baking soda (use vinegar in the rinse cycle to restore the pH level in the diapers otherwise it might cause diaper rash) or a Dawn dish soap strip. If you have stubborn stains and live in a sunny climate put those pretty little diapers outside. It’s amazing how a little sun can get rid of stains!
  • You can also try Bac-Out by Bi-o-kleen to strip your diapers. Be careful because some of the ingredients may cause irritation to your baby’s skin.
Use bleach as an absolute last resort when all other methods of stink removal and stain removal have failed. Check with the diaper manufacturer first though; some manufacturers will not keep a warranty on a cloth diaper if bleach has been used.

What are your thoughts?  What has helped you treat cloth diaper odor issues without causing additional issues?

Elizabeth (aka Bert) is a stay-at-home-mom and contributing writer for She Thinks Media. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband, Ben, her son Buggie, and daughter Lady Bug.  When she’s not trying to convince Buggie to expand his interests beyond Thomas the Train or put his pants back on she’s writing about her experiences as a mom on her blog, First Time Mom (FTM). After all, Bert maintains there’s a first time for everything, even if you  have more than one child! 
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Category: ammonia issues, cloth diaper washing

About Julie ()

I'm Julie, a former cloth diaper retailer who discovered a passion for the industry. Now, instead of selling cloth diapers, I advocate them and promote small businesses I love who sell and manufacture them. I'm the wife of a fireman and mother of three. I have an 9yr old daughter and identical twin sons who are 6yrs old.

Comments (5)

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  1. 1
    Christine says:

    I’ve been instructed to USE bleach to strip if you’re dealing with Impetigo since that’s so dangerous. I’m stripping my diapers as we speak, but I’ve so far only done half of my inserts and all my flats. I’m scared to use bleach on my pretty diapers :(

  2. 2
    Carrie says:

    BumGenius actually recommends a 1/4 cup of bleach once a month during the wash. I’ve done it before and it doesn’t affect the pretty colors at all (and it’s such a small amount that it gets rinsed pretty easily).

  3. 3
    Warm Fuzzis says:

    I agree a lot with this post.

    I think it’s ok at LAST RESORT, as you stated; or in situations (as posted in above comment).

    With proper washing & maintaining I’ve found I’ve never had to use bleach & that’s WITHOUT un-natural detergents…Eco Sprout is a great detergent.

    Everything has it’s place…in moderation.

  4. 4
    MacMum says:

    Our pediatrician and hospital actually gave us different papers that both made the same point: using bleach helps get rid of bacteria that leads to diaper rash. Double rinsing is recommended, however, bleach in less than 1/4 cup amounts tends to rinse out well. While it is a shame to have the possibility of wearing down the cloth diapers, it is worth it if it means protecting my baby’s bottom. On a side note, I use bleach in every wash with both the Osocozy prefolds and Bummis Covers and have not noticed any fading in either color or material these past four months.

  5. 5
    Anonymous says:

    This is a great post and thread. I really think an occasional bleaching here and there will help the stink factor. :)

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