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Removing Cloth Diaper Stains

Something left a stubborn mark on the inside of your baby’s diaper? You’re in the right spot.

Here’s the thing: while they might not look gorgeous, stains are usually harmless, and don’t necessarily mean the diaper is still dirty. Most stains will clean out after a few washes, so don’t go reaching for the bleach just yet. If staining occurs, it’s critical that any products used on the diapers and covers to remove stains are mild, so they won’t irritate your baby’s skin, or cause early deterioration to the diaper.

Be extra careful when using common stain-removing products like bleach, or even oxygen-based bleach. The only time it may be safe to use is when the diaper doesn’t contain an elastic or waterproof layer (like prefolds or flats). Bleach or oxygen-based bleach can damage the diaper's elastic and eat away at the waterproofing layer.

If you have to use these products, just know that they can also cause holes to develop in natural fabrics such as cotton, hemp, or bamboo. Also, be sure to to add an extra rinse or two to your wash just to make sure there are no chemical traces left behind that can potentially irritate your baby's skin.

You can also just ignore the stains. Your diapers are clean, they just look a little yucky. They still get the job done and the stains are doing no harm to your little one. But, if you don't like the look of your diapers, getting them looking like new is a piece of cake!

How to de-stain your baby’s diapers (the safe way)

Most stains will come out on their own after a few washes. After that, laying them out in the sun is the safest and most effective route to getting your diapers sparkling clean again.

In most cases, laying the stained diapers out in the sun is the safest and most effective way of removing stains.  Sunlight will “bleach” your diapers and sanitize them at the same time – not to mention minimizing the wear and tear using the dryer can cause. Don’t have a backyard? Just laying your them inside by a sunny window will work. 

If the stain isn’t 100% gone by the end of the first sunning session, leave it out for one or two until the stain is gone.

Sun still not working? Next time you’re faced with a streak you can’t just sun away, squirt lemon juice on it before laying the diaper out again. But remember: because of the citric acid in the lemon, you’ll have to wash the diaper again before putting it on your child.

Stain prevention & treatment tips
  • When there’s poop involved, pre-rinse your diapers in WARM water before tossing it in a hot cycle. Washing directly in hot water can ‘bake’ in the stain, whereas rinsing it in warm water first will help it loosen from the fibers.
  • Invest in a diaper sprayer. Trust me: once your baby is eating solids, you will be so, so happy about this investment. Use the sprayer to get as much of the mess out as possible before you wash, so the stains won’t set.
  • Despite what you may have heard, newborn poo does stain. A diaper that catches newborn poop can sometimes stain a light shade of yellow. Fortunately, this should come out on its own after a few washes.
  • Make chlorine bleach your LAST resort. It’s effective, but can also put holes in the fabric, damage the elastic, and irritate your child’s skin.