First, let me start by saying that a stain does not mean your cloth diapers are dirty. It just means it has a stain. I’ve seen plenty of new cloth users freak out over stains and I want you to know that they are nothing to worry about.
I will ALWAYS recommend sunning first.
It’s all natural and free, so also my favorite. You can’t believe how well this works until you see it with your own eyes! Ok, so you take your clean but stained diapers out of the wash. Place them still wet outside in a full sun area. You can either hang them or place them on a flat surface. That’s it… Mine are usually out all day because I forget about them. Once they are dry, most of the stains will have magically disappeared. If they haven’t you can just re-wet and repeat. This can even be done inside in front of windows or on cloudy days. Obviously, it will work better outside in full sun if you can. But it will even work on cloudy days…and from inside through a window.
If one cycle in the sun doesn’t do it, I repeat the process but add lemon juice instead of water this time. Take plain old all natural lemon juice (can be found in the juice isle of any grocery store) and pour it directly onto the remaining stains. Make sure the area where the stains are is fully saturated. Place the damp insert back into your sunny location and walk away. Usually by the time it’s dry your stain will be totally gone. You should wash these inserts again as the lemon juice would burn if put directly onto little one.
TIP: Inserts can get kind of crunchy when air-dried. A tumble in the dryer usually will solve that and if it doesn’t help you can add a little Mrs. Meyers or other plant based fabric softener to them.
Stain Removers for Cloth Diapers
I originally found this in Bed Bath & Beyond in a small scrub bottle. It quickly became my favorite stain removing product and the best I’d ever tried! Even against anything mainstream that can be found in all grocery laundry section. I LOVE this stuff. Squirt a little on, give a little scrub if you can (if you don’t buy the one that comes with the scrubbing cap, just use an old toothbrush or scrub brush). Wash as usual. It even works wonders on my husband’s grease stained shirts.
You can keep a bottle of this in your bathroom and just spray stains after removing solids and before placing in your wetbag. You can also spray directly into your pre-wash. Some children might be sensitive to this so be sure to only use in pre-wash so it has a chance to be totally rinsed out. Bac out uses live enzyme cultures and lime extract to remove stains and odors from just about anything.
If you have never tried it, you need to. It will remove stains from anything including carpets and clothing. Click here to see step-by step instructions to use it to remove stains from cloth diapers!
I am an Oxiclean user. I prefer the free version because I found it to not suds up as much and also to be easier to rinse out. I have hard water and I had problems with ammonia burns and stink. Added Oxi to my routine and it solved those issues for me. It is also great at removing stains on cloth. To remove stains fill your washer or tub with water and add clean but stained diapers. If your washer doesn’t have a soak cycle, just add water in a wash and then stop the washer. Add one scoop of Oxiclean; agitate or stir a little to mix it in and then let it sit overnight. Then throw in wet bag or pail and wash it with the rest of your diaper laundry.
FYI, any commercially available stain treater is safe to use on cloth diapers. Just be sure to follow the package’s directions.
I honestly really don’t recommend bleaching just for cloth diaper stains. It’s harsh on fabric and is overkill in this case. There are gentler things to use that will get the job done.
Remember, if after all this you are still unable to remove cloth diaper stains, it won’t affect a diaper’s function at all.
Have you ever tried any of these techniques with success? What is your favorite cloth diaper stains removal method?
This post has been updated. If you’d like to see the newest version you can find it here.
Jenn is a long-time cloth diaper educator and a passionate small business advocate. She has worked in the reusable diaper industry for over a decade, helping millions of families via her websites All About Cloth Diapers, Thinking About Cloth Diapers and Cloth Diaper Geek as well as hundreds of small businesses during that time. Her goal always to provide simple, reliable information.