Did you ever take a cloth diaper cover or insert out of the wet bag, pail, or washer only to discover that it’s covered in small black or brown spots? It could be mold! Mold thrives in wet, humid conditions. It’s not the end of the world though. I’m going to show you a few simple steps to kill the mold and then get rid of the stains that it leaves behind.
Here’s a few photos of what mold stains look like on a cloth diaper. Yuck right?
STEP 1: KILL THE MOLD
Method 1: Bleach Wash
A bleach wash will do the trick. You can do this right in your washer and soaking is not necessary. Add the bleach via your bleach cup or tray along with your usual detergent and then wash on regular in warm or hot water.
Use bleach that is not expired and is at least 5.25% sodium hypochlorite. Here are the dilution amounts.
Top Loader (Non-HE): Small- 1/3 cup, Medium – 1/2 cup, Large/XL- 3/4 cup
Top loader (HE) Small- 1/4 cup, Medium- 1/3 cup, Large- 1/2 cup
Method 2: Oxygen Bleach (such as Oxiclean) Soak
The main ingredient in oxygen bleach is the powder form of hydrogen peroxide which can also be used to kill mold. I personally use OxiClean as it is readily available in most grocery store aisles.
Soak the affected diapers in hot water and OxiClean solution. Use 1 gallon of water and a scoop to the 4 line of the OxiClean (using the scoop that comes with the container). Soak for 6 hours. Wash in a tiny bit of detergent after soaking. If you are JUST washing the cloth diapers you soaked, don’t over do it on the detergent, remember you are washing an already clean insert.
STEP 2: GET RID OF THE MOLD STAIN
The above steps killed the mold, but even after a bleach wash or oxygen bleach soak, you will be left with the stains (which are purely an aesthetic issue).
To remove mold stains you will need to make a paste from oxygen bleach (such as OxiClean).
- Wear gloves to protect your hands.
- Mix a 2 to 1 ratio of OxiClean and cool water. (Basically it’s 1 tablespoon of water to every 2 tablespoons of oxi.)
- Take the paste you created and with a plastic utensil spread on all mold stains. You want a nice thick layer of the paste.
- Leave overnight. (6-8 hours)
- If stain is gone go ahead and give the diapers a short wash with a tiny bit of detergent to wash away the OxiClean.
- If the stain remains, repeat steps 1-4 again.
I’ve had to do this before and it’s taken me two nights to get the stains to completely disappear.
Please be aware that both bleach and oxygen bleach can fade non colorfast items. This includes knit fabrics such as cloth wipes or wahm diapers made with a knit outer.
If mold becomes a recurring issue you should take steps to stop it from happening again and again.
- Store your dirty diapers in a cool, dry place. Bathrooms and laundry rooms are places to stay away from. They tend to have higher humidity and less air flow than other rooms in your home.
- If your home is prone to mold, you may find an open pail method works better for you. The air flow that the pail receives keeps the moisture down and mold at bay.
- Wash your diapers more often. Sure! You have enough to go a week. But that makes them harder to get clean and also has them sitting in pretty wet conditions for long periods of time. Shoot for every 3-4 days at the max.
- Wash your washing machine! Mold can grow inside if it isn’t maintained properly Leave the door open after washing a load to allow it to dry inside. Run a cleaning cycle monthly as well.
If you gotten rid of mold on your cloth diapers and used a different method, let us know how!
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.
Did you get rid or the Stains on the cover as well ?
I was really Desperate beacuse or mold and i’m really glad I found your article. Thanks !
Jennifer Reinhardt says
You can use the same method on the covers. :)
Hello! If there is mold on 1-2 diaper that was part of a larger load, does the entire load need the mold killing step?
This method worked so well! In one treatment everything was gone! I used oxiclean, not the bleach method. Wish I could post the photos. Thank you!
Does the oxiclean soak have to be 6 hours? If it’s just to kill the mold spores would 2 hours be sufficient? I don’t care as much about the staining.
Jennifer Reinhardt says
It’s the directions that OxiClean provides and I’m following their recommendation as they know how their product works best.
Thanks for this guide! Wouldn’t the stain removal step take care of killing the mold too, since both steps are an application of Oxiclean? Just trying to simplify this if possible.
Jennifer Reinhardt says
Seems like it could. But there may also be lurking mold elsewhere on the diaper that isn’t big enough to see. The paste would only work on the spots it’s applied to. And after the soak you may not have stains anyway. So sometimes the paste isn’t necessary.
Thanks for your valuable information. I was very worried how to get rid of those stains.