It will probably happen at some point. In my case, it happened the very first time we cloth diapered my tiny newborn daughter—your child poops, you run the diaper through the wash, and it comes out stained! Many people feel gypped the moment this happens. After all, if you have 12 fancy all-in-one diapers that cost $25 each, you will probably panic a bit—they were SO expensive! The Internet swore they were top of the line diapers, and after one use they look used and gross! What to do? (Unless you’re one of the mysterious minorities of parents online who claim that in their nine years of cloth diapering, they’ve left dirty diapers lying around for days before washing and never had a single stain. In that case, you can go on washing your diapers in your magic washing machine and send the magic our way.)
Option number one: Go nuts with the stain remover. But wait! Not all stain removers are safe for cloth diapers—after all, they are often very harsh and could discolor or eat away at your diapers depending on the fabric. And if the stain remover doesn’t fully rinse out of your diapers, you then have those harsh chemicals up against baby’s bum! Luckily, there are several enzyme cleaners on the market that are non-toxic and safe to use on cloth diapers that will be up against baby’s bum.
Option Number Two: Sunning! This is the most natural way to remove stains from cloth diapers. The same UV rays we slather ourselves with sunscreen to avoid do a great job at bleaching diapers back to white. Simply take your wet diapers from the washing machine, hang them outside, and soon they will usually bleach back to white. This can even be done on a rainy day, as UV rays still come through.
How long do you have to keep them outside? Well…that depends on where you live. If you’re in southern California, Texas, Hawaii, or any other typically sunny region, sunning will be far faster and more effective! From my personal experience, sunning diapers in July in San Diego while visiting family had the diapers dry and stain-free in about an hour and a half. Sunning diapers in Oregon in February while visiting other family meant that after two days of sitting outside, most diapers still had stains on them, albeit fainter. One word of advice though—if you live in a newer house or apartment building and plan to sun by putting your diapers in the windowsill—this may not work. My two year old apartment building installed UV ray blocking windows in every unit, and as a result even sitting in the direct sunlight for days in the middle of summer, the stains on my diapers didn’t even budge because the UV rays were blocked. A bit disappointing, but that leads me to…
Option Number Three: Do nothing! Really. Stains look bad, but they are just stains—it doesn’t mean there’s still poop smeared all over your diapers. Stained diapers are not pretty diapers, but they are clean diapers. Since as I noted above, I don’t have access to my own outdoor space and my apartment windows are too fancy to sun in, this is the option I personally take. It does help that I’m using diapers I bought for my first child on my second, and I’ll use as many as I can for my third, if possible. That means stains don’t bother me since the diapers are basically being used until they’re in shreds anyway! But if you plan to resell the bulk of your cloth diapers after your current child is done with them, you may want to try another option that helps reduce or remove staining, as unstained diapers generally resell better.
What other tricks and tips do you have regarding stains on diapers?