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How To Bleach Cloth Diapers Safely

Are you thinking about giving up on cloth diapering because of problems like ammonia, yeast, or mold? Don’t worry! You don’t have to say goodbye to your cloth diaper journey yet. Cloth diapers are environmentally friendly and can save you money in the long run. So it’s definitely worth trying to salvage them.

If your diapers are in really bad shape, don’t despair. You can actually use bleach to revive them. Yes, you heard that right – plain old bleach.

While using bleach might make some cloth diaper users nervous, it’s a very effective solution for a wide range of issues. We’ve used it to prevent and solve all sorts of problems, and we’re happy to share our tips.

Bleach cloth diapers

Why You Should Routinely Bleach Cloth Diapers

Even though the word “bleach” may be a bit scary in the cloth diaper community, some makers suggest using it once a month to keep your diapers in top shape.

Bleaching your diapers regularly can break down yeast and ammonia, eliminate any smells, and stop detergent buildup before it becomes a bigger problem requiring more extreme measures like stripping.

There are a couple of ways you can bleach your diapers – some people add bleach to their wash cycle, while others prefer to do a full bleach soak for added assurance.

Why Bleach Cloth Diapers


Mold is attracted to warm and humid environments, so it can show up in many different scenarios. Leaving a travel wet bag in the car or letting diapers sit in the pail for too long can cause mold to grow.

If you ever find mold on your diapers, you might feel like giving up and buying new ones, but hold on just a minute. A bleach soak can eliminate the mold and restore your diapers to their former glory.

If the mold stains don’t disappear immediately, try a stronger bleach soak or soak the diapers in OxiClean.


It’s hard to miss the pungent odor of ammonia in your cloth diapers. The stench can be overwhelming and might make you reconsider using cloth diapers altogether.

Ammonia buildup in your diapers can result from various factors such as using too much or too little detergent, mineral accumulation from hard water, or letting your baby wear a diaper for too long.

You might be thinking about stripping your diapers right away when you detect ammonia, but that’s not always necessary unless it’s due to hard water. If not, a bleach soak is often all you need to eliminate the smell.

Bought Used Cloth Diapers

Buying pre-loved cloth diapers is an excellent way to make your budget go further, especially if you’re new to cloth diapering and want to test different options to see which ones work best for your baby.

However, before you use them, make sure to do a bleach soak.

The previous owner might have used a washing routine that wasn’t sufficient or a detergent that irritates your baby’s skin. If their baby had a yeast rash, it could be passed on to your little one.

Since there’s no way to know, it’s best to start fresh with a bleach soak to ensure your baby’s safety.


If your baby has a persistent rash that lasts more than a day or two, despite your best efforts to keep them clean and dry and using rash creams, it might be due to a yeast rash, which can affect babies who wear cloth diapers or disposables alike.

While other methods such as hot washes, OxiClean, or essential oils may be suggested by some, a bleach soak is the most effective way to eliminate yeast.

If your baby has a yeast rash, it’s crucial to bleach your diapers immediately to prevent the spread or recurrence of yeast.

What Bleach Should I Use

Before delving into how to bleach your cloth diapers, it’s essential to keep in mind that not all bleaches are created equal. When it comes to bleaching your cloth diapers, you should opt for the original liquid bleach labeled as a disinfectant.

Avoid using splash less bleach as it won’t effectively disinfect your diapers, and you may need to repeat the process again.

Bleaching With A Washing Machine

In case of mold or yeast emergencies, or if you want to give your cloth diapers extra care, a bleach soak is the way to go. If you have a top-loading washing machine, this process is straightforward.

Here are the steps to follow:

  • Fill the washer: Fill the washing machine with cold water.
  • Add the bleach: Use the original liquid bleach, and add one-third of a cup for a small washing machine, half a cup for a medium one, and three-quarters of a cup for a large one.
  • Soak the diapers: Allow the diapers to soak for at least 30 minutes but not more than 45 minutes.
  • Rinse the diapers: Once the soak is over, rinse the diapers with hot water and follow up with a hot wash. Remember to use detergent in the hot wash to fully break the bleach.

Soaking In A Bathtub Or Sink

If you don’t own a top-loading washer, other options are still available for bleach soaking your diapers. You can use a sink, a large bucket for small loads, or a bathtub for larger loads.

The process for soaking your diapers in a sink or bathtub is similar to that of soaking them in a top-load washing machine. Simply soak the diapers in cold water with bleach, rinse them out with hot water, and follow up with a hot wash in a washing machine with detergent.

The only difference is the amount of bleach you’ll need:

  • For a half-full bathtub: add half a cup of bleach.
  • For a full bathtub: add one cup of bleach.
  • Add one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of cold water for a sink or bucket.

Bleaching Cloth Diapers FAQS

How long should I let my diapers soak in the bleach solution?

Soak your diapers for at least 30 minutes, but do not exceed 45 minutes.

Do I need to rinse my diapers after a bleach soak?

Yes, rinse the diapers with hot water before washing them in the washing machine.

Should I use hot or cold water for a bleach soak?

Use cold water for the bleach soak and hot water for the rinse.

Can I bleach soak my cloth diaper covers?

You can bleach soak your diaper covers, but only if they are made of 100% PUL or TPU.

Can I use bleach to remove stains from my cloth diapers?

Bleach may help remove stains, but it should only be used as a last resort and should be followed by a thorough rinse and wash cycle.

Can I use bleach on my cloth diaper inserts?

You can use bleach on your cloth diaper inserts, but only if they are made of natural fibers like cotton or hemp.

How can I ensure that my cloth diapers are properly sanitized?

The most effective way to ensure that your cloth diapers are properly sanitized is through bleach soak.