Sanitizing Cloth Diapers

How do you sanitize cloth diapers? It's really quite simple, BUT before you do it, consider WHY you are needing to sanitize. 

- Did you purchase pre-loved used cloth diapers?  Then you should sanitize them.

- Do your cloth diapers smell? Either out of the dryer when clean or right after baby pees? Then sanitizing might be needed, but more importantly, you'll need to strip your diapers to get rid of detergent or mineral buildup and then tweak your wash routine so it doesn't happen again.

- Are you experiencing rashes on baby?  Or are you treating a doctor confirmed yeast rash? Then stripping and santizing your diapers is a good idea. 

These instructions below use chlorine bleach for sanitizing.  Worried about the environment when you use bleach?  Don't feel guilty for using it occasionally if really needed.  It's really not as bad as you think. Look at this to see what I mean. 

***SPECIAL NOTE***

Using bleach to sanitize cloth diapers may very well void any warranty they may have, so check on that first if that's something you want to maintain.  Also, if you have washing issues, contact the manufacturer of your diapers directly.  Good quality brands will have a person on staff specifically to help you with any washing, smell, rash or buildup issues you have and they can help you with a wash routine specific to your washing machine too.

So use the information below at your own discretion and make sure to follow it closely.  Don't leave bleach solution unattended around children or pets and don't soak your diapers in it for a long time. 

How To Sanitize Cloth Diapers with Chlorine Bleach:

- Fill a large bucket, plastic container, bathtub or the kitchen sink with about 2 inches of water and add chlorine bleach. (temperature doesn't matter).
Ratio should be
1/3 cup bleach for each Gallon of water; OR
1/3 cup bleach for each 3.79 Litres of water.
For larger containers or a bathtub use 3 Gallons of water for 1cup bleach.

- Submerge diapers either one at a time in smaller containers or in batches in larger containers for 1 minute. During this time, squish and squeeze the diapers and inserts to fully saturate the bleach water into the materials. Wearing rubber gloves is a good idea.
- Rinse the bleach water from diapers and inserts under plain running water. Rinse them and squeeze them out well.

- Place them in a container which will allow you to transport them to the washing machine without dripping on the counters/floor/etc. A big plastic storage tub or similar will do the trick.

- Wash diapers and inserts in the washing machine using warm wash/warm rinse - NO detergent 2 times. (Note water temp doesn't matter too much, so use whatever is easiest for this part).

- Wash diapers in washing machine using hot wash/cold rinse - WITH detergent.
If you still smell bleach, run a rinse once more.

Bleach is harsh on fabrics, but it really is a good way to kill the bacteria so you can re-set and start again with a better wash routine going forward.

Some things to remember:
  • Only submerge diapers for one minute each then rinse thoroughly. Prolonged soaking will break down PUL, elastics and other diaper materials.
  • Wash diapers immediately following bleach treatment.
  • Good quality PUL should not fade, but bleaching may fade the colors on fitted diapers or other printed/colored fabrics.
  • Use real chlorine bleach and check the expiry date. DO NOT use color-safe or splash-less bleach.

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