Cloth Diapers – Stain Removal

I still remember it like it was yesterday…excitedly pulling my first-ever load of clean cloth diapers out of the washing machine and tossing them into the dryer.  Diaper after diaper came out looking and smelling like roses.  But then, just when I was about to do a little happy dance, I saw it.  Sitting in the bottom of the washing machine was one last clean diaper…clean, but stained. I wanted to cry.  I read and researched what to buy and how to wash them, but never came across anything telling me they might stain!  (I know, I know, how niave was I?)  Since then, I have learned that stains are just a fact of life when dealing with cloth diapers.  But really, stains are a fact of life when dealing with babies and toddlers period – regardless of whether you use cloth diapers.  The good news is that there are a few really simple ways to deal with, and often eliminate, any stains that do come your way.

1. Wash ASAP –  Whenever we have one of those diaper changes – you know, when you cannot even describe what came out of your sweet little cherub’s bottom side – then it usually warrants an immediate load of diapers.  Thankfully, this doesn’t happen often.  However, you may find the need to increase washes during teething or illness as these events tend to increase the stain power of your little one’s poo.  The longer the stain has to set, the harder it can be to get it out.  So, let a particularly gross diaper be motivation to start a load as soon as possible.  You can check out our washing routine here:  Cloth Diapers – Washing Routine

2.  Sun Dry –  This trick works especially well with breast milk poo-stained diapers.  Any diapers that come out of the wash cycle with a stain can be dried in the sun rather than put into the dryer.  Even if you have to hang them to dry inside by a window, the stain will still magically fade…and often vanish!  I was amazed the first time I tried this…how much better does it get than this simple, free, and eco-friendly stain fighter? 

3.  Overnight Soak – When methods #1 and #2 still don’t completely eliminate the stain, the diaper goes into the “soak” laundry pile.  This pile is typically made up of whites – mostly onesies, bibs, and other attire that did not fair so well against toddler meal time – and usually a few cloth diapers.  When I have enough to make a load, I fill up the tub and dump in a scoop of stain remover, Baby OxiClean or Yoreganics Brightens and Whitens are both good, along with the stained clothes.  I let them soak overnight, and then just throw them in a regular hot wash cycle the next morning.  This has been a pretty successful “last resort” in terms of getting out the more stubborn stains.

I think I have lost maybe one or two diapers to stains in almost a year and a half.  And, these casualties were likely my fault for not following Rule #1 above.  We’ve even been able to put outgrown diapers into storage for any future kiddos.  Talk about reducing the cost of having another child!

Looking for more info on cloth diapers?  Check out the following posts…

Cloth Diapers – The Supply –  See what we have in our stash.
Cloth Diapers – Washing Routine – A breakdown of the routine and products we use to keep ’em clean.



  1. We have had “blow-ups” with honest diapers, but that was the indication we needed a bigger size, as it travelled up the back of the diaper and wouldn’t have been an issue if the diaper was slightly bigger. We’ve gone from NB to Size 1 and now on Size 2 and almost ready for Size 3. (Knock on wood) With Size 2, she hasn’t any blow-ups thus far.
    honest co

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