Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I alluded a few posts back to an upcoming post about my new laundry routine, saying that you Charlie's Soap users would want to tune in. Well, today I have about a million things I should be doing, so it only makes sense that I have chosen to finally sit down and write about this! :o)

Really, I've been dragging my feet on blogging about this, because I was quite embarrassed that I had been a cloth diapering mom for a year and a half and never knew that I was leaving a huge step out of my system: DISINFECTING the diapers. I always thought that if they looked clean, and smelled clean, then they were clean. And that when they started to smell a little funky, it was time to strip them. End of story.

Well, I was wrong. At least twice a month, you should be doing something to disinfect your diapers. I actually called Charlie's Soap to ask them their recommendations. Would you like to know who I spoke to?


Yes, Charlie himself answered the phone. He was so friendly and helpful. He said that there are several different ways you can choose to disinfect your diapers. Some people prefer to use hydrogen peroxide, but Charlie told me that the amount of hydrogen peroxide you would have to use to disinfect an entire washer full of diapers would probably bleach everything out. Some people use vinegar to disinfect, but again, the amount you would have to use to disinfect is, well, a LOT.

Honestly, a lot of folks aren't going to like this, but according to Charlie (and in accordance with my own common sense), the best way to disinfect your diapers is to use between .5 cup and 1 cup of bleach along with your regular laundering routine about twice a month.

I know, I know. You've heard bleach is bad for PUL, or elastic. Or you're worried it's going to fade the cute print fitteds you have. I was concerned about this too.

But the truth is, PUL and elastic don't have infinite lifespans anyway. And I don't care if my print diapers stay bright and brand new looking if they're riddled with funk that causes nasty rashes on my kids' bums.

You can also use an oxydizing "bleach," like Oxy-Clean Free powder laundry booster. Charlie didn't seem to think that this method was quite as effective as regular liquid bleach, but recognized it's a more acceptable option to many circles of parents.

I also asked him about using essential oils, and things like Grapefruit Seed Extract, to disinfect diapers. He admitted that he didn't know much about them, but he cautioned me that oftentimes, the people doling out advice on essential oils may not know as much as they claim to know. Additonally, you'd probably have to use a LOT of oil or extract to achieve disinfection in a washing machine full of water, and some have potential adverse side effects on very young babies, male babies, etc.

If you're using essential oils that come into contact with your children's skin, please let me encourage you to do some thorough research from unbiased sources. That is, don't glean all your information from a website that sells the stuff! And overlap your research from different places, seek out certified herbalists, and search specifically for cautions and warnings. I think many EOs are great, but when it comes to using them topically/medicinally, I treat them with as much respect and caution as I do over-the-counter drugs.

Anyway, don't be like me. Don't just think that they're clean because they look clean. Disinfect your diapers!


Southern Belle said...

Good informations thanks! Being that we are expecting another bundle of joy I am looking into cloth diapering once again. With Cubby's cloth diapers I used vinegar on the Bummis wrap and bleach on the white inserts...nothing else cleaned them right.

the monkey's mama said...

i just have to say that i am mad impressed that Charlie answered the phone. How cool!

Back to reading your super informative post! Yet another post i'll be bookmarking, i'm sure :-o

idnar82 said...

You have inspired me to bleach today! My stinky issues began when two diapers I got off FSOT came to me kind of stinky :-( I have tried so many different remedies to kill it completely but haven't been successful. I decided today after washing my diapers and pulling them from the dryer to discover that the "stink" is spreading to my other lovely diapers that I MUST use your bleach remedy! So, they are in a nice long hot wash with a full cup of bleach. I am kind of nervous, but I do plan on running a detergentless hot cycle after they are done to further rinse them :-) I HOPE this kills the stink and disinfects like crazy!

idnar82 said...

UPDATE! The bleaching worked GREAT! My diapers look beautiful and smell fantastically clean! No PUL or elastic seems to be affected. The only negative side affect was my pretty "sprout" (green) Sbish fitted is now a little more "lemon-lime." I will definitely do this again but I probably will use closer to the 1/2 cup Charlie recommended - the whole cup I used seemed like a lot!.

I will also mention that I didn't bleach any of my fleece covers or straight PUL diaper covers...but I did do fitteds, pockets, inserts and AIOs. I was also hesitant to do it to my beautiful unbleached organic prefolds and MEOS... those will get a mere 1/2 cup bleach next time I do it though. Thanks for the great advice. My Sposoeasy AIOs look almost better than new and my stinky RAR pocket that was the culprit of all the stink smells great too!

Tully Family said...

If I am using a detergent like ALL free & clear, doesn't that sanitize the diapers? Or stripping the diapers w/ Dawn every 6-8 weeks- wouldn't that sanitize them?

Just wondering- we stopped using bleach awhile back & I hate the smell of vinegar (and have read in several places of people having a hard time getting the vinegar smell out of their diapers!)

One more thing- are you using bleach w/ every load? When do you add it- in the hot wash cycle?

Thanks- you've got me thinking!

Natalie said...


The Cloth Diaperin' Mama said...

idnar - Thanks for sharing your own account of using bleach to disinfect and clean your diapers! I'm glad that it helped you to love your preloved diapers. :o)

Tully Family - It's a common misconception that detergents disinfect or sanitize diapers. It really requires an extra step. Of course, you can sanitize by boiling as well, or "autoclaving." I don't really know much more about alternative ways to disinfect other than what I already wrote in the post, I'm sorry. :o/

You could try looking around on Diaper Swappers to see what other moms say, but don't forget my caution about advice sources regarding essential oils and other non-chemical methods. "Natural" is often better, but it does not always, 100% of the time equal "best" or even "good."

HappilyDomestic said...

I found your blog because I saw a link to it on Cloth Crazy's blog. I have a new blog called HappilyDomestic and am trying my hand at doing a review/giveaway myself. Wanted to let you know so that you can get in on the giveaway! Winner will receive a one-size Haute Pockets diaper. I hope that you will stop by and enter and enjoy reading my blog as well.
Here is the link for the giveaway:

Jackie at 3littleones said...

thanks for sharing this info - I never thought to disinfect myself - but I was happy to hear about oxyclean - b/c I do use that often. Thanks!

elizabeth said...

We have one of those LG steam washers that has a 'sanitize' cycle that is supposed to do exactly that. It super-heats the water once it is in the machine. We use it on all of our sheets and towels to kill dust mites...Do you think this would work on diapers too? We actually don't have kids, I'm just thinking ahead :)