Cloth Diaper Laundry and Bleach

Would you use this on your fluff?

Getting your cloth diaper laundry routine just right is a very personal thing.  There are a lot of factors that can influence the perfect cloth diaper laundry routine: water type, washing machine, number of diapers washed, the type of diapers, your kid’s deposits, and how you handle those kid’s deposits.  That’s just for the normal stuff.  Then there are the other things that come up.

Sometimes, I see a post in a group or community that suggests that one use bleach on cloth diapers.  I wince when I see that.  You see, using bleach on cloth diapers depends entirely on a few things.  (I’m realizing that “It depends” is a common answer when one is first using cloth diapers.  How maddening for the beginner or the curious!)

Every brand has their own instructions on how to care for their diapers.  For the most part, the “cold rinse, hot wash, cold rinse, second cold rinse” system is pretty universal.  Once you get into troubleshooting, that’s when the recommendations can differ.  The recommendation of bleach on cloth diapers is not universal.  Cotton Babies (Flip, BumGenius, and Econobum) recommends using a quarter cup of bleach once a month for stains and general maintenance.  Fuzzi Bunz says point-blank to never use bleach on the shells and only on the inserts under rare occasions.

I should state for the record that in over two and a half years of using cloth diapers, I have never bleached my cloth diaper laundry.  There’s a simple reason for that: I’ve yet to have a need to do so.  That being said, I do understand that there are some occasions that bleaching is the best option for your baby’s bum.  Really, the health of your baby’s bum is part of why most of us start using cloth diapers in the first place, right?

So under what circumstances would I bleach?  If you’ve been dealing with a non-typical rash, I’d bleach.  By non-typical, I mean a rash that’s related to something growing, such as a yeast rash or a bacterial rash.  Those types of things can hang out in your diapers and cause the rash (and the necessary medical treatment) to return.  At this time, those are the only times that I’d bleach.  With inserts alone, I may bleach if there’s a funk that I absolutely cannot get rid of through any other means.  I’ve yet to run into that as of yet, though, largely because I have an effective wash routine that works for us.

I’ve yet to have my children get sick with anything that requires an antibiotic.  If there are special instructions regarding the disposal of diapers (assuming that the parent is using disposables), I may consider it.

I have dealt with a thrush/yeast diaper rash with Norton.  I’ll get to how I dealt with it in another post.  (But I’ll tell you right now that I didn’t use bleach!)

Have you ever used bleach on your diapers?  How and why?

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. Great advice and tips for parents looking to use cloth diapers. julieann r

  2. Bleach is almost always a last resort for me. When my daughter had a terrible yeast infection, I had tried just about everything, TTO, GSE, etc. I probably should have just used bleach in the first place. It did an amazing job of getting the yeast out of my dipes.

  3. Kellie rae says:

    I used bleach on my grovia aio that I bought second hand! Sunned all the dipes and then bleached them all just to start fresh and clean! U never know what other kids had!

    • There are other ways to disinfect. 🙂 I use oxygen bleach (OxiClean) on donated diapers for Cloth for a Cause. It’s a way to kill whatever may be lurking and it’s kinder to the environment.

  4. I used bleach when my oldest got a staph infection in the diaper area. Horrible horrible blistering rash, she screamed whenever I wiped her. I got the perscription cream, switched her to disposables until the treatment had run it’s course and ran the diapers through with pots of boiling water and bleach. I didn’t use bleach with thrush and both girls had it, but that stuff was NASTY. I took no prisoners on that one.

  5. I was so afraid of bleach, but I’ve grown to love it. I use bleach on my diapers about once every other month to make them like new. I don’t feel like it’s as horrible as people say and sometimes, just some times, I feel better using 1/2 a cup here and there instead of worrying about what could be lurking in my diapers.
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    • Yuck. I am militantly anti-bleach. There are other ways to deal with diaper issues than bleach… and if you have an effective wash routine, you shouldn’t need to use bleach anyway. 🙂

  6. melinda says:

    I have to use bleach often though I don’t want to because they stink so bad! I bought cloth diapers to save money but really I’m not for the amount of water usage hey want you to use to clean the diapers. This is the only solution and it sucks!

    • How do your diapers stink? You shouldn’t have to bleach all the time, and if you are, then something is wrong with your routine.


  1. […] time I would ever make an exception to this rule is under the same conditions that I would actually use bleach: if dealing with MRSA, a really bad nasty fungal infection, or something else that requires a […]

  2. […] the past, I’d thought that bleach was the only way to treat cloth diapers for bacterial infections like MRSA, c. Difficile, and other […]

  3. […] be realistic: the bleach soak for cloth diapers controversy has been done and redone a million times.  There are people who will bleach soak their cloth diapers on a […]

  4. […] more information on not using bleach on cloth diapers, check out Cloth Diaper Laundry and Bleach from Cloth Diaper Addicts. Also check out my post on OxiClean entitled Does Oxygen Bleach […]

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