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?