Let’s 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 monthly basis and “never have an issue.” So I’m not going to tell you that if you bleach soak cloth diapers they’re going to burst into flames. They won’t.
But I’m not going to tell you that your diapers will always be perfectly perfect after you bleach soak cloth diapers. That would be a lie.
What’s the danger of doing a bleach soak for cloth diapers? Okay, there’s the obvious “void of manufacturer warranty” concern. If you’ve bought your diapers used, manufacturer warranty is a non-issue anyway. Diaper warranty only applies if you buy your diapers from an authorized retailer… and as much as I baby my diapers (and even have some new in package), I’m not an authorized retailer.
Elastics can wear out. I don’t know about you, but replacing elastics is on my top 10 for “stuff I really don’t want to do with my time.” Bleach breaks down fibers. Bleach can be unkind to elastics and certain natural fibers in particular.
Do you have a beautiful stash of hybrid fitteds or fitted diapers? Cotton fabrics can easily fade in a bleach soak. Yes, even if you “do it right.”
I have people tell me (generally in regards to my anti-bleach stance) that they’d rather have clean diapers that are faded from bleach than stinky ones that look pretty. You know what I say to that? It does not have to be an either/or scenario. I don’t have to choose between having pretty diapers or deciding to bleach soak cloth diapers in order to make them clean. It’s just plain not that complicated of an issue. 99% of the time, you can resolve issues without using bleach at all, let alone without making the decision to bleach soak cloth diapers.
I’ll tell you right now that an effective bleach soak for your cloth diapers may be a faster method of dealing with whatever issue you may be stuck with, but it’s not “bleach or nothing” in most situations. There are a wide variety of methods for curing your cloth diaper stink without a bleach soak. (Yes, here’s the link.)
In four and a half years, I have never felt the need to chlorine bleach soak cloth diapers in my own personal stash, and have only felt the need to bleach soak cloth diapers that were donated for charity aid once. And those diapers were so gross that it was “bleach it or burn it.” Since I hate bleach and don’t typically use it, I got advice from the Cloth Diaper Asylum. They, of course, ask questions before suggesting bleach and recognize that bleach is not a preference for everyone. Otherwise, there are chlorine bleach alternatives out there.
Before you decide to bleach soak cloth diapers, take a moment and think. Are there other options out there? Have you looked for them? I know that there are people out there who insist that it’s “bleach soak cloth diapers or they’ll be gross,” but those are not your only options.
Have you bleach soaked cloth diapers? Was it your first step or last resort?