Cloth Diaper Series: Mildew and Mold

Ew. Yes diapers can grow mold and mildew. Putting aside neglect (I’ve done it, leaving a wet bag over night or forgetting the travel wet bag in the diaper bag…. For a day or more *shamed face*) even just doing what you think is right, can cause this nastiness to appear!

What Causes Mold or Mildew on Cloth Diapers?

Well it can be a number of things. You could leave the diapers in the washer drum to long. You could dry them in the dryer and not dry them completely and put them away slightly damp. You could hang them to dry in a moisture filled area of your house, not realizing it’s moisture filled, and encourage growth that way. You could be washing the diapers on to cool a temperature or with detergents that don’t fit your water type (hard water or soft?). You may not be washing with enough detergent or with too little water!

There are many things that can cause it. Addressing your suspicions one by one until you catch it, is the best way to figure out what’s causing the problem.

Our Enemy:

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Mildew is brown, oddly enough! It surprised me because, any mildew I’ve seen is in a bathroom and is black! On Diapers though it’s brown and spotty.

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Mold is black and very thick, almost like you can’t see where the individual bits would be.

Once you’ve identified the ick, check the waistband, leg elastic areas, and inside and underneath the pocket or snap/ hook and loop area. Find those places it likes to hide!

Ways to Clean That Won’t Void Your Warranty!

Yes, if you registered your diaper you have a warranty. Especially those $25 a pop diapers! Check your manufacturer’s website and see what cleaning methods void your warranty.

Usually a safe bet is Lemon Juice and Sunshine! A lot of YouTube videos rave about laying out a tarp with the mold/ mildew side of the diaper up. Rub in lemon juice (without sugar please) on the moldy areas and lay it in the sun. The sun’s lovely rays coupled with the acidity of the lemon, will bleach out the stain of the mold and mildew and kill the spores as well. (Some mold will leave a stain even after the mold has been killed. The longer you sun bleach, the better your chances of removing that stain.)

I am also told baking soda and lemon juice diluted does a fine job. I would check actual composition of that mixture, however. Some people do mostly water then x tablespoons of lemon and baking soda. It truly depends how many diapers, a paste or a wash… Or a rinse! I would Google. I do not live in a place I can test this myself, apartment rules. (I cannot have a line outback or leave clothing outside) I just wanted you to be aware of these methods!

Chemically Clean and Warranty Voided Method

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Yup a QTip and a cap O’ bleach. It kills everything… And the stains come right out. There is a price, many diapers say not to bleach and that in doing so, voids the warranties.

I am of the school of thinking if my diaper molds in the first two months I am returning it to the manufacturer. Or calling the to say WTF? After that… It’s poop my friends. It happens, it sat, it has had time to grow things. I’m not returning 5 month used diapers. Even if I can, I feel… It’s wrong. That’s just me though.

So at that point, the warranty doesn’t matter to me!

So what I do is wash the diaper first. Chances are, if you noticed it, it was when the diaper was foul. So yes washing it first is a good thing. If it’s clean and you noticed, excellent! Move to the next step!

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Make sure you have looked everywhere and identified where the mold or mildew is!

Then I suggest to put on some gloves, my first mistake was to bleach, wash my hands to pieces, and still chemically burn my son’s face while I breast fed him. Boob goes near the face and hand holds the boob near the face… Yeah, poor baby!!

So glove up, pour bleach into cap, wet QTip and go to town bleaching in small areas.

You never want to add a bunch of bleach to the wash. That can mess up the fleece! A bit at a time is best.

Once bleached you can expect these results:

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Pop these diapers into the wash and make sure you do a pre-wash and an extra rinse, wash on hot, and use a tad but more detergent.

Hurray! You Killed it!

It has been killed M’Lord and M’Lady! But it shall be all for naught if you don’t figure out why it happened in the first place!

My issue was, I needed to dry them in a place with circulating air. So I dry them under a ceiling fan now, all night and most of the morning. Also, I have to wash them daily because living in the Southern part of the USA, the moisture is intense! You can breathe in air and drink a glass of water at the same time! Not ideal drying conditions.

So please take the time to figure out why and the decide in your own, chemical death or natural death, for the moldy mildewy interloper! Good luck!

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13 Comments

    1. afternoonofsundries

      Yes this is why I do the $6.99 a pop version! I mean honestly… People get what the pay for certainly but, my $6.99 diapers are lasting pretty well. I have 2 $25 diapers and yes they are softer and cuter but Connor doesn’t really care, you know? So it would be all for me, and in my opinion, that’s not truly something we need to do right now! But I hate to tell you… There are even more expensive diapers than that!

      Like

  1. Frustrated Mom

    So it has been a few months since you did this… and I am now faced with a very big pile of diapers with mold. stains. all. over. I tested your method on one diaper and it worked! It took a lot of patience and elbow grease, but it worked. Have you seen any long-term damage to the dipes you treated?

    Like

    1. afternoonofsundries

      I have not noticed anything wrong so far, and I haven’t had to bleach anything else once I killed the mold! I would advise stripping your diapers in a month or two to remove any leftover reside, especially if your diapers begin to not absorb as well. You may not run into that problem though, it depends how long you’ve been washing and using your diapers!

      I’m glad I could help a little! Mold is so frustrating!

      Like

      1. Frustrated Mom

        And you didn’t see it spread to other laundry loads or the kitchens and bathrooms? Sorry, I am having a new mommy meltdown over the mold, and I’m almost ready to burn a pile of dipes 🙂

        Like

      2. afternoonofsundries

        Dude I understand! I am crazy diaper mom so after I treated my spots and washed and rinsed a couple times (to make sure I got all the bleach out) I then bought one of those washer tablets and cleaned out the machine. I now pop a tablet in every month, just in case. I haven’t seen any transfer. I can’t say if all the bleach killed the mold in the machine or if the tablet did but I’ve had not a issue with mold since. (I also started drying my dipes in the dryer… That ended up making life easier on so many levels. It’s really very damp here!)

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      3. Frustrated Mom

        Thank you so much for posting about going into forbidden territory with bleach and answering my questions. Maybe, just maybe I won’t burn them 🙂

        Like

  2. Miranda

    I stacked my diapers in a plastic bag over the course of atep days, (maybe ten diapers) and in doing a quick cleaning rush, set the bag under the sink so guests wouldn’t have to stare at them. Well, out of sight out of mind. I just discovered them, it’s been about three months. Black mold, green mold, is there such a thing as orange mold bc somethings was orange. 1.5 hours hand scrubbing them to get the mess off, and stains remain and some tiny black spores I can’t completely get off on a couple of the worst. Will follow up with bleach… But, can it really be that the diapers can become clean enough and safe enough to put back on baby’s bare bottom?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. afternoonofsundries

      Being super paranoid, even though I was told it was safe to put on baby’s bottom after I washed in hot 3 or more times with soap… The bleach eased my mind considerably. Once bleached, even if the stains were still sort of there, I did the old nose test. If it smelt circumspect, back in the wash! If it smelled clean, onto the butt! CDubs (my son) never had a private area issue from anything- no rash- to do with those diapers.

      Now after awhile I had to strip all the built up soap off the diapers (have a post about that too) and if you don’t strip your diapers, the built up soap becomes smelly and overly water repellent. This can cause severe rashes (I’m talking fire engine red tushies).

      But the mold treatment, I personally never experienced a problem.

      #1 rule momma- if it makes you uncomfortable, and you don’t trust it, don’t do it. If you bleach and still don’t like how they look, toss them (oh it hurts me to think if tossing my diapers). It’s not worth the worry if you don’t like it!

      Like

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