|Bad diaper staining is uncommon, but it can occur especially on microfiber inserts. These 3 particularly stained inserts have not seen the sun in over 5 months and have not undergone any whitening techniques.|
Sun bleaching:Nature has given us a wonderful brightener called the sun (specifically UV light from the sun). You can use an easy technique called “sun bleaching” to remove stains from cloth diapers and inserts. I have more problems with staining on microfiber inserts than on anything else. To whiten these stains, place diapers outdoors in sunlight. Use care to avoid placing diapers in extremely hot sun or on hot surfaces. High heat can damage elastic, and will not make your diaper staining lighten any quicker. Repeated diaper sunning will lighten stains until they are barely noticeable. You can sun bleach diapers in cold-climate winter months: place dry diapers outside on a drying rack in warm sun. Remember that UV light will lighten staining, so placing diapers inside behind UV filtering windows (as found in your car, or some household window panes) will not lighten diaper staining.
RLR:RLR is a laundry product often used to strip cloth diapers. It can be effective in removing staining from cloth diapers and inserts. If you already have staining, you may need to do several washes with RLR to lighten the staining. You can also help prevent stains from setting in by adding RLR to your normal wash routine once every few weeks.
What about other stain treatments?
Detergents with Optical Brighteners:White is a difficult color to maintain in laundry. Optical brighteners are chemicals that give a "glow" to white clothing and create an illusion of "whiteness". Many detergents contain optical brighteners, and using these detergents regularly can help reduce staining. However, optical brighteners can also cause skin reactions in some individuals and persist as a pollutant in our lakes and streams. While I'm not opposed to using detergents with optical brighteners, I recommend trying sun bleaching or biodegradable options like RLR for stain lightening.
Bleach:Bleach should not be used on diapers with sensitive waterproofing and elastic, however it is safe to use on pocket diaper inserts, prefold, or flat diapers. Repeated use of bleach can damage cloth diaper fabric of any kind, so use sparingly and infrequently if you must use it. Bleach is also an environmental toxin, so this method of whitening diapers should be used as a last resort.
Vinegar, Hydrogen Peroxide, or Baking soda:The above laundry additives can have a whitening effect, however they should never be used on diapers with sensitive waterproofing and elastic. They are safe to use on pocket diaper inserts, prefold, or flat diapers. Because these compounds alter pH (acidity or alkalinity) they can result in diaper rash. If you insist on using them, be sure to wash diapers well to remove any residual vinegar/peroxide/baking soda. White diapers aren't worth the risk of starting a bad rash, so it is best to use caution and just avoid these additives.
*Check with your cloth diaper manufacturer for the preferred method of stain removal. Use of bleach or non-recommended detergents may void the warranty of some cloth diapers. Cloth Diaper Guru can not be held responsible for damage or ineffectiveness of recommended stain removal techniques.