Laundering Prefolds and Bumgenius Cloth Diapers

Updated on May 07, 2009
L.L. asks from Summerville, SC
26 answers

I am using cloth diaper and I am very happy with how it is going thus far. My daughter is 3 weeks old and exclusively breast fed. I am using the prefolds and covers so far - and I can't get the yellow poop stains out without using bleach. I am worried about using something this harsh on fabric that is going right next to my baby's skin. Also, when she gets a little bigger, we were planning on switching to the bumgenius pocket diapers. The company recommends against using bleach on their products.

So I am looking for other options on getting these stains out of the diapers. laudry techniques, soap options, do you store your dirty dipers dry, or soak them between loads of laundry . . . any pointers would be great!

Thanks!!

L.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for everyone's help! I am amazed at the power of the sun - the sun bleaching has worked even on overcast days! I am putting them back in the dryer after the sun bleaching to fluff them up, and make them less stiff, but it is working really well!

Thanks!

L.

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J.C.

answers from Seattle on

Oh, Lucy- you will be a FABULOUS Mom--- ( working with animals creates patience, respect, flexibilty and responsibility---- exactly what is needed in a Mom -- oh, and a sense of humer and wonder - perfect) --- Happily--- we are going into a sunny period of Seattle weather -- sunshine is the BEST bleach ever--- NO chemicals - --- if that isnt functional for you--- I'll keep my fingers crossed that this great list-serve can help.

Blessings ( oh, have more fun every day--- )

J.
aka- old mom

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A.O.

answers from Seattle on

I have a service for the laundering part but when my covers get soiled (and, oh boy did they EVER get soiled her first month or so!) I sprayed oxyclean stain remover on them and ran them through with the gentle detergents and it seemed to do the trick. She also has really sensitive skin and the oxyclean didnt seem to bother her.

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C.A.

answers from Seattle on

lucy-
I dont know if you have ever read this blog..my charming kids? she has a whole post on cloth diapering on her blog. it is amazing. mycharmingkids.net

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A.P.

answers from Rochester on

We made fleece inserts that went in my son's diapers--it was softer on his bottom than the cloth and it was great for "flinging" poop into the toilet--not too much of an issue yet, but as your baby grows it is very handy. Because his poop was mostly on the fleece we never had issues with staining (well except for when I used a diaper to clean up slipped red wine, but that's a different issue :). Anyway, you might try a fleece insert, we just bought a yard of dark colored fleece and cut it into a large hourglass shape. Also, I found that when our son's diaper seemed stinky it was really helpful to wash them in Dr. Bronner's it was too expensive for us to use regularly, but it did seem to leave them much less smelly. Finally, I know that bleach can break down the fabric and personally the smell of it makes me feel sick so I figured that I'd rather have dingy diapers than bleachy diapers, but that's just me. The sun advise is great--I love summer for that reason--it makes the diapers sort of stiff and scratchy though, so again I really liked the fleece liners because it was so soft. Keep up the cloth--we potty trained our son very easily at 18 months and I think a lot of that was because of the cloth diapers!

Other ideas--we cut up wash cloth sized fleece and used them as wipes when he needed it--just get them wet in the sink with warm water and then throw them in the bucket.

We used both dry storage and wet storage, I would recommend "Bio-Kleen" to add to the wet storage--it breaks down the poop, it's natural and it actually keeps everything smelling not too bad. We kept our diapers in a dog food storage container that we got at Shopko. It has a rubber gasket at the top that kept the smells in. Just don't get something with metal on it as it will rust. When it was time to wash we just throw them in the machine, put them on the hot cycle and that's it--

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J.W.

answers from Seattle on

I sewed my own flannel diapers and was able to keep them bright and white using this process:

First of all use a diaper liner. It's like a fabric softner sheet that goes in the diaper. It's great for removing the bm's. You can lift it out and flush. They're safe for septic and sewer systems. Then rinse your diaper in the toilet to remove any stains or a good portion of them.

Second, put the diapers in a diaper pail that is filled with water that has had Biz (enzyme based detergent booster) in it. I washed diapers every other day, as I went through about 12 diapers a day. I would then pour the diaper pail in the washer and put things on a soak and rinse cycle.

Third, Wash in hot water with Dreft baby detergent, adding a scoop of Biz to the mix.

Fourth, Rinse diapers (and all baby clothes) twice. In the first rinse, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. This helps to remove any soap and dirty water residue. Second rinse normally.

Fifth, dry them in your dryer.

I never had to use chlorine bleach on my baby clothes or diapers. They look as good after the third child as they did on the day I brought my first baby home.

Enjoy!!! your baby and the new life that you have created for all of you.

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A.S.

answers from Seattle on

My prefold landering technique:
oxyclean-key ingredient
baking soda
vinegar
soak in hot water for an hour or more
add vinegar to rinse
This has worked great for me. I don't even use another detergent.

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A.K.

answers from Seattle on

I have never really been able to get the stains out with any kind of soap or just plain washing techniques. But, (when it's out!) the sun is a fabulous natural bleacher. I hang my son's BG's (and all others) on a line outside when it's sunny and the stains generally disappear within a day.

Other than that, just remember that they ARE clean, just discolored for the moment. :)

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S.W.

answers from Portland on

supposedly the sun can naturally bleach the white prefolds, but obviously our climate is seasonal and unreliable. i primarily use unbleached prefolds and they hardly stain at all, and if they do, over time they fade. whereas my while (bleached) prefolds are hopelessly stained even with some (i wasn't very consistent) sun bleaching. eventually the poo mellows out and isn't so stainy. good luck.

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L.R.

answers from Portland on

I use prefolds, and I don't worry about the stains. Though I think since I've been using my homemade detergent I haven't noticed them as much. I can give you the recipe if you want it--and it's easy to make, only taking about 10 minutes. But now that I think of it, I probably don't have many stains because I've been doing infant potty training, and I catch about 90% of the poops, so I rarely have to clean poopy diapers. I know this is a month after you posted your question, but 7 or 8 weeks is NOT too late to start. Anytime before 6 months, actually. It won't guarantee fewer diapers, but it sure does seem to help in the poop department! LOL!

But the surefire way to get the stains out is to dry them in the sun. Kinda hard to do in the Pacific Northwest, I know. I don't have a clothesline here, otherwise I would be using it on cloudless days. But that will do it for sure. However, it will make them a bit stiff unless it's very windy, and you can't use fabric softener, or they will lose their absorbency.

Truth be told, I wouldn't worry about the stains. No one but the diaper changers are going to see them. They are sanitary stains, once they've been washed properly.

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Y.B.

answers from Seattle on

We have been using cloth diapers for almost 7 months (bumgenius 3.0). We do a pre-wash with no soap and an extra rinse on cold, then we wash with 1/8th soap on sanitize with extra rinse and wash using very hot water. We have had no stains at all. We also just use a dry pail with no soaking. When it starts to get sunny out, dry your diapers outside as the sun has a natural bleaching effect.

Good luck!

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A.D.

answers from Portland on

I ditto what Judy said--sunshine is brilliant for getting the stains out. Wash them, then put them on a drying rack outside on a sunny day (soon we will have some). You'll be amazed.

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M.M.

answers from Portland on

I didn't use cloth with my newborn, but I use them now with my toddler. I spray them with oxy-clean before they go in the wash, and then just wash in warm with regular detergent. It keeps them pretty clean. In the summer I will bleach them out with the sun. Just remember that the yellow stains are only bothering you. No one else sees them, and I'm sure your baby doesn't care!
Kudos to you on using cloth. I wish I had started sooner.

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W.C.

answers from Seattle on

Try using the bleach that takes care of biological stains. I have started using that on my very stained dish towels that ordinary bleach did not clean. The bleach for coloreds worked wonders.

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I.G.

answers from Seattle on

I use both prefolds and pockets of various kinds, including bum genius.
I wash all of them using equal parts baking soda and borax. I do a cold pre-wash with above detergent (my pre-wash doesn't have a rinse cycle, so plenty of detergent stays in) and a hot full cycle without any addition.
Occasionally I will use a bit of dish soap or oxy clean if it seems like they need an extra boost.

The best measure against poop stains is sunlight. It doesn't even have to be sunny - bright daylight will do. I just hang them outside to dry and run them through the dryer for a few minutes to fluff. My diapers have ZERO stains - and I've been using them for 18 months!

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C.G.

answers from Portland on

I am using Bum Genius currently on my 9mo old. First of all, you cannot use anything containing enzymes (even natural ones) on a pocket diaper. So, ignore the suggestions for BioKleen products like Bac-Out. They work great on prefolds, but will negate your warrenty with Bum Genius. I use a diaper sprayer (the Bum Genius one available at Cotton Babies) to rinse away the solids. Beyond that, I dry pail. For wash, I rinse cold, wash cold w/.5c Planet liquid, wash hot w/.25c Planet and then an extra rinse. I have absolutely no staining :) Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions.

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L.B.

answers from Portland on

Oh Lucy, you sound like me a few months back! I am so excited to tell you what has worked so well for me.

We use bumgenius diapers and LOVE them. It is quite a task to take on cloth diapering your child-especially if you're the one doing all the washing (instead of a service) but it's so worth it financially and environmentally!

We use a dry pail-which is suggested-which I just put a laundry bag inside a cheap step trash can. My friend has a nice fancy one that's more spendy, the Dekor laundry bin. I also use white washcloths to wipe my sons little booty because he has such sensitive skin and reactions to the chemicals in wipes. So after I change him, I put the washcloth inside the diaper and plop the diaper into the dry bin.

I do a wash every other day. My friend rinses her diapers off in the utility sink first because she thinks it's gross to put poop in the washer. I put mine straight into the washer on rinse because I'm not a big fan of touching poop. To each her own I guess. Oh, but I always wear rubber gloves either way. :)

After I put them through a rinse cycle I take them out and spray any stain spots with BAC-OUT by Biokleen. THIS is the best product I've found for getting stains and odors out and it's completely safe for the environment, animals AND ESPECIALLY your little baby. It pretty much kicks butt (pun intended.)

Then I pretty much follow the bumgenius directions on washing; one wash cold, one hot wash with extra rinse. I use perfume and dye free detergent as well-which means my diapers don't smell like a summer's breeze, but at least there aren't harsh chemicals on my sons boom-pa.

I put the inserts in the dryer on low and hang the shells and fleece liners (which I got locally in Portland and allow you to put diaper cream on if you need to) on a drying rack and put in our warm bedroom. On sunny days, which are few and far between in Oregon, I put the rack out in the sun and that works MAGIC! They seem way more white when I do that.

Seriously, BAC-OUT by Biokleen is awesome. I've gotten it from New Seasons and the "Natural" section at Fred Meyer. It's worth the cost!

L.
http://dardinelle.com/

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M.L.

answers from Seattle on

Stay away from bleach! :) It is harsh on the skin, but it's also eating away at the diaper fabric. We normally rinse and soak diapers each day, but a little white vinegar helps get the stains out too. Another consideration... does it matter if the diaper is stained? Some of ours are, but nobody sees the inside so we just don't worry about it! :) We use pocket diapers as well and have great luck with fuzzibuns and knicker nappies. Before you invest in a bunch of bum genius, get a couple and try them to make sure they work for your daughter. Diaperswapper.com is a great resource too!

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A.D.

answers from Portland on

THE SUN IS A MAGICAL BALL OF BLEACHY GOODNESS! :D And without all the chemicals!

My hubby and I received really badly-stained used diapers, washed and sunned them 3 times, and they looked like new - no exaggeration.

We do a cold rinse, a soak with Oxyclean, and a hot wash. Then hang dry them in loads of sun and you'll be amazed at how white they turn out!

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J.C.

answers from Portland on

Ooohh! Thanks for asking this question! I was going to post myself but hadn't gotten around to it yet.

We've been using the pocket diapers (Bumgenius 3.0) and I LOVE THEM!. She's just started solids though and I am now having a tough time getting the stains out too. I've used bleach one time and that did the trick, but I'd really like to not resort to such harsh chemicals. I mean, that was one of the reasons to go cloth in the first place, right, to avoid chemicals?!

On the website, they basically say don't use ANYTHING, and don't give any good tips on stain removal. The only advice is to use bleach once a month, which for me is about one in every five washes.

I've heard that exposing them to strong sun for several hours is good, but well, in the lovely PNW, that's only useful a couple of months per year and I don't currently have a good spot to hang them where they would get full sun for very long.

What about lemon juice?

Okay, guess I'll wait and hear what everyone else has to say!

Good luck,
J.

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A.K.

answers from Detroit on

Hey Lucy,
I saw that someone has already mentioned using a diaper liner and I just wanted to reiterate this! I started with BG at about 5 months. These little liners go right inside the diaper and catch the poo. Once my son started having more solid BM the liner would catch it all and I would just drop it into the toilet. No stains because the poo doesn't even touch the diaper! I use Imse Vimse diaper liners. They go for about 10 bucks on Amazon (for about 200). I tear one off and fold it in half, then place it in the diaper (on the outside against babies bum). Put the diaper on and bam! Done. Hope this works as well for you:)

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D.S.

answers from Portland on

Here's another vote for sunshine - it worked better on our diapers than any soap or stain remover, and is free, easy and chemical-free to boot!

And good for you for going the cloth route!

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M.W.

answers from Seattle on

We've used Country Save or Charlie's Soap (neither are super easy to find, but both are COMPLETELY rinsing, and much more eco-friendly and economical than the other "earth friendly" mainstream soaps) on our BumGenius diapers and found they worked much better than any other soaps for the poop stains... Of course the sun bleaches the prefolds the best!

I also liked the flushable diaper liners too.

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J.K.

answers from Seattle on

Hi Lucy,

I own Simple Cloth - a cloth diaper shop - and find that most customers have great success keeping their diapers from staining by washing in a cold wash/rinse cycle first, then following with a heavy duty hot wash cycle. (or the longest wash cycle your machine has) Washing diapers every 2 days is also recommended. I have used both prefolds and bumGenius diapers using this technique WITHOUT STAINS! :)

If you have a front-loading washing machine that decides how much water to use based on the weight of your laundry, try tossing in an extra towel to "trick" your machine into using more water to really get your diapers clean.

For existing stains, try laying clean, wet diapers out in the sun for an entire day. Then use the method mentioned above for future washings and you should be good to go.

Just so you know, bumGenius diapers are actually less prone to staining than cotton prefolds. We have bumGenius and FuzziBunz diapers in our stash that are over 2 years old without stains.

I hope this helps. If you need further assistance, feel free to contact me at [email protected]____.com or visit my website for washing instructions and directions to my downtown Olympia storefront: http://www.simplecloth.com

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D.C.

answers from Portland on

Someone told me about Bac- Out made by Bioclean- it is natural, non toxic and biodegradable. It's an enzyme cleaner. You can buy it at Freddie's or New seasons in small containers to try it out, but if you are going to use it I recommend going down to Baby Works in NW. They are a graet local company that sells all sorts of cloth diaper products and they sell it in gallon jugs. I just pour about 1/3 cup in a pail of water- toss diapers in there to soak. I drop the entire pail in my front loaded and set it to drain/spin then wash as usual. I have never had any stains that would not come out. It also works great on all other kid stains- fruit, mud etc. I LOVE THIS PRODUCT! Good luck.

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R.S.

answers from Portland on

I would presoak them in the washer (I do it overnight the night before I wash), drain and then wash hot and do 2 cold rinses. This won't get them super white (as mentioned, the sun is best for that), but they will be as clean as can be. Check out www.babyworks.com (or order their catalog) or diaperhyena.com too, for other tips. Hope this helps, and good luck with new baby!! Congratulations!

G.M.

answers from Seattle on

I haven't cloth diapered, but what worked for all of my son's poop stains was dish soap. It fights the grease that stains, I believe. Whatever it is that made it work, yay - all of my favorite clothes of his were saved, even after the huge blow-out diapers.

Good luck!

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