How To Remove Just About Any Stain From a Cloth Diaper: a step-by-step guide

I know that there are people out there that could care less if one of their cloth diapers has a stain. Not me, I like to keep mine stain free because I never know when I will need to whip out a cloth diaper to show a layman how awesome they are! It’s not as impressive if poo stain is showing, lol.

First, let me start by saying that a stain does not mean your cloth diapers are dirty. It just means it has a stain. I’ve seen plenty of new cloth users freak out over stains and I want you to know that they are nothing to worry about.


I will ALWAYS recommend sunning first.

It’s all natural and free, so also my favorite. You can’t believe how well this works until you see it with your own eyes! Ok, so you take your clean but stained diapers out of the wash. Place them still wet outside in a full sun area. You can either hang them or place them on a flat surface. That’s it… Mine are usually out all day because I forget about them. Once they are dry, most of the stains will have magically disappeared. If they haven’t you can just re-wet and repeat. This can even be done inside in front of windows or on cloudy days. Obviously, it will work better outside in full sun if you can.

Inserts can get kind of crunchy when air-dried. A tumble in the dryer usually will solve that and if it doesn’t help you can add a little Mrs. Meyers fabric softener to them. If any stains remain you can throw one more thing at them…

Some basic things to try if you can’t sun (all safe to use on cloth diapers and around children and pets):

The Amazing Whip-It

I originally found this in Bed Bath & Beyond in a small scrub bottle. It quickly became my favorite stain removing product and the best I’d ever tried! Even against anything mainstream that can be found in all grocery laundry section. I LOVE this stuff. Squirt a little on, give a little scrub if you can. Wash as usual. It even works wonders on my husband’s grease stained shirts.

Bac out

You can keep a bottle of this in your bathroom and just spray stains after removing solids and before placing in your wetbag. You can also spray directly into your pre-wash. Some children might be sensitive to this so be sure to only use in pre-wash so it has a chance to be totally rinsed out. Bac out uses live enzyme cultures and lime extract to remove stains and odors from just about anything. Check you diaper’s warranties to see if it is ok to use if you are worried about voiding anything. Here is a great link that gives you a good idea of which cloth diaper manufactures are ok with Bac out.

Buncha Farmers Stain Removal Stick

If you have never tried it, you need to. It will remove stains from anything including carpets and clothing. Click here to see step-by step instructions to use it to remove stains from cloth diapers!

Oxiclean Free and Versatile

I am an Oxiclean user. I have hard water and I had problems with ammonia burns and stink. Added this to my routine and it solved those issues for me. It is also great at removing stains on cloth. To remove stains fill your washer or tub with water and add clean but stained diapers. If your washer doesn’t have a soak cycle, just add water in a wash and then stop the washer. Add one scoop of Oxiclean; agitate or stir a little to mix it in and then let it sit overnight. Rinse with hot water in washer once or twice to remove Oxiclean.

If any stains remain you can throw one more thing at them…

Lemon Juice

If one cycle in the sun doesn’t do it, I repeat the process but add lemon juice this time. Just take the insert or diaper and re-wet in the sink. Wring out the water. Now take plain old all natural lemon juice (can be found in the juice isle of any grocery store) and pour a little directly onto the remaining stains. Place the damp insert back into your sunny location and walk away. Usually by the time it’s dry your stain will be totally gone. You should wash these inserts again as the lemon juice would burn if put directly onto little one.


I honestly really don’t recommend bleach. It’s because I feel there are just safer things to use that will get the job done. I know lots of people use bleach with success. But be aware bleach is very harsh. It will wear out elastic and other fabrics much faster than need be and seems like overkill for just stain removal.

Please remember, if after all this you are still unable to remove a stain, it won’t affect a diapers function at all. The only harm is that it will lower its resale value as many people don’t like purchasing cloth diapers with stains.

Have you ever tried any of these techniques with success? What is your favorite stain removal trick?

, , , ,

About Jennifer Reinhardt

Jenn is a WAHM to two beautiful little girls. Sophia (4.5 years old) and Norah (4 months). She closed her business, Curves, when she found out she was pregnant so she could stay home with her first daughter. Now Jenn spends her time spreading the love of fluff and sharing common sense answers that help to make cloth diapers easy for everyone.

View all posts by Jennifer Reinhardt

27 Responses to “How To Remove Just About Any Stain From a Cloth Diaper: a step-by-step guide”

  1. Michele Says:

    Hi. I am just getting ready to begin cloth diapering. I have read that soaking them will ruin the elastic but I see that you are all for soaking. Can you weigh in on this for me?? Thank you!!


    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      I’m for occasional overnight soaks. Either for stains or in the case of build up. The kind of soaking you are talking about is when people store their dirties for wash day. That means the diapers are sitting in water for days after each use prior to washing. And yes that kind of soaking can damage elastics. It’s also a drowning hazard if there isn’t a lid involved.


  2. Leelannee Says:

    I have been using cloth all along for my now 2 yr old. A lot of times if I don’t have enough diapers to wash I will put the little kids clothes in with them to give everything something to rub up against. This time around I guess I put something in that bleeds and now most all of my cotton diapers are PINK! will the above methods work with dye stains?


  3. Jasmine Says:

    Halp! I’m so discouraged. I have brand new bum geniuses I did the 5 wash before use. First wash was accidentally cold with 1/2 normal amount of Ecos soap, then two hot soap washes, then two hot no soap cycles. About half of them came out with light brown stains!!! They haven’t even been used. Why? What do I do?


  4. Lisa N Says:

    Won’t colored or pretty designs on cloth diapers get ruined from the oxiclean or bleach if you soak them? Very new to this. Thanks so much!


    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      PUL is colorfast. So those covers should be fine. But anything knit such as wahm diapers with knit outers, fitteds or cloth wipes can fade. I’ve not had a problem with oxi. But as with anything you need to make sure you follow the directions on the container. :)


  5. Cheryl Layshock Says:

    This is sooo helpful. My diaper have had some stains. I’ll try suning them. Thanks!


  6. Agnes Says:

    I’m having a really hard time with stains, stink, and ammonia. This is my second child & I CD with first. It was so much easier! I used all prefolds that were easy to clean as where now I have all types of diapers that seem like so much more of a hassle :/
    What was really shocking to me though, was that I never had stains AT ALL with my first. Unbeknowst to me I was sunning out stains all along! I lived abroad I didn’t have a dryer & so I hung our prefolds to dry all year round. I also had hard water, but never any issues, except once- after months- we had a build up issue causing burn ( I think it was the detergent). I boiled all our diapers and that fixed that. I use to use soap nuts after that, always rinsed diapers in our bidet after poops, and just did 1 rinse cycle and 1 wash cycle and sun dried. That’s it, and the diapers were always clean
    Now I have a HE washer, do multiple washes and use the dryer of course. So what do I have now? Stains, stink, ammonia build up, you name it. Such a pain. The sun is definitely the way to go. I’m going to try lemon on some used CD I purchased, (I actually bleached them, but they still have stains).
    But what about ammonia? Should I use oxiclean? How often? Thanks!!


  7. Alex Says:

    I recently cancelled my diaper service. I used to throw all my dirties in a bag and once a week I’d leave it on my doorstep. The diaper fairies would come and leave me a stack of perfectly clean prefolds. Now, I’m washing cotton prefolds myself. It’s harder than I anticipated! They are deeply stained. When should a diaper be rinsed? When can they wait and then go in the washer?


  8. Elizabeth Says:

    I usually try sunning first then, if it needs some extra help I will either oxiclean or a little clorox 2 if still no progress i pull out the fels naptha bar and go to town.


  9. Amber Ludwig Says:

    I had never heard about sunning out stains until I discovered cloth diapering! How amazing is nature?!!? I also learned that the sun is a natural disinfectant. So fabulous! I have not started cloth diapering yet but honestly one of my biggest fears was stains and looking “unclean”. Not anymore!!!


    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      That’s awesome! I was the same way. Now I throw out the shirts with stains, a few hours in the sun and it’s like magic! Good luck Amber!


  10. Mary Says:

    I use prefolds and flats on my two year old. There are many days when we have 4+ poopy diapers. If it is solid enough to plop in the toilet, the stain usually comes out after sunning. If the poop is PB consistency (we scrape it off into the toilet), the diaper comes out of the wash (soak overnight, rinse, full cycle, rinse) seriously stained and only get slightly better with sunning. I usually set them aside to spray down with oxiclean for the next load of diapers. After the second round of washing and sunning, they are usually void of stains or have only minor ones remaining. Do you have any suggestions to help me cut out some of this extra laundry?


    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      Hi Mary, Great question. First a stain doesn’t mean that the diaper is dirty or any poo is remaining. It is what it is…a stain. They don’t affect the function of the diaper at all, just the way it looks. Obviously, if it bothers you then you are doing what you have to to get them out already. But otherwise I wouldn’t worry too much. I usually wait until I have a bunch that are stained and then I will sun them all at the same time. If sun doesn’t work, I rewet and pour some lemon juice on them and then sun again. 99% of the time that works. Not exactly what you were asking, but I hope it still helps!


      • Megan B Says:

        I’m a first time mom new to all things baby. You said you wait until you have a lot of things that need to be put in the sun to lay them out. In the time you wait to do that does the stain set it and get harder to remove? I have some poop stained things I want to run right now, but we’ve had rainy day after rainy day and I’m afraid the stain is only going to be that much harder to get out while I wait for the sun to shine again!


        • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

          Hi Megan, Just wash them and the next day it is sunny re-wet the stained diapers with water and sun. If the stain is there after it dries just r-ewet again or you can try lemon juice instead. Just wash after the lemon juice so you don’t burn baby.


  11. Heather Says:

    I’ve not yet found a washing combination that removes all newborn mustard poo stains. Sunning has been my saving grace all summer long. Now that fall and winter are approaching, what can I do to get the stains to up and leave?


    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      Try buncha farmers or oxiclean. Works for me. :-)


    • Elizabeth Says:

      try hanging them in a window… i have seen ladies with hooks above their window and the clothes pin one to a hanger and make a chain snapping them down


  12. Mary Says:

    SUN SUN SUN! It really is amazing! Winter makes it hard. I was so excited to kill all those stains come spring time. I tried the sun in the winter an it did not work as well.


  13. Kelly Says:

    I’ve always used sun for stains, it never ceases to amaze me just how well it works on poo stains, particularly that yellow newborn poo. I’ve never thought of using lemon juice though, what a great idea. It makes perfect sense, I’ve heard of people using lemon juice with the sun to lighten their hair, and imagine it would work really well on stains too.


  14. Julie Says:

    I always sun my diapers as much as possible. I’ve had really good luck this third time around (except with my GroVia AIO) with my diapers just not staining much. I think the only difference is with my first two babies’ diapers I didn’t do a warm pre-rinse before washing my diapers. Now I do it every time and I think that’s making a difference.

    Now, stink and ammonia build-up- I am definitely having a hard time with that. I think it has everything to do with the water here. I now live in an agricultural area that has lots of pollution and last year we moved to a suburb that has hard water. A few months ago the water in our pitcher started tasting really bad. I washed the pitchers really well and changed the filters again but no luck. Turns out there’s some sort of weird algae in the city water. I don’t know if that’s the problem or what but my baby started getting really bad rashes. :( The only way I can clear them up is switch to disposables and slather her with Desitin. :( I was hoping to keep this baby in cloth till she potty trained but at this rate we’re, once again, not going to make it that far. :(

    Anyway, now that I’ve gotten way off topic…lol. I’m not one who minds some minor staining on my diapers but I do like to keep the cutest and the cleanest in my diaper bag for some cloth But I’m losing my confidence and may have to stop telling people about cloth. :(


Leave a Reply

Pin It on Pinterest

Sharing is caring!