Rotavirus and Cloth Diapers: What To Do

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I’ll be the first to shrug off a stomach bug or fever but when it comes to diarrhea I’m hittin’ the high road…well atleast I’m wishing I could. Not only do you just ache for your poor child and the misery they’re in but secretly you’re wishing you didn’t have to deal with the mess.

Granted, liquid poop is much easier to “clean” off when you simply dump it in the washer but are your diapers really clean?

Our family has been very fortunate to experience very very little illness in the last 8 years. We’ve had a couple of 24 hour stomach bugs but thankfully have not experienced the nasty Rotovirus. For those not familiar with this virus here is a common definition:

Rotovirus (or Rotavirus) is a common viral infection among young children. It is the most common cause of diarrhea in U.S. children and is a leading cause of death among children in developing countries. The virus works by attacking the lining of the small intestine, causing often copious loss of fluids and electrolytes. The virus is spread through oral contact to fecal material, and is common in child care environments.

In order to prevent cross-contamination washing your hands after changing a diaper is of great importance. However, the virus remains alive in cloth diapers if proper care is not taken.

After the virus has run it’s course fill your washer basin and add 1/4 cup of bleach. Then add ALL the diapers you have been using into the machine. This is one time when bleach is the first recommended plan of action.

Not only is killing the virus important for your little one but also for those who may buy your diapers in the future. Last year a mom on diaperswappers purchased some used diapers. When she began using them her child fell severely ill. Through research of past posts it was obvious that the mama who sold the diapers had posted about her child’s bout with rotovirus. The diapers in question were tested by the hospital and came up positive for rotovirus.

Obviously this is a case of extreme. No one knows about the health of the family that bought the diapers. Compromised immune systems, poor nutrition and other factors determine if your child will become ill from a lingering virus in a used diaper. Truth is you never know what happened in the used diapers you purchased. Take the precautions you feel are necessary to protect your little one.


About Autumn Beck

Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ. She began cloth diapering in 2005 and has experienced many joys and trials throughout the years. You can read more from Autumn over at

View all posts by Autumn Beck

4 Responses to “Rotavirus and Cloth Diapers: What To Do”

  1. Elissa Says:


    Thanks for the heads up on this. I just purchased some used diapers. What would be the best way to wash/disinfect them before I put them on my lil’guy?


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      Elissa, using hydrogen peroxide in the washer is a great way to disinfect your used cloth diapers.

      “To keep your white clothing looking its whitest without using chlorine bleach, you can try one of the following options.

      The first option is to use hydrogen peroxide. For this method, use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. 3% is the standard solution sold at many drugstores and retailers. To check if yours is 3%, read the label. Anything stronger than 3% is dangerous to use in your household.

      Pour ½ cup of your hydrogen peroxide in the bleach cup/section of your washing machine. If your washing machine does not have this section, allow the washer to fill to the load level before placing the clothing in the washer and pour the hydrogen peroxide directly into the water. Allow the washer to agitate a few times before placing the clothing in. This distributes the peroxide.

      Peroxide, like bleach, can damage certain dyes and fabrics. Test a small inconspicuous area on your garments first, just like bleach. Peroxide is also a disinfecting agent, so if you need something that also gets rid of germs, this works well. It also removes stains, such as those found in cloth diapers and it also removes blood and grass stains.”


  2. Nicole Says:

    Autumn, Can you use bleach on the colored covers as well as the inserts???


  3. Amber Says:

    Thanks, that is very useful. I wouldn’t have even thought about that.


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