The fact of the matter is this: cloth diapers catch poop. Poop, especially if your kid has a thing for blueberries, stain. If your child pooped on your favorite white shirt you would probably expect it to be stained. But you would wash it (perhaps pre-treat it) and hope for the best. When you pulled it from the dryer and saw it was stained your first thought wouldn’t have been “this shirt must still be dirty” it would be “well, guess that shit did leave a stain.”
Why on earth people get confused about stains on cloth diapers is beyond me! They are the one thing in your life you should be ok with having a stain on! When you remove them from your dryer and notice a stain, why is it that your mind is blown?! “B-b-b-b-u-t I washed these. Why are they stained? I guess they must not be clean…”
Stains on your cloth diapers do not mean they didn’t get clean enough. Sometimes, diapers aren’t getting clean enough, but let your NOSE be your guide on that one. Visually, unless you did something REALLY wrong, your diapers will and should appear clean every time! If they don’t, you have way bigger problems than a poop stain!
Stained diapers are still clean. Just stained.
What if you’d like to get rid of the stains? Sun! Lay your diapers flat to dry out in the sunshine. 9 times out of 10 the stain will be gone in a matter of hours. If the stain is not gone completely, try adding lemon juice and sunning again. You’ll want to wash your diapers again if you use lemon juice. You can see an example in a post on this topic I did in 2009.
Take a whiff!
If it turns out that your diapers smell- stained or not- you will need to adjust your wash routine. A barnyard smell often means that your diapers aren’t getting clean enough so add more detergent. Ammonia smells mean you have a build-up of ammonia salts from urine. Ammonia is very often left in that thirsty microfiber. Stripping, often with 1/4 cup of bleach to kill it, is usually the way to go (but check your diaper’s warranty because some are voided by using bleach.) Another common problem is that a diaper will still stink when wet from the washing machine, or right after the baby urinates in it. This again, is a sign you aren’t getting your diapers clean enough. Either use more detergent or make sure you’re using very hot water to kill the bacteria. Molly’s Suds suggests using 130-140 degrees, which is more than the default setting in your water heater. Change, wash, and reset to default if you decide to try this method.
So the takeaway is this- ignore the stains.
If they bother you, sun your diapers. If you want to resell your diapers, sun them regularly. If you aren’t reselling then stains are a fact of life you can ignore. Save the mental energy you were using worrying about your stained diapers and go read a magazine.