How to sanitize cloth diapers without bleach

How to Sanitize Cloth Diapers Without Bleach

Bleach is great at disinfecting cloth diapers, but it is very toxic and should be avoided when possible. With proper wash routine you should not need to disinfect cloth diapers too often. But if you are dealing with ammonia smell or other issues, we recommend trying sanitizing methods without bleach first. It is also great to sanitize cloth diapers after stripping them.

We recommend using bleach when you have purchased pre-loved cloth diapers or dealing with infection, such as yeast. In these situations it is best to sanitize with chlorine bleach. Make sure to use proper dilution methods as described in our guide here: How to Bleach Cloth Diapers

If you are not able to use bleach due to sensitivities or allergies, methods below will help you sanitizing cloth diapers with more gentle ingredients.

Always start with clean cloth diapers!

Method 1: Sanitize Cloth Diapers with Hydrogen Peroxide and Borax

How to sanitize cloth diapers without bleach

STEP 1: Fill 1/2 bathtub with warm water (or medium load in non-HE washing machine)

STEP 2: Add 4 cups hydrogen peroxide + 1 cup borax and mix well

STEP 3: Soak cloth diapers for 30 minutes, rinse well

STEP 4: Wash in a washing machine without detergent

If you are dealing with yeast or other fungal infections, do a soak as described above. With next wash you can skip soaking, but add extra disinfecting wash cycle at the end with 4 cups hydrogen peroxide + 1 cup borax + detergent. Continue doing disinfecting cycles with each wash until infection is fully gone.

Notes: Hydrogen peroxide is sold in any pharmacy in brown bottles. 3% strength would work best for this method. Borax can be found in laundry aisle in Wal-Mart or Safeway. Hydrogen peroxide just as bleach can fade fabrics.

Method 2: Lysol Concentrate Disinfectant

How to sanitize cloth diapers without bleach

STEP 1: Fill 1/2 bathtub with warm water (or medium load in non-HE washing machine)

STEP 2: Add 1 cup Lysol Concentrate Disinfectant

STEP 3: Soak cloth diapers for 30 minutes, rinse well

STEP 4: Wash in a washing machine with detergent

If you are dealing with yeast or other fungal infections, do a soak as described above. With next wash you can skip soaking, but add extra disinfecting wash cycle at the end with 1 cup Lysol Concentrate Disinfectant + detergent. Continue doing disinfecting cycles with each wash until infection is fully gone.

Notes: Lysol Concentrate Disinfectant is very effective and kills 99.9% of germs, including the flu virus. It’s a bit harder to find and may make diapers smell like Lysol. Lysol Concentrate Disinfectant is commonly used by hospitals and nursing homes.

Method 3: Sanitize or 90C Cycle

How to sanitize cloth diapers without bleach

Some washing machines are equipped with Sanitizing Cycle and will sanitize cloth diapers without any additives. As long as your washing machine is working properly, you can sanitize your diapers using this cycle.

There are no special instructions for this method, just a precaution: while an occasional wash on sanitizing cycle may not damage your cloth diapers, repeated washing in very hot water will definitely wear your diapers out significantly faster.