Guest Post: Disinfecting Cloth Diapers After a Yeast Infection

disinfecting cloth diapers after yeast

Guest Post by Erin Odom of The Humbled Homemaker

*A note from Emily: I am so grateful to have this guest post from Erin. Blair had a yeast rash when she was about a week old and I didn’t realize what it was at first. After asking for some advice on Facebook, several people responded that it could be a yeast infection. I had been using cloth on her because I thought that would help clear up the rash (usually true, but not with yeast), and so I had to disinfect my diapers before I could put them back on Blair. Erin sent me this post and I walked through the steps and it worked perfectly, and we’ve been back in cloth with no more yeast issues ever since! Thanks again Erin!

One of the reason I switched to cloth diapers almost two years ago was because my second baby battled a terrible diaper rash from birth. I had no idea until some time after converting to cloth that the terrible rash was really a yeast infection.

After doing some online research, I had mentioned to her doctor that I thought it may be yeast, but I never took her to the doctor when the outbreak was at the point where it could be diagnosed. It kept coming and going–even after I started using cloth diapers.

When my doctor finally diagnosed yeast (when my daughter was 5 months old!), I then realized I had to do a special sanitizing wash on my diapers to get rid of all the yeast! Let me tell you, I almost quit using cloth diapers over yeast!

Some of my friends have successfully gotten rid of yeast in their diapers without ever having to switch to disposables in the meantime. Some people simply use pre-folds that they do not mind throwing away once infected.

I’ll be honest: I pulled out the disposables. (And not even the green ones…my frugal side came out, and I opted for Luvs or Target brand while we were battling the yeast monster!)

Before putting my baby back into cloth diapers, I made sure her yeast infection had been cleared for a full two weeks (I was extra cautious!), and I disinfected my diapers. I actually call this my “disinfecting strip” because it’s a combination of both stripping and disinfecting my diapers at the same time.

How To Disinfect Cloth Diapers After a Yeast Infection

Supplies needed: oxygen bleach, tea tree oil, blue Dawn dish detergent, the sun

1. Soak your clean cloth diapers on hot overnight with up to one half cup of pure oxygen bleach. I use Crunchy Clean’s pure oxygen, but Emily recommends using Nellie’s oxygen.

2. In the morning, add tea tree oil and a big squirt of blue original Dawn dish detergent to your wash. I would use no more than 2 drops of tea tree oil in a front loader and no more than 4 drops of tea tree oil in a top loader. You will need to add it to the detergent compartment for a front loader. If you use too much oil, your diapers may repel (believe me, I know!).

3. Wash on HOT. (I turn my hot water heater up as high as it goes!)

4. Run your diapers through about 3 rinse cycles after they have finished washing. Rinse until you see no more bubbles. (Just as your would with a regular strip.)

5. Lay your diapers out in the full sun. (No shade!)

Note: You will also need to do this special wash with your cloth wipes, so go ahead and throw everything in the machine together!

Dealing with yeast in cloth diapers can be a huge pain. But you will get through this! I really almost gave up cloth altogether.

But you know what? Now I’m glad I dealt with yeast. It helps me help other moms.

Has your child every had a yeast rash? How did you get the yeast out of your diapers?

Erin of The Humbled Homemaker Bio: Erin is a Jesus-loving, cloth diapering, natural birthing, (mostly) real-food eating, breastfeeding natural wife and mama to three little redheaded girls. She writes for her local newspaper, blogs about her far-from-perfect homemaking at The Humbled Homemaker and edits eBooks at Your eBook Resource.


Top Photo Credit: Simplyla on Flickr

Read More About Cloth Diapers on Live Renewed:


If you’d like to learn more about living green and living frugally I’d love to have you as a Live Renewed reader! You can subscribe, either by email or in a reader, to get the latest posts, ideas and inspiration for living frugally green. You can also connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!


  1. Hannah says

    I was so glad to see this post but disappointed by the advice… We use Bumgenius 4.0s and have dealt with yeast. Cotton Babies (BG manufacturer) says NOT to use oxygen bleach because it will cause too much wear and NOT to use tea tree oil because of the risk with repelling (also I’ve read that you would need to use a LOT of TTO to deal with yeast). They recommended 1/2 c of bleach no more than once a month in the wash. I did that and it ruined the elastic in my diapers. Fortunately they are replacing them all now. But what do I do if this happens again? Would love to hear other comments. Also, I did try oxygen bleach and TTO earlier without success. Bleach worked great except that it ruined my diapers!

    • Emily @ Live Renewed says

      Hi Hannah,
      Thanks for your questions! I have to say that I find it interesting that Cotton Babies says not to use Oxygen Bleach because it will cause too much wear, but when you use regular bleach, it ruined your elastic. I tend to think that oxygen bleach is gentler than regular bleach, and I’ve used oxygen bleach on my BG 4.0’s without a problem. But, that’s just my opinion and I understand that some people don’t want to go against the manufacturers recommendations. We weren’t using the BG’s on my newborn when she had the yeast though, so I didn’t use this routine on them to know if it would work well or not. I would definitely make sure that you are drying your diapers in full sun – I think that is one of the keys to helping to kill the yeast.
      I’ll check with Erin, the author of the post, and see if she has any recommendations for you.

    • says

      Hi Hannah! I’m sorry I’m just now seeing this! How is the yeast issue now? I have used this routine on all of my diapers, including a handful of BG 4.0s I have in my stash, and it worked perfectly for me. However, I know that everyone’s water is different. What type of detergent are you using?

      I have always been afraid to use regular bleach on my diapers, even though I know Cotton Babies recommends it. Did you use pure oxygen bleach (not oxiclean…no fillers)? I second what Emily said about making sure you are laying your diapers out in the full sun–OR (or maybe both!) you can dry them on really high heat. Also, I turned my water heater up as high as it would go for the wash. I think the soaking overnight really helps as well.

      Don’t give up…it will get better!

      • Hannah says

        Well we had more yeast problems :-( I don’t know if I didn’t get them out of the diapers (Cotton Babies replaced the ones that were less than a year old, but there were others) or if my baby just has a lot of yeast issues. I am SO DISCOURAGED!! So I just ordered Nellie’s Oxygen Bleach and will try this method. I’m going to do everything exactly as you said! I don’t want to use regular bleach again after ruining the elastic on my diapers. Ugh.

        • Emily @ Live Renewed says

          I’m so sorry Hannah, that is so frustrating! I think you’ll be able to kill the yeast in your diapers with this method and hopefully it won’t return!

        • says

          I’m so sorry you’re having such a hard time, Hannah! I feel your pain! I almost quit cloth over yeast! I try to do things as cheaply as possible, but I’ve had GREAT results using pure oxygen bleach, so I hope the Nellie’s will kick it once and for all! Keep us posted!!

          • Hannah says

            Feeling optimistic! Just got my Nellie’s and turned up the hot water, but now I am looking at the forecast and it won’t be sunny tomorrow I don’t think. Does the full sun have to be right away (starting while they are still wet) or can I wait a few days?

          • says

            I would go ahead and lay them out in the sun (as long as it’s not raining of course) and then re-wet them when you have full sun and lay them out again. Or, you can just wait to do the whole process for a day when you know you will have full sun. Keep us posted!

  2. says

    I self-diagnosed my daughter’s rash to be yeast about two months ago. NOTHING was working to get rid of it! Sure wish I’d have come across this article sooner. Thanks for the helpful info, Erin.

  3. Laura K says

    I am wondering what you used to treat your daughter while fighting yeast. I have been fighting a yeast rash with my daughter since she was 3 weeks old and she just turned 1 this week. I switched to cloth a few months ago and have been trying different things. It usually looks good for a couple days but nothing completely gets rid of it. I have been trying to treat the diapers…hard with laying/hanging in the sun. There isn’t usually too much sun in WI in December. Today there is though and the diapers are on the line as I am typing. I will try this process and order some pure oxygen. Any thoughts on good treatment for the baby? Thanks.

    • Emily @ Live Renewed says

      Hi Laura,
      I have read that both coconut oil and Apple Cider Vinegar, mixed with water, are good natural solutions for fighting yeast because they both have anti-fungal properties. We tried those for about a week, but then switched to a non-natural solution because it was bad enough that we wanted to get it healed quickly. We ended up getting an over the counter yeast infection treatment creme like Monistat, because we really wanted to make sure we killed the yeast and that it wouldn’t keep recurring. And I would switch to disposables while you are using the creme, you definitely don’t want to get that creme on your cloth diapers! Hope that helps and you can get your sweet one’s rash cleared up!

  4. Amanda says

    This may seem like a silly question but do you finish the wash cycle from the soak adding the TTO and Dawn or do you do that when you wash them on hot?

    • Emily @ Live Renewed says

      Hi Amanda, After you soak the diapers, add the TTO and Dawn and then wash on hot. You don’t need to run a wash cycle after the soak, and then another one with the TTO and Dawn – you can just run one wash cycle on hot. Hope that helps! Let us know if you have any other questions.

  5. Alisa says

    What do I need to do to clean my covers? It says no bleach and no hot dryer. I have thirsties covers with my kissaluvs fitted diapers for my 6 week old.

    • Emily @ Live Renewed says

      Hi Alisa,
      I would think that if you’re having a problem with yeast, it wouldn’t really affect your covers because they yeast can’t live on the plasticy PUL. I either wash my covers with my diapers, or with my regular laundry if I need to wash them but don’t have enough diapers for a full cloth diaper load. I’ve used oxygen bleach on my covers without issue, so you should be fine to wash them in hot water with your diapers and then just hang them to dry. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  6. mistymama says

    I understand disinfecting the diapers after yeast..I use a 1/4 cup of regular bleach once a month or so…but for those of you with recurring yeast issues, it may not be your diapers. Itmay literally be your baby. Make sure he/she is getting plenty of “good bacteria” in their digestive system. When the digestive system is low on these good bacteria, that is when you have yeast overgrowth…causing a yeast diaper rash, thrush in the mouth, or both. A good source is plain yogurt. There are also dietary supplements you can buy OTC. Avoid sugar for baby (and for nursing mamas), as yeast feeds on sugar/starch. Put a little baking soda in baby’s bath. It neutralizes the acid yeast feeds on. Avoid powder in the diaper area…yeast loves starch. Mix a solution of apple cider vinegar, water, and a drop or two of TTO for cloth wipes. You can use OTC antifungals like monistat mixed with zinc oxide or find some Gentian Violet to combat yeast. Px creams/ oral are good, Nystatin for instance. Good luck!

  7. Becka says

    My baby was born with thrush and developed a yeast infection shortly after birth. The doctor gave me a special cream (prescription) and it cleared up quickly. I used cloth prefolds and soaked them in borax water and then gave them a cold water rinse in the washer and then washed in hot water with chlorine bleach. They were line dried when possible or dried in the dryer if the weather was bad. Her yeast infection never came back.

  8. Emiko says

    This isn’t so much about yeast- but about stripping my diapers. I have a large stash of diapers that I can’t use because I’m somehow not able to strip them. I used the wrong diaper rash cream with my first child and made some of the diapers repellent. Then when I tried to strip them, I thought I would just strip all my diapers at the same time and ended up with all of them repellent. I’ve tried every way that I could find online to strip them and no luck. I’ve used Oxyclean with multiple hot washes afterwards to rinse- I’ve tried front load as well as top load washers. I’m ready to pay someone to strip them! And I’ve tried over several years. The diapers themselves have almost no use. :(

  9. Jen says

    I’m about to try this with our cloth dipes…but I wanted to share that we had huge success getting rid of the rash itself from our little one very quickly once I did this: lots of diaper-free time, sprinkled lots of pro-biotics directly on rash a few times a day (we broke open capsules of acidophilus and put the powder in a dish- ours were from the health food store- the kind that need to be refrigerated), and still applying the anti-fungal cream from the doc then following that with a generous slathering of diaper cream (we use Flander’s). I noticed a HUGE difference within 24 hours of starting the acidophilus! Now to deal with the diapers! We’ve immediately switched to disposables to stop this thing in its tracks…

    • says

      Thanks for sharing your experience Jen! That is great to know about the pro-biotics! I’ll have to try that if we ever are battling a yeast rash again (which I hope we don’t, but you never know!)

  10. Jessica says

    Okay so this might sound like a stupid question but how do you soak anything in a front loader washer? Lol. I’m new to my HE washer as you can probably tell, and it was so easy to soak something in a top loader. I’m just confused.

  11. says

    I’ve been browsing on-line more than three hours these
    days, but I never found any interesting article like yours.

    It’s lovely worth enough for me. In my view, if all web owners and bloggers made good content
    as you probably did, the internet shall be much more useful than
    ever before.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *