view of inside a cloth diaper that has stains

The Pain of Stains

Ugh! Stains!

You’ve finally picked out that perfect diaper, waited anxiously at the mailbox for it to arrive. After excitedly ripping open your Bumbini package, you fall instantly in love with the diaper’s gorgeous print and pristine, soft interior. You lovingly put it on your little one’s bum and stand back to admire it. What do they do immediately? Poop.  


Stains are a fact of life when it comes to diapers. After all, their purpose in life is to catch some of the nastiest stuff that comes out of a baby. If you pull a diaper out of the wash and it has a stain on it, don’t fret. It does not indicate that you have a problem with your wash routine – as long as your diapers smell clean and work the way they should, keep doing what you are doing. Stains are just poop’s version of graffiti, showing the world that “doodoo wuz here”. If these stains don’t bother you, you can stop reading here. But if you are planning to sell your diapers and want to get the maximum amount for them or just love the look of a sparkling white diaper interior, I can help!

Preventing Stains

Let’s start with preventing the stains in the first place. If you spill ketchup (or wine – I love wine) on your favorite shirt, what do you do first? You try to get the offending substance off of your clothing ASAP before the stain can set. Diapers are essentially just fabric, so this rule applies also. There are lots of options:

1) Wash the diaper immediately. My kids seem to find that the sound of the dryer has a laxative effect, and do their best work as soon as I have finished a load of diapers. But if it is close to wash day, just get that diaper in the washing machine.

2) Use a diaper sprayer or use the “dunk and swish” method to get as much poop off the diaper as possible. Diaper sprayers are a remarkable option for rinsing dirty diapers, as all of the poop goes directly in the toilet, and keeps you from having to touch the poopy diaper any more than necessary.

3) If you don’t have a sprayer and the thought of dunking a diaper in the toilet grosses you out, give liners a try. Reusable fleece liners work well because they will take the brunt of the BM and save the diaper underneath. They also make poop cleanup easier, because it is easier to flip poop off of one of these. Or you can use a flushable liner which has the same benefits. They are just as effective as fleece at preventing stains, but can just be flushed away with the poop.

4) A pre-treatment is an extra step towards preventing those stains from setting in. Take a Buncha Farmers Stain Stick and rub it on the stained part of the diaper and pop into the diaper pail or throw into the washing machine if its laundry day. 

Getting Stains Out

But uh-oh! The stain has already happened? The diaper has been through the wash and still has a nasty stain! What do you do now? It is surprisingly easy. Put your damp diaper in the sun. Put your feet up with a drink in hand. That is all. Within a few short hours, your diaper will be sparkling clean again.

Diaper stains are organic in nature (unless your child ate and minimally processed an inkwell), so they are easier to deal with than other types of stains. The scientific explanation for why sunlight erases stains is probably buried deep in one of my organic chemistry textbooks (a.k.a. expensive doorstops) but I have neither the time nor inclination to go searching for it. We’ll just chalk it up to magic. Wonderful, stain cleaning magic.

Demonstration of Diaper Sunning

Here is a demonstration: The diaper below (my lovely Deja Blue Bamboo Funky Fluff) was subjected to one of the worst examples of human effluvia I have ever seen (and I was a microbiology tech!). I have no idea what my son ate to produce such a stain, but I shudder at the thought. By the time I saw this stain, it had already sat in the diaper pail for over a day and been washed and dried. This stain is as set and as nasty as they get. I got it damp again and hung it outside on a balmy -20 degree Celsius day. Nearly froze a toe off doing it, but it was for science. 

These pictures were taken every few hours over the course of a day, and no special effects have been done (really - I don't have an artistic bone in my body!) Pretty incredible, eh? Now I am not sure if freezing your diapers in sub-zero temperatures is good for them or you – I will do further research on that. But if you can’t wait until summer to sun your diapers, you can sun them inside a sunny window. It may take a bit longer, but it will still help erase stains! Cloudy days work as well – think of how easily you can get a sunburn even on an overcast day (I am a redhead, I can get a sunburn under a 20 Watt bulb…)

So go forth, good diapering folk, and do not fear the stains!

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