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April 16, 2011

Mould or Not? Dealing With Nappy Staining – More Suggestions.

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Mould or Not? Dealing With Nappy Staining – More Suggestions.

Do you have staining of your nappies that is difficult to deal with?

Perhaps this mum’s situation matches yours, or you have a suggestion to add…

A previous article, Do You Have Mould or Mildew On Your Cloth Nappies? Had an array of suggestions and tips to remove and prevent mould from being a problem with your washable nappies. We now have the next question, and hope our nappy experts can shed some light with more information…

Hi Charndra,

I would like to say thank you to the nappy experts for their advice and suggestions. I found it really interesting what Annette from iish fly said about gas heating and stoves, I do keep my nappies in the lounge room and I use a gas stove in the kitchen, I have a small house, although I haven’t noticed mould growing on the walls. I do use an airconditioner everyday but I thought they kept the moisture out of the air?

I have been extra careful with getting the inserts dry and have been finishing them off in the dryer. I only wash in cold water as there is not hot plumbing at my washing machine, I haven’t done a strip wash yet was planning on doing it in the next couple of days, as it involves carrying buckets of hot water to the washing machine. When I was talking about mould it is not spots or dark green in colour but more of a brown colour.

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Bad news is that it is back. I washed the nappies last night and noticed when I went to hang them out quite a few of the inserts had the brown all over them, it’s like they have been washed with dirt. I don’t think it is dirty water This morning I took some photos which I will attach, can you please ask the nappy experts as to what they think it is, maybe its not mould? In the photos I have included a white clean insert and the badly discoloured one. My bub has been having panadol and is now on antibiotics but neither contain sorbitol (which I had read caused stains), but she was not on these previously when the stains occurred.

Hopefully you can help.

Thanks again,


The photo shows both a bright and clean insert, and a clean yet discoloured one:

Misty from Fluffy Buns:

The colour on those inserts is not mould, it is from the ammonia in bubs pee.. Happens from time to time, teething – etc.. The best way to get rid or prevent that from happening is to rinse the inserts before putting them in the nappy bucket. Try not to leave the nappies too long between washes while you have this problem.

An overnight soak will help, followed by a double rinse, full wash and another rinse. Water is the best thing to prevent ammonia build up. If you haven’t already, try eco sprout laundry powder, it will pull out those stains and keep your nappies fresh. My daughters night nappies get like that from time to time, it always washed out.


FluffyBuns. xx

Nyssa from Snow Pea Nappies:

Wow! those stains are terrible. It looks as if the boosters have been sitting in a damp bucket for months to look like that! Knowing everything that you’re doing to look after your nappies I have no idea what could be causing this. It may be due to a build up over time because you haven’t been able to strip wash, or it could still be because of your water.

A few months ago we stayed with the in-laws who live on the coast. Every night after my son’s bath time we’d drain the water and every morning there would be an awful ring and marks in the bottom of the bath that looked like algae from the water, even though the water looked beautiful and clear. My sons face washers and anything else that was in the water for a little while ended up slimy and stained a horrible brown colour, just like your boosters. Even now the stains haven’t come out despite numerous washes back home. So chances are your water is the culprit, because even when it looks clean it doesn’t mean it is. Maybe it would be worth getting someone to come check the water for you.

Good luck!


Snow Pea Nappies

Michelle from Cloth N Craft:

It could be mould but a way of testing it out is that I’ve heard “oil of clove” (which my mother in law tells me you can buy at a standard chemist/pharmacy) actually KILLS mould where as bleach only turns it white. You could get some and put it on part of it and see.

Good Luck,


Cloth N Craft

Rebecca from Bean Sprout Bubba:

How long do you dry pail for, Danielle? Sometimes the nitrogenous compounds in urea can change colour to brownish red (in fact, some red azo dyes are derived from these same compounds). It could be ‘rusty’ stains, from dissolved iron salts reacting with any residual urine/urea in the booster.

I would love to know what comes out of this 🙂


Bean Sprout Bubba


Our Nappy Experts are invited to contribute to these questions so that you get a range of informative and experienced responses about the topic. Enjoy and discover something new, and share with us in the comment box below.

March 15, 2011

Mould or Mildew on Your Cloth Nappies? Tips to Remove then Prevent Mould From Staining Your Nappies

Do You Have Mould or Mildew On Your Cloth Nappies?

Here are a Bunch of Top Tips to Remove and Prevent Mould From Being a Problem With Your Washable Nappies…

Damp conditions, warm conditions and mould spores cause mildew and mould, and it can be an unsightly as well as annoying visitor to your cloth nappy stash! No doubt lots of mums have experienced this problem, and today our nappy experts tackle the mould problem shared by Danielle:

Hi Charndra,

Are you able to do some information on mould please, how to prevent it and solutions to get mould off the nappies?

I am having so much trouble with it, it doesn’t help we have not had much sun and its been extremely wet, surely I cant be the only one? To get rid of it on my nappies, I soak inserts in Milton, then do a quick soak of shells. Then soak overnight in Ecostore Whitener, then put through wash cycle. I have moved my nappy bucket from my bedroom to the bathroom, lid on to lid off. Now I have been using a wetbag in a hallway where there isn’t much fluctuation of temperature or humidity. I have been finishing my inserts off in the dryer. I wash every two days.

I don’t know what else to do? Hopefully you can help as I hate having to revert to disposables while soaking nappies.



We certainly can help, Danielle, here is a slew of advice, information and tips on removing and then preventing mould on cloth nappies. I am sure you will find the tips you need within this helpful advice:

Nyree from Kodomo:

Hi Danielle!

Sorry to hear you are having trouble with your nappies, storing unwashed nappies in your hallway doesn’t sound very pleasant.

Obviously the best thing to do is prevent mould, I assume you are dry-pailing your nappies? Dirty nappies need stools deposited down the toilet, while nappies with urine only on them don’t need rinsing and can go directly into a bucket with a lid for storage until you are ready to launder. In the case of newborn breastfed poo, nappies don’t need rinsing and can be put directly into the washing machine. I also recommend washing every second day, no longer.

To remove mould from your nappies you could try a strip wash – put your nappies through a normal wash cycle and then, without drying, run them through a hot wash without any detergent. Add some white vinegar to the rinse cycle (don’t worry, your nappies won’t smell like vinegar!).

I think mould tends to appear from improper drying rather than washing methods. If you’ve had a really bad run of weather then it may be worth using the dryer. Perhaps you could air dry for a day and then finish off on a low heat in the dryer? Continuous use of dryers aren’t recommended for nappies as high dryer heat can damage the PUL and deteriorate elastic, however it is fine to use the dryer every now and then – being in Melbourne sometimes I have no choice!

Good luck, Danielle, let us know how you go.

Kind regards,



Julia from The Nappy Bootique:

Hi Danielle,

I’ve never come across this problem myself- I dry pail- so dont soak my nappies in anything unless they are really soiled and then I soak them in water with a little sprinkle of washing powder.

It sounds like you are doing an awful lot to your nappies and I can’t see them lasting long if they are treated with so many products especially the milton. I would give them a normal cold wash/presoak with some ecostore and then a hot wash with vinegar- the hot wash will give them a strip and the vinegar will hopefully kill any germs in them and then put them out in the sun- the sun is probably the only thing that may get rid of the mould stains.

Another suggestion would be to rub some lemon on it or spray it with Lemon juice- apparently it can get rid of mould too.

To prevent it from happening- you may need to wash more often and not have them sitting wet- or soaking as they could be cultivating the mould. I wash every 2-3 days and haven’t come across mould yet and my nappy bin is in my bathroom- I have however come across mould on the surface of the water when I have forgotten about a nappy that’s soaking. Do you dry pail or soak to store your soiled nappies? – that would be my question.

Mould is a tough stain to remove I wish you the best with it 🙂


The Nappy Bootique

Laura from the Cloth Nappy Co:

Hi Danielle,

I can offer a few tips that I hope will be helpful for your mould problem.

Soaking your nappies in any chemicals could void your warranty and causes chemical build up which affects the nappy’s absorbency so perhaps you should avoid using Milton, which is a type of bleach.

I suggest you try dry pailing without rinsing and put the lid on top. Perhaps add some essential oils like tea tree or lavender to a small towel to control odors or try adding a sprinkle of baking soda to the bottom of the bucket. Keeping it in the bathroom is a good idea and keep washing every 2 days.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any questions or you continue to have problems.

Kind regards,


Cloth Nappy Co

Liz from Real Nappies:

Hi Danielle,

Removing black spots from nappies or covers is tricky and what works for one may not for another!

Here are a few tips that we have found really work:

Mildew on your Cloth nappies?

1. Try rinsing the covers as soon as they come off to avoid any stains setting. Sunshine is the best whitener once the covers have been laundered. If that still fails, you can mix up the nappy fresh like a paste to spot remove stains (half tsp powder to 1 tsp water) apply to the stain and leave for 5 minutes before washing.

• Hot wash your nappies – Real Nappies nappy covers and cotton inners are made for industrial washing so put them through your machine on a really hot wash.

• Nappy Fresh – Add some to your machine – this helps whitens and naturally sanitises your nappies.

• Sunlight is an excellent natural whitener so after washing hang them on the line and make sure they see as much direct sunlight as possible.

• Vinegar – try adding ½ cup of vinegar to the first rinse cycle in order to remove any residual detergent. This will sanitise, deodorize and brighten your nappies.

• Bleach – Real Nappies cotton inserts have to put up with a lot and can sometimes stain, as a last resort – try environmentally friendly oxygenated bleach. We suggest not using chlorine bleach as this can break down the fibres of the cotton and will destroy your covers. But be careful, not all are created equal make sure the product you choose contains no additives beyond sodium carbonate. Our choice is Nappy Fresh nappy Sanitiser.

• Oxygenated Bleach – If you decide to use oxygenated bleach only use aprox ¼ cup bleach and add it to the hot wash cycle. The best way to stop mould or mildew is to prevent it happening in the first pace and here’s how we suggest you keep your nappies mould free: Prevention

• Drying – Ensure your nappies and covers are completely dried, they may feel dry but check underneath tabs or flaps, are they totally dry? Perhaps the black spots of mildew are worse near stitching, this would mean they are not drying properly in-between uses.

• Wash Regularly. Do not leave your nappies too long between washdays. We recommend washing your nappies every 2-3 days that way the stains do not have time to set in.

• Do not cram it all in! Do not over-fill your washing machine – your soiled nappies need a lot of room to wash clean.

• Hot Wash – Do occasionally run a hot wash on your nappies and covers: your beautiful white nappies will love you for it!

• Dryer – Real Nappies nappies and covers can both be machine dried so when the sun is not shining try throwing them in the dryer.

• Sunlight is the best natural whitener you can get, so pop your nappies and covers on the line whenever you can – as they unfold they dry so quickly and you can literally see the stains disappear!

• Check they are dry: Make sure your covers and nappies are totally dry before putting away, damp nappies encourage mildew and mould growth, which is hard to get rid of.

• Nappy Fresh: Add a natural whitener to your machine or soak the cotton nappy inserts in a bucket with the whitener. We recommend ‘Nappy Fresh’ made in New Zealand from the only the finest, natural ingredients. Simply add a dessertspoon to your washing machine and this whitens and sanitises your nappies. NOTE: We do not recommend soaking the nappy covers. We do not recommend using bleach on the cotton inserts or nappy covers as this can destroy the fabric and affect waterproofness.

• Do not soak the covers. With Real Nappies nappy Covers there is no need for these to remain damp for any prolonged period of time. Simply rinse between uses and pop in the washing machine with your other clothes, do not soak or store the nappy covers with the cotton nappies.

• Smelly nappies – the main cause of this is improper washing where the nappies do not get properly cleaned or a build up of detergent residue. So remember: – wash smaller loads – Do occasionally run a hot wash – Do not leave your soiled nappies unwashed for longer than 3 days – DO occasionally add ½ cup of vinegar to the first rinse cycle in order to remove any residual detergent. This will sanitise, deodorize and brighten your nappies.

• Unfold your nappies – make sure your nappies are unfolded before they go in the washing machine to allow complete cleaning

• Highest water levels – use the highest you can on your washing machine to ensure complete rinsing or nappies and covers. Any nappy residue can affect the performance of nappy products!

• Tea Tree Oil – Keep your nappy bucket smelling fresh by adding a few drops of Tea Tree Oil each time you empty it – a few drops on a piece of muslin or fleece on top of the cotton nappy pads is the best idea. Please proceed with caution with Tea Tree Oil – small babies may be sensitive to the oil.

• Bleach – When washing or soaking your cloth nappies, a good alternative to chlorine bleach is the environmentally friendly oxygenated bleach. But be careful, not all are created equal make sure the product you choose contains no additives beyond sodium carbonate. Our choice is Nappy Fresh nappy Sanitiser.

Dry Pail Option.

Our favorite way to store and wash nappies is using the Dry Pail method. Most cloth nappy users have moved away from soaking their nappies and the Dry Pail method is definitely a favorite now, here’s how to do it:

1. Use nappy Liners to catch the solids, these can be flushed away with the solids, no more smelly bins!

2. Simply pop the wet nappy into a container with a snug lid: a 19L bucket or similar is ideal.

3. Do not add any solution or water to the bucket (hence the term ‘dry pail’).

4. Leave the nappy until washday!

5. Every 2-3 days on washday simply transfer the entire contents of the bucket to the washing machine.

6. Add a dessertspoon of Nappy Fresh to your machine, in addition to your ordinary washing powder, and turn it on – no need to hot wash! Please remember, the longer your soiled nappies sit dirty, the harder it is to get out the stains. If the bioliner has not caught all the solids, give your nappies a quick rinse before Dry Pailing them. Soiled nappies are the ideal breeding ground for mould, mildew and bacteria, so make sure your wash your nappies every 2-3 days to keep them clean, fresh and white!

Good Luck!

I hope you find a solution that works for you,


Real Nappies

Annette from iish fly:

Hi Danielle,

Mould is a tricky subject. Mould spores are present almost everywhere, but require the right environment to grow. Unfortunately cloth nappies provide the correct environment for that to occur. These being a food source (natural fibres), moisture, and time to grow (ie being wet more than 24 hrs)

Prevention is easier than a cure so my suggestions here include rinse your bucket out with hot soapy water and/or vinegar to deter mould growth in the buckets and regularly remove any spores before they get out of hand. Move from dry paling to wet paling. Although you will need be to careful to keep it in a locked room away from toddlers (high up in the laundry tub is my favourite spot). It will save time on soaking later if they are mould stained already, but without the air circulation mould spores struggle to grow under water.

If you live in a warm humid area or seasonal variation, try and wash little more often where time and weather permits.

Gas heating/cooking in a household which almost always exacerbates mould issues in the house. So if you have gas heating or cooking it might be an idea to check the rest of your house for mould issues (External walls and windows furthest away from the source of the gas appliance) and try to provide adequate ventilation to those areas, and avoid keeping your nappies when not in use in those rooms.

Once effected your nappies can become stained so in these cases use an anti bacterial soaker overnight, your choice or use a mild – medium vinegar/water solution (down side is they will effect braided elastic in the nappies, and may cause issues with PUL)

Use a hot wash and vinegar rinse. (a strip wash might also be included to remove any residues that help feed to spores) and hang in sunlight as it will not only kill the spores, but help fade any stains. Make sure they are dry before being put away, as slightly damp nappies stored for a day or two will give the mould the advantage to reproduce again before its used. I am not a fan of dryers (though they have significant benefits to stressed mothers) in winter I always put mine in front of the heater.

I really hope this works for you. Please keep us updated as to how it goes!

Annette @ iish fly

Nyssa from Snow Pea Nappies

Hi Danielle,

I’m not sure how much advice I can give as mould is not something we’ve had a problem with. I wonder if you rinse all your nappies when you take them off? The ammonia in our wet nappies ususally prevents mould from being an issue, but if they were rinsed then that could explain why it is happening. Apart from that all you can do is make sure they’re washed fairly quickly (which you’re already doing), and treat the mould as it occurs (which you’re also doing).


Snow Pea Nappies

Kelly from Nappy needZ:

Hi Danielle,

It sounds as though you have been doing quite a bit to try and stop the nappies from becoming mouldy.

I think the key things are to ensure that you are storing the nappy bucket somewhere that is as cool as possible, as the warmth helps the mould to grow. As you are washing every two days, I wonder if the mould is already starting before the nappies are used, as this seems to be a short time for the mould to develop.

Make sure that the nappies are completely dry before storing, and make sure that wherever you keep them is not damp.

Sunlight is one of your best weapons in the fight against mould, so try to make sure that you at least always partially dry your nappies in the sunshine. If they still need finishing off in the tumble dryer, then they will have at least had some of the benefit of the sun on them.

An anti fungal rinse such as Canesten should also help to get rid of the mould, and stop it from growing. You should be able to find this in the washing powder section of the supermarket. Put it in the machine in the fabric softener dispenser, and it will add it to the final rinse. To get rid of any old mould stains on the inserts, again sunlight is your best weapon, for really bad stains, use a small amount of bleach and then place in sunlight. Once the stain has gone, rewash the inserts, and rinse thoroughly before drying.

I hope this helps,


Nappy needZ

Yoland from Bumbino:

Hi Danielle,

Regarding the problem of mould on your cloth nappies…. I have had no direct experience with mould on cloth nappies (or on other clothing). Being in Western Australia, this problem does not seem to arise. But I am aware that in Queensland, it can be a real problem. I have never found it necessary to soak nappies in any solutions. I just dry pail them.

So I am not speaking from direct experience and may not really appreciate what it is like to live in a moist humid environment! The only time I have experienced mould on nappies was when I left a nappy in a wetbag in the boot of the car for a couple of days (oops).

Here is my advice to you, although I suspect I wont be telling you anything you don’t already know! There are various remedies for removing mould from nappies/clothing but really, you don’t want to be doing this in the longer term. There are many reasons, including health concerns, for going to war on the mould that is in the environment. You need to work on removing the mould, as much as possible, from the indoor environment so that you are not giving the mould the opportunity to get a hold on your nappies.

I would work towards avoiding the need to be soaking the nappies in various solutions. Until the mould problem is well under control I would recommend daily washing of the nappies in warm water and if necessary, drying in the dryer if you have to. It’s just not worth messing with mould on nappies.

Wash at the end of the day so that you are not leaving the nappies in the bucket overnight. If you are able to reduce the humidity in the wet areas and improve ventilation this should be considered. Moving the nappy bucket seems like a good idea. I sometimes leave mine just outside the laundry door (ie outside the house) in a well ventilated area.

If there is mould fungus inside the house it should be routinely removed. It can hide in all sorts of places, including inside your washing machine, and is often visible on walls and ceilings in wet areas. Use a purpose made fungus remover or bleach to wipe over surfaces where the mould spores are settling and growing. Leave the door/lid of the washing machine open.

I have heard that lemon juice and also bicarb soda work well to remove stains on the nappies and there are various suggestions along these lines on the internet.

Although soaking of nappies is not generally recommended, if there is a lot of mould in the environment I would probably continue with the Miltons short term (rinsing thoroughly) until the problem of mould in the environment was reduced.

Of course, if you can find a place outside where the sun reaches, this is the best place to hang your nappies, but in some climates this can’t always be achieved. I hope there is something useful in there.

Good luck


Bumbino Cloth Nappies and More….

I hope these tips on removing and preventing mould and mildew and advice to keep it away helps our readers keep their nappies mildew-free and sparkling fresh!

How have others banished the spectre of mould from their nappies? We’d love to know which techniques worked for you. Let us know your experiences in the comment box below.

– Charndra

P.S If you have a pressing cloth nappy question, drop a line and I can ask our list of nappy experts for you, if you can’t find some information either in our wealth of cloth nappy tips and tricks and advice from Our Nappy Experts, or via the search button in the header bar.

Our Nappy Experts are invited to contribute to these cooperative questions so that you get a range of informative and experienced responses about the topic. Enjoy and discover something new, and share with us in the comment box below.

– Our Nappy Experts –

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