Cloth Diapering Mailbox Mondays

Cloth Diaper Advice – Mailbox Mondays 9/10/12 – Black Spots on Diapers

black spots on #clothdiapers via @chgdiapers

Monday is Mailbox Monday at Change-Diapers, where I take a user question and ask my readers to help too.

Questions don’t have to be cloth diaper related, just email maria at with “Mailbox Mondays” in the subject, or fill out my contact form for readers, which you will always be able to find on my Contact Page.

Anne says:

I use Tots Bots Easyfits for my son (he’s now 5 months old). Just this week I’ve started getting black spots on the front end of the diaper and insert (where the pee is heaviest). I assume it is mildew of some kind.

I store the dirties in an lidded trash can with a wet bag inside. My wash routine is 1. cold rinse, 2. hot wash, extra rinse, 3. cold rinse, 4. line dry outside. I use Rockin’ Green detergent. I wash a load every day because I don’t have enough to last two days with out a wash. I’m just mystified because I’ve been using these diapers for 5 months with no problem and have only now starting seeing these stains.

My question is, can I get the stains out? Sunning doesn’t seem to fade them. And do I need to be concerned about using the diapers now that there is a mildew issue, or is the stain itself harmless?

It sounds like the diapers aren’t necessarily getting dry (humidity can sometimes make line drying tough) and/or may not be getting clean. I’d suggest pulling the soaker out before washing, and if you weren’t washing daily, I’d suggest rinsing them before putting them in your pail. You can also try leaving the pail lid open to allow air to circulate.

For stains, if sunning isn’t helping, try adding a little lemon juice first, or try an oxygen bleach, like oxi clean free or crunchy clean’s version (be sure to follow the diaper manufacturer’s instructions for washing/additives.) If they smell fine, I wouldn’t worry too much about staining!

Have you had this issue?

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Maria Moser
Maria is the mother of 3, writing about cloth diapers & going green. You'll often find her juggling her preschooler and typing 1-handed in between sips of cold coffee. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development and other services.
  • Raquel Beaty
    September 13, 2012 at 8:43 am

    I too have had black spots on diapers. However, mine would show up after line drying, even when it wasn’t very humid. At first I was sure it was mold/mildew of some sort. I used peroxide to fade/get rid of the stains and let the sun do the rest. I’m not sure if peroxide is technically “safe” on PUL, but I have not had issues with those diapers leaking, it was a small amount and I rinsed it off in a very short amount of time. That being said, I decided later that the spots were most likely bug poop/bug leavings of some sort. I have not had an issue since I have started line drying them in my sun porch. There are flies in there, but apparently the black spot leaving bugs aren’t in there? It is a mystery to me. 🙂 I have been thinking about trying to line dry outside again now that it is getting cooler and see if I have the same issues.

  • Rebecca Orr
    September 11, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I have never heard of this problem before. I have two tots bots diapers and I certainly hope it never occurs for me.

  • Delora
    September 10, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    If they’re microfiber inserts, I would also second adding 1/4cup of bleach just to ensure that any possible spores are killed.

  • Rachel N
    September 10, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I would take the lid off the trash can/diaper pail so there is more airflow. I have never used a lid on my diaper pail and the diapers don’t smell at all.

  • September 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    I recently experienced this issue as well with my sized BG AIOs (funny it was in the exact same spot as you describe, and I also have a boy). I used 1/4 cup bleach in a hot wash (as recommended to do monthly by BG) and the stains were faded to the point where you would not notice them unless looking for them. I also thought that it was some sort of mold/mildew and am making a conscious effort to not leave the diapers in the pail/wet bag for more than 2 days now.

  • September 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Some of us were talking about this on another board. Are TotBots a natural diaper? I’ve noticed this only with my natural fibers. I don’t think mine is mildew (it happens on a clean diaper, right in the am). I think we’ve found that the common denominator is overnight pee and tylenol?

    I’ve tried lots of ways to remove the stains and the only thing I’ve found that works is just repeated washing.

    Just my two cents.

  • September 10, 2012 at 11:18 am

    I’ve had great success with using vinegar to get the stains out, as well as oxyclean!

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