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How to Remove Mildew From Cloth diapers

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Mildew can grow on your cloth diapers if left to sit to long before washing, if left in an airtight container, or if stored when still wet. Humid climates also present a challenge. Below we share how to remove mildew from cloth diapers and how to prevent it from happening again.


For Mildew Spots

Mixture of 2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. lemon juice. Mix into a paste and rub onto the mildew spots. Let sit for a half hour. Wash with the next cloth diaper load, and dry in the sun or put in the dryer for 15 minutes on high. This should kill the mildew and get rid of the stain.


Straight vinegar reportedly kills 82 percent of mold. Pour 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar into a spray bottle, spray on the area with mildew, and let set for a few hours.  Wash with the next cloth diaper load and dry in the sun. You can also add ¼ cup baking soda and ½ cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle if they have odor. This should kill the mildew, but the stain will still be visible.

Tea Tree Oil

Add 1 teaspoon tea tree oil to 1 cup water in a clean spray bottle. Shake to blend, and spray on mildew spots. Let sit overnight, and add to your next cloth diaper load. Dry in the sun. This will disinfect, but the stain will still be visible.

Grapefruit Seed Extract

Add 10 drops grapefruit seed extract to 1 cup water in a clean spray bottle. Shake to blend, and spray on mildew. Let sit overnight, and add item/s to next cloth diaper load. This will disinfect, but not get rid of the stain. This will disinfect, but the stain will still be visible.

Oxygen Bleach Powder

Follow directions on package. This should disinfect and remove the stain.

For a Stash of Mildewed Diapers or Covers

Start a prewash cycle in your machine with the lowest water level to cover the diapers. Let the tub fill with cold water, add ¼ cup baking soda, and ONE of the following: ½ cup vinegar, 2 tsp Tea Tree Oil , 2 tsp Grape Seed Extract , Recommended amount of Oxyclean Baby  (use hot water) Let agitate, add the diapers, and then turn the washer off to let them soak for about 1 hour. Line dry outside or run a hot cycle in the dryer. After any kind of treatment, please wash your diapering products and rinse thoroughly. Drying in the sun will aid in disinfection and stain removal. Please keep in mind that drying in the dryer will set any stains.  To remove stains naturally, you can use a 50/50 solution of lemon juice and water sprayed on the stain. Put in the sun for a couple of hours. If stain is still visible, wash and repeat.
how to remove mildew from cloth diapers

Tips on Preventing Mildew From Growing

Mildew grows in warm temperatures and humidity. There also seems to be a link to sugar in the growth of mildew.
  • We recommend using a dry pail to store your diapers for washing – no soaking on a normal basis.
  • Please do not keep any soiled or wet items in an airtight container for longer than a few hours.
  • Humid climates have more trouble with mildew, and might need more frequent washings. You may need to use the dryer to keep mildew from forming, or put a de-humidifier in the laundry room where they are hung.
  • Make sure that your diapering products are dry after laundering. Take them out of the washer and dryer as soon as the cycle is done. Check to see that they are totally dry before storing.
  • A half cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle will help to clean and disinfect your diapers.
  • A few drops of Tea Tree Oil mixed with ¼ cup of baking soda in the prewash cycle will aid in stain removal, disinfection, softening water, and cleaning of your diaper laundry.
  • Dry in the sun! This disinfects, aids in stain removal, and conserves energy!
For any further questions, please contact Thirsties customer service at Sources  include:, and

Have you had to deal with mold or mildew in your cloth diaper stash? Were you able to save your precious cloth and how did you do it? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Hello Elizabeth, I am sorry to hear that! If you can email me at with your washing and drying routine, as well as how you store the diapers and how often you wash, I hope we can find a solution for you! ~Jessica

    Jessica Oliveto on
  • Help, I keep having this problem. I have tried: Salt, water and lemon juice and well it’s back. I have tried bleach. No luck. No luck with vinegar.

    Elizabeth on
  • My bumpkins wetbags had mildew in the bottom of the bags. I didn’t see mildew on the diapers. Should & could I use tea tree oil in the wash with the microfiber & natural fiber diapers? Can I do tea tree rinse cycle after the actual wash cycle? Does it necessarily mean my diapers have mildew in them if I didn’t see it (although the wetbags had it in)?


    Renee on
  • I used 20 drops in my diaper wash in a top loader he machine. Is that too much? I was trying to kill mold or mildew if present in my diapers. I’m going to keep rinsing. Hoping I didn’t add insult to injury…

    Renee on
  • Hello! Yes, you can use tea tree oil and vinegar on the spots. They may kill the spores but the stain might remain, but you can sun it to lighten them.

    Jessica Oliveto on

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