How to Remove Yeast from Cloth Diapers

How to remove yeast from cloth diapersHow do you know if you have yeast? There are several different types of diaper rash but if you have a prickly looking rash that doesn’t improve or go away within 24 hours of using typical diaper creams, chances are that you have yeast. 

*For the first time you should visit your doctor to make sure but after you have it once, you’re likely to recognize it if you get it again.

Yeast is a very stubborn fungus to get rid of and your first step must be to treat the rash. If diagnosed by a doctor they will likely give you a prescription for an antifungal cream. If you have had yeast before and you no longer have a prescription you can use an over the counter cream for athlete’s foot, jock itch and ringworm. The generic name is Clotrimazole which is the same as the brand name Lotrimin. These creams are not safe for cloth diapers so you will need to use disposable diapers, flushable inserts or a fleece liner in your cloth diapers.

Once you’ve tackled the rash, you must treat all of your diapers, cloth wipes and reusable diaper liners (if you use them). There is no getting around this because if you don’t you will reinfect your baby. There are several things people do to treat yeast, but what I do is this:

  • Once your diapers are clean of waste, wash them in HOT water, around 125-130 degrees without going over.
  • To the water add about 45 drops of grapefruit seed extract and an oxygen bleach such as OxiClean or Biokleen. I use a full scoop when disinfecting.
  • Do a second rinse to make sure all of the GSE and oxygen bleach is out of your diapers
  • If you’re comfortable with using chlorine bleach, a 1/4 cup should work to disinfect your diapers. The GSE/oxygen bleach treatment worked for me  so I haven’t had to resort to this for yeast. 

You should now be yeast free. Some people also choose to treat towels that have touched their baby’s bare bottom while they were infected.

Tea tree oil is also popular for treating yeast but in my research I have read that it doesn’t kill the spores while grapefruit seed extract does.

Also in my research I was only able to find general information on what to use but no exact amounts. This is what has worked for me though you may find more or less GSE may work for you.

Update 8/9/13: There have been questions around the interwebs about whether oxygen bleach like OxiClean and BioKleen actually disinfects or if its main purpose is just for whitening. Many of us don’t have a microscope in our homes to prove or disprove its disinfectant properties but here are some sources that state that it does kill at least some germs:

So while oxygen bleach is probably not enough on its own to kill yeast, it can’t hurt to add it while trying to rid your diapers of yeast and other bacteria.

Update 10/14/13: There have been recent questions about the effectiveness of GSE on yeast and whether it is truly an antifungal. It has been stated that it is the preservatives in GSE that are what kills yeast and not the GSE itself.

I am not a scientist and do not have a lab set up in my basement (though The Husband has one at work. Maybe I should convince him to set up an experiment for me, haha). Because of this I can’t confirm or deny these claims, but what I can tell you is that my diapers had yeast, then I used the regimen above and they no longer had yeast. Whether it is the preservatives or the GSE itself shouldn’t really make a difference anyway as long as whatever property kills the yeast is present. As an added note, the GSE that I use is the same kind that was used in the study conducted by California Polytechnic State University in their experiment. 

Update 11/6/13: Most of us don’t have access to a microscope at home and never really know if we have gotten rid of yeast until the rash stops. Then once the rash stops we don’t really know what was the thing that actually got rid of it. The Real Diaper Association (RDA) is currently conducting scientific experiments on how to get rid of yeast in cloth diapers and their findings on cloth prefolds is pretty interesting. More experiments on other types of diapers and fabrics will be conducted.

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    • I got mine on Amazon. I have heard that Sprouts carries it if you have one near you and Whole Foods might carry it. I’ll have to check both of those next time I go. Smaller independent health food stores and vitamin shops might have it too

  1. No Sprouts or Whole Foods near me… I’ll have to order it online. Thanks for the post. Yeast and I are at odds once again and since we are using cloth this time, I just wondering yesterday how to make sure it stays away. Thanks for the timely post!

  2. I have never used jock itch cream for a yeast rash. You need to use the same stuff as monistat for a yeast rash. Jock itch is ringworm. Yeast is candida which needs to be treated with Monistat or something similar…miconozoale nitrate.

    • That will work too but clotrimazole works just as well as it is an antifungal. My son is prone to yeast rashes and we have treated several with clotrimazole with wonderful results. Clotrimazole can also be used to treat vaginal yeast infections but the package says ringworm, etc on it :)

    • I’ve only used bleach one time in a fit of desperation when we kept getting nasty rashes over and over again. It turns out that I just needed a new detergent :)

    • I have used OxiClean on pockets, microfiber, natural fibers, prefolds, etc and haven’t had any issues at all. I don’t use it for every load, but once in a while I do.

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  5. thanks for this detailed list of how to treat yeast. we haven’t had to battle that (yet!) but it’s good to know that there is something very specific and tried and true that i can reference if i ever need too. thanks!

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