Combatting Mildew in Cloth Diapers

A few weeks ago, I noticed a few small spots on the inside fabric of one of our Bumkins AI1 diapers. I thought the stains looked weird, but set the diaper outside in the sun…like I do with any stained diapers. Well, for the first time, the sun did nothing.

Fast forward to last week.

I noticed the spots seemed to be spreading, and they appeared on the hemp side of a GroVia AI2 insert.

Click on Photos to Enlarge

Yup! That’s a freshly peed in mildewed diaper insert.

That’s when I realized I had a mildew problem (At least, I think that’s what it is). I searched the Internet for causes of mildew on cloth diapers, and from what I can tell, the most likely reason for us is that I’m not getting these particular diapers and inserts dry enough. The Bumkins AI1 is made with a bamboo blend, which can take a while to dry. The hemp inserts also take extra time to dry. At this point, I’m assuming that although I’ve thought this particular diaper and insert was dry…it still has wet spots somewhere inside the absorbent layers.

This began my quest to eliminate the mildew and the spots.

Before doing much research, I reached for the bleach. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have reached for that first. When it comes to cloth diapers, there are often other methods that are equally or more effective, and certainly safer than chlorine bleach is on your lungs and diaper fabric.

I soaked the diaper and two inserts (it happened on a second GroVia hemp insert) in a full washer tank of water and a capful of bleach for an hour. Stains were still there.

Bleached and Dried- No Improvement

I went back to the Web. Thirsties has a page dedicated to techniques and procedures to remove mildew from cloth diapers. Based on what I read there and elsewhere on the net, I decided to try tea tree oil, baking soda, lemon juice, salt, and the sun.

With the diaper and inserts soaking in cold water from the beginning of a washing machine rinse cycle, I added teaspoons of tea tree oil and a 1/4 cup of baking soda. I dropped the washer lid for a few seconds to let the water agitate and stir the oil and baking soda around. Then I stopped the cycle, and let the diaper and inserts soak for an hour, before letting the rinse cycle finish.

After the cycle finished, I made a paste with 2 parts salt, 1 part lemon juice, and rubbed it into the spots. After letting them sit for half an hour, I washed them with a regular diaper load.

Lemon Juice and Salt Paste


Paste Rubbed into Spots

When I finished my regular diaper wash, I pulled the stained inserts and diaper out, sprayed the spots with a mixture of water and lemon juice, and left them laying in direct sunshine for several hours.

Sprayed and Sunning

Did it work? Nope. At least, the stains are still there. I’m certain the mildew is dead after the bleach, tea tree oil, etc.

The next day, I sprayed the spots with lemon juice and water again, and placed in the sun. Still no improvement. The spots look faded when the diaper and inserts are dry, but as soon as they are wet, the spots show up brightly again.

Results: No Improvement on Spots

So that’s my experience with mildew. You can kill it, but the spots are permanent.

Have you had a different experience? Did you get the mildew stains out? Any suggestions for me? Should I try something else or give up on the stains?
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Review: Bumkins All-In-One

Some weeks ago, I was walking through one of our local Navy Exchange stores with my husband, when I spotted cloth diapers. I don’t know if they recently started carrying them, or if I just never noticed before, but I was ecstatic to see them on the rack at a “chain” retail store! (Click on the photos below to see larger images)

The NEX was selling several different print of the Bumkins All-In-One one size diaper. We bought two: one in the Cat in the Hat print, and one in the Blue Pixel print. The prints were perfect. I love Dr. Seuss, and the Blue Pixel print reminded me of my husband’s Navy uniforms.

All-in-one styles of cloth diapers are great, because they’re essentially one piece. For cloth diapers, this makes them the closest to a disposable. Caregivers, reluctant cloth diaperers (husbands), daycares, and nursery workers may find this style the easiest to use.

The negative of an AI1 diaper is they usually take a long time to dry.

The Bumkins AI1 is a one-size diaper. The three rows of snaps on the front of the diaper allow the rise to be adjusted. There’s one row of waist snaps, as well as hip snaps. The snaps allow the diaper to be adjusted to fit babies from approximately 9-35 lbs.

The outer shell is made from waterproof PUL fabric with TPU, making it stain and odor resistant. The diaper comes in either a hook and loop or snap closure.

If you’re out and about, and baby poops, just roll the diaper up and fasten the waist snaps (or hook and loop) before placing in your wet bag. This will keep the poop contained until you get home.

The inside of this diaper has stayed very soft, despite using and washing every other day for weeks now. I love putting this on my son, because of the softness!

The center panel on the inside of the diaper is made of an absorbent cotton and bamboo rayon blend fabric. The panel is surrounded by fleece to wick moisture away from baby’s skin, keeping him dry and comfortable.

The center panel actually folds down and snaps inside a pocket that opens at the front of the diaper. This gives the diaper an extra layer of bamboo absorbency without a ridiculously long drying time.

The opening and pocket at the front of the diaper is wide enough, that you can even add another insert for more absorbency! For heavy-wetters or older babies, this is a great option to have in an all-in-one diaper.

The fold-in panel can be unsnapped and pulled out, making this diaper very quick to dry…especially for an all-in-one diaper, and one with bamboo, at that!

Fold-in panel pulls out for quicker drying

Since this diaper has bamboo fabric, it needs to be prepped before you use it the first time, by washing it several times. It does not need to be dried in between wash cycles.

The daily care for these diapers is simple: machine wash on hot (don’t forget your extra rinse cycles!) and tumble dry on low. I line dry most of my diapers, to save energy and prolong the life of the fabric. The sun is also a wonderful natural disinfectant and stain remover!

I’ve noticed that you do not need to unsnap the fold-in panel before washing, and it will still get cleaned. After it’s washed, I’ll pull the panel out to speed up drying, and then place the diaper in full sun (with the colored, outer side facing away from the sun). The Bumkins AI1 dries much quicker than my other AI1s and my other bamboo blend fabrics.

Mr. Stinky Pants is four months and about 16 lbs. in this photo. I’m using the middle row of snaps, but I can stretch the first row and have him wear the rise on the smallest setting. Between the hip, waist, and rise snaps, I’m able to get a good fit on this diaper. So far it’s contained my son’s poop (but I can say that about all of his cloth diapers, since he’s never had a blow out in cloth).

There’s plenty of room to grow in this diaper, and I could see it fitting him until potty training. On the flip side, this diaper probably will not work for newborns or very small babies, but that’s true of many one-size diapers (see my list of newborn and preemie-appropriate diapers here).

I only have one complaint with this diaper. The fold-in panel is made to fit the diaper at its largest setting. This means, if the diaper is at a smaller setting, you have to put your hand all the way inside the diaper, and fiddle with the panel at the very end (back) to get it folded under to fit. Otherwise, the inside of your diaper will be lumpy with the extra fabric squished around. At first it was annoying to do this, but I’ve gotten the hang of it and can do it quickly now.


  • Absorbent
  • Easy to use
  • Soft
  • Good fit
  • Cute prints
  • Quick drying


  • Panel has to be fiddled with when diaper’s on smaller settings

All in all, I love this diaper and definitely recommend it! I think it would be a great addition to anyone’s stash.

This diaper comes in a bunch of different prints, so make sure you’ve shopped around to find one you like. Amazon has several listings with different prints. Also on Amazon is a Bumkins AI1 that is not a one-size diaper (I believe it’s a discontinued style), so again, make sure you’re buying exactly what you want.

I’ve seen this diaper retailed from $16.95-18.95, but if you’re lucky enough to have access to a military exchange, I bought ours for $12.99 each, no tax! That’s a steal!

Note: This review contains affiliate link. I was not compensated for this review. I purchased the items reviewed above. The opinions are my own and may differ from yours.

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What DID I do today?

Well, today was a busy day. Although, as usual, when I actually list what I completed, it doesn’t seem like that much. Do any other moms feel like this? Like you’re busy all day, but nothing really got done?

I did do the diaper laundry. For once, it was actually sunny all day, so I was able to save some electricity and dry the majority of the diapers outside. I love being able to sun dry the diapers. It’s great for disinfecting and whitening them.

Mr. Stinky Pants and I went to Hancock Fabrics to pick up a few items I needed for DIY projects. I ran out of thread for my table-cloth/place mat project. We also stopped at the grocery store and picked up a few things.

Oh, and Hubby came home for lunch, and I cooked for him. So I did get some stuff done…

And I bathed Mr. Stinky Pants! Okay, so there’s a few things on my list =D

I’ve been planning on baking cookies for my husband’s duty section on his ship, but I really suck at baking cookies. I know that sounds ridiculous; cookies are very easy to make. But my problem is I burn them. I always burn at least the first batch and usually the second. To skip some steps, today I bought one of those premade cookie batches in a tube. It’s the peanut butter kind, and I bought some Hersheys milk chocolate chips to go in them. So peanut butter chocolate chips for his coworkers. Here’s hoping I don’t burn ALL of them!

I have “Heathers” playing on Netflix right now. Can you believe I’ve never seen it before? Considering all the active shooter situations lately, you’d think this was a recent movie based on recent events. It’s labeled as a dark comedy, but I’m not really seeing the comic side.

Once I get the baby in bed (he’s napping near me in the swing right now…didn’t want me to leave him alone in bed), I’m going to work on cleaning up some more. I have some bins of teaching materials I need to go through and consolidate. Although I’m not teaching right now while Jeremiah’s a baby (and since we’re moving to Europe soon), I do plan on teaching again.

So that’s about it for today. Not very exciting. That’s my life. Not exciting. Not anymore.


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