Black bits, musty smell…MOULD!!

mould and cloth nappies

Its winter, its damp, its cold. Nothing dries. Yet I am determined to use cloth nappies.

Mould is a common issue during winter or the humid summer. There are many ways to prevent, treat and prevent. These are listed below.


So the biggest challenge is getting cloth nappies dry as soon as possible to prevent mould or musty smells developing. Here are some tips for prevention
1. Do a pre-rinse before washing.
2. Do an extra spin cycle to ensure there is as little water as possible in your cloth nappies.
3. Put them out to dry immediately. Dont leave them sitting in the washing machine.
4.Wash at least every second day.
5.Dry in the sun. Yes this obvious, but move your clothes line if you must.
6. If it is winter or cloudy, find the hottest and driest part of your house and dry your cloth nappies on a clotheshorse. This may be your bathroom.
7. Dont use a cloth nappy if it still feels damp, this will lead to smell and absorbency issues later.
8. Make sure there is good air circulation around your cloth nappies while you are storing then between changes. Dont stuff them into drawers or shelves. They should be able to stack neatly without being squashed. Even consider stacking them open, not folded in half.
9. Give your cloth nappy bucket or wet bag a weekly clean.
These tips will work in majority of situations to get your cloth nappies dry within 2 days. Now when I was living in Perth, winter time was the worst to get cloth nappies dry. Now that I live in Brisbane, its the humidity. So I still face the same issues, but under different circumstances.
If my nappies are not dry within 2 days, I put them through the dryer on a low, gentle cycle. Its usually 30 minutes and they will be dry.
Another option is to give them a quick low, gentle cycle directly after washing them to give them a head start on drying. This is particularly good if you know it will be raining, cold or particularly humid over the coming days, preventing drying.


Now what if you have mould on your nappies, or that awful musty smell, here are some options for you. It is best to check with the cloth nappy manufacturer before attempting any of these, as they may have specific recommendations for their cloth nappy and accessories.
  • Soak in a diluted solution of vinegar and water (1:4) – only soak the parts of the nappy which are affected such as the inserts or the bamboo outers (fitted nappies). Don’t put the PUL shells or elastics in vinegar solution, as this will affect their integrity.
  • Put lemon juice on the stains, which is similar to vinegar. There is no need to dilute, but dont soak the parts in lemon juice. Rinse thoroughly.
  • If the mould is particularly hard to move, try a past of bicarb and water which is left to dry on the stains, then do a soak in the vinegar solution as above.
READ  Hanging cloth nappies: 10 ways to make it fun.


To help prevent the re-occurrence of mould, if it was present, use one of the following options:
  • Mould and mildew do not like oil of cloves. This essential oil will kill mould and inhibit its regrowth. Make up a spray bottle solution of  1/4 teaspoon of clove oil to 1L water. Spray it on the affected areas and then reapply every 3 months or monthly if in a mould prone area. But be VERY careful, as this can irritate the skin if it comes into contact. It must be heavily diluted. If you are unsure, do not use.
  • Eucalyptus oil can also be applied as a spray to prevent mould growth. Add a 1/4 teaspoon of eucalyptus oil to a 1 L water, and apply to affect areas. Again this is an essential oil, so if you are unsure, do not use.
  • Dont forget to check your washing machine. Give your machine a cycle with a cup of vinegar and hot water with no clothes in it. Spores can live in the seals or even the lint catcher.
  • Also wipe out your cloth nappy bucket with one of the above methods
So make sure you are doing the following: your cloth nappies are totally dry before use, you have great air circulation around your stash, you are washing often, hanging out straight away and you are drying in the hottest, driest part of your house.
Remember to always follow manufacturers instructions or consult the manufacturer before attempting any of the above solutions.
Dr Tennille
Your cloth nappy doctor.

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