You may be wondering if the use of distilled white vinegar is truly essential in your cloth diaper wash. After all, there seems to be such a good amount to remember as it is, and if you can cut something out of the routine, vinegar seems to be the most viable option.

Well, let us give you some of the attributes of vinegar. And, we are talking distilled white vinegar NOT apple cider vinegar or any other type of vinegar. (Apple cider vinegar will cause your diapers to discolor and become dingy looking.) If you use it at all, you must use distilled white vinegar.

“Heads-Up”: The reasons to use vinegar:

  • Vinegar will help neutralize the urine in cloth diapers.
  • Vinegar equalizes pH balance.
  • Vinegar helps eliminate soap residue/film build-up.
  • Vinegar deters the setting-in of stains.
  • Vinegar can help keep colors from bleeding.
  • Vinegar can cut down on lint.
  • Vinegar is a natural fabric softener and static cling reducer.

“Tails”: The reasons to NOT use vinegar:

  • In some areas with ‘hard water,’ there is a chance that vinegar can mix with trace minerals in your water supply, causing your diapers to smell acrid once urinated upon. In which case, you would want to cease using vinegar in your diaper pail/wash.
  • If you notice a build-up of residue on your diapers or your diapers are not as absorbent AND YOU HAVE NOT been using DREFT or any other detergent with fabric softeners built-in, temporarily cease your use of vinegar. In this situation, vinegar might not be the culprit, but once there is a build-up on your diapers, they will need to be’stripped’ before you should continue regular usage of vinegar.
  • If you notice that your diaper covers are getting stinky, vinegar may be the culprit. Many of today’s diaper covers have some polyester in them and polyester easily holds in smells. Vinegar’s acidity can react to baby’s acidic urine and together, they can release a very acrid smell.

Vinegar is usually the solution to a good amount of more unnatural substances used in your cloth diaper wash. Just be aware that TOO MUCH of any good thing IS TOO MUCH. We recommend that you use no more than 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar in any wash cycle. A good way to watch out for this is to get a Downey Fabric Softener ball – sold on most laundry aisles in grocery stores. Fill it 1/2 to 3/4 full of vinegar and pull the top. Throw this into your Hot Wash/Cold Rinse cycle and it will open up in the rinse cycle. This ensures that you use it in the right cycle and also ensures that you don’t use too much.

© 2002, Heather L. Sanders. May not be reprinted without permission.

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9 Comments on Vinegar in your cloth diaper wash. Two sides of the Coin

  1. Renee Sanders says:

    Hello there, I read your article about battling the ammonia beast, and I was just wondering what the best solution for getting ammonia smell out of PUL diaper covers might be? I’m new to cloth diapering and I’m expecting my second baby in a month, so it would be great to get the bugs worked out by then. Thanks for your very informative articles!

    • c padilla says:

      Here is a little brainstorming that might help:
      -keep the covers out of the pail so they air out.
      -wash them with baby’s clothes (as long as they aren’t heavily soiled). They won’t harm the clothes, and will get washed in water a lot “cleaner” than what’s in the diaper loads.
      -let them dry in direct sunlight if possible. I make sure mine don’t bake for too long because I’m not sure if the UV is bad for PUL.

      If those solutions don’t help, you could consider trying “Bac-out”. I’ve been using it in my diaper loads for years, including covers and pockets, and love how it helps w/ smells w/o putting harsh chemicals into my washer (it uses natural enzymes). You could add it to a cold water soak, and it should help.

  2. […] to my comment/questions. It is really helpful! I had a look around online and found this – Vinegar in your cloth diaper wash. Two sides of the Coin | Diaper Pin Corner Reply With […]

  3. Alyssa says:

    hi! i just finished some tie dye with my sister and i know that white vinegar can help keep color from bleeding, but i don’t have any distilled vinegar, would it be possible to use applecider vinegar instead?

    • diaperpin says:

      I’ve only used distilled vinegar – I purchase it by the gallon and use it in the rinse cycle for ALL loads. I suspect apple cider vinegar would not be good due to its color.

  4. […] Vinegar: Vinegar is sometimes used by cloth diapering moms to deodorize, sanitizes and brighten. Vinegar works for some, but should not be used in hard water conditions. Diaper Pin wrote about using vinegar with cloth diapers. […]

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