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Cloth Diapering Ins and Outs - To Vinegar or Not To Vinegar

Posted by Stacey on 10/27/2012 to Cloth Diaper How-To

To Vinegar or Not to Vinegar...That is the Question

If you have seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you will understand the reference to my mothers vinegar obsession. The father in the movie is a Windex maniac and puts it on anything and everything. Well THAT is how my mother is about vinegar and that is probably why I cant stand the stuff.

I was a bleach person before I had kids. I bleached everything! The smell just made me happy and that instant gratification was glorious! After my kids came along, I started freaking out about chemicals and kicked my bleach addiction. Mom was so happy that she wasnt forced to stage an intervention.

Im not a vinegar lover but it definitely has its place in cloth diapering. Therefore, despite its stinky smell that reminds me of Carolina BBQ, it has its place on my shelf. Here are the basics about using vinegar with cloth diapers. Most of you are probably pros at washing but this one is really for the newbies out there in the cloth diapering world.

Vinegar will help neutralize the ammonia that forms over time in wet cloth diapers.

Vinegar lowers pH, helping detergents to function more effectively.

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.

Potential problems with 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 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 fabric softener sheets in the dryer or any detergent with fabric softeners built-in, temporarily cease your use 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. Since smaller loads are better, an easy solution is simply washing covers separately and skipping the vinegar. A good rule of thumb is to use no more than 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar in any wash cycle. If you have a top loader, fill a fabric softener ball 1/2 to 3/4 full of vinegar and pull the top. It will open up in the rinse cycle which will ensure that you use it in the right cycle and it will prevent you from using too much. If you have a front-loader washer, you can put it in the fabric softener compartment and it will release on its own.

Do you have a preference? Do you vinegar or not?



Date: 10/27/2012
I haven't used vinegar in my diapers but I did use apple cider vinegar to cure my daughter of yeast. The nystatin the doctor gave us wasn't doing the trick so a bath in acv cured it within a week.
Date: 10/27/2012
I love it with my prefolds! No stains, soft, and gets rid of stink! I don't use with my pockets so everyone once in awhile I do a load of all my prefolds so I can use vinegar and get rid of any stinky nighttime dipes. :)
Date: 10/27/2012
I started using Apple Cider Vinegar also when my son had a yeast infection... now I use it in every first rinse (before the wash). :)
Date: 11/2/2012
@ Kara, how much acv do you put in the first rinse?
Peta-Gaye Daniel
Date: 1/5/2015
I'm a newbie to cloth diapering, and this article is great. I already have a bottle of vinegar in our laundry room, but I had read / heard conflicting information about whether it's beneficial for cloth diapering... this article / post helps remove some of the hesitation I started to have about vinegar use in our washing machine.
Theresa Hover
Date: 2/3/2015
I use vinegar to for getting rid of hard water build up in my tub and sink, so it seems like it would help prevent hard water build-up in cloth diapers.
Michele Mead
Date: 7/25/2018
I had that awful “barnyard” smell to my sons diapers. I used a cup of vinegar on a hot medium cycle. My diapers are no longer absorbing. Now what?!?!? I need help desperately for the absorbency and smell. TIA
Michele Mead
Date: 7/25/2018
I had that awful “barnyard” smell to my sons diapers. I used a cup of vinegar on a hot medium cycle. My diapers are no longer absorbing. Now what?!?!? I need help desperately for the absorbency and smell. TIA
Isabel Gustason
Date: 5/6/2019
If the vinegar didnt work and you got barnyard smell, try RLR Laundry Treatment, look up how to use it, but mainly you soak you diapers in it and it work wonders to get stink/build up out and restore absorption. I did it when i bought used diapers and they had that smell.

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