November 11, 2010

"Sunning" your diapers in the rain

I live in a part of Oregon where it rains approximately 400 days a year.  Okay, not that many, but it feels that way!  We do get rain most days during the winter and spring.  That makes sunning diapers difficult.

Or does it?

I often tell customers they can sun their diapers anytime, even on cloudy or rainy days.  I've done it before, but thought I'd do it again and post pictures along the way.

Clean diapers with heavy stains: Hemp on the left, bamboo on the right

11:45 am - Laid them out on our the rain.
Rain and massive clouds!
4:45 pm - Looking much improved already.  Bamboo is nearly stain-free.  Hemp has a little way to go yet.  You can see that both diapers are sopping wet from the rain.  It rained all day.
11:00 am the next morning - stains are gone!
Freshly washed and dried, they're in perfect, stain-free condition.

All together, the "sunning" took about 10 hours but it worked, even with constant rain and clouds.  And you don't have to put your diapers works laid in a window or even the dashboard of your car, too.

So why does sunning diapers magically bleach out stains?  The UV rays...terrible for skin, great for naturally removing stains!!  As long as it's daylight, UV rays reach the earth (and they do at night too, but far less).  If UV rays are reaching the earth's surface, you can lay out diapers!

Sunning works on all types of organic stains.  Blueberry stains on a onesie?  Spit up stains on a bib?  Lay them outside and let the sun (or UV rays) work its magic!


that's so weird. We live in the midwest, where the sun is high and hot all summer. I had stains that were no where NEAR as dark as the ones shown here, out all day, and they never faded. very odd.

Could be what causes the stain...if rash cream is involved then the stains are likely permanent. But if they are only from organic origins (poop, spit up, vegetable stains, fruit stains, etc) then it should sun out. Might depend on fabric type, too...though I've been successful with every fabric type I've tried. Both the diapers on my post are natural fibers which stain more easily but release the stains more easily. Fleece is harder to stain, but it holds stains more tightly.

Jill - (I don't know if your dipes were dry but-) It is necessary for your diapers to be wet when they are sunned, if they are dry they will never get the stains out - so maybe the rain (and keeping them soaked) actually helps with the stains. Maybe I'll put my dipes under the sprinkler next time, haha.

And now that I'm thinking about it, rainwater is the best kind of water, so maybe it really did help.

How cool! I just put my diapers out in the sun for the first time this morning... I usually just dry them in the dryer, but I had heard that sunning them gets out stains... I couldn't leave them all day though, because we don't have a very big stash- does sunning a little bit everytime you wash still help with staining? I usually wash every other day...

Heather - yes, sunning even a little bit helps. You can see this in the 4:45, after 5 hours, the stains had faded a lot. Took 5 more hours of daylight before they were gone. Even 1-2 hours will be helpful.

During hot, sunny days, sunning works much faster. I can get diapers stain-free and dry within a couple of hours (less for pockets that dry faster).

Rachel - good point...diapers do have to be wet for it to work (no matter what the weather is like). For extra stubborn stains, you can even squirt a little lemon juice over the stain.

is it the same way to remove the stains on the microfibre insert?

Mama Nee Ya - Yes! You can use sunning to remove stains from diapers, inserts, tshirts, onesies, etc. Any natural stain (poop, pee, spit up, etc) on fabric can be removed using the sun. The item has to be wet first, so wash it or dampen in the sink, then put out to dry. Or in my case, put out to get wetter!

I know this is an old post, but I just saw it for the first time (via your link on fb) & had to comment. I was given a diaper with a bamboo soaker that had shot elastic & was VERY heavily stained. My friend said it wasn't worth fixing the elastic because it was so stained so I could have it. I was planning on cutting it apart & using it for a pattern, but I saw somewhere that sunning could remove even the worst stains so I thought I'd try it. I put it out sopping wet for a few hours & saw a little improvement, but not much. I knew lemon juice would help but I didn't have any lemons. I looked in my pantry & found some True Lemon (crystallized lemons.) I mixed it with some water, sprayed it on the diaper, & it was absolutely white about 2-3 hours later! I bought elastic on sale at JoAnn's for less than 50 cents & had my mom sew it in for me. So for barely any time or money I have a diaper that looks & works like a brand new one! I hadn't believed sunning could work before this but figured I didn't have anything to lose by trying. Now I'm a firm believer in it & am so glad to learn I don't have to give it up during the gray days of winter. I was already wondering how my organic cotton soakers were going to look by the next time we saw the sun around here! Thanks a bunch for sharing this today!

Thank you so much for your post. You've just saved my life! I was tired of fighting stains every time I had to do my daughter's cloth diapers laundry during these winter days when we barely have some hours of sun. Thanks for taking the time to get some pictures, it would have been a little dificult to understand the uv concept without them.

I live in SoCal, where it's sunny most of the time, but it was raining when I needed to sun. It never occurred to me that I could sun in the rain!

Great post. When not sunning in the rain, do you find that your diapers get rough and stiff? I noticed that with a GroVia AIO that I had.

I tried sunning my inserts the other day when it was cloudy. Some improvement, but I think they froze before the stains had a chance. If they freeze, will that hurt them at all? I live in Wisconsin so freezing cold all winter long :/

This is really interesting. I never would have thought of sunning diapers in the rain. The dash of the window is a great idea too, as long as your windows aren't tinted.

Wow, no idea that would work so well, and in the rain! Amazing, thanks for sharing :)

Wow, that is quite a transformation! It's good to know that diapers have to be wet for the sun effect to work, I would never thought about that.