Using the sun to remove stains and bleach your nappies naturally

What is the cheapest, most effective and easily available way to get rid of stains and keep your nappies looking clean and bright?

Yep, you don't need bleaches or harsh chemicals to keep your nappies stain free - just use the sun! The sun has been used for centuries to remove stains - the painting above 'The Bleaching Ground' by Max Liebermann is from 1882, and this one from the 1640's by David Teniers the Younger is of a Belgian town's communal 

'Bleaching Ground'.

The sun's stain removing power comes from the UV rays - they break down molecular structure, causing stains to disappear, and whites to look brighter. Any UV exposure will help to lighten stains, whether indoors next to a window or on the line, and cloud cover doesn't stop UV rays either, so you'll find stains fade even on overcast days.

Once the nappy is dry, the stain removing effect of the sun seems to reduce, so don't bake dry nappies in the sun as it can be harsh on your fabrics and make elastic brittle - just think what overexposure to the sun does to skin. Wet the nappies and put them out again, or just use and wash your nappies as normal and watch the stains decrease over time. For really stubborn stains, spraying some lemon juice on to the stain before hanging it on the line will help with bleaching it out. Laying them out flat, so the nappies are facing the sun directly can help too.

An important note: We're talking about STAINS, not nappies that haven't been washed properly or smell. If this is the case, hanging in the sun will not solve the problem - you need to look into your washing routine to get your nappies clean first.

And for more modern examples, here are some photos kindly provided by Alison Lee, Emily Nisbet, Michelle Bowman and Lauren Nguyen demonstrating the power of the sun on their stained nappies.

Alison: "I have a three month old exclusively breast fed girl who is using cloth nappies. The nappy was in the wet bag for about 2 days before being washed. Less than 2 hours outside on a semi sunny/semi overcast day and the stains are gone :)" 

Emily: "Top is the stained nappy - spaghetti bolognaise may have been the culprit. Washed on cold, dried on the deck in filtered sunlight, for 24 hours. Barely a mark left. These are RAWr nappies which I find don't stain badly in the first place but are slightly harder to budge stains. Hands down the best nappies for my sensitive skinned baby though."

Michelle: "Some great examples of newborn breastfeed poo stains!"

Lauren: "I had a stained nappy I hung out yesterday on an overcast day in Brisbane (at midday). Poo is probably two days old, 4.5mo exclusively breast fed bub. Hubby just took it off the line (along with the other two that weren't stained) - can you tell which one it was? Because I can't!"