Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fact or Fiction- Does sunning your diapers really kill bacteria?

This is a re-published article from DiaperDiscussions Blog.

This article is meant to bring to light some interesting info on sunning diapers that you might not have previously known. The question was asked by a cloth diapering mom.

Question: I live in the Catskills of NY state and now that the weather is getting chilly, it takes hours & hours or days for my diapers to dry outside. The sun just isn't hot enough to do it in a short time like in the summer months. So, my question is, if I still want to use the sun for killing bacteria and icky stuff, how long should I leave them outside?

The Answer: This is a great question. The truth is, we had to do a little digging this time, to be sure to provide as accurate an answer as possible. The information found on this topic was quite interesting and really eye opening.

According to numerous sources on Google, direct exposure to UV (ultra violet) light is necessary for the destruction of bacteria and microorganisms in the air or on exposed surfaces. The rays must directly strike the organism, either at a high intensity for a short amount of time or a low intensity for an extended amount of time.

If bacteria or mold spores are hidden beneath the surface of a material and not in the direct path of the rays then they will not be destroyed, UV light does not penetrate most substances, including fabrics. According to the National Weather Service, different types of clouds can either enhance or block UV rays. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see areas of blue sky, then you are being exposed to either direct or reflected UV rays.

So how does this information affect the practice of sunning cloth diapers in order to rid them of unwanted bacteria? Well, the answer so far as I can tell, is that you cannot rely 100% on the UV rays to kill ALL of the bacteria and/or mold spores that may be lurking in your diapers. can increase the amount of bacteria affected by making sure your diapers are exposed to direct UV rays, turning them over to expose both sides, turning them inside out (if possible) and exposing the inside surfaces to direct rays as well.

As for how much bacteria is being killed and/or how to measure how much UV rays you're exposing your diapers to? I am going to have to leave those answers up to the real scientists. In my opinion, it seems that any amount of bacteria killed by either a lot or a little exposure to UV rays is better than no bacteria killed by not sunning your diapers at all.

Thanks for reading!

Written by The Cloth Diaper Geek, Copyright 2009 DiaperDiscussions


Sarah Gesiakowski, PinStripes and PolakDots LLC said...

Interesting article. When I was researching dealing with yeast in diapers I was surprised to learn that yeast has the ability to mutate to protect itself from being killed by the UV rays. Reminded me of the protection we get when we tan. People have sunned things since forever, but it is good to understand that the process may have some limitations.

Knickernappies - Heather said...

Excellent article, Julie! Thanks so much for answering this question and doing the research!

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