Dear Abby,

We are battling thrush.  My daughter’s diaper area is terrible; it’s in her mouth, and on my nipples.  It’s like we keep treating it and then it shows up again.  We do use cloth diapers, and I’m wondering if that is contributing.  Do you have any advice for how to treat our diapers, so that we can finally be done with this?!


Yeast in New York

Dear Yeast in New York,

As soon as I saw your question, I thought of local mom & blogger, Brea from Contentedly Crunchy.  She recently had some serious battles with yeast and thrush, and came out victorious!  I was excited that she offered to take time out of her busy schedule to share with you, and our TGN customers, what worked for her family.  Here are Brea’s thrush tips for you! – Abby

Dear Fellow Fungus Fighter,

My family recently had a yeast outbreak that would not stay dead. I lost count of how many times I treated. I learned that yeast is tricky because it can hang around – not dying but not thriving – for a long while. So you definitely want to treat your diapers, towels, breast pads, and bras with every outbreak. Those items can very easily harbor yeast long enough for them to re-colonize you and your baby when they come in contact with you again.

I advise moving to disposables wherever possible (breast pads, diapers, wipes, paper towels instead of hand towels) and washing everything else after EVERY use (bath towels, bras, anything else that touches hands, nipples, or baby bum – especially if they are warm and moist). And when you wash these items, do something – or a combination of things – that will kill the yeast!

Here are the ways I have put the kibosh on candida:

1. HOT water – turn up the temperature on your water heater 30 minutes before you do your laundry (remember to turn it back down when you’re done!). Or you can add pots of boiling water to a top-loader. Another option, if you only have a few diapers impacted or a several wipes, is to boil clean diapers in a large pot on the stove.

2. Vinegar – add distilled white vinegar to an extra rinse. The acidity can kill yeast. Do not use any other kind of vinegar. Just distilled white. Vinegar can also be diluted and used as a rinse on your nipples and on your baby’s diaper area.

3. Tea Tree Essential Oil – this essential oil is known for its broad antimicrobial properties. Add several drops to your wash or rinse.

4. Grapefruit Seed Extract – this is available in health food stores, in the supplements section. Add 15-20 drops to your wash or rinse. I read somewhere that GSE combined with vinegar was shown to decrease their effectiveness in killing yeast, so I’ve made sure to do those two separately (sorry I don’t have a reference – I can’t find it now!). GSE can also be diluted and used on your nipples, on your baby’s diaper area, and taken orally. (

5. Bleach – I consider this a last ditch effort because bleach is so harsh for the environment, the diapers, and my baby’s skin, but I used everything with our last round of yeast (both my kids and I were also on systemic antifungals – I was done messing around!). I pretty much nuked the diapers. Once they were washed in boiling water, I added a quarter cup of bleach.

6. SUN – I’ve generally read and been told that UV rays are an excellent way to kill yeast, though this article says otherwise.

7. If you can’t sun them, dry them on HOT.

Another issue I had with yeast and diapers was that I had to strip the diapers of some of the cream treatments so the diapers wouldn’t stink. My solution was to do my regular cold rinse of dirty diapers, add about 2 TBSP of the classic blue Dawn to a SUPER hot wash with detergent, and then do hot rinses with one or more of the above yeast-killers until the suds were gone. Dry on hot (or sun!) and I got stripped and practically sterile diapers out of the process!

With the other cloth items I mentioned, I did hot washes with one of the yeast-killers added. If I was feeling particularly spiteful, I’d do an extra rinse with a yeast-killer while I trash talked the candida.

If you find that the rash is still coming back, it’s quite possible that you have not treated all the infected people – or all the people’s infected parts. During the second-to-last outbreak in our family, my husband realized he had athlete’s foot. So he was added to the treatment regimen. We had another round after that and he continued to treat his feet while the kiddos and I took systemic prescription medication and I used up all the hot water on our laundry! I’m happy to say that we have been yeast free for a few weeks now! FINALLY!

Good luck!

Brea is a crunchy-and-getting-crunchier, very part-time jobbing wife and mother of two boys. Perpetually curious and married to a self-described nerd. Check out what she’s getting into currently on her blog:   Contentedly Crunchy: The 21st Century Hippy