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Candida albicans is a yeast (type of fungus) that we all have in and on our bodies. Normally it’s not an issue, but if you deal with an overgrowth of Candida then it can rear it’s ugly head as oral thrush, skin or nail infection, or as a yeast infection around the genitals. This includes Candida contributing to many diaper rashes. If you’ve ever dealt with a Candida overgrowth, you know it can be miserable and stubborn.
Why is this important as a hygiene topic? Because cloth — be it clothing, cloth diapers, or reusable menstrual pads — harbors Candida and the average wash cycle doesn’t kill it. I absolutely advocate for having cloth options for emergencies so it’s important to understand how to eliminate these issues.
If you think you’re dealing with yeast, then to prevent further problems and prolonging the infection being resolved it’s important to kill the yeast lingering in any cloth item that has touched the area. You can use bleach, but that’s not always ideal on fabrics. Another option is to lay the item(s) out in the sun. If you have enough sunlight, and leave it long enough, then it can kill the yeast. The problem there is that it’s hard to know when you’ve reached the point of “enough.” Plus if there are multiple layers of fabric (like in a menstrual pad), it’s hard to say if the UV rays can really do their job beyond the top layer.
The surest way of killing Candida in fabric is HOT WATER. You can use the hot setting in a clothes dryer too but if that’s not available at the time then hot water it is. You just need to rinse everything in water that is at least 122 F/50 C. Hot water is harder on cloth than cold or warm so it may wear it out faster, but if you suspect a potential problem with Candida it’s well worth the extra precaution.