When it comes to stinky cloth diapers, there are different smells and different ways to deal with them. But one thing that holds true in all situations is that your diapers are smelling because they aren’t getting clean enough in the wash. Really, your cloth diapers shouldn't be smelly. Here’s how to fix them and how to tweak your wash routine so it doesn’t come back.
Diapers smell like a ‘barnyard’
If you have a smell that’s kinda like a barnyard (sorta poopy and gross) it generally means you need more detergent. You are either using a detergent that isn’t strong enough to deal with dirty diapers or not enough of it. Use the proper amount of detergent as recommended on the package for the size of the load you are doing (regardless of whether you’re using a mainstream commercially available brand or a cloth diaper specific brand). Bigger loads need more detergent and more water. Smaller loads need less detergent and less water so that the water to detergent ratio is correct for proper cleaning. Diluted detergent or incomplete rinsing = poop residue left on your diapers = barnyard smell.
Note: changing to a different detergent (Tide is great) or adding a water softener like Calgon (1/4 cup in with the detergent) to your wash can also help if you have harder water. Remember, detergent that works well for one person won’t necessarily work well for you. Water quality, type of washing machine, diaper fabrics and style (prefolds vs. pockets vs. all in ones) can all play a large part in finding a wash routine and detergent that work to achieve proper cleaning in your home.
Diapers smell strongly of ammonia
If you have ammonia issues, a strong smell that burns your nose, see our post on how to deal with it here.
Still have questions? Contact us or get in touch with the manufacturer of your diapers for more troubleshooting advice.