Friday, May 28, 2010

Dealing with the Stinkies

Some of you who cloth diaper may be lucky enough to never have to worry about stinky diapers, but if you have hard water, chances are, no matter how good your washing routine, you will periodically get stinky diapers.

When I diapered my first, I never knew stinky diapers. I used a wet pail system, and the diapers soaked in a solution similar to oxiclean until I was ready to wash them. And then her diapers were hung on a line to dry. A combination of soaking and sunlight, I believe meant I never had build up. Given I lived in several different places while she was diapered, and used anything from rain water to town water to city water, I know that it was the method, not the water that prevented stinky diapers. So if you can truely never beat the stinkies, try a wet pail.

Anyway, these days I can only use a dry pail system. Because of the way my laundry is set up, a wet pail system is out of the question. I would only use a wet pail if I had a safe place to store the pail, as it can be a drowning hazard.

So here are the stripping methods I have tried with success. As with most things in life, the most expensive method is the one that works the best for me, and uses the least water to do so.

RLR - Cost $1.85 (I was only ever able to find it online, but you might be lucky enough to find it at your local supermarket in the laundry isle).

Read my full blog review here.

  • Cold rinse the diapers to remove any solids etc.
  • Fill my machine on hot and add a FULL packet of RLR. I then let the diapers soak for several hours in it, preferably overnight. My machine is a top loader, and when I leave the lid up, the machine does not drain. If you have a front loader that will not allow you to soak, you might want to try to do this part of the method in a large bucket or the bath tub or large sink.
  • Drain and finish the machines cycle.
  • Run the machine on a full hot cycle without any detergent.
  • Dry diapers as normal. If the weather allows, I will do this outside. Sunlight really does help with stains and stink I have found.

Bac Out - Cost is approx $1.30 (You may be lucky enough to find this one in the laundry isle at your local supermarket. Keep an eye out for it going on sale if you do.)

Read my blog review here.

  • Rinse on cold.
  • Fill the washer with warm or cold water. Do not use hot, I have heard it can kill the enzymes in bac out.
  • I add around a quarter to half a cup of bac out to the load.
  • Soak several hours, overnight preferably. If your machine does not allow you to soak, then try a large bucket, sink or the tub.
  • Finish the cycle.
  • I generally run another full cycle with no detergents. It is important that you rinse this out totally as some babies skin can be sensitive to this product.
  • Dry diapers as normal. If the weather allows, I will do this outside. Sunlight really does help with stains and stink I have found.

Dawn - Cost is pennies. Get the blue classic dawn dishwashing detergent in the supermarket.

Read my blog review here.

  • Rinse on cold to remove solids etc.
  • Fill machine with hot and put in a very tiny squirt of dawn. I don't bother soaking with this method.
  • With this method, you keep rinsing with just water, preferably hot, until you no longer see suds.
  • If you use too much dawn, there will be a lot of rinses.
  • Dry diapers as normal. If the weather allows, I will do this outside. Sunlight really does help with stains and stink I have found.

Tips to avoid build up.

  • Use a diaper friendly detergent. Don't use detergents that have additives etc. There are some good detergents made for cloth diapers on the market. Just be aware, that not all detergents will work with YOUR water. So that friend who lives three states over who swears by said brand, may not work for you because your water composition is different.
  • If it is not a detergent made specifically for diapering, use less than recommended. When I used Ecos from the supermarket, I used about a quarter of a cup. Anymore than that and I would end up with stinky diapers.
  • Don't be stingy with the water when washing your diapers. You need the water to be able to flow freely through the fibers of your diaper in order to clean the fibers. If you use too little water, then particles will remain behind.
  • Do not use diaper creams directly on your diapers. If you need to use a diaper cream, use something to protect your diapers. You can use a flushable liner, or fabric liners that are cheap, or cut up an old t-shirt if need be. There are some creams out there that are safe to use on cloth diapers, but only in the recommended amounts.
Sharni -


  1. Thanks so much for these tips! I get stinkers from time to time (esp if we get a few rainy days and I have to skip the sunning) - I appreciate it!

  2. What about a Rockin' Green soak? That works for some moms I know who were just switching to RG.

  3. I use a tiny amount of dishwashing fluid (we don't have Dawn here, I use green Fairy) every time I wash - I put it in when I do the first short cold cycle (30 mins) and then use detergent (Tide sensitive - we don't have special diaper detergents here either) for the full long (2-3 hours depending on which one I use) HOT (60 deg C = 140 F) cycle.
    I usually machine dry the inserts (I hate hanging up small things), sun dry the shells and prefolds
    So far after more than a year, no stinkies at all.



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