Cloth Diaper Kids Blog

FuzziBunz cloth diapers and other green baby products


My Cloth Diapers Smell – How Do I Fix Them?

When it comes to 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.  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 load needs more detergent.  Have you added water to your load or increased the water level?  Then increase your detergent accordingly.  You need the proper ratio of detergent to water to clean properly.  Diluted detergent or incomplete rinsing = poop residue left on your diapers = barnyard smell.

Note: changing to a different detergent (Tide or Charlie’s Soap 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.

Diapers smell strongly of ammonia
If you have ammonia issues, 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.


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Baby Break Out – My Poor Little Niece

Does your baby have sensitive skin?  My niece does.  But who knew?  Sensitive skin doesn’t run in our family, she isn’t particularly fair and she doesn’t have any specific allergies that we know of.  But for some reason little Lainey Bug has had raised red itchy patches all over her body since shortly after she was born.  She was constantly wiggling and trying to scratch herself and was a poor sleeper due to discomfort.  Thinking it was eczema, her parents took her to the pediatrician who said, no, it wasn’t eczema, just ‘sensitive skin’ and to stop using all products on her skin.  Then she gave them medicated cream.

Not wanting to use medicated cream unless it proved necessary, they stopped using their highly scented commercial laundry detergent, the hypoallergenic Live Clean Baby Wash and Johnson & Johnson Baby Lotion.  But then they were unsure of how to keep Lainey’s laundry and skin clean and they asked me for help.

I suggested Charlie’s Soap for her laundry.  It’s biodegradeable, non-toxic, cloth diaper safe and great for all skin types (not to mention free of artificial fragrances).  Plus the company has been around for over 100 years.  How’s that for a track-record?  Then I switched them onto the Delish Naturals’ Skin Care Line.  Safe, effective and great for the whole family, Delish Naturals’ products are handmade in small batches right here in Canada so we know exactly what’s in it and time and time again it has shown how great it is for a baby’s skin with nourishing natural ingredients.  Lastly, we made sure she was in cloth diapers – free from carcinogens and plastics and more breathable for her bum.

And what happened you ask?  Well she’s better of course!  The red patches are completely gone, the itchiness has subsided, she no longer squirms and fusses and she started sleeping better.  How long did it take to see a change?  3 days.  Just 3 days.  Sometimes I think we take for granted how delicate the skin of a little human really is.  And even if your baby doesn’t have ‘sensitive skin’ it’s nice to know the products you’re putting on them are the gentlest there are right?

This is why we carry Charlie’s Soap and the Delish Naturals Skin Care Line.  Not because they make us lots of money, not because we get a kick-back from a big multi-national company, but because they’re safe, they’re effective, and they make my niece feel better.

Love you Lainey Bug!

Baby wipes (even ‘sensitive’ or ‘hypoallergenic’ ones) are one of the biggest offenders we see for babies that have persistent bum rashes when using cloth diapers.  Delicate baby skin often can’t handle the necessary preservatives they have to put in them to keep them bacteria free.  Cloth wipes and warm water fixes that problem and will save you about $100 a year.

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Is Tide The Devil?

Often one of the first questions we get from new Moms considering cloth is, “Someone told me you have to use special, cloth diaper detergent”.  Now, while there are certainly very good reasons to choose a zero-residue, hypoallergenic, biodegradable detergent made to work with cloth diapers as outlined here,  many people choose to use a store bought detergent on the down-low, secretly not telling anyone and wondering whether they’ll burn in Laundry-You-Know-Where.

Okay then, let’s clear this up.  Most detergents, when used in moderation with lots of water for rinsing out residue (preferably in powder form) won’t cause an issue on good quality diapers (wait, did I just say that out-loud?).  Now, I must say, if you care at all about your diaper’s warranty (if applicable), check the manufacturers detergent recommendations as some commercial detergents will void warranties).

HOWEVER, in a nutshell, you want to stay away from super cheap detergents that have lots of wax and fillers and those that have excessive fragrance, whiteners, optical brighteners, enzymes or anything else that’s designed to be left on the fabric after washing.  Reside = buildup = leaky/smelly diapers.  Period.

This is when the issue of Tide tends to come up.  Tide is not an amazing cure-all detergent, but yes, it is a commercial detergent that we do recommend on occasion (so no shame using it).  Tide is sometimes the solution for those with ammonia or smell issues that couldn’t be combated any other way and can work really well in many water types.  Some manufacturers like FuzziBunz even have Tide listed as one of their recommended detergents.  Therefore, if you’re going to go with a commercial detergent, Tide is what you should try.  Look for Tide Ultra Original or Tide Free in the powder form (not liquid) and only use 1/4 of the amount recommended on the package for your diapers.   

Now, keep in mind that since Tide is a mainstream brand it is not specifically made for cloth diapers and does not disclose all of it’s ingredients on the label.  It is not hypoallergenic and some babies will get a rash/allergic reaction from it being in close proximity to the very delicate diaper area.  This is one of the reasons why we don’t recommend it to everyone all the time.  However, it is considered a zero-residue detergent and works for lots of Moms and their little ones.

So, if you’re a Tide using Mama, hold your head up high. Heck I even use Tide Free on my diapers when I run out of Charlie’s Soap…and I own a diaper store lol.

Happy laundering!

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What Detergent Should I Use For My Cloth Diapers? Can I Use A Store Brand?

Using a good detergent in the correct amount is critical to success with cloth diapers. Use the right detergent and you’ll enjoy easy washing and fresh clean diapers.  Use the wrong detergent or not enough and you may experience leaking diapers, rashes, excessive staining, odor issues and an overall bad experience using cloth.Charlies-Soap-Laundry-Powder_40B864E5

What’s the big deal with detergent? Well there used to be a lot of hype about using ‘proper’ cloth diaper specific detergent.  There was a lot of talk about how commercial detergents were bad and how they had brighteners and whiteners and enzymes that would eat your diapers alive.  There used to be a conception that you should only use 1/4 of the recommended amount of detergent and lots of other talk that made washing diapers seem like rocket science.

Luckily common sense seems to have prevailed and even many of the main diaper manufacturers are now recommending readily available mainstream detergents such as Tide.

There is however, still a place for traditional cloth diaper friendly detergents like Charlie’s Soap and Rockn’ Green.  We carry these detergents specifically because they are hypoallergenic, natural, environmentally friendly and safe.  We know what is put in them and they have proved to work well on cloth diapers.  We also love to support small, independent, family run companies.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t use a detergent found in a grocery store aisle.

But if your baby isn’t sensitive or allergic to any of the ingredients or scents, you can use a great many of the detergents commonly available at any store.  WITH ONE EXCEPTION: do not use anything with synthetic fabric softener.  So, for example.  Tide is okay, Tide with Downy is not (synthetic fabric softener is meant to stay on fabric and will cause repelling).  Got it?  Easy right?

And you know what’s even easier?  No more guessing at the amount to use either.  Just follow the amount specified on the back of the package for the size of load you are doing.  No more, no less.  If you increase the amount of water you are using in your load, increase the detergent too to maintain the proper ratio for your detergent to work properly and not be diluted and you’re good to go.  Use common sense.  Diapers are dirty laundry.  Treat them accordingly and use good detergent in a proper amount and let your washing machine handle the rest.

rg-bare-nakedBut just in case how are you supposed to know if the detergent you want to use is safe for your diapers?

Ask us!  We have an extensive listing of recommended detergents as well as the specific ingredients that might cause problems for the majority of commercial detergents.

Most detergents used in moderation with thorough rinsing shouldn’t cause problems. However a detergent that works for one family may not work for the next depending on water conditions, your specific washing machine etc.

What do we recommend most?  Tide Free & Gentle and Charlie’s Soap are our personal favorites.  You can’t go wrong with either one.  Although we lean towards our #1 favorite…Charlie’s Soap – which is also fantastic for all loads of laundry, not just diapers.