Cloth Diaper Kids Blog

FuzziBunz cloth diapers and other green baby products


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DO NOT DO THIS EVER! – The Worst Way To Strip Cloth Diapers

Before I begin this post, let me say that I rarely pass such a strong opinion on what people choose to do with their cloth diapers in their own homes.  If you want to go against the years of research and testing that manufacturers put into the washing instructions on their products, and do something contrary to the manufacturer’s guidelines in your quest to find the perfect wash routine – fine by me.  Whatever works.  I’ve done it too (I don’t recommend it, but I’ve done it 😉

BUT please please please don’t EVER put your cloth diapers into your DISHWASHER to ‘strip’ them clean.  This is terribly terrible, very bad, ill-informed and DANGEROUS ‘advice’ stemming from inexperienced cloth diaper users that sometimes floats around the internet.

Here are but a few reasons why you should NEVER EVER put cloth diapers of any kind in your dishwasher in an attempt to get them clean:

  • It is a fire hazard – there is a heating element inside your dishwasher.  If it touches any fabric it will melt or burn it.  You could start a fire.
  • A dishwasher is made for dishes – not diapers that contain human waste.  Do you really want to wash poopy residue out of your diapers and then wash your dishes in that machine?  That could be a health hazard.
  • It will void all your warranties – the diaper’s warranty will be gone as well as the warranty on your dishwasher.  Simple as that.
  • Dishwashers heat the water up to be scalding hot and generally speaking diapers should not be washed in super heated water.  Hot yes, super hot, no.  It can cause fabric breakdown, elastic degradation and premature delamination.
  • It’s a hassle and a half – it’s much easier to tweak your wash routine to troubleshoot rather than resorting to a dishwasher.

If you’re having issues with your cloth diapers of any kind, do what you would do when you have car problems.  Consult a professional (ie. an experienced retailer or the manufacturer of your diapers directly).  We have years of experience helping lots of clients and manufacturers spend money perfecting wash routines and running tests on the materials they use in their products.  We can help you.  So please, don’t believe everything you read on the internet, even if they claim to be experts.  And don’t ever put your diapers in the dishwasher.

REVIEW OUR SIMPLE WASHING INSTRUCTIONS HERE

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Ammonia & Cloth Diapers – What It Is And What To Do About It

Ammonia smell and cloth diapers can sometimes seem almost synonymous.  Seems like everyone these days is complaining about it, having a rash from it or dealing with smells from it.  What is this epidemic and how do we fix it?

We’re glad you asked!  There’s a number of things you can do to get rid of ammonia in your cloth diapers and keep it gone for good.

But first, let’s clear something up.  Do you really have ammonia in the first place?  Sometimes ‘ammonia’ is a blanket term people mistakenly use to  label any smell or rash when it comes to cloth diapers when in reality ammonia is really a very specific thing.  Ammonia is different from smelly toddler pee, different from strong concentrated urine smell and different from a ‘barnyard’ type aroma.  Ammonia is a super strong, knock your socks off, your eyes will literally be watering, burning in your nose kind of smell like nothing else.  It is an unbearably strong smell and if present in your diapers can cause a very bad rash on babies very quickly on every bit of skin touching the wet diaper.  Ammonia is most often present in nap or overnight diapers that are on the bum for long periods of time.

Okay, with that said.  Do you have real ammonia?  If so, read on.

What’s happening anyway?  Where does the ammonia come from?
Great question.  Time for a chemistry lesson.  Ammonia comes from the break down of urine.  So, some ammonia will always happen when you’re leaving wet diapers in a wet bag between washes.  That’s not a problem in small concentrations.  But a few things speed up the breakdown of urine to ammonia (like heat, a closed diaper pail and bacteria).  What ultimately happens though, is that the soiled diapers are not being completely cleaned in the wash and that biological residue (I mean pee and poo) that didn’t get fully washed and rinsed away reacts with minerals in the water and with new urine and feces when they go back on the bum creating the recipe for those nasty rashes.  Eeew right?

So, logically, what do we need to do?  Get the diapers clean at wash time!  How do we do this?  First, we need to deal with the ammonia ASAP.  Funk Rock is a product specifically meant to neutralize ammonia.  Strip your clean diapers using Funk Rock.  Use the directions on the package or the directions here.  Next, and most importantly, you need to change your wash routine to ensure your diapers get fully and properly cleaned at each and every wash to prevent it from coming back.  This means making sure you are using enough detergent and enough water for the size of your diaper load.  We can always help you with troubleshooting here, but generally this means switching to a better detergent and/or often using more detergent.  Calgon can sometimes also be useful to help soften water and increase the effectiveness of the detergent in areas where harder water is of concern (ie. most of Canada unless you know for sure you have soft well water, a water softener etc.).  Calgon can be purchased in the laundry aisle at most supermarkets and should be used at a rate of 1/4 cup added along with the detergent.

Next, some things that will help keep ammonia at bay once you get rid of your acute case:
1) Keep your wet bag away from direct sunlight and heat.  Heat hastens the decomposition of urine to ammonia.
2) Wash your diapers every 1-2 days following this wash routine.
3) Have an open diaper pail or keep your wet bag unzipped and open to the air.  Wet diapers that dry out won’t smell as much as they wait for wash time.  Soiled diapers that are very wet and closed-in stew in the humidity and breed bacteria which makes ammonia worse.  This situation is also hard on fabrics and your diapers will break down sooner.
3) Rinse diapers before putting them in the wet bag between washes.  This can help a lot by diluting and removing some urine prior to washing.  Less urine = less ammonia potential.  Even if you only rinse nap and night ones you’ll notice a difference.
4) When you wash your diapers use a cold initial rinse before your hot wash with detergent.  Heat encourages ammonia, so cold on that first rinse is better if you have the option on your washer.
6) Keep baby hydrated.  The more diluted the urine, the less ammonia can be created in the first place.

Keep these things in mind and ammonia problems will be a distant memory.


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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.