I receive so many emails from moms who tell me that their diapers are STINKY! The minute baby pees in them, the ammonia smell is so strong that it makes everyone's eyes burn. Yikes. I've been there. And I'm sure it's caused more than one mom to throw the cloth in and move to disposables.
There are a lot of, shall I write, opinions on how to best get rid of stink. Enzyme cleaner, Dawn detergent, more detergent, less detergent, hot water, bleach, soak diapers in their diaper pail, vinegar...I could go on. And if you tried all of the above at least once, you may find that your diapers smell better for maybe one wear and then the dreaded stink returns.
Why do our baby's diapers get liked that? For the vast majority of us in the U.S., we have very hard water coming out of our faucets. Rockin Green has a great map here that shows how much of the country lives with hard water. It's what makes our skin, hair and even clothes look dull. For our diapers, hard water is their nemesis. The hard water, over time, causes little itty-bitty mineral deposits to cling to the fibers in the fabric of the diaper. Those mineral deposits lead to detergent build-up thus causing stinky, eye-watering ammonia smell, possible repellency issues (meaning diapers don't absorb moisture well) and even really bad diaper rash (open sores, burns, etc.).
The best way to take care of these mineral deposits is to strip them away from the diapers. Dawn won't work. I don't recommend enzyme cleaners either. I recommend a product made specifically to remove hard water minerals from your clothing. Calgon Water Softener, RLR and Funk Rock are just a couple that I've had great success with. Calgon can be purchased at most major grocery stores. Funk Rock can be found at PinStripes and PolkaDots and RLR can be found on Amazon.
To use, simply load your washer up with hot, hot, hot water, (this is after an initial cold rinse on dirty diapers) add all of your diapering items and add ~1/2 the amount recommended on the label (use full amount recommended on Funk Rock). Let those diapers soak for as long as your machine will allow. Some of my customers soak overnight. My washing machine will only allow for a 3-hour soak. After soaking, let the machine spin the clothes. Follow the soak with your regular wash routine. I always throw at least one additional rinse at the end of my wash routine to make sure all of the water softener has been rinsed away.
That's it. No bleach. No enzymes. No wet pail. Easy as pie. And what's great about having a water softener laying around is you can add it to your wash routine for your clothing and it will help brighten colors. In general, my daughters diapers can probably use a mineral stripping every 1-2 months. I've gone as long as 6 months. I just know it's time when that really nasty ammonia smell is back.
Now I write all of this with the caveat that you can strip your diapers a million times but if your wash routine is off or your not using a good detergent, you will have stink issues more often and your kiddo may have some dreadful diaper rash. Email me if you'd like to talk about a good wash routine or check out my website here.
UPDATE** The aforementioned methods of stripping works great! But, as you probably know by now if you've practiced any of these methods, it takes a lot of time. Since I wrote this blog post, a great new product arrived on my shelves from Grovia, Grovia Mighty Bubbles. It takes the hassle out of stripping and works GREAT!