Friday, April 24, 2009

Diapering Dilema: Smelly Diapers

Sadie is still using cloth diapers at night (she wears underwear during the day). To see what system we are using, click here. We had a couple pee-leaks, but I was warned to use two liners for toddlers (by the Bumgenius website) and I was just using one. Once we started using the recommended two liners, the leaks were gone. So far, no poo leaks- yipee!

The one thing I am still working on and would LOVE advice on is what to do about the ODOR. It's an odor that goes beyond putting your nose right up to them (the liners, covers, etc.). It actually gives her room an odor- where only the clean ones are stored. The bucket is in the bathroom.

Here is what I've tried:

Thus far, I have stored the soiled liners, etc., in the bucket shown above, in a solution of a few drops of detergent, a cup or two of white vinegar and water. When it comes time to wash, I pour off most of the water, then dump the contents into the washer and spin the rest of the yucky water out. Then, while clean water is running in (I've tried cold and hot water), I add a little detergent, baking soda and more vinegar (vinegar in the fabric softener reserve to be released during rinse). Then, I run the 10 minute cycle and rinse a second time. I then hang them outside to dry.

Yes, there is still an odor. Even in light of this little problem, we are thrilled that we are no longer using disposables. Not having to shell out money for diapers has felt liberating. I know they desperately want to jump into our shopping cart, but nope. Not anymore.

What I am currently trying:

I read that the dry bucket method is less smelly and easier. So, currently, I am putting soiled liners, etc. in an empty bucket and sprinkling baking soda on them.

Open the floodgates of advice. I am ready. Pin It


  1. I don't have any boys are 13 and 11 and I wasn't into anything environmental when they were babies. I used WAY too many disposable diapers. I did want to comment on your little wooden dryer...I have one too and LOVE it!

    And good for you for sticking with the diaper are a go-getter!

  2. I use the single thickness diapers that you have to fold. I've been told these clean easier than the prefolded kind. Maybe that is part of the problem. Also, I know this isn't organic/good for the earth but I throw in a bit of bleach after the washer fills up with water. It does much better than baking soda and vinegar for me. And I don't even always hang them outside (in the winter I use a drying rack). I use the dry bucket method and I don't put any baking soda in the bucket. The other thing is I keep the plastic panties separate from the soiled diapers as they take on the ammonia scent very easily. Is there plastic in the covers you use? This is what works for me. I hope you can figure our the problem and quickly solve it!

  3. I did the dry bucket method, and always kept the plastic covers separate from the cloth. Also, I used both single thickness and layered ones and didn't have any trouble...

  4. Some people use pure grapefruit extract in with theirs to cover the smell and disinfect.

  5. Some people use Grapefruit seed extract to disinfect and combat smells. By the time the little one comes along though you won't have to worry too much....they'll all be dirty or being worn :)

  6. We did a water bucket with baking soda. It got stinky as it filled up, but after washing the diapers they were odorless. We just washed on hottest cycle with detergent and a heap of baking soda. Then dried out in the sun for solar bleaching. Also kept plastic pants separate.

  7. I've been using cloth for years, both flatfold and prefold. Here's my experience:
    Put used diapers in a 5 gal bucket, laying the lid on top; plain, no H20
    Rinse all soiled ones in toilet until solids are gone, add to bucket.
    When full, dump bucket in washer and run through the final rinse and spin.
    I keep the plastic pants separate from the diapers until ready to wash, then i just throw them in too.
    Open washer and add detergent for a large load (if the bucket was full) and (I like to use) oxy-clean - but that is not entirely nessesary.
    Wash using either warm or hot wash.
    Hang on line or drying rack preferably in the sun (I used the indoor drying rack all winter - fine)

    That's it! Great, no smells!

    Add a 1/2 - 3/4 cup bleach once or twice a year to brighten.

    the electric dryer works great too but, A. it takes forever for prefolds. B. it uses a chunk of electricity.

    BTW. once the plastic pants have that smell 'ground' into them, you may need start from new.


  8. I've been doing cloth diapers for 3 years and 2 kids. I used to get smelly diapers and the only thing that worked was bleach (which I hate to use because of dangerous health effects) or drying them out in the sun. The UV disinfects things naturally and makes them whiter, but since I live in a climate where it's winter 6 months out of the year, it was a bit challenging (and it is time consuming!).
    About 4 months ago I discovered the Odor Eliminator from Norwex. One cap full in with my diapers and presto! NO MORE SMELL!

    So this is my routine:
    I throw them in a dry pail (garbage can with lid) and wash at least every second day.
    Rinse in cold water
    Wash on heavy duty cycle and use Norwex laundry soap (1/2 tblsp for front load machine!) and throw in 1 cap full of the Odor Eliminator
    Dry in machine.

    No smelly diapers after I started using the Odor Eliminator!

  9. This is great, there are so many good ideas. I'm new to cloth diapering for baby...she's 4 months old, but I have two, yes 2 kids who still are not dry at night (7yo and 5yo). Trying to help them in every way I could think of, now we're just giving them love and time to grow up a little and washable pullups so they (and I) don't have two wet beds to change in the morning. One wash wasn't enough, but I found that adding an extra rinse at the end helped. Then getting cloth diapers for my baby, I've come across Charlie's Soap, which gives directions for use. They advise a pre-wash cycle, which I just put my non-fancy washer to the rinse cycle and let it go to the end. Then I do a normal wash cycle with soap.

    Yea, no smell, even before I got the soap (which I do use now and like) and I don't have to rinse out my newborn's diapers at all, just put them in soiled. I'm all for the less work.


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