I’m pretty sure that no matter how perfect the washing routine, how powerful the detergent or how frequent the washes, eventually we all end up with the dreaded ammonia smell in our diapers. I truly thought I had figured out the perfect combination to avoid the ammonia, but I, too, got hit with what I consider to be one of the two major pitfalls of cloth diapering; the other pitfall being the usually sometimes related repelling/leaking. The following are the methods that I use to rid myself of the ammonia odor and otherwise freshen and restore my cloth diapers.
Stripping is usually the first stop. Stripping involves several very hot washes without detergent to wash and rinse away any detergent build-up. After about 2-3 hot water washes I do a check of the water during the wash cycle to see if the agitation in the washer is resulting in any suds. Once I get perfectly clear, sud-free water I do an extra cycle for good measure.
There is a term that has become quite well-known recently in the cloth diaper circuit. It is “Rock the Soak” and all the kids are doing it! It is actually a very simple procedure of soaking your cloth diapers in Rockin’ Green Soap for a minimum of 1-3 hours and a maximum of overnight. Depending on how much build-up, stink or stains your diapers have, this soak can yield some pretty dramatic results. I prefer to do this in my bathtub overnight with enough water to cover the diapers and about 4-6 scoops of Rockin’ Green. I then hand rinse and follow with a full laundry routine cycle, adding an extra rinse or two to be sure everything is rinsed out.
I have also used OxiClean to give my detergent a boost. I use it after the initial rinse of my laundry routine and before a full wash. I will do what’s called a “Quick Wash” on my washer with 1-2 tablespoons of OxiClean. I always make sure to add some extra rinses at the end of my wash to be sure the OxiClean is out of my diapers completely. I’ve found that the OxiClean helped brighten and freshen up my diapers.
The microterry inserts are definitely the workhorses of my diapers and they bear the brunt of the damage in my opinion. Their purpose is to absorb, right? Well, as they absorb the moisture they also absorb the bacteria and odor. Bleach does a great job of getting rid of all of this yuck. I always do at least 3-4 rinse cycles after a bleach soak. This gets rid of any bleach or bleach smell, while giving my inserts a nice strip in the process
Probably the best method for getting rid of the ammonia smell is the cheapest and most tried and true: line drying in the sun. After using one or a couple of the above methods I will always finish with a line dry to insure that I have wiped out smells and stains. The UV rays naturally bleach while the fresh air works its magic. Oh, what my neighbors must think when they see me smell each and every one of my diapers as I pull them off the line. Little do they know this obsessive mama does this every single time my diapers come out of the washing machine, whether they’re headed for the dryer or the sun.
by Jennifer G. - Blog Contributor