Tuesday, February 1, 2011

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Bemoaning Ammonia Part 1

Several months ago I was struck with some terrible ammonia stink in my diapers and my usual routines were not working.  It’s amazing how much this stressed me and occupied my mind.  I am terrified that something unfixable will come between me and my cloth!  My typical solutions (bleach soak, hot water stripping, Rockin Green soak, etc) just weren’t cutting it because they either weren’t working, were too time-consuming and/or were only temporary fixes.  I was desperate to find something that was easy and worked, not temporarily, but all the time.  I didn’t want a band-aid; I wanted a real fix.  In my research I found countless numbers of moms struggling with ammonia so I know I’m not alone, but in this case misery does not love company.  I didn’t want to hear other horror stories; I wanted to hear that this is something I can overcome easily and quickly. 

In my trial and errors I think I have come up with some solutions.  Two of them seem incredibly reliable and, dare I say, easy.  I am eager to share my findings because I know other moms out there are struggling with this.  We love our diapers, but the ammonia smell and rashes just aren’t acceptable.  I feel confident in the new routines, but I have to tell you, I’ve always got my eye out (or rather my nose) for that evil stink.  Every diaper that comes out of the washer gets a search and pat-down that would rival any airport security measure!

1. BioKleen Bac-Out:

I have had Bac-Out sitting in my laundry cabinet for months, but I was wary of trying it. I don’t like additives or complications in my wash routine because 1) I relish simplicity and 2) the more involved the wash gets the more room there is for error, build-up or the like.  I started with a good, overnight soak in hot water with ¼ cup of Bac-Out.  Now, I don’t want to have to do this all of the time.  Since I have a front loader, doing soaks (in bleach, Bac-Out, Rockin Green, whatever) is annoying, messy and difficult, but I wanted to tackle this problem head-on so I figured a soak would get me on track.

After the overnight, a full washing and lots of rinses I figured my diapers were back to square one, smelling fresh and free of odor and build-up. Now I started experimenting with a daily routine to maintain this freshness, avoid having to do any big soaks and, most importantly, avoid ammonia.  I started by adding ¼ cup of Bac-Out to my initial rinse (which I do on the “Quickwash” cycle on my front loader with warm water).  I then washed with my normal routine (hot wash with 1 tablespoon detergent, and another Quickwash for my rinse after that).  When things seemed to do well with this routine for a week or two I reduced the Bac-Out to about 1-2 tablespoons.  So far this has worked perfectly and my diapers haven’t had any odors coming out of the washer. 

2. Rockin Green Funk Rock:

At about this time Rockin Green was launching their new product, Funk Rock, aimed to combat ammonia.  I decided to give this a try as part of my wash routine as well.  Instead of my Bac-Out I used the recommended 1 tablespoon of Funk Rock in my initial Quickwash rinse and then washed as normal.  Using only this method (no Bac-Out) for about a week or two the results were equally as good.  My diapers smelled perfect coming out of the washer and we haven’t had any strong ammonia smell when my daughter is wearing them. 

Months later, I am still testing out these two methods by using one or the other additive, exclusively, in my rinse cycle for a week or so and believe they are just about equal in terms of results.  However, I have found Funk Rock to be a bit pricey to use with every wash and the bag is quite small.  If I poke around online I can find Bac-Out on sale for less than $6 for a 32 oz bottle.  If I use 1-2 tablespoons per wash I end up getting several months of washing out of one bottle. 

Stay tuned next week for Part #2!

By Jennifer

24 comments:

Paul and Annie said...

I will be beginning cloth diapering tomorrow (I just finished prewashing all my new diapers!)and I would like to use cloth wipes too. I know you can use straight water, but I've also seen a lot of wipes recipes out there that have oils, soaps and extracts in them. This has left me slightly bewildered since everywhere I turn I'm reading about not allowing build up on your diapers and yet I haven't read anyone discussing the effect of homemade wipes solution on cloth diapers. What's the story????

Alison said...

Thank you for this post. I have been dealing with ammonia, especially in the overnight diapers. I have tried the Funk Rock soak and that didn't help too much. I tried bleaching and that didn't work very well either. The other day I did a soak with RG and then I stripped the diapers with Dawn to see if that would help as well. I never realized you could use the BacOut. I may have to try that as well!
THANKS!

Crystal said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I have been having ammonia problems for awhile now and have tried bleach, vinegar, even Funk Rock without great results. I've been wondering about bac-out and now I think I'll give it a try!

Leigh said...

I have hemp blend diapers. While hemp is amazing, it does cling to the stink sometimes. I did a strip with baking soda and a vinegar rinse. Now I add 1/8 cup of baking soda to every wash with the detergent. Not smell for 8 months and no need to restrip.

Leigh said...

Paul & Annie.
Start with just strait water. If you find you need more you can add stuff. Natural fiber diapers can take it, with man made fibers I would be pretty careful since people have run into just that kind of problem.

hfluegel said...

I love BacOut! It is my favorite part of the diaper routine because it has totally gotten rid of the stinks!! I love that stuff...

Betty said...

We havent started cloth yet as our LO is still "cooking" but the ammonia smell has been on my mind for awhile. It's nice to know that there are things out there to combat it! Thank you so much for the great advice and I look forward to hearing how your little experiments pan out.

Sarah said...

Thank you so much for this post. I've been an RnG user for 6 months out of my 11 month CD'ing career and a Funk Rock user since it came out. I have soaked twice with Funk Rock...but my son's night diapers REAK in the AM again of ammonia and I did a FR soak not too long ago. I've been eager to try Bac Out so thanks to this post I'm going to give it a try. I agree, FR is too pricey for such a little bag. Is ammonia smell inevitable after a full 12 hrs at night? His day diapers don't stink, just that morning diaper - phewwwww!!!!

Anonymous said...

The past year I have suffered from a recurrent funky poopy smell that needs to be fixed about every 4-7 weeks. I’ve been a RnG user for almost a year and a funk rock soaker since it came out. The results/fix from my first FR soak lasted less than 3 weeks. I bleached my bum genius inserts (my normal fix) due to frustration with FR. A couple weeks later stink returns. I give FR a second chance and do an overnight soak in RnG, a long FR soak….still had stink which was eventually resolved with a 2nd overnight RnG soak. Now instead of my recurrent funky poopy smell I have an offensive ammonia smell. My diaper pail reeks and so does my laundry room. I’m fairly certain funk rock is to blame. I should have never messed with my wash routine and stuck with bleach. RnG customer service has been great the last year with formula & washing routine tweaks. I feel like I’m doing everything I’m told by the right people still with issues. I use Charlie's soap on my other laundry so build-up shouldn't be to blame.

Paul and Annie said...

Thanks so much Leigh! :-)

arfencil said...

I am going to start cloth diapering when my baby girl comes in May. I am a first time mom and reading this was helpful and all the reviews I have found on Rockin Green. I plan to buy it and try it out.

Anna said...

Thank you thank you for this post! We've been battling the ammonia stink at our house. I just did a full Funk Rock soak this past week, but was looking for a cheaper long term solution. I hadn't thought about Bac-Out. Thanks so much!

Madeline said...

How do I know if I have an ammonia problem?

Sasha said...

Bac-out has been my best friend! I LOVE that stuff :)

Sasha said...

Bac-out has been my best friend! I LOVE that stuff :)

Bethany said...

What causes ammonia in the first place? I feel like my issues started when my daughter started with solid food. We are doing baby-led solids, so no purees, but it tends to create some nasty poos! At first I was just washing hoping for the best, but the smell came! I'm thinking they were just not getting clean enough. I have been trying to get the bigger chunks off before I put them in the pail, but I seriously need to invest in a toilet sprayer! (Or try liners.)

Has anyone noticed that correlation before?

Bethany said...

What causes ammonia smells?

For me I noticed it around the time my daughter started solids. We are doing baby-led solids, so not many purees. But it leads to some yucky poos! At first I was just washing and hoping for the best, but then I noticed the smell. I figured they were just not getting clean enough. Now I am doing more leg work to get them clean before I drop them in the pail. I seriously need to invest in a toilet sprayer.

Has anyone else noticed that correlation?

babymakes5 said...

I am glad I read this but I wonder how to do the soak in the front loader.I got some bac-out last week and had done 3 sqirts but now I realize I didn't use enough.

CHRISTLIKE said...

I hvae been having the ammonia stink for about a month now. I have tried dry pail, wet pail, several hot water washes, bleach, vinegar, etc. etc. My poor little boy's "little man" is irritated almost every morning after a long night in the pocket diaper.
I can't stand the smell and most of all my little baby boy grabbing his "little man" not wanting me to touch it when I change and wipe because its irritated.
It look a little swollen and reddish around the opening area.
This is the only area bothered at all but I have to find a solution or no cloth at night for us.
I rather keep him comfortable and without irritation than use cloth and bear this burden.
Looking for help in Jesus' name!

Bethany said...

@Christlike, The best results I have had is with Rockin' Green. You can do either Rock a Soak with the regular detergent (directions on the bag) or use the Funk Rock (its specific for ammonia). If that doesn't work I have done oxyclean soaks overnight and then sunned the diapers. Honestly, the sun is the best. Sun by itself works miracles, but after an oxyclean soak it's even more amazing. I hope that helps!

Amanda said...

I just ordered the RnG Funk Rock "Ammonia Bouncer" product from Amazon. I chose it over the Bac Out b/c it is specifically marketed to dealing w/ammonia, but I should have read these comments first! Going to see how it works, then pick up some Bac Out ASAP. Based on what you all are saying, it sounds more reliable.

@Bethany, as I understand it, ammonia is actually created when urine ferments! I don't think it has anything to do with starting solids, and you notice it on the overnight diapers more because the urine "sits" for longer. Actually I've heard that after repeated washing, the detergent you use can get stuck in the diaper if it's not fully rinsed away, and this "holds" additional fermented urine. Gross! So as the diapers age, you get increasingly strong ammonia smells.

@Christlike, my little guy is getting the ammonia burns too, I can't wait for my Rockin Green Funk Rock Ammonia Bouncer to get here!

L. Hitt said...

We have been having ammonia problems, so I spoke to my grandma about using cloth diapers, b/c when she was raising her 6 kids, there were no sposies. She told me one thing she remembers her Dr. telling her to "boil, boil, boil your diapers when baby gets a rash." This will effectively get rid of detergent build up, kill yeast AND get rid of ammonia deposits! So, you don't need to buy anything extra, as long as you have a large stockpot, large colander and long tongs (and a day to boil your dipes)!

Momtotwo said...

God bless you for this post! I have been dealing with stench and especially the morning ammonia smell. 'I've tried bleach, stripping, etc to no avail and had just bought some bac out to try. I was wondering what amounts to use...I now have hope. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I am trying your BacOut method, but I'm always afraid that anything new I use on my diapers will work once or twice but have a long-term negative effect, like ruining the PUL on my pocket diaper covers. What kind of diapers did you do the BacOut thing with? Did you use BacOut regularly on anything with PUL? Any trouble in the long term?