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Why Does My Cloth Reak of Ammonia? Diapers Stink Bad, Help!


Updated August 27, 2011

Question: Why Does My Cloth Reak of Ammonia? Diapers Stink Bad, Help!

I've been using my cloth diapers for quite some time now, but suddenly they smell odd. How do I get rid of the smell of ammonia diapers?


That smell can happen for a few reasons, but the most common one is that you have detergent build up in your cloth diapers. That build up off minerals doesn't react nicely when your baby places a deposit in his diaper. To get the smell out there are a few things you can try. This is often called stripping cloth diapers.

Methods of Stripping Cloth Diapers

  1. Add boiling hot water to the wash with NO detergent. You may need to run several hot washes back to back. Peak in during the cycle and see how much suds comes to the top (evidence of the detergent build up).
  2. Use Dawn Dish Soap. Place a squirt of Dawn in the wash cycle and run several rinse cycles until no suds appear.
  3. Try Calgon if you have hard water. The hard water minerals may be causing the build up and Calgon may soften the water.
  4. Find RLR Laundry Additive from Cadie. This was my go-to source the few times I had an issue, and it cleared it right up. Compare prices RLR Laundry.
  5. Add a half cup to a cup of white vinegar to the final rinse cylce.

Preventing Smelly, Ammonia Diapers

Always remember that the best way to avoid this problem is to be choosy about what sort of laundry detergent you use. Avoid detergents with fragrance, chemical brighteners, bleaching agents, enzymes, and softeners. Also, remember that you only need to use very little detergent in your cloth diaper wash. If you are using Chinese prefold diapers they may be able to bear up a little better with harsher detergents.

Related information: Properly Launder Your Diapers for Use

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