How To Get Rid of Diaper Stink

The dreaded diaper stink! As much as I love using cloth diapers I have had my fair share of problems - and yes even after 3+ years of cloth diapering I have had it. And it is awful!

There are a couple different reasons why you may end up with diaper stink. And it isn't always something you notice right away. Your diapers may smell clean or look clean when they really aren't.


There are two main types of diaper stink - diapers that aren't clean enough and detergent build up. If you can identify what the problem is, it will be easier to know where to begin in fixing it.

Hey, Didn't I Just Wash These?

You may go through your normal wash routine for awhile and then one day realize that when you open the dryer it smells like hot funk. You put your nose to a diaper and *yuk* - that is not the clean, fresh smell you wanted lingering in your nose! Your diapers may look clean, but if they don't smell clean, they aren't.

Believe me I know how frustrating it can be! The solution is simple though - try these easy tips:

#1 Make sure you have enough water when washing. Always set your machine to the highest water lever.

#2 Make sure you are not washing too many diapers at once. More than 24 - 30 can cause problems when rinsing them clean.

#3 Make sure you are using enough soap. I use Country Save and I use a FULL SCOOP when washing a full load. Any less is not enough.

Barnyard or Build-Up

On the other hand you may pull the diapers from the dryer and they may smell fine. But once your baby pees in them - whoa! Is it funky broccoli or did someone sneak a barnyard into your house? I don't know, but it's baaaa'd. But why? The chances are most likely that you have detergent build up. Other signs of build up are diapers that leak or repel.

Detergent build up is when your are using too much detergent and it is not rinsing completely out of the diapers. Yes I know it is tricky, but you may have to experiment some to find the perfect balance where it's not too much and not too little. And it will vary with each detergent you use. Some detergents take more and some take less. You may need more than the recommend amount of detergent on the box, you may need less.

If you have detergent build up then it may be time to strip your diapers. First try these easy tips though to see if that will remedy the problem:

#1 Make sure you have enough water when washing. The more water, the better the detergent will rinse out. Always set your machine to the highest water level.

#2 Make sure you are not washing too many diapers at once. More than 24 - 30 can cause problems when rinsing them clean.

#3 Make sure you are not using too much soap. Some detergents are stronger than others and you may need to cut back.

#4 Cut out the additives. Using extra 'cleaners' such as vinegar, Bac-Out, dish soap, etc. can cause problems too. The more soap you put in, the harder it is to get it all out. Keep it simple!

#5 Change your detergent. If all else fails ditch the detergent you are using. It may actually be the cause of your problem. It has happened to me before and once I switched the problem was gone.

Yes it really is that simple. All you really need to keep diaper stink at bay is lots of HOT water, the right amount of detergent and not too many diapers. Seriously!

Using Bleach and OxiClean

I always say 'keep it simple' when it comes to your wash routine, but sometimes you just need something extra to help get diaper stink out. It is OK to use bleach or Oxiclean, but I only recommend using it on CLEAN diapers - not adding it into your normal wash routine. Bleach will not hurt your diapers, although if you use it on a printed diaper (not printed PUL), or a colored velour, then it will bleach out the colors.

Some fabrics just really seem to hold in urine more than others and it is harder to wash out. Microfiber is the main one, hemp and bamboo are also known to have some issues as well. If you choose to use bleach you can add 1/2 cup bleach to a regular load of diapers. To keep diaper stink at bay, you can use up to 1/4 cup bleach on your diapers once per month. With microfiber you will most likely need to because it almost always stinks.
OxiClean is another great product to use in case of stink. It also works wonderfully on stains. I do not recommend using too much though, because it is very had to rinse out if you use alot. I would recommend using about a scoop and then letting the diapers soak for up to an hour, then doing a normal wash. You can use this instead of bleach and also do the soak once per month to help keep the diaper stink at bay.


Sometimes you just have to strip, and that's OK. If you are having problems and you know you need to make a change, do a good thorough stripping and then change your detergent or stop using vinegar or whatever the identified problem is.

The most recommend way to strip diapers is to use liquid Dawn. It is powerful and works well. Can you use something besides Dawn? Probably, but I haven't so I can't say for sure. You have to be very careful using liquid dish soap though - it takes ALOT to get it all rinsed out. You may need to rinse your diapers up to 5 times or more if you use too much.

This is the most recommend method of stripping, but honestly, I always strip using no soap at all. I take clean diapers and run them through a normal wash with no soap. I do this up to 3 times, and don't put too many diapers in at once. I mean what could be better at washing out detergent residue than good old hot water? In my opinion adding dish soap is adding more soap to a soap build up problem. Yes it can work if you want to watch your washer during every load to check to see if all the bubbles are gone. PITA if you ask me. I have had alot of luck just stripping the 'natural' way.

Hopefully these tips will help you figure out why you have funk. If not, feel free to contact me and I will try to help you figure it out. Good luck mamas!

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