Sometimes the simplest fix is the best one! Try to keep it simple when troubleshooting any problems you may be having. If your questions aren't answered here, please visit our Facebook page or Chat Group to ask for help.
Keep in mind, all washers, water types, and babies are different. The DFW Cloth Diaper Group and its members are not responsible for damage to your diapers.
If your diapers have a "barnyard" stink (they smell like they aren't clean), then it most likely means you are not adding enough detergent. Try adding 1/2 Tbsp detergent to your hot wash cycle. You may or may not need to add an extra rinse. If the problem persists, then try stripping your diapers (see below) and either trying the new amount of detergent or switching detergents.
If your diapers have an ammonia stink, then there are a couple of potential culprits. We highly suggest stripping the diapers if you have ammonia stink. Ammonia buildup can cause a severe rash for your baby. Try one of the following suggestions to see if it makes a difference.
1. You are using too much detergent. Try using about 1/2 Tbsp less detergent in your wash routine.
2. You may need to add another rinse or wash cycle to the end of the wash*. Many in this area have hard water**. Hard water adds minerals to the diapers, which makes it hard to rinse out the detergent. On the other hand, soft water* also makes it difficult to rinse diapers, so you may need to add an extra rinse/wash cycle if you have soft water.
3. The detergent you are using may not be compatible with your water and washer. Consider changing detergents if the previous suggestions have not worked.
4. You are using too little detergent. If bodily fluids are not washing out of the materials, then it will break down into urea, which causes ammonia. If you are using a very small amount of detergent, try adding 1/2 - 1 Tbsp detergent.
*Warm or hot water rinses cleaner than cold. If you are having issues, you may simply try using warm water for rinsing instead of cold. If you do not have a warm rinse option on your machine, then try a short, warm wash cycle as a pre- or post-rinse.
**If you are unsure of what type of water you have, you can call your local water department and ask. Also, several local cloth diaper shops carry Water Test Strips so you can test your water at home. Knowing what type of water you have will help you determine which detergent to use and how to treat certain problems.
In my own personal experience, I have found that babies urine change as they get older. Night time diapers also hold more "stink" since they are changed less frequently. Natural fibers are best for overnight if you are having stink problems in only the overnight diapers.
Some who have had ammonia stink found that changing to all natural fibers from microfiber has helped keep the stink away.
There are a few causes for leaks. Let's take a look at the causes and how to fix them.
1. Fit issue. The diaper may not fit your baby well. Is it too tight? If so, it may cause compression leaks. Is it too loose with gaps? If so, the pee and poo just will not stay contained. Is the rise too short? If you are using a one size diaper, it may be time to go up a size on the rise.
2. Not enough absorbency. Your baby may be a heavy wetter. Or as they grow older, they start holding their pee longer and going more all at once. Try adding an extra insert or doubler to the diaper (keeping in mind to never let microfiber touch baby's skin, as it can cause rashes). Bamboo and hemp are great doubler since they are trim, yet highly absorbent. If you add bamboo or hemp to a pocket with a microfiber insert, do it so the microfiber is on top (closer to baby, but inside the pocket). Microfiber absorbs quicker than natural fibers.
3. Build Up. You may possibly have detergent build up in the diapers. Or if you have used a rash cream that is not cloth diaper safe, it will also cause build up. Is the insert completely soaked when it leaks? If not, try holding it under the faucet. If the water runs off or beads up, you have build up. You will need to strip the diapers (see below). Try using 1/2 Tbsp less detergent in your wash routine. It may or may not be necessary to switch detergents. If using a diaper rash cream that is not cloth diaper safe, you will need to use a barrier, such as flannel or fleece liners. You can make your own simply by cutting up an old receiving blanket. Just be sure to wash any cloth wipes or liners seperate from your diapers until you are no longer using the non-cloth diaper safe rash cream.
Stripping diapers is needed when you have any kind of build up or stubborn stink that isn't resolved with the simple solutions above.
There are different methods to stripping diapers. For greasy build up due to non-cloth diaper safe rash creams or ointments, we suggest stripping with Dawn dish soap. For detergent build up or ammonia stink, we suggest stripping with RLR. If you have a top loader, or a front loader with a soak option (or the option to stop the cycle so they can soak in the machine), this is easiest. If you do not have the option to soak in your front loader, then you can soak the diapers with HOT water in the bathtub, then transfer to the washer for the rinsing.
It is easier to strip a maximum of 16-20 diapers (depending on size of your washer, and the thickness of the diapers). The more water you use in the wash, the better! If there are a lot of suds left after several hot or warm rinses, keep rinsing. This means there was a lot of build up in the diapers.
Sunning the diapers will help after stripping. Simply lay flat or line dry the diapers in the sun light! The sun is anti-microbial and one of the best ways to kill bacteria in diapers.
Stripping with Dawn:
Add just a few drops (no more than 1/2 tsp) of Dawn to the wash, let agitate for a few minutes, then let soak in HOT water overnight. Follow this by 3-5 hot wash cycles, or until there are no more suds. Warm or hot water rinse better than cold. The more Dawn you use may require more rinses. This is why we suggest just a few drops.
Stripping with RLR:
RLR is a laundry additive to help remove the "yuckies" from the materials. It is available locally at the Nappy Shoppe in Plano, at Baby Rear Gear in Arlington, Babies Bottoms and More in Farmers Branch, Hip Green Baby in Anna, and Simple Baby in Ft Worth. Some Kroger's carry it, but not all.
Add one scoop of RLR to the wash (in a front loader, you may sprinkle directly on the diapers), let agitate for a few minutes, then allow to soak in HOT water overnight. Follow by 3-5 hot wash cycles, or until there are no more suds. Warm or hot water rinse better than cold.