The Smell of Death – aka Stripping your Cloth Diapers

July 24, 2010

Bella’s diapers smelled like something died in them.

And not just when she balls up her fists, turns bright red and pushes so hard her eyes bulge because she’s pooping (yeah, it’s pretty funny) – they smell 24-7.

I have tried BacOut, natural Oxygen Bleach, washing multiple times with and without soap, more soap, less soap, vinegar… nothing works. We have an HE washer so I put a big wet towel in with them, and soak them before they go in the washer – nope. As soon as I put them on her, they reek to high heaven. It’s to the point where my family is even like, “Wow, does she need to be changed again?”

Even my brand new GroVia’s are doing this – and it’s only been a month. So I’m doing something wrong.

So what do I do now? Any suggestions? Why do the diapers smell like rotten mung beans as soon as I put them on her?

Also – recommendations for good disposables for the few days we will be without a washer/dryer while moving? Something decomposable and natural please!


  • lucy

    July 26, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Eek! I haven’t gotten the stinks yet, but we still haven’t been feeding Giovanna solids. I guess that’s something to look forward to.. I’ll have to come back and read through all your comments when I have the same question 🙂

  • Lessons in Life and Light

    July 26, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    A girlfriend of mine was talking about this the other day and one of the issues they were having was the kind of laundry soap they were using. She found this site:

    Currently, she uses Ecos Free and Clear. But one thing she pointed out is that you’ll need to completely switch to using this detergent on ALL of your laundry to help clean all the old soap out of your washer.

    (Found you through Scary Mommy, btw!)

    1. Diana

      July 26, 2010 at 2:23 pm

      Ok – isn’t Scary Mommy the best? I love her.

      I’m going to check out that site. I do think that I’ll have to switch. Which is a bummer because I use Country Save on everything I wash. But if that does the trick so be it. 🙂

  • Jackie

    July 26, 2010 at 5:55 am

    I used to strip mine with RLR and Dawn (original blue) when they get really bad. I just started using Rockin’ Green detergent and this seems to help a ton with detergent build-up and ammonia stink. Hopefully since I switched to Rockin’ Green, I won’t have to worry about ammonia stink anymore!

  • Cindy @ This Adventure, Our Life

    July 25, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Re: disposables, the 7th generation ones (easiest to find) and work well.
    Re: Stink, we have not had very many issues, I mean when she pees sometimes we get that ammonia smell… Do you hang them in the sun, this does wonders for our stink issues

    Sorry, I know this can get frustrating! I hate stink also!

    1. Diana

      July 26, 2010 at 2:21 pm

      Blair mentioned sun too – we just don’t have the space to get them in the sun. We live where it is SUPER windy so I can’t out them outside. Maybe once we move I’ll have more luck with sunning them.

  • Stephanie @ My new life as… MOM!

    July 25, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    I agree with all the above posters. I’ve had a few stink issues with our 8m old son and the only thing that has helped was stripping them with blue dawn, then switching to Rockin’ Green Detergent. Since then, we haven’t had any issues.

    I’ve also heard that some babies just have a naturally high amonia content in their pee so it can interact with any residue build up in the diapers. Rinsing them RIGHT after you take them off is supposedly the best way to help. We do this with our son, too.

  • Kim

    July 25, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Also, Tea Tree Oil in the wash, or on a washcloth in the dryer (just a few drops) helps to sanitize and freshen 🙂

  • Amanda

    July 25, 2010 at 4:28 am

    Uncommon Bottom ( has TONS of wonderful advice for ways to make your cloth diapers last. It’s run by a mother who uses them on her little son, so she lives the potential for smelly messes daily. We don’t have children yet, but, because of Laina’s sage-like advice, we’re completely set on cloth diapering our children.

    Good luck!

    1. Diana

      July 26, 2010 at 2:20 pm

      I’m going to check that out! Thank you – I can always use more tips and tricks for these things. 🙂

  • Alexia

    July 24, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    Totally agree with the last couple of people, sounds like you need to do a stripping of all your dipes. I’ve used the blue Dawn method and I guess it worked ok but it was a bit tricky to figure out how much to use in my HE front loader. Instead I buy a couple packets of Sensi-Clean from Jillian’s Drawers and it’s perfectly pre-measured. Here’s the link:

    If it’s the GroVia in particular you’re having a problem with it looks like that is pretty common (my GroBaby get pretty smelly every month or so). Check out the GroVia Facebook page, looks like they’re working on a solution (and offering some giveaways this month).

    As far as disposable for the move, the only disposables we like are the 7th Generation. They’re not bleached, really absorbent and seemingly the best price for ‘eco-friendly’ dipes that you can get at Babies R Us or at some bigger Target stores.

    BTW- Good luck with the move lady and glad I found the new WP site!!

    1. Diana

      July 26, 2010 at 2:19 pm

      So on the GroVia FB site – love them! 🙂 Did you buy the seconds today from that huge deal they had going on?

      I’m going for 7th Gen. when we move. We’ll be without a washer so those are my best bet. Thank you for the recommendation.

  • Danielle

    July 24, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    When you say “as soon as I put them on her”, do you mean they smell right out of the dryer? Or once she pees in them? If it’s right out of the dryer, they’re not getting clean enough. You might need more or a different detergent. I use cheap old Purex detergent and a Downy ball of vinegar and it seems to do the trick. If they don’t smell until she pees, it’s a detergent buildup issue and you should probably try the blue Dawn method. I’ve had to do it once but once I started using vinegar in the rinse as part of our regular routine, the problem hasn’t returned. Good luck – I know it’s frustrating and you probably feel like you are wasting a TON of water!

    1. Diana

      July 26, 2010 at 2:18 pm

      I do! I feel like I’m just washing and washing… I meant once she pees in them. But prettu much as soon as I put them on her. Like in minutes. I did strip them yesterday with Dawn so we’ll see how it goes now. They might need to be stripped more frequently.

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  • Stephanie @ Confessions of a Trophy Wife

    July 24, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    UGH! The dreaded cloth diaper stink! It may be something as easy as just needing to strip them (most people recommend doing so with BLUE Dawn dish detergent, or I’ve heard great things about using RLR laundry treatment, which is another way to strip them). Have you tried a vinegar soak overnight? Or I’ve seen many mamas swear that Rockin’ Green detergent has taken care of their stinkies! You may need to switch up your detergent too. From my experience and what I’ve seen it seems like getting the wash routine perfected for your specific situation is the hardest part of cloth diapering. Yours may just take some tweaking. What detergent are you currently using?

    1. Diana

      July 26, 2010 at 2:17 pm

      I am using Country Save. I really love it – but I may need to switch. I stripped them yesterday and we’re just now starting to use them, so we’ll see if they smell or not.

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