Despite our best laundering efforts, cloth diapers sometimes develop a funky odor over time. Hemp diapers and diapers laundered in hard water are especially prone to develop "stink."
But don't despair, you can restore an April fresh scent to your cloth diapers with very little effort - all you need is hot water.
Lots of hot water.
Cloth diaper stink is most often caused by a build-up of detergent in the fibers. This left-over detergent attracts and holds on to dirt and odors, causing your diapers to smell. To get rid of the odor you need to strip the extra detergent out of the diapers.
Before starting to strip your diapers be sure to check the manufacturer's care label. You wouldn't want to accidentally damage your diapers!
The easiest way to strip cloth diapers is by running them through several hot water washes and rinses without detergent. The hotter the water the better, so you may want to turn up the hot water heater ahead of time, or boil water on the stove to add to the washer. Obviously you'll want to be extra careful with hot water around small children, so they aren't hurt.
When the washing machine reaches the agitation phase of the rinse cycle, take a peek inside to look for soap bubbles. (This is much easier on a top-loading machine, but can be done with a front-loader with a flashlight and a little creativity.) If you see bubbles you need to figure out if they're soap bubbles or agitation bubbles, so stop the washer. Agitation bubbles will be rather thin and disappear quickly, while soap bubbles will be in a thicker layer and will float on the water for a bit.
If you have soap bubbles you'll need to run another hot water wash, checking the rinse cycle for bubbles again. Repeat the wash/rinse/check pattern until the only bubbles left are from agitation.
If you don't have hard water you can add a cup of white vinegar to the final rinse to help dissolve the detergent and soften your diapers. Since vinegar can cause stink in hard water, use water softener instead of vinegar if you have hard water.
If the easy way of stripping cloth diapers didn't do the trick you may want to check out these articles for more in-depth methods of stripping cloth diapers:
When your diapers are finally suds-free it's time to do a little happy dance, then dry them and enjoy their fluffy freshness.
We hope this article makes using your cloth diapers a little easier and a lot more fun!
~Amy Sue and the Etsy Cloth Diaper Team
Photo Credit: Abazagore on Flickr