- adding too much detergent
- using the wrong kind of detergent
- not using enough water
- having hard water
- washing synthetic diapers (synthetic fibers are more prone to stink)
Here are some general tips to keep the stink at bay:
- wash your diapers more frequently -- the longer your dirty diapers sit, the more likely they are to smell.
- use as much water as you can. If you have a machine that allows you to select a load size, set it one size larger than the actual load (ie, if you're washing a 'small' load, set the machine's load size to 'large'). If you have a machine that adds water based on the weight of the load, add a wet towel to the diapers to weigh the load down.
- use a manufacturer-recommended detergent. Avoid anything with whiteners, brighteners, enzymes, perfumes, and dyes.
- use 1/4 to 1/2 the recommended amount of detergent -- measure it, don't eyeball it!
- add an extra rinse.
- sun your diapers when possible (the UV light can kill odor-causing bacteria).
- line your diaper pail with a wetbag that's washed everytime you wash your diapers (so they're not sitting in a stinky pail).
There are some products you can buy to help prevent diaper stink if it's recurring issue.
bumGenius odor remover quickly eliminates the source of odor-causing bacteria in cloth diapers. Designed to eliminate the odors in diapers and diaper pails, it also works great on pet urine, trash cans and more! It is non-toxic, biodegradable and is completely free of chemicals or oils, detergents, perfumes and solvents. Use instead of deodorizing disks.
Do you think you have hard water? It will affect everything you launder, not just your cloth diapers. Aside from installing a water softener, there are a couple quick, relatively inexpensive fixes. You could add Calgon water softener to your washing routine, it can be found in the laundry aisle at most grocery stores. Alternately, you could use a detergent that contains sodium borate, like Rockin' Green Soap, or CountrySave.
Magnetballs are a reusable option, simply add one to the washing machine with every load. How do they work? Quite simple, actually. As water passes through the magnetic field of the Magnetball or the Universal Magnetrod, dissolved calcium molecules in the water will spontaneously form calcium crystals. The magnetic field in the water will then cause the calcium crystals to break up into smaller, disc-shaped calcium particles that are easily flushed out with the water instead of attaching themselves to surfaces, appliances or clothing.
The result is a drastic reduction in the hardness of the water, because magnetically treated calcium crystals will release several hundred H20 molecules per single calcium molecule. The ability of water to dissolve dirt is therefore greatly increased.
Lastly, we've recently added one more weapon to our arsenal of stink-busters. RLR Laundry treatment. Is has clearly been around for a while, judging from the packaging (what? There's no laundry-related stock photography they could have used from 1990 onwards? I know retro is back, but I'm not sure this outfit qualifies! Do people even wear collared shirts anymore?). But I digress.
This is a product specifically designed to remove detergent residue and mineral deposits from laundry. It is not a bleach, blueing, or detergent. I tried a package last night, and spent about a half hour thrusting random diapers into my children's faces, instructing them to "Smell! Do you smell anything?" The musty smell was banished from even the worst-offending bum wipe, I was pretty impressed. If you regularly deal with cloth diaper stink, adding RLR to your routine on a monthly basis can keep the stink at bay.
So do you want to know what my new HE-friendly diaper washing routine involves? I've tweaked our washing routine according to some of your fabulous suggestions:
- I wash our diapers more frequently. No more 5-7 days between washing diapers, I try to wash them every 3 days. In the house of never-ending laundry, it's not so hard. If you must know, I'm washing our diapers with our whites on a regular basis. Don't tell my children, they'd be horrified if they knew.
- I'm more vigilant about taking the poop off Grace's diapers -- I shake what I can off, then rinse the rest of it off.
- I pour almost 4 liters of water directly on top of the diapers after I've loaded them into the machine (instead of adding a sopping wet towel, which also works).
- I always measure the detergent (no eyeballing), using 3/4 the recommended amount (and I'm sticking to the Nellies).
- I do a hot wash/cold rinse, and I've added an extra rinse at the end of the washing cycle.
We're pretty thrilled with the RLR Laundry Treatment, all instore (Ottawa) purchases and online purchases today through September 6th will receive a free pouch of RLR Laundry Treatment. Try it, you'll like it!