Why can washing cloth diapers be so difficult?

I never in my wildest dreams expected that washing my diapers (and keeping them smell free) would be the biggest challenge for me out of everything that could be difficult.

Worrying with poop, no biggie, I have a sprayer.

Finding a diaper that works?  Turns out my son fits almost every diaper very well.

Leaks?  Nope, hardly ever.

Image: Flickr NaturesDawn
Image: Flickr NaturesDawn

Smells…… well……… that is something that I have been battling.

I bet when most people start thinking of using cloth they are most concerned with what diapers will work best for their family, if they will have time to wash the diapers, and what will they do with the poop?  I didn’t even realize there was a special wash routine until it came time to prep my diapers.  Then I saw the vast amount of literature on washing routines.  It seemed like every person did it differently.  I was overwhelmed.

What detergent was I going to choose?

I did a lot of research and decided to use Tide Original Powder.

I had a lot of leaks in the early days and stripped at least once a month thanks to repelling issues.  However, my diapers never had a smell.  They smelled clean and fresh out of the washer.  It took 6 months before I started detecting an odor.

Crap.  I had read that sometimes microfiber takes time to begin smelling, then the battle begins.

I stripped.  I used vinegar.  I used bleach.  And then I tried other detergents.

I tried Tiny Bubbles, Crunchy Clean, soap nuts, and finally- Rockin’ Green.

All of those eliminated my need for stripping since they left no residue, but the smell continued.

In fact, I began having an intense ammonia odor.  If you don’t already know, diapers can build up ammonia salts from the urine.  Excessive buildup leads to strong odors and even burns.  My son was being burnt by our overnight diapers!

I cried the first time this happened.  I wiped him and his legs shook from the pain.  And when it came time for a bath, he stood up the entire time because it hurt for water to touch his bottom.

I honestly felt like the worst mother in the world.  We began using disposables at night and after stripping the burns stopped so we switched back.

Recently the burns came back.  I stopped cloth at night until I could kill the ammonia again.  (And let me tell you, if it comes to burning my son or using a disposable, I will use a disposable until the problem is fixed. Though rest assured, no Pampers have entered my home, just Earth’s Best)  I have tried desperately to sun my diapers but the damn sun won’t shine!  Hello Summer?  Where are you?

I finally got 2 loads out in the sun this weel and tried my Gro Via AIO first.  I smelled no ammonia!

So happily, I can say the sun really does help with ammonia and odors.  But I don’t have sun very often so I foresee many problems to come with ammonia.

I am going to switch to Rockin’ Green Hard Rock after I finish off my Classic Rock and see what happens.

The fact is, even an experienced cloth diapering parent can have issues.  I hope by disclosing my own battles and the fact that I have kept fighting them (and had to resort to disposables) will help others.  I only wish I had an answer that would fix everyone’s washing problems!

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