So when I originally wrapped up my post on cleaning my cloth diapers, I was making my own detergent (mix of borax, washing soda and OxyClean) and was planning on trying some Soap Nuts that I had purchased. Oh yea, and I said I would never try Tide. Well look what happened.
Flash forward a month and I had MAJOR ammonia smell. Her diapers reeked as soon as she peed in them. I started googling like a mad woman and settled on stripping with Dawn Dishwashing Detergent. I boiled all my prefolds with a squirt of Dawn (just like you would do to prep them) and then washed/dried them like usual. After all this was completed, I put one on R and waited. When she peed, I sniffed and it was STILL there. That smell that I had hoped was gone was still there. Bummer! I then tried repeated hot washes to wash out any residue that might be in my diapers and this didn’t help either. I tried using vinegar in the prerinse, which I also heard helps and that did absolutely nothing either. At this point the ammonia buildup was so bad that it was causing R to have a rash and I felt terrible and like I was going to have to give up. I have soft water, so I didn’t attempt all the stripping techniques that are mentioned for hard water (calgon and RLR are a couple of ideas for hard water).
Finally, after hours of googling, I decided to try some bleach. I had a girl tell me that she had to bleach her diapers and then go to Tide detergent and she never had ammonia problems again. She said it was caused from the diapers not getting clean enough. I have also read the other side of the ammonia argument that says it is from detergent buildup. I would love to know what truly causes it as I am not a chemist and have no clue. I just know that it stinks. Maybe I am a cloth diaper failure because I broke down and used bleach. Perhaps that super elite cloth diapering mamas who have magical powers and get no ammonia stinkies will write me off forever and ever as a cloth diaper reject. I know that using bleach it is something that most warn against and try to avoid but I decided to give it a go. I was out of ideas and didn’t want to give up on my cute fluff but I couldn’t let something that was supposed to be good for Roz stink and burn her butt.
I will mention here that I have a top loader washing machine. I ran a cold rinse on all my afflicted diapers. After that was done, I pulled all the diapers out and let the water run for a hot wash/cold rinse cycle. I ran a large size load and once the washer was full of water I put in a quarter cup of bleach. I closed the lid and let it agitate for a minute. I then added 2 TBSP of the Tide Original powdered detergent that I had purchased to replace my failed homemade version. Then I put my prefolds back into the washer. I let the hot wash/cold rinse finish and then ran one final cold rinse to get all the bleach out of the diaper. After they came out of the dryer, I was anxious and admittedly a little bit nervous to try the next diaper. If this had failed, I didn’t know what to do next. I was at a loss.
I quickly put a diaper on R and waited. Unfortunately, when practicing Elimination Communication, it takes a little bit longer for a diaper to actually get pee in because I catch most of her pees in the potty. I couldn’t wait for a “miss” so I could smell her diaper. I have heard that cloth diapering mamas are a bit twisted but I didn’t believe it until it happened to me!!! So as soon as I had a miss, I yanked the diaper off of her and took a HUGE wiff. I only smelled pee! No burn your nostrils ammonia smell. Just pee…well and a little bit of Tide…I hoped at that moment this would not be an issue later.
Over the next month, I used Tide. I used 2 TBSP for a large load in my top loader washer machine. I did a cold rinse with no detergent, followed by a hot wash/cold rinse with my detergent and finished up with another cold rinse. I did notice that I still smelled the Tide after all of this but it didn’t seem to cause any problems at first. After about two weeks of this routine, I started to notice a rash on R’s delicates. Oh no.
We had recently went out-of-town and as ashamed as I am to admit it, I was lazy and used disposables the whole time. While she was in disposables, her rash had completely disappeared. Since I didn’t want to believe that it was the Tide that was causing the problems, I decided that she just couldn’t handle any moisture on her skin. Most pocket diapers use fleece as the inner liner because they are stay-dry. I decided to try to make my own fleece liners. I had found some cheap fleece blankets that I cut into rectangles. I boiled the extra color out of them and cleaned them well. After a week of using these liners she still had the rash. Ack!
I had also washed some of her laundry with a detergent that had a fragrance in it and started noticing rough, red, eczema-like patches all over her skin. So I now realize that my little one has super sensitive skin. I talked to several girls and they told me that maybe I needed to do extra rinses to get all the Tide out. At that point, I decided that to keep doing loads and loads of extra rinses to get rid of the Tide would completely negate the cost effectiveness of cloth diapering.
So my next step was to go to a cloth diaper approved detergent. I started with Rocking Green because I found a good deal on the holiday scent (Sugar Ray Plum-Yummy!) on Black Friday. Once I got my new detergent, I ran several rinses without detergent to get any remaining Tide out of my diapers. After my first use, I will say that I still had rash issues. I kept at it with the Rocking Green and I noticed several weeks into it that I haven’t had any rash issues at all! I think it just took a while to get the Tide residue out of her diapers. I do have to change her immediately if we have a miss or she will get a bit red but nothing like the detergent and ammonia related redness she had before.
So my current wash routine is 2 TBSP Rocking Green to a large load full load of diapers. I do cold rinse, hot wash/cold rinse and a final cold rinse. I wash every other day. Lately in two days I have only been using 10 or so diapers because she is on the potty so often. When that is the case, I only use a medium-sized load in my top loader. That way the diapers can scrub each other clean…if there is too much water they just float around and don’t scrub against each other. At this point, I have only had ammonia issues in my night-time diaper, but I have found that I have to rinse that out after she wakes up or I get buildup in the diaper that turns into ammonia stinkies. I am loving my Rocking Green at this point and have had no stains in my diapers either.
The one thing I have found in the cloth diapering community is that we are constantly tweaking and revising our washing routine to find what works so I am sure this won’t be the final chapter.
Stay tuned because soon I am going to post my adventures in the Barn-smelling diaper I bought used off the cloth diaper swap.