Shortly after my son was out of the newborn stage we decided to cloth diaper him. My wife did extensive research, none which I can take any credit for. She became an expert on the subject and we even saw a demonstration at a baby expo in NYC. I was unsure at first, but quickly got on board when I saw the potential cost savings. Also, an added benefit to cloth diapering is less trash. There would be less trash for me to carry out on trash day and also less diapers in landfills. Once I learned that it was also helping the environment, I considered it a win win.
My wife bought a decent stock of diapers and we started to use them. There was definitely a learning curve at first, but after a little while we got the hang washing, drying and storing the dirty diapers. We then bought a few more to add to our collection. We experimented with different brands and by then we felt like cloth diaper pros. Like I said, I couldn’t take any of the credit, but I was proud of our accomplishment. At the end of the week we would run a wash of all of the diapers. Everything seemed to be going great for a while, but we after a few months we couldn’t help but start to notice an odor.
To put it simply, the diapers stunk. We scoured the internet for solutions and tried just about everything. We stripped them with bleach and soaked them with white vinegar. We even scrubbed them individually by hand, but no matter what we did we could not get the smell out. After many attempts to get the smell out, we concluded that maybe we had done something to damage the fabric. We thought that maybe the way we stored or washed them was the reason why the diapers were still holding the smell. After months of stinky and gross diapers we gave up on the whole lot and figured we would start over with a fresh set of diapers. We found some new cleaning methods online and we felt like a new approach and new set of diapers is what we needed. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The diapers still stink!
The hard place I am in now is that the diapers reek again. They smell awful and no matter what I do, they don’t seem to be coming clean. I have repeatedly washed them over and over again, and still they stink. My washing machine recently broke and while I am not blaming the diapers, I think they may have shaken something loose inside. The cloth diapers require a rinse, a wash and then another rinse and they make the machine bang around a lot because they hold so much water. Even after washing them for 3-4 hours, they still smell like urine. I think the issue is that no residential washer can spin fast enough to get all of the smelly water out. I also think they need to be boiled with extremely hot water to remove the ammonia smell deeply imbedded inside of the cloth liner.
So, as you can see I am between a diaper and a hard place. On one hand, cloth diapers are great for the environment and my pocket, but on the other hand they reek. When my toddler climbs over to me in the morning it’s like slap in the face. I would like to think I am doing something wrong, but I have tried everything to get the diapers clean, with the exception of boiling them in a witch’s cauldron for hours. What troubles me most is that I attribute the odor to the diapers not being completely clean. I don’t want my daughter wearing half dirty diapers, especially because sometimes I notice irritation on her skin.
So, what do I do? Do I continue on with the cloth diapers and accept the fact that they’re just going to smell, or do I go back to expensive disposable diapers? Maybe there is something that I am missing here and someone knows of a better method, or maybe this is just as good as it gets for the cloth diapers and the smell is something people learn to live with. If anyone has any suggestions please send them my way. I acknowledge that I could be doing something wrong and I would be more than grateful for any information.