Friday, May 6, 2011

How to make cloth diapers smell fresh

When I have the energy, I like to use cloth diapers on L, but I've noticed that over time they've gotten more and more smelly, even after washing.

I use a battery of techniques to try and combat this. None of them get the nappies smelling totally new again, but they do help.

My nappy freshening tips and tricks
  • Wash on high, even though it's just a half load, and set it to the longest wash cycle on a warm setting. 
  • Add 1/2c white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser every wash.
  • Dry nappies in full sunshine on the washing line for one to two days.
  • Every now and then soak nappies in a bucket of warm water mixed with Ecostore Laundry Soaker & Stain Remover overnight. 
  • Every now and then run the nappies through washing machine twice - first on the warm wash described above, and then on a hot wash with 1/2c white vinegar added to the fabric softener dispenser and 1/2c baking soda added to the washing powder dispenser. The combination of hot water, vinegar and baking soda helps to break down any washing powder that has built up in the diapers.
I think the step that makes the most difference is adding white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser. So if I could only do one thing besides a regular wash, that would be it. 

What are your tips for getting cloth diapers smelling fresh again?


  1. good on you for using fabric nappies!!!! It must be so much work, but I thank you on behalf on the environment :)

  2. I'm still battling the same issue. The vinegar does help, but there is still a lingering smell even after that. I think the full sunshine helps too, but that is getting harder to come by as winter approaches. Any tips would be welcomed by me also. Jodie

  3. I have not had any smell issues at all since buying my front loading washing machine 5 years ago. Because it heats its own water I can wash the nappies on hot (30 - 60 degrees depending on how many, how soiled they are and how long I've had them sitting around before washing).
    I am so pleased I bought a front loader. I use 2 Tbsp of powder for each load which gets well rinsed with the multiple rinse cycles.

    Prior to getting a front loader I did notice smell issues.
    I used 1/2 (or less) the recommended amount of detergent, fully rinsed the nappies prior to washing as well as a full rinse cycle after the main cycle. Line dried.
    I tried the vinegar, baking soda and Eco store soaker but had much more success with Sard Wonder Soaker or Napisan so I guess it is a toss up over whether you want to use less natural stuff with more chemicals or have smelly nappies!
    You can add a couple of drops of Tea Tree Oil or Lavender Oil in the wash for a fresh fragrance but I never tried this.

  4. I put baking soda in the nappy bucket to keep the smell down, as well as adding drops of Tea Tree Oil in the bucket before I wash... helps heaps

  5. Thanks everyone for your tips! Looks like I've got some more experimenting to do. :)


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