March 31, 2010

Battling the Ammonia Beast

Cloth diapers are so easy to use, but there is one really tricky spot that I often am asked about: ammonia in toddler diapers. This is a tricky beast with no single solution, but lots of things to try. We dealt with ammonia in our daughter's diapers and I tried everything, even ruining a batch of diapers in my experimentation. Assuming your detergent choice is good and your wash routine is appropriate, there are several tips that can help with ammonia. Here's what I found helped us the most:

Try soaking for 15 minutes with Oxyclean. You can soak a little longer, but no more than 2 hours since soaking can be hard on the PUL after awhile. (Oxyclean voids Happy Heiny's warranty. As far as I know, it's okay to use with all the other diapers we carry.)

You can use Bac-Out. We found Bac-Out was the solution for our ammonia issues when our daughter was that age. The best results were with spraying it directly onto each insert and diaper when we put it into the diaper pail. But that got tedious after awhile, so I tried soaking for 15 minutes in the washer with the lowest water setting and 1/4 cup of Bac-Out. That helped a lot, too, though I went through the Bac-Out faster. Some moms have found success with diluted Bac-Out to help it last longer...50% Bac-Out and 50% water.

You can bleach inserts, but I wouldn't bleach the diapers themselves unless you're completely desperate. Bleach is really hard on PUL. You won't notice any difference right away, but months later tiny pinholes will appear in the laminate, then it starts to crack. I found that out the hard way, not once but twice! Bleach voids the warranty of every diaper brand that I know of except BumGenius (they allow 1/4 cup once a month to a full load of diapers).

If you can sun your diapers, that helps some with ammonia and works wonders on stains. Wash diapers as usual, then lay or hang in the sun to dry. Diapers don't have to be outside, it works in a sunny window or car dashboard, too. It doesn't even have to be sunny. I've "sunned" diapers on rainy days. Still works, just takes longer. I think it's the UV rays that naturally bleach out stains and disinfect.
I have heard of moms having success with baking soda, or vinegar, or essential oils in the wash. These did not work for us and will void the warranties of some diaper brands, so be sure to check warranties before you try anything in your wash besides detergent.

Again, all of this assumes that you are using a good detergent and wash routine. I will address detergents and wash routines in my next post, so stay tuned!

Post is written by Heather Hicks and copyright. All rights reserved. CDO, LLC 2010


Awesome post Heather! Thanks for sharing! We love bac-out too!