January 13, 2011

When did this become a Monkey Cage?

If you've done cloth for very long, this scenario may have happened once or twice:

You walk into your baby's room only to discover that a band of invisible monkeys has moved in and the place reeks.  When did this room become a monkey cage?

That musty, musky, stinky odor is coming from the diaper pail.  But I thought cloth wasn't supposed to stink? 

Good news...it's not.  And a stinky diaper pail is usually pretty easy to solve.  Here are my tips:

1. Unless you have a dog that likes to eat diapers, leave the lid off of your diaper pail.  That's right, take it all the way off and leave it off.  The more air that circulates in the pail, the less diapers will smell. 

2. Wash every other day.  Poopy diapers stink.  Poopy diapers left for 4 days stink a lot worse.  Wash often and the smells don't have time to build up. 

3. Follow a good wash routine.  Often the cause of a stinky diaper pail isn't the pail, but rather the diapers themselves.  Okay, that sounds really obvious but follow me here...properly cleaned diapers usually don't smell.  But if they have detergent residue build-up, then they're going to smell a lot worse.  If your diapers stink as you take them off of your baby (ammonia, poopy when they aren't, etc) then it's time for a diaper stripping

4. Use a washable pail liner.  Tossing diapers into a plastic trash can is fine, but even if you wash the can out every use, the plastic will eventually hold odors and then it stinks even when it's empty.   A washable pail liner protects your diaper pail and makes it easy to wash the diapers...simply lift out the pail liner, dump out diapers into the washing machine, then toss the liner in. 

5. If your pail is still odor-ific, use a deodorizer like Fluff Dust.   Shake a little bit over the diapers (just a dusting!) every time you put a diaper in the pail.  Fluff Dust absorbs odors and is safe to use in moderation with all brands of cloth diapers.

6. Late addition tip!  Thanks to Brandy for reminding me of this... most pail liners and zippered wet bags have a fabric swatch sewn inside.  Simply put 1-2 drops (a little goes a long way) of your favorite essential oil on the swatch to help mask odors.  We like lavender and tea tree oil, but there are lots of choices.  


I just use a zippered wet bag hung on the laundry room door... We never smell anything until I open up the bag to put the diapers in the washer every other day :)

Thanks for this post - I've been wondering about smelly diapers, and worried because the "pail" I got is a plastic trash can with a lid that isn't very tight fitting. But it sounds like that's okay because it'll let air in! (Plus I have a liner - yah!)