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Old 05-30-2015, 04:40 PM   #1
allybrawney
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smelly diapers :( please help

Our diapers are so stinky! They have no odor when I take them out of the wash, but smell like pee/yuck straight from the dryer. Not having issues with repelling or absorbancy, just stink. Please help me troubleshoot, I'm so frustrated.

Here's the scoop:
*LG HE top loader
*Charlie's soap (Controversial, I know, but we use it for all of our laundry, my husband and I like it a lot, never had issues with chemical burns or clothes not coming clean. I am willing to try another detergent for our diapers if i HAVE to, but would rather not as it works well for us otherwise)
*we only use hemp and bamboo flats with either wool or PUL/fleece pockets
*wash every other day
*we use disposable liners for poo
*diapers are stored in an open wet bag between washing days

Wash routine:
1) cold rinse & spin (I don't have the option to change rinse temp)
2) hot wash cycle on heavy duty setting with extra water and 1 large scoop of charlie's
3) additional cold rinse
4) covers hung to dry, usually tumble dry the flats

I've tried liquid tide because I kept hearing how wonderful it is, but it smells so bad. Makes our whole house smell like sour laundry and the diapers definitely didn't smell clean.

I've tried extra rinses, hot washing without detergent, sunning, adding a bit of bleach, doing a sacred clean-diaper-dance. They still stink.

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Old 05-30-2015, 04:55 PM   #2
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Re: smelly diapers :( please help

Powdered tide does the trick for us. Nothing else I tried has worked as well.
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Old 05-30-2015, 04:57 PM   #3
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Charlie's doesn't at well with other detergents from what I know. I would suggest switching detergents but you will need to switch for your clothes too I think because of the Charlie's issue.

Personally I use tide free and gentle on our diapers. It works and my last 3 kids have had insanely sensitive skin. YDD got a chemical burn rash from some other free and clear detergent when she was like 18 months old. It was horrific.

I've been cloth diapering for 6 1/2 years straight with no break and what I know is find a detergent and STICK WITH IT. Don't keep changing around it makes it worse and hard to pinpoint the problem. Wash on as hot as possible.

I've never had to bleach or anything crazy. I did have to strip with dawn to get the offending detergent out when DD got that chemical burn
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Old 05-30-2015, 05:14 PM   #4
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Re: smelly diapers :( please help

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Originally Posted by Fashionably Green Baby View Post
Personally I use tide free and gentle on our diapers. It works and my last 3 kids have had insanely sensitive skin. YDD got a chemical burn rash from some other free and clear detergent when she was like 18 months old. It was horrific.
This is why I'm so reluctant to try something new. DD and I have really sensitive skin. Charlie's is the only thing we've never had a problem with... until now
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Old 05-30-2015, 09:04 PM   #5
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Re: smelly diapers :( please help

Honestly I didn't read past Charlies. I suggest using a mainstream, non-natural detergent and you should be good.

I use liquid Tide F&C and occasional bleach and everything smells great. I also have super hard water.
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Old 05-31-2015, 10:23 PM   #6
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Re: smelly diapers :( please help

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Originally Posted by allybrawney View Post
I am willing to try another detergent for our diapers if i HAVE to, but would rather not as it works well for us otherwise
I get what you mean but here's the thing: if your diapers smell they aren't clean. Dirty diapers can hurt your baby so Charlie's isn't working for you.

I can see a few thing that would help...

Your prewash needs to be an actual wash (speed wash or similar works) and it needs detergent. If you're only rinsing, the pee and poop isn't coming off so essentially your main wash is being done in dirty water.

Don't try to fool your washer by using extra water. Your washer knows how much water to use. Doing this wastes water and can actually make it harder for your diapers to get clean. HE washers rely on friction to clean and too much water prevents this.

Change detergents. As you eluded to, Charlie's is dangerous and as I mentioned, it isn't working for your diapers anyway. Most mainstream detergents work really well including lots of plant based and free and clear detergents.

There is no need for an extra rinse. This wastes water and can actually cause hard water build up which can lead to dirty stinky diapers. Detergent build up is a myth, mineral build up is real. Skip the extra rinse.

I also can't stand the smell of Tide. Many people like it and have success with it but there are tons of other options. You can start here but there are many, many others:


Do you have hard water? If so, you may need to add a water softener such as borax or Calgon. This can make a world of difference.

I have an LG HE front loader and very soft water. The best thing I've found for us is Arm and Hammer F&C liquid. I used to use Nellie's and thought it was working for me too besides the stink. I'm so grateful someone pointed out that the stink meant it was not working. Really hope you find a solution that works for you!
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Old 05-31-2015, 11:27 PM   #7
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Re: smelly diapers :( please help

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Originally Posted by Phantomfoodie View Post
I get what you mean but here's the thing: if your diapers smell they aren't clean. Dirty diapers can hurt your baby so Charlie's isn't working for you.

I can see a few thing that would help...

Your prewash needs to be an actual wash (speed wash or similar works) and it needs detergent. If you're only rinsing, the pee and poop isn't coming off so essentially your main wash is being done in dirty water.

Don't try to fool your washer by using extra water. Your washer knows how much water to use. Doing this wastes water and can actually make it harder for your diapers to get clean. HE washers rely on friction to clean and too much water prevents this.

Change detergents. As you eluded to, Charlie's is dangerous and as I mentioned, it isn't working for your diapers anyway. Most mainstream detergents work really well including lots of plant based and free and clear detergents.

There is no need for an extra rinse. This wastes water and can actually cause hard water build up which can lead to dirty stinky diapers. Detergent build up is a myth, mineral build up is real. Skip the extra rinse.

I also can't stand the smell of Tide. Many people like it and have success with it but there are tons of other options. You can start here but there are many, many others:


Do you have hard water? If so, you may need to add a water softener such as borax or Calgon. This can make a world of difference.

I have an LG HE front loader and very soft water. The best thing I've found for us is Arm and Hammer F&C liquid. I used to use Nellie's and thought it was working for me too besides the stink. I'm so grateful someone pointed out that the stink meant it was not working. Really hope you find a solution that works for you!
Detergent buildup isn't a myth. It just isn't necessarily as common as we are often led to believe. I inherited prefolds with major detergent build up and serious repelling issues. Multiple washes sans detergent solved that problem easily enough. Just a bit of a hassle.

I do agree dirty diapers can hurt and it doesn't look like Charlie's is working for cleaning diapers. I have tried nearly every detergent on the market(not including natural ones), With toddler pee and chronic diarrhea nothing but an intensive, complicated wash routine has done the trick for us. My wash routine is complex now. It didn't used to be but things have changed.

I do
Step 1-prerinse sometimes 2 prerinses, just depends on how many diarrhea diapers we have in the load.
Step 2-prewash-full scoop of detergent
Step 3-cycle with only 1/4 cup of bleach-tried doing without but wound up with issues again
Step 4-wash cycle with 30 minute soak and full scoop of detergent
Step 5/6-double rinse with vinegar in the final rinse.
Step 7-dry completely in the dryer.

Like I said, complicated and long. My choices were down to a complicated routine, disposables, or living with ammonia. I chose the complicated routine.

If you want to stick with Charlie's I would suggest using detergent in your prerinse turning it into a prewash. See if that doesn't work. Then go from there. With skin issues I can understand trying different detergents will be scary. I would hate to inadvertently hurt my kiddos.

Last edited by qsefthuko; 05-31-2015 at 11:29 PM.
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Old 06-01-2015, 10:17 AM   #8
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Re: smelly diapers :( please help

Quote:
Originally Posted by qsefthuko View Post
Detergent buildup isn't a myth. It just isn't necessarily as common as we are often led to believe. I inherited prefolds with major detergent build up and serious repelling issues. Multiple washes sans detergent solved that problem easily enough.
Do you know what the previous owner was washing with? How do you know it was detergent build up? Just trying to learn and understand, not being smart with you. Detergent buildup when using actual detergent is a myth because detergents are made of surfactants which have a hydrophilic end that clings to water and a hydrophobic end that clings to dirt or in this case, waste. When the water is spun from the diapers, the detergent (with dirt attached )is flung out of the fabric with it.

Yes, soaps and other ingredients (fabric softener, sodium cocoate) can cause a coating of the fibers which would lead to repelling but technically thats not detergent build up.

Doing too many washes in hard water without detergent causes mineral build up which is very common. The minerals trap bacteria and ammonia which causes stink. This can be fixed by properly stripping and then washing with a water softener (assuming you have hard water). Not saying thats what you did, just an fyi for the op.
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Old 06-01-2015, 01:02 PM   #9
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Re: smelly diapers :( please help

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantomfoodie View Post
I get what you mean but here's the thing: if your diapers smell they aren't clean. Dirty diapers can hurt your baby so Charlie's isn't working for you.

I can see a few thing that would help...

Your prewash needs to be an actual wash (speed wash or similar works) and it needs detergent. If you're only rinsing, the pee and poop isn't coming off so essentially your main wash is being done in dirty water.

Don't try to fool your washer by using extra water. Your washer knows how much water to use. Doing this wastes water and can actually make it harder for your diapers to get clean. HE washers rely on friction to clean and too much water prevents this.

Change detergents. As you eluded to, Charlie's is dangerous and as I mentioned, it isn't working for your diapers anyway. Most mainstream detergents work really well including lots of plant based and free and clear detergents.

There is no need for an extra rinse. This wastes water and can actually cause hard water build up which can lead to dirty stinky diapers. Detergent build up is a myth, mineral build up is real. Skip the extra rinse.

I also can't stand the smell of Tide. Many people like it and have success with it but there are tons of other options. You can start here but there are many, many others:


Do you have hard water? If so, you may need to add a water softener such as borax or Calgon. This can make a world of difference.

I have an LG HE front loader and very soft water. The best thing I've found for us is Arm and Hammer F&C liquid. I used to use Nellie's and thought it was working for me too besides the stink. I'm so grateful someone pointed out that the stink meant it was not working. Really hope you find a solution that works for you!
So much yes here. One thing to add- I actually use liquid Tide and it has worked well both when we lived in a house with soft water, and now, when we live in a house with harder water. Most of what I've read seems to indicate that a lot of people use powder because they have the idea that powder rinses out better, but there was a thread I was on somewhere (I now have no idea if it was here on DS or somewhere else because it was over 2 years ago) where someone had written a letter or an email to P&G asking about Tide for cloth diapers, and the rep. who responded indicated that their liquid detergent should rinse out as well as, if not better than, their powdered detergent. I think the thread WAS on here, and I think it was about the time that Tide had stopped making the original powder and started with the ultra and everyone was freaking out. And I LOVE this chart.
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Last edited by jessnye; 06-01-2015 at 01:05 PM.
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Old 06-01-2015, 03:30 PM   #10
allybrawney
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Re: smelly diapers :( please help

I appreciate the suggestions. A few more questions, if you don't mind.

1) we've been using charlie's for more than 2 years on our regular laundry and for almost a year on our diapers. We haven't had stink issues before now. Could it be that they just needed to be stripped or have the washing routine tweaked?

2) Too little water is a problem too, right? I use the "add extra water" option on my machine because of the diaper soup/stew/chili analogy. regular setting gives us "chili" while adding water gives us "stew". I can tell that there is still lots of friction going on.

3) what about adding biokleen bacout to my diaper washing routine?

Thanks!
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