Troubleshooting that blasted barnyard diaper smell

I recently moved into my house. I mean, we’re talking “recent” as in the first weekend of March. We had to purchase a new washer and dryer and I was hopeful that I’d be able to find a conventional washer like the one I left behind at our old house. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. It was nearly impossible to find a good old, non-HE washer and the ones that we did find didn’t work with our already installed gas hook up.

The first few months of washing were fine and I didn’t even notice the “stink” that some say can accompany diapers that are washed in HE machines. Then, as time went on, slowly but surely my daughter’s diapers smelled like a farm after they were dried in the dryer. Now, I may just be stubborn or I may be tired with life and doing laundry, whatever the case (and it’s probably the latter) it’s been far too long of having smelly diapers. Things got really bad when I noticed that she smelled like a barnyard every time she peed in her diaper.

Frustrated, but needing a solution to the problem, I spent the entire day today washing all of her diapers. Now, this has been months in the making (blasted HE washing machine) so I’m doing this all by trial and error. I know that it isn’t my detergent (I use Eco Sprout) and I know that I am using enough. The short Google search I did on the subject led me to conclude that the issue was probably related to the detergent not getting rinsed out adequately. In my old house, when I had my perfect non-HE washing machine, I could wash my diapers as follows, with each load on the “super” setting for size so I could get the most water:

1. Warm pre-wash

2. Hot wash with one cold rinse with detergent

Then, we moved and that routine did not work at all. I should know better but it’s just further proof that sometimes taking the easy way out doesn’t really guarantee the best results. It really did take about three months for the smell to emerge.

How did I fix this?

Simple. I rinsed the heck out of all of those diapers.

1. Warm pre-wash

2. Hot wash with cold rinse with detergent

3. 3 hot washes with cold rinses with no detergent

4. 1 cold rinse and spin cycle

I wanted to do this before resorting to other stripping methods. I had done two Eco Sprout overnight soaks which temporarily helped with the smell, however, when the diapers were washed and worn I’d have the same barnyard smell. After all of those washes without detergent that water was pristine. See the picture?

Washing Barnyard Diapers. Kelly Wells

I’ll let you know next month what comes of this crazy rinsing. I will not be doing this for every load and I’m hoping that I’ll only have to do this once since there were months upon months of build up, whether it was detergent or bodily fluids. (Now, that’s disgusting to think about!) I think I may go with the Dawn method if this doesn’t work…tune in next time.

About Bert Anderson

Elizabeth AKA "Bert" Anderson is a married stay-at-home mom of two residing in the Twin Cities. She started using cloth diapers in 2009 as a first time mom. Don't be too impressed by her ambition, her husband told her they were doing it to save money. After a few weeks of using cloth diapers she fell in love and wants to tell anyone she meets that if she can do it ANYONE can do it! Bert loves to write about cloth diapers, being a mom, and her recently acquired healthy lifestyle on her blog First Time Mom. After all, there's a first time for everything!
Tags: by Bert, cloth diapers, odor issues, stripping cloth diapers, troubleshooting, washing cloth diapers

One Response to Troubleshooting that blasted barnyard diaper smell

  1. Emma says:

    Is there any update to this?

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