Smelly cloth nappies stink. Seriously.
Thankfully, the cause of smelly nappies is usually very easy to pinpoint and even easier to fix.
Here are the most common causes for a smelly nappy and how to fix the problem!
To do that, we have to make sure we:
Apart from keeping bacteria at bay, washing nappies at least every other day will also help eliminate stink. Leaving them too long between washes will give odours a chance to set in. Leaving nappies unwashed for more than a couple of days can also damage the fibres of your nappies and may contribute to the development of mould. It’s a really easy way to prevent a lot of nasty problems, so definitely try and wash at least every second day. More information about mould prevention can be found HERE.
As soon as a nappy comes off baby, be sure to dump any solids in the toilet and then give it a quick rinse in the laundry tub or with the nappy sprayer. Rinsing prior to dry-pailing (storing in a dry nappy bucket or wet bag) will rid the nappy of excess urine and soiling, thereby reducing the possibility of smells setting in. This has the added benefit of protecting your nappy fibres from damage which can be caused by acidic urine.
High efficiency, front loader washing machines use less water and it can mean that your nappies aren’t cleaned properly each time. This will mean your nappies come out of the wash still smelling like urine or smelling strongly of detergent.
If we’re doing all three above and STILL pulling smelly cloth nappies out of the machine, the issue could require some tweaking to the care routine.
Here’s a handy little flowchart to break down the possibilities.
A word about strip washing…
Personally, I think strip washing can create more problems than it’s supposed to fix. A relatively recent phenomenon, there is much talk in cloth nappy industry circles about the controversial strip wash. Many manufacturers suggest that if properly cared for, nappies shouldn’t require “stripping” at all, let alone frequently. I have cloth nappy-ed 6 children over the past 12 years and have strip washed twice during that time. Both times, prior to storing newborn nappies (and it probably wasn’t even necessary!).
Generally defined as the process by which oils are removed from nappies, you should really only need to strip wash if you suspect barrier creams or fabric softeners have caused oil build up in the nappies.
As a general rule, your nappies should smell like nothing when they come out of the machine or off the clothesline.