Do cloth diapers stink?
It is one of the most common questions that we get from parents who are not sure about reusable diapers.
Is it hygienic?
Will it not stink?
It is great that they are washable diapers, but will they come completely clean?

Well, here’s the answer – Cloth nappies do not stink UNLESS there is some reason.

What could the reason be?

Reason 1: Detergent build-up 

Reason 2: The baby cloth diapers are not getting cleaned enough 

Let’s talk about detergent build-up – This usually happens with the detergent particles that are built up in your diaper, which react with the urine.

This causes a strong ammonia smell, especially in diapers that are used overnight.

If the diapers are not getting cleaned enough – This happens in rare cases when the cloth diapers are just not getting enough detergent to get completely clean.

If the water at your place is hard water, that could also be a reason.

How to deal with the stink?

The first way is of course to prevent it. A few tips to  prevent any stink are:

  1. Use enough detergent to wash the diapers – not more, not less. Ideally, we recommend that you use a little less detergent that you would use for the same size load of regular garments.

The thumb rule is that, if there are too many suds (soap bubbles) while rinsing and if it is taking too many rinses to get rid of the suds, you might be using too much detergent.

If the diapers seem to be stinking even when just washed, it might be too less.

  1. Running a hot wash cycle once a month for the soakers (not outers) also helps maintain them
  2. If you get good sunlight in your area, then you can sun the diapers and soakers too once in a while
  3. Once a month, washing the cloth diapersin very diluted bleach can also help
  4. Quickly rinsing the diapers after removal can also help reduce the build-up. Do not soak the diapers. Only rinse and keep them till washing time.

If you already have stinking cloth diapers, here’s what you can do.

  1. First step, check if you have hard water.

Hard water reduces the effectiveness of the detergent and also causes mineral build-up in the diapers.

This can be the cause of your diaper stink.

Solution: Use a water softener to wash your diapers. Run a few hot washes (ideally till you see no suds in the water)

If this doesn’t work, try stripping the diapers using RLR (available on Amazon)

  1. If you do not get hard water, then the problem could typically be either detergent build-up or less cleaning.
  2. Do your diapers smell clean just after the wash? They should smell like clean clothes do. If yes, then the reason why they stink on peeing could be due to the detergent build-up.

Solution1: Run a few hot wash cycles on your diapers. 


Rinse clean diaper inserts in hot water (not too hot – just enough for you to be able to dip your hand in comfortably)

Do not use any detergent while rinsing the diapers in hot water.

Run the hot washes till there are no suds in the water while rinsing.

Solution 2: If this does not work, then do a bleach rinse


Soak clean diapers in bleach solution (5 ml / 5 ltr) for 15-20 minutes.

Rinse off the bleach completely, preferably in hot water

Use regular liquid bleach for this purpose.

If the diapers are not smelling clean just after wash, then you may simply need to increase the amount of detergent you are using since your diapers are not getting clean enough.

You can include your pocket diaper shells in the bleach rinse to remove any elements such as creams clinging onto it. Cover Diaper shells do not need the bleach rinse since there is no chance of any detergent build up in them.

Check our FAQ section for more information.

4 thoughts on Stink in your cloth diapers?

  • Nayana P navyaNovember 30, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    Very nice…I heard about cloth diaper but was not knowing much…it’s really very helpful for babies….

    • SuperBottomsDecember 5, 2019 at 4:52 am

      Hi Nayana,
      We are glad you think so!
      Team Superbottoms

  • HibbaDecember 5, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Thanks for the info! I was so confused by the varied tips on taking care of stinking soakers. But your website has listed all the possible reasons and their solutions very clearly.

    • SuperBottomsDecember 14, 2019 at 4:25 am

      Thank you Hibba. It makes us very glad to know we have been able to help you.
      Team Superbottoms


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