How to Troubleshoot Your Cloth Diaper Dilemmas

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TroubleshootingMost moms have very few issues with their diapers, but every once in a while you may encounter a problem that requires you to tweak your routine. It is almost impossible to ruin a good quality cloth diaper and almost every problem can be easily fixed. Below are some common issues and the best way to solve them.


“My diapers are leaking!”

Increase Absorption: As babies grow, their bladders grow too! My toddler only pees a few times a day but when she does I need a diaper that is seriously thirsty. Many moms start diapering when their little ones are small and expect their pocket with one insert or a single prefold to continue to take care of the job. Instead, try adding an extra insert, doubler, or small prefold. Nighttime tests the absorbency of many cloth diapers usually need some extra help for overnight. I also love using hemp liners because they are 25% more absorbent than cotton.

Remove Build-Up: If your diapers absorb very little or not at all, you may have an issue with mineral or detergent deposits. Diaper creams, fabric softeners and hard or soft water are common culprits. If your inserts or prefolds are basically dry and your baby’s clothes (or your floor) are wet, you may need to strip your diapers of these deposits. Several methods exist, but my favorite is just to do a regular wash and rinse on warm for several extra cycles. I would start with two cycles and keep rinsing until you see no suds while the diapers are agitating. If hard or soft water is the problem (you can usually find out from your local water service), you may need a detergent like Rockin’ Green, which is specially formulated for hard or soft water. If you are still having problems, you can try the Dawn strip. This can be a bit harsh so I only do it if I have a serious issue. Instead of normal detergent, use a small amount (start with 1-2 teaspoons) of regular blue Dawn dish detergent which is especially good for ridding fibers of oily residue. As the agitation starts you should see a lot of foam. Follow the wash with as many rinse cycles as needed until you see no suds while the diapers are agitating.



Replace Elastic: If a diaper has been used for several years, or even several babies, you may need to change out the elastic. Lots of wear and the heat from your dryer can eventually cause the elastic to break down. Giving the leg and waist elastic a good tug should yield a healthy amount of stretch. If you are handy with a needle and thread, just rip the seam, switch it out, and sew it back up. If you are not sewing savvy, there are many moms online that offer diaper refurbishment for a reasonable fee.

“My diapers are stained!”

Time in the Sun: Hands down, the best stain remover for your diapers is sun. If you can dry your diapers on the line outdoors you get the benefit of the great odor killing and stain removing power of the sun as well as benefit from avoiding the harsh heat of the dryer. Even laying your diapers on your deck will work wonderfully. Be careful with your colorful covers, however. Sunlight can fade those cute colors and patterns.

A Little Bleach: Your manufacturer’s recommendation on using bleach will vary from brand to brand, but I have found that most diaper inserts or prefolds can stand up to a little bleach from time to time without damage or fading. Adding about 3/4 of a cup to your initial soak/rinse or your wash can help remove pesky stains and odors.

“My diapers smell funky!”

Adjust Your Wash Routine: Funky diapers are usually a result of ammonia build up from not getting clean enough. If diapers retain an ammonia smell or eau de barnyard AFTER they come out of the wash, you need to tweak your wash routine. Many factors come into play, but the most likely problems are that the wash water is not hot enough or you are using the wrong detergent. So, turn up your water heater a few degrees and try a new detergent. A detergent made especially for cloth diapers like Little Love Buns, Rockin’ Green, or Eco Sprout is a good place to start.    

Remove Build-Up: If you only have odors occasionally or they build over a long period of time, a periodic strip may solve your problem. You can try any of the methods mentioned above or try a bit of bleach. If you would like to take a chemical free route, try adding some baking soda to your initial rinse and some vinegar to your final rinse.

Hopefully, your diapers will be sparkling, fresh and keeping your baby perfectly dry from here on out. If you have a problem, don’t give up! The benefits of cloth far outweigh any inconveniences. Just keep trying and you will find a solution. Try reaching out to your local real diaper circle or cloth diaper shop if you need more specific advice and Happy Diapering!

NOVA Real Cloth Diaper Circle:

The Cloth Nook: