One tablespoon… that was the amount of detergent I used to wash a load of diapers in my high efficiency washer. I had just started cloth diapering and wanted to make sure I was doing everything right. I'd heard when it comes to washing cloth diapers less is more, and I should be using much less detergent than I use on my regular laundry. I measured out each load with the scoop that came with my package of detergent, and when I lost that scoop, I used a designated measuring spoon.  

diaper laundry and detergent scoop

Compared to how much soap I used to wash my regular laundry (in my extremely-hard well water), this seemed like a miniscule amount. I was a cloth diaper newbie, but I wondered, how in the world was this going to get my diapers clean?? The answer… it wasn’t. A mere two weeks in and I was on my computer googling…

 “Why do my cloth diapers stink”


 “What is stripping cloth diapers”


 “How do I strip cloth diapers” 

I was amazed to see as I typed my questions, the rest of the words would just automatically pop up! I obviously wasn’t the first person to ask these questions. There must be many others who have struggled with this issue... 

I found instructions to strip (get rid of build up causing stink and/or leaks) on the manufacturer’s website, and went for it. The good news? After stripping the diapers, the stink was GONE. The bad news… after another couple weeks, it was back. I started marking on the calendar when I had stripped them, and tried adding an additional half of a scoop to my loads, hoping to stretch out the time in between stripping. I tried rewashing and extra rinses, but the smell just kept coming back. Many times I considered throwing in the towel, and throwing out the diapers! I was committed to cloth diapering (mainly out of necessity, since we had gone from a two-income home to one!), but I could imagine anyone else struggling with stink as much as I was may have easily given up.  

After googling and googling, and googling some more, I finally came to the realization that my diapers stunk because they weren't getting thoroughly clean. I ended up switching detergents, and began using the recommended amount per load size. It made sense… diapers are just like any other load of laundry, only dirtier. Why would I use less than the amount of detergent than it takes to get my regular laundry clean? 

Finally, clean diapers!! Month after month, I happily turned the pages of the calendar without having to mark that I had stripped diapers. I figured out, in my situation, less detergent is more when it comes to cloth diapering... more stripping! By using the recommended amount of detergent per load, our diaper laundry problems were solved! Well, for the most part. After serveral months without having any issues with stink or having to strip, we started having trouble with mineral build up from our hard water. But that's a blog for another day... ;)

*Disclaimer: There are many variables that can contribute to issues with stink. How much detergent you're using, how much water (he vs top-loader), water type (hard vs soft), whether you are using natural or synthetic fibers... all these factors come into play when you are troubleshooting a wash routine. What worked for me may not work for others. If you are having issues with stink, contact your manufacturer so they can help you troubleshoot and offer suggestions that will keep your warranty from being voided.  

*Although I am compensated for my time writing, all opinions are 100% my own.



Stephanie Beck is a busy mama of four. She enjoys being outdoors and spending time with her family. Stephanie started her blog, Apron Strings Attached, because she wanted to share her experiences with raising kids, breastfeeding struggles and success, and cloth diapering. She now enjoys blogging about life in cloth diapers for TGN.


Leave a comment! 
Have you ever dealt with stinky diapers? What factors do you think contributed and what solved it for you?