By Steve Graham, Hometalk
Cloth diapers can save money (despite a substantial initial investment) and reduce landfill waste, but cleaning them requires effort. All diapers smell, almost by definition. However, the smell of cloth diapers can linger long beyond trash day and spread far beyond the nursery if the diapers aren’t washed and handled properly. I have been using cloth diapers and following most of these rules for the first 11 months of my baby’s life, and I’m happy to say that they work and they are easy to follow.
- Change diapers regularly during the day. Soiled diapers should be changed immediately, both to avoid diaper rash and reduce odors. Wet diapers should be changed every two to three hours. This will keep baby more comfortable, and will avoid stale urine smells. Babies urinate about 20 times a day. Fresh urine should smell very little, but the salts in urine gradually break down into pungent ammonia.
- Change the baby once at night. After a few months, babies no longer regularly poop at night, but you could still have 12 hours of pee building up and breaking down into ammonia in an overnight diaper (assuming you are blessed with a good sleeper). Keep the lights dim, and a quick overnight change will barely awaken baby. Full disclosure: this is one rule I do not follow. I don’t think it’s worth the trouble, and I use an overnight double liner to keep baby’s bum dry. To be sure, the smell of his overnight diaper really wakes me up in the morning, but I take care of the smell fairly quickly.
- Rinse diapers. Scrape or rinse all solid waste out of diapers. Some parents spray off urine into the toilet, but most put wet diapers straight into the pail and use a rinse cycle (see more below).
- Use an open diaper pail or bag. It may seem counterintuitive, but leaving the diaper pail lid cracked will allow more air circulation and reduce smells. Also wipe out the pail with a non-toxic disinfectant regularly, and air out the pail in disinfecting sunshine while washing diapers, if possible.