Dealing with ammonia in cloth diapers


Jack “helping” with the diaper laundry


Ever since Jack became a toddler, we have been dealing with ammonia issues in our cloth diapers… Thankfully nothing bad ever happened like him getting a rash from it, but the diapers smelled really strongly right after he peed in them, although they smelled clean out of the washer. Our favorite diapers¬†are these Bumgenius 4.0s which we use with organic cotton inserts (after having tried wool and giving up because you can’t really launder them).

Here is a list of everything I tried (unsuccessfully) to fix the ammonia issue:

  • Different eco friendly detergents like Rockin Green (and their special ammonia bouncer), Molly’s suds, and Eco spouts
  • Boiling all my diapers on the stove
  • Using Oxygen bleach
  • Bac-out stain remover
  • Soaking the diapers for 1 hour to overnight
  • Doing extra rinses
  • Running inserts through the dishwasher on high heat (!)
  • Sunning them
  • Tea tree oil added to the wash

On facebook groups I often saw people saying that non-eco friendly detergents worked better, but my family has super sensitive skin, so I was thinking about it but ended up not trying it.

The solution I ended up using when I found some at my dad’s house and decided to try it was sadly: horribly un-eco-friendly Bleach! I saw that they had it so I figured at least I wouldn’t be buying a whole bottle of something toxic, and I put in about 1/4 cup with the wash cycle, and it completely worked. Plus, the inserts were so bright white which I never got with all the eco friendly methods (not that it matters how diaper inserts look). I was obviously sad that I had to end up using something so bad for the environment and possibly your health, but I made sure to do extra rinses to get it out, and Jack didn’t have any reaction to the diapers. Hopefully we won’t have to use it again too soon!

Jack has been doing great with letting us know he needs to poop on the potty at 19 months now, but with peeing he still often prefers to play and doesn’t want to go to the bathroom. Hopefully by the time he is 2 we can get him signaling for pees more often and I can stop doing laundry every few days!

Boiling cloth diapers to get rid of ammonia

Help! Ammonia in my diapers!

Help! Ammonia in my diapers!

We’ve been having ammonia issues for months now, and I’ve tried Rockin Green detergent, their ammonia special detergent, and Eco Sprout detergent (based on recommendations of natural detergents from friends).

I used to just wash the diapers on one cycle, and I started doing two cycles (one hot, one cold/warm) and a soak beforehand.

But our diapers still smelled SUPER bad after they got pee in them, and the overnight diaper would be scary!

Thank goodness Jack never got ammonia burn, but the idea of that scared me which is why I kept trying different things.

I finally tried boiling diapers over the stove for 15 minutes, and it finally worked!

I boiled them for 15 minutes and then washed them as usual, and they didn’t smell like anything after they got peed on. Thank goodness!

The process was time consuming because I don’t have a huge pot so I couldn’t do too many at one time, but it’s worth it to take care of the problem, and probably only needs to be done once every few months I hope.


I’ll continue my usual routine with boiling occasionally (we live in an apartment with paid laundry which is why I don’t do extra rinses and stuff)

  1. Wash on hot with Rockin Green ammonia detergent (open the lid to let the diapers soak for 30-60 minutes when the water is full)
  2. Wash on warm with Eco Sprout detergent with other clothes and things added in, so we can still get out other laundry done without the process taking a whole day
  3. Dry prefolds in the dryer, and hang the covers/pockets with PUL to dry