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Signs You Need to Tweak Your Wash Routine

At Thirsties we always say diaper laundry does not have to be complicated: -Prewash on warm -Wash on hot -Add another rinse. However, during your cloth diapering journey, you may need to tweak things within your wash routine like load size, water level, detergent, amount of detergent etc. Here is a list of signs that indicate you need to tweak your wash routine as well as the possible causes behind them.

signs you need to tweak your diaper wash routine

Sign: Diapers stink after coming out of the dryer.

Potential Causes:

Diapers did not get clean enough.

  • not enough agitation
  • not enough water
  • not enough detergent

You need to clean your washing machine.

Groupies' Experiences:

“I had to add in a towel to improve agitation. I couldn't figure out why they weren't coming out super clean, came to the groupies and looked through old posts and found that suggestion - works great!” -Krista C.

“I had to switch to a stronger detergent in our prewash. We never had major issues, but sometimes things didn't smell 100% fresh. Once I made that change and used a longer main wash cycle, things come out so so clean, and I don't get a faceful of ammonia smell between the prewash and the main wash.” -Svetlana N.

Sign: Diapers stink when freshly peed in.

Potential Causes:

Ammonia buildup

  • Hard water (180ppm or higher requires softener)
  • Not enough detergent
  • Not enough water
  • Nighttime diapers need rinsing

Too many diapers in wash loads.

Groupies' Experiences:

“I suspected something was off (They started to have on off smell when the babies would wet their diapers) so I had to interrogate my husband to find out that he had been leaving off the extra rinse! On purpose! Because “it seemed long enough without it.” Trust no man with your wash routine, ladies. 😂” -Kayla R

“Once kiddos became about 9 months I had to begin rinsing night diapers to avoid ammonia build-up. And again when they began to potty train and use less diapers I had to tweak my routine.” -Ashlea F.

“I had to add more detergent to my prewash when my baby became a toddler 😭 I was getting ammonia stink.” -Katie D.

Sign: Fast developing edge wear

Potential Causes:

Too many diapers in a load

Not enough diapers to rotate use between.

Washer's spin speed is too fast.

Groupies' Experience:

"I was getting crazy edgewear and realized that I was putting too many diapers in my top-loading washer(old school with an agitator). I could tell it was too many because the pocket inserts wouldn’t agitate out and my prefolds would come out all twisted.” Mackenzie W.

Sign: Change in location, Change in your washing machine

Potential Causes:

Different water hardness / softness

Different water levels

Different agitation mechanism

Groupies' Experiences:

“I'm in the process of completely changing my wash routine. We just moved from pretty soft water to a place with really hard water. It is crazy what a difference water hardness makes. Still tweaking here and there but I had to change the detergent and the amount I was using, adding water softener, and eliminating the extra rinse at the end that was needed for softer water.”  – Kim G.

"We moved from a house with an HE washer to one with a standard washer. I figured out after a few loads of stinky diapers coming out of the dryer that I need to use more detergent since I didn't have an HE washer anymore. (I actually like this washer better than the HE now that I figured that out! - Kelli D.

Sign: Rashes, Irritation, Red marks that don't go away on legs or pressure points where diaper hits

Potential Cause(s): These issues could be a factor if you have ruled out potential fit problems.

Detergent Sensitivity

Ammonia Build Up

Detergent Build-Up (Check if there are a lot of suds in the final rinse cycle)

Groupies' Experiences:

"My kids have detergent sensitivity. They get red splotchy rashes in their diaper area. We actually had our doctor check it at one point to make sure that was the cause." -Danielle W.

"After following bad wash routine advice (not Thirsties), too much Tide caused a chemical burn. It looked almost like a sunburn but instead of flaking off the skin peels off and is a big open sore where the diaper touched." -Cheyenne S.

https://youtu.be/TLnPD3fcELo

Remember there is a solution to every bump in the road on your cloth diapering journey. Thank you to all the Thirsties Groupies who shared their cloth diapering experiences with needing to tweak their wash routines. Remember, we are always here to help troubleshoot your wash routine so feel free to contact us at support@thirstiesbaby.com.

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14 comments

  • I have experienced a few of these problems. Small tweaks were required. When I have a slightly smaller load I now know I need an extra rinse or less detergent. I am also unable to use Tide due to a skin sensitivity. It took a while to figure these things out on my own. Im glad there is more information out there for people!

    Karen Mighetto Hoefling on
  • Definitely had to tweak my routine when our toddler was still in diapers. Thanks for the tips!

    Amy U on
  • Thanks for the info :)

    Alma Garcia on
  • So many great tips for washing cloth! Love our Thirsties diapers!

    Pat F on
  • Thank you for sharing this information. It always is tricky trying to figure out what is going on with cloth diaper stink!

    MARIE LOWTHER on

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