Advanced search

This topic is for discussing nappies. If you want to buy or sell reusable nappies, please use our For Sale/Wanted boards.

Cloth nappies smelling like ammonia

(20 Posts)
spatchcock Mon 03-Oct-11 05:00:24

Hi, can anyone shed any light on this?

My formula-fed 12-week-old's nappies have been smelling very strongly like ammonia for the past few days. We are using mio bambino brand.

A quick google says this might be down to a build up of detergent, but I am washing them just in washing crystals (Sodium carbonate decahydrate) and vegetable soap.

Could it be dehydration??

TheRealMBJ Mon 03-Oct-11 05:22:11

It sounds like a buildup to me. Even the vegetable soap can do that. I tend to do a strip wash every 2 or 3 weeks.

Wash nappies at 60° on a long cycle with a pre-wask/soak and when finished I do a separate rinse at 40° or if really bad, a rapid wash cycle at 40°

tigermummy35 Mon 03-Oct-11 14:17:26

Well I've never strip washed ours and wash them in Fairy Non-Bio (half the usual dose for a wash) and they smell lovely.

It could be a build up or the detergent isn't getting them clean enough.

spatchcock Mon 03-Oct-11 16:36:04

So I could be washing them too much ... or too little? confused

Will try with the rinse and hot wash tomorrow. And then stick them out in the sunshine all day.

So is the smell the urine reacting with the detergent then? I have just noticed she is a little red and sore around her front area, will definitely wash everything again tomorrow.

Eskarina Mon 03-Oct-11 22:34:57

Do you do a cold rinse before washing? I think I have heard that just washing hot can set the smell in

LakeFlyPie Mon 03-Oct-11 22:41:52

I had a similar problem and have found doing a cold wash (no detergent) to 'wash out the wee' rather than 'cook it in' before a 40 (and occasional 60 degree wash) with half a scoop of non bio powder has helped. I do a rinse and spin cycle after wash to make sure all of the detergent is washed out and the nappies come out almost dry.

Also found with both DSs that their urine was really strong / unpleasant smelling during times when they were teething.


spatchcock Tue 04-Oct-11 04:12:58

Right, will try cold water too.

That's a lot of water - it doesn't feel very environmentally friendly, which was my aim in using these nappies to begin with!

Interesting about the teething. She's only 12 weeks but has been cramming her fist into her mouth a lot over the past week, although not showing any other signs.

Thanks all.

Thumbwitch Tue 04-Oct-11 05:12:00

I don't know about the ones you're using but I used to do a hot soak in Napisan first before a long hot wash.
Recently I've started doing a cold soak in vinegar first and then using the Napisan as a pre-wash on a long hot cycle.

I have just stopped needing them for DS, after over 3 1/2 years (thank GOD!), and they smell pretty good now!

spatchcock Tue 04-Oct-11 12:48:52

OK, so I washed the nappies at 95 degrees + a prewash. Vinegar in the rinse cycle but no detergent at all. Hung them all out on the line last night and they were dry this morning. First nappy change of the day and it STILL smells bleachy.

A couple of you have suggested a cold wash so I might try this but I will give a couple of cloth nappies a go first.

In the meantime, I've put her in a disposable to see if it is her urine that is smelling. I really don't think she's teething, aside from the hand in the mouth there are no other signs.

notcitrus Tue 04-Oct-11 13:25:16

Urea in urine breaks down to ammonia, so I found if I didn't wash wet nappies within a couple days especially in summer, the ammonia smell was overpowering - but always washed out.

I'd try a 30 wash without detergent - I used quick wash with extra rinse and didn't have a problem, with 1/3 of recommended liquid detergent and a scoop of Napisan if pooey, and never had buildup issues. But equally I didn't sniff too closely - my laundry generally smells of London acrid air - as ds seemed happy.

pistachio Tue 18-Oct-11 19:09:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ArthurPewty Tue 18-Oct-11 19:20:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NappyGuruLondon Tue 22-Nov-11 15:26:42

If you find your nappies are not smelling fresh when you take them out of the machine, or have an ammonia smell, the detergent is not getting rinsed properly. Check the rinse cycle, and if you see suds add a second rinse to your routine ro remove them. You may also be using too much detergent- it is a difficult habit to break for some, but you really do not need to use a lot! If you are still having stink issues, run a hot wash cycle with no detergent, and you could even add a few drops of tea tree oil.
Some people do a cold rinse cycle, to remove urine and any 'bits' (and I would advise this also) before doing a wash cycle. This is also a handy hint for keeping your nappies smelling fresh, as the cold water rinses away the urine rather than setting it as hot water can tend to do.
hope that's helpful :0)

waitingforskinnyjeanstofit Fri 16-Dec-11 16:31:03

We rinse before washing, use half the amount of detergent and hang them in the sun whenever poosible (ha! like that happens in this rain soaked place....but it does seem to help.)

ninjasquirrel Fri 16-Dec-11 16:36:25

What fixed it for me is occasionally after the wash chucking a couple of bottles of white vinegar on them, starting then pausing the rinse cycle and leaving overnight. Then washing again on a low temp with half an Ecover tablet to get the vinegar smell out.

Extra rinses before and afterwards and using less detergent just didn't work here (though always do a cold rinse before washing anyway).

LeMousquetaireAnonyme Fri 16-Dec-11 16:45:30

Old urine does smell like ammonia though. You need oxygen to get rid of it (lay on the grass in the sun or in england, vanish oxy action may be an other way, not very ecofreindly.)

ReshapeWhileDamp Thu 26-Jan-12 22:41:52

I usually do a rinse before a wash at 40 (bio powder, v small amount) but my nappies are also smelling very ammonia-ish. I've never strip-washed them and am bewildered at all the different ways to do this - I've even read (here?) about people scrubbing at them by hand with a nail brush, and I know I haven't got time to do that! grin

Could someone tell me about the dishwasher tablet thing? So you put the tablet in where the soap powder would do - or into the drum? And what about getting all the tablet chemicals out afterwards, or is it not much different to what's in washing powder?

I was doing fine with sun-bleaching out bf poo nappies, btw - but since DS2 went onto solids, they're getting really badly stained. Does sunshine really work on horrible, 13 month poos? (Moot point since we don't have any at the moment!)

JBrd Tue 06-Mar-12 23:41:46

I strip wash by doing 3 consecutive washes with no detergent at all - first at 30 degree or cold, then two washes at 60. I was amazed and horrified how much suds still came out in the 3rd wash, when I did it the first time! But the nappies came out nice and clean.
Now I always do a rinse after each wash, hopefully that will keep the build-up at bay.

A couple of my friends are raving about the Eco-egg, where you don't add any detergent, just this egg thing filled with what looks to me like pebbles. But they swear by it.
I'm also intrigued by soap nuts, has anyone tried those?

mountainbiker1 Sat 19-Nov-16 07:14:16

I have used the eco 'egg' washing thing. Fine for clothes but not quite so good for nappies- residual urine smell - which is why I was looking on here.
Soap nuts are great for clothes- lovely smell (as is with the 'egg', despite with that there being an initial unwashed smell which seems to disappear when clothes are dried outside.) Only difficulty with soapnuts is not being sure when their soapiness is used up. Guess it come with experience.

SistaMatic Sat 04-Feb-17 21:33:31

Hi! Ammonia smells are due to the breakdown of urea - the nappies aren't getting clean I'm afraid which is leading to the smell. Detergent buildup has been dispelled multiple times, all mainstream nappy retailers including bambino mio, totsbots and little lamb to name a few recommend a FULL dose of mainstream washing powder for your water hardness.

Ammonia is a real problem and can lead to chemical burns - 10 years ago I used half doses with my sons nappies and he had dreadful nappy rash and the nappies smelt - I thought it was normal but it isn't, my youngest sons nappies have never smelt and have no issues using FULL DOSE washing powder.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: