Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Stinkies, Ammonia, & Diaper Rash OH MY!!!

Some of you may have seen my Facebook posts in the last few weeks asking for advice on how to rid my diapers of ammonia issues.  I am usually the one giving diaper advice and I truly thank those of you who responded for your help!

I started my cloth diaper journey more than a year ago.  At that time I researched the heck out of detergents and I finally settled on Tiny Bubbles made by GroVia as the detergent I wanted to use.  I have a front loading HE washer and it was important to me to purchase a detergent proven to do well with this type of machine, one that has been proven to work well on the diapers, and one that is safe for the diapers as well as my baby's bum!  I probably researched 100's of different sites, blogs, forums, reviews, etc before deciding on Tiny Bubbles.

When my first batch of diapers and detergent finally arrived, I washed them and immediately got them on my LO's bum!  Love at first diaper! <3

We diapered for almost 8 months before I even thought about trying another detergent.  I promised myself that if I found one that worked, I would stick with it.  But curiosity got the best of me, and I have tried and reviewed multiple other detergents.  I have not found any that I would not recommend.  And I want to state for the record, I do not regret trying other detergents nor do I want to cast a negative outlook on other detergents.  But, this is my experience, and I want to be honest with what I have found and what I have found to work in an effort to help other mamas and their baby's bums!  (because who wants their child to have the dreaded ammonia burnt tush?)

Since entering the cloth diapering world, I have heard many things (mostly good) about Rockin Green.  I had been dying to try RNG and so I bought a bag of detergent with my own money.  I fell in love!  The scents are heavenly, the company is fantastic, and their product is amazing!  But after using RNG for about 3 months, I started noticing ammonia build up on my diapers.  I researched online and found that it could have been one of two things: ammonia build up or detergent build up.  The advice was that extra hot rinses "should" cure either of those problems.

I thought, "perfect" that is simple enough.  And I ran my diapers through about 4-5 hot rinses with no detergent or anything.  NOPE!  No cigar!  My diapers were still stinky and ammonia filled.  Back to research.

I tried rocking a soak, I tried letting them soak in plain water.  Nothing helped.  I felt at the end of my rope.  At this point, I could only cloth diaper during the day and had to use sposies at night because she could not sit in an ammonia ridden diaper all night.  We had multiple ammonia burns and rashes during this time.  Talk about frazzled...I hated that I was bringing this pain and discomfort to my child.  Cloth diapers are supposed to be healthier right???  They are!  But I was having such a big ammonia problem that I felt like a BAD mommy!

In comes you mamas!  After talking with you guys on FB, some more internet research, etc I decided it was time to take drastic measures.  The options were vinegar or bleach.  I have read 50/50 results on vinegar, so I was too scared to try this.  But, Cotton Babies (makers of bumGenius, Flip, and Econobum) state that it is OK to use a little bit of bleach once in a while to kill stinkies.  WARNING:  Most diaper companies state specifically NOT to use bleach on your diapers, so check labels before doing this!  But Cotton Babies say that it is OK for the bG diapers to have some bleach now and then.

So, knowing that I would void many warranties on many different diapers, I tried the bleach on just my bG pockets and all of my microfiber inserts.  I tossed in my diapers, did the cold cycle, then did my hot wash with 1/2 of the RNG that I usually use (in case too much detergent was the problem) and the bleach.  After the long hot cycle, I did another hot cycle.

And the result...STILL STINKY and ammonia filled.

At this point, I could have just sat down and cried.  What am I going to do!!!???

It was about this time that my daughter's lovie, a little stuffed red panda bear, needed to have his first bath.  When mommy wasn't looking, daddy let her drag panda outside where he took a dip in the pool and the sandbox and got drug through the dirt and grime of the backyard.  After months of drool, food, and now the latest dunk and drag...he needed a bath.  Trying to think what to wash him in that would be gentle and safe, I pulled out my box of Tiny Bubbles detergent.  I washed him and set him to dry...and it dawned on me...I never had ANY stink problems with the Tiny Bubbles when I was using it on my diapers!!!

So over the past couple weeks, I have slowly washed all of my diapers (clean and dirty to get all of them!) in the Tiny Bubbles and bleach.

Whether they were clean or dirty, I did my wash as usual.  I did the cold rinse, then a hot wash with Tiny Bubbles and a little bit of bleach, and then another hot wash.  I only used bleach in that first wash (and yes, I did run EVERY diaper and EVERY insert through this process...voiding many warranties) and since then have washed my diapers in just Tiny Bubbles detergent.

Guess what...NO AMMONIA!!!!  I could literally shout it from the mountaintops!!!  And sing a round of the Hallelujah Chorus on top of that!!!

I still do not know exactly what was causing my problem.  Is it the HE washer, my water, the RNG itself, using too much RNG, or a combination of any of them?  No clue!  I have heard from other parents some troubles with RNG.  But again, is it the RNG or user error?  I followed the package directions for how much RNG to use with an HE washer, but maybe it was still too much?  I don't know.  Like I said before, I do not want to speak ill of RNG.  I love their company and their products.  BUT, for us, RNG just does not work.

So this is what I have found.  And thankfully, I have found an answer to my problem!  I am still a little nervous about night time diapering.  I am slowly easing back into it.  But I cannot wait to chuck those sposies to the wind!  (actually, I will give them to a friend who refuses to CD...I won't throw away clean sposies...)

I hope this post can help some of you other mamas out there!  Don't give up!  There is a way!  You just have to find what works for you!!!

For those of you with HE machines, here is my wash routine.  I have a Samsung VRT machine.  Do not use the "sanitize" setting.  This will damage the PUL on your diapers.  I use the "delicate" cycle (cold/cold) and an extra rinse as my cold cycle.  Then, for my detergent cycle I use the "heavy duty" cycle (hot/cold) with an extra wash and an extra rinse.  Hope this helps!!!

Tiny Bubbles can be purchased from my affiliates Kelly's Closet and GroVia, affiliate links to right!!!


Here is the Tiny Bubbles write up from Grovia:

The detergent of choice for cloth diapers and baby apparel.
* Dye & Fragrance Free
* Completely Biodegradable
* No Optical Brighteners or Fillers
* Gentle for Sensitive Skin
* Low Residue Formula
* Ultra-Concentrated
* EPA Design for the Environment
Safe to use with GroVia® and all other cloth diapers brands. Not tested on animals. No animal by products. ($0.22 per Load)
Phosphate Free - Phosphate detergents are a major cause of pollution in our lakes and streams. Even biodegradable phosphate detergents are harmful to water life. Tiny Bubbles contains no phosphates and is completely biodegradable.


  1. I've heard a lot of mixed reviews on rockin green too. I have some from wins and I bought a bunch for my sister-in-law when she started CD assuming it was the best. I have since learned that for as many as do like RNG there are those who don't.

    I talked to someone recently and found out that their different formulas can cause buildup. In other words if you don't use the right formula it can mess it up. I wonder if their new remix formula is any better?

    Have you heard of Miss Lilly's washing powder? I've never used it, but heard about it lately and wondered if you had. I'll go check your other post to see what people said.

  2. New follower from the new Cloth Diapering Community! Glad I found your great CD blog! I'm fairly new to the blogging world and would love if you find the time to check out my blog and follow back. ...I'm usually a Tide girl when it comes to diaper laundry, but I have to admit, out of all the "CD friendly" detergents I have used, Tiny Bubbles was the only one that worked great and I looooved the smell. Looking forward to reading more! :) ~Sarah

  3. Hi, I am a new follower. I see that you are a new member of the Cloth Diapering Bloggers Community on facebook too :-)

    I have two blogs, Personal: and my business:

    Hope you will stop by my blogs too.

    On Facebook I am 'Nanny Anna'

    As for this post....I use RnG for my personal laundry, no CD's until the next grandbaby is born, our are potty trained now. We did not have any problems with RnG with our CD's when the grandbabies were still in diapers, however, my dd used posies for bedtime so we didn't get the overnight test.

    I appreciate the info about the Tiny Bubbles. We carry RnG in our store, and we carry GroVia, but I have not started carrying the Tiny Bubbles yet. It is nice to know that you like it better than RnG. We may have to stock TB on our next order of CD's from GroVia.

    I get such great product feedback from mom bloggers, it helps me know what to stock and what to not. Thanks :-)

  4. I'm a tide girl, who occasionally will throw in some bleach and even some oxiclean. :D Glad you found a way to fix your problem! :)

  5. Just came across your post googling ammonia build up and RNG. I used it for less than a month and began having problems. I haven't used it since, it's been awhile, but every now and then the ugly Ammonia monster will rear its ugly head. I never had this problem before and it's unbelievably frustrating. I definitely understood those moments when you wanted to sit down and cry! I went back to using homemade detergent. I really like using it on the rest of my clothes and only have occasional ammonia problems with the diapers now, but I'd like to not have any!

    Thanks for the post, I'll have to check out Tiny Bubbles!

  6. The best thing you can deal diaper rash is cleaning the sheet thoroughly to get rid of those germs and bacteria that cause it to your babies skin.