Toddler holding a cloth diaper
He’s as happy as we are with his cloth diapers

Using cloth diapers for Tikoy is one of the best decisions we’ve ever made as parents. It’s our third year in the lifestyle, and we never had to deal with rashes. Also, we think that it has contributed to the fairly-easy process of potty training our toddler. 

toddler milestones
Tikoy never had a diaper rash and it was fairly easy to potty train him

The only downside to it is that it has also accumulated ammonia over the years of use, making it “mapanghi.” While the stink can be bothersome, parents need not fear because that’s a cloth diaper’s job--to absorb urine and poop, and, thankfully, it can be fixed. 

What causes ammonia build up? 

There are many reasons behind the stink. Here are some of them: 

Used cloth diapers sitting unwashed for too long

cute cloth diaper
Don’t leave the cloth diapers soiled for too long.

Keeping soiled diapers unwashed for too long can “engrave” the odor in. Except when Tikoy poops, we didn’t wash ours right away, but neither did we keep it unwashed for more than three days in the pail. 

Soaking dirty diapers in a pail of water

We thought soaking in water (or mixed with soap) could minimize the odor, but we observed that it only made it worse. It’s as if we were stewing the diapers in its own stink. A word of advice: don’t do it! It makes it more habitable for bacteria and worsens the smell.

Using too much detergent

Using too little and too much detergent can both harm the cloth diapers. The former, (quite self-explanatory) wouldn’t be able to remove the dirt from the diapers. The latter will only add to the detergent build-up and, therefore, result in stinkier diapers. 

How much is enough? Follow the recommended number of pieces of clothes per wash at the back of the detergent label.

Using scented detergent and fabric conditioners

Cloth diapers don’t need scented detergents because they can only add to the odor build-up (as above) and fabric conditioners have oils that can coat your cloth diapers, thereby reducing its absorbency. 

Your baby eats more

toddler eating a cookie

Your baby’s urinal odor is related to what he eats. The more he eats, the more funky his diapers can be. It can’t be avoided in this case, but the least you can do is to let him drink more water. 

But take heart, moms and dads. There’s a way to rescue those precious diapers!

Here are some of our tips: 

Wash them thoroughly

We rinse off the used cloth diapers with just water twice before adding a new batch with unscented detergent. For the first few years, we’ve tried different commercial ones from the most popular powders, promising liquid detergents, to pods. All of them worked well, partnered with sun-drying. Of course, our baby’s urine wasn’t as odorous back then as it is now, and I guess that’s why it was good enough. 

Use baking soda

Baking soda naturally absorbs odor. You can use it in two ways: as a pre-wash odor absorbent–just sprinkle some on your diaper pail as they wait for laundry day, and secondly, you can add a tablespoon or two when you wash the diapers with detergent.

Use vinegar

After a good rinse and before washing with detergent, you can soak them for a few hours in warm water, and a cup of vinegar. Rinse as you usually would, and don’t worry about the vinegary smell as it’s a natural deodorant and will disappear as they dry. 

This helps break up the detergent and ammonia build-up in your cloth diapers. We did it at least once a month ever since Tikoy started with his solids. 

Use Young Living Thieves Laundry Detergent

Young Living Thieves Laundry Detergent was our last resort when I was having half a mind to dispose of the diapers (or recycle them) for good since Tikoy is potty trained anyway. We just let him wear them at night for extra security. You may be asking, “Why not use disposables instead?” It will only get wasted as he rarely pees in his sleep now, and we just didn’t want to contribute to the garbage. 

Thieves Laundry Detergent is a plant-based, essential oils infused ultra-concentrated laundry soap that gently washes clothes without leaving any synthetic residue. 

I rinsed the cloth diapers and soaked it with a load’s worth of water mixed with half-a-cap-full of the thieves laundry detergent and left it overnight and voila! The cloth diapers smelled fresh and lemony afterward. Some inserts need a second try but the odor was significantly reduced.

Where to get them:

You can buy the product from any Young Living member or distributor.

If you want to become a member, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Using your web browser, go to
  2. Click “Become a Member”
  3. When asked for Enroller ID and Sponsor ID, you can use our member code: 24728930
  4. Provide your personal details and pay the corresponding fees.

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