Do Your Diapers Smell Like Fritos?

Do your cloth diapers smell like Fritos once they get wet? Maybe you wondered if the baby has a UTI or something? Maybe you worry that the diapers have germs?  Well, I can say with almost complete certainty that neither of those are the case. When diapers smell like Fritos, there’s on main cause.

A woman called me up the other day and told me that her diapers smelled weird when they got wet. “Like Fritos?” I asked her.  “Yes! That’s exactly it!”  well, I don’t know what’s in Fritos to make them smell like wet old diapers, but I can tell you what’s going on with the diapers.

Remember when you got the care instructions and it said to use only about a quarter of the amount of detergent you normally would?  My guess is, you thought, “Oh that’s nice, they’re trying to save detergent, but I want my diapers to be REALLY clean.” The manufacturers aren’t trying to save you detergent. In fact, some people that sell you diapers also sell you detergent. Those people, most certainly want to sell you as much detergent as possible.  The thing is though, when it comes to laundry, more detergent is not better.

You only need enough detergent to break the surface tension of the water, to create a tiny bit of suds. If you have lots of fun suds… expect Fritosmell.  What happens when you use too much detergent is the detergent captures the smell of the waste in the wash water. Instead of rinsing away in the rinse cycle and going down the drain, it stays on the diapers. The diapers ARE clean. The germs HAVE been killed, but the “clean, yet stinky” detergent has no place to go.

Sure some of it goes down the drain. Some of it sits in the washer and makes a film. But some of it stays on the diaper. It’s called build up.

It can also happen if you use detergents that have a lot of baking soda in them. Baking soda is great at capturing odors, that’s why we put it in the fridge and freezer and in litter boxes.

So, what to do… what to do…

Usually  two hot washes with no detergent at all followed by proper detergent use after you use the diapers again will fix it right up.  If the build-up is so bad that the diapers are repelling instead of absorbing, you’ll need to strip the diapers. There are a billion articles on stripping diapers all over the web, so I’m not going to get into that. Probably though, two hot washes with no detergent will do the trick.

Betcha never look at a bag of Fritos the same way again though.  It’s probably better anyway; what the heck is IN those things?

One comment

  1. Thanks for this! You always hear about the usual smells…barn yard smell, ammonia, etc. Today I sniffed my daughter’s diaper (don’t judge, I know all cloth diapering moms have done it!) and I thought…CORNCHIPS?!

    I DID actually use a lot of detergent so I’m going to scale it down a line and see if that helps. I thought they were too dirty before but I probably had build up, just not the repelling kind.

    Thanks again!

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