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My nappies and wraps smell of stale wee :(. Even the new ones my MIL kindly bought me that have only been used twice, so surely they can’t need stripping.  What am I doing wrong, it’s really upsetting me at the minute (maybe because I’m hormonal too,)

If its a wet nappy I just put it in the bucket, a dirty one gets all the poo rinced off and washed under running water as much as possible.

We dry pail in a bucket with a lid with a mesh bag in with about 5 drops of tea tree oil in the bottom.

Nappies get washed every day (previously was every other or 2 days as we were using disposables too)

Get washed in Fairy (I hate using P&G stuff, but neither soap nuts or ecover were working so tried this but still not working) with a squirt of bleach every now and again.  As recommended in the instructions when I got my original ones.

Dried either outside on the washing line or inside on a maiden.

I love my cloth nappies but them smelling is really bugging me.  I don’t want my baby having a smelly bum when it’s clean :( no one wants to smell of stale wee and I don’t want people to think I’m not looking after her properally.  Please give me some ideas as I’m getting desperate and I know there is a wealth of experience on here and I have never heard anyone else having this problem.

Mummy to Lauren (2008), Sophie (2010)

Do other people notice the smell?  Can your husband smell it to?

Is the little one teething, because that can make urine smell stronger?

I would strip the nappies just to be sure.  Some detergents are more prone to build up, especially if you’re using more than necessary?


Living, loving, learning, laughing, growing, with
8yo Jenna (August 04)
6yo Morgan (December 06)
4yo Rowan (April 09)
and toddling baby Talia (December 11)

GP LETS number 17

How hot are you washing?

I have pockets, and the inserts I do on 90 (or the hottest I can), the outers, because I have defective fuzzybunz, and have tried to make them last as long as possible, I wash on 40, even if there’s poo.

The problem isn’t likely the fairy.  I always used Ecover, I think non-bio but can’t rememeber…..oh, how hard is your water?  When we lived outside of London, I was doing what I could to soften it…it was so hard.  I bet that could make a difference.

I also always do a vinegar rinse…on all my laundry actually….whether it needs it or not wink

SAHM to DS- 10/08 and DD 11/10

I have this problem with mine too, and assumed it was because we live in a hard water area. I normally strip them, try and get them out in the sun (which I know is absolutely impossible at this time of year), and when I wash them I use either ecover (a tiny amount) and a splash of white vinegar and a couple of drops of lavender and tea tree oil to kill any lurking bugs which may make the nappies pong, or soap nuts, although I notice that I need to strip them more when I use the soap nuts.

Also, Fin’s nappies are really pongy when he is teething smile

Crunchy hippy vegan mama to four gorgeous boys. Formerly known as bettywobble smile

Blogging again at

The bosom of the Mother is the natural pillow of her offspring.

are you using fairy powder or liquid - i know people find the liquid causes build up really quickly. If you use the powder only use a small amount (I know this sounds back to front but its often build up that traps smells). Also is your lo teething? Both mine had spells of really strong smelling wee when teeth were coming through so could be that too?

My husband can smell it too yes, she does seem to be getting her last canine tooth in at the minute as well.  I wash them at 60o and I don’t think the water is hard around here.  We are using the powder, I could be using too much of it.  I didn’t know I could use vinegar on nappies outside of stripping and oils at all.  Will definitely give those a go.

Mummy to Lauren (2008), Sophie (2010)

I was going to ask about the liquid too?

My initial thought was teething too, ours smell horrendous when little one’s teething. I strip them & pop them out on the line x

Daughter age 11
Three sons age 10, 7 & 5
Baby girl age 3

You can use vinegar on nappies, it won’t make them unabsorbent or take the waterproofing off, but it does eat through elastic over time - just a word of caution!  I use it often still, and my nappies are only losing elastic now (after eight years).

Living, loving, learning, laughing, growing, with
8yo Jenna (August 04)
6yo Morgan (December 06)
4yo Rowan (April 09)
and toddling baby Talia (December 11)

GP LETS number 17

Are you doing enough rinses? I had this problem and now do a pre-rinse in cold water, then a full 2.5 hr wash on 60. I use half a cap-full of Surcare (fragrance-free nonbio liquid). Occasionally I leave out the detergent and put 5 drops of lavender oil in the tray as it stops build-up of detergent. No smelly nappies since.

I was having this problem and after years of using washables I was about to give up but I found doing an extra rinse in the machine at the end of washing has cured most of it , and make sure I wash the nappy at no longer than 2 days after bit has been used. Arms to have worked . I wash at 60 now . I remember for years I have had this problem mildly but found this year particularly bad as my nappies have just not been outside enough with all the rain over summer they have been drying indoors just about all the time

when life gives you a rainy day play in the puddles !!!
mum to 4 sons 13,7,4 and 2
a daughter 8 years ,
and always in my heart my angel xx

I know this is an old post but I had this problem.  Unfortunately you need to pre rinse them as if they are heavily soaked in urine esp from a bigger child you are basically washing them around the machine in urine.  A pre rinse solves the problem but obviously uses more fuel and water.

I had this problem too with my nappies not smelling fresh after washing whilst using Fairy non-bio or the generic non-bio brand. I actually switched to a biological washing powder. I use a little washign powder, sometimes i add in bicarbonate of soda and when occasionally when I remember vinegar into the rinse cycle.

I am not crazy. My mother got my tested! :-D

Breastfeeding, babywearing, home educating, crafty, ‘trying to be sustainable’ SAHM/WAHM of two.

Hi I ‘dry-pailed’ in the same way you did and I used Fairy non bio also. I would put the nappies in for a cold rinse with no spin first, sometimes twice, then wash with about a tablespoon of powder. Long wash at 40 or 60. My machine has an extra rinse option or ‘baby wash’ which had an extra rinse at the end also) i id usually pick one of these cycles to prevent build up of detergent.

I agree with the other mams tho that teething makes them smell worse.

Hope that helps : )

‘Today you are YOU, that is truer than true, there is no one alive that’s more Youer than You!’ Dr Seuss

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