There is nothing less fun than smelly diapers.
When your clean diapers smell anything but clean, especially if the smell is damp and moldy, we have some fixing to do!
The first thing to do is: FIND THE CULPRIT
Next step is: DAMAGE CONTROL
And finally: AVOID REPEATING WHATEVER THE PROBLEM WAS
There are a number of things that can cause your diapers to smell damp and moldy including, but not limited to:
1) Not using enough detergent:
Make sure you are using the proper brand and recommended amount of detergent. The brand recommended amount is not always correct for cloth diapers! Double check your detergent brand and the correct amount here:
If this was your culprit: Damage control would involve changing your detergent to one which is recommended and using the proper amount to clean poop off diapers.
2) Washing in hard water:
If you have ever noticed water marks or residue left over on your dishes, I can almost guarantee you that you have hard water. But the proper way to test your water is to get a water hardness test kit (available in most places that sell aquariums) and test your own water or to look up your city's water report and see the hardness level on there.
If this was your culprit: Make sure you are using Borax or Calgon in your wash routine: http://www.fluffloveuniversity.com/how-to-wash-cloth-diapers/dealing-with-hard-water-and-cloth-diapers/
3) Waiting too long to wash diapers:
Ideally, you should be washing every 2-3 days. Any longer than 5 days can lead to mold in diapers.
If this was your culprit: There is a chance you would need to give your diapers a second main wash if they came out of the first main wash smelling bad. This will leave you with fresher diapers and in the future, make sure you are not letting dirty diapers sit for too long.
4) Leaving clean diapers wet for too long:
Allowing wet (albeit clean) diapers to sit in a basket may lead them to dry in that basket and develop a smell of dampness.
If this was your culprit: If your diapers dried and left a damp smell that bothers you, another wash cycle will remove that smell. Next time, dry your diapers immediately after coming out of the main wash.
5) Using too much OR too little water in your wash cycle:
You want your diapers to have a "stew" consistency when they are agitating, not too "soupy" and not so thick that it reaches a "chili" consistency.
If this was your culprit: Make sure you begin using the correct amount of water for the number of diaper you are washing.
If you find that even in the smallest sized load of your washer, you are using too much water for the diapers you are washing, you can bulk up your load by adding small clothing items (baby clothes is perfect for this). This would also hold true when you are between load sizes (For example: the small sized load isn't enough water but the medium size is too much, you could use the medium size and bulk with baby clothes to reach the correct consistency).
If you find that even in the biggest sized load of your washer, you are not using enough water for the diapers you are washing, consider washing diapers more often so that you are working with smaller loads of diapers.
6) Not cleaning your washing machine regularly:
You should be cleaning your washing machine on a monthly basis to avoid gunk (both from diapers and your everyday laundry) building up inside. Build up will make your machine less effective at getting your laundry properly clean.
If this was your culprit: Pull out your washing machine manual and get ready for a deep clean!
Most of the time, when we are dealing with funk and smells in diapers, simply giving the load of smelly diapers another wash will help remove the smell. Especially if we are catching the problem early on.
However, in some cases, diapers have been accumulating build up and smells for so long that they NEED to be stripped.
Here are the steps for stripping your diapers as recommended byt the Fluff Love University Guru's of all things cloth diapering:
Keep in mind that stripping diapers is a harsh process that can really wear down your diapers, so should be reserved for a NEED TO basis only.