Troubleshooting Your Cloth Diapers


There are a variety of reasons that you may experience diaper leakage including:

  • Not Enough Absorbency: As a baby grows, more absorbency may be needed. Try adding an insert or folding the insert differently. Baby boys may need inserts to be doubled in the front.
  • Improper Fit: Make sure legs and waist fit snugly and no "fluff" is peeking out from the leg area. Check out our "Fitting Baby" diagram for more help.
  • Incorrect Size: Some babies may be too big or too small for "one-size" diapers.
  • Soap Build-Up: Detergent can build up on fabrics, reducing absorbency. Diapers may require "stripping," which removes lingering residue and odor. Typically, this process is needed every 4-6 months. For more information, see below.


Diapers or inserts, especially those made of synthetic fabrics, may absorb odors even after being washed.

  • If your diapers are less than four months old and they have an odor, try altering your wash technique. Be sure you're using the correct amount of soap, a cloth diaper safe soap, and that all of the soap is thoroughly rinsed from the diapers.
  • If your diapers are more than four months old and they have an odor, they likely require a normal “stripping” due to detergent build-up on the fabric. Typically, this happens every 4-6 months. To remove the build-up and resulting smell, you must “strip” your diapers. For more information about the process, please read the following section.

Stripping Your Diapers

Regardless of how conscientious your laundering routine is, diapers will eventually accumulate soapy build-up, which results in reduced absorbency and lingering odor. If you are experiencing these issues, it may be time to “strip” your diapers. In order to do this, you must use a recognized “ammonia buster,” such as RLR or Funk Rock. Do not use vinegar, baking soda, dishwashing soap or any other home remedy as they may damage your diaper and void your warranty.

To “strip” your diapers:

  • Soak clean diapers in very hot water (between 125°-135°F), along with RLR or Funk Rock, for at least 4 hours (or overnight, if preferred).
      • If you do not have a top-load washing machine, diapers may be soaked in a tub or utility sink.
      • Soaking water must be over 125°F but not more than 135°F. Cooler than 125°F will not allow the ammonia buster to penetrate the fabric properly, and warmer than 135°F may ruin your diapers.
      • Diapers must soak for at least 4 hours.
  • After soaking, set machine for hot water and wash four times without soap to ensure that the entire amount of ammonia-busting agent has been rinsed from the diapers. If there are still bubbles being produced after the fourth wash, continue rinsing until bubbles are no longer present.

Note: A “barn-yard” smell as opposed to an ammonia smell indicates too little soap used in washings. Simply add slightly more soap to your diaper laundering routine.