Recently a mom on baby center’s cloth diaper board suggested this and many mama’s including myself have experimented with great success. It’s a little zany but it works!!!! Here is the first thread and a Second Thread for your browsing pleasure.
Here’s what you do:
Try using FISH Ammonia Remover! Yes you read that right! You can get it from any pet or fish store. Use about 4-5 tablespoons or 60-70ML for a full load. Fill water to highest setting. Do a 5-6 hour hot soak with clean diapers then rinse. Then follow up with hot Wash using Rockin’ Green (or any CD safe Diaper detergent) then follow with a second rinse. From my testing this soak will last about 2-3 months. If you want to go even further between soaking times then try the next step. I only have a top loader non HE machine so I have no advice on how to fill your washer full.
How to stretch the time between soaks:
I created a spray solution using a 31.5fl oz (931ML) old oxiclean spray bottle. I filled with water and added 30ML of ammonia remover. I spray on each pee diaper before putting into the pail. Using this method I’ve not seen ammonia for approximately 5-6 months after an ammonia remover soak for covers, and diapers with organic cotton and cotton velour and 3-4 months with organic bamboo and bamboo velour. Unfortunately I do not use Microfiber so I do not know the time span it takes between soaks using the spray method.
Funk smell (from #2’s) I use bac-out on every poo diaper and have kept funk away for the most part. Again, bamboo, like that found in BSRB tend to get stinkier a little bit faster.
What diapers are safe to soak?
I’ve found that putting any diaper is safe and hasn’t worn any part of my diaper thin, or ragged, or damaged. So covers, fitteds, aio’s, hybrids, prefolds, bamboo, cotton, flannel you name it. Do the diaper companies recommend this? No they don’t recommend it yet because they haven’t done the research. They also don’t recommend soaking anything with PUL or elastic in vinegar but a lot of have done so anyway. So take your own chances. Again I’ve seen no damage to my diapers so I will continue to use it.
What’s in it?
Any ammonia remover with the main ingredient Sodium methanal sulfoxylate will do the trick. And all you who are searching wikipedia after reading that word, don’t let the ‘formaldehyde’ scare you off. The trace amount is VERY small and a smaller amount than the ammonia that’s built up in your diapers. Ammonia remover is completely safe for fish which as a fellow aquarium enthusiast know that fish are the most fickle creatures when it comes to water quality.
According to Wikipedia:
A niche use is its use as water conditioner for aquaria as it rapidly reduces chlorine and chloramine and reacts with ammonia to form the innocuous aminomethylsulfinate ion.  It is also used as an antioxidant in pharmaceutical formulation. (wikipedia.com)
To interpret the above it is used in fish aquariums and pharmaceuticals and the byproduct is not harmful. In fact formaldehyde derivatives are even most likely in products YOU already use – check out this list.
What Brand do I get?
There are many brands but what has been tried so far is TopFin, For Dummies and Aqueon. If you try a different brand be sure it is NOT a compound product, ie a dechlorinator, a ph nuetralizer, water conditioner, etc. It should just say Ammonia remover, detoxer, killer or any other variety of words. And again the main ingredient should be Sodium methanal sulfoxylate.
How can you tell if you have ammonia?
Immediately after a #1 there will be a stronger smell than normal urine. It literally burns your nasal cavity when inhaling. Products that get rid of FUNK (such as Bac-Out) are usually for #2 build up and might not be formulated to get rid of Ammonia issues.
What causes ammonia in cloth diapers?
When a wet cloth diaper smells really bad, it is most likely due to an overproduction of ammonia. In the body, ammonia is converted to urea and excreted. Once the urine is released, the urea begins converting back to ammonia, so some ammonia smell is perfectly normal. Lingering urea in the diaper and certain types of bacteria can speed up and increase the production of ammonia. So if you smell an unusually strong odor of ammonia after your baby pees, you most likely have a biological residue in your diaper. This residue is most commonly caused by not using enough water to wash and rinse diapers clean. It can also be caused by not using enough detergent. Detergent is what enables water to enter the fibres of the cloth and release its soil (by decreasing the surface tension of the water). If there is too little water (or detergent), the urine is diluted, but not rinsed away. It is recycled in the wash and dries onto the fabric, remaining there in the form of residues. (From Bummis.com)
How does this get rid of ammonia?
Since I know you’re not going to drop the formaldehyde issue check out this great article on why ammonia and formaldehyde derivatives are arch nemeses. In a nut shell they bond to each other and their chemistry changes to a byproduct of water.
The Fine Print:
I am not endorsing nor affiliated with any of the products or chemicals mentioned in this article nor by you trying anything mentioned in this article am I to be held responsible or liable for any claims you might take against me or this article. This is for leisure purposes only. I am just a mom that had stinky diapers and did my research and wanted other mom’s to use this knowledge to make their own decisions. Thank you!