Barnyard Stink and My Crazy Attempts at Killing It

When it comes to cloth diapering, I’m an experimentalist.  Trying new things is an adventure.  (And it’s blog fodder.)  While most of the time, the suggestions I gave in my cloth diaper stripping post work well, sometimes an issue will be so pervasive that it will take multiple attempts.  We had really bad nasty barnyard stink inserts.  Specifically, it was three microfiber inserts that I loved for their absorbing power.  Not coincidentally enough, they were only the inserts that Norton used overnight.

Barnyard Stink and My Crazy Attempts at Killing It (Cloth Diaper Addicts)

With barnyard stink like that, sometimes one of these would be helpful.

I swear, my son has toxic pee.  Marinating those diapers in that toxic waste took a toll.

I’d been regularly doing some sort of strip on my diapers just because of those three inserts and the wretched barnyard stink diapers.  It was crazy.  And it was not working.  Then it dawned on me: why on earth was I treating all of my diapers because of three lousy inserts?  I considered just buying new inserts… but for me to purchase those new inserts from the company in the States would have cost me as much as buying two new diapers from them from a Canadian store.  No.  Just… no.  Besides, that would have been admitting defeat and letting barnyard stink beat me.  And it was at the point that I had to do something about it: just sniffing them would give me a headache.

Boiling for Barnyard Stink

The first thing that I decided to do was boil an insert as a test.  I knew that boiling was a method of dealing with barnyard stink diapers.  I knew that it was a smelly process.  However, I underestimated the stench: the smell was so awful that (even with open windows), I ended up with a migraine that put me down for the count for two days.

As for the barnyard stink… it wasn’t fixed, but it was better.  However, a week later, it was just as bad.  I bought a ginormous pot, borrowed a friend’s hot plate, and tried it in the bathroom with the exhaust fan running.  No dice: the hot plate wouldn’t get warm enough to boil a stock pot.  Sure, the smell was reduced, but still not completely cleared up.  Had I owned a barbeque grill with a side burner and done it outside, that might have taken care of it.  However, I don’t.  So boiling barnyard stink diapers wasn’t a resolution for Norton’s stinky pee.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Neither baking soda nor vinegar are always recommended for cloth diapers.  Both can cause build up issues… but at this point, I figured the barnyard stink was bad enough that I’d try anything.  Besides, watching the foaming chemical reaction is just too much fun to pass up.  I liberally doused my offending barnyard inserts with baking soda and put enough water in to sort of make a paste… and then poured vinegar on top.  I scrubbed them together to increase the “scrubbing bubbles” power.  I threw in some peroxide, too.  End result?  The barnyard stinky diapers were less barnyardy.  They were significantly whiter.  It helped, but not enough.  This time, it was two weeks before the diapers were obscenely fragrant.

“Rock a Soak”

I love my Rockin Green detergent.  It’s how I’ve managed to beat back the ammonia stink I had early on that nearly caused me to quit cloth diapering.  (And the only reason I didn’t give up was because I was stubborn and didn’t want to hear any “I told you so” type comments.)  Out of frustration, I took those three barnyard stink inserts (which has, once again, become so strong that sniffing them gave me a wicked headache) and put them in my cloth diaper dish pan.  I added a tablespoon of Rockin’ Green, a sprinkle of RLR (maybe half a teaspoon), a steaming kettle of water, and hot water from the tap… so about a gallon and a half of water.  I used my hands to agitate and build up a huge lather.  Then I left it to soak overnight… and agitated it again in the morning.  I meant to rinse then, but life got busy with making breakfast.  In the end, they soaked for about twelve hours.  Then I rinsed and washed them with the rest of my dirty diaper laundry.

Amazing.  They smelled perfect.  They smelled clean.  They smelled like nothing.  I was thrilled.

It’s been three weeks and the stink is starting to come back again… and only on my son’s overnight inserts.  Maybe at the top of every month, I’ll treat those inserts.  I’ll keep experimenting with something that will get them smelling cleaner longer.  And I’ve also gotten more rigorous in how I rinse his overnight diapers.  Now I’m starting to ring them out after rinsing and give them a second rinse before throwing them in the wet bag.

Have you ever had pervasive barnyard stink on only a couple of pieces of diaper laundry?


About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. This is so helpful! Barnyard stink is the worst and there is no one perfect solution Thanks for letting your diapers be the guinea pig.

  2. Jennifer Van Huss says:

    LOL! so funny!!! My DD has barnyard stink in overnight disposal diapers! I’m happy to throw them away! Thanks for the laugh!! Good luck on a solution!

  3. Emily_faliLV says:

    Ha! I had never heard it called that before! Glad you found a solution that worked for you! Love Rockin Green!

  4. Sarah McKelvy says:

    I HATE barnyard stink. My daughter would often get it with her first morning diaper when she was still breastfeeding. Rinsing helped a lot and thankfully it washed out.

  5. Luckily we haven’t had this problem, but thanks for sharing these tips in case we ever find ourselves with barnyard stink!

  6. I definitely need to try the Rocking Green Soak. Thanks for the tips!

  7. Amber EasyGreenMama says:

    Haven’t had this problem yet, but when I do I will use your method. Glad I can learn from your experience to never boil them! Haha!

  8. lovemy2dogs says:

    I have this problem but it’s not with diapers, it was with a couple of dish towels. Eww, yuck right!? I simply threw them out. I tried bleaching them and everything and to no avail, I ended up buying new ones. Good luck with that Barnyard stink. (Tammy Graham)

  9. Tara Gauthier says:

    Great tips. I tried the boiling too with my daughters diapers and yuck. It worked alright. We stopped using the diapers shortly after but I had tried the Rockin green but she had a horrible reaction to it.

  10. Rebecca Peters says:

    Thanks for the fair warnings!!!

  11. Maria Iemma says:

    Have not had this problem yet, thank you for the information and the heads up.

  12. Barbara Hooks says:

    Thanks for the Rockin’ Green love! If anyone EVER has any questions about using our products or needs help with a “stinky” issue just email our customer service at Marci is the the expert at solving washing problems! – Barbara, VP of Marketing at

    • I’m all about the RnG love. I tried another detergent since ladies were raving about it. I didn’t even finish that bag before I went back to my beloved RnG.

  13. breyanna brandenburg says:

    I love your articles! They always have humor ! They make me giggle. Love them!

  14. hobomama says:

    I’m having this problem with my wool covers. Never did when my older son used them — must be my younger son’s toxic pee! I can’t find many people who’ve had the same problem, so most people think I’m doing something wrong with my wool. But, I swear: It’s the pee! It’s not my fault! It’s just stinky grossness!

    I’ve done Dawn, baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and sunning. I don’t want to ruin the wool, but I can’t keep using them so smelly, so I gotta try something. I’m not sure if Rockin’ Green would be too much? You might try sunning next as it seemed to help, but we don’t have a good sunning patch on our balcony so I can’t say how much better it would be if we did.

  15. Wow, I’m glad I’ve not had to deal with barnyard stink (yet)! I was thinking of getting some RnG Funk Rock to have on hand in case things get funky on me. Have you tried that as well, or is that only for ammonia issues? I use hard rock for my regular diaper laundry after trying several different detergents that either did not clean or caused rashes, and I am a RnG convert. I’m amazed that my 5 month old’s pee is already so bright yellow, and I’m worried I’ll have to deal with some sort of funk very soon, but at least it’s because he’s sleeping through the night, lol.

  16. Rachel N says:

    I soak my sons overnight diapers with some detergent for a few hours every morning and then rinse them out really well. It has worked for use for keeping the smell away.

  17. Bekah Kuczenski says:

    Haha this post is too funny, I’m picturing the smell of a boiling stinky diaper in my kitchen…. I have been having some stink issues with my toddler’s diapers so i am going to give your Rock a Soak method a try 🙂

  18. Lissa E. says:

    I’ve done the Rock a Soak and it definitely helps. I have pretty much given up on microfiber though.

  19. Vicki Hall says:

    I’ve had problems with my diaper covers retaining odors of poop I’ve also had my microfiber inserts come out of the dryer odor free and as soon as they’re peed on smelling horribly I was using Country Save powder.I also seeing some poop stains.I recently tried Tide original powder . My diapers have never been cleaner or fresher its definitely worth a try .

  20. Love it! I just went through and boiled ALL of our inserts….OH MAN it was a process! But we’re dealing with some ammonia junk so trying to get rid of it. Totally gave me a headache too! They SEEM better so far but we’ll see.

  21. OK, so this may be hard to say but TIDE!!!!! Lol I soak then rinse out each insert/pocket diaper etc. Before all washes then do a none soap rinse in washer and a full cycle with soap wash (to the second line on scoop box comes with) wash with an extra rinse at the end. I gotta tell ya the diapers and inserts come out smelling so fresh and clean and I have not had a skin issue, diaper stink issue, or build up issue since! Tide has to be original scent and original tide but could be tide extra with stain lifter. Sorry to say but it will definitely take care of all your issues! Good luck and happy cloth diapering!!! 🙂 ( hope this helps!)

    • LOL! Thanks, but it’s been corrected. And I can’t do Tide; the scent makes me gag. Rockin Green rocking a soak took care of it.


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