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Well-marketed deodorizers often use chemicals to cover diaper smells and other odors around the home. There are two reasons why I don’t like that.
- The chemicals do not kill or absorb the odors. They only mask them temporarily, so the smells come back.
- They also emit chemicals into the home, so now everyone is breathing in bad smells AND toxins.
The labels often claim these chemicals are safe to use around babies and pets (and therefore adults). But some of these claims are made NOT because the chemicals have been tested to be safe, but because they have not been tested to be unsafe. You see the difference?
Babies and pets have small bodies, so the chemicals are more concentrated in their little lungs. And chemical deodorizers in any form (spray, plugin, powder, candle, etc.) can contribute to allergies and asthma with long term exposure.
Check the label
If an air freshener or fabric deodorizer does not list 100% of its ingredients directly on the label, or you cannot pronounce the ingredients that it does list, leave the product on the shelf.
Even if a product calls its chemicals “safe for baby” (which many popular brands do), be wary and consider a chemical-free alternative. There are plenty of products that effectively kill odor-causing bacteria without the use of chemicals.
Alternatively, skip the packaged products altogether and grab ingredients that you already have in your kitchen. White vinegar and baking soda are completely non-toxic and get rid of pesky odors more effectively than chemicals. And they do it for a fraction of the price.
Here are a few tips to neutralize diaper smells naturally.
Keep diaper odors at bay naturallyTo effectively kill germs and neutralize diaper odors naturally, clean dry diaper bins and wet diaper pails with an equal mix of water and white vinegar .
For disposable diaper bins, add one cup of baking soda to a fresh garbage liner and sprinkle a little on each dirty diaper as it goes into the bin. For cloth diaper wet pails, add a few cups of white vinegar to the diaper pail to neutralize bacteria and uric acid and keep smells at bay.
You can also wash cloth diapers with 1/2 cup baking soda or washing soda alongside your detergent to boost the detergent’s cleaning power and keep the diapers soft.
Remove odors from soft materials
Diaper leaks happen! Generously spray the crib mattress, pads, blankets, soft toys or other fabrics with a mix of equal parts white vinegar and water. Then sprinkle baking soda over the vinegar and allow it to fizzle as it lifts urine or other natural odors from the fabric.
Let it dry for a few hours, then vacuum the residue and repeat the process, if needed.
Take care of a stinky diaper
First, dump any poop into the toilet. Buy a diaper spray hose (found at home supply stores or online) that is long enough to reach from the bathroom sink to the toilet. Spray any poop that sticks to the diaper into the toilet.
If you’re using disposables, cover the dirty part of the diaper with the clean part and seal it with the diaper’s own tape. Toss the diaper in the diaper bin and sprinkle it with a little baking soda to keep odors from accumulating.
Good to know
- It probably goes without saying, but babies put everything in their mouths, so be sure to keep the baking soda out of reach. Cleaning with baking soda is completely safe, but swallowing it in large doses can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea. Do call the poison center if this happens. (NOTE: Swallowing a large dose of chemical deodorizer is way worse than baking soda.)
- Similarly, be careful not to spray vinegar near the baby, as the smell is strong at first. The fumes are non-toxic and dissipate quickly, but they can temporarily sting sensitive eyes and lungs.
- Vinegar does have a strong scent that some find bothersome, but it dissipates quickly and it beats inhaling chemicals any day.
- PUL (polyurethane) diaper fabrics should not be washed with vinegar because it can make the soft plastic fibers degrade over time.
- Viruses used in routine baby vaccinations can live for months in the baby’s poop. This means that throwing baby pooh in the trash poses a health threat to sanitation workers. Water treatment facilities are specifically designed to handle human waste, so flushing diaper pooh is safer for sanitation workers and the local water supply. It also reduces foul odors and keeps them from lingering.
- Specialty diaper bins keep odors at bay by sealing each diaper individually in plastic. While effective, these bins require a lot of plastic and the constant refills become expensive. If you’re using baking soda and vinegar, you don’t need a specialty bin — a regular diaper bin will work just fine.
- As a courtesy to others when you’re in a public bathroom, keep empty bread bags in your diaper bag. Wrap wet or soiled diapers in the empty bag before discarding in the public bin.