My Go-To Natural Laundry Booster

As you may know, I’ve been a big fan of cloth diapers for the past three years. Using them has helped save us money, reduce waste, and avoid any potential chemicals found in mainstream disposable diapers. Plus, they look darn cute!


(We’re still using diapers over here because I’m not about to attempt potty training my toddler while also caring for a newborn.)

While our cloth diapers worked amazingly well for us from the start, many of them eventually developed an overpowering “fishy” odor every time they got soiled. They’d smell just fine right out of the washing machine, but it was almost embarrassing to take my son out in public because the moment his cloth diapers got wet they would smell terrible– even if he had only been wearing a fresh diaper for 20 minutes. I had read about “stripping” cloth diapers when they developed an ammonia smell (since residue can build up after so many wears), but a number of methods called for using blue dish soap or bleach, and I didn’t love the idea of using chemicals on clothing that would be touching such sensitive skin. I have also read that stripping isn’t necessary if you have a proper wash routine in the first place, so I knew there had to be a better way.

What I found worked best for us at eliminating this terrible odor, was adding washing soda occasionally to our pre-rinse cycle. If you’re not familiar with ARM & HAMMER™ Super Washing Soda, it’s a natural cleaner that is 100% fragrance and phosphate free. (The only ingredient is sodium carbonate, which is similar to baking soda, but with a higher alkalinity.) It helps neutralize and eliminate odors without the use of perfumes. If you’ve ever tried making your own laundry detergent at home, you’ll notice that many all-natural recipes call for washing soda because it’s effective at removing ground-in dirt and cutting through grease.

Isn’t the simplest answer almost always the best?

I can’t tell you how many other brands of expensive, all-natural cloth diaper “enzyme cleaners” I tried before just adding a 1/2 cup of washing soda to my washer’s soak cycle. If you have the luxury of not doing multiple loads of laundry in a day, I like to pause my washing machine’s pre-rinse cycle so that it stays full of water with the washing soda dissolved in it. Then I can add my diapers to it as I go, and rinse them all at once each night. The soaking helps remove residues that smell when they become damp, and then I don’t have to deal with a bag of soggy diapers later. You don’t need to use the washing soda for every load, either– I usually only do it once or twice a month to keep the odor away, so one box lasts a really long time! (I also use it for gently scrubbing residue off of my kitchen sink and getting grease stains off of our white couch… it’s a miracle worker.)

In case the washing soda isn’t enough to help get rid of your cloth diaper odors, you might also try:

  • Adding 1/2 cup of white vinegar to your pre-rinse cycle
  • Drying your diapers outside in the sun

If you want to try giving your laundry a boost, you can find ARM & HAMMER™ Super Washing Soda at Walmart and Dollar General. (The price ranges from $4.17-$6.00 for a large 55 oz. box)

For more cloth diapering tips, including my favorite essentials to help get you started, click here.

Connect with ARM & HAMMER™ on FacebookPinterest, and YouTube.

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Meet Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned certified nutritionist consultant, trying to make healthy living as easy as possible. I believe in eating delicious whole foods on a regular basis to help naturally support the body’s detox organs— no juice fasting required. (Unless you want to!) If you make one of my healthy recipes, tag @detoxinista on Instagram or Facebook so I can see!

212 thoughts on “My Go-To Natural Laundry Booster

  1. Robin

    To remove old paint from paint brushes, place brushes in a pot with vinegar. Soak for an hour, then turn on the stove and bring the vinegar to a simmer. Drain and rinse clean.

  2. Rebecca

    I love to clean with vinegar and baking soda. I mix baking soda with hot water and laundry softener to make a homemade carpet freshener. It is so much cheaper to make my own, and it really works well.

  3. Kelly D

    I like to combine baking soda and vinegar to clean the showers and sometimes toilet. I use a scrubbing brush to clean while it fizzes.

  4. Kerry

    I’m not the best with natural cleaning products – I need to get better about that. I do use peroxide for getting blood stains out of our laundry if needed.

  5. Maria

    I think I need to get better about using natural products as well, especially before I have children. You can’t beat baking soda and vinegar for their many uses. I also use lemon at times, especially in the microwave. Charlie’s Soap is another natural product (made locally in NC) that I also use in the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry.

  6. Anne

    My best tip would be using vinegar as a produce wash. The proportion I use is 1:3, water:vinegar. It’s great in a spray bottle or as a soak. Just remember to rinse the produce after using the wash.

  7. Carrie

    I cut a lemon in half and microwave it for thirty seconds. Then I take the lemons and scrub the microwave… works great!

  8. Sandra

    Thanks for the tips! What brand and type of washer and dryer does your family use? I’ve heard some will ultimately get clothes much cleaner than others. My family is wanting to cloth diaper, and we are also due for a new washer and dryer set. Which do you use, front-loader, top-loader, agitator, no agitator? Which brand do you use and are you happy with it? Thank you!

    1. Megan Gilmore Post author

      We had a front load washing machine when we first started cloth diapering (in a rental apartment) and I hated it! Front loaders are very hard to keep smelling clean, because the door needs to stay shut. We felt like it smelled moldy pretty often. Luckily, that one died pretty quickly and my landlord replaced it with a top loader, which meant I could let it stay filled with water and soak my diapers all day long. I would just leave the washer open as a “hamper” for the day, then run the cycle each night.

      When we moved into a house, we bought the washer and dryer set that was recommended by Consumer Reports– it’s the Samsung Aquajet Washer and Dryer with the steam sanitize function. (I love the steam option for sanitizing toys, too!)

  9. Kaity

    I make a water and baking soda paste and coat the inside of the oven with it- let it sit for 10+ minutes and then spray it with a water/vinegar solution and cleaning my oven was never so easy. The grease just wipes right off!

  10. angie

    If you have been cutting onions or garlic and your hands are stinky, rinse them in lemon juice and the stink will go away! Just be sure to rinse your hands after a few minutes with the lemon juice on them, or you may get it in your eye and ouch! hahaha

  11. Denise L

    Baking soda cleans/polishes porcelain really well. I pour a good amount into the bath tub and scour gently. Takes any soap residue right off!

  12. Betty C

    I’ve made laundry detergent using washing soda, castile soap and Borax. I’ve made both liquid and dry formulas and they both work really well.

  13. Jerry Marquardt

    My favorite natural cleaning tip is to use a drop of blue food coloring to a whole bottle of liquid laundry detergent, at least 3/4 of a gallon minimum.

  14. Barbara Montag

    I now use vinegar for most cleaning.
    Wash my floors with 1/2 water 1/2 vinegar – you wouldn’t believe how clean they get!
    thank you


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