there's this trick I figured out last year that I could share. I wondered if anyone else might have thought of it, but a search didn't yield any hits, so here goes, maybe it's of some use to someone.
I suppose all cloth diaper users deal with ammonia buildup now and then. It happened to me quite regularly when I mainly used the thicker kind of shaped cotton diapers, and the most with some all-in-one reusable diapers that really were quite a piece of work in that respect. I've since then changed to using the simple large square cotton diapers that you must fold yourself. Because they are thin when unfolded they are much easier to clean and the ammonia demon isn't a shade of what he used to be
Still, I found that this trick is very helpful to quickly neutralise the smell of urine. When I get up I dump the soaked diapers in the bathtub, spray them with a little limescale remover and then dilute it with some water from the shower head.
I suppose it doesn't matter which brand of limescale remover you use, but I like the neutral-smelling variety best. We've got a brand over here called Dasty: it's cheap, not perfumed and it comes in nice large bottles with a spray nozzle. I think the active ingredient is formic acid ('mierenzuur'
in Dutch - 'ant acid'
, because ants naturally produce it), a mild organic acid related to acetic acid, but without the sharp vinegar smell.
I found that the smell or urine almost instantly disappears as if by magic when you apply the limescale remover - with my high school chemistry knowledge I'd say that that is because any trace of ammonia that might have formed in the diaper is neutralised, as ammonia is a base whereas formic acid is an acid.
I then turn on the warm water and take a shower while leaving the diaper lying in the tub, so that it has a kind of free pre-wash cycle.
When I'm done, I wring the excess water out of the diapers, put them in the washing machine and let it just run the spin cycle.
That takes only 5 minutes or so, and afterwards the diapers aren't really clean of course, but they hardly smell at all. I usually leave them in the machine or collect them for a few days to wash them properly.
I think that the limescale remover also works well on plastic pants, should they take on some of the ammonia smell. As far as I know, PVC can easily handle the formic acid - I never noticed that it damaged or hardened the plastic. You need a few drops only anyhow, and dilute it with water and rinse the thing quickly.