ammonia smell with diapers.

We fielded several emails this week about ammonia, so I am throwing out the reminder of the two times ammonia odors are normal.

1) in the diaper pail, when you lift the lid, ammonia wafting out is completely normal.

2)in the morning diaper. When a diaper has been on for 8+ hours, it will smell of ammonia in the morning.

Remember, our bodies cannot have ammonia internally, so we convert it to other acids and byproducts. When urine leaves our body and meets air, it will convert back to ammonia salts. If your baby pees early in the night, that is 8+ hours of urine salts sitting in a nice, warm, moist environment, so it will smell in the morning. Adding absorbency to break down the concentration will help, but especially as your baby ages that morning smell is normal. If your diapers smell fresh out of the dryer, and do not smell of stale urine within the first hour of being worn, your wash routine is otherwise fine.
Let me know if you have any questions!


June 23, 2011. cloth diapers, Diaper Chatter, Q & A, Wash routines.


  1. Lindsey replied:

    What if they smell fresh from the dryer, but smell like ammonia after an hour and a half of wearing them??

  2. abbyslane replied:

    That means you have old buildup, email me at with the details of your wash routine 🙂

  3. Nicole replied:

    Haha, I just went to your blog today because I wanted see what info you had about ammonia. We have a VERY ammonia smelling diaper in the morning, and ammonia from the diaper pail after a day or two, but that’s it! Makes sense because my daughter likes to spend some time at night (lately more and more) singing and playing with her babies in her bed before she goes to sleep. Nice to know it’s normal and apparently really great timing for my question!

  4. ammonia smell in diapers (part two) « It's The Cloth That Counts. replied:

    […] smell in diapers (part two) Last week we offered some cliff notes on ammonia/what can be expected/what is not normal, etc.. On another forum I expanded our […]

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