Ammonia Diaper Rash Causes And Prevention Guide


Ammonia is one of the biggest issues when it comes to cloth diapers. If you noticed that your baby’s cloth diapers smell so bad that even your eyes water you may be dealing with ammonia. There are many causes for this condition, but one thing is for sure – you have to resolve the problem as soon as possible.

Dehydration, not using enough detergent, or not washing cloth diapers on time can all cause ammonia. Ammonia diaper rash is one of the most common consequences that can happen to your child. Besides, the stink is so bad that you will have to clean your whole room to get rid of it.

What is Ammonia?

If the amount of fluid in your baby’s urine is lesser than the amount of waste – the smell of ammonia occurs.

Proteins break down in our urine and urea is a byproduct of it. Urea then keeps breaking down until it becomes ammonia. A well-hydrated person uses a bathroom often. Since it takes time for ammonia to form, urea won’t have time to turn into ammonia if your baby wets a cloth diaper on time. However, if your baby is dehydrated ammonia will begin to form. The same will happen if you leave a wet diaper to sit too long.

The smell begins after this.

Ammonia Causes

Ammonia burn cloth diapers can be a bit hard to deal with. You have to understand what the main cause is and do everything you can to prevent it from happening again. These are the most common causes of ammonia diaper rash:

Diapers Sitting Too Long

As already mentioned above, ammonia is more likely to occur if you leave urea to sit for a long time.

Think about how many times you wash your baby’s diapers. For example, if you do it every 5-7 days, you are probably not doing it frequently enough. The ammonia smell is more likely to occur if a diaper is left in a diaper pail or a wet bag.

Hard Water

High mineral content is the main cause of hard water. These minerals will be building up in your baby’s cloth diapers and this is why your detergent is going to work ineffectively.

What this means is that even if you wash your diapers regularly they aren’t getting clean enough. This results in urea piling up and causing the smell and ammonia diaper rash.

Not Using Enough Detergent

Ammonia burn cloth diapers can be caused by not using enough detergent in your washes. Your diapers are not going to get clean enough if you use too little detergent. This means that your baby’s diapers are going to be filled with urea even after washing.

You have to follow the instructions on the package and find an amount that just fits the purpose.

Too Much Detergent

Using too much detergent can also cause an ammonia smell. You probably thought that your diapers are going to be cleaner if you use more detergent, but that’s not always the case. Your rinse cycle won’t be able to thoroughly wash your baby’s diapers if you use too much detergent. Similarly to hard water build-up, your baby’s diapers can also get piled up with detergent – resulting in poorly washed diapers.

Again, follow the instructions on the detergent package to find the right amount of detergent you need to use.

Your Baby is Growing Up

Breast milk and formula are the main source of nutrients for infants. This keeps their urine diluted and their bodies hydrated. However, your child’s urine will be less diluted when your baby starts eating solids. Ammonia smell could be caused by this.

Besides, your baby will begin to sleep for longer stretches as it gets older. This means that the diaper is also going to sit for a longer period – resulting in ammonia smell in the morning. Try using an overnight diaper as it seems that they work best against ammonia.

Eliminating Ammonia Smell

You would want to eliminate the ammonia smell once and for all when you figure out what is causing it. There are a few important, yet simple, things you should do to fight the signature stench.

Enzyme Cleaner

Enzyme cleaners can be found fairly easy at your local store or online. They are usually very successful in removing bacteria that causes your baby’s diapers to have that unpleasant smell.

All you have to do is to spray your baby’s cloth diaper with a bit of enzyme cleaner before you put it in a diaper pail. Keep repeating this, just as a preventative measure. Eliminating ammonia smell is also successful if you try spraying the enzyme cleaner before you wash the diaper.

Bleach Soak

The next step after trying enzyme cleaner is to bleach soak your baby’s diapers. This, of course, should only be done if you are sure that hard water is not causing ammonia. Ammonia burn cloth diapers should be sanitized after using bleach soak and the smell should go away and your baby’s rash should get better.

Mix bleach with cold water and place your diapers in the mixture for about 45 minutes. Put the diapers in a washing machine and put the regular amount of detergent, as you would normally do. Of course, don’t forget to use hot water. You maybe even noticed that cloth diaper manufacturers even recommend doing this at least once a month to get rid of ammonia.

Can you Prevent the Ammonia Smell?


When you successfully remove the ammonia smell there are a few safety measures you can take to prevent it from happening again. The smell and the ammonia diaper rash can reoccur easily, so you will probably have to take a few measures.

The whole process will be trial and error. But, eventually, you will probably be able to stop the condition from reoccurring.

Wash Diapers Regularly

As already mentioned, 5-7 days is too long of a period for washing diapers. Try washing your baby’s cloth diaper every 2-3 days and see if you notice a difference. Regular washes should be able to stop the urea from turning into ammonia.


Your baby will eventually start eating solids as it gets older. You must provide your child with enough fluids when this happens. The urine of your child is going to start smelling worse if your child starts getting dehydrated.

Usually, 6 months old babies need about 24-32 ounces of breast milk or formula. To stay properly hydrated after a year, your child is going to need 16-24 ounces per day.

Natural Fibers

Ammonia is easily trapped by microfibers in your baby’s cloth diapers. However, microfibers are hard to be washed out properly. So, you will have more difficulties washing the diaper if it has thick microfibers.

This is why you should always try to use diapers made of natural fibers such as bamboo and cotton. These diapers are made from smoother strands and they have looser knits. Ammonia burn cloth diapers should be easy to clean, and you can achieve this by using natural fiber diapers.

Water Softener

You will have to use a water softener if hard water is the main cause of your ammonia smell. Water softeners can easily be found in your local store and you will have to buy them to add them to your wash cycles. This will keep the stench away if hard water is the problem.

Minerals that pile up in your baby’s diapers are dissolved by water softeners, which then allows you to properly wash the diaper.

Ammonia Burns

You probably heard that a lot of people complain about ammonia diaper rash. However, even though a lot of people think this is a rash, it isn’t. It is just a burn that ammonia causes when it comes into contact with your baby’s skin.

The rash is usually red, blotchy, and flat. Also, blisters are a very common symptom. If your baby is wearing disposable diapers the ammonia rash could still occur. The chances are even bigger if you don’t change your baby’s diapers during the night.

 Try creating a barrier between the diaper and your baby’s skin to treat ammonia burns. Try using a rash cream without petroleum if your baby’s pediatrician gives a green light. Monitor your baby’s condition and don’t hesitate to get help from a doctor if you notice that there’s no improvement with the rash.

Baby Planet Overview

Fighting a battle against ammonia can be quite hard. The smell can be very unpleasant and it can be devastating trying to get rid of it. However, there are a few solutions and you should be able to get rid of the smell in no time if you do everything properly.

Ammonia can cause skin burn. This happens due to the chemical reactions that happen when ammonia comes in contact with your child’s skin. Consult with your baby’s doctor to figure out what is the best way to get rid of the burn.

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Hello Mother's and Father's of the world. My name is Sarah Nielsen is this is my passion, as I am a mother of two beautiful babies and they are my world. Also I love blogging and sharing my experiences of what has worked for me when raising my kids. When I'm not juggling the madness at home, or working on my blog. You will find me product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest baby gear and helpful articles for my readers!