Friday, August 15, 2008

Cloth Diapers

This is probably going to be long and boring and irrelevant to most of my readers. All couple of you. ;)

I've mentioned before that we used cloth diapers for our first baby, both for environmental reasons and financial reasons (and possibly some less noble crunchy-merit-badge reasons). We used Motherease one-size diapers with Motherease covers.* We used a dry pail (we bought one of those large plastic tubs with the snap lid dog food comes in and donated the dog food to the Humane Society). We washed daily and the diapers always came out sparkling clean, even in our 20-year-old washing machine. Everything was great. We reveled in our own awesome.

Then, we moved to a new house and bought a new washing machine. We had a new baby. New baby's skin didn't like the cloth diapering so much (was it gluten? the detergent? skin just sesitive to mositure? I don't know.). We switched to free and clear detergent, and cut out gluten immediately. The rashes cleared up.

HOWEVER, the diapers started stanking up the house, and didn't seem to be coming clean in the wash. We tried a wet pail. We tried vinegar. We tried baking soda. We tried extra wash cycles. We tried line-drying. It really made me wonder if the diapers hadn't ever really come clean and the smells were just masked by the perfumes in the detergent, especially since some of our other laundry wasn't coming that clean either.

We gave up. We switched to disposables. We felt guilty. We got over it.

Now baby #3 is on the way, and all those crunchy mama hormones are back in full force. And I want to give the cloth diapers another shot.

What can I do? Our repairman friend is coming to look at the washer and check that out. But if you have diaper laundry ideas I haven't tried, I'd love to hear!

*We also had a backup supply of very nice Chinese prefolds and nylon Dappi covers that worked just as well and were MUCH cheaper. If you are looking for the cheapest way to effectively cloth diaper, that's what I recommend. Forget trying to use Gerber cloth diapers as diapers. They rock for burp rags though!

**If you're interested, my post "Do Disposable Diapers Contain Gluten?" has been updated.

9 comments:

KatieBug said...

I use borax in a wet pail when I'm feeling ambitious enough to use cloth diapers. It doesn't get all the stains out but they smell good.

Lindsey J said...

Sounds like you had ammonia build-up (or maybe detergent build-up). Those two are easily remedied (or so I've heard).

Do you have a water softener? We don't and our water is very hard and was contributing to build-up issues. We started using Calgon water softener in our diaper laundry and it's really helped a lot. I've seen a map that shows the hardness of water across the nation but I will have to dig it up again...

Tenille said...

Borax, gotcha. (If I get enough response, I think I'm going to make a list of everything and write a post!)

We MOST DEFINITELY have terrible water. We've got rust stains on everything, calcium buildup, you name it. I'm sure that contributes, and we "can't afford" a water softener. Ahem.

Lindsey J said...

We've been budgeting & saving for a water softener for several months now, just getting by with the Calgon (which we use on diapers & whites primarily). We can't wait for the better testing water (and food cooked in said water) and cleaner clothes. I hope that you can do the same.

huddtoo said...

Well...I did not use cloth diapers on either of my kids. As much of an enviro-junkie that I am too!!

Have you tried white vinegar in the rinse cycle? It's been a while since I've had to do it, but I used to have to add it to my whites because of crummy water. I think it's a cup in the rinse cycle. The tough part is getting it added at the right time, with a washer in the basement it's tough to hear/catch it! It's a great freshener and it does some whitening too.

You know, come to think of it, why are diapers white anyway? We American's have an obsession with white, don't we. Bleached flour (WHY on Earth do we need perfectly white flour??), feminine hygine products are bright white, diapers are white, the list goes on. Get your clothies and dye them dark blue or something, I'd risk saying brown, but how drab for a cute little baby...hehe. Just a thought. :)

I wonder why you had no problem the first time, but not so good a time the 2nd. Did you use new cloth diapers? Your kids are a couple years apart, if you stored the cloth diapers in between kids, they could have "gone bad", if I dare say that, just having them sit in a box or bin.

Gosh, I'm just grabbing straws now. LOL

Good luck!!

Paragon~Of~Virtue said...

For my cloth diapers (please excuse me if I slip up and say nappy - I'm Australian!) I use bicarb soda in the pre-wash about once a month, a white vinegar rinse about once a week and I only use a dessert spoon of laundry powder. We have a front loader.
Then line dry and tumble dry when almost dry to soften them.

What you have to keep in mind is the stains don't actually mean the diapers are "dirty".

If you do think you've been using too much laundry powder, you can reduce build up by giving each diaper a squirt with dishwashing liquid and then giving it a hand wash, followed by a run through the washing machine without detergent.

The other thing I wondered was do Motherease have built in liners? (I've only used their covers over different nappies). If not, perhaps liners will help your babies skin stay dry. You can just cut up microfleece into rectangles or shape them if you like so the wetness is drawn through into the nappy and baby stays dry.

Tracy said...

We've never been ambitious enough to try cloth diapers, but we have had plenty of laundry issues. And a water softener has been listed as the solution.

But we can't afford one yet either.

-John...using Tracy's ID

Jamie said...

Add 1/2 cup baking soda and 2 oz natural liquid laundry soap (like Ecos, Magnolia and Lily... great for sensitive skin) PRIOR to adding nappies. Wash on hot/cold. Use an extra rinse cycle if needed.

For odor control, keep a quart size jar filled with equal amounts of white vinegar and water, add 1-3 tsp TEA TREE OIL. Add 1 cup to final rinse. Also, be sure to use LIQUID detergent, it doesn't work with powders.


For pail odor- use Tea tree oil in the bottom of your pail (use when cleaning pail out, or keep a spray bottle filled with a vinegar/water/tea tree solution). Also, you can make your own "deodorizer sheets"... use a small fabric square (baby washcloth size) and soak it in a solution of water and essential oil (tea tree or eucalyptus) and place in the lid or under wet bag in the pail.

A final note...

Baking soda in the wash will neutralize the urine odors, but be sure to add the vinegar (or vinegar mix) to the final rinse. This will keep the diapers at a healthy ph for baby's skin!


Borox and Bleach will both break down the fibers in your cloth diapers and they will not get as long of a life and could irritage baby's skin.

Good luck!

Jamie

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