Cloth Diaper Laundry – Roll Tide!

Cloth Diaper Laundry - Roll Tide!

Which Tide will you use on your cloth diaper laundry?

Oh, cloth diaper laundry…  You are a cruel and confusing mistress.  You confound even the most seasoned of cloth diaper addicts, particularly when one starts getting into the more mainstream detergents.

We already know that there are so many variables that impact which detergent will be kindest to your cloth diaper laundry.  While I’m a diehard Rockin Green user, not everyone loves my favorite detergent.  Some actually hate it and find that it causes irritation, build up, or any other evil that one does not want to experience when using cloth diapers.

In my local cloth diaper group, we discussed the advice that a mom had received from a diaper company on cleaning her diapers to resolve the leaking issues that she’d had.  This diaper company actually told her that Tide Free was the best to use on their products.  While I wasn’t surprised that Tide Free was considered safe, I was surprised that it was considered to be a “best” option.  FuzziBunz lists it as a safer (but not a first choice) detergent.

Another local mom was surprised by that suggestion.  She had come across some articles lately that said that Tide Free wasn’t the best way to go when it came to cloth diaper laundry.  She’d read that plain old Tide powder was the way to go and she’d used it herself for dealing with the occasional build up issue.  Then I’d learned that the mom who runs a co-op that I’m in uses plain old Tide powder exclusively.

I was actually kind of surprised by that.  I’d heard of someone periodically using the old fashioned orange box Tide on her cloth diaper laundry to resolve build up issues, but to use it all the time?

Wow.

Tide Free

Tide Free is a liquid detergent that’s free of fragrances and dyes.  Those things are very good for cloth diaper laundry.  However, it has brighteners and enzymes.  Enzymes, while not necessarily a bad thing for the diapers, can be unpleasant on your baby’s bottom if the diapers are not rinsed perfectly clear.  Enzymes work by attacking organic matter (like fecal matter) when wet… but our babies are also organic, so this can cause irritation when they wet the diaper.  Brighteners are actually a chemical residue left behind on diapers.  Residue can lead to build up, which can lead to stink or reduced absorbency.

Regular Tide

The good old fashioned Tide powder has enzymes, brighteners, dyes, and fragrances.  There are those that use it and swear by it.  There are even diaper manufacturers that recommend it and specifically say not to use Tide Free.

My personal cloth diaper laundry experience

All that I can tell you is that I used Tide Free, a detergent that’s on the “it’s okay to use” list at FuzziBunz, and experienced such a stink that I nearly gave up on using cloth diapers all together.  But again, that’s my experience, which will be influenced by a whole bunch of factors.

No wonder cloth diaper laundry can be so confusing.  At the end of the day, though, all you can do is figure out what works best for you, your diapers, and your baby (not necessarily in that order).

Have you used either Tide detergents on your cloth diaper laundry?  How did it work for you?

Storing Dirty Cloth Diapers

When I had first decided that I wanted to use cloth with Norton, I had a lot of questions.  One of the things that I wasn’t sure about was storing dirty cloth diapers.  My only real life experience with using cloth diapers was when my sister used flats on my niece.  (My niece is an adult now, so flats were about as good as it gets back then.)  I knew how my sister stored diapers, but that was about it.

It turns out that caring for modern cloth diapers is a bit different than how my sister cared for diapers back in the early 1990’s… or how my mother cared for her cloth diapers back in the 1960’s and 1970’s. [Read more…]

Cloth Diaper Inserts – Natural vs. Synthetic

A huge part of using cloth diapers is using the right cloth diaper inserts.  There’s a catch, though: there’s no universally right or wrong answer to the cloth diaper inserts decision.  There are a few things to consider when you decide what to go with.

Not all cloth diapers are the same.  Some are wider.  Some are narrower.  I would never, ever pair my Fuzzi Bunz inserts with a BumGenius diaper.  Fuzzi Bunz diapers are narrower, so it’s a recipe for leaking.  This is also why I match cloth diaper inserts to diapers.  (Typically, if I’m using a Rumparooz diaper, I’m using a Rumparooz insert.)  If I’m not matching brand to brand, then it’s a conscious choice and is still done with the same deliberate care that I use when choosing cloth diapers for my stash in the first place.  Then, of course, there’s what the cloth diaper inserts are actually made of.

Fiber

There are few common fabrics used in your inserts.  For your natural fibers, you’ve got cotton, hemp, and bamboo.  For your synthetic fibers, you’ve got microfiber and minky.  They all have their own benefits and disadvantages.

Natural fibers

A lot of people swear by their natural fibers like hemp and bamboo.  There’s a good reason for it: they just plain work.  Both bamboo and hemp actually hold more liquid than microfiber.  They are less prone to compression leaks.  They are less prone to stink than microfiber.  They are able to be right up against your baby’s skin.  Hold up.  Those are all great things.  So why aren’t all cloth diaper inserts made of natural fibers?  There are two drawbacks to natural fibers.  1.) Natural fibers don’t wick away moisture.  2.) Natural fibers are more expensive.

Microfiber

I love microfiber, myself.  My microfiber inserts came with my diapers, so I know that they will always fit properly.  Microfiber is perfectly absorbent enough for my kids for daytime use.  Microfiber wicks away moisture, so my kids’ bottoms are kept dryer.  Because microfiber wicks away moisture, it actually absorbs faster than natural fibers.  The downside, though, is that microfiber is prone to stink.  (Don’t worry; that can be fixed.)  Additionally, microfiber can’t be right up against your baby’s bottom because it’s so very efficient at wicking away moisture that it can actually dry out baby’s skin and leave a very chapped bottom.  Another drawback to microfiber cloth diaper inserts is that they are more prone to compression leaks than natural inserts.

Some manufacturers (like Fuzzi Bunz Elite diapers) are working past the synthetic issues by converting to minky inserts.

What Should You Choose?

Really, that depends entirely on your needs and what you’re using your cloth diapers for.  For general day time use, I use microfiber.  At night, I like to use a combination of natural fibers double stuffed with a microfiber insert.  This way, the microfiber can quickly suck away the moisture and the natural fibers can absorb whatever leaks, from compression or otherwise, and keep my babies’ bottoms dry into the morning.  Some people only want natural fibers near baby, so that’s all that they use.  In the end, trial and error is pretty much your best bet.

Do you have a preference for natural fibers versus synthetics?

4 Basic Bummis Prefold Diapers Methods

I love my prefold diapers.  I bought my first six pack of Bummis organic cotton prefold diapers when Eudora was less than a week old.  She’d gotten a terrible case of diaper rash in the disposable diapers we’d been using and her little bum needed some fluffy relief.  I bought them after being convinced by some of my friends that prefold diapers were nowhere near as frightening as I’d thought.

It turns out that the scariest thing about using prefold diapers was all in my head.  It turns out that they are exceptionally easy to use.  Here are four of the easiest folds:

1.) The short trifold

Lay your diaper out so that it’s long way, and then fold into thirds.  Lay the folded diaper in the diaper cover and put on baby.  This keeps the thickest part of the prefold in the middle, which is great for girls.

How to fold a Prefold - Short Trifold

How to fold the short trifold, left to right

2.) The long trifold

Lay your prefold diaper out so that it’s short way in front of you and fold into thirds.  Lay the folded diaper in the diaper cover, fold down the front so that it’s in the cover.  This keeps the thickest part of the diaper in the front, which is great for boys.

How to fold Prefold Diapers - Long Trifold

How to fold the long trifold, from left to right

3.) The bikini twist

Lay the prefold diaper flat, short way.  Then turn one end.  Put the diaper in the cover and place on baby.  This is great for girls as it increases the layers in the middle.

 

Bikini twist prefold - How to fold a prefold

The Bikini Twist

4.) The fan fold

Lay the diaper out like you’re going to fold in a long trifold.  Place in the diaper cover and then fan out the back folds.  This is a fantastic prefold diaper method for handling those messy newborn poops!

How to Fold a Trifold - The Fan

The Fan Fold, left to right

The great thing about all of these diaper folds is that not a single one requires a diaper pin or Snappi.  It pairs great with any cover, including Bummis, GroVia, Flip, and Best Bottom.

What’s your favorite prefold?  (And if it’s not one of the ones that I listed, please share it!)

Still not sure?  You can see a Bummis Prefold Demo Video!

How Many Cloth Diapers Do You Really Need?

As an admitted cloth diaper addict, you’d think that my answer would be “you need ALL THE CLOTH DIAPERS!!!1!”  Really, though, while it’s nice to have a lot of fluff to play with (and it can be a great pick me up during a rough day), it’s not really necessary.

How many cloth diapers do I need for a newborn?

Conventional wisdom is you need 24 diapers.  I found that when I started using cloth diapers with my son, I would have done just fine with a dozen pocket diapers.  Not, of course, that there aren’t benefits to having more.

Reasons to start with a small stash:

1.) It’s less of a financial hardship for the initial start-up.  The initial start up is actually one of the reasons that a lot of people who want to use cloth diapers don’t.  (And if you’re in Canada, Cloth for a Cause exists just to help parents in need get past that hurdle.)

2.) You don’t know what you’re going to like.  Sure, I love Fuzzi Bunz diapers.  My friend K doesn’t.  Sure, I love Flip diapers, but my friend J prefers Swaddlebees Capri.  Not all people are going to like the same diaper, so having a few types of cloth diapers here and there (or getting a sampler pack from a place like Nicki’s Diapers with an awesome return policy) is great to figure out what you like better before you sink all your cash into one type of cloth diaper stash.

Reasons to start with a large stash:

1.) Reduced laundry.  While I still wash my cloth diapers every other day (really, around every 36 hours), that’s because I have two in cloth.  I love having my large stash of cloth diapers because I can let those clean diapers languish in the laundry room for a while.  I don’t have to rush to get them put away and dealt with as quickly as possible.

2.) Reduced wear and tear.  While, yes, you can get by with 12-18 diapers (even for a newborn), the more diapers you have, the less your diapers get used, so the longer they last.  In fact, GroVia recommends a large enough stash for 38-50 changes.  The reality is that most people consider a stash that can handle 50 changes for one child to be quite large, though.  It’s considered on the outside edge of a reasonable cloth diaper stash.  (If you have more than 50 and only one child, though, you might be a cloth diaper addict.)

In the end, though, the stash that you start with is a personal decision.  Only you know what’s most reasonable for your budget and for your lifestyle.

Getting Dad on Board with Using Cloth Diapers

I come across a lot of people online who think that using cloth diapers is a great idea, but the partner is on board.  Usually, Mom loves the idea and Dad is grossed out, but I do have friends that are the opposite.  A big part of the parent opposed is fear of using cloth diapers based on misconceptions.  Sometimes the parent who wants cloth will go ahead and go with a system of using cloth diapers and disposables so that there are alternatives. [Read more…]

The Evils of the Sanitize Cycle on Cloth Diaper Laundry

Image from Stock.xchng. Used with permission

Whenever you do cloth diaper laundry, the goal is to get your diapers clean.  Your cloth diaper stash takes a lot of abuse.  I mean, our kids pee and poop on those things… over and over again!  So with that in mind, you’d think that you want to get your cloth diaper laundry as clean as humanly possible, right?  And what can be better than sanitized or sterilized?

It turns out that when it comes to your cloth diaper laundry, just plain clean is generally good enough.  But then there are these beautiful, amazingly energy efficient front load washers.  And there’s that lovely “sanitize” button…  It seems like it should be the perfect solution, right?

It’s not.  While “sanitize” means to “render sanitary, free from elements such as filth or pathogens,” it’s not super kind to your diapers.  It can actually get far hotter than manufacturer specifications for some varieties of diapers.

I was curious about the temperatures, so I decided to start calling washing machine manufacturers after finding no hard and fast temperature information on sites with washing machine specs.  According to Maytag, their sanitize cycle renders clothes NSF safe.  NSF certified minimums for washing is 131F/55C.  But that’s just the minimum.  I couldn’t find any information regarding the actual temperature that the washing machine uses on sanitize.  The nice gentleman on the other end of the Maytag customer support line couldn’t, either.

Some sanitize through steaming.  The temperature that water turns to steam is 212F/100C.  That’s also the boiling point of water.

Here’s the thing: while boiling will most certainly kill most things, it may also kill your diapers.  Rockin’ Green says to wash your diapers at a maximum of 150F/65C, but to stick with 130F/54C for every day cloth diaper laundry… with deference to the manufacturer instructions, of course.  The instructions on BumGenius diapers says to wash at 100F/40C.  AppleCheeks diapers say to wash at 140F/60C.  Rumparooz website says explicitly (and this is a quote from their website) “Washing your pockets on the sanitize cycle will void the warranty.”

If you really do need to hard core sanitize, you most likely will only need to sanitize your inserts.  That’s where the issues are more than likely to reside with your diapers in the first place.  The only time I would ever make an exception to this rule is under the same conditions that I would actually use bleach: if dealing with MRSA, a really bad nasty fungal infection, or something else that requires a “kill or cure” approach to getting your cloth diapers back.

Have you ever used the sanitize cycle on your cloth diapers?  How did it work out for you?

Time to Strip Your Diapers? Troubleshooting Cloth Diapering Issues

At some time or another, it’s nearly guaranteed that anyone who is using cloth diapers will run into problems.  The three most common problems seem to be ammonia stink, barnyard stink, and repelling.  Whenever these things happen, the advice seems to be “strip your diapers.”  But the thing is, different methods of stripping are designed for different things and different machines.  When I first ran into issues, someone suggested that I “strip my diapers” and I was just so lost.  There seemed to be umpteen different methods of doing it and none explained that the different methods had different purposes.

Fortunately, cloth diaper resources have improved.  I’m going to take a look at the most common issues and tell you how to fix them.  Note: this may not be an immediate fix.  Depending on the severity of the issue, it may take a few attempts.

Ammonia stink

Your diapers come out of the washing machine smelling clean, but when you take them off, the ammonia smell is just overwhelming.

Cause: Urea naturally turns into ammonia and will build up in diapers over time.

How to fix it: Disinfect your diapers.  There are a few different ways to go about this.

A.) You can do the Rockin’ Green method, which is how I tackled it.  1.) Wash your diapers.  2.) Rock a soak in Rockin’ Green Funk Rock Ammonia Bouncer.  (Soak for 4-8 hours.)  3.) Rock a soak in Rockin’ Green detergent.  4.) Finish out with running your diapers through the laundry as per usual with no detergents.

B.) Boil your diapers.  (Caution: Only do this with inserts, as it may cause diapers with PLU or TPU to delaminate, or ruin the elastics in fitted or contour diapers.)

C.) Bleach your diapers or use OxiClean.   (Caution: check your manufacturer’s warranty before doing so.  Most diaper companies discourage the use of bleach.  GroVia specifically says not to use oxygen cleaners.) I personally always reach for OxiClean and have never felt it necessary to use chlorine bleach on my diapers.

D.) Sun your diapers.

Not recommended methods ever: Some people suggest that you run your diapers through the dishwasher.  I’m going to say that this is a very bad idea.  Yes, it may work, but it’s also risky because it is a fire hazard.  As much as I love clean smelling diapers, I love reducing the odds of my house turning to ashes even more.

Repelling

Repelling is usually caused by something getting on diapers that shouldn’t be, like most diaper creams.  As much as I love Boudreaux’s Butt Paste for clearing up the odd rash, it (and other zinc diaper creams) are not CD friendly.  Fabric softeners and dryer sheets can also cause repelling.

How to fix it: Use a degreasing agent.  Dawn is the most common fix.  However, before you do so, check your machine’s instructions.  My washing machine, for example, says explicitly not to use Dawn.  In my case, I would manually scrub the diaper with Dawn and a toothbrush.  Either way, once you’re done, rinse like there’s no tomorrow.  Run multiple rinse cycles until you have no bubbles.  (If you’re washing by hand, rinse, rinse, rinse, and rinse some more before you put it in your machine.)

Barnyard/Funky Poo Smell

I’ve had a few occasions where Norton’s diapers started to smell like a sweaty horse that had been ridden hard and put away wet.  Gross.  If I wanted to smell that, I’d start mucking out stables.  The cause is that diapers aren’t coming clean enough in the wash.

How to fix it: Run your diapers through the wash with double the amount of the detergent.  Rinse like mad to get out the extra soap.

Other methods that have worked for other people: Consider trying a wash with Tide Free and Gentle Unscented.  I consider Tide Free to be the devil when it comes to washing diapers, as it caused an ammonia funk that almost caused me to give up on cloth, but a friend of mine swears by it.

Need to increase absorbency

Diapers aren’t holding as much as they used to?  Your diapers are probably holding onto residue or have some detergent build up.

How to fix it: Run a couple of hot wash cycles with no detergent to work out the build up.  Or run a wash cycle with RLR and then do extra rinses to make sure that it’s rinsed clean.

Special thanks to Cozy Bums for helping me with my own early diaper stink issues!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.  I receive a small commission from purchases made through those links, which I use to support Cloth Diaper Addicts.

Legal Disclaimer: I am not liable for the results.  This is a list of suggestions.  It is up to the person using the list to decide what s/he is willing or is not willing to try.  Use at your own risk.

How to Make Cloth Baby Wipes

I am completely not the crafty DIY type.  Fortunately, I’ve met people online who are.  Devon, a local mom from Prince George, recently made cloth baby wipes.  Here’s how she did it.  Thanks, Devon!

I chose to use old receiving blankets. I actually bought 9 of them for $2 from another mom. I used them to make 30 7×7 wipes (double layer). I’m big into recycling, and this is a nice way to repurpose old receiving blankets.
Wipes can be made to your size preference, I went approx 7×7. I cut 2 squares of equal size. I used different blankets for each side because it’s cute:) put the squares right sides together, and stitch around the edges. Leave approx a 1 inch gap to turn the wipe right side out.

Turn the wipe right side out through the 1 inch gap you left

Turn in edges of the gap

Hand stitch the gap closed.

Completed wipe

 

The All-in-Two Diaper Comparison

I love my all-in-two diapers.  They’re wonderfully versatile and can make packing a cinch.  The problem that comes into play is… well, where do you start?  Is there a better or worse one?  Are there different features?  How are the various all-in-two diaper brands the same and how do they differ? [Read more…]