Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Heavy Wetter 101

I was a featured blogger over on The Cloth Diaper Whisperer, I wrote about the frustrating battle to find diapers that can stand up to my race horse peeing children. Check it out if you need some ideas for naps, overnight or your own heavy wetter.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Top 10 Cloth Diapering Myths

"Cloth diaper washing takes hours and hours"
You have to buy special cloth diaper detergent"
"Bleach is the devil and will cause your diapers to fall apart"
"Too much detergent will make your diapers stink/repel etc"
"You have to use tons of water to wash cloth diapers"
"You have to "strip" cloth diapers all the time"
"Cloth diapering is super expensive"
"Day cares don't allow cloth diapers"

^^ Any of these statements sound familiar? I had heard every single one of them back when I was still in the googling phase of cloth diapering. I was scared that cloth diapering would be complicated and expensive and almost gave up before I even started. Thankfully I learned that these are all a bunch of myths and that cloth diapering can be easy, cheap, and something any family can do. Let's get myth busting :)

Myth #1
 Diapers require elaborate wash routines and use specialty "cloth diaper safe detergent"

Rinse-Wash (with detergent)-Rinse

It really is that easy. You can wash diapers in any machine (HE machines included) with a simple pre-rinse, long heavy duty wash and 1-2 rinses. That is it, it should only take you 10-20 more minutes than washing a regular load of towels (for information on temperature and detergent keep reading). Washing diapers is just like washing extra dirty clothes.

You don't need some fancy pants 9 step wash routine that you got off of Pinterest. You don't need 3 full cycles. You don't and shouldn't add extra water to your washing machine. You don't need to endlessly rinse your diapers.

If washing diapers is like washing clothing than do I need special cloth diaper detergent? 

NOPE! This is the BIGGEST MYTH EVER! I am totally guilty of believing it too. I foolishly shucked out the extra dollars for some fancy pants cloth diaper detergent called Rocking Green. The only thing it rocked at doing was leaving urine residue that built up and left us with burn your nose hairs ammonia. I looked up their ingredients and low and behold its glorified homemade detergent (which is actually not detergent but a bunch of water softeners and oxiclean) that I could have made for pennies. I believe the whole cloth diaper safe detergent myth is a straight up marketing ploy. The worse offenders at spreading this lie are those diaper companies who sell their own detergents like Cotton Babies (Bum Genius) and Thirsties, a coincidence? I think not.

So what can I use? ANY MAINSTREAM LAUNDRY DETERGENT WITHOUT SYNTHETIC SOFTENERS so skip the Tide with a Touch of Downey/All with Snuggle and you are golden. No more multiple bottles/boxes of detergent for diapers and clothe. Take that Tide, Gain, Arm and Hammer, Sun or whatever it is that you use on your clothes and go on ahead and try it on you diapers, it will probably work awesome and certainly much better than some fancy pants cloth diaper safe detergent. As you may have noticed all these detergents have most or all of the so called scary "perfumes, dyes, optical brighteners, and additives" that you are told to stay away from, none of them will hurt your diapers, I promise.

As for wanting to use "all natural" detergents that obviously fine too just make sure that you use enough to completely clean your diapers oftentimes their recommended 2 tablespoons is almost never going to cut it. IF YOUR DIAPERS STINK OR HAVE AMMONIA THEY ARE NOT CLEAN. (The only naturalish detergent I had work was Seventh Generation but we had to use extra and it just made it to expensive, Ecos was a complete bust).

If you still don't believe me that non "cloth diaper safe detergents" won't cause your diapers to lose absorbency, be ruined or the like then check out these diaper companies, cloth diaper stores,and groups that also suggest using mainstream detergents to clean cloth diapers.

Rumparooz mentions Tide and Gain as their top 2 recommended detergents

Grovia also has Tide and the super cheap brand Sun in their list of detergents:

Fuzzi Bunz recommends Tide Free and Gentle

Tiny Tush also recommends Tide and the like

Best Bottoms states that "Tide works for our diapers"

Imagine Diapers from Imagine Baby Products "recommends Tide"

Bummis lists Tide Free and Gentle on their list of detergents.

Green Mountain Diapers says " Keep it simple. Use what you would normally use on your regular household laundry. Yes, Tide is ok or whatever you happen to like."

Jillians Drawers a cloth diaper store lists Tide as the only detergent they have never received complaints about.

Abby's Lane another huge cloth diaper store also preaches the benefits of mainstream detergents

Padded Tush Stats has posted various articles praising Tide and similar detergents. They even conducted large surveys of people using various detergents and found that Tide had the lowest reported incidences of diaper wear and tear (like holes, pilling, etc.)

*Note: The use of mainstream detergents is against the warranty of several diaper companies (Bum Genius and Thirsties). However, that being said I would rather have clean diapers above all else. The health of my baby's bum is more important than a warranty.

** So called "Homemade Cloth Diaper Detergent" recipes are all over Pinterest/Blogosphere. Most are a combination of Oxiclean, Borax and Washing Soda. 2 of the 3 are water softeners and the 3rd is a powdered form of hydrogen peroxide. None of these are surfectants that actually remove the soil and suspend it until it can be washed away and as such the soil can often be redeposited on the diapers causing bacteria producing stink. Recipes that include bar soap on the other hand will leave soap scum in your diapers, which can cause repelling and leave soap scum in your washing machine.

Myth #2
 You can't bleach diapers

While several cloth diaper brands print warnings against bleaching, others like Bum Genius, Grovia and Cloth Eeze all recommend/approve of the occasional bleaching of diapers. I believe that bleach plays an important role in cloth diapering. I believe it should a) be used to sanitize diapers that have been exposed to yeast b) on diapers that were previously owned, and c) on diapers that have bacteria/ammonia build up from inadequate laundering. Notice I don't mention keeping a wet pail with bleach solution as this is a safety hazard for children and can greatly reduce the life of PUL and elastics.

Bleaching should be done with sanitizing bleach (see paragraph on buying bleach) at a ratio of 1 tbs bleach to 1 gallon cold water. It should be done after the diapers have been washed and at a cold temperature (bleach breaks down in hot water). For step by step instructions check out my bleach post.

 If you are worried about your machine not diluting the bleach properly you can bleach your already washed diapers in the bathtub.  If your diapers are made of PUL/TPU they will not fade (both are color fast).  Cotton,  flannel and other similar natural fibers may experience slight fading (this can be minimized by carefully and accurately diluting the bleach). Never bleach wool or other animal hairs. Also do not use bleach if your water has a very high Iron content, *see below for alternatives

 You have to be very careful when buying bleach as lots of types of bleach are not for sanitizing but only for whitening or deodorizing. I suggest the classic, not the color safe, scented, linen, splashless, or gentle care etc. just the plain original clorox (or generic) bleach that says it kills the flu etc. You also need to make sure the concentration of Sodium Hypochlorate is at least 5.25% but ideally is closer to 8.25%.

          You can also use Oxygen based bleaches like Oxyclean, or any of its generics for getting out those stubborn poop stains. I really like Biz, it is a mix of oxygen bleach and enzymes (I regularly add a few tbs. to my prewash. You can also add boosters to the wash or apply them directly to stains. Just remember OXYGEN BASED BLEACHES ARE NOT FOR SANITIZING only for stain removal.

* Bleaching your diapers may void the warranty of several diaper companies. However, if you purchase diapers used they are already out of warranty and if your baby gets a yeast infection I have to argue that getting rid of the yeast and its spores trumps not voiding a warranty.  For a closer look at bleach alternatives and why Grapefruit Seed Extract is not one of them look here.

**Chlorine Bleach should not be done if your water has a high iron content. In that situation you should use Hydrogen Peroxide (not color safe bleach, GSE, TTO) and borax 3 cups of hydrogen peroxide and 1 cup borax. I don't recommend boiling because you can actually melt microfiber and diaper snaps.

*** Still concerned? Or for a fantastic look out how proper bleach use doesn't harm PUL or elastic this blog has a great mini study.

Myth #3 
That diapers should only be washed in 1/4 the recommended amount of detergent and that detergent  build up will lead to stink, ammonia or cause your diapers to repel. 

I have no idea how the idea got around that using regular detergent or the recommended amount of detergent can cause your diaper to stink etc. but it is a complete and utter lie. Women have been washing diapers for hundreds of years I am sure that they didn't wash them with less soap than their regular clothing. Washing diapers involves washing HUMAN WASTE so you certainly need to be using as much or more than what you would use on clothes. My rule is is 10 diapers is Line 1, 20 for line 2 and 30 diapers for Line 3, its not a scientific amount but it give you a general idea of how much detergent to use. None of this 1/4 the recommended amount crap. Use the appropriate size for the load and soil level just as you would with clothing, diapers are no different.

I believe the only reason people began using such tiny amounts of detergents is because it is what their expensive "cloth diaper detergent" bottle told them to do it. The only reason they told them to do it is so that said detergents would not look as insanely expensive as they actually are. For example Rocking Green is 17 cents a load but that amount is only one tablespoon to actually get diapers clean you would probably need an upwards of 4 tablespoons making it four times as expensive as powdered Tide Ultra is at Costco. Basically just use the amount you need to get your diapers clean, don't go dumping the a whole scoop in for 10 diapers and don't expect 2 tablespoons to clean 15+ diapers. Use common sense.

I love this statement from Grovia, they agree that using enough detergent is incredibly important. Their note on eco friendly detergents is also helpful.  "Use enough detergent.  Use the FULL amount of detergent recommended on your detergent packaging.  Eco friendly detergents are great but don't always clean really well.  If you go with an eco friendly detergent pick a salt based one (not one with coconut or other plant oils as a main ingredient), and use enough.  In fact, you may need to use a bit more than recommended. - See more at:

I have heard people mention bubbles as proof that detergent "builds up," while I don't believe that detergent can magically build up load after load until diaper inserts are so full of detergent that they can't absorb pee (this is not true with soap but detergent and soap are not the same thing). Sure you may have some residue  left behind after washing, you can see the bubbles still left when you rinse on occasion even. But they are just that "residue" not "build up."  This detergent residue is not going to cause any problems unless your baby is hyper sensitive to detergent. In which case add a second or third rinse to your wash routine or switch detergents. Do not keep rinsing over and over until the bubbles are gone. If the diapers don't feel soapy (or technically detergent coated would be more accurate) out of the washing machine you are good to go.

The perplexing issue of "build up" in regards to diapers developing a greasy residue (that can cause repelling) was addressed by Bummis (a diaper company that has been in business over 20 years) on their Facebook page on January 24th 2012. He stated that the issue is that people not using enough detergent  "leads to microscopic soil being left behind. In fecal matter there are oils/fats from digestion. Polyester loves fats and oils and forms a chemical bond with them. If you are using too little detergent to release this soil, you will then get a microscopic build up of oils on the surface of the fabric eventually causing it to repel or stink."  If knowing fecal matter is being left behind by inadequate detergent use isn't enough to convince you to use enough detergent I don't know what will. 

Some people also believe that detergent build up is responsible for ammonia build up, when in fact the opposite is true.  Ammonia in and off itself is a natural occurring phenomenon based on how urine breaks down outside the body. However, by not using enough detergent (or by using too much water) bacteria residue combines with the ammonia carbonate to create ammonia build up within the diaper fibers. Since ammonia build up can cause chemical burns on a child you certainly need to make sure that you are laundering your diapers with enough detergent to ensure that this never happens in the first place. If you already have ammonia build up you will need to do a bleach soak (see the above note on bleach).

In a nutshell, use enough detergent to get your diapers clean You don't need to dump the whole box in but don't expect diapers to get magically clean with a microscopic amount of detergent. Nor should you worry about rinsing over and over again, once or twice is fine.

Myth #4
You have to wash diapers in hot water and lots of it.

Its rather common knowledge that boiling temperatures are required to purify water. The same principle applies to laundry. If the water isn't boiling it is just washing something not actually sanitizing them. This is absolutely fine as washing diapers them is all you need to 99% of the time. As such wash in whatever temperature you feel like they are getting clean from the soap and the agitation not the water temperature. Some machines especially the newer HE machines wrongfully list a sanitize setting (my machine does) that uses extra hot water, but this water rarely stays at temperatures high enough and for long enough to actually sanitize the diapers. Worse yet using these so called super high temperatures to wash diapers can lead the elastics to wear out faster, and the energy used to heat the water just wastes electricity or gas.

I do my pre-wash on cold because its what my machine does automatically, I do my long wash on warm to help rinse of the petroleum based creams I sometimes use (another myth I plan to address later). I rinse twice on cold (also what my machine does automatically).

So if you need to actually sanitize your diapers (such as if you have bought used diapers or are trying to get rid of Yeast or a disease like Hand Foot and Mouth) you need to use the actual sanitizing bleach method mentioned above rather than relying on "hot water."

Many members of the cloth diaper world are also obsessed with using tons of water as part of their wash routines. This can cause you to end up with what a few cloth diaper experts call diaper soup. With diaper soup the diapers just float around in the water instead of agitating against one another. What you want to see is that the diapers look like they are in a stew. So don't go adding extra water to your HE machine, let the agitation of the diapers against themselves and the detergent do the work of getting your diapers clean.

For more information on washing consult my Cloth Diapering 101 page.

Myth #5 
Cloth diaper laundry requires elaborate "stripping" methods

Stripping cloth diapers is a term used to describe processes that remove detergent build up, oily residue/stink, or mineral deposits, it also refers to getting diapers to clean like new state. It usually entails on of the following methods:

a)  Repeatedly rinsing cloth diapers in hot water to rid them of detergent residue or to sanitize them.
b) Washing them in Dawn dish soap.
c) Boiling
d) Soaking them in a mineral deposit remover like RLR laundry treatment 

First off detergent does not cause problematic detergent residue nor does hot water sanitize diapers (unless that water is boiling or contains chlorine bleach). Second of all putting Dawn or any other dish soap will possibly break your washing machine and void its warranty (hand scrubbing with Dawn is great for diaper creams stains on synthetic diapers though). Boiling diapers is also a horrible idea. Snaps and PUL can melt (boiling as part of prepping natural fibers is much different).

 Not only does my detergent not cause reduced absorbency/residue that would lead to using methods A or B it also includes a substantial amount of water softening agents that prevent mineral build up (method C).

The only special "stripping" treatment cloth diapers should undergo is occasional bleaching for sanitizing used diapers or those exposed to fungal and bacterial infections. See the aforementioned bleaching myth section. Extremely hard water areas may still need to mineral strip but its rare, and adding . If your water is extremely hard adding a water softening agent like Calgon or washing soda in with detergent to prevent the need for periodic mineral deposit stripping.

Don't let tales of elaborate "stripping" escapades scare you from cloth diapering. I am happy to report that since using a adequate amount of mainstream detergent (I use Tide or Kirtland) that I have NEVER HAD TO STRIP MY DIAPERS

* I am really proud of Grovia, they came out with an excellent blog article on why you shouldn't need to strip diapers regularly. I am glad to see some common sense regarding diaper stripping.

Myth #6
No fabric softener EVER!

While it is still absolutely true that you should not use synthetic softeners on your diapers ever (though you are welcome to still use them on your other laundry, its a myth that softeners leave a residue in your machine). You can use plant based softeners on your natural fiber diapers. Plant based softener unlike synthetic petroleum based softeners, soften the individual fibers of fabric rather than just coating them.

Sustainablebabyish is a well known and highly regarded brand of fitteds and wool and they personally suggest using ecover softener of their fitteds although my personal favorite has been Mrs. Meyers. Padded Tush stats and also did a mini study on the use of natural fabric softeners and their participants did not report repelling.

I have successfully used Mrs Meyers, Ecover, Seventh Generation, Method and Sprouts store brand softener on cotton, bamboo and other natural fibers without any loss of absorbency or repelling. Best of all as you would assume it makes them dreamy soft and delightfully scented. I am sold on it.

*Please remember to remove all your synthetic fiber diapers like Microsuede (like Bum Genius Pocket Shells), Microfiber (a common synthetic diaper insert)  and Microfleece (like what is used in Sunbaby and Fuzzibunz) before using a natural softener.

Myth #7
No diaper creams/powders 

This myth has some truth to it. You really should not ever use petroleum based diaper creams on your synthetic fibers diapers. They will leave stains and cause repelling. HOWEVER, you can use several non petroleum based cloth diaper creams straight on your synthetic diapers like California Baby (at Target and works on all fibers), Earth Momma Angel Baby Balm (Sprouts), CJ's Butter (online). If a diaper cream has no petroleum but has zinc it may stain but it will not cause repelling, this is the case with the Natural Formula Boudreaux Butt Paste (Target) and sometimes with California Baby). Unrefined Coconut Oil available at any grocery store, although Costco or Sams Club is by far the cheapest.

What might really blow your mind is that on natural fibers diapers (with the exclusion of charcoal bamboo), particularly prefolds and flats you can pretty much use anything. I have used Aveeno, Lotramin/Nystatin, Desitin, Calmoseptine, Butt Paste, Critic-aid and even straight Vaseline on my baby's bum and it has all washed out just fine (I attribute this to using enough detergent). However, if you still want to use these non cloth diaper safe creams with a synthetic fiber diaper (like micro fleece, suede clothe and some charcoal bamboo) you still,  can but should  use a flush able liner,  cotton fabric scraps, Viva paper towel or fleece liner. If some of these creams ever does get on your synthetic fabric diapers you can remove the residue with a toothbrush and blue Dawn (never ever add dish soap to your laundry machine).

As for baby powder and other medicated powders they are completely cloth diaper compatible. In our experience we have found them far superior to creams. Our favorite by far is Caldesene (available at Walgreens and Babies R Us)

* Some cloth diaper safe creams even though they will not cause repelling may stain. This is a function of the active ingredient Zinc Oxide. So decide for yourself if that is something you are concerned about. A good rule is that if its super goopy and sticky it probably won't wash out but if its a lotion type consistency its probably fine.

** Burt Bees diaper cream although it is petroleum free didn't even wash out of my natural fibers so use it at your own risk. 

Myth #8
Cloth diapering is always super expensive to start

If you are willing to put in the effort you can cloth diaper a baby with Flour Sack Walmart Dish Towels, DIY t-shirt flats and homemade fleece or wool covers for under $50 bucks. You can also buy easy pocket diapers from China at 5 dollars a piece (I highly recommend Sunbaby, Alvababy and Kawaii). Or you can be like me and shop seconds sales (where stores sell cosmetically imperfect diapers), buy used, or wait for Black Friday. Its true there really are $25 diapers but you don't have to use them, you can still cloth diaper easily without them.

For more info check out my posts on "ultra low budget cloth diapering" and "cloth diapering for $150"

Myth #9 
Cloth diapering is only for stay at home moms and dads. 

I think this myth started in part because some people that cloth diaper have unnecessarily complicated wash routines. Washing should only include a pre-wash, long wash, and 1-2 rinses that's it. Then toss those babies in the dryer (yep everything really can go in there) and you are done with laundry. While pockets or all in twos will require the extra step of stuffing or snapping in inserts you instead buy pre-assembled all in one diapers that require no additional effort.

The other half of the cloth diapering is for stay at home parents is the myth that you cannot use cloth diapers in daycares.  In the majority of states there are no laws restricting or prohibiting cloth diapers in daycares. Some may be hesitant but by bringing in your easiest to put on cloth diaper and teaching them that all they have to do it roll it up after a change and pop it in a wetbag they will see that it is no harder for them than a disposable. Most states have no laws about cloth diapering in daycare facilities. In a few there are laws surrounding cloth diapering but they mention things like making sure the cloth diapers are stored in a sealed container, which is something you would want done anyways. In the other 5 states cloth diapering is restricted to those that supply a Dr's note. However, even this does not bar you from cloth diapering in that almost any pediatrician or family Dr. would be willing to write a note saying that cloth is beneficial to your child. 

For access to you individual state's laws about cloth diapering link s to them can be found here:

Myth #10 

Cloth diapering involves touching poop more often than disposable diapering. 

Warning: This section is a little explicit, read at your own risk. 

I don't know if you have ever changed a baby's diaper or not but changing a diaper involves coming into close contact with baby excrement, it is just part of the deal. The awesome thing about cloth diapers is that if the diaper is properly put on blowouts are practically unheard of.  I for one would much rather use a cloth diaper and have all that poop stay inside the diaper than relive the epic blowouts we had when my older son was disposable diapered.

What about swishing the poop off into the toilet? Well let me say it loud and proud that I would NEVER CLOTH DIAPER WITHOUT MY DIAPER SPRAYER I just simply could not do it. If you can't hook up a sprayer you alternatively can use flush able diaper liners. Or better yet if your baby is exclusively breast fed you can toss their diapers right into the pail until wash day (EBF poo is water soluble). I love how my diaper sprayer not only cleans off diapers but can clean off vomit and be used as a bidet. I plan to keep it attached well beyond our diapering days. I purchased mine for a steal on Ebay (20 something bucks shipped), you can also make your own or buy one from a number of cloth diaper retailers, they are so worth it.

Cloth diapers are much easier than even diaper companies say they are. You can wash them easily and cheaply. They are an option for families with budgets from $50-$500 dollars. If you would like any laundry assistance or help getting started with cloth diapering let me know I would love to help you. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cloth Diaper Online Store Guide

I often get asked where I buy diapers from or where I recommend people buy them from so I figured I should probably take that as a hint and compile a list to help out newbies. 

Online Stores: (free shipping on everything)- Is the creator of Bum Genius but is also a retailer of many cloth diaper brands. They have famous Seconds sales where they sell cosmetically imperfect merchandise for a steal. When not hitting up their seconds sale check out there Indian prefolds, they ship completely free and are only a 1.50 a piece. I highly recommend buying from them I have had great experiences working with them. - While they don't ship free for everything, their pockets and covers do ship at little to no cost. They sell a store brand of pockets and aio's that are super cute and what is even better is that they donate one diaper for every diaper purchased. They also are the creator of Best Bottoms a All in Two system and everything of that brand ships free. They are sell the Imagine brand which has pockets, aio, covers and flats and even a well priced cloth diaper sprayer. I have loved everything I have purchased from them and they ship super fast. - Everything ships free but since it comes from China it may take up to a month. This store is excellent for well priced pockets and awesome 3 layer bamboo inserts/doublers. Their prints are super cute too. - Everything ships free but it only ships in packs which is kind of a bummer. The owner is Sunpei and she is in China but she offers amazing customer service. - They are the Holy Grail of prefolds, prefitteds and flats. They only sell natural fiber diapers. Their shipping is a flat $6.95 and since their biggest seller is super heavy prefolds and fitteds this is a great deal. I love how this website had pictures of every size of prefold on multiple size babies. You really get a good idea for how something is going to fit your baby in real life.

Brick and Mortar Stores:

Walmart- Their Mainstay Brand Flour Sack Dish Towels make amazing Flats for $1 a piece. They also sell a Child of Mine brand Wetbag. Skip the Gerber prefolds as their are only quilt padding inside. 

Buy Buy Baby- They sell the Bum Genius 4.0 Pocket and the All In One Freetime. You can even use the $5 off one item coupons. 

- DO NOT BUY BABY CITY OR BABY LAND OFF EBAY (they are only 3 bucks but they fall apart in days) do not waste your money. 
- Do not buy used until you know what you are buying (as you are prone to buying something not worth what you will pay). 

Happy fluff shopping!

Make a Hoden Laugh

I promise to return to the blogging world. That day however is not today. In the meantime some baby laughs from our resident barrel of laughs baby Hoden. 

Blueberry Photobomb