Category Archives: Washing Cloth Diapers

Learn how to effectively pre-wash and routinely care for your cloth diapers including washing routines, detergent and tips

Restocked – Bestbottom and Planet Wise

bestbottomsfoxYippee! These two brands have some of the golly-gosh darn sweetest prints!

Bestbottom covers, (most) inserts and doublers are back in stock. This all in two cloth diaper system gives you a choice of stay dry or hemp inserts.

And, the ever popular Planet Wise wet/dry bags, and pail liners are here as well. They actually make cloth diaper storage fun. I know. . . but they do!

We’ve also added the Planet Wise Wet/Dry Hanging bags to the line-up. These are the perfect solution to store your cloth diapers between wash days.

Stripping (Your Diapers): When, Why, and How

happybabyIf you’ve ever hunted for information about cloth diapering, you’ve likely run across the instruction to “strip your diapers.” Some sources make this sound like a dire emergency, while other sources ignore it completely. So we thought we’d take a quick look at what stripping is and when it’s useful.

What is Stripping?

“Stripping” merely refers to an easy process that strips any lingering residues from the surface of your diapers.  Residues can build up if you use a detergent that has additives or fabric softeners, if diapers aren’t fully rinsed after each wash, or if you have hard water in your area.

Why Should I Strip? (And How Often?)

Stripping isn’t a routine maintenance sort of thing – it’s only something you need to do if your normally soft and absorbent diapers are suddenly leaking or if there’s an undesirable odor that lingers in your diapers even after they’ve been washed and dried.

So, HOW Do I Strip?

There are various methods for stripping your diapers depending on your type of machine. And obviously, regardless of method, start with non-dirty diapers or you’ll have a whole new set of problems to deal with!

HOT water with no detergent (top-loader): Wash your diapers in the longest cycle your machine will allow using the HOT wash cycle and either HOT or WARM rinse. Lift the lid every once in a while to check for soap bubbles –  you need to rinse until you no longer see soap bubbles or a film on top of the water during the rinse, which may take as many as 3-4 rinses. But once the soap bubbles no longer appear, your diapers are fresh and fully stripped!

Rock-a-Soak (top-loader & HE): This is a super-super-effective way to get rid of lingering funk and residues. In a top-loader, fill the tub with hot water, add 3-4 tablespoons of Funk Rock Ammonia Bouncer, toss in your diapers, and let them sit for an hour or so. After the soak, run them through a hot wash and rinse cycle 2-3 times.

In a front-loader, add your diapers to the basket and put 3-4 tablespoons of Funk Rock in the detergent area of the detergent drawer. Start a quick wash cycle and hit “stop” or “pause” as soon as you notice that the Funk Rock has been washed into the basket and the water has been added in the cycle. Let this sit for an hour or so, then start a long, hot wash and rinse without adding anything else. You will likely need to wash and rinse 2-3 times.

Vinegar (top-loader & HE): You can also add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of vinegar to one of the rinse cycles. This is a gentle way to neutralize the acids and odors lingering on your diapers and it will help lift away the residues. You can add this via the detergent drawer or if you have a Downy ball, just place the vinegar inside and toss it in on top of the diapers.

Dawn dishwashing liquid (top-loader only): In a top-loader, you may also add one squirt of Original Dawn dishwashing liquid to the wash cycle. Dawn has been formulated as a degreaser, so it does very well in lifting off oily residues. (If your child has recently discovered Vaseline or petroleum-based diaper creams and smeared them all over his or her diapers, Dawn is also a very effective way to deal with that laundry issue!) Dawn creates lots of suds, however, so if you want to use this method with a front-loader, you’ll need to scrub the diapers with Dawn by hand and rinse them out before putting them into the washer. As with all the other methods, once the diapers are in the machine, wash on hot and – you guessed it – rinse, rinse, rinse.

So, as you can see, stripping your diapers doesn’t take much more effort than a regular load of laundry and doesn’t need to happen often. The best way to prevent needing to strip in the first place is just to make sure you’re using a long rinse in your normal wash routine or by occasionally adding a second rinse to your routine.

Happy diapering!

Photo Credit – iandeth

Setting Up Your Diaper Pail System

A diaper pail is an essential part of cloth diapering, although unlike its counterpart for disposable diapers, a diaper pail in a cloth system doesn’t need to be anything more than a pail with a lid. (Simple is good!)

Today we’ll walk through a few considerations to keep in mind as you set up your diaper pail system.

why dry pail

In bygone days, it was standard procedure to toss dirty diapers in a pail of water to allow the diapers to presoak. However, with modern washing machines that do a bang-up job of pre-rinsing diapers, it is no longer necessary to lug that heavy pail to the wash or have “poop soup” sitting around. Also, many modern cloth diapers have synthetic parts (elastics, velcro, PUL, etc), which break down by sitting in water.

Thus, we merely recommend “dry pailing” your diapers. Just place a waterproof bag in your pail, toss in the dirties as you go (dumping solids in the toilet first, of course), and then let the washing machine do the work of rinsing and prepping your diapers at the beginning of the wash cycle.

choosing a pail

You don’t need anything fancy for a pail – any container with a lid large enough to hold 2-3 days of diapers will do. Tall garbage can-size totes and round plastic storage bins with a lid and locking handles are especially popular among parents. These can be found inexpensively at any local general store or mass merchandiser.

where to put your pail

Put your pail where it’s convenient and a bit out of the way. Some people put it next to the change area, some put in the washroom next to the toilet or under the sink, and some have a small pail in each location. You just want to choose a place where it’s convenient for you and where pets and toddlers can’t get into it.

use a bag

If you’re in a small space or don’t have room for a pail, consider using a hanging bag instead. A “hanging pail” can be hung on a doorknob or wall hook and frees up floor space. A zipper replaces the need for a lid and keeps everything tidy. Large hanging wet bags can be part of your decor, too, as they come in various fun colors!

Setting up an organized system to deal with the dirties is easy and inexpensive. What tips do you have for keeping it simple?

Photo Credit – Vancouver photographer Amber Strocel who crafts a beautiful parenting blog, too.

A Rash of Issues: Not So With These 6 Tips

Waaah!Occasional diaper rash is a normal occurrence for babies. When those sweet baby cheeks are inside of a diaper 24/7 for upwards of two-and-a-half years, you are bound to have a rash every now and again.

Some common reasons for rashes:

  • Staying in a wet or dirty diaper too long
  • Change in Mama’s diet (for nursing babies)
  • Change in baby’s diet (watch food introductions)
  • Teething
  • Sensitivity to detergent and/or buildup of detergent in diaper fabric

So with that in mind, here are six tips for preventing a rash or decreasing the incidence of rashes:

Give your baby diaper-free time every day.

Allow your baby’s skin to air out at least once a day for more than 10 minutes and preferably, expose the skin to sunshine. Rashes only flare up and proliferate in dark, humid, acidic environments – air and sunshine are the perfect antidote.

Cleanse your baby’s diaper area with just warm water and a cloth.

Make sure you wipe your baby’s bum at every diaper change, even if the diaper was only wet. While the urine itself on the skin will evaporate, irritating uric acid crystals will be left behind. By just wiping the skin clean with a cloth wipe and warm water, you’ll get rid of any residues, leaving your baby’s skin soft and irritant-free.

Make sure your baby’s diaper area is dry before you put on a fresh diaper.

Closing up wet skin in a watertight environment can be a recipe for a rash, so let the skin dry before you put on the new diaper.

These couple of extra minutes can be a really enjoyable bonding time between parent and child – often times newborns and young babies are alert at diaper change time and that’s when they’re cooing and looking around. Older babies sometimes love the routines that are associated with diaper change time – it’s the time when they get to play with a special toy or have a “conversation” with Mommy or Daddy. The minute or two that it takes for the skin to dry can become a lovely interactive time.

Change your baby often.

Leaving a wet or poopy diaper next to the skin for a prolonged period of time is a sure way to set off a rash. Although “prolonged” is relative – some sensitive-skin babies react to the presence of uric acid within minutes while others could go significantly longer before complaining. Regardless of length of time, however, the skin will flare up under these conditions, so it’s definitely in the best interest of both you and your baby to change the diaper as soon as possible once it’s soiled.

Create a stay dry layer.

If your baby seems especially sensitive to wetness, using a non-absorbent layer between your baby’s skin and the wet diaper can be a great way to minimize the skin’s exposure to all that dampness. Either choose a diaper that has fleece right next to the skin, such a pocket diaper, or add a stay dry layer by laying a liner in any diaper you use – fleece and raw silk are the most popular in this case.

Use wool.

If your baby is suffering from a rash and needs healing or in order to prevent a rash when your baby has to stay in his or her diaper for an extended period of time (ie nighttime), consider using a wool cover like the sloomb Knit Wool Covers. Wool offers the best breathability and allows moisture on the skin to evaporate, even when up against a wet diaper. We’ve heard it from parents again and again (and experienced it ourselves) – switching to a wool cover is the fastest, surest way to zap a rash when it starts.

Here’s to healthy, happy babies (and to all you mamas and papas who love them so well!).

~Photo Credit to Kyle Flood

Washing Machine Hacks to Make Your Life Easier

No matter whether you have a front loader or a top loader, you’ve likely tried a few different things to get your wash routine just the way you like it.

Today we’re posting four hacks to help you know your machine even better.

For Top Loaders

Don’t be afraid to change the amount of water you use. Often it’s tempting to just set the machine on “extra large load” so that you’ve got tons of water for washing and swishing and rinsing. However, if you’re washing only a day or two or diapers, especially if you use lots of pockets, it can make a big difference to reduce the amount of water so that the diapers aren’t just swimming around, but are instead rubbing against each other, which is what gets them really clean.

Change the temperature of your water heater, not just the dial on your washing machine. Many detergents activate most efficiently between 55-60° C (130°-140°F), including Rockin’ Green, which is also the range at which most bacterias are killed. If you reduce your water heater to this temperature range, you’ll not only save money on your monthly bill, but you’ll get the most efficient wash as well.

For Front Loaders

The secret in the detergent drawer… Many HE washing machines arrive in your home set to use liquid detergent. Some cloth diaper manufacturers even tell you that liquid detergent is the only way to really get your diapers clean – but you already know the right temperature, enough water, and an appropriate wash time is a dynamite combination with any type of detergent, as we’ve discussed several times in our laundry science series.

It’s easy to change your machine to accommodate a powdered detergent, such as Rockin’ Green or Country Save. Just open the detergent drawer and either pop out the detergent cup or raise the bar that’s there and you are now equipped to just scoop your powdered detergent straight into the detergent slot – no more fussing around dissolving your powdered detergent in warm water! Fantastic!

Check out the Front Loader Database. We’ve written several posts on how to tweak your wash routine to make life easy with a front loader, but the owner of Rockin’ Green Soap has taken it even a step farther. She has put together a database of different brands of front loader machines and specific wash routines that tend to work with each model. Check out the database, use the information, and submit your own routine if your own works well for you!

 

Photo credit – apdk

How to Pack Away Your Cloth Diapers for Long-Term Storage

One of the best perks to cloth diapering is the money you save by using reusable diapers instead of disposable ones.

When you can use all those diapers for a second child, your savings are multiplied – not to mention you get to keep using all your favorites!

Here are four tips for packing your diapers away to keep them fresh and protecting your investment.

Wash them with plain ol’ hot water

Wash all the diapers to store away in a hot wash cycle without any detergent. This will make sure to remove any detergent residue that may be lingering on the fibres that can eat away at elastics and synthetic fabrics over time. It will also make sure you start without any residue when you unpack them again. Also, if you decide not to use them with another child, it makes them all the more ready to donate or sell!

Put the diapers through an extra dryer cycle

You want to make sure your diapers get packed into their storage containers completely dry so that no mold can grow. Put the diapers through an extra dryer cycle or outside for a full day on a hot, sunny day to make sure they are thoroughly dry all the way through, especially for fitteds and AIO’s.

Use sturdy, dry storage containers

Rubbermaid-style totes are ideal for this situation, as they offer dry storage, keep insects and dust out, and protect the diapers in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as leaking pipes and flooding. Large garbage bags can also work, but be sure to store them off the floor and set them in a place where they won’t get ripped open. Avoid cardboard boxes or baskets that can facilitate mold and mildew growth. In our moist BC climate, spores and fungi grow easily!

Store them in a temperature consistent place

Put your storage containers in a place that won’t vary considerably through the seasons – that is, avoid damp garages, storage sheds that get super-hot and humid, and basement suite closets that have no air circulation. This will make sure moisture can’t infest your lovely fibres to grow molds and mildew.

Taking care of your diapers will ensure that they last you for years, saving you time and money. Do you have other tips for storing cloth diapers for long-term?

Photo credit – Robert S. Donovan

Laundry Science: Some Like It Hot, Some Like It Cold – The Role of Water Temperature

hotcoldIf the topic of laundry fascinates you as much as it does us, make sure you check out our other Laundry Science posts!

C’mon, Baby, Do the Swish
Water Quality – Soft, Hard, or Somewhere In Between
Length of the Wash Cycle (Sometimes a Quickie Isn’t Enough)
The Role of Water in Washing Cloth Diapers

Today’s post in our Laundry Science series is about the temperature of your wash water.

Some may argue that cold water is best for environmental reasons, while others declare that hot water is required for diapers. And a common question at our Cloth Diapering 101 workshops is whether or not it’s required to use the extra-hot sanitizing cycle for diapers. What’s the real scoop? How does temperature affect the cleanliness of the load – and getting out stains?

First off, we should make sure we’re all familiar with the basic wash routine for cloth diapers – a rinse on cold, wash on hot, and rinse on cold. (We know, we know – for most readers, this is de rigueur, but we just like to make sure everyone’s on the same page…. 🙂 )

Of the three temperature settings available on most washing machines – cold, warm, and hot – each has its particular role and effect on your diapers. For example, cold is great for just getting plenty of water through your diapers while offering good environmental and budgetary savings, but if you’re wanting to get a fresh batch of stains out, you might want to change the first rinse to warm. Why? Because it’s recommended to remove a stain at the same temperature at which it was set, so for ice cream stains on a shirt, you’d want to use a cold rinse, but for diapers, you’d want to use warm, since they were created at body temp!

Also, keep in mind the temperature at which your water heater is set, as your hot wash will be at that temperature. (Although also keep in mind that the water may come out 2-4° Celsius cooler than what your water heater dial says, depending on how much pipe the water has to go through in its travel between the water heater and the washing machine.) Many detergents activate most efficiently between 55-60° C (130°-140°F), including Rockin’ Green, which is also the range at which most bacterias are killed, which is why it’s recommended to use a hot wash to clean your diapers.

But what about the sanitize cycle, which super-heats the water above 65°C (150°F)?  There are a few factors that come into play here. One, this high temperature tends to weaken synthetic fabrics, including PUL and elastics, so it’s definitely not recommended on a regular basis and may even void your warranty. (Check out the BumGenius site as an example.) It also adds a significant amount to your energy usage for washing diapers, which adds up on your monthly bill.

The only time we recommend a one-time extra-hot sanitize wash is if your child has had a serious bacterial diarrheal illness, such as rotavirus, or a severe, prolonged yeast infection. Even then, check with the manufacturers of your diapers before you do a super-hot wash if you’re worried about your warranty, as there are other ways to deal with lingering spores as well.

If you’re interested in finding the right balance between getting a good hot wash and not scalding yourself (and your children) at the sink, check out these tips from the City of Vancouver and BCHydro for saving money and making your heater more efficient.

Photo Credit – HunterxColleen

Organizing Your Line Drying System

As the days are getting warmer and we enjoy the long summer days, it’s easy to get inspired to line dry your diapers rather than rely on the dryer to do the work. The sunshine is great for your diapers, you can save money, and there are many ways to make the task work for you.

Inside or Outside?

Whether you choose to dry your diapers inside or outside doesn’t matter – they dry equally well. When you dry your diapers outside, they get the benefit of the UV “bleaching,” but they also can become stiff if they are dried in the direct sun. Drying inside minimizes the “stiffness” factor, but can be slower to dry. Basically, the slower the drying time, the softer the diapers will be (not to mention fresh!), so if you’re drying outside and don’t need to benefit of the sunbleaching, either stick the diapers in the shade or double them up.

A Rack to Fit Every Family

A drying rack – There are many varieties of drying racks, which you can find at pretty much any retailer from IKEA to Amazon.com to your local hardware store. Some offer multiple rods on which to hang your diapers, while others offer “shelves” of a sort on which to lay items flat.

The advantage of a drying rack is that they are completely foldable, making them a “must” in small spaces and very versatile for where you can use them.

Here are just a few varieties to give you some ideas:
(Please note, New & Green does not
have any connection with any of the companies or individuals listed nor do we endorse any of these products specifically. These links are provided for the sake of illustration only.)

Tall adjustable rack with folding shelves
Metal folding rack
Wood and vinyl folding rack
Metal and vinyl folding rack with “wings”
Sandwich-board style folding rack
Upside-down “double-V” folding rack

A clothesline -This very traditional way to dry clothes outside is a perennial favorite among line-drying enthusiasts. The plus is that there is nothing to store, but you do need to have sufficient space to string a line.

A clothesline can be as simple as a heavy rope tied between two trees or two chairs or as complex as a pulley system with heavy-gauge wire. A stationary, swiveling clothes rack outside can also be useful, especially if you don’t have many places to afix a line. Whichever system you choose will only be dictated by the space you have available and your personal preferences.

And of course, creativity is the name of the game. Sometimes, especially when traveling, you just have to use whatever is available! (Click through to see how one clever mama made do in her family’s hotel room – thanks to Flickr user medigerati for the wonderful photo.)

 

Line Drying Accessories That Make the Job Easy

Clothespins – Clothespins (also known as clothes pegs) are extremely useful, especially on a clothesline. If you make sure you have them ready and handy, say in an old handbag hung on a hanger or in an empty coffee can you can move along with your feet, hanging your diapers will be a breeze (not to mention they won’t blow away in a breeze!). Clothespins come in various materials – metal, wood, bamboo, etc. – and in a variety of styles – slide on, clip on, pinch-grip, etc. They’re generally quite cheap – $5-6 for a couple of dozen, though obviously that will vary according to material.

Spray bottle – a spray bottle is useful too when line drying. If your diapers are getting too “crunchy” while they dry or are drying too fast, spritz the diapers with a fine mist. This will soften the outside while the middle continues to dry.

What are your preferences when it comes to drying your diapers “au naturel”? What has worked well for you?

Photo Credit – simplyla

Laundry Science: Length of the Wash Cycle (Sometimes a Quickie Isn’t Enough)

eggtimerIn our on-going laundry science series here at the N&G blog, we’ve looked at “the swish factor,” water quality, and how important it is to use plenty of water, but does it matter how long your wash cycle is?

Absolutely.

As you’ll remember from our discussion about why using plenty of water is important, part of what makes washing diapers different than washing any other type of laundry is that most of the dirtiness is on the inside, rather than just sitting on the surface. Obviously, it’s going to take extra time to get all that water through the diaper rather than just dealing with the dirt and grime on the surface.

Let’s take a look at the washing routine recommended by many diaper manufacturers and then discuss why they even make these recommendations:
*Rinse on cold
*Long wash on warm or hot
*Double rinse

Why Take the Time?

“Rinse on cold” – You need to have sufficient time to loosen and drain away any lingering nasties – you know, like the uric acid that’s been sitting on the diaper for two days and those little pieces of poo that remain after dumping the solids in the toilet. It’s sort of the same reason as why you scrape your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher – the more gunk the washer has to deal with, the more cycles you’re going to have to do in order to get them truly clean.

“Long wash on warm or hot” – You need time to activate and fully dissolve the detergent and give it time to do its work. Different detergents require different amounts of time to become fully activated. The length of time required for this will depend on the type of detergent, the temperature of your water, the amount of water, as well as the water quality.  Once it’s fully activated and doing its work, it needs sufficient time to fully bond with the grime so the grime can be lifted from the fabric and washed away.

“Double rinse” – You need to allow time for the detergent to be completely washed away too. If you skip this part of the cycle, it’s easy for detergent residue to be left on your lovely fluffy fibres, which can cause leaks, diaper rash, and possibly even extra-stinky diapers because of a chemical reaction that happens when urine hits that detergent residue the next time the diaper is used.

These recommendations certainly apply no matter what type of washing machine you have, but they are even more important if you have an HE machine. Since you have to trick your machine into using enough water and there’s not much swish to have sufficient cleaning action, allowing enough time is absolutely crucial.

And of course, when you’re done washing, you’ve got lots of options for drying your diapershanging them on a line, drying them on a rack, or tossing them in the dryer. Just like the wash needs plenty of time to restore them to their glorious fluffy state, we hope whatever method you use to dry them will give YOU plenty of time to rejuvenate yourself as well!

Laundry Science: Diving in Deep – The Role of Water in Washing Cloth Diapers

babylaundryWhether you have a top-loading, agitator machine or a front-loading, high-efficiency machine, how much water you use is critical is cleaning your diapers thoroughly.

Partially because diapers are thicker than many other types of wash, partially because you’re specifically trying to get the “dirty” out of the middle rather than just the surface, and partially because the ammonia from urine is particularly good at clinging to fabric fibres, water is the only way to thoroughly and efficiently clean your diapers through and through.

In a standard agitator machine, the level of water is easy to determine, as the machine is designed to fill with water to your predetermined level. It’s important to have enough water to cover the diapers fully without filling so much that the diapers float about like objects in space – the diapers need to be able to rub against each other in the wash action and if there’s too much water, they sort of just float past each other. This is referred to as The Swish Factor.

In a high-efficiency washer, the amount of water is equally important, but more difficult to gauge merely because HE washers are designed to reduce the amount of water to just enough to saturate the fabrics. To make up for the lack of swish, the engineers extended the wash time (which is why loads in HE washers take f-o-r-e-v-e-r), which works well for most loads where the soil is on the surface of the fabrics, but not so great for diapers.

For diapers, an extended wash time alone just isn’t enough to get diapers squeaky clean – you still need as much water as possible in the drum. So, you basically just have to trick your washer into adding as much water as possible. Depending on your model, you can do a “rinse and spin” cycle with the spin cycle off or select the “prewash” setting. You can also add a wet towel or a pair of jeans to the load, as this will make the load heavier (the amount of water added to the drum is calculated by weight).

You can also find a handy listing of specific HE models and wash recommendations at the Rockin’ Green website – they are known as the Laundry Gurus for good reason!

What has worked especially well for you in making sure you’ve got enough water in your load?

Photo credit Ilya Haykinson