Tag Archives: Cloth Diaper Workshop

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

Cloth Diapers in Daycare :: How to Make it Work

One of the most common questions we’re asked at our New & Green Cloth Diapering 101 workshops is about cloth diapering at daycare. Do daycares allow cloth? Which diapers are best? Do I need any special equipment?

From the bit of research we’ve done, it seems the vast majority of daycares in the Lower Mainland are happy to accommodate cloth-loving parents, provided the process is made easy for the care providers.  We definitely recommend that you “know before you go” – call your daycare (or prospective daycares) and find out what they specifically prefer so that you don’t end up buying diapers and supplies you don’t need. Also, check out the Real Diaper Association’s excellent tip-sheet for some great info.

Basically, when it comes to cloth diapering in a daycare, it boils down to this:

KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly): Make it as easy for the care providers as possible.

  • Use diapers that are most like putting on a disposable – either an All-in-One or a pre-stuffed pocket diaper with Velcro closures. Velcro closures make diaper changes both easy and speedy!
  • Have a zipper-closure wetbag big enough to hold all the diapers from the day. A bag with a hanging loop is extra handy.
  • Considering using a disposable liner such as Bummi’s Flushable Bio-Soft liners and pre-line all your diapers. This way, poop is easy to deal with for the care provider and you’re less likely to have super-poopy diapers coming home for you to deal with later! (Always a plus!)
  • Remember that some daycares require that everything belonging to the child must be labeled, including cloth diapers. You can either stick these labels right on the diapers or hand-sew a little tag onto the diaper to hold the label so that you can easily remove it later. Laundry-safe labels can be found by searching online for “children’s clothing labels” (or some such variation).
  • If you want cloth wipes used as well, consider having them pre-wetted in a travel-size disposable wipes container so they are easy to grab and ready to use.

Be prepared: About 93% of the daycares we surveyed on the North Shore  stated that they would be happy to use cloth diapers, provided they were shown how to use them. At your first meeting with the provider, bring along samples of everything you’ll be sending with your child and be prepared to show them how to use it. It often helps if you’re upbeat and positive, emphasizing how easy the process is!

Be flexible: If your daycare isn’t quite sure about cloth diapering – even after your enthusiastic tutorial – perhaps propose a trial period, say three weeks, in which to try cloth. Likewise, choosing a different type of diaper may help the daycare as well. Be flexible in accommodating their needs as well as your own – some of them may never have seen modern cloth diapers.

Be happy: We believe that choosing cloth is a wonderful, fun, and sustainable choice for you and your family. Extending that choice to other people who care for your children can require courage, wisdom, and knowledge – you should be happy knowing you’ve prepared yourself for this journey and your child will reap the benefits. Hip hip hooray!

There’s No Place Like Home…

Many parents who attend our workshops want to know how to use cloth diapers when they are away from home. They can visualize how the system would work at home, but out and about or more far fetched – away on holiday or camping? How does that work??

It can be done! Here are our best tips for daytrips & outings, vacations and camping.

Daytrips and Outings: Not hard – at all. And you don’t need to bring a suitcase of stuff. What’s in our diaper bag? We carry 2-3 one step diapers (pre-stuffed pocket diapers or all-in-one diapers), a travel case of cloth wipes, a bottle of water (to drink or use on the wipes) and a wet bag to carry home the diapers we take off our little one.

Vacations:  If you have access to a washing machine, whether it be in-suite, in building or at a laundry mat, cloth diapering can be done.  Consider how often you can access the washer and then bring enough diapers to get you through.  So you may only need one day’s worth of diapers or you may need three.  Store your dirties in a drawstring diaper pail liner for easy transport and containment.  Use flushable liners for poop management.

Camping:  You can handwash your diapers and hang them to dry – we’d recommend a prefold diaper or pocket diaper system with this scneario, though.  All in ones are best left to a washing machine’s skilled agitation to get really clean.  Another alternative is to use a compostable gDiaper insert in one of your pocket diapers.  This would allow you to use your pocket shell as the cover and either lay a gDiaper insert inside the diaper or stuff it inside.  We have had good results with laying the gDiaper insert inside of the AMP Duo or stuffing it in the Duo or bumGenius Pocket.  With this method you toss or bury the insert (use common sense, please, not by a water source and don’t throw in an outhouse) and all you have to rinse/wash is the pocket shell.  There is minimal hand-poop contact if you use the insert on top of the diaper shell instead of stuffing it inside.

What’s in your diaper bag?

Okay, lay it out for me. If budget is my only consideration, what is the cheapest option among all these diapers?

bummis-organic-prefoldsParents choose to use cloth diapers for a variety of reasons.  Saving money is becoming one of the top reasons and it’s not hard to see why.  You can save more than 2K per child by choosing cloth.

In the world of cloth there are many many options (as I’m sure you’ve become keenly aware of!) and each option has its own merits and serves different purposes.  For the families that are choosing cloth with their budget in mind, here is your solution.  It’s cheap, it works well & its ORGANIC!

Here is what you need for your basic budget cloth diapering system:

Everything you’ll need from day one to potty:

  • 24 Organic Cotton Prefold Diapers (8-15lbs)
  • 24 Organic Cotton Prefold Diapers (15-30lbs)
  • 4 Small White Bummis Super Whisper Wrap Diaper Covers
  • 4 Medium White Bummis Super Whisper Wrap Diaper Covers
  • 2 Snappi Diaper Fasteners
  • 1 Diaper Pail Liner
  • 1 Out and about tote bag
  • 36 Cloth Reusable Wipes

That’ll take you to a total of just over $400.  Add about $530 for washing costs for three years.  That’s it.  Simple system, small budget, even smaller footprint! (Quick comparison – this’ll do for siblings later on as well.  Mid-range disposables will rack up a bill of about $3300.  Yep – and that is for each one in diapers!)

Check out our Prefold Tutorial to learn how to effectively use these diapers.

The good, the bad and the….poopy

A question that often arises in conversations with parents making one of the many many decisions about their baby’s gear is:

“What are the pros and cons of cloth diapering?”

Here are our top ten pros and cons of cloth diapering (warning – we love cloth diapers, so this may be a little skewed):

  1. Good choice for your baby’s skin and overall health
  2. Save up to $2K over the time your child is in diapers
  3. Hands down, better for the earth
  4. It’s fun
  5. It makes your baby’s bum cuter than it already is
  6. A bit of research and learning is required for best success
  7. Learning curve involved and ongoing problem-solving may be required
  8. It adds 2-3 extra loads of laundry each week (zero trips to the store)
  9. Never run out of diapers
  10. Keep one TON of waste out of landfills (per child).

So if cloth diapering is so great, why do people quit/give up?  Misinformation or not enough info, diapers that don’t match their lifestyle and misconceptions of “what it’s like”.

Arm yourself with info by reading up on cloth diapers.  Attend a workshop.  Get the information you need to make a good decision for your family and then find someone that you can ask your questions to and support you along your way (that’s us!).

Smart Care for Your Cloth Diapers – How to Get the Most out of Your Cloth Diapers

When we do Cloth Diaper 101 Workshops in the Greater Vancouver area, one of the handouts that often renders long gazes and quick mental calculations is our cost comparsion sheet.

Off the bat, it sounds like cloth diapers are a luxurious, expensive venture.  But when it comes down to it, they can save you money, and lots of it!  Regardless, you are laying out some bucks and want to make sure that you are wise with your spending.  Our friends over at ParentingbyNature.com inspired us to consider how we help New & Green Families keep their diapers in tip-top shape and fend off those nay-sayers that say it’s too much money!

At New & Green, our top 10 recommendations to get the most out of your cloth diaper investment are:

  1. Have enough diapers in rotation so that your diapers aren’t getting excessive wear and tear.  We recommend 24 for newborns, 16-18 for older infants.  If you are using a One-Size solution and expect to use your diapers for upwards of 2-3 years, we suggest you add 6 onto these numbers to ensure their longevity.
  2. Use appropriate detergent – we highly recommend Nature Clean Powder and Wonderwash Detergent.
  3. Do not use bleach on your diapers – they will prematurely wear and break down.
  4. Wait until your diapers have “cooled” out of the dryer before restuffing them or stretching the elastic – it is a great stress for elastic to be stretched when it is hot.
  5. Hang to dry when able – especially your pocket shells, covers and tote bags.
  6. Close those velcro tabs to prevent the hook velcro from catching on other fabric and snagging it.
  7. Do not use fabric softeners in the washer or dryer – this will decrease the absorbency and performance of your diapers
  8. Do consider re-selling your diapers when you are finished with them.  Craigslist Vancouver is a great place to re-coup some of your initial investment by selling your “no longer needed” diapers to other families.
  9. Do use a microfleece liner inside your diapers when using a bum cream to avoid coating the diaper with moisture repelling creams/ointments.
  10. Use a “dry pail” to store your dirty diapers to laundry day and wash those diapers every 2-3 days.

With this insurance policy, you are set to get the most out of your cloth diapers!

What are your best tips to keep your diapers in great shape?