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I Hate Laundry. How Much Extra Laundry Will Cloth Diapers Make?

Lots of people get on the Cloth Diapering Wagon because they want to save money, keep diapers out of landfills and keep baby healthy, but when it comes to actually putting words into action the issue of laundry often gives them pause.  When cloth diapers are mentioned it’s not uncommon for me to hear the ‘I hate laundry’ excuse or the ‘Haha, I already do enough laundry’ comment.  But let’s consider how much ‘laundry’ is really involved in cloth diapering shall we?

Generally speaking we advise that you plan to wash your diapers every 2-3 days.  Why?  Because then you don’t need to store too many diapers, there are fewer odors and you get less staining.  Prompt washing also keeps the diaper fabrics in better shape over the long-term.

So, that gives you maybe 3 loads of laundry a week.  But you know what?  You’re going to be doing a lot more laundry with a new baby anyway and while clothing needs to be washed, dried, folded and put away, diapers just need washing and drying.  You only have to fold your diapers if you want to, it’s not mandatory at all.  In fact, I rarely do it.

Plus it’s nowhere near the effort required to haul smelly bags of disposable diapers to the curb, especially in a Canadian winter.  And just the thought of running out of disposable diapers and having to pack up baby and go to the store at an inconvenient time is more than I can handle.  Throw your cloth diapers in the washing machine.  30 seconds.  Done.

Conclusion?  Yes.  You will have a couple more loads of laundry.  But no.  It’s not a big deal.  You’ll probably find you like doing diaper laundry more than any other kind of laundry too.

Still not convinced?  Try cloth diapering part-time.  Discover the benefits and figure out first-hand, without a big investment, how little ‘work’ it really is.

Pick 6 Cloth Diapers Starter Kit + Free Gifts


What’s better: Natural Fabric or Synthetic Fabrics For My Diapers

When making a decision between synthetics and natural fabrics for your baby’s diapers it makes things easier to know the pros and cons of each. Here’s a simple guide on the features and benefits of each type of fabric.

Natural Fabrics
Cotton, bamboo, hemp, silk, wool

Natural fibers on the bum
Feels wet on the skin (great for encouraging potty learning)
Wash easily (less prone to holding smells, less prone to repelling issues)

Needs pre-washing multiple times before use (usually)
Stains more easily
Feels wet on the skin (can cause rashes for some sensitive babies)

Synthetic Fabrics

Microfleece, microfiber, suede cloth, athletic wicking jersey, PUL/TPU

Stay dry/wicking effect keeps baby’s bum dry and rash free (the most like a disposable from a wetness wicking standpoint)
Microfiber is arguably the most absorbent material (in laboratory testing settings)
Microfleece is soft on the bum
Less prone to staining and stains tend to fade more easily over subsequent washes without any treatment
PUL/TPU is water-resistant while still being more breathable than old fashioned rubber or plastic pants.

Microfiber can’t be next to the skin
Tendency to hold smells
Slightly more sensitive to poor wash routine (can be more prone to begin repelling or holding smells with inadequate rinsing and detergent ratios)
Some babies are allergic to polyester (rarely, but it happens)

There you have it, a quick and easy guide to helping you decide how to build your diaper stash.  Keep in mind that cloth diapers are never an all-or-nothing pursuit.  Most moms at one point or another end up trying lots of different styles, brands and materials to find which diapers they like the best.

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Dish It: The Scoop On Stripping Diapers With Blue Dawn Dish Soap

Stripping cloth diapers has got to be one of the most confusing things for people new to cloth or considering cloth diapers for the first time.  All the stripping ‘rules’ seem so complicated, and so contradictory and everyone seems to have a different opinion on how to do it ‘correctly’.  (For time tested proper stripping guidelines and methods see here).

Amidst all the mis-information out there is the mysterious Blue Dawn recommendation.  This recommendation says that to strip your cloth diapers you should go and find Dawn dish soap (specifically the original blue kind) and use some to ‘strip’ the residues off your diapers and walla your repelling or odor problems will be fixed.  Just put a squirt or two into your washing machine instead of your regular detergent and you’re done.  Blue Dawn can fix all the world’s problems you know.

So first of all why must you use Dawn dish detergent and no other brand?  Apparently someone has decided it is more gentle and/or has fewer harsh chemicals than other dish soaps (yah right).  And second why must it be blue?  Supposedly the original blue version of Dawn has the fewest additives (umm, okay).

Alright, now let’s think about what dish detergent does.  It’s made to remove greasy residues from dishes.  Hint: greasy residues.  Not ammonia, not odors, not mineral or detergent buildup.  9 times out of 10 you are going to be stripping for smell issues or buildup issues, not grease issues.  But, on the small chance there is something on your diapers which is greasy (i.e. you accidentally used lots of petroleum based bum cream and enough of it got on your diapers to cause repelling, or if your baby is on a high fat diet of some sort that causes greasy/oily bowel movements that have coated your diapers which is causing repelling issues, then yes, a SMALL amount of dish soap MAY assist you in getting your diapers clean again.  But you know what?  A couple of hot hot washes with a bit more of your usual (high quality) detergent will usually do the same thing too and if not, then honestly, your diapers were probably too far gone for Dawn to help anyway.

Why then, am I so cheeky about blue Dawn if there is in fact a reason to use it?  Because if used carelessly it can cause you some major headaches.  Of primary concern is this:  Dawn dish soap should NEVER be used in your washing machine EVER.  Not even  a little tiny bit.  A ‘squirt or two’ is a completely ambiguous measurement and dish soap is designed to foam up much more than laundry detergent creating a condition called ‘suds lock’ in your machine.  This is an actual problem that happens to actual washing machines when you have too many bubbles from an overdose of detergent.  The result is a costly repair and a sheepish grin when you have to confess to the repair guy what you were trying to do when you broke your washer.  But I won’t put in too much you say?  That won’t happen to me you say?  Well maybe not, but do keep in mind that even if you successfully choose an amount that doesn’t hurt your machine, it will hurt your warranty.  The warranty on your washer will be null and void if you use dish soap instead of laundry detergent.   No questions asked.

We almost never suggest dish soap as a solution to diaper problems, but if you insist on trying it, what’s the proper way?  In the sink with a toothbrush.  Put a dime-sized, tiny bit of dish soap (any dish soap) onto the problem area of the diaper and gently scrub it around into the fabric of the diaper with an old, soft toothbrush and hot water.  Then RINSE that diaper A LOT.  Dish soap is not meant to be on a baby’s bum so any soap left behind has the potential to cause a skin reaction on a sensitive baby.  So, rinse and rinse and rinse until you’re not getting any more suds and then put it in your washing machine for a hot wash cycle with no detergent and then a hot wash cycle with your usual detergent plus extra rinses until you no longer see bubbles in the rinse water.

Or, better yet, just make sure you have a good wash routine (rise, wash on hot with detergent, rinse) and you’ll never have to worry about stripping anyway!



Diaper Rashes – Causes and Cures

Okay, at Cloth Diaper Kids we deal with diapers and baby bums and with those two things, the question of rashes always comes up.  So let’s discuss some of the simple causes and simple solutions that might help your baby get rid of the redness.

**Let me preface the following info by saying that I am not a doctor or medical professional.  If your baby’s rash is severe, chronic, blistered/bleeding or does not show quick improvement, please see a doctor ASAP**

Alright, now let’s get to the basics and clear up one thing first.  Babies who are cloth diapered tend to get fewer rashes than babies in disposables.  Plain and simple.  However babies in cloth can get rashes too.  The skin in that area is super sensitive and thin and needs the best of care to remain healthy, BUT, not all rashes are caused by the diaper baby is wearing.

Rashes that have nothing to do with diapers

  • TEETHING – You’ll hear lots of people say that teething does not cause diaper rash, and then you’ll hear lots of other people swearing that it does.  Whether it’s caused by baby swallowing lots of extra saliva or by other factors going on in the body, many a mom has noticed a correlation between popping a tooth and a sore tushie.  Solution: A cloth safe barrier ointment can help a lot.  Delish Yum Bum Butter is a favorite of ours and can be used safely with cloth diapers.
  • DETERGENT SENSITIVITY – Just as there is a possibility of breaking out with a lotion, soap or cream there is the possibility of being sensitive to the detergent you are laundering your diapers in.  If you are using the correct amount of detergent for your machine and load size and an extra rinse at the end hasn’t helped…Solution: Try a different brand of detergent of course.  Note: just because you are using a certain detergent on baby’s clothing without an issue doesn’t mean it won’t cause a problem when you use it with your diapers.  Remember, in the diaper area you are dealing with very thin, delicate, sensitive skin and any detergent residues are combining with pee/poo in a moist environment.  Under these conditions a normally fine detergent may cause baby troubles.
  • SKIN CONDITIONS – If skin troubles run in your family, if baby has very fair skin or if baby is prone to or dealing with something such as eczema then re-occurring rashes can be frustrating for mom and annoying for baby.  Solution: Let baby have as much open air diaper free time as possible.  Keep baby in very breathable natural fabric diapers and consider preventative use of organic coconut oil or unscented Delish Yum Bum Butter at every change to keep skin healthy.  Wool covers can also be helpful rather than PUL as a waterproof layer.  A natural fabric diaper such a fitted or prefold paired with a wool cover is a classic favorite of sensitive skinned babies.
  • DISPOSABLE WIPES – Chemicals and preservatives used in disposable wipes can cause some really bad rashes and if not the actual cause of the rash they can exacerbate a rash baby already has and cause pain and stinging on raw skin.  Even so called ‘gentle’, ‘hypo-allergenic’ or ‘natural’ wipes still contain preservatives and can cause serious problems which is part of the reason why so many parents never consider them to be the cause of a rash.  Solution: Cloth wipes are the way to go.  Not only are they economical, they are soft, gentle and re-useable and come in a variety of different materials.  Plus you simply wash them right along with the diapers you are already laundering anyway.  Learn more about how to use cloth wipes here.
  • FOOD ALLERGIES / STARTING SOLIDS – Food can be a source of rashes too believe it or not.  Food allergies can cause bum rashes and babies beginning to eat solid foods can experience them too.  For example, our first baby loves oranges to a fault, but too much citrus and his poops become so acidic that they burn his skin and cause blistering rashes.  Also keep in mind that smaller babies, who are breastfeeding can be sensitive to something that mom has eaten and passed along in the milk and can get a rash that way too.  Solution: An excellent barrier cream is in order to keep poop from touching the skin if acidity is the issue.  For something nice and thick, consider pure lanolin or Lansinoh (the stuff you use for sore nipples when breastfeeding) to give the skin the protection it needs.  Lanolin and Lansinoh are cloth diaper safe.
  • SICKNESS & INFECTIONS – If baby has been sick (think diarrhea) this can change the PH of their bowel movements which can lead to skin irritations and rashes.  Additionally, some rashes can be caused by yeast (common after antibiotics, or if mom or baby has thrush from breastfeeding) or bacterial infections like staph.  Solution:  If baby is sick and has loose bowels then all you really need to do is protect the skin from the acidic-ness.  A cloth safe barrier cream will do the trick and flushable liners will make cleanups easier.  For yeast or bacterial infections you are best to see your doctor as a medicated cream may be necessary to treat the rash.  In these cases, switch to disposable diapers during treatment as the medicated cream is not cloth diaper safe and preventing re-infection is important.  During this time, sanitize your cloth diapers.  Contact us for info on how to do this (as the method will depend on what type of infection).

Rashes caused by cloth diapers

  • MATERIAL SENSITIVITIES – Sometimes rashing is the result of babies with sensitive skin who react to synthetic fabrics on the bum.  Occasionally we see babies who turn red from diapers that have fleece or minky on the inside and sometimes babies are sensitive to the waterproof PUL next to the skin or turn red in the leg creases from latex sensitivities in the elastics of certain diaper brands.  Solution: Natural fabric diapers.  Look for diapers with organic cotton, bamboo or hemp and use a PUL or wool cover overtop to make the system waterproof.  If latex elastics might be the issue, ask us which of our diaper brands feature latex-free elastics.
  • POOR FIT – Streaks of redness on the belly or thighs can sometimes indicate a poor fit (either too loose or too tight).  If chaffing is happening it can make baby uncomfortable and appear rash-like.  Solution: Make sure you are getting the right fit for the type of diapers you are using.  Leg elastics should fit in the crease of the leg the same way underwear would fit.  Elastics around the legs and waist should be snug so there are no gaps.  Slight red marks such as what you might experience from the elastics on your socks are nothing to worry about.  If you’re not sure about the fit you are getting on your baby, ask us.
  • WETNESS SENSITIVITY – Similar to babies who have skin that is sensitive to synthetic fabrics, there are babies who’s skin is sensitive to wetness.  This happens when baby is using natural fabric diapers such as cotton, bamboo or hemp where wetness is felt against the skin because there is no wicking layer.  During the day you may not see this kind of rash as baby is changed relatively often and the skin dries out a bit between changes.  At night however, when the diaper is on for longer you may see it more pronounced.  Solution: Lots of diaper-free air time for baby to get the rash under control.  Cornstarch used in the same way as baby powder to put a light coat over baby’s bum can help keep things dry and is safe to use with your cloth diapers.  Also, consider adding a wicking layer to your diapers with the addition of a thin stay-dry liner between diaper and baby to keep the wetness off the skin between changes (especially for overnight).  Or, switch to diapers that have a built in wicking layer such as those with microfleece or microsuede on the inside.  In addition to a wicking layer, a cloth safe  moisture barrier cream or lanolin can be helpful for overnight.  Note: DO NOT use cornstarch on any rash that may be caused by yeast.  It will make yeast rashes worse.  Also, baby powder that is made of talc should not be used on babies because of the inhalation risk.
  • AMMONIA BURN – Now this one can be quite serious as it is a chemical burn to the skin and can often be quite severe if not dealt with quickly.  If you’re dealing with ammonia, you’ll know it.  Ammonia smell is very very strong.  I mean burn your nose, sting your eyes till they tear strong.  This is different and stronger than barnyard smell, poopy smell, or strong toddler urine smell.  Besides the terrible smell, baby’s bum will be all over red and/or blistered wherever the wet diaper has touched the skin.  Ammonia is most often troublesome with nap or overnight diapers that have been on the bum a long time and are very saturated.  Solution: Keep those diapers off baby’s bum until you’ve dealt with the ammonia issues and make sure the bum is rinsed clean of any ammonia residue.  What’s happening is that your diapers are not getting clean enough in your wash cycle and bacteria, hard water mineral deposits and or soap residues are reacting with the pee/poo to create the problem and the stench.  First rinse your nap and overnight diapers in the sink or bathtub before putting them in your wet bag between washes.  This can help a lot.  Second, get rid of the ammonia you have now by using Funk Rock, a product specifically made to combat ammonia problems.  Then tweak your wash routine and make sure you are using enough detergent to get your diapers really clean and keep them that way.  We can always help you troubleshoot.
  • DIAPERS AREN’T GETTING CLEAN ENOUGH – Similar to ammonia issues, but not quite as severe, if your diapers have any sort of smell to them when newly washed or right away when peed in, they aren’t getting clean enough.  Often referred to as barnyard smell, it signals that there is some kind of bacteria or residue left in your diapers that can cause rashing in the warm moist environment of a diaper.  Solution: Get those diapers clean.  Generally barnyard smell is an indication of not enough detergent.  Don’t skimp on detergent, especially if you have hard water.  Diapers are dirty and they need proper agitation and adequate detergent and water to get really clean.  Read through our other blog articles related to washing diapers, be open to tweaking your wash routine and contact us if you’d like help troubleshooting.  We’re always here to help!

*And finally a quick word on breastmilk…that stuff is amazing in more ways than one.  Dabbing some on baby’s bum regardless of what’s causing the rash and air drying before putting on a new diaper can help soothe redness too.

We hope that helps you clear up your little one’s rash.  Was this info helpful for you?  Have you experienced a rash with your baby that we haven’t covered above?  Let us know by leaving a comment!

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What Accessories Do I Need For My Cloth Diapers?

We have every accessory you will need for diapering your baby. At the very least you will need wipes (either reusable wipes or disposable ones) a portable travel wet bag for storing soiled diapers when you’re out and about and a storage solution for soiled diapers before wash time.  We carry both traditional washable diaper pail liners as well as the very popular and unique hanging diaper pail bags that store the soiled diapers and wash right up with them in the washing machine.

Additionally you will need a cloth diaper safe detergent or at least a store brand with no additives, enzymes, whiteners or brighteners. As well as a set or two of wool dryer balls or re-useable dryer sheets to replace traditional dryer sheets and facilitate drying in a faster, chemical free way.

You may also want to consider the optional but handy diaper sprayer, which attaches easily without tools to the back of your toilet and/or flushable liners to aid in messy cleanups.

Other accessories such as cloth diaper solutions and sprays, additional inserts for extra absorbency, pail shakers to keep the diaper bag fresh till wash day etc. are nice, but optional.

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Is It True That Cloth Diapers Become More Absorbent The More They Are Washed?

Yes and no. Synthetic fabrics (minky, microfiber etc.) do not increase in absorbency over time, however, natural fabrics like bamboo, cotton and hemp will become more absorbent over the first 10 washes or so as the natural oils come out of the fabric.  After this, multiple washings won’t increase the absorbency any further.

This is part of why it’s important to pre-wash your natural fabrics properly before use on baby.

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How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need?

Newborns go through 10-12 diaper changes per day and older babies and toddlers (aprox. 6+ months) use 6-8 diapers per day.

Most Moms are most comfortable with washing every second day, but you can get by with fewer diapers and wash every day if you like or add more to your diaper stash and wash every 3 days.  You don’t want to go longer than 3 days between washes.

Here’s a handy way to figure out how many diapers will work for you (click to enlarge):

HowManyDiapersDoINeedSo, in short, if you want to wash every second day, you’ll need 20-24 diapers from newborn – 6 months and then 12-16 diapers for babies 6+ months until potty training.

In addition to the suggestion above, it’s handy to have 2-3 fitted diapers with covers in your stash for naps or overnight.  This is especially useful for older babies and toddlers.