Cloth Diaper Kids Blog

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DO NOT DO THIS EVER! – The Worst Way To Strip Cloth Diapers

Before I begin this post, let me say that I rarely pass such a strong opinion on what people choose to do with their cloth diapers in their own homes.  If you want to go against the years of research and testing that manufacturers put into the washing instructions on their products, and do something contrary to the manufacturer’s guidelines in your quest to find the perfect wash routine – fine by me.  Whatever works.  I’ve done it too (I don’t recommend it, but I’ve done it 😉

BUT please please please don’t EVER put your cloth diapers into your DISHWASHER to ‘strip’ them clean.  This is terribly terrible, very bad, ill-informed and DANGEROUS ‘advice’ stemming from inexperienced cloth diaper users that sometimes floats around the internet.

Here are but a few reasons why you should NEVER EVER put cloth diapers of any kind in your dishwasher in an attempt to get them clean:

  • It is a fire hazard – there is a heating element inside your dishwasher.  If it touches any fabric it will melt or burn it.  You could start a fire.
  • A dishwasher is made for dishes – not diapers that contain human waste.  Do you really want to wash poopy residue out of your diapers and then wash your dishes in that machine?  That could be a health hazard.
  • It will void all your warranties – the diaper’s warranty will be gone as well as the warranty on your dishwasher.  Simple as that.
  • Dishwashers heat the water up to be scalding hot and generally speaking diapers should not be washed in super heated water.  Hot yes, super hot, no.  It can cause fabric breakdown, elastic degradation and premature delamination.
  • It’s a hassle and a half – it’s much easier to tweak your wash routine to troubleshoot rather than resorting to a dishwasher.

If you’re having issues with your cloth diapers of any kind, do what you would do when you have car problems.  Consult a professional (ie. an experienced retailer or the manufacturer of your diapers directly).  We have years of experience helping lots of clients and manufacturers spend money perfecting wash routines and running tests on the materials they use in their products.  We can help you.  So please, don’t believe everything you read on the internet, even if they claim to be experts.  And don’t ever put your diapers in the dishwasher.


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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!


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Baby Break Out – My Poor Little Niece

Does your baby have sensitive skin?  My niece does.  But who knew?  Sensitive skin doesn’t run in our family, she isn’t particularly fair and she doesn’t have any specific allergies that we know of.  But for some reason little Lainey Bug has had raised red itchy patches all over her body since shortly after she was born.  She was constantly wiggling and trying to scratch herself and was a poor sleeper due to discomfort.  Thinking it was eczema, her parents took her to the pediatrician who said, no, it wasn’t eczema, just ‘sensitive skin’ and to stop using all products on her skin.  Then she gave them medicated cream.

Not wanting to use medicated cream unless it proved necessary, they stopped using their highly scented commercial laundry detergent, the hypoallergenic Live Clean Baby Wash and Johnson & Johnson Baby Lotion.  But then they were unsure of how to keep Lainey’s laundry and skin clean and they asked me for help.

I suggested Charlie’s Soap for her laundry.  It’s biodegradeable, non-toxic, cloth diaper safe and great for all skin types (not to mention free of artificial fragrances).  Plus the company has been around for over 100 years.  How’s that for a track-record?  Then I switched them onto the Delish Naturals’ Skin Care Line.  Safe, effective and great for the whole family, Delish Naturals’ products are handmade in small batches right here in Canada so we know exactly what’s in it and time and time again it has shown how great it is for a baby’s skin with nourishing natural ingredients.  Lastly, we made sure she was in cloth diapers – free from carcinogens and plastics and more breathable for her bum.

And what happened you ask?  Well she’s better of course!  The red patches are completely gone, the itchiness has subsided, she no longer squirms and fusses and she started sleeping better.  How long did it take to see a change?  3 days.  Just 3 days.  Sometimes I think we take for granted how delicate the skin of a little human really is.  And even if your baby doesn’t have ‘sensitive skin’ it’s nice to know the products you’re putting on them are the gentlest there are right?

This is why we carry Charlie’s Soap and the Delish Naturals Skin Care Line.  Not because they make us lots of money, not because we get a kick-back from a big multi-national company, but because they’re safe, they’re effective, and they make my niece feel better.

Love you Lainey Bug!

Baby wipes (even ‘sensitive’ or ‘hypoallergenic’ ones) are one of the biggest offenders we see for babies that have persistent bum rashes when using cloth diapers.  Delicate baby skin often can’t handle the necessary preservatives they have to put in them to keep them bacteria free.  Cloth wipes and warm water fixes that problem and will save you about $100 a year.


Cloth Diapers are NOT Hygienic

Cloth diapers aren’t hygienic you know.  Home laundering cannot get them clean without bleach in every wash.  They are unsanitary and gross.  They smell and they harbor bacteria and poop stains.  What a cesspool of craziness you’re in for if you cloth diaper!

Anyone heard that before?  We sure have.  But let’s address this un-informed opinion shall we?

All parents clean poop regardless of your choice of diapering medium.  It’s kind of a reality of parenthood and poop inevitably gets on your hands no matter how careful you are.  How do you clean your hands?  Do you bleach them after each diaper change?  No, you use soap and water, the same way you use detergent and water to clean your diapers.

Do you wear disposable underwear?  No, you wear cloth ones and you wash them to get them clean.  Is that unsanitary?  Quite the contrary.  In fact, washing your dirty underwear is the definition of good hygiene no?  And do you need to sanitize your underwear after each use to ensure they are clean?  Of course not, adequate detergent and hot water does the job just fine.  So too for your diapers as long as you are using good detergent in the appropriate amount for your load size.

And while throwing out a poopy diaper may seem like the easiest way to deal with poop, what about baby’s clothing that gets soiled during the poo-explosions that are all too common with disposable diapers?  Do you throw their clothing away too?  No again!  You wash it don’t you, with soap and hot water, don’t you?  And all that soiled cloth clothing comes out clean and safe to use again doesn’t it?  Are we seeing a pattern here yet? 😉  Truth be told, those dreaded poo-explosions happen a lot less often or not at all in cloth diapers.  Cloth is much better at containing them.  True story. Blowouts are almost non-existent in cloth diapers.  That means less soiled clothing, and less poop on your hands and baby’s hands and the change pad and baby’s blanket…sounds cleaner all around to me.

And if common sense hasn’t won you over yet and made nay-sayers hang their heads in shame, let’s consider two last points regarding home sanitation of cloth diapers.  When diapers are being properly washed such that they absorb readily, contain no residue and don’t smell, then you are achieving clean, bacteria-free diapers.  Period.  If they were so un-hygienic, babies would constantly get rashes in cloth.  But in reality, babies in cloth get fewer diaper rashes all around.  No joke.

What about diaper rashes caused by yeast you say? Haven’t we always heard that this is hard to get rid of and that it will stay in your diapers and re-infect baby?  Well there is lots of great new research showing that your simple home wash routine kills yeast with nothing more than hot water (over 50 degrees Celcius).  This makes sense as when breastfeeding mothers get thrush (yeast infection of baby’s mouth and mothers’ nipples) your doctor or lactation consultant will simply tell you to wash your bras in hot water to prevent re-infection.  Not to throw them out.  Just wash them.  Same goes for underwear during a vaginal yeast infection.  So why do cloth diapers still have this bad reputation?

Finally, on a more personal note, we just recently ended up in the emergency room with our newborn when he was a few weeks old.  He had a very high fever and it was determined he had a urinary tract infection (UTI) causing him to be hospitalized on intravenous antibiotics for 4 days.  While there I asked every doctor, nurse and pediatrician that tended to us if there was any way our cloth diapers had contributed to or caused his UTI.  The reply? We were told that cloth diapers were most certainly not the cause, that cloth diapers can be better than disposables, and that sometimes disposables contribute to or cause UTIs.  And guess what?  In hind-sight, in the midst of 3 kids and postpartum sleepiness, I had put our newborn in disposables during the night for the week preceding his UTI.  Our other son, our oldest child, had also had a UTI as a young baby in the days before we discovered cloth diapers.  So, did disposables cause the UTI infections our boys experienced?  We’ll never know.  But none of our children have ever had infections in cloth. Go figure.

Perhaps wrapping human waste in plastic to fester in your bathroom garbage pail and then throwing it in a landfill instead of flushing it away down the toilet where it belongs is what’s not hygienic.


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Why Can’t I Use Dryer Sheets With My Cloth Diapers?

So, if you’ve been using cloth diapers, you likely already know that you shouldn’t use commercial dryer sheets in the dryer.  But why?

Quite simply it’s because the chemical filled substance that makes the dryer sheet feel waxy is designed to melt with the dryer’s heat and disperse all over your clothing, thus reducing static and adding a long lasting scent.  When it comes to your diapers, that waxy stuff coats your diapers and causes a residue that will build up and make your diapers repell.  What does that mean?  LEAKS!

In fact, if you look at the back of a box of dryer sheets, this is what you’ll see…(click to enlarge)BounceDryerSheets

Comforting right?  Labels like this are one reason why our family doesn’t use dryer sheets for any of our laundry.  Diapers included.

So what to do?  Well, you can use nothing in your dryer if you wish, or consider re-useable dryer sheets or wool dryer balls.

purecofrontSONY DSC

PurEcoSheets for example (pictured above) are great at reducing static and you use them over and over again.  Just throw them in the dryer and you’re done.  They last for years.

Wool dryer balls on the other hand (pictured below) provide a couple of benefits that justify their higher cost. Variety_WOOLIES Aside from softening all your clothing, being all natural in materials and reducing some static, they also help reduce the drying time by circulating clothing so it’s more exposed to hot air all around and by absorbing some moisture themselves.  The more balls, the merrier, however to give you an idea, a 4 pack will reduce dry time by aprox. 25% and 8 will cut your dry time by about 40% for an average load.  How long do they last?  They last for years as well, the color doesn’t transfer onto clothing, not even whites and hey, they’re adorable are they not?

So, ditch the dryer sheets and consider an eco-friendly, baby friendly, cloth diaper friendly dryer solution instead.

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Health Benefits of Cloth Diapers

No one wants a diaper that is not healthy and safe whether it be disposable or cloth. Here are just a few reasons why cloth is best for baby:

– Fewer, less severe diaper rashes
– No toxic carcinogenic chemicals
– Earlier potty training than babies diapered in disposables
– Disposable diapers have been linked to asthma.
– The plastic in disposables prevents the diaper from breathing and increases the scrotal temperature for boys possibly leading to male infertility