Cloth Diaper Kids Blog

FuzziBunz cloth diapers and other green baby products


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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.

REVIEW OUR SIMPLE WASHING INSTRUCTIONS HERE


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Ammonia & Cloth Diapers – What It Is And What To Do About It

Ammonia smell and cloth diapers can sometimes seem almost synonymous.  Seems like everyone these days is complaining about it, having a rash from it or dealing with smells from it.  What is this epidemic and how do we fix it?

We’re glad you asked!  There’s a number of things you can do to get rid of ammonia in your cloth diapers and keep it gone for good.

But first, let’s clear something up.  Do you really have ammonia in the first place?  Sometimes ‘ammonia’ is a blanket term people mistakenly use to  label any smell or rash when it comes to cloth diapers when in reality ammonia is really a very specific thing.  Ammonia is different from smelly toddler pee, different from strong concentrated urine smell and different from a ‘barnyard’ type aroma.  Ammonia is a super strong, knock your socks off, your eyes will literally be watering, burning in your nose kind of smell like nothing else.  It is an unbearably strong smell and if present in your diapers can cause a very bad rash on babies very quickly on every bit of skin touching the wet diaper.  Ammonia is most often present in nap or overnight diapers that are on the bum for long periods of time.

Okay, with that said.  Do you have real ammonia?  If so, read on.

What’s happening anyway?  Where does the ammonia come from?
Great question.  Time for a chemistry lesson.  Ammonia comes from the break down of urine.  So, some ammonia will always happen when you’re leaving wet diapers in a wet bag between washes.  That’s not a problem in small concentrations.  But a few things speed up the breakdown of urine to ammonia (like heat, a closed diaper pail and bacteria).  What ultimately happens though, is that the soiled diapers are not being completely cleaned in the wash and that biological residue (I mean pee and poo) that didn’t get fully washed and rinsed away reacts with minerals in the water and with new urine and feces when they go back on the bum creating the recipe for those nasty rashes.  Eeew right?

So, logically, what do we need to do?  Get the diapers clean at wash time!  How do we do this?  First, we need to deal with the ammonia ASAP.  Funk Rock is a product specifically meant to neutralize ammonia.  Strip your clean diapers using Funk Rock.  Use the directions on the package or the directions here.  Next, and most importantly, you need to change your wash routine to ensure your diapers get fully and properly cleaned at each and every wash to prevent it from coming back.  This means making sure you are using enough detergent and enough water for the size of your diaper load.  We can always help you with troubleshooting here, but generally this means switching to a better detergent and/or often using more detergent.  Calgon can sometimes also be useful to help soften water and increase the effectiveness of the detergent in areas where harder water is of concern (ie. most of Canada unless you know for sure you have soft well water, a water softener etc.).  Calgon can be purchased in the laundry aisle at most supermarkets and should be used at a rate of 1/4 cup added along with the detergent.

Next, some things that will help keep ammonia at bay once you get rid of your acute case:
1) Keep your wet bag away from direct sunlight and heat.  Heat hastens the decomposition of urine to ammonia.
2) Wash your diapers every 1-2 days following this wash routine.
3) Have an open diaper pail or keep your wet bag unzipped and open to the air.  Wet diapers that dry out won’t smell as much as they wait for wash time.  Soiled diapers that are very wet and closed-in stew in the humidity and breed bacteria which makes ammonia worse.  This situation is also hard on fabrics and your diapers will break down sooner.
3) Rinse diapers before putting them in the wet bag between washes.  This can help a lot by diluting and removing some urine prior to washing.  Less urine = less ammonia potential.  Even if you only rinse nap and night ones you’ll notice a difference.
4) When you wash your diapers use a cold initial rinse before your hot wash with detergent.  Heat encourages ammonia, so cold on that first rinse is better if you have the option on your washer.
6) Keep baby hydrated.  The more diluted the urine, the less ammonia can be created in the first place.

Keep these things in mind and ammonia problems will be a distant memory.


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Washing Diapers 101 – The Best Way To Wash Cloth Diapers

Washing diapers should be simple.  Really.  You shouldn’t need lots of special rules or excessive rinsing or stripping to keep your diapers clean and functional.  Follow these quick and easy steps to worry free cloth diaper washing.

#1) Rinse – Do an initial rinse or short wash cycle without detergent.  Cold or warm is fine.

#2) Wash – A HOT wash with detergent.  Use the proper amount of detergent for your load size and type of washing machine as recommended on the package regardless of whether you use a commercially available brand or a cloth diaper specific brand.  What detergent should I use.

#3) Rinse – This additional rinse is somewhat optional as all wash cycles are followed by a rinse anyway.  So, this ends up being a rinse on top of that rinse.  It’s generally a good practice to make sure all detergent residues are gone, but, if you don’t do one and you aren’t having smell, repelling or rash issues, then don’t worry about it.

*The above applies to any washing machine whether it be a top loader, front loader, high efficiency (HE) machine or not.

There you have it.  Easy peasy.

IF you have leak, smell or rash issues then reference the linked articles to troubleshoot or contact us for help 🙂


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My Cloth Diapers Smell – How Do I Fix Them?

When it comes to cloth diapers, there are different smells and different ways to deal with them.  But one thing that holds true in all situations is that your diapers are smelling because they aren’t getting clean enough in the wash.  Here’s how to fix them and how to tweak your wash routine so it doesn’t come back.

Diapers smell like a ‘barnyard’
If you have a smell that’s kinda like a barnyard (sorta poopy and gross) it generally means you need more detergent.  You are either using a detergent that isn’t strong enough to deal with dirty diapers or not enough of it.  Use the proper amount of detergent as recommended on the package for the size of the load you are doing (regardless of whether you’re using a mainstream commercially available brand or a cloth diaper specific brand).  Bigger load needs more detergent.  Have you added water to your load or increased the water level?  Then increase your detergent accordingly.  You need the proper ratio of detergent to water to clean properly.  Diluted detergent or incomplete rinsing = poop residue left on your diapers = barnyard smell.

Note: changing to a different detergent (Tide or Charlie’s Soap is great) or adding a water softener like Calgon (1/4 cup in with the detergent) to your wash can also help if you have harder water.  Remember, detergent that works well for one person won’t necessarily work well for you.  Water quality, type of washing machine, diaper fabrics and style (prefolds vs. pockets vs. all in ones) can all play a large part in finding a wash routine and detergent that work to achieve proper cleaning.

Diapers smell strongly of ammonia
If you have ammonia issues, see our post on how to deal with it here.

Still have questions?  Contact us or get in touch with the manufacturer of your diapers for more troubleshooting advice.

 


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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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101 Ways To Use A Diaper Sprayer

Let’s get right to it.  Are diaper sprayers really worth it?  What are they good for anyway?

#1) Rinsing diapers of course.  Nothing better than a diaper sprayer once baby starts solids to help toss chunky stuff off the diaper into the toilet before washing them.  They are easy to install without tools and the adjustable water flow makes sprayers a lovely cloth diapering accessory.  By the way, rinsing diapers isn’t limited to dirty diapers.  Rinsing urine soaked nap and nighttime diapers is a fantastic way to prevent ammonia buildup.

#2) Rinsing Mama Cloth (cloth menstrual pads)

#3) Toddler water fight.  Yes, when the kids figure out how to use it, they will spray you.

#4) Toilet cleaning.  Genius right?

#5) Cleaning out the toddler potty.  THIS is my least favorite job.  Thankfully a diaper sprayer makes it delightfully easy and hygienic.

#6) Mama care down there – (Think bidet.  Both pre and post baby)

Okay so that’s only 6 ways to use a diaper sprayer off the top of my head but you’re going to be doing about 3000 diaper changes.  And even if only 1 in 10 of those diapers are poopy that still leaves you with 300 poopy diapers to deal with before potty training success day.  So, maybe I should have titled this post 306 Ways To Use A Diaper Sprayer 😉

By the way, our sprayers are the only ones on the market that are plumbing code approved for installation on toilets in the USA and Canada.  They also have a 3 year warranty.  That’ll get you through till potty training no?  So grab a diaper sprayer now and start enjoying those 306 benefits.

Happy diapering!slide51


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She Put What In The Washing Machine?! – A Photo Series On Poop

More often than not the biggest hang-up people have when considering cloth diapers is what to do with the poo.  This is especially true for first time parents, and let me tell you I was no different when I became a mom.  I’d never changed a diaper before in my life before I had kids so when books talked about sticky meconium or seedy breastfed baby poo I had no idea what that meant, and more importantly it made no sense to me that cloth diapers covered in it could go in the washing machine.  Eww right?

So here you go…real photos of newborn poo in cloth diapers and full explanations of what can go in the washing machine and what needs attention (scraping, flushing etc.) before being laundered.  This post is not for the faint-hearted, but boy will it all make more sense when you’re through 😉

Meconiummeconium
This is the thick, dark, tarry stuff that makes up babies bowel movements for the first few days of life.  Can it go straight into the washing machine without scraping or dunking?  YES.  It is water soluble, easily dissolve-able and washes right out of diapers.  This pic is of my own newborn’s diaper and I threw it in the wash without a second thought.  It came out perfectly clean.  Caveat: meconium can stain your diapers and will stain natural fabrics worse than synthetics.  If this bothers you, consider fleece or flushable liners for the first few days.  Meconium did stain some of my diapers.  This doesn’t bother me, I did nothing about it and now a few washes later the stains are gone.  They fade over time with subsequent washes.  TIP: meconium is quite sticky stuff.  For easier cleanup, put a little cloth safe bum ointment or coconut oil on baby’s bum and wiping will be a breeze.

Newborn PooMustard_Poo
This is what you’ll start to see 4-5 days after baby is born.  The meconium clears out and is replaced with this yellow stuff.  Often described as seedy or mustard-like, this is what you will content with until baby begins to eat solids.  Now, this photo represents a breastfed baby.  Did this diaper go straight into the wash without scraping or dunking?  YES.  Once again, breastfed baby poo is water soluble, rinses easily away during a quick rinse cycle before the wash cycle, and causes no laundry problems.  If you have a formula-fed baby, you’ll be dealing with a little more volume than this as formula isn’t as thoroughly digested by baby as breastmilk so use your judgement.  In the first few weeks formula fed diapers will look similar in volume to this pic anyway so wash them straight away.  If there is enough volume that some could be flushed, then do so before laundering or use flushable liners for easier cleanup.  But the point is, don’t get overly paranoid or make things too complicated for yourself.  You really shouldn’t have to do much to a dirty diaper before laundering.

Babies & Toddlers
Once baby starts solids, just keep one thing in mind.  If there’s enough poo to scrape, or toss into the toilet, do so.  Whatever is left on the diaper your washing machine can handle.  I promise.

Wash Routine
Stick to the simple and easy wash routine of
RINSE  >>  WASH  >> RINSE

  • A light rinse or short initial wash cycle – no detergent
  • A hot wash (heavy soil and max water settings or something similar if available for your washer) – with adequate detergent for the load size
  • An extra rinse if desired
  • Line or machine dry on low

*No fabric softeners, dryer sheets or petroleum or zinc based rash creams

Rockin’ Green and Charlie’s Soap are my favorite soaps.  I prefer Charlie’s slightly myself and it’s the only detergent we use for all our families laundry, diapers included.  It’s non-toxic, hypoallergenic, Front loader/HE compatible and biodegradable.  And if you’d like something to replace traditional chemical filled dryer sheets, consider re-useable dryer sheets and/or wool dryer balls.  Click their links to read about their features and benefits.