April 2, 2010

How to Ruin your Diapers

I knew the title would get your attention. :) I've ruined not one but TWO stashes of diapers and I'm going to share exactly how I did it.

The first stash was our daughter's original diaper stash. We had about 25 diapers that we'd been using for about 3 years. They worked great! Then I made the first mistake...she was on antibiotics for a sinus infection and the antibiotics gave her diarrhea. That led to a rash which led to heavy use of Desitin. Now I'm a diaper retailer, I KNOW how to care for diapers. Of course I used a heavy-duty fleece liner to protect our diapers. My mistake was washing the soiled fleece liners with the diapers. Doing it once might not have made a difference, but over the course of a week with heavy diaper cream use, it made a huge difference. Our diapers began to leak and repel like crazy. Since they were pretty much unuseable anyway, I started to experiment. I tried all kinds of tricks, anything I read on the internet. Dawn, orange hand cleaner, bleach, vinegar, Oxyclean, lemon juice, lime juice, on and on. Eventually, the Desitin did wash out and the diapers were saved.

But in the meantime, the diapers developed an ammonia odor. Here comes mistake #2: I used bleach. Everyone always said to never ever ever ever use bleach, but I tried it and you know what? Nothing bad happened. And herein lies mistake #3: I started using bleach with every diaper load. Never were my diapers whiter or fresher!

About 6 months later, I noticed that the PUL layer (the shiny laminate inside the pocket) looked funny. Closer examination revealed tiny cracks all over the entire laminate layer. On every diaper. Then the diapers started leaking. Crud. All that experimentation, something was bad for the diapers. I tried to save the cracked PUL, but it didn't work and I ended up with a whole new stash of diapers. This time, I used ONLY detergent. And maybe a little bleach now and then. After all, the bleach didn't hurt diapers. It was more likely the vast experimentation I'd done, the overnight soaks in lemon juice perhaps.

Here it comes, Mistake #4: I kept using bleach. Since bleach didn't seem to hurt the diapers, I kept using it, about 1/4 cup in every wash load. And you know how this is going to go...after about 6 months I noticed the same funny PUL. The same cracks. Some of our newest diapers had just tiny pinholes in the PUL. Over a few more weeks I watched those pinholes turn into tiny cracks. Eventually, the laminate layer would disintegrate and be completely gone, as though the fabric had never been laminated. This time, I knew the reason for our stash's demise: bleach.

By this time, our daughter only wore diapers at night. It felt silly to get new diapers, but she wasn't ready for underwear. So I bought stash #4, thankfully just a few diapers by this point. I ONLY used detergent and Bac-Out and these diapers remained pristine and waterproof the rest of our time using them.

The moral of my story? Don't use bleach! In the end, I found that even a few uses could eventually cause the pinholes and cracking. Only one brand allows any bleach use at all and that's BumGenius. They do allow 1/4 cup once a month to a full load of diapers without voiding their warranty. But just to be on the safe side, I wouldn't use it unless you're completely desperate and your diapers are pretty much ruined anyway.


Thanks so much for posting this! I have resorted to bleach on occasion, but after reading this, I'll swear off the stuff for good! And, I'm glad to hear that Baco-out is a good option, I just bought some. Oh, one more thing? I just did the same thing you did (washed liners soiled with butt paste with my diapers), and now my diapers a leaking! Ah ha, I was suspicious that this might be the reason, but this confirms it. Please tell me what to do now!

I emailed you Tamara! For anyone else who is curious, I first recommend the Dawn dishsoap stripping. And as a last resort, the orange hand cleaner. I really do think that helped.

Thanks for the dawn tip, by the way. I used it the other day on my diaper stash and it made a HUGE difference--we have really hard water and I think the dipes were getting a build up. They are back to being soft and clean smelling. :)