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.

March 31, 2010

Battling the Ammonia Beast

Cloth diapers are so easy to use, but there is one really tricky spot that I often am asked about: ammonia in toddler diapers. This is a tricky beast with no single solution, but lots of things to try. We dealt with ammonia in our daughter's diapers and I tried everything, even ruining a batch of diapers in my experimentation. Assuming your detergent choice is good and your wash routine is appropriate, there are several tips that can help with ammonia. Here's what I found helped us the most:

Try soaking for 15 minutes with Oxyclean. You can soak a little longer, but no more than 2 hours since soaking can be hard on the PUL after awhile. (Oxyclean voids Happy Heiny's warranty. As far as I know, it's okay to use with all the other diapers we carry.)

You can use Bac-Out. We found Bac-Out was the solution for our ammonia issues when our daughter was that age. The best results were with spraying it directly onto each insert and diaper when we put it into the diaper pail. But that got tedious after awhile, so I tried soaking for 15 minutes in the washer with the lowest water setting and 1/4 cup of Bac-Out. That helped a lot, too, though I went through the Bac-Out faster. Some moms have found success with diluted Bac-Out to help it last longer...50% Bac-Out and 50% water.

You can bleach inserts, but I wouldn't bleach the diapers themselves unless you're completely desperate. Bleach is really hard on PUL. You won't notice any difference right away, but months later tiny pinholes will appear in the laminate, then it starts to crack. I found that out the hard way, not once but twice! Bleach voids the warranty of every diaper brand that I know of except BumGenius (they allow 1/4 cup once a month to a full load of diapers).

If you can sun your diapers, that helps some with ammonia and works wonders on stains. Wash diapers as usual, then lay or hang in the sun to dry. Diapers don't have to be outside, it works in a sunny window or car dashboard, too. It doesn't even have to be sunny. I've "sunned" diapers on rainy days. Still works, just takes longer. I think it's the UV rays that naturally bleach out stains and disinfect.
I have heard of moms having success with baking soda, or vinegar, or essential oils in the wash. These did not work for us and will void the warranties of some diaper brands, so be sure to check warranties before you try anything in your wash besides detergent.

Again, all of this assumes that you are using a good detergent and wash routine. I will address detergents and wash routines in my next post, so stay tuned!

Post is written by Heather Hicks and copyright. All rights reserved. CDO, LLC 2010