Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cloth diaper diary @ 8 months

Short version: I think our diapers are suffering from detergent residue build-up, which is leading to leaks, diaper rash, and funky colours in the diaper lining. Hopefully, using the solutions offered by Bummis, we'll be able to lick this problem and carry on. 

We've hit our first major snag. Washing cloth diapers might not be as easy as I first thought.

Over the last couple of months I've noticed a green and yellow discolouration building in the lining of our cloth diapers. This has coincided with Puddle experiencing more skin irritation in the diaper area than usual.

I suspect we're dealing with a build up of detergent in the lining of the cloth diapers.  Detergent residue can cause diapers and inserts to be stinky, discoloured, and leaky, particularly if the diapers are made of synthetic fabrics (Tots Bots have fleece liners, so this applies to us). Affected diapers can increase the instance of diaper rash.

The Bummis resource page has been a huge help in diagnosing our problem. Luckily Bummis also offers a few ways to get of detergent residue.
We use the Bummis recommended, Rockin' Green Laundry Detergent to wash our diapers. Although this is a zero-residue detergent, we may be experiencing residue build-up because we have a front-loading, high-efficiency washing machine. This is where things get a little tricky.

HE machines determine the amount of water needed for a wash by weighing the soiled laundry before water is added. That means, you can't increase the amount of water manually. This is great for the environment, but not for diapers. To adequately remove detergent from diapers, you need a lot of water, probably more than a HE uses in a rinse.

So I'm going to try a two-pronged approach, decrease the amount of detergent while increasing the amount of water for each wash. How are we going to increase the amount of water? Bummis suggests adding a wet towel to the each load, tricking the machine into thinking the load is heavier than it is.

Of course, I'll let you know how it goes.
The Tots Bots Easyfit still fit on the second snap. However, a friend of mine with a 7 month-old who uses the same diapers is already on the third snap, the biggest size. Her kid is 23 lbs. Not surprsingly she's wondering if they'll be using the diapers much longer.

We've been experiencing a lot more leaks. I think this is due to the detergent residue problem. We'll see if absorbency increases after I eliminate the residue.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you considered stripping your diapers to rid yourself of the residue/ammonia buildup?

"Generally, for the vast majority we recommend several (4-6) hot water washes (no detergent) which will get rid of most detergent buildup/residues. This is the safest stripping method available for all types of cloth diapers. You may consider adding 1/4 cup of vinegar to the first cycle or two. Vinegar is optional, and not generally recommended for products containing PUL. Also, some people have reported using vinegar with stink issues only compounds the problem."

A little bit of vinegar in the first wash may prove useful in cutting through that buildup, and the subsequent washes effective to rinse the vinegar and remaining irritants away. Not having an HE washer myself, is it also possible that your washer needs a good cleaning on its own? I'm not familiar with the maintenance on HE washers, but our standard top-loader needs a good vinegar-and-hot water cycle every now and again - like the coffee pot! :)

Just some thoughts. Hope you get it sorted out (or already have, as it's been a month or so since this post)!