Cloth Diapering 101 - All You Need to Know About Cloth Diapering!
Some quick facts to help you get started on your journey to greener parenting!
It is easy to suffer from information overload when first looking into cloth diapering. And usually, after hours of research, many people still find themselves unsure of how or where to begin.
Cloth diapering shouldn't be that hard – and it really isn't! There are only a few extra steps in comparison to disposable diapering – and just think of how rewarding that little bit of extra work will be, knowing that you're leaving a greener earth for your children as well as saving thousands of dollars that you can put towards their future!
Don't get overwhelmed! We are here to help you understand how easy it is to cloth diaper your baby as well as providing you with information to get you started! In this Cloth 101 you will also hear some statistics about disposable diapers & their impact on your baby as well as other interesting facts, statistics, & advice. Diapers are no longer as difficult as they were 15-20 years ago and the Cloth Diaper has come a long way.
Check back often as we try to keep our content updated with the most current information available for you and your cloth diapering needs!
Is There Really an Environmental Reason to Switch?
What Disposable Diapers are Made of:
Aside from the absorbent pad & unwoven fabric and other materials, the following are the harmful absorbent chemicals composing a disposable diaper:
*Dioxin: Dioxin is used in the paper bleaching process and is listed by the EPA as the most toxic of cancer related chemicals. Disposables contain trace amounts of it. Would you believe dioxin is outlawed in many countries, but not the US? It’s true.
*Sodium Polyacrlate: This is the super absorbent powder added to the center of the diaper that turns to gel as your baby uses the bathroom. It is commonly referred to as SAP (super absorbent polymer). Ladies may know that SAP was banned from tampons due to links to toxic shock syndrome. This chemical can cause skin irritations and severe allergic reactions including vomiting, staph infections, and fever. SAP has also been linked to scrotal bleeding in little boys.
*Tributyl-tin (TBT): This extremely toxic pollutant is used as a fungicide. It spreads through the skin and can, in the smallest of concentrations, affect the endocrine glands, upsetting the hormone levels in the pituitary, gonad and thyroid glands. Large doses of TBT have been shown to damage the reproductive and central nervous systems, bone structure, and the gastrointestinal tract of mammals.
What Cloth Diapers are Made of:
Cloth diapers are composed of layers of fabric such as cotton, hemp, bamboo or microfiber and can be washed and reused multiple times. Some also contain a PUL (polyurothane laminate) material. There are no harmful chemicals composing a cloth diaper.
*Cotton: is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. Cotton fabrics can be silky or rough, smooth or textured, thick or sheer, indestructible or luxurious, making them popular for many uses such as cloth diapers. Versatility, softness, breathability, absorbency, performance and durability are just a few of the qualities that have earned it year-round status. There are also many forms of cotton cloth diapers such as terry cloth, Broadcloth, damask, 100% Egyptian Cotton and more.
*Hemp: soft, durable fiber that is cultivated from plants of the Cannabis genus.
*Bamboo: Rayon made from bamboo cellulose. Although rayon is a man-made synthetic material, most experts agree it is readily biodegradable. Bamboo is known for its softness, and boasts strong absorbency and antimicrobial properties cultivated from the bamboo plant a perennial evergreen from the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae.
*Microfiber: refers to synthetic fibers (fiber) that measure less than one denier
*PUL: Polyurethane laminate - a polyester interlock knit fabric that has been laminated to a thin film of polyurethane.
A Word On Diaper Statistics:
(American) Statistics show the number of disposable diapers that end up in landfills in the U.S. alone are more than 21 billion each year. This number can only increase now that parents are waiting longer to completeand rid children of diapers. The staggering amount of disposable diapers in landfills presents large numbers of nearly insurmountable challenges. The time it takes for the plastics in disposable diapers can take 6 lifetimes or more. The Chlorinated byproducts of this decomposition can find its way into the soil and public water supplies. Average babies in America will use approximately 6,000-10,000 diapers from birth to underwear years. An average cloth diapered baby will need no more than 2-3 dozen cloth diapers. This dramatic decrease in volume alone proves that are better for our environment. The fact that Americans spend billions each year on disposable diapers, despite the environmental risks, is why so many special interest groups and corporations are against cloth reusable diapers.
- In the first two years, the average baby will require between 5000 to 7000 diaper changes.
- As of 2004, approximately 1.7 billion disposable diapers were used each year in Canada, accounting for 85 percent of the diaper market.
- Before disposable diapers were introduced, all babies in North America were diapered in cloth. Within 10 years of the arrival of disposable diapers on the market, the number of cloth diaper users quickly dwindled to 10 per cent.
- Over 4,000,000 disposable diapers are discarded per day in Canada.
- Approximately 250,000 tonnes of disposable diapers are sent for disposal each year in Canada, according to 2004 figures.
- Disposable diapers represent approximately 3 percent of the total quantity of residential waste for disposal in Canada.
- Effluents from the disposable diaper manufacturing process (plastic, pulp and bleached paper) are more damaging to the environment than the cotton and hemp growing and manufacturing process used for cloth diapers.
- Cloth diapers are related to water and air pollution because of the water and energy used to wash and dry them. This is particularly important in areas with water shortages.
- Another concern is the higher level of wastewater particulates associated with flushing away the contents of cloth diapers. (Interesting fact you may not know: if you look at the box on disposable diapers, it says you are required to flush the contents of the diapers as well)
- Home laundering of cloth diapers produces greenhouse gas and other emissions from energy consumption in the dryer. Line-drying diapers when possible can reduce these emissions.
- Cloth diapers may encourage babies to potty train faster than disposables, because with disposable diapers, the babies seldom feel any wetness or discomfort.
With So Much Laundry, Are Cloth Diapers Really Better For The Environment?
Some argue that the amount of laundry that has to be done with and the toxins that come from this will fill the sewers with so much added waste as to make no improved environmental impact over disposable diapers. The truth is that only slightly less water will be used overall due to increases in laundry frequency. Also, the detergents a vast majority of us use to clean is much easier on the environment because it is free of additives, colors and fragrances.
Be sure to check with your municipality for local programs or policies on waste disposal and diapers. Your provincial government may also have more detailed statistics and information on landfills and wastewater treatment systems. Ultimately, parents must choose a diapering system that is best suited for their baby, their lifestyle, their financial situation and their environmental concerns. In some cases, a combination of cloth and disposable diapers may be the best approach. (Statistics provided by Environment Canada, 2010).
GETTING STARTED CLOTH DIAPERING
Ready to go with cloth diapers? I highly recommend buying 1 or 2 of each kind of cloth diaper to start, that way you can know what seems to work best with your little bumz bum. From my experience, each baby is different, so what really works for one parent, may be completely different for another. On that note, it is great to search out cloth diaper reviews & opinions of other parents regarding the cloth diapers you want to purchase because then you can get to know what the materials are made of and what downfalls / advantages certain types of cloth diapers have. Your cloth diapering system can be made of all of one type of diaper or a combination of pre-folds, fitteds, and even all-in-ones.
Here is a list of how many of each item you will need approximately (again every mom is different, some like to have extra on hand, while others like to wash more often, these are simply averages of the cloth diapering mom) when you begin:
- 24 to 36 cloth diapers.
- 1 to 3 . diapers
- 1 to 15 one-size diapers.
- 4 to 6 cloth diaper covers.
- 1 or 2 polar fleece or wool covers for overnight. (optional)
- 12 to 24 prefolds / doublers. (More if your child is a heavy wetter - can use prefold as an insert later if you choose.)
- 1 diaper pail & diaper pail liner (You can use a large hands free garbage pail from any store that carries them)
- 1 wet bag
- 2 to 3 dozen cloth diaper wipes.
When considering the amounts to buy, take into consideration the age of your baby. Newborns and infants will need 10 to 12 changes a day. Toddlers will need 8 to 10. Most cloth diaperers wash diapers every 3 to 4 days.
If you decide to try fitted cloth diapers be sure to try a sampling before investing in a large number of any one brand. Fitted diapers vary quite a bit in size and fit from baby to baby.
Below you will find information on each type of cloth diaper, along with great brands / reviews of different brands, how to wash your diapers & more.
What You Need to Know About:
Flat & Prefold Cloth Diapers: Flat Cloth Diapers are your traditional cloth diapers our parents/grandparents used. Flat diapers are a little more work compared to prefolds, but once you learn how to use them, it becomes second nature. Flat diapers are also much easier to clean & dry fast compared to other cloth diapers. They are made from a single ply cotton fabric & are to be used with a Diaper cover like prefolds & fitteds. An Example of flat diapers are Birdseye Weave Flat Diapers, or Kushies Flat Diapers.
Prefold Cloth Diapers are similar to flats only differing by having a pre-sewn layer of material (such as bamboo or cotton) in the middle of the diaper. Thus allowing for super absorbency within the middle section. Prefolds are generally rectangular diapers with more layers of cotton (or other fabric sewn into the center). Most prefolds are 4x8x4 layers and the most common prefolds are Chinese or Indian Prefold Cloth Diapers. They can be found in white (bleached) or natural colours (unbleached). Unbleached prefolds have natural oils and take longer to prep (multiple washings to reach max absorbency).
Most brands use different colours in their stitching to indicate what size they are. Prefolds are not the most 'user friendly' cloth diaper, but are by far the most inexpensive way to cloth diaper your baby. The benefits of using prefolds are for their versatility, durability & wash friendly properties. Prefold cloth diapers can be used as inserts, liners & doublers in pocket diapers etc, as well as a diaper itself when used with a diaper cover. Most prefolds are very durable & can take a beating, washing them is fairly easy - no need to unstuff, simply wash & dry (quicker than most diapers). A downfall to prefolds is that they aren't very user friendly, & some can take quite a few washes before it can reach it's maximum absorbency.
An Example of prefold diapers are Sheepish Grins Chinese Prefolds - white or unbleached.
EXAMPLES OF PREFOLD CLOTH DIAPERS:
1. How to fasten your prefold diapers:
- Pins are easy to use once you get the hang of them. Between uses stick opened pins in a bar of soap. Alternatively run the pins through your hair before pinning diapers. Both methods gives the pins a coating that allows them to glide through cloth the next time you diaper.
- Another alternative is to simply fold the cloth diaper in thirds and enclose within a velcro or snap fastened diaper cover over the prefold and the baby.
2. How to Fold your Flat & Prefold Cloth Diapers:
There are many methods of folding cloth diapers, here are just a few with diagrams to help:
- In Thirds: lay the cloth diaper flat with the length running up and down. Fold the right panel over the middle, then the left side over the right fold. Then flare out the top and bottom. If you are pinning, pin the corresponding front and back corners together. (no diagram)
- Poop pouch: lay the cloth diaper flat with the length running up and down. Place the baby in the middle of the cloth diaper straddling the diaper. Let the cloth diaper bunch between the baby's legs forming a little pouch. (no diagram)
BASIC ANGEL WING FOLD:
This fold can be used with any size of our pre-fold diapers. It provides super absorbency & a trim fit. Waterproof diaper covers have replaced the need for pins & rubber pants. They are cool & breathable. Snappis are also the latest addition making it that much easier. They work just like pins only are much safer. (diagram below) NOTE: some moms say that they prefer wrapping the back wings around to the front, attaching them with diaper pins/a snappi - its' not necessary with a diaper cover,but will help keeping the diaper snug around the baby's legs & add more protection against leaks.
THE BIKINI TWIST:
If your baby has heavy thighs, this fold is much better. It allows a high cut opening while maintaining super absorbency. This fold works best with diapers on the large size for your baby or when your baby is lower on the sizing chart size of prefolds. The diagram below shows the diaper fastened using pins, snappis also work & are probably easier to use. Don't forget - if you are using pins - stick them in a bar of soap so that they glide smoothly into the diaper when applying them. (diagram below)
This is by far the easiest of all folds as you are sectioning the diaper into thirds. This is the fold you are likely to teach care-givers if using prefolds or inserts in this fashion with your cloth diaper covers / pocket covers. You can use this fold with pocket diapers such as AppleCheeks, Flip Diapers, & other brands with larger inserts. Don't be afraid to use your prefold and flat diapers with pocket diapers or cloth diaper covers.
FLAT DIAPER FOLDING:
For the traditional diaper folding mamaz, using flat diapers with a series of folds which form small triangular pads. We recommend fastening with pins or snappis when using flat diapers. (diagram below)
Contour Diapers are a step between a prefold and a fitted diaper. They can be made from a variety of material also, from cotton, bamboo, to hemp, or a combination of them etc. They also require a diaper cover or wrap. Similar to disposables, they are shaped like an hourglass & usually have a thick padding in the middle.
These diapers can be laid directly in a wrap/diaper cover without having to be folded & can therefore be easier than prefolds to put on a wiggly baby - but can cost less than fitted diapers. Contour diapers also need to be pinned or snappi'd into place when used with certain types of diaper covers - such as pull-up pants, plastic pants, bubble wrap, & some wool covers. On account of their shape, you may have to buy 2 sizes of contours for your little bumz bums during the lifetime of diapering your baby. Some excellent examples of contour diapers are Kissaluvs contour diaper,
Fitted Diapers can be made from bamboo, hemp, cotton, or any combination of these materials. They will have fasteners to close the diaper such as velcro or snaps, much easier to use compared with flats/prefolds. Usually fitted diapers contain a pocket which can be used to make the diaper much more absorbent. Fitted Diapers require a diaper cover like flats/prefolds & are usually pre-formed. They are extremely breathable which is why they need a diaper cover & going coverless may help with potty learning as they get older.
Fitted Cloth Diapers are also a cheaper option compared with pockets, all-in-one diapers and the like, but they are also a bit more work.
Diaper Covers may be made of Nylon, Vinyl, Fleece, Wool, or PUL (PolyUrethane Laminate: This is made from a polyester fabric that has had a coating laminated to it to make it waterproof. The resulting fabric is durable and flexible.). They are created to be used with fitted diapers, flats & prefolds. They are designed to be waterproof & keep the urine within the diaper, while helping baby stay dry. Most covers can be reused many times throughout the day.
The trick with finding a good diaper cover is fit! You want to make sure you have a cover that can fit well at both the legs, the belly and the back. Many leak problems arise when baby is put in a diaper cover that is overstuffed. When folding / filling your diaper cover, you will want to check for a good seal around the legs, back and front. Once you have mastered finding the right way of putting your diapers and cover on, you should have a great leak prevention system.
Wool is a great OVERNIGHT solution! Wool cloth diaper covers are an excellent choice for your cloth diapering needs because they are biodegradable and water repellent. Wool is breathable and works by keeping sheep properly temperature controlled regardless of the time of year - therefore it's great for your little ones not only during colder months, but also in the summertime! Wool has natural antibacterial, antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties, therefore it is able to last (when lanolized) through many changes without having to be washed - which makes it the perfect solution for overnights! When cared for, wool diaper covers can also last from birth to potty training and in many cases resold for a good price. Once lanolized a wool cover acts to keep the moisture from the underlying layers (fitted or prefold/flat diapers) inside the diaper and it's breathable qualities help keep babies bum dry. When paired with a super fitted cloth diaper, wool diaper covers can be the ultimate overnight cloth diapering solution. Wool Diaper Covers may also be quite a bit more expensive, but when their reusability, durability, breathability, & function is factored in, they are worth the investment. Did we mention they are also super adoreable?
Recommended Amount to have on hand: 4-6 covers in each size is a fair amount - again everyone is different (some moms prefer to have more on hand, others' less) If you reuse 2 covers throughout the day, wiping it between diaper changes, will help as well. Different cloth diapers will require or fit better under different styles of diaper covers. Some cloth diapers don't need a cover such as all-in-one diapers, & pocket diapers. There are velcro covers, pull-on covers, & side-snap covers. Examples of Diaper Covers are Sustainablebabyish (Sloomb) Wool Diaper Covers and Underwoolies, EcoPosh Wool Diaper Covers, Happy Heiny Cover, Stacinator Single Layer Fleece Covers, Bummis Super Whisper Wrap, Bummis Super Brite Diaper Cover, & much more.
A Review of the Bummis Cloth Diaper Cover and How to Use the Bummis Cloth Diaper System:
Inserts are to be used inside a pocket diaper. There are many types of materials which inserts can be made from, hemp, bamboo, microfiber or combined materials, prefolds also make great inserts as well. Examples of good inserts include Drybees microfibre inserts, Happy Heiny's Hemp Stuffins, Thirsties Stay-Dry Duo Inserts, Applecheeks Bamboo Inserts, Fuzzibunz microfibre inserts, Happy Heiny Microfibre Inserts & more.
Doublers are used to make your diaper more absorbent. Doublers are usually made from bamboo, hemp, microfiber or a combination of materials. The doubler would be used in addition to an insert - such as in the case of a pocket diaper. They may be used in All-in-One pocket diapers as well. Doublers work great for increasing the absorbency in fitted diapers & prefolds, simply place it between the diaper cover and fitted diaper/ over the prefold before being fastened to the baby & put the cover on. Its' that easy! Doublers work great for Night-time when maximum absorbency is required. Examples of great doublers are Applecheeks Stay-Dry bamboo booster, Thirsties Fab Doublers, Sheepish Grins chinese prefolds & more.
Liners come in a couple different types, first there are the most common: 1. Biodegradable flushable liners which help catch the fecal matter & make it easier to clean baby up, as well as reuse a diaper if possible. These types of liners are placed next to baby's bumz & simple thrown out after a poopy is made or flushed! (urine saturated liners are also compostable!) & 2. Fleece / raw silk hemp liners are also available to use in the same manner, except they are washable. Silk may not be as absorbing as fleece, however, they have natural healing properties & are an excellent alternative for babies that can't use fleece. Examples of some good liners are those such as Imse Vimse flushable diaper liners, Bummis bio-soft flushable liners, Bummis Fleece Liners, & more.
A Pocket Diaper is one with a waterproof outer layer & microfleece or suedecloth inner layer. The pocket which can be at the back of the diaper, middle, or front of the diaper is where you place an absorbent insert to draw moisture away from baby's skin. If you need varying levels of protection & absorbency the insert is separate from the rest of the diaper which is why you can customize the absorbency to fit your child's needs. The pockets can hold almost any naturally absorbent material - from flat/prefold diapers, to doublers & inserts made from a variety of materials. Washing & drying is quicker than all-in-one diapers because the pocket insert can be removed. They are the the closest to disposable diapers, being that you simply fasten and go! Pocket diapers are the easiest to put on your baby. Examples of some great pocket diapers are Happy Heinys Pocket Diaper, Applecheeks Pocket Diapers, Fuzzibunz Pocket Diaper, Drybees Night-time Pocket Diaper, Rumparooz Pocket Diapers & more.
A Great review of the Applecheeks Diaper:
How to use your Applecheeks Diaper:
A one-size diaper is one that should fit from birth to potty training. Usually they fold or snap down to adjust the size from newborn to toddler size, and in some one-size diapers they adjust by an elastic. One-Size cloth diapers can be in the form of pocket diapers, fitted diapers, and even all-in-one diapers (discussed in detail in the section below). Examples of some great one-size cloth diapers are Fuzzibunz One-Size Pocket diaper, Happy Heinys One-Size Pocket Diaper, & many many more...
Here is a demo of the Fuzzibunz One-Size Pocket Diaper from Fuzzibunz:
All-In-One Diapers generally have a waterproof outer layer consisting of PUL (polyurethane) backing, polar fleece, or wool. They are fitted diapers & are closest to simulating disposable diapers next to pocket diapers in that they are a one-piece system. The insert/absorbent soaker is generally sewn right into the diaper or can be detached. A short form for All-In-One diapers is (AIO). Examples of All-in-One Diapers are those such as Drybees All-in-One Diaper, Grovia All-in-one diaper, Rumparooz Lil' Joey's All-in-One Newborn Cloth Diapers, Bottom Bumpers All-in-one diapers & more!
ALL-IN-TWO (AI2) / HYBRID DIAPERS
All-In-Two Diapers or AI2 diaper is a two-part diapering system designed to work together. An AI2 is usually made with a waterproof outer cover with an absorbent diaper or soaker attached in some way. Usually the Soaker is snapped in with plastic Snaps. Some AI2s work more like Pocket Diapers. This is a diaper that has the absorbent layer permanently attached and has a waterproof outer layer. The closures are adjustable, using either aplix or snaps. The differences between an AIO versus an AI2 is usually the absorbent layers of an AI2 either snap in and out or flip up and out which shortens drying times. Price range is usally between $18.00 - 28.00/ea. Another benefit is that the AI2 system is more versatile. In some systems, like the SoftBums diapers, you can choose your soaker fabric: either stay-dry microfiber OR organic bamboo velour. Also, some AI2 brands have a disposable soaker option. Gro-Via makes biodegradable, chlorine-free, fragrance-free disposable soakers that can be used inside their cloth shells (or any other AI2 shell, unstuffed pocket diaper, or PUL diaper cover). This option is very popular with people who want to use cloth diapers but are nervous about making the plunge to full-time cloth.They have the option to use cloth at home and disposables when they’re out of the house (or at daycare, or with a sitter, or on a weekend trip) while still reducing their carbon footprint and the amount of chemicals against their baby’s skin.
Hybrid means the convenience of disposable diapers is combined with some of the re-usable nature of cloth diapers. Generally, hybrid diapers consist of an outer re-usable cover, very similar to those used in cloth diapering, and an inner disposable liner. The inner liners in hybrid diapers can be thrown away, or sometimes they can be flushed in a toilet or composted for use in the garden.
Examples of some good AI2 diapers & Hybrids are the Flip, Gro-Via, and SoftBums all-in-two systems, Thirsties Pocket All-In-One Diaper V.2, Monkey Doodlez AIO.
Here is another excellent Review, this time of the Gro-Via All-in-Two Hybrid Diaper:
This study explains the dangers of disposables and how scrotal temperature can be increased leading to other issues in Babies and Children. "Male reproductive health has deteriorated in recent decades. It is proposed that increased testicular temperature in early childhood, due to the use of modern disposable plastic lined nappies (diapers), could be an important factor contributing to this decline... This study shows that scrotal temperature, which closely reflects testicular temperature, is increased in boys wearing disposable plastic lined nappies. The physiological testicular cooling mechanism is blunted and often completely abolished during plastic nappy use."
GUIDE TO WASHING CLOTH DIAPERS
A BASIC INFORMATION SHEET
PREPARING CLOTH DIAPERS FOR FIRST-TIME USE
Natural Fibers (hemp/cotton)
Wash 3-5 times in hot water (120°F/60°C) using proper amount of detergent for the product (see below). This enables the diapers to absorb properly. Dry hot between each wash to ensure shrinkage and proper absorbency.
Wash product once using the proper amount of detergent for the product. Avoid prewashing polyester products with natural fiber products. Dry warm.
Hand wash wool products in lukewarm water with wool wash. Line dry.
NOTE: Once the prewash process is completed, most diapering products (except wool) can be washed together according to the manufacturer’s washing recommendations.
WASHING CLOTH DIAPERS
- Choose the right detergent and know how much to use (read section below).
- Soaking cloth diapers is unnecessary.
- Wash soiled diapers every other day.
- For best results, remove solids from diapers before storing in ventilated pail.
- Wash cold with correct detergent to remove waste and fight stains.
- Wash hot (120°F/60°C) to cleanse your diapers.
- An extra rinse may be required to remove any lingering detergent.
- Hang dry or tumble dry warm/medium. Hemp or cotton diapers may be dried on hot.
- Once per month, use oxygen bleach (check with manufacturer first) in the hot wash cycle (step 6) to sanitize diapers and fight odors.
CHOOSING AND USING DETERGENT FOR CLOTH DIAPERS
Some detergent ingredients may coat diaper fabrics, impede absorbency and void product warranties. Check with the product manufacturer before choosing a detergent.
- Rockin' Green
- Allen's Naturally Powder
- Liquid Country Save Powder
- Nellie's All Natural
- Liquid Planet Ultra Powder
- Liquid Planet 2X
- Ultra Mountain Green
- Free & Clear Mountain Green
- The Laundry Tarts
- Liquid or Powder Tide
How Much Detergent When washing diapers?
- Start by using 1/2 the detergent manufacturer’s suggested amount.
- To determine the right amount read the label and then carefully measure.
High Efficiency Considerations
- Use an HE safe detergent.
- Set water levels to high to be sure that diapers are cleaned and rinsed properly.
- If the weight of the load determines the water level, put a wet towel in with diapers to increase the weight of the load.
Ingredients to Avoid:
- Fabric Softeners
- Fabric Enhancers
- Optical Brighteners
Troubleshooting Detergent Issues
- Watch the second rinse for suds. Suds may indicate that less detergent is necessary.
- If the diapers smell, slightly increase the detergent and/or increase water level.
References: Sarah Gesiakowski, Pinstripes & Polkadots (http://www.pinstripesandpolkadots.com); Washing References From Cloth Diaper Manufacturers; The Great Detergent Debate, 2008 members of the Reusable Diaper Manufacturers Group;
Disclaimer: This information is offered as a public service and is not intended to be a complete resource. Information is current as of September 2008 and will be reviewed again in February 2009. Information is subject to change. Keep in mind that detergent manufacturers change their formulas without notice. Washing machines vary in capacity and water usage. Water types vary by region. With issues not solved by the information above, contact the product manufacturer for further instructions.
File Last Update: 11.19.08, by Jennifer Labit, Chairman, Real Diaper Industry Association
Copyright: Portions of this document are derived from material copyrighted by Cotton Babies, Inc. and have been used with permission. This document may be freely distributed through electronic or print forms provided that it is the latest version available at the time, unedited and distributed in its entirety, including this notice.
More Ways to Wash Your Diapers
The washing instructions are for a full load of cloth diapers. You may include nylon and polyester diapers covers in this load. Handwash all wool covers.
Overnight Soak Method
- Pre-Wash. (This step can be skipped if you use the wet pail method.) Place all cloth diapers in the washer, and run a prewash in cold water. This will remove most of the loose particles from the cloth diapers.
- Overnight Soak. Refill the washer with cold water and 1/2 cup of baking soda. Let it agitate for a minute or two, then turn off the machine and let the cloth diapers soak several hours or overnight. Drain the water (I run a pre-wash to do this.) Baking soda is a base and neutralizes the urine in the cloth diapers. This is very effective in whitening and removing the smell from the cloth diapers.
- Hot Wash. Empty the bin and run the wash with hot water, detergent and 1/2 cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda. Since my baby has sensitive skin, I use All HypoAllergen detergent.
- Double Rinse. Add about 1/2 cup of vinegar during the first rinse. If you have a washer with a fabric softener compartment pour the vinegar there when starting the hot wash. Otherwise you can throw in a Downy ball filled with vinegar.
No Soak Method
If you prefer not to soak your diapers or if you only have access to a coin operated machine follow this method:
- Cold Wash. Place all your soiled cloth diapers in the machine with baking soda for a cold water wash.
- Hot Wash. Add your wet cloth diapers to load, add detergent and baking soda and wash in hot water.
- Rinse. Rinse cloth diapers with cold water and vinegar.
- 2nd Rinse. Rinse cloth diapers with cold water.
HandWashing (A.K.A. LANOLIZING) Your WOOL Covers:
Lanolizing your wool covers:
Lanolin Defined: Essentially lanolin is a greasy substance produced by sheep to keep their wool waterproof. It can do the same for your baby's wool diaper covers. Lanolin keeps bacteria from growing, making your wool diaper covers essentially self-cleaning. A cover that may have been soiled with urine can be hung to dry and will be clean/fresh-smelling without washing. Lanolizing wool soakers at home only takes about half an hour. It should be done every 2-3 weeks, or whenever your diaper covers start to smell / no longer repel moisture.
HOW TO LANOLIZE YOUR WOOL COVERS
- Add a teaspoon of liquid lanolin (wool wash) to hot water and baby shampoo or body wash.
- Swirl / shake to distribute until cloudy.
- Add your wool diaper cover to the lanolin rich water.
- Soak your wool diaper cover a minimum of 15 minutes or over night.
- Remove extra water from your wool by rolling it in a towel and then let it air dry.
Your Wool has been lanolized when after lanolization you put water on it and can visually see the beads of water repel. Again it is good to do this every 2-4 weeks, or when you notice them no longer repelling the moisture.
Here is a great video to help you with those wool covers, or anything else you have that is made of wool! It protects & prolongs the life and absorbency of your wool!
Check it out:
How to get that urine / ammonia smell out of your diapers:
REMOVING URINE SMELL
Include baking soda when washing or soaking your cloth diapers.
If you use baking soda in the wash or soak, make sure to use vinegar in the rinse, This will help restore the pH of the cloth diapers. Otherwise your baby may end up with diaper rash.
According to Vicki Lansky author of Baking Soda : Over 500 Fabulous, Fun and Frugal Uses You've Probably Never Thought of, baking soda works with liquid detergents to whiten and brighten laundry. It does not boost powder detergents.
VINEGAR IN THE WASH
Many parents have complained that using vinegar in the wash leaves their diapers remaining smelly. Actually it is more effective to use baking soda in the wash and add vinegar to the rinse. If the smell continues, try re-washing your diapers with your regular detergents after using the vinegar in the first wash.
Hint: Consider using vinegar in the rinse cycle of all your laundry, not just the diapers load. Also consider buying distilled white vinegar by the gallon for general household cleaning. Melodie Moore's book, Vim & Vinegar, is a wonderful resource for learning how to use vinegar to replace expensive cleaners for floors, refrigerators, furniture, laundry, copper and stubborn stains.
IT MAY BE TIME TO: STRIP YOUR CLOTH DIAPERS
Stripping cloth diapers is really regular maintenance. Because cloth diapers are absorbant, they are bound to absorb detergent in their many layers. When cloth diapers get a build-up of detergent residue in their layers, a strong odor is created when the diapers become soiled. There are a few ways cloth diapers can get detergent build-up: If the water you wash your diapers in is hard, the detergent may not rinse out thoroughly which will cause a build-up of detergent. Using too much detergent in the wash can also cause the diapers to have a detergent build-up. Stay away from pure castile soaps like Dr. Bronner’s because these will leave a residue on your diapers.
Not using enough detergent can also be a problem. So either way you look at it, you are probably going to need to strip your cloth diapers. One way to keep your cloth diapers from getting a detergent build-up too quickly is to use a second rinse after the wash is completed. If you live in an area with hard water, try using a 1/4 cup vinegar in the rinse; this helps soften the water, allowing more detergent to rinse out of the diapers. You can get a downy ball in the laundry aisle at the grocery store and add vinegar to that, throw it in the wash and it will dispense at just the right time.
How to Strip Cloth Diapers
Definition of Stripping Cloth Diapers: Stripping your diapers is referring to the process of removing build-up–whether from detergent or urine residue or even mineral deposits from your water.
Stripping cloth diapers is a rather simple process and there is more than one way to do it. There are products available to help with stripping diapers but they aren’t always necessary. I have stripped my cloth diapers using a hot water cycle, harsher detergent such as Dawn, or Tide, & a small amount of bleach (a personal choice) with a second rinse cycle & the urine smell dissapeared. But, here are the stripping methods that have been found to be most effective among other moms and safe for just about any cloth diaper.
Method #1: Basic Stripping
For this method all you need to do is set your washing machine on a heavy duty cycle with a hot wash and don’t add any detergent. Add your clean cloth diapers. When the washer is done filling and it begins to agitate, open the lid and check for any suds in the water. Even if you see a layer of film you will want to repeat the wash cycle again until you no longer see any detergent in the water during agitation.
Once you no longer see detergent in the water your diapers have been stripped. See, that was easy. Now that your diapers are shiny clean, make sure you are washingyour cloth diapers correctly.
Method #2: Simple, Routine Stripping
This is the method I use about once a month to strip my cloth diapers. Using a stronger detergent may be required for your cloth diapers, & this method uses detergents such as Tide, Dawn, or others of your choice along with baking soda or bleach. (again bleach is optional & double check the cloth diaper's manufacturers warranty before using). Wash through one wash cycle or Heavy Duty wash cycle & repeat the rinse cycle. That's it!
Method #3: RLR Treatment
RLR Laundry Treatment is a water softener and is available in most major grocery stores and online. It is totally safe, free of phosphates, bleach and other harsh chemicals. What it does is remove mineral deposits and detergent build up. When you use RLR Laundry Treatment, wash your clean cloth diapers on a hot wash with one package of RLR added to the wash. You will most likely see a lot of foamy white suds. Continue washing and rinsing on the hot cycle until you don’t see anymore filmy soap in the washer. It is best to use a heavy duty cycle because you get a stronger agitation which can help release more detergent build up into the water.
Method #4: Stripping Fleece Pocket Diapers
Synthetic materials like fleece often don’t rinse out very well. This can cause pocket diapers to have an odor and the build up can cause them to repel which will result in leakage. Using diaper creams without using a liner against the fleece can also cause repelling issues. In this case, there is a little bit more labor involved.
If you find that your pocket diapers need stripping you need to do it by hand. First soak the pocket diapers in hot water with some dawn dish soap for about 30 minutes. Then take a soft scrub brush and scrub the entire layer of fleece both inside and out. Then wash the pocket covers in the washer until you don’t see any soapy residue left in the water.
How to Avoid Detergent Build Up in Cloth Diapers
Avoiding detergent build up in cloth diapers is just about impossible. If you use and wash your diapers enough, they are bound to absorb detergent and need stripping. But, you can prolong the time between stripping diapers by giving your cloth diapers an extra rinse after the complete wash cycle has finished.
Choosing the right detergent can also make a difference but users of cloth diapers and manufacturer’s opinions vary widely on the best detergents to use.
I have found success using Laundry Tarts Detergent, Nellie's All Natural Detergent, Rockin' Green Detergent! It is always better to switch detergents every so often, so try to have a collection on hand when washing your cloth diapers.
What is the difference between wet and dry pail methods?
- Dry pail. All cloth diapers are placed in a covered pail or wet bag. Sprinkle baking soda to control the odors. (our most preferred method)
- Wet pail. All cloth diapers are placed in a pail half filled with water. Make sure this pail is covered to prevent infant drowning.
The Diaper Pin and our preferred method is using the dry pail method to store your cloth diapers. After much experience we most prefer using a wet/dry bag for our cloth diapers when we are away from home and a pail liner lining a step garbage can for cloth diaper storage at home.
FAQ: WHY AREN'T MY NEW NATURAL CHINESE PREFOLDS ABSORBENT?
Cotton has a naturally occuring wax in it. Since your natural Chinese prefolds are not bleached during manufacture, the wax is not removed. To remove the wax, you must wash your prefolds in VERY hot water. Here are some tips for those whose water may seem to be not quite hot enough. Try Tide. We do not recommend Tide for daily use because it is harsh, but it does seem to help remove this natural wax more quickly. Turn up your water heater for a few washes or add boiling water to your washer to raise the water temperature. We have also had some moms boil their diapers with great success! The number of washes needed to remove the wax will vary. If your water is very hot and you use Tide and you have city water which is chlorinated, you may only need to wash once. In other cases, you may need to wash a few more times. Rest assured, this natural wax will always come out!
FAQ: HOW DO I CLOTH DIAPER WHEN I GO OUT?
Basically, changing cloth diapers are no different than changing disposable diapers, its' what to do when your done that is the difference. Essentially you'll need to place it in a waterproof diaper tote or wetbag. All-in-one diapers are great for outings because there are no additional inserts to pull out, or diaper covers & fasteners to deal with. Pocket diapers also offer a similar convenience, with only the pockets to pull out. Being prepared is extremely important - by having what you need & once you've tackled a few outings with cloth diapers, you'll be a pro in no time!
Here are some Tips as to what to have in your diaper bag for an outing: Cloth diapers, covers (if you need them), cloth baby wipes & bottom cleanser (or traditional wipes if you prefer), changing pad, waterproof tote or wetbag, change of clothes for baby, & diaper ointment (such as punkin butt's bottom balm!).
Here is the grovia diaper that is great for going out! See the Review of it below:
Why Choose Cloth Diapers?
• You are saving 300 lbs of wood if you use reusable diapers on your little one. That’s because it takes that many trees to produce enough diapers to disposable-diaper one child.
• You’re helping to slow the growth of our landfills. It is estimated that we throw out 600 million
throwaway diapers every year in Quebec alone. That’s the equivalent of 6000 garbage trucks
JUST for diapers!! In Canada we throw out approximately 4 million diapers PER DAY.
• You’re helping to reduce the amount of waste that sits in a landfill. In ideal conditions it would take 250 - 500 years for a single throwaway diaper to decompose. The conditions in our landfills are unfortunately not ideal, so decomposition takes much longer than that, even. Your cloth diapers will last you through two to three babies, at which point they can be used as cleaning cloths. After that, cut them up in small pieces and throw them in your compost and they can be helping to fertilize your garden the next year!
• You are saving a TON of money: $$$$$
From the moment your bumz is born until 30 months of age, your baby will go through approximately 5400 throwaway diapers. This can cost you anywhere from $1500 - $2500. By choosing to cloth diaper your child, you can spend as little as $500 - $800 for the entire diapering experience. AND...not only does this represent significant savings for one child, but the SAME cloth diapers could last through two and even three children! You will be saving a minimum of $2000!! Think of what you could do with the money... a family vacation comes to mind... Though the initial costs may be higher, it will be cheaper in the long run!
And if you are concerned about how much washing your diapers at home is going to affect your Hydro bill, consider the following:
How much does it cost to wash my diapers?
Based on 2008 Hydro Quebec rates it will cost you:
• $0.38 for a hot wash
• $0.18 for a warm wash
• $0.03 for a cold wash
A dryer cycle (and we only sell products that will dry in one dryer cycle) will cost you a grand total of $0.17 cents!
So washing your diapers every three days will raise your energy bill by a grand total of approximately $68.80 per year!
(Statistics Provided by Applecheeks & the Real Diaper Association)