Monday, April 23, 2012

Long-Overdue Cloth Diaper Funk Update

I should do a birthday re-cap, because it seems like the thing to do, but since I was sick and took zero pictures, let's just say it was the best it could be while being sick, thanks to my lovely husband. Awww. 

One thing we did on my birthday was be part of a Guinness World Record for most cloth diapers changed at the same time (fascinating, I know!) because, you know, how often are you involved in breaking world records.

So I took my kid and changed her on an elementary school floor with a bunch of other kids. 

(white shirt with the pink heart, middle of photo)

I have never seen so many amber teething necklaces in one place, let me tell you. 

That, and a message from a friend, reminded me that I never updated you on the "stinkiest diapers ever in the history of cloth diapers" problem like I promised many of you I would. Mind you, I'm still sick and basically dying, but thankfully I had this post half-written and was able to finish it with minimal sickness-induced whining.

Now, I could go ON and ON and ON about cloth diapers, both about how much I love them AND about how sometimes they are the bane of my existence. Sometimes when I get angry with them, I have to weigh the pros and cons in my head, and then I also remind myself that I *personally* know many people who have never had a single issue with their cloth diapers and think even an idiot can cloth diaper. Then I'm like, oh, okay, I started using these for a lot of good reasons, and it's clearly my fault and not the diapers themselves. 

Sorry diapers.

Now for the advice. (Disclaimer: I am neither a scientist nor a cloth diaper genius. This is just what has been working for me.)

Anyway, the number one thing I learned from research and advice is that THIS product exists:

Rockin Green Cloth Diaper and Laundry Detergent
Rockin Green Cloth Diaper and Laundry Detergent (Funk Rock Ammonia Bouncer)

Love it. I had to soak the diapers in like 4 tablespoons in hot water for a very long time and then do lots of washes, but once I was done, NO STINK. Amazing. You can also toss a tablespoon in with every load to prevent the stench. 

The other VERY important things I learned are:

1. There is math involved in loading up your washer. Stay with me. I only have like 20-something diapers, and sometimes (most of the time), I was waiting as long as I could until I did a load and was throwing a crap-ton of diapers (no pun intended) (okay, pun intended) into the washer all at once. HOWEVER, a much better method is to have fewer diapers and more water. If you have ten or fewer diapers but still set your washer to the largest load, this allows the diapers to really agitate, and the more they move around and the more water they have to slosh around in, the cleaner they can get. 

2. Hot water. Let me say it again. HOT WATER. I was following whatever the recommendation was (cold-hot-cold?) but my hippie biology-major neighbor was like, "Umm, you have human waste on those. Use hot water." Also, apparently since I use microfiber inserts, if you end with a cold rinse, anything still on the fabric (pee, poop, or any detergent that did not get successfully washed/rinsed enough) will be "trapped" in the microfiber and will just act like a magnet to attract more stuff. Hence, stink magnets. 

3. Figure out your own system. I know, that sounds so incredibly vague that you might feel like punching me in the ovaries right now, but I will explain. While I was doing my (exhaustive) research, lots of people said things like "it's important to remember that everyone's water is different, which makes washing different for everyone," and I was like, "NOOOOO! Give me a real answer!" But they're right. We all have different level of rust and lime and whatever else in our water, so the detergent that your friend across the country swears by might not work for you, and the way your other friend washes might not work either. However, I soon figured out two "washing schedules," based on how "funky" the diapers were, and things have been great ever since. Once I got the ammonia out and stripped them all nice and clean, I have not had any major problems. Within this tip are two subtips:

3a. It might take at least three wash cycles (or more) to get them clean. Not all of these have detergent added to them, but you need time in the washer to get those babies clean.

3b. LOTS of rinse loads. You don't want any detergent left on those bad boys. Also, I don't strip the diapers with Dawn anymore, I just wash with hot water a bunch of times, and BOOM, stripped. The rinsing is key.

So, my schedules are pretty similiar:
1) (normal load) Wash with 1/4 to 1/2 scoop of detergent; two additional wash cycles (with no detergent or anything), last with second rinse. All hot. All on largest, longest heavy-duty wash cycles. 

2) (slightly funky or more poopy load) Wash with 1/2 scoop of detergent; wash with VERY little detergent (1/8 scoop?); two additional wash cycles (with no detergent or anything), last with second rinse. All hot. All on largest, longest heavy-duty wash cycles. 

Yes, it's a lot of washing and rinsing, but the diapers are coming out like new.

4. Detergent is a big deal. I use Charlie's Soap and I really like it. Like I said, though, everyone's water is different, so it might work great for you, and it might not. Also, there is SO MUCH controversy in the cloth diaper world when it comes to your choice of detergent, and not everyone likes Charlie's, but here is my thought on it: it is on the list of recommended detergents to use, and I know a few cloth diaper geniuses who use it and swear by it, so I gave it a try and I like it. 

5. Velcro is the devil. Okay, this one has nothing to do with the washing/removing funk advice, but velcro is still the devil. If you have the option to choose between snaps or velcro (which as far as I know, you pretty much always do for the same price), buy the GD snaps. I got velcro because I was thinking of changing a newborn a million times and in the dead of night, and wanted it to be easy and fit perfectly, which it did, and everyone who talked about velcro versus snaps said the snaps were good for when your kid is older and trying to take off his/her own diaper, but I figured I cared less about that than my immediate "diapering a newborn" needs. But here is a little science for you: VELCRO DOES NOT LAST FOREVER. No matter what. I got a set of 12 diapers replaced by cotton babies when the velcro failed, and now the replacements, which we have only used for 7 months, have no stick left in the velcro. Yes, I wash them a lot, but I would rather have velcro go out than have stinky-ass diapers or lingering detergent burning my baby's skin (YES, this is why all the extra rinses are crucial.). There is no "wear and tear" to any other part of the diapers from my wash cycle, just the velcro, so I don't blame myself. So, here we are again, with only a few snap diapers and the rest falling around her ankles. I am seeing if I can get them replaced with snap diapers, but if not, I am going to have to convert them to snaps, which ether costs money or takes a LOT of time, depending on how you do it. So, NO VELCRO. 

I'm pretty sure that is all I have for the moment, but I will continue to update this as I remember things and/or I get more questions.


  1. Thanks for this post! I think I might have to try some of that Rockin Green. Dealing with some lingering ammonia smells here as well.

  2. Thanks, I'm glad you liked it! I really do love that product. It's magical!

  3. Okay, so this is the Hippie Bio Neighbor (LOVE it by they way)!!!

    Im glad you listen to the whole HOT water thing, just keep in mind cotton nappies need more rinses and hotter water!

    So the only thing that you could change is that during your wash cycle you actually want to use less water and MORE water to rinse. Your nappies get cleaned by the fiction that occurs between the materials, if there is to much water then they just swim/float around in the drum. SOO with less water you not only get more mechanical action but you save on detergent and wear and tare on your machine, (the less water will give a higher concentration of cleaning power therefore less detergent will need to be used!)
    BUT you will want the HIGHER/EST setting for rinsing. This is where water is key! I set a timer so that right before my wash cycle switches to rinse I run down and turn it to a higher setting...and if I cant or forget, then when I do my second wash/rinse I leave it on a higher setting for all!

    1. Thanks, Hippie Bio Neighbor, but I'm gonna have to re-read that when I'm healthy, because I got lost so many times. I should be taking a nap while Josie is!

      P.S. Did you see yourself in that picture? :)


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