Thursday, May 16, 2013

When cloth diapers fail you....or at least make you want to tear your hair out.

Disclaimer: This post is all about cloth diapers. If that doesn't interest you then you can look through cute photos in the archived posts.

This thing below. This wondrous thing. This thing made of aplix and PUL and string.......
image from Jillian's Drawers
This thing has given me fits over the past two years when I've tried to clean it. 

"Cloth diapers," everyone said. "No problem, it'll be easy, much easier than disposables. Your kids will never have rashes and they'll potty-train by 12 months for sure." And, well, for some people it is that easy. Just not for me.

I fell hard for the promise of a land full of milk & honey.

Then I saw the giants:

Leaks, rashes, ammonia, stank (stink and stunk!), special soap, 8 cycles of washing, not to mention the thousands of choices of brands that all seemed to promise better things. After about 18 months of cloth diapering I was frustrated, and more or less ready to throw in the towel because I simply could not clean my diapers well.
I read every blog I could find that had tips. And there are some good ones. Sites like All About Cloth Diapers gave me the hope that surely just a little more information would solve my problems....but easily cleaned diapers were beyond me for some reason. My diapers always stank, leaked, caused rashes, and took 5.5 hours to wash (well, not always, but it felt like always).

If this is your experience as well, you absolutely have my sympathy and I will listen any time you need a shoulder to cry on. 

But then, one day, I had an epiphany. Not my own epiphany mind you, I borrowed it from here.  She said (and I paraphrase) "yes, using very expensive/miniscule amounts of detergent/lots of washing cycles/air drying/no bleach or additives might be what you're supposed to do to gently care for your diapers.....but will the headache all those extra steps give you be worth the extra 3 months of diaper life?"

My grey sky parted to reveal a ray of sunshine. 

So, now I use Tide. Which grates on me since I'm an Auburn grad....but I can get over it for the sake of my cloth-diapering sanity. I use the recommended amount (which was almost physically beyond me after all the cloth diaper reading I'd done. I still have to coach myself into doing it each time).
I rinse, I wash, and if it still has soap suds I'll rinse once more. Done.

 No more 5 cycles (I was literally cold-rinsing with soda; heavy-hot washing with detergent and borax; short cold cycle with vinegar; then a rinse or two; then air-drying took forever); no more tricking my machine into letting more water out by adding a wet towel (yes, we paid extra for a water-efficient washer and now spend our time/energy trying to trick it to be more inefficient); or adding in 18 things to make my diapers clean.

 I just wash them, and it's wonderful. My life is so much simpler (if you don't count the 2 other loads of wash a day I need to be doing). Everything goes in the dryer too....except for plastic training pants from Target. Those melt. Do not put those in your dryer ever. Take my word for it. They really melt.

Sure, sometimes my diapers still get a funk, but once a month I'll add in a little (key word little) dish soap or bleach (I have yet to ruin a cover this way) to strip them, and that generally takes care of things. Once I added close to a tablespoon of dish detergent and had heart palpitations watching the bubbles fill up every available inch of my washing machine. I was even this close to bringing my husband in on the situation, which would have been awful because I would have never lived down sudsing over our washing machine.

I feel like I can breathe again. Maybe that's too melodramatic, but not by much. Washing diapers consumed my life for awhile (my daughter had pretty sensitive skin and a yeast infection her first two weeks of started me down the road of Excess Care in my washing) and made it a very unpleasant experience. Plus, my diapers leaked all the time which was frustrating and time-consuming and meant I had to carry 5 changes of clothes wherever we went.

So. My Summary of Diaper-washing lessons learned:  Keep it simple. Start with the easiest method you can think of (A cold rinse, then a hot dirty wash....maybe an extra rinse, then dry everything), use your regular soap.....and only IF that doesn't work should you try something else.

 Unless you like your special soap and think this article is ridiculous, then keep doing what you're doing, that's okay too.

Now, if I can only remember to remove my diapers from the wash when they're clean I'll be set to go.


  1. Woohoo! The best advice for a diaper routine is the keep it simple part! So glad you found the solution...and hey, at least Tide comes in an orange bottle with blue print. ;)

  2. Yup. Tide changed our outlook on CD's, too! We were just about to give up because she had a diaper rash that wouldn't go away, like, for months! We tried everything! Once we started using Tide, in like, three days the rash was gone and hasn't come back! Plus, the ammonia smell is gone and the diapers don't stain nearly as much. Yay for simple solutions!!!