Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Do I really have to...?

...use special laundry detergent?

Well, yes. Here's the reason: most commercial laundry detergents that we commonly use on our clothing are loaded with all sorts of brighteners and enzymes. These chemicals leave residue on your clothing, which is what makes them look super clean and smell nice after laundering. The problem with using this type of detergent on diapers is that it, well, leaves residue. Initially, the diapers will smell lovely, like Gain or Tide. But as the residue builds up, your diapers may become less absorbent. Even worse, the enzymes that make clothing smell nice make urine-wetted diapers smell abominable. Almost to the point of being intolerable. Seriously. When M's diapers started getting build-up, even the wets smelled like poopy diapers. So. Very. Disgusting.

My favorite detergent for cloth diapers is Allen's Naturally. I tend to think it's better to use liquid than powder, especially if you have microfiber inserts; powder detergent may not fully dissolve and the granules can become lodged in between fibers, irritating your baby's skin. I am currently not using Allen's, because no one sells it locally, and the shipping on it is very expensive since the bottles are heavy. I'm using Planet instead, because I can buy it at EarthFare or Kroger here in town. When I run out, I plan on trying out Charlie's Soap. Here is a great detergent chart.

...avoid using diaper rash creams on my cloth diapers?

Yes and no. This seems to be a point of major contention among cloth diapering mothers. Some people tend to think the major issue is that some creams may stain cloth diapers, which is true, but I kind of figure, "Isn't my child pooping in these things? Who's so fired up about stains?"

So the real issue is that most diaper rash creams are designed to coat your child's skin, preventing it from being in constant contact with moisture. That is, they are designed to repel moisture. Doesn't it stand to reason, then, that the creams will also coat the cloth diaper and cause it to repel? This is not something you want happening with the one thing whose sole job it is to prevent pee from getting everywhere.

Some moms say it's okay to use rash creams that don't contain petroleum or petrolatum (i.e., Vaseline, Aquaphor). Burt's Bees Baby Bee rash cream, for example, does not contain either of those two ingredients. But I figure, I'd rather be safe than sorry, so any time one of my children absolutely needs rash cream, I use a disposable liner in between their skin and the cloth diaper. For the record, my favorite rash remedies are Triple Paste or Resinol with a little cornstarch powder or Caldesene powder sprinkled on top. (** Use Caldesene very sparingly on all babies, and especially girls, as it is talc based; prolonged exposure to talc in females has been associated with cervical, ovarian, and uterine cancers.)

However, I try really hard to avoid using medicinal rash treatments at all. The very best things for a rash are plain water, dry air, and sunshine. When R started to show a pretty bad case coming on a short time ago, I bathed her bottom in clean water and let her air dry. I then put a plain prefold on her without a cover and put a "wet pad" under her. As soon as she went, I changed her; we kept this up as long as she was awake. When it's warm enough (and you have a private enough place to do it in), letting your baby's rash be exposed to sunlight is one of the most healing things you can do for it. Also, if you're breastfeeding, breastmilk is good for anything that ails baby; hand express a bit, rub into rash area and let air dry.

...strip my diapers?

Absolutely not. Because it requires a great deal of water and a pretty serious chunk of time, I never strip my diapers unless they really truly need it. Diapers only need stripping when they have super excessive build up, or odors that just won't seem to go away after less extreme attempts to get them clean and fresh. When diapers are thoroughly clean, coming out of the dryer they should smell like nothing at all.

As I've said before, I occasionally use 1/8 cup of bleach in the wash cycle along with the detergent to help get my diapers smelling cleaner and fresher. This is such a personal thing to so many moms, as many have quite strong feelings about chlorine. You could also try using Bac-Out directly on the diapers before pailing.

I just bought some SportWash today in the camping/hunting section of WalMart. It's been highly recommended by other cloth diapering mamas due to its ability to get rid of stinkies. The bottle also claims to rejuvenate waterproofing, which is an added bonus. The bottle was about $5 and gets you 18 loads. Some people may use it every single time, but I'm going to stick with my normal wash routine and just use it once or twice a month to get the diapers super clean. I couldn't believe how fresh it got my diapers after just one wash today!

...go whole-hog with cloth diapers?

Heck no. Some people say cloth or bust.

I think your feelings on this are going to vary a whole lot with your original reasons for choosing cloth. Are you hardcore crunchy and organic, and refuse to allow a single unnatural chemical or fiber every touch your baby ever ever ever? Well, then you probably won't have an "in-case" package of sposies in your child's closet. Like I do.

I switched to cloth for partly green reasons, but mostly to save money. I use sposies on the kids at church, because our church nursery is so crowded (and I think they may have issues with thinking that cloth diapers are somehow unsanitary) that they just won't change my child's cloth diaper. Part of it is that they don't know how, too. Sure, I could carry them to church in cloth and have them page me when one of my kiddoes needs a new nappy, but the whole point of having childcare is so that I can worship unhindered. Using 6-8 sposies a week per child (Sunday am and pm, Wednesday morning Bible study) isn't going to break the bank for us.

Also, sometimes I don't get to the laundry in time, and it will be 30 minutes before bedtime and the kids have no clean nighttime diapers. Paper diapers it is! Or like when M had a stomach bug a few months back. I mean, come on people. Diarrhea. Every 2 hours. For three days. I literally couldn't keep up with the laundry, plus I was having to feed my newborn right after washing out poopy diapers in the toilet 12 times a day. There is not enough Germ-X in the world...

...buy expensive diapers?

NO. No. How can I be more emphatic while typing? No, you don't have to spend a fortune on fancy diapers. You certainly could buy a stash of expensive Blueberry pockets at $33 apiece. Or you could go to WalMart, buy 2 or 3 packages of Gerber prefolds, 2 packages of vinyl diaper covers in each size, and a package of pins and cloth diaper your child for less than $40 total.
You can make your own diapers, if you're crafty. Any fabric will do! Go to the thrift store on half-off day and stock up on old flannel men's shirts, t-shirts, towels and washcloths. Sew them into prefolds, or even into just plain long soaker pads to place into diaper covers.
I will never understand people who say they don't have the money to cloth diaper; they just don't realize the full cost of using disposables full time! Most times, these people have only looked at FuzziBunz, BumGenius, and Happy Heinys and just feel like they can't afford to start. Cloth diapering is a front-loaded investment, so it's scary in the beginning, but pays off in huge ways over time.


Tully Family said...

Can I use plain old coconut oil for diaper rash cream?

The Cloth Diapering Mama said...

I actually know quite little about coconut oil. I would tend to say no, because I've heard about some repelling problems associated with the use of oils. For a light diaper rash, I just let her wear a prefold with no cover, and change her immediately when she wets. For a bad rash, I break out liners.

But my favorite diaper rash remedy will always be a long bath and then some naked time! In the sunshine, if possible.

The Cloth Diapering Mama said...

LOL, I'm realizing that you seem to catch me sitting at the computer - I don't want you to think I sit here all day!!

Tully Family said...

I do not think you are on the computer all day- your a mama like me- we get on the computer at night. :)

I noticed that Lindsay from Passionate Homemaking said she uses coconut oil on her BG pockets. I know that it washes out from regular clothing... I left a comment asking her what she thought. Our little one always gets read after eating red sauces- the coconut oil clears it up FAST.

The Cloth Diapering Mama said...

Oh great, that's helpful to know! I need to make a stop by our natural foods store and pick up some coconut oil anyway. I've been so spoiled that our Kroger began stocking a HUGE natural living section, and I haven't been making regular trips to EarthFare and our mom-and-pop store, but Kroger still doesn't carry coconut oil. I have about a million things I want to do with it! I'll keep the diaper rash pointer in mind. :o)

Tully Family said...

If you live near a Walmart, they sell it. But it is so expensive to but that way- try it & if you like it, order it online in bucket-size! (It keeps for years.) We just did this & are paying a 1/4 of what we were paying when buying small jars at the store. LOVE coconut oil!!!