Thursday, March 19, 2009

Troubleshooting tips

Today I got a question from a mom who was having some problems with her BG diapers and her front loading washing machine. To read her original post detailing her wash routine, click here.

Here are the tips I shared with her, but I think that there are others who might benefit from hearing them! :o)

- First, 14 diapers and their inserts is a LOT of diapers to wash at once in a FL machine, because it doesn't use as much water. You could try washing a load with fewer diapers, but still using the highest water setting.

- Let's talk about a routine wash: you should do one cold rinse first (to get the waste out); one long hot wash with a cloth diaper safe detergent; 2 cold rinses. Either line/sun dry, or tumble dry. NEVER, EVER, EVER use liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets!!

- You might also try a wet pail system for a while. That way, the diapers are never sitting soiled (and it eliminates your time-consuming task of scrubbing them in the laundry sink!). If I'm lazy one day and let diapers sit unrinsed on the bathroom floor until my kids are in bed, those diapers will invariably have stains on them! I have been safely wet-pailing my PUL pockets (including BG diapers) with no problems with wicking for at least 6 months now.

- For stains, take a clean, wet diaper, and saturate the stain with lemon juice, and then place in the sun until dry. Repeat as necessary until the stain is gone, and then launder the diaper as usual.

- As far as lingering smells, you could try stripping them, which is hard in a FL machine. Try turning your water heater up as high as it will go for one hour, and then run a long wash cycle on hot with NO detergent. (Don't forget to turn the water heater back down after the first wash cycle.)

- A quick note about vinegar: vinegar will soften and help freshen the smell of *clean* diapers. If your diapers have a lingering odor and need to be stripped, vinegar can actually make the smell worse. Remember, clean diapers (and the washing machine after cleaning them) should smell like nothing at all, except maybe wet fabric! ;o)

- For detergent, I love and recommend Charlie's Soap, and it is HE safe. You can purchase it at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, EarthFare, or mom-and-pop natural foods stores. If no stores sell it locally for you, you can always order it online. I have never used Country Save personally, but I would probably stay away from the Oxy, because it likely has enzymes in it, which leave a residue on the diapers that will bind with the urine, causing unpleasant odors when the diapers are wetted, and creating a funky skunky buildup.


*~*a.l.s*~* said...

Hi! I found you from Lyndsay's blog at Passionate Homemaking. I hope you'll keep up the posts! I'm a relative newbie to Cloth Diapering (LOVE it) and recently came down with lingering odors. I'm going to have to check your blog for help :)


dinisha said...

Hi Lauren! Glad to see you're back to blogging. I thought I would put my 2 cents in.... I too have a front loader. My daughter is now 6 1/2 weeks (we've been using cloth for about 5 1/2 weeks.. we didn't want to cloth meconium) and she too is breastfed exclusively. I am using Kissaluvs size 0 with Thirsties covers (she's out grown our Prowrap covers and I feel I get better coverage with the Thirsties), AIO BumGenuis (which she has almost outgrown), and most recently I added 2 one-size BumGenuis (pocket) and 1 Blueberry one-size (pocket). I also have a Bum-Genuis toliet sprayer (which does the same thing as you spraying out in the sink). I use liquid Allen's detergent with the HE restrictor (doesn't allow you to use the full pump- only 1/2). My washing regime is this.
1. During the day I put dirty diaps in a bucket and then at the end of the day I carry them upstairs to rinse them off with the sprayer. I don't rinse off urine only diaps or tiny poo streaks, only bigger poos. I use the bucket because I don't want to keep making trips upstairs during the day to care for diapers.
2. After rinsing all diapers go into a dry pail.
3. I do diaper laundry every other day. But this can be 12 Kissaluvs, 2-3 covers, 1-3 AIO, and ~18 double-ply wipes in one load!
4. I use 1/2 the amount of the Allen's (so with the resitrictor, I think it's 1/8 oz).
5. The settings I use on my Kenmore washer are: normal wash cycle with normal soil level, hot water wash, cold water rinse, high spin speed, 2nd rinse. The last 3 loads I've been pushing the prewash button too. It adds 15 minutes onto the load time, not sure if it does a whole lot extra, but I like to think it does.
6. I prefer to hang dry in the sun. I recently put up a line outside. The sun magically makes all stains dissappear (new and old!). If the weather is bad, I put in the dryer for one cycle and then hang to dry in house. The Kissaluvs are really thick and take forever to dry in the dryer.

The diaps don't smell when coming out of the wash and have a nice outside smell when coming off the line. I think part of the problem may be too much soap. Even with my regular laundry I use less than recommended of HE detergent.

Now if I can only make up my mind for my next size investment :)

The Cloth Diapering Mama said...

You are awesome, Dinisha! Thanks for weighing in. For what's it's worth, I think that a prewash cycle with no detergent is 100% necessary, even if you're using a diaper sprayer. But that's just MHO. :o)