Wednesday, April 1, 2009

On prepping natural fibers...

Coincidentally, yesterday I got 2 new fitted diapers in the mail, and I also had some questions about washing different materials and fibers together. It has been my personal experience that all diaper fabrics can be washed together once they're prepped properly. (But then, I don't have any bamboo products, and some bamboo mamas say they wash their bamboo dipes separately. I'd love some input on this.)

At any rate, any diaper, insert, soaker, doubler, liner, wipe, what-have-you needs to be washed before you put it on your child. But prefolds, and many fitteds, need to be prepped first.

Prepping is just washing and drying something several times to get it up to its maximum absorbency. For prefolds, I have in the past done a wash-wash-dry, wash-wash-dry, and then started using them. Some people say you can do the initial preps in with other loads of laundry (i.e., clothes or towels), but if you use liquid fabric softener I wouldn't do this. Most of the times that I've prepped in the past, I've had enough diapers requiring the process to just do them all together.

Now, natural, unbleached fibers (hemp, cotton, bamboo) will require a bit more prepping, because the fibers still contain raw plant oils on them. New, unbleached diaper products should NOT EVER be washed with a load of diapers that you already have in use. You gotta prep them separately. But if you only have 2 or 3 to do, you don't want to run a whole load just for the new ones.

I have a shortcut! (I bet you knew that was coming, didn't you?)

Soak the diapers in cold water, overnight. Drain water and wring the diapers out. Soak in cold water again for several hours. Wring out, then toss in a load of regular laundry, with no fabric softener. Tumble dry on high heat, no dryer sheets. Do the soak again, if necessary, and then wash in a load with your diapers. Tumble dry. They should be ready to go! If they still feel "slick," or water still pools up on them, I would do another long cold soak, hot wash with no detergent, and tumble dry.

The main purpose of prepping is to get diapers up to their maximum absorbency. But if you're like me, you're thinking, "Well, they're just going to be peeing in them. I'll be washing them 2 or 3 times a week once they're in a regular rotation. Do I really need to wash and dry them 6 or 8 times to prep them before he/she starts peeing on them?" My answer is no! Soaking is a great shortcut.

Since yesterday/today I have just 2 new ones, I'm doing the soak in our very small bathroom sink. I took a picture the first time I filled the sink up to show you exactly why you need to prep natural fibers!

See how the water is just pooling and running off the new, unbleached cotton-hemp blend? That's what you're working to prevent...except with urine, and your baby's clothes. :o) You can see that it's not soaking into this diaper yet at all. I had to fill the sink, and press and squeeze the diapers for a minute or two to get them to soak the water in. And this morning when I drained the water off, I could actually see fibers floating in the water, and the water had a yellowish cast to it. (You could also do cold soaks until your water remains clear.)

Happy prepping!


Marcie said...

Lauren! How in the world do you have time to do all that you do??? Writing two blogs - that stay up to date, reading others, keeping up with two little ones, cloth diapering them, cleaning your house, cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner, making your own bread, baking, etc., etc., etc.!

I need a lesson in good housekeeping. I just can't make myself get into a routine. I mean, it's not dirty, but I just can't seem to keep up with it all and I only have one child and don't cloth diaper!

Jeff9 said...

The best way to clean cloth diapers is to pre-rinse them off in the toilet using a Hand Bathroom Bidet Sprayer. So convenient and if you are trying to help the environment (and your pocket book) you can give it a double whammy by virtually eliminating toilet paper use at the same time as you benefit from using it on the diapers, by using it on yourself. I think Dr. Oz on Oprah said it best: "if you had pee or poop on your hand, you wouldn't wipe it off with paper, would you? You'd wash it off" Available at they come in an inexpensive kit and can be installed without a plumber. And after using one of these you won't know how you lasted all those years with wadded up handfuls of toilet paper. Now we're talking green and helping the environment without any pain.