Friday, May 29, 2009

Boiling Diapers

Here and there, I've had questions from folks about boiling diapers, whether for stripping or prepping. And I've seen on my sitemeter that some people are stopping by here because they googled "how do i boil my diapers?" and my blog comes up.


I've been boiling diapers today. This is hot, hard work! It's exhausting! Let me give you some background as to why I did it, how I did it, and why I don't really think you need to do it.

About 2 or so weeks ago, my daughter started having a really strange diaper rash. It looked like big nasty zits, or mouth ulcers. I noticed that it started on one side, and transferred to the other side, where her skin was pressed together when her legs were closed. We were suspicious of it being bacterial, but it cleared up with the use of a barrier cream and some rice paper liners.

Then it came back. And cleared up again. And came back AGAIN. With a vengeance. Fiery red. Bleeding. Open weeping places. And the pimply things again. I was pretty certain it was bacterial, so we switched to sposies, and started using an antibiotic ointment (neosporin, or bacitracin if you've got it) along with a barrier cream, and lots and lots of clear water baths and naked time.

She is finally cleared up, but the thought of there being anything lingering in her diapers that could cause her to break out again had me determined that I needed to do something drastic.

Enter the stockpot.

So all morning, during the little one's naptime, with my son parked firmly in front of PBS Kids, I boiled our pockets, prefolds, fitteds, inserts, doublers, covers, and even our wipes. Even with our very large 3-gallon stockpot, you can only do so much at a time. So I set up a kind of assembly line:

On the right front eye of the stove, I had the stockpot with boiling water. On the left front eye, I had a slightly smaller stockpot with a colander resting in the top of it. On the back left eye, I constantly had a kettle of water coming to a boil. Sitting just beside the stove, I had a tall chair with my hanging diaper pail stretched over the back of it, with a mixing bowl set beneath (my hanging pail isn't super water-tight).

I would cook the diapers for about 5 to 10 minutes after the water returned to a boil, then remove them with tongs to drain in the colander. While they sat and drained, I would start the next "batch" of diapers cooking. Then, when the the diapers that were boiling were ready to come out, I would remove the drained diapers from the colander to the hanging pail, which was drip-drip-dripping into the bowl beneath. As needed, I would refill my stockpot with boiling water from the kettle, and refill the kettle so I would have hot water ready for me the next time I needed to refill my pot.

Once I finished boiling about half our stash (8 or so "batches"), I put it in the washing machine for one of our regular diaper wash cycles with Charlie's Soap. I still have a little less than half of our stash to boil, and then I can wash them and I'll be done!


Now, those suckers are clean. So clean they could pass for new. And I'm glad that I can start putting my baby girl in her fluff again with a mind fully at ease.

But all that said, for the time and the work involved, I really wouldn't recommend boiling your diapers unless you have a really compelling reason, as I feel we did.

There were a few things that made me apprehensive about boiling. One, I was worried my snaps would melt. (They didn't.) My other big concern was that it would compromise the PUL on my covers and pockets. The jury's still out on that one, as the first half of our stash is drying as I type this. I'll be sure to add a postscript to let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, though, just stick with the regular wash routine and machine stripping!


Tully Family said...

Please let us know if this affects the PUL. I am so sorry that your little one has had such a bad rash! As mamas, it is so hard for us to see our little ones sick!

I wanted to share a tip with you: coconut oil for rashes! It is great at fighting bacteria & it doesn't affect our diapers! You do not even need a rice barrier! Try to buy unrefined if can. I use coconut at the first sign of rashes & it almost always works- we've had no bad rashes since switching to cloth. Praise God!

Jenney said...

I second Tully Family...tell me how the PUL holds up. I never even thought of boiling my diapers to tell you the truth. Hmmm

the monkey's mama said...

you win best mom of the day :)

(didn't know there was a contest did you? ha!)

I'm sorry that she had such a horrible rash but hope that it is 100% better and that your diapers are too!

The Cloth Diaperin' Mama said...

Thanks for the reminder about the coconut oil - I need to try that! I have some LouAna, which I'm sure is refined, but it's better than nothing. I'm actually still a little apprehensive about starting the cloth again, because I'm so worried that she's still got stuff lingering in her body. :o/

As far as the PUL, I remember reading somewhere that you can actually autoclave it to reseal it and keep it working better longer; autoclaving temps are pretty comparable to boiling water, as far as I remember from my university biology lab - any input on that, Monkey's Mama? ;o)

So I dried all the PUL stuff on high heat just until dry, and just to look at it, it seems to be in like-new condition! I'll have to wait and see if we have problems with leaking or wicking or anything.

Jenney said...

Gave my opinion on the diapers you sold me on both sites...thanks again!