24 January 2008

Update: Cloth Diapers (plus call for topics)

I'm in serious catch-up mode at work, around the house, and on personal projects. This includes some long-overdue updates on various topics here at snickollet. While I know the tattoo update is probably more interesting to more people than the cloth diaper update, I'm at work right now and I don't have my digital camera here to take tattoo pics. So that will have to wait. The next planned update is on my tattoo, then I have posts in mind about John Edwards, a new look for and commitment to my blog, and my Grand Master Life Plan. Anything else you want to hear about? Leave me a note in the comments.

For those of you who could not care less about diapers and poop, read no further 'cause that's what this post is from here on out. I really appreciated all the excellent advice you gave me on cloth diapering, and wanted to let you know how things were going and what I finally decided to do. It ended up taking forever to make the switch; just as I decided to go for it, the kids got what turned out to be a month-long case of diarrhea (two weeks for Maddie followed by two weeks for Riley), and I just didn't feel like making a change during all of that. Ugh. Then we traveled to Oregon for the holidays, and it was just easier to travel with disposables. Then we got home and the kids spent the weekend with friends and I didn't want to ask them to wash dirty diapers. Then, finally, things were relatively calm (emphasis on relative) and we made the change.

What we're using:
FuzziBunz covers
Chinese prefolds as inserts
Imse Vimse flushable liners

I chose the FuzziBunz based on reader recommendations and the fact that they were quite affordable thanks to someone tipping me off to fuzzibunzseconds.net. I ended up buying twenty covers there, and the quality is excellent. I only paid $10 per cover, although I just checked the website and they are currently $12 each. Still a bargain. I use the liners to make poop cleanup easier and also to allow me to put a bit of diaper cream on when needed; the liner shields the actual diaper from the cream, and occasionally both kids need a little something-something for a rash. I have incredibly sensitive skin and so did John, so Maddie and Riley are cursed with the same.

My only regret about all this is not making the switch sooner. Seriously, it's so easy, and while I'm not going to turn into some kind of crazy cloth-diapering evangelist, it's a great choice for us. I'm inherently cheap, and I love the fact that I no longer buy diapers. It's awesome. And even though the Union of Concerned Scientists tells me that the environmental impact of cloth v. disposable is equivalent, just different, I feel like I'm doing something good for the planet.

So there you have it. I bought enough diapers so that I only do laundry every other day. I'm still figuring out the laundry thing. I've been doing a straight wash in hot with cold rinse, and the diapers smell a little . . . off. Not like poop, but almost musty. It's strange. Maybe I need a presoak? I'm using Seventh Generation liquid detergent. I've read that a few drops of tea-tree oil in the rinse can get rid of any weird smells, but I'm horribly allergic to tea tree and worry that M and/or R might be, too. Other ideas?

32 comments:

Jen said...

Ha! I've finally decided to accept the fact that I am not going to go back to using cloth. Just as you are switching. Now I feel like maybe I should get it together and use cloth again. I just don't feel like dealing with the massive increase in diaper stinkiness now vs. when all he ate was breastmilk. Hmm. FYI, Moxie suggests using Bac-Out enzyme cleaner on poop diapers, which you can get at Whole Foods. Spray it on the diapers before you put them in the pail/bag. It seemed to help. I also thought it helped to soak them in cold first, then soak in hot water with OxyClean, then wash. But part of why I gave up was I could never get them unstinky, partly because my front-loading washer won't let me soak so I have to use a separate basin and it's all just a lot of trouble.

This comment is already way too long, but MAJOR CONGRATULATIONS on the job offer! Too bad about no extra money, but I think the change will do you good. I would feel so depressed when I thought about you in that job, dude. I know what it's like. Congrats on getting free.

Love,
Jen

Anonymous said...

Try Baking Soda. Add a cup to the wash. There is a good chance it will get rid of the odor.

Cobblestone said...

I'm looking forward to your John Edwards comment, I have really strong feelings about him and how his personal life {and the health of Mrs. Edwards} impacts my decision on him.

Snickollet said...

Cobblestone:

Sounds like we're of like minds on Mr. Edwards. I'll try to write up that post soon.

-snick

Jen said...

I always used Allen's Naturally laundry detergent and did a cold pre-soak for at least 15 minutes, spun it out, then a hot wash and cold rinse. It uses more water, I know, but I never had an odor issue that I can remember. Also, I avoided the Seventh Gen. detergent because some things I read about it gave me concerns about build up, which could be another part of the problem you're having.

Stick with your intuition and avoid the TTO. I know some people love it, and I've used it on myself, but a diaper spray with TTO made the Monkeyboy break out in hives.

Karen O said...

Back in the 70s, there was a wonderful business called diaper service: cotton diapers washed and delivered to your door. Mine offered a custom rinse is diaper rash was a problem. My first baby didn't need it, but the second one did and it was a great help. Later, I found out that the "custom rinse" was simply vinegar added to the last rinse cycle.

When my first baby was born, a nurse friend told me to use diluted vinegar on the baby's bottom if she got a rash. In my mind, I thought NEVER, until the baby got a rash and I got desperate. The vinegar water (aprox 1:4) was magic.

And - I thought those diapers smelled musty, too.

Lara said...

I sometimes soaked mine in Biz (a gentle non-chlorine bleach) in the diaper pail, then dumped the whole mess into the washer and did a spin/rinse before the actual washing to get the excess dirty water out. But don't think it did that much for the smell, more for keeping them white.

I always used the longest wash in hot water, and did a double rinse. Never had any issues with any smell that way. Plus since my kids and I are also very sensitive, the second rinse meant even more of the soap was rinsed out. Also be sure to dry them extra-long... any dampness will make the mustiness worse.

I can see where tea tree oil might be too strong... Melaleuca (a company that started out basing all their products on tea tree oil) has a cleaner called "Solumel" that has a little of the oil in it. A little of it in the laundry does a wonderful job with odors too... I use it in my bath towels which also have a tendency to get musty.

I'm a huge cloth-diaper fan... I think if everyone knew how easy they are, more people would use them. I could never understand why people made it such a huge deal! Congrats on making the switch. :)

thrice said...

I use a commercial laundry room and often the machines would get musty. I now add a heaping 1/2 cup of backing soda and 1-2T of white vinegar to the wash cycle with my usual washing detergent and downy rinse cycle.

No more musty smells for our clothes and their machines are left smelling musty-less as well. Oh and my whites are much whiter.

Menita said...

Wait, you blog at work? Who DOES that???
;)
Belated congratulations on the new job.
I have nothing to say on the diaper discussion. I would probably switch if we had laundry machines in the apartment, but as it is...
I have strong feelings about John Edwards too - I'm interested if yours and mine are strong in the same direction or not. Cool. Write that post. At work or whatever.

Karyn Johnston said...

Okay, so I'm obviously not using diapers anymore, but I have to admit I was something of a fanatic in my day... I always started with a rinse cycle, then washed on hot with Arm and Hammer Free with a half cup of baking soda (you can get a big honkin thing of it at Costco), with a Downy ball filled to the line with vinegar (also at Costco) to open in the final rinse cycle. I didn't have a problem with the musty smell when I did that. Good luck--I think you're quite amazing for doing cloth with twins! At the same time, though, I also never found it to be that much work.

Angela said...

Can't wait to the see the new tattoo and read some more new posts. Sorry, I have absolutely no advice or experience re cloth diapers, good luck, I'm sure your other readers can give you lots of help.

Anonymous said...

snick - interested in your life plan.
working on a career change myself - just trying to figure out what that might be.
amanda
mom to adopted daughter 4

Tiffany said...

Try a cup of vinegar in the washing machine and air dry outside (I know that it is winter so maybe in a month or so).

Yankee T said...

Big fan of the vinegar dilution for rinse. Works like a charm. Can't believe I can remember!

Anonymous said...

I wash my FB in cold first and then again in a hot cycle. While it uses more water, I don't have problems with smell. I use Charlie's Soap (www.charliesoap.com). I only need to use a tablespoon so the bag lasts forever, and the diapers stay really soft. Good luck!

Andrea

mommo4.5 said...

I used vinegar in the rinse back in the 70's and 80's on the advice of my mother. Vinegar is a great odor neutralizer, as well it is supposed to prevent soap residue build up. Also, it's cheap!

kabbage said...

No diaper experience, but I used the Bi-O-Kleen Bac-Out for 2 years on the bed pads used by my incontinent dog. The pads were recycled nursing home pads for the human incontinents. I put it in both the fabric softener and bleach spots on my front-loading washer. Bac-Out is also useful for cleaning, so if you try and like it, check janitorial supply stores to see if you can buy it at a lower price. Since I was doing a load of pads every two days, I bought five-gallon buckets.

mlg said...

Hi Snick.. same problem different cause here. When JR would come home during deer season her unifrom would smell of (and be covered with)animal insides. Yuck. Like you I use the natural laundry soap and that just wasn't cutting it. I go the best advice from a friend. With the detergent I add vinegar and Borax. Both are all natural and do wonders for nuetralizing the oders.

Congrats on the job offer. I love proactive life changes.

Kerrie said...

Excellent choice...I did cloth for my daughter and disposables for when we were away from home overnight.

I used to soak mine with a little eucalyptus oil added, about a teaspoon to a bucket. It worked wonders for the musty smell. In fact, I still use it in my washing machine every 10 loads or so just to keep things smelling fresh.

Emmie (Better Make It A Double) said...

I agree about the Bac-out- and a presoak is essential at least 3/4 of the time. I do a cold presoak to avoid stains. IMHO the 7th Gen detergent is awful. I actually hate their dish soap and dishwasher powders too, as well as their TP. Just not quality stuff. DH is always a little in shock at my hatred of 7th Gen products, and will never again make the mistake of purchasing it. Congratulations on the job!

Emmie (Better Make It A Double) said...

Um, actually I mean I *did* that, not *do* that. Yay for cute little boy underpants!

mar said...

I second (or third or fourth!) the vinegar thing - but I also did always add the baking soda - it fizzes like my son's play volcano eruptions, but I think the fizzing is what helps lift out stains and odors. Every once in a while (4-6x a year) I throw 2 cups of baking soda into my wash and run it empty on hot - it seems to help with any lingering smells.

I like and use the 7th gen dish washing soap, but wasn't thrilled with the laundry detergent - I'm definitely not a fanatic, but I really didn't feel it did as good a job cleaning.

Good luck!

Pink said...

I found adding white vinegar to the rinse pail kept odors to a minimum. I would tip the whole thing into the washer, spin them dry, then wash with hot water. I used arm and hammer to boost the dtergent.

debangel said...

I've never used cloth diapers, but when I want to add a nice smell to my wash, I just add a drop of neat lavender oil. (I figure, the word "lavender" comes from the same Latin root as "laundry",and them Romans was smart!) I use it diluted with water to spray on wrinkled clothes before ironing, too. Of course, by "ironing" I mean "sticking them in the dryer with a damp washcloth".

I second the motion, congrats on the new job! Too bad about no raise, but happiness at work is pretty priceless, too.

Wabi said...

I admire your stick-to-it-ness with the cloth diapers.

Thrice's concoction of white vinegar and baking soda I regularly use to clean out sink drains! It makes them smell great and gets rid of gunk in the pipes and also foams up in a fun way. (God, I am way too easy to amuse ...)

I've never thought of using it with laundry, but now I'm going to try it.

Leigh said...

I have to second the Bac-ut and the air dry. I have no idea how large your house is, but even in einter you can set up a little folding rack over a heating vent etc. If you can ever dry them on a line in the sun, it will solve a lot of the issues you're having. I used cloth until my daughter was 2, then she grew out of them and I used disposables until she toilet trained about 4 months later. Good luck!

l. said...

I was one of the FB recommenders. We love how easy it is! And cheap! We stuff everything into a wetbag (big fan of Happy Tushies, no smell) when it's time for a change, then when the bag is full, we do a cold rinse cycle, followed by a hot cycle with a tablespoon of Allen's Naturally. It's a great cleaning product. That's it, for several years now. When it's sunny out, a little line drying of diapers also helps them to smell good.

cooler*doula said...

I'll just add that the impact of cloth diapers = 'sposies is, I believe, based on the assumption that cotton diapers with large amounts of bleach and boiling water are being used...

Anonymous said...

A cold rinse first will leave your diapers with no smell.

White vinegar and baking soda will get rid the smell they have now.

Anne said...

haven't read all the responses, so this may be a repeat, but you might try a 1/2 cup of white vinegar in the rinse water. we were having trouble with stinky towels last summer and tried all sorts of things, bleach, fabric softener, febreeze and vinegar worked the best.

Erica said...

Hi,

I've been reading for years but have never commented. My son is just about Maddie/Riley's age and we've been using cloth since the beginning. Do you not have a diaper service there? I'm in California and use TideeDidee and they are fabulous! Like another commenter said, they deliver to your door weekly, freshly washed. You still have to buy liners but they sell them in bulk/wholesale and they are about $4 each. These are the same ones that are in the store for about $12. Plus, no rinsing! You literally just throw everything (and I mean everythng) in the bag, pop it on your porch, and they take it away. Anyway, I'm sure you've checked but I really had to search for a service and am happy I did.

Newbie said...

We did cloth with our first and third kids (I lost the plot with number two) and used a product that is easy to find in Australia, New Zealand and Britain. It is called Napisan and you simply put the dirty nappies (or diapers) into a bucket with the solution dissolved in really hot water, let them soak for up to 24 hours, and then run them through the washing machine sans any other detergent (theoretically you just need to rinse them out, but I found it easier to throw them in the washing machine). They come out white, and never smell. I also used a disposable nappy (diaper) liner to help with the clean-up.

I just checked online and you can buy the product through www.about-australia-shop.com.

Not sure if you want to go that route, but thought I would let you know about it. Cloth nappies are still pretty common in New Zealand, and this is a really common product that everyone uses. In fact my Mum has some that she uses regularly to keep clothes clean. We also still have some and use it on our clothes. I highly recommend it.

Newbie