Monday, February 13, 2012

Cloth Diapering - "Doing the Dirty"

Ok, so cloth diapering isn't quite as simple as disposables - especially when there is POOP involved! But did you know that even the manufacturers of disposable diapers suggest you flush the poop before you throw away the diaper??? I bet you didn't!!!

So if you want to switch to cloth you have to "decide" how you will handle the inevitable poopie butts. For exclusively breastfed babies it's simple - their poop is 100% biodegradable and will simply WASH out of the dipes! Pretty neat huh? For older babies there are different methods - you can "plop", "dunk & swish", "scrape" or "spray". I have done all of the above except for spray - someday I will buy a diaper sprayer just to try it out.

They are all pretty much just like they sound. Plop - solid poo just plops off the dipe into the toilet and you flush. Dunk & swish - you dunk the more "sticky poo" dipe in the toilet & swish it around then remove dipe & flush. Scrape is for the "worst of the worst" poo - this is common when you try new foods with infants or if a child is sick. You can have a spatula dedicated to the bathroom (hooked onto the side of the toilet) for scraping the poo off - then you flush. Spray is pretty neat which is why I'm looking forward to trying it out - you buy a "sprayer" which works just like the sprayer on a kitchen sink! You attach it to the water line of the toilet (following the package instructions) then when you need to use it, you turn it on, spray the poo into the toilet & flush. Easy peasy right?

Now I know what you're thinking - none of the above gets 100% of the poo off the diaper - and you are 100% correct. You still have to wash the rest off. Hot water breaks it down & sterilizes the dipes. Are you grossed out by washing dipes in your washing machine? Do you think it's disgusting? If I told you I wash mine in the SAME washer I wash my clothes in would you think I am disgusting too?

If you answered YES to any of the above questions, ask yourself the following questions (and answer them HONESTLY):

1. What would/do you do when a potty training child poos in their underwear? Do you throw them away or WASH them?

2. What would/do you do when a child wearing a disposable diaper has a "blow out"? What about the clothes they were wearing and the ones YOU were wearing when you held them during said "blow out"? Do you throw them away or WASH them?

3. What about puke? What do you do with the clothing that has gotten thrown up on and those towels you used to clean it up? Do you throw them away or WASH them?

4. This one is JUST for the ladies - ever had a HEAVY period? Or one come EARLY and catch you completely UN-prepared? What do you do with your underwear / pants in a situation like that? Do you throw them away or WASH them?

5. This one is for the men (and maybe the ladies who are being REALLY honest) - ever been sick and had the "runs" or run out of toilet paper in a public restroom? What do you do with those "streaky" underwear? Do you throw them away or WASH them?

Most people (those who don't have a money tree in their yard or a trust fund they can cash in) will answer all of the above questions with "I would WASH them". So why not wash cloth diapers?

If you ask 100 cloth diapering moms how to wash cloth diapers, you will likely get 100 different responses, but most would say some variation of: cold rinse / hot wash / cold rinse.

NOTE: My washer has 3 load size settings and I do all of the below steps on "Super" because in MY opinion, there is no such thing as "too much" water when washing diapers!

I know you didn't ask how I do it, but I'm going to tell you anyway! I do a cold rinse too but mine is more of a cold wash (without soap). This cold rinse gets the MAJORITY of the poo/pee out of the dipes and inserts and using cold water saves energy in the long run over doing multiple hot washes.

I then wash in HOT water (before you do this, check the diapers you are using to be sure they can "handle" hot water - you don't want to ruin the waterproof layer!). In the hot wash I use 1/2 the amount of laundry detergent as a normal load of wash. The hot water will break down the remaining poo and pee in the dipes/inserts.

Although my washer automatically does a cold rinse following the hot wash, I do a second cold rinse (an actual rinse cycle this time - not another cold wash without soap). This second rinse esures the detergent is all gone from the dipes/inserts.

NOTE: It is very easy to use TOO much soap in the hot wash and that soap, if not rinsed out properly, will stay in the dipes and inserts causing build up. That build up can make your dipes less absorbant and lead to "the stinkies" (if this happens you will smell a VERY strong ammonia odor IMMEDIATELY after your child pees in a dipe). If you get "the stinkies" you will need to strip your diapers - which I will talk about in another post.

After your dipes are all clean, you will sort them out into piles - AIO's/covers/pockets in one pile, inserts/prefolds in another. If you are like me, you will SNIFF each item before you sort it. Yes, I know how silly that sounds, but there is nothing quite like the smell of CLEAN fluff!

The inserts/prefolds can be dried in the dryer but DO NOT use dryer sheets (they will make a film on the inserts and they will be less absorbant and even REPELL the pee!). If you use wool dryer balls, they will dry twice as fast and fluff up nicely. Anything with waterproof material in it should be hung up on a drying rack or clothes line. If there are any faint poo stains, hang those dipes in the sun (even hanging inside by a window will work. Yes, the stains will "disappear" with just a little sunshine - it's like MAGIC).

One final note about "doing the dirty" - my own personal secret to minimizing the poo stains on my dipes: buy some microfleece (it is UBER cheap. Just make sure you get MICRO fleece and NOT polar fleece - this is VERY important!), wash it and cut rectangles to fit your dipes. Before you put a dipe on your baby, line it with a rectangle of the micro fleece (this will be the layer closest to the baby's bottom). The pee will go thru the fleece and into the insert (fleece does not absorb) but the poo will be caught on the fleece rectangle. This makes any of the poo disposal methods much simpler because it's on a "liner" and not the whole dipe. If the fleece gets stained (which can happen - even if you "sun" it) you can just toss that out instead of "ruining" a dipe!

Congratulations! Now you know how to "Do the Dirty" with your cloth diapers! :)

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