Let Us Talk About The Elephants In The Room

June 18, 2012

Troubleshooting, Washing

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With cloth diapers there isn’t just one elephant.  There are many.

Let’s tackle a few of them.

Detergent

Everyone wants to rave about their favorite WAHM brand.  But, what if you use a mainstream brand?  Do you cower when someone crunchy asks you what you use on your cloth diapers?

You should never cower over any decision you make.  If using Purex or Gain or Tide is working for your cloth diaper/water/skin situation then use it proud!  Also, realize that many cloth diaper veterans and manufacturers use and prefer you to use a detergent that will deep clean your diapers every time.

Dishwasher Stripping

This is a big elephant.  Some say “NO!! Fire hazard!”  Others say, “last resort? Heck ya, I’m trying it but I’m turning the heating element off.”

I agree with both.  Stripping your cloth diapers in the dishwasher can be a fire hazard.  Not to mention that at water temperatures of at least 140 degrees you are voiding almost every cloth diaper warranty.

However, on the flip side there are those (and I have personally known a couple) who have literally tried everything! And nothing helps.  It puzzles me, it irritates me, it frustrates me, but bottom line is I know that they have tried it all and have been forced to stop using cloth diapers.  Even saying that makes me say, “surely they missed something.” But, having been the one to walk them through the process it breaks my heart to know the problems never got better.

BUT, did they really try everything?  No.  Because I didn’t think about the dishwasher.  I tried it back in 2007 and LOVED the results.  Then I never thought about it again.

Like all good elephants, this one rears its ugly head every year or so and the controversy is refueled.

If you feel that your cloth diapers have a buildup that will not go away after many attempts and you feel this is the option for you then please remember to 1) turn off the heat dry 2) say bye-bye to your warranties, if they are still active and 3) don’t do it often, you will ruin the elastic and PUL.

There, I said it.  Elephant #2 has been talked about.

Disposable Diaper Stash

This elephant is funny.  Well, at least in my house.

NO WAY would I have disposable diapers in my house.  Oh, wait a minute.  Do Flip Disposable Inserts and GroVia Biosoakers count?

In my mind that can justify anything, heck no!  Truth is, yes they are disposable diapers– sort of. :)

When we went to the beach last week I used Flip Disposable inserts.  Did I like my decision?  About half the time.  The other half the time he was pooping a ton and getting my covers dirty and I was stuck trying to clean it all up.

In my effort to make things simple it came with consequences.  Consequences besides the mess include, exposing my son to small levels of SAP gel crystals and adding to the world’s over-encumbered landfill system.

Alas, it was a decision I made and I will be forthright in my choices.

Another time when this elephant appears is during the newborn stage.  I wish I could make everyone understand that cloth diapering a newborn is EASY.  It doesn’t get any easier than the newborn stage.

But, I know how tempting the siren call from the piles of baby-shower-diaper-gifts is.  My solution, take them all to Walmart before baby is born and get a gift card!

You will love cloth diapering your newborn.  How could you not when the diapers are so cute!?

Rashes and Blisters

I hate this elephant.

Nothing makes me feel like a terrible mother than opening the diaper to see a huge blister on the end of my son’s little bit.

But, tell anyone about it?? No way!

That is ridiculous.  Why do mothers do this to themselves?

Rashes or blisters will most likely occur with every child at some point in the life. When they appear it’s important that we remain calm and quickly discover the cause of the problem.  And of course lather it up with a good cloth diaper safe cream or ointment.

This morning when Camden had the blister I knew the cause- ammonia in his nighttime diaper.  He was wearing a diaper that I hadn’t deeply washed with Purex yet.

Yes, I freaked but I immediately grabbed *The* BALM!, applied gobs of it and put on a new diaper.  Next diaper change the blister was gone.

What is your elephant?

I know there are many more.  Share your elephant story and together we’ll squash the stigmas out there!

 


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About Autumn Beck

Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ. She began cloth diapering in 2005 and has experienced many joys and trials throughout the years. Autumn enjoys writing but would choose camping with her family any day!

View all posts by Autumn Beck

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54 Responses to “Let Us Talk About The Elephants In The Room”

  1. Christine Says:

    we’ve been using cloth diapers on our 13 month old since he was born. around 3 months our diapers started to smell of ammonia but the smell came out with the wash. at about 11.5 months he developed ulcers/excoriations on his genital area (but never on his bum) and they have been very hard to get rid of… one clears up and another one appears. lots of diaper free time, baby powder, some clotrimazole cream, a bit of hydrocortisone cream. we’ve been using country save laundry detergent the whole time. we do a prerinse in warm water and a wash in hot. we tried stripping with rock n’ green. for the past day we’ve been using the Naty disposable diapers from Sweden with lots of Penaten in an attempt to heal his poor sores.

    Reply

    • Autumn Beck Says:

      I am so sorry, Christine. Sometimes you need a good deep cleaning detergent like Purex or Tide to dig out the ammonia crystals and mineral buildup. Do you have soft or normal water? You could do a vinegar soak if so to strip them.

      Reply

  2. Tarah Says:

    My elephant is ammonia burns! They’re little red lines that are raised on my babies skin. I’ve rocked a soak and done so many hot washes until the water ran clear (had tons of build up!) I’m CD’ing two little ones right now who are 1.5 years and 8 months.

    I was using Country Save which I loved but after doing the Rockin Green soak the diapers came out SO much cleaner and no funk. I’m in Tacoma WA with soft water and a top loader. I’m thinking my toddler’s urine is just that much more concentrated, but my baby girl gets them too. Help, please! Thank you so much.

    Reply

  3. Beth Says:

    I have what is probably a silly question, but I’m not seeing it on the website–is there a way to email you directly? I feel like, if I “comment,” it’ll be waaaay too long. I’m having a cloth diaper crisis!

    Reply

  4. Jenny Says:

    Definitely the rash thing. Sometimes people act as if it is because you use cloth, but I’ve yet to meet anyone whose baby didn’t have a rash at SOME point, no matter their choice in diapers. (And, for the record, DD got a bacterial rash in disposables, NOT cloth!)

    Also, I find that some cloth diapering mommas can be a little snobby about whether you use flats/prefolds. I’ve met several who act as if you are a total half wit if you admit that you prefer the simplicity of using a pocket. Just because someone prefers pockets over flats/prefolds & covers doesn’t mean they are too dense to figure them out!

    Reply

  5. Ish Says:

    I’ve been using soap nuts liquid since my son was born (he is 6 months) and had no issue with smell but it’s important to get good quality soap nuts. This website gives good information http://www.soapnuts.pro/. I boil 4 nuts per cup of water and I freeze the liquid in ice cubes. I use one ice cube per load and wash at 30 or 40 C in a front load washer but I rinse the poo diapers before putting them in the machine. The few stains left from time to time are gone with the strong Australian sun. I had only stripped twice the inserts using vinegar and 90 C but it was to please my DH and not because it was needed. My son hasn’t had any rash until now but I use once a day an Indonesian Baby oil (Minyak Telon) that is a mix of Eucalyptus, Coconut and Star Anise oil. My elephant is that I use nature baby care disposables at night because my son is a heavy wetter and even using 2 bamboo inserts and 2 microfibers will not last for the night.

    Reply

  6. Emily D Says:

    I use sposies at night (eeek!) DD often gets ammonia rashes if I CD overnight; many of my pockets leak at night, and fitteds with wool really smell bad. It seems like she wakes up more at night too. I had one stuffable fitted that worked for us but she grew out of it :(

    Reply

  7. cara Says:

    My baby is only 6 months old so it may change in the future but we rarely have leaks in cloth. She goes to daycare and comes home in the same outfit pretty much everyday. We used disposable diapers the first 7 weeks of her life because she was so tiny. We had a lot of blowouts with them but once we switched to cloth we never have any. The thing I love most about cloth is not havign to buy disposables. I hated spending money on them.

    Reply

    • Krista Says:

      We had a similar experience. We used disposables for the first couple months simply because people gave us disposables and we didn’t have money to invest in cloth! When we reached the point of having to buy diapers, I got our first cloth diapers second-hand off of craigslist and ebay. Our little guy is 7 months old and he had his FIRST major blowout with cloth diapers today. There have been a few little leaks here and there, but never the big outfit staining- blowouts we always got with disposables! Of course it totally depends on the disposable, and on the type of cloth diaper you’re using, etc. I think these are getting a bit small on him.

      Reply

  8. Heather Says:

    When my daughter leaks I hate to tell anyone because I think they will think it’s only because she is wearing cloth diapers. However, she is #5 in the lineup and the first one to get cloth diapers and all my babies leaked at some point. So, yes, some of my diapers fit her better than others but all diapers can leak if the conditions are right :) Thanks Autumn!

    Reply

  9. Krista Says:

    Our biggest problem right now is the stink! I don’t want to wash the diapers a million times because I’m using someone else’s washer, but maybe I’m not getting them clean enough. What detergents have worked best for you guys? Free and Clear is needed because of sensitive skin, and we use an HE top-loader.

    Reply

    • Athena Says:

      I use Tiny bubles and its working great. Also I can get it cheap at Costco online.

      Reply

    • Autumn Beck Says:

      Purex Free & Clear should work for you.

      Reply

    • Rose J. Says:

      I was always struggling with ammonia issues as well and tried so many detergents. It it wasn’t stink, it was a rash, or both. I almost gave up on cloth diapers completely. But then I tried Eco Sprout and am so glad that I didn’t give up. It took a little trial and error to get the right routine, but we have been going strong now for over 6 months with zero rashes and very minimal ammonia. Good luck!

      Reply

  10. Krista Says:

    P.S.- I totally know what you mean about your mother-in-law’s disapproving looks. My husband’s mom seems to think I’m hurting her grandson by forcing him to wear cloth diapers and insists that I let her use disposables when she takes care of him. I let her because it’s only one or two every once and a while. :P
    Anyway, she used to look concerned when he had a rash, but now whenever I change his diaper at her house and she sees a rash, she gets this smug look as if she’s saying to herself, “I know I’m right.” The truth is, his diaper rash has been LOADS better since I switched to cloth!

    Reply

  11. cara Says:

    I have some family members who act like cloth diapering is unsanitary and bad for my baby. She does excellent with them, no rashes or leaks. I’ve thought about pointing out how many people probably touched your disposable diaper before it got to them but I haven’t.

    Reply

  12. Athena Says:

    The elephant I encounter is with other cloth mommas when I tell them I use a lot of microfiber diapers. Its as if I’ve committed a cloth diaper sin by not going all natural materials and always buying WAHM. Just doesn’t make sense to me. I’m using cloth and its working for me. It shouldn’t matter what brand I’m using.

    Reply

  13. Melissa Ryan Says:

    I am having ammonia build up issues right now. What did you find that finally worked for you? I have tried stripping with Dawn, rocking a soak in hard rock, stripping with RLR, stripping with a few hot water rinses, less detergent, more detergent, three different detergents (Lulu’s in the fluff and the hard water version), sunning, bleaching the inserts, changing up my rinsing after washing, drying in the dryer.
    Any suggestions? For what it is worth, I have hard water and a top loader.

    Reply

    • Darien McG Says:

      USA you are opposed to it, Tide with a monthly RLR strip works wonders for me in my hard water & I tried everything else first. I use about 4 tablespoons for a medium-large load (just below the one on the Ultra version). Then I just strip every month with RLR (takes about 1 ROR wash followed by just a wash with no more RLR or detergent, then another rinse or two). No stinkers here & my son is 14mths old & we’ve been CDing since he was brand new :)

      Reply

    • Autumn Beck Says:

      If you are just having ammonia in the nighttime diapers and your baby is >1yr it can be unavoidable. Once your child hits the toddler age the urine does become more concentrated. Ammonia is a natural by product of urea breakdown.

      If you are smelling ammonia after every pee then you can suspect buildup.

      How old is your child?

      Reply

      • Melissa Ryan Says:

        My son is just under 14 months old. It is all night time and any daytime diaper that he wears more than two hours. The smell doesn’t bother me as much as the rashes do. Oh and it is mostly in my bumgenius 4.0′s as well.

        Reply

        • Autumn Beck Says:

          Oh and for what finally worked for me, switching to Purex.

          Reply

          • Melissa Ryan Says:

            Hmm I have never even thought about Purex. I might try that out. I would love to be able to buy just regular detergent for my diapers anyways and not have to order it online.

            Reply

          • Melissa Says:

            This is way after this initial comment, but I thought I had it beat. I had switched to organic cotton prefolds as inserts and did Funk Rock and it was gone for a while. But the darned ammonia is back.
            What type of Purex do you use? Liquid, powder?

            Reply

      • Heather Says:

        I’ve been wondering this, is build-up more likely in certain brands/fabrics or if you lengthen the time between washing. My daughter is 4 months and I have not noticed a problem yet. I wash every day to every other day. I also keep switching detergents every time I run out.

        Reply

        • Autumn Beck Says:

          Switching detergents is a good idea in general. I do notice more buildup in any fitted than with a pocket or trim AIO. There is just more fabric there! That is why rinsing is so important and of course lots of water. You have several months before most problems start to occur, if they do ;)

          Reply

    • Rose J. Says:

      I also posted a comment above. I had the same issues and now I use Eco Sprout and love it! I have a FL HE machine and hard water. I do a warm pre-wash with 1 TBSP and then a long hot wash with 2-3 TBSP and an extra rinse. I have not had to strip my diapers in over 6 months since switching. I hope you find something that works for you :)

      Reply

    • Michaela Says:

      Hi Melissa, I had the same issue…also have hard water and a top load HE. I started using”Charley’s laundry booster” along with two scoops of the tiny bubbles detergent. We had issues with both our Grovia hybrids and Lil Joeys. I tried stripping with Rockin Green ammonia bouncer to no avail. I had been using only a scoop and a half of tiny bubbles previously. Good luck!

      Reply

  14. Sonia Says:

    What about the use of fabric softener? We can occasionally used plant derived softeners, right? Is it only the liquid, or can the dryer sheets be used? Mrs Meyers makes dryer sheets and the store here no longer carries the liquid. I love the smell of the lavendar sheets… Can I use them once in a while? Should they be cut in half?

    Reply

    • cara Says:

      I use Mrs. Meyers occasionally to soften up my cotton grovia inserts and hemp items. I found mine at walmart but it looks like they may be clearancing it out.

      Reply

    • Autumn Beck Says:

      Don’t use it with any PUL or stay dry fabrics. Fitteds, flats and prefolds are perfect candidates.

      Reply

  15. Lois Says:

    My elephent in the room in my house is Leaking! NO one wants to talk about what to do when you have an extremely heavy wetter because he’s water obsessed. He’s peed through diapers that are stuffed heavily, fitteds and wool, fleece, prefolds. YOu name it and it probably doesn’t last over an hour until it has either seeped out around the legs or leaked down under the longies. My boy peed through a diaper that I had stuffed with very absorbent inserts in 15 minutes once. I was suprised to find that the inserts were fully saturated. Which leads me to the other elephant. Sposies. They are a must for us now :( We use them at night and when we go out. I just bought blueberry and ecoposh trainers since he has started to pee on the potty. So I am excited that maybe I can go back to cloth at least for the outings again and maybe not have as many leaks since he will hopefully be able to make the potty most times very soon.

    Reply

    • Krista Says:

      We also were having leakage problems at night. Finally I just started making my own diaper covers and pocket diapers, and as long as I double stuff them they never leak!

      Reply

    • Autumn Beck Says:

      I hate to ask because I’m sure you have tried everything but do you have Hemp Babies in your pockets?

      Reply

  16. Karianne Says:

    Actually a lot of manufacturers allow diapers to be washed up to 140 degrees, e.g. FuzziBunz and BumGenius (can’t remember any other at the top of my head right now). With my frontloader I can set the temperature and I always wash my diapers on 140 deg to kill bacteria, yeast, etc.

    Reply

    • Autumn Beck Says:

      From the Bum Genius website:
      Warranty is void when:

      The washing instructions have not been followed.
      The diaper has been altered.
      Any of the following has been used in conjunction with the use/care of the product:
      Water temperatures exceeding 100°F or 60°C
      A detergent containing additives (enzymes, brighteners, whiteners, dyes, perfumes, essential oils) or natural soap
      Fabric softeners
      Any caustic substance
      Diaper rash cream
      Product was purchased through an unauthorized retailer. Please verify your retailer prior to purchase.

      Reply

      • Karianne Says:

        Well someone at BumGenius obviously has not googled celcius to fahrenheit!! :-D 60 deg C = 140 deg F… which is where I got the 140 deg from (my washer is actually in celcius, so technically I’m not voiding the warranty).

        So I just checked my BG 4.0 pocket diaper and it says 40 deg C (~100 deg F). Both my freetime and my elemental are in the wash, but I’m pretty sure I saw at least one of them saying 60 deg C! I’ll check when they’re clean! :-)

        Reply

    • Rose J. Says:

      Yep, water needs to reach 140 degrees to kill the bacteria in the diapers. Plus, I found that a hotter and longer wash gets my diapers much cleaner and I do not have a problem with my PUL or anything- even when using the sanitary cycle.

      Reply

  17. tarin Says:

    My son has a rash on both his inner thighs by his diaper area. Any clues on what this could be, I’ve tried everything and it won’t go away. Also, any thoughts on soap nuts???

    Reply

    • Krista Says:

      Do you reuse the cover for multiple diaper changes? My boy gets the same thing when we reuse covers. It could also be chaffing from an irritating cover material. What do you use?

      Reply

      • tarin Says:

        I’m using prefolds and thirsties duo wraps, but I have since he was born 4 months ago, and this rash is a first. Its by his inner thighs and gets really raw and irritated sometimes. Its been 2 weeks now!

        Reply

    • Emily D Says:

      Tried soapnuts (the actual nuts, not the soapnuts liquid you can also get) and I found that it really left stains behind.

      Reply

  18. Mandi Says:

    Rashes are a big elephant for me. My little lady try as I might to keep them away gets yeast infections often. I have another daughter that shares the same diaper stash and has never had a rash. I’ve stripped and boiled my diapers but according to my ped it’s just something she’ll outgrow but I can feel the disapproval in my mother-in-law’s eyes when she happens to change a diaper only to find my little girl with another flare up.

    Reply

    • Alicia Says:

      I’ve found that a good (dairy-free) probiotic (like Innate Choice’s Probiotic Sufficiency) (http://www.innatechoice.com/probioticsufficiency.cfm) does wonders for my son’s rashes, most of which seem to be due to yeast growth.

      Reply

    • Laura Says:

      I had the same problem Mandi. My oldest daughter was sharing a diaper stash with her sister and I could not kill the yeast… her poor little bottom looked so bad, we finally had to switch to disposables full time. Now with my son I’m keeping my fingers crossed because I really do love to cloth diaper.

      Reply

    • Krista Says:

      What type of diapers are you using? My little guy get rashes very easily from cloth and disposable diapers. He can’t wear regular prefolds or his skin breaks out. I make my own diapers, and I’ve found his skin responds well to micro-pique mesh athletic wicking. I ordered some and made pockets for my prefolds. Also maybe over-stripping your diapers can make them more susceptible to yeast, since it throws off the Ph balance? Vinegar can help restore the Ph.
      Have you tried different detergents? My boy reacts to almost every detergent. So far we haven’t had a problem with All, but I think it’s affecting the water-proofing of my diapers.
      I think I would try separating the two diaper stashes. Maybe sharing is what’s perpetuating it and your other daughter is just more resilient.
      I hope you never have to switch to disposables, but if it ever comes to that there are always the biodegradable inserts for cloth diapers!

      Reply

    • Gwen Says:

      Mandi, try organic virgin coconut oil, I recommend Tropical Traditions but it can be pricey unless you get someone to go in on a 5 gal. bucket with you. Coconut oil has natural yeast fighting properties and can be taken internally as well as massaged into her skin. You can use it in all your cooking in place of other oils. It should help get rid of candida yeast which might be causing her flare-ups. Also, getting lots of good probiotics in her system to establish good gut flora might be a good idea, the good bacteria helps keep yeast at bay. If you don’t have dairy allergies, homemade kefir made with raw milk is awesome as well as fermented foods and homemade kombucha. I haven’t had yeast issues personally since adding coconut oil, kefir, and kombucha to my diet.

      Good luck! And try not to let your MIL get to you, though I know that’s easier said than done.

      Reply

    • Briana Says:

      Try the Motherlove Diaper Rash and Thrush cream. It should clear up any yeast problem on your baby within a matter of hours. You can use it pretty much anywhere…from the folds of baby’s chubby body to mom’s nipples if you suspect thrush (safe to nurse through). I give it to all of my friends as baby shower gifts because it works so well. That being said it hasn’t done much to help my baby’s non-yeast rashes.

      Reply

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