Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cloth Diapering: A Beginners Guide-Laundry Additives

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Another area of Cloth Diapering is laundry additives. These are products that can help your cloth diapering laundering process.You don't need to start out your cloth diapering with additives. Usually you only want to use these if you start noticing problems.

Keep in mind that using too many additives or too much of it can cause build up very quick! It can also damage the diaper or cause rashes. Additives can be great, but use with care.

Bac-Out-This product is great to get rid of bacteria or ammonia. Enzymes work by eating away at waste products (poop and pee). This is great for diapers, but not good for your babies bum. If the enzymes are not rinsed out well in the wash, they will attack any residue on your babies skin causing rashes. This could void your warranty for a lot of diaper manufacturers. I was concerned about bacteria left on diapers, so I decided to make this a small part of our diaper regiment. I give each dirty diaper (or over night wet one) a small squirt after spraying off and before putting it in our wet bag. If you're using enzymes, make sure your wash temperature is around 130 degrees (check with diaper manufacturer on maximum temperature). This should deactivate the enzymes.

Baking Soda- You want to use it for odor, hard water, residue from hard water or urine, softening and stains. 1/4 C per wash will work to soften your water. I've read if you use baking soda, make sure to add a little vinegar to the rinse in order to re-establish the PH of your water or else the baby could get a rash. Using baking soda too often will create build up on your diapers.

Vinegar- You want to use it for odor, hard water, residue from hard water or urine and softening. If you notice your detergent isn't rinsing well, try adding 1/4 c to the rinse cycle (after the wash). If your using vinegar to disinfect, add 1 cup to the HOT wash cycle.

*Smelly Diapers??-Add 1/2 C of baking soda to your wash (in addition to the detergent). Then add 1/4 C vinegar to your rinse cycle. Before the water drains out, stop the cycle and let it soak overnight. Finish it up the next morning.

Chlorine Bleach-Most diaper manufacturers will tell you NOT to use bleach. Some CD moms will tell you once a month isn't that bad. If you feel you need to use bleach to disinfect your diapers I would first contact your diaper manufacturer for other ideas or directions. Certain care needs to be made on AIOs and pockets because the bleach can damage the PUL. If you do decide to use bleach fill your washer up to the max, add 1-2 Tablespoons of bleach, let it dilute, then add your diapers. I would follow up with a hot water wash and a few rinses to make sure no bleach is left on the diapers to get on your babies skin. BumGenius actually suggests doing this once a month.

Oxygen Bleach-This can be used for diapers, inserts, and wipes safely on a regular basis. For covers or fitteds it is suggested by Thirsties to stick to once a month. This is good for odor, urine residue and stains. I believe a lot of people just add in an average of 2 TBSP in each wash anyway. You can also soak your diapers with 1/2 a scoop and HOT water for about 1.5-2 hours to disinfect. Make sure to follow up with quite a few rinses (about 6?).

Tea Tree Oil (Melaluca Oil)-This oil is a natural antibiotic. It also has anti-fungal and anti-septic properties. There is some debate about using TTO too much and it creating resistance. I saw quite a few people use this in their wash routine. I would rather use it on occasion. If you want to get rid of the yuckies (maybe after a stomach virus), add a drop or two sparingly to your wash and rinse well about 3 times. Here's a good article I read about TTO: Robert Tisserand. To use this topically, dilute with olive or coconut oil.

Grapefruit Seed Extract-This is a disinfectant. Yay!! My friend who helped me get into cloth diapering had a huge problem with yeast. She now uses 10-20 drops of this per wash and everything is peachy keen! I bought a bottle of this right away. I plan on using it once a month as long as there is no problems. You want to add it to your rinse cycle-which now I need to purchase a downy ball so I don't have to babysit my washer.

Essential Oils (other)- You can use a few drops of lavender, chamomile, or TTO in your wipe solution. You can also add a few drops to your diaper pail/wet bag. Oils can stick to your diapers so be careful adding to the wash. I suggest researching more-sorry!

Calgon Water Softener- These can be used on all products and helps soften the water. Soft water helps the detergent work better by suspending the residues and mineral deposits in the water and prevent them from being re-deposited until they are rinsed away. Add this to the initial hot wash and following rinse.

Dawn-Dawn is recommended to help strip diapers. A small squirt does an excellent job removing stinky residue or detergent build up from diapers. If your diapers are repelling liquid try using Dawn. Fill the sink with warm water and 2-3 drops of Dawn. Hand scrub like crazy, then rinse really well until all the soap is gone. Toss in the washer and rise a few more times to make sure all the soap is gone. Make sure this is only for a waxy or oily buildup. Also keep in mind that dish soap in your washer can damage it, so rinse, rinse, rinse before you throw it in the washer.

Sunshine-I can't wait for summer. Sunning your dipes (hanging in the sun) not only sanitizes, but gets rid of stains too.

Lemon Juice- I haven't researched this too much, but I've read that adding 1/2 C. of lemon juice to your wash will help whiten your diapers. You can also spray it (mixed with water) to your diapers before sunning them. This can get rid of stains.

Wool Dryer Balls-Don't use dryer sheets or fabric softener. They work by coating your laundry and this causes repelling issues. Switch to wool dryer balls for all of your laundry. This will help you save power ($$), reduce dryer time and reduce static. Some are even lightly scented but diaper safe. These work by bouncing around in the washer (great for AIOs) which gets more air circulated. This is known to reduce dryer time 20-45%. You'll want 4-6...oh and they get better with time. Check out the ones my friend The Graceful Mom makes: Etsy Shop.

For a useful chart about what additives are safe for Thirsties diapers see this link: Thirsties Safe Additives

Where to Buy
So now you need to buy a few things; preferably all in one place. I usually shop at for my coconut oil. They had a few of the items I needed but not all. I also went to Amazon, but again, they only had a few items. After a quick search I found They had everything I needed and at a cheaper price! Feel free to use my referral or promo code to get $5 off: DPN078.

I decided these were my laundering items I would buy from the start: Country Save Detergent, Bac-Out, Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE), Dawn (to keep on hand just in case), and Wool Dryer Balls. Luckily I have OxyClean, chlorine bleach, baking soda, Tea Tree Oil and vinegar on hand before I ever knew they were considered additives. Hopefully I'll never have to use these. 

I had to do quite a bit of my own research to finish this post. I think I'm even more confused! There are so many opinions, directions, warnings, and encouragement out there! I haven't had any problems with my diapers yet, so I don't know how to use the above by experience. I would love to not have to! I hope this helps you at least begin your research on additives. Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions.

When in doubt, contact your diaper manufacturer. The pain thing about having a variety of dipes is each diaper is made of different materials-which makes cleaning a little more complicated. Remember the best advice for laundering your cloth diapers is to KEEP IT SIMPLE! Don't make it too complicated if it's not necessary.

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