Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cloth Diaper Basics Part 4: Everything else

Okay, so you've selected your diaper stash.  You know how to actually put it on your baby. And you know how to wash the diapers.  Believe it or not, that's not all.  Strange little things pop up that you'll want to deal with.

When you first get your fluff

When you receive your diapers, unless they're used, they need special treatment to get the best absorbency from them (and to remove any factory residue).  There are many ways to do this, but basically they need really hot water washes and agitation.  Follow the manufacturers recommendations, if they include them.  If not try one of these ideas.

  1. You can put them in a big pot and boil them for about 30 minutes while stirring (do NOT do this with your snap covers because it could melt the snaps if they rest on the side of the pot).  
  2. You can turn up your water heater temporarily and do a HOT wash on the highest water level and longest wash cycle.  Depending on the temperature, you may need to repeat this.  
  3. You can try putting them through your clean dishwasher.  The temperature in it is intended to be hot enough to sanitize dishes, so it is definitely hot enough for this job.  
At any rate, they need washed and fluffed.  No need to dry between washes.

What about diaper rash?

Diaper rash is less common with cloth diapers, but it does happen.  The most common creams available will stain your cloth and cause them to repel liquids and leak.  They were intended for disposable diapers, which will be thrown away, obviously.  If you already used it, don't fret.  You can strip your diapers to remove that residue.  

Natural oils are wonderful for preventing rashes.  Be sure to focus on the "crack-y places."  My personal favorite is coconut oil.  I prefer the unrefined variety, but the cheap refined Lou Ana type is fine, too.  Or extra virgin olive oil. Take a about 1/2 teaspoon of your oil (let it melt if it's not already liquid) and smear it all over baby bottom.  This works for keeping those newborn tarry meconium poops from sticking to baby butts, too.  Adding a couple drops of pure lavendar essential oil or tea tree oil to your "butt oil" stash is a great idea.  It helps calm baby and kills germs.  

Some things to consider:

Are you changing the diapers often enough?  Sitting in a wet/dirty diaper is not good for baby skin.  

Do your diapers have a strong ammonia odor?  This can lead to chemical burns.  It looks like a sunburn at first.  Then the skin starts to crack and split if it continues.  It's easy to deal with on laundry day.  Just neutralize the urine with baking soda in the first rinse cycle and vinegar in the final rinse cycle.

Is it yeast?  If you or baby have thrush or baby has been colicky, look out for yeast diaper rash.  They present as scattered tiny red blisters.  If you don't get it under control, those blisters get bigger, burst, bleed, and eventually turn to a purple nasty painful area.  Please, if you think baby has a yeasty diaper, start fixing it now! Again, coconut and tea tree oil are both antibacterial and antifungal.  Yeast is a fungus, by the way.  Anything with probiotics is a good idea, too.  Some plain yogurt directly on the bottom feels pretty good and fights the yeast.  I believe it's important to take internally, as well.  If baby is old enough for solid foods, yogurt is a good one to try.  Talk to your pediatrician if you're worried about allergies.  For my kids, I had no problems.  All the milk sugars have been eaten away by the probiotics to make it into yogurt.  Babies love the tangy flavor and just a teaspoon a day is effective for a baby.  Or you can by some powdered "baby biotics" and put a scoop or two in the baby bottle, water, or juice.  If you're breastfeeding, I strongly suggest treating both of you, since it's possible and easy to have yeast even without the painful symptoms.

"Stripping" diapers

About once a month it's a good idea to "strip" your diapers.  It removes any residues that may have built up on the diapers.  Again, there are several ways to do this. 
Start with clean diapers; don't worry about drying.  Then pick one:
  1. Add about a tablespoon of dish soap to the wash and run rinse cycles until all bubbles are gone.
  2. Run another rinse cycle with a cup of vinegar.  Rinse or wash again if there's any lingering odor.
  3. Run a wash cycle with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of bleach.  Rinse or wash again if there's ANY lingering odor.
  4. Boil diapers in a large pot. Again, be careful about doing this if your diapers have snaps.
  5. Run diapers through dishwasher on hot cycle.
Different strip methods work for different needs, so you may need to try a few things to figure out which method is best for you.


Some people like to use disposable or reusable liners in their diapers.  These are thin pieces of flannel or toilet paper-like sheets that go between the absorbent layer and the baby's bottom.  If baby poops, you can peel off the material and shake that alone or flush the disposables with the poop attached and save the trouble of shaking or scraping the diapers and the stains that sometimes happen from them.  Some people adore them.  Some find them a waste of time and money.  It's worth the experiment.  They're pretty cheap.

There is also a device that attaches to the water supply of your toilet that is similar to the sprayer on your kitchen sink.  It's entire function is to make removing poop from diapers easier.  Again, some swear by it.  Others find it a waste of money.  If you're having trouble, it's worth the set up.  If you're happy with your current arrangement, why bother? They cost $40-60 or you can build your own at a hardware store for about $30.

If you have flats and want to hand wash (or want to try to hand wash other diapers), check out this post about making a camp-style washer.

Did I miss anything?  What other questions do you have if you're new to cloth diapers?  Or if you are a veteran, what advice can you offer?

Thanks for following me to the end.  I hope I was able to help you feel more confident starting cloth diapers.

1 comment:

  1. One friend suggested an easy way to get liners. If you already use disposable wipes, you can just toss them in your diaper wash. It will sanitize them like any other item in there, but will also thin them out. Once dry you can use it like a liner then toss it out or flush it.