Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Break Up With Cloth Diapers

When I came home from work the second thing I noticed was my daughter wearing a disposable diaper. I asked my husband why she wasn't in a cloth diaper (in a loving, non-accusatory way) and he told me it was because they needed to be washed. Which brings us back to the first thing I noticed--The smell.

Instead of mahogany and leather bound books, my house smelled of dirty diapers.

My husband did the laundry while I nursed and reunited with our daughter. But when I went to pull a diaper out of the dryer, the smell hit me like a ton of bricks.

I sat there for a second wondering if my husband remembered you're supposed to wash the diapers first before putting them in the dryer. But they were clean. They just didn't smell like it.

I took my question to Google. How to wash cloth diapers. Simple enough, right? WRONG!

If you want to scare someone out of trying cloth diapers show them this site. I read that from the get go and saw I was doing it all wrong. According to that website I was supposed to wash my BRAND NEW diapers 5 to 10 times before using. Yea, that didn't happen.

So I took my question to twitter. And you know how simple questions can go controversial, but I tried to keep it friendly. Just thanked everyone for their suggestions, or letting me know their washing routine.

Most people told me they wash first on a cold cycle then again on a hot cycle before drying. Are you kidding me?

I told my husband we should add an extra wash cycle to our diapers and he laughed at me.

"Do you know how much our water bill went up last month?" He asked me.

I shook my head.

"Twenty dollars."

That's not how much our water bill was total, that's how much it went up in our month of using cloth diapers. Needless to say this was an all time high. And I'm not a math whiz but based on my quick calculations I guessed if we washed the diapers an extra time per load, it would probably go up an extra $20 and therefor cost us $40 a month just to wash cloth diapers.

Not cool.

So adding an extra wash cycle was out of the question.

I try to follow the yellow let it mellow, brown flush it down rule--you know--to conserve water. But this would cancel out my efforts.

The next common response I got was that I was using too much detergent. Wanna bet? I hardly put any in. I heard time and time again not to put the average amount in because it would cause detergent build up on the diapers. So I put about 1/4 of the recommended amount in the load to be safe.

One person told me maybe that probably wasn't enough. I can't win!

People kept telling me time and time again to buy some Rockin' Green Soap. Everyone raves about no stinky diapers with this stuff. What is it? It's a $14+ bag of detergent that is ya know--Natural, green, biodegradable, probably even edible, I dunno. But it was hard for me to bring myself to spend that much on detergent. I was ready to give in, but just to be sure, I asked one of my friends who swears by the stuff if she uses it in one wash cycle.



No? You're telling me I'd still have to wash my diapers twice, PLUS by this extra fancy soap?

Shouldn't something that's natural cost less, not more? And can't I just use something around the house to make them smell better?

As a matter of fact, you can. --At least that was a crowd of twitter friends told me. Using vinegar in the wash can help take the smell of ammonia out.

And then there's always good old fashioned sunshine. Which I already know works wonders on stains.

My husband bought me clothespins--For the diapers, not my nose--And I strung the diapers up along my clothesline outside on my porch. Yes, we looked a little um... tacky. But I was saving energy dangit, and trying to defunk my diapers!
I left them out on my porch while I went to work, and brought them in that night. They were slightly stiff, so I fluffed them in the dryer for a few minutes and took them out. Not only did they look brand new, they smelled that way too!

It was glorious. No fancy detergent needed. No extra wash cycle required, and I can save my vinegar for... Whatever I may need vinegar for in the future.

I've decided I'm going to do this to my diapers every few weeks, or once a month or whenever I notice they're getting a little stinky. I think it beats using twice as much water per load.

A lady at church told me she makes her own detergent using Carlie's soap, I believe. So I think I'm going to do that next time to save myself money on detergent, while also using something that is not going to make the diapers stink or become less absorbent. I came to this conclusion after seeing this detergent chart.

I've also started putting my diapers on a medium or small load instead of large to save more water. They're still getting clean so I guess it's ok for now. Another thing I'm doing is washing every third day instead of every other day. That's cut down on some of the water usage too.

So the cloth diapers and I hit a rough patch. I'll admit, we broke up for a few days. But I missed them right away. Especially after Lil' J had her first blowout in a month. She then had blow out after blowout during her stint back in disposables. The cloth diapers and I have worked through our problems and I think we're going to make it.

Funny thing though... There was a stack of dirty pampers diapers in the bathroom upstairs (the pail is reserved for the cloth ones.) Once we threw those out, our house no longer smelled of dirty diapers.