Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Tell-it Tuesday: Troubleshooting cloth diaper residue and build-up (part 2)
Typically with diaper cream residue you will notice some sort of repelling because of the water barrier properties, you may also notice staining or discoloration on the diapers or inserts. In the picture of these clean inserts you can see a dark discoloration on a few of our white inserts from the creams. If you rub a discolored area you may or may not feel a film.
If you suspect you have residue on your diapers from diaper creams I recommend a stripping using the original blue Dawn. If you can't find original blue Dawn you can use Ultra Dawn in "Original" scent. You can get a coupon for any Ultra Dawn from the Dawn site HERE.
If you think you may have residue or a film from fabric softening sheets I would strip like this for that purpose as well. I would also take a wet towel with some Dawn on it and either tumble it on a "cool" cycle or wipe the inside of the dryer out with it.
1-Take the diaper with cream on it and rub both sides with the Dawn liquid.
2-Fill the washer with hot water- as hot as you can get it. You may consider adding a pot or two of boiling hot water to the washer add a tablespoon of Dawn to the hot water and toss the diapers in.
3-Proceed to do heavy was load. As I stated in part 1, be sure not to overload your washer. The diapers, inserts, etc. need room to agitate freely.
4-When you have finished your stripping cycle(s) rinse, rinse, rinse! Rinse with hot water until there are no more detergent bubbles.
**Don't confuse detergent/residue bubbles--suds (bad) with agitation bubbles (not bad). Agitation bubbles are caused by the process of agitating the clothes and are perfectly OK. Agitation bubbles will look like a few bubbles that sit on top of the water, they may or may not pop when you open the top. Detergent/residue bubbles look more like bubbles you would see in a bubble bath, they're greater in number and more "foamy" looking than agitation bubbles. I tried to get a few pictures of the different bubbles. Glamour was is no-sudsing so I knew I wouldn't be able to get a good picture with that detergent so I tried All liquid. I was hoping for heaping mounds of bubbles but this was the best I could get. The kind of heaping bubbles you want in a bubble bath you do not want in your washer with cloth diapers.
Because Dawn works by removing/breaking down the residue you may need to do a few ultra hot/Dawn strippings to remove all of the residue. If you are doing more than one stripping cycle as soon as the first load cycled through I would repeat steps 2 and 3. You could also do an overnight soak in Dawn. If you were going to try that I would follow steps 1 and 2, let them agitate for a period of time and then let them soak. In the morning you could pick up with step three and continue on.
5-It's up to you if you want to rewash them using your cloth diaper detergent.
Build-up from minerals in HARD WATER
While there is no set standard of things you have to experience to have hard water build-up you may notice your diapers are dingy looking. You may also notice, like other types of build-up, that your diapers are crunchy and/or stiff feeling. You may or may not notice stink issues-this is from the minerals in the hard water not allowing the diapers to get totally clean or rinse totally clean. I also experience(d) absorbency issues. For more information you can view the section regarding hard water in part 1.
If you have hard water build-up the first thing to do would be to remove the build-up. One of the more popular ways to do this is to put the diapers through a cycle or two with some Calgon Water Softener in it. You may also consider soaking your diapers in Calgon. For optimum removal I suggest the diapers and accessories are clean and you do not add detergent.
Water filters and water softeners (not the same thing) can help reduce hard water. If you're not ready or able to install a filter or softener system you could continue to do washes with Calgon added in, do washes or soaks with Calgon regularly but less often than every wash.
As I discussed in part 1 another option is finding a cloth diaper safe detergent specifically formulated for hard water. I personally use Lulu's in the Fluff hard water version and since I have been using it I have not had to use any additives, like Calgon, Vinegar, Baking Soda, etc. which is saving us so much money. If you find you need more omph than her hard water version has, Lulu also has an extreme hard water version but notes very, very few people need it. Glamour wash works to neutralize those minerals which allows the cleaning agent to do a thorough and effective cleaning.
Residue from DETERGENT and other laundry additives
If you have an issue with residue and build up due to detergent or laundry additives you may notice your diapers STINK to high Heaven out of the washer and/or the dryer or that after your child pees in the diaper it smells so bad you want to throw up. You may also notice your diapers aren't coming clean, they look dingy and dull, or there's a scent to them-even if it's a nice or pleasant scent-when they're clean and dry. You may also decreased absorbency.
Easiest way to tell if you have residue do to detergent or additives:
Take a big sniff. As I stated in part 1 clean cloth diapers should not smell like anything. If your diapers smell like the detergent you're using take that as a sign your detergent is leaving residue in your diapers.
A sure fire way to tell if you have residue leftover in your diapers due to detergent:
To remove the residue from your diapers:
You will need to strip your diapers. If you have no idea what stripping your diapers means please check out THIS post for a list of cloth diaper related definitions and explanations.
Doing what is called a "Glamour Soak" using Lulu's in the Fluff Glamour Wash. You could obviously do this with any other cloth diaper safe detergent but Lulu's is the only one I recommend. A Glamour Soak consists of using double the amount of Lulu's in the Fluff detergent you would normally load (or about three tablespoons), a washer with hot water or even a utility sink or bath tub-just lock the door or put up a gate so that the little ones don't try to hop in, and soaking overnight. Like Calgon, Lulu's will help pull the residue out, prevent minerals from re-depositing on the diapers (if you have HW), and will clean your diapers. In the morning you would allow the washer to cycle through and then rinse with hot water until there were no more suds.
That concludes part 2 of our two part blog series. You can view part 1 here:
As always, if you have questions or need additional information you can contact me or Megs or leave us comments. Although we do review comments on a regular basis, if you need prompt attention please email us.
This article was originally published on the Cow Patties Cloth Diapers blog at http://cowpattiescloth.blogspot.com/2010/11/tell-it-tuesday-troubleshoot-cloth.html on 11/16/10 and may not be reproduced in whole or in part with the author’s (CrunchyBabe@crunchycupcakes.com ) or blog owner’s ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) expressed written permission.