Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cloth Questions: Cloth Diaper Detergents

Today's question comes from an email from Sara.   She asks "Do you recommend a specific cloth diaper soap to use in the washing machine?  I've been using Arm & Hammer Super Wash soda because it seemed to not have any of the harmful chemicals mentioned by the manufacturer of our cloth diapers (bum genius)."

Since I have become a retailer, I have found the question of washing to be a rather controversial one.  You can google and read so many different opinions on the subject: use vinegar, don't' use it, bleach will make your diapers melt (ok, a slight exaggeration), only use cloth diaper formulated detergents.....etc, etc.  Throughout my time cloth diapering I have met so many different mamas who each use a different soap and a different routine.  All of them have clean diapers and happy babies.  Rarely do I hear a story of diaper issues, and if I do, detergent and washing haven't been to blame.

So my short answer is:  use whatever you want!

My long answer will talk about some pros/cons and things to think about.  For my particular area in Columbia, SC, we seem to have a wide variety of water types which greatly affect the performance of your laundry soap.  I moved from the NE side of town to the west side of town and I had to completely revamp my routine.  We also have a lot of families on wells in this area too. 

First, let's take a look at what bumGenius has said and recommended.  They recommend you "always use a detergent free of perfumes, dyes, whiteners, brighteners, softeners, enzymes, or other fabric enhancers."  Honestly, I love bumGenius, but I don't 100% agree with them.  Perfumes, dyes, whiteners, brighteners, and enzymes have not been proven to deteriorate diapers.  There are many other manufacturers, who recommend detergents that contain these ingredients ( one being Happy Heinys)  The only chemical on that list I agree with, is softeners.  From a chemistry stand point, the only way to 'soften' laundry is by leaving a chemical residue on the surface of the fabric.  These chemicals have a water repelling properties, which repel pee!  The opposite purpose of a diaper!  Which is why I call it a "no-no".

Now, back to that list of chemicals.  Personally, I do not want to use a detergent with perfumes or dyes, because I do not like to use those types of chemicals.  I have good friends with skin sensitivities that cannot use those chemicals for their personal health.  Whether or not you want to use them, is up to you and your feelings, and it does not have any effect on the cleanliness and longevity of your diapers. 

Cloth diaper formulated detergents avoid these chemicals, which makes them attractive for cloth use.  They have specific recommendations for both standard and HE washing machines.  Some do come scented, but they are scents that break down immediately upon exposure to water and will not get into the fabric of your diapers.  We sell two different brands, Rockin' Green, the leader in cloth diaper detergents, and Eco Sprout, a newcomer to the cloth diaper detergent world, but one of my favorites because it is made by a work at home Dad!!

As for commercial detergents, I know mamas that use Tide, All, different Free and clear brands, Charlies, Country Save, Bio Kleen, Soap Nuts, Purex, and the list goes on and on.  As long as your diapers are getting clean, baby isn't getting irritated by exposure, and the detergent is rinsing clean, then you are an awesome cloth diaper parent!  (I will answer future questions based on some of these other issues in a problem solving post.)

Back to Sara's specific question.  She mentioned Arm and Hammer washing soda.  Washing soda, is sodium carbonate and is typically used as a water softener in laundering. It competes with the magnesium and calcium ions in hard water and prevents them from bonding with the detergent being used. Sodium carbonate can be used to remove grease, oil and wine stains.  I wouldn't have recommended using just washing soda alone for your diapers, it is great to use in conjunction with other detergents as a booster.  BUT! - if your diapers are getting clean, there are no stinky smells, and baby's bottom isn't red, then by all means keep using it.  Don't change what is working for your diapers. 

I use washing soda in the laundry detergent that I make.  I originally got the recipe from a blog called The Eco Friendly Family.  I love her laundry detergent so much, you couldn't pay me to use a store bought detergent.  For my cloth diapers I have switched back and forth between her cloth diaper formula and Eco Sprout.  This blog link discusses making her recipe for both the standard laundry soap and the cloth diaper soap. 

For the final part of Sara's question, what do I recommend, I just recommend keeping an open mind and trying detergents that fit what your family likes.  If it is a cloth diaper formulated detergent, follow the directions on the label.  If it is a standard laundry detergent, start off by using 1/4 of the manufacturers recommended amount, too much can be a bad thing, but also too little won't clean your diapers either. 

If you have enjoyed this post, please subscribe with feedburner, found on the side column.  We plan on hosting a giveaway soon and would love to have more readers!  If you have a question, please email Leslie!  We are always looking for our next cloth question submission!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Best Bottoms: new colors and prints!

The ABC Kids Expo had led to many new product releases in the cloth diaper world.  I wish I could have attended and gotten the first peak at these wonderful new products!  But together we can look together at these awesome new products.  Here is the first look at the new Best Bottom shells:  Plum Pie, Huckleberry Cobbler, and Hedgehog. 

Which is your favorite??

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cloth Questions: Rashes and Rash Cream

I would like to welcome everyone to our first week of answering your cloth diaper questions.  Today's questions comes from Kristi on our facebook page.  She writes: "My baby has a really red bottom today after two dirty diapers in a row. Is there any diaper cream that I can use with my cloth diapers or am I stuck using from my disposable stash because I have several tubes of Boudreax ButtPaste and Desitin that were gifts. And why does this happen more with dirty diapers than the wet ones?"

I am going to break her question down into different parts.  First "Is there any diaper cream that I can use with my cloth diapers".    Yes!!  There are plenty of great cloth friendly diaper rash creams.  We carry three different cloth friendly creams.  One of my personal favorites is Earth Mama Angel Baby's Bottom Balm.  It is allergy tested, vegan, and made with organic olive oil.  It is infused with a blend of antibacterial and antifungal herbs that promote healing.

We also carry Eco Sprout Bottom Balm.  It comes in a 2oz twist up tube (think glue stick).  It is made with all natural ingredients and essential oils.  The twist up tube design makes it great for a hands free, mess free application to baby's bottom.  They also recommend it for any dry skin area on your or baby.

Our third cloth friendly rash cream is Grandma El's Diaper Rash Remedy and Prevention.  It creates a breathable barrier and promotes healing.

There are also many other brands available.  CJs BUTTer, Motherlove, and California Baby are the first that come to mind.  Organic coconut oil is also very popular in the cloth diapering community, and another personal favorite of mine.

You can also use those non-cloth friendly rash creams that were gifts as well!  The key is protecting your diapers from these creams.  Creams like ButtPaste and Desitin use different oils that do not wash out like the creams mentioned above.  They will stay on your diapers and repel urine and cause leaks.  The simple answer is to use a liner.  We sell a disposable liner made by Eco Sprout that lays nicely into the diaper and will protect the surface.  You can also cut up scraps of fabric or old blankets to make a liner.  Fleece is often the most popular choice of fabric because it provides a stay dry surface as well.  This is also what you would need to do if you ever need a prescription rash cream and still wish to use your cloth diapers. 

Now for the second part of Kristi's question:  "why does this happen more with dirty diapers than the wet ones?"

First, let's talk about urine.  When your baby first pees, their urine is sterile.   Exposure to sterile urine will not cause a rash.  But as baby sits in that diaper, the urine mingles with naturally existing bacteria and that causes a change in pH which can lead to rashes. This is not immediate, which is why we don't see as many rashes caused from just wet diapers.

One other thing to note.  There are certain foods which will change the pH of urine.  Highly acidic food (citrus, tomatoes) can cause a pH change, making urine irritating to the skin during the initial pee.  If you are in the process of introducing new foods to your baby, keep an eye out for foods that irritate baby's skin.

Now onto the poop. 

Poop naturally contains more skin irritating substances which can cause rashes quickly.  Especially in back to back dirty diapers where the skin hasn't had a chance to heal from the first poop.  Poop is also affected by the food we eating for changes in pH too.  Mandarin oranges were never kind to my son's bottom.

If you have a frequent pooper like my son, or just a baby with a red bottom, there are a few things you can do to heal up that redness fast.   Getting exposure to air will help the skin heal faster than putting a diaper immediately back on baby.  When  my son was younger I used to spread out old bath towels on the floor and let him have his tummy time naked on the towels.  If he peed, it didn't both me and I'd just toss them in the wash.  When he was older we had to be more creative to give him his naked time. 

Another solution to expose baby to more air if naked time isn't feasible, is to choose a more breathable diaper.  You can choose a fitted diaper or prefolds.  These diapers are great if you are at home.  You can let baby go around the house without a cover and just monitor for when the diaper becomes too wet.  You can also use a fleece or a wool cover for added protection. 

One final note about rashes.  If you use disposable wipes, you may want to consider switching to cloth wipes and plain water.  Most disposable wipes contain some alcohol or other additives which can potentially aggravate the already sensitive skin.  If baby seems really sore, just splash water on their skin and avoid using wipes altogether. 

Does anyone else have any additional tips??

Email Leslie to participate in our weekly cloth diaper question post!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Weekly Cloth Questions

I would like to make this blog more than just new products and sales.  I want to help answer your questions.  I am emailed frequently individual customer questions, but I bet that there are many out there with the same question. 

So - please email me your questions about cloth diapering!   Anything goes!  Send your email to Leslie at    leslie@carolinacloth.com and I will pick a question to answer once a week!

Thanks!  I look forward to answering your questions