Cloth Diapers Mailbox Mondays

Cloth Diaper Advice – Mailbox Mondays 9/12/11 – Vaccines & Cloth Diapers

vaccines and clothdiapers via @chgdiapers

On Monday, I answer reader questions!

Questions don’t have to be cloth diaper related, just email maria at change-diapers.com with “Mailbox Mondays” in the subject, or fill out my contact form for readers, which you will always be able to find on my Contact Page.

Rachel says:

Here is my question for mailbox monday… I wasn’t able to find much info on the web… My little guy just got a round of immunizations and one of the vaccines, measels mumps rubella, was a live vaccine. Is there anything different i need to do with his cloth diapers? Will the virus transfer to his diapers?

Thanks, Rachel

This is a great question, and one I hadn’t really thought about! Luckily, my B.F.F. is a scientist who holds an M.S. in Molecular Biology, does technical writing, and has worked in a lab with cancer cells, specimens (and other stuff I don’t understand!) In fact, she wrote a great post on Cafemom about How to Kill a Virus, so she was definitely the right person to ask! I’ve actually been trying to get her to guest post forever, but she’s been too busy. I have essentially tricked her into guest posting by grilling her for info, tee-hee!!

So first off, most viruses live less than 2 days outside an animal body. She says: “Understand what happens in the immune system. When germs get in your body, a series of events happens, which ends (more or less) with cellular recognition of the germ (or partial germ, viral particle, peptide, etc) and production of antibodies against the germ. The antibodies bind to the germs, sending signals to other cells to kill the germs. This all happens within a few days when you get sick – and at the same time the germs are multiplying in you, making you sicker.

Most vaccines are weakened or partial virus that can’t multiply no matter what, so there is no virus being produced in the vaccinated person, nor is there any virus being shed, anywhere, including the diaper.” Remembering what was said earlier about how the immune system works; “Well, when the germs come from vaccines, they cannot make more germs, so you don’t really get sick. Your cells still recognize the germs and make antibodies you keep forever – so whenever that germ gets in you in your lifetime, the antibodies already have a head start to find & destroy.”

If the vaccine is a live virus and the mom [or caregiver changing the diaper] hasn’t been vaccinated – I would say 2 days max on the diaper (or any body fluid)… but these ‘live’ viruses are extremely weakened and also should not be able to reproduce, so they should not be able to pass illness to an unvaccinated person.

2 ways to “kill” a virus are:

  • Soapy water (including in the dishwasher and washing machine). A good foamy solution works best at 98-130 degrees F. Use this to wash fabrics, hands/skin, carpets and solid surfaces.
  • Heat between 165 – 212 degrees F for more than 15 minutes. You can sterilize solid items in boiling water or in your oven, including food if you think it is contaminated. Your dishwasher and washing machine may also reach this temperature, depending on the setting of your hot water tank.

It sounds to me like cloth diapers should be a non-issue, even if the person handling the diapers hasn’t been vaccinated. If you want to be on the safe side, your usual hot wash followed by a 15 minute tumble in the dryer (since your water heater is probably only around 120) should be more than enough!

Note from Maria: I’m not a scientist and I don’t play one on the internet. My posts shouldn’t be taken as medical advice. I also trust that we, as moms, have all done our research & made the right choices for our families, so I really don’t want this to turn into a vaccine debate…please and thank you!


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Maria Moser
Maria is the mother of 3, writing about cloth diapers & going green. You'll often find her juggling her preschooler and typing 1-handed in between sips of cold coffee. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development and other services.
1 Comment
  • tiffany
    September 12, 2011 at 11:25 am
    Reply

    Wow thanks for this. Just one more thing that hadnt even occurred to me!

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