Mailbox Mondays

Mailbox Mondays 7/26/10



Here’s the second installment of “Mailbox Mondays.”  I will always answer any questions you have via email, but if you would like to have your question answered on a Mailbox Mondays post, please email me at at gmail dot com and put “Mailbox Mondays” in your subject.  Questions don’t have to be diaper related!

I wanted to quickly tell you that I’m going to be a regular writer on The Village of Moms, which is where I guest posted my Cloth 101 posts.  I’ll be posting the first Monday of every month!  I’ll write about cloth diapering, babywearing, kid’s activities and crafts, frugal tips and more.

The first question is from Heather.  My answer is long winded as usual, but would you expect any less from me?  🙂
I had a question about stripping my micro fiber inserts. I have a horrible time with ammonia stink and have been told I should strip them because I have buildup issues (we have hard water). Every time I wash my diapers I soak them overnight in my washer with a cloth diaper detergent and them I wash them in the morning. My wash routine is like this:

Double rinse and spin
8+ hour soak
Heavy duty wash, heavy soil level, extra rinse
Hang dry in the sun

So what exactly should I do to get rid of my ammonia stink? Strip? Change my wash routine? Any help would be appreciated!

Heather A.
Oh Heather, I so feel your pain.  While I do not have hard water, I did battle the stinkies.  I tried so many things, I ran my washer 24/7 for at least two weeks I swear.  The good news is, I doubt we run any risk of ever running our well dry!
Wash routines are to me,  the most confusing part of cloth diapering.  If you ask a room full of cloth diaperers this question, you would get twice as many opinions as people in the room!
Stink usually comes from buildup as you know, but the hard part is, buildup of what?  It could be a buildup of detergent, a buildup of the minerals from your water, or a buildup of, ahem, “deposits” made in the diaper.
I find that the simpler you keep things, the better off you’ll be.  Since you have hard water, it’s not going to be as simple as most.  I don’t know what kind of detergent you are using now, but once you get the stink under control, consider trying Rockin’ Green’s hard rock detergent, or adding Calgon water softener to the load.  With hard water, your detergent is working so hard to take care of the minerals in your water, there’s no oomph left to clean the laundry!
Now back to the buildup.  If you run the diapers through with no detergent, do you see any suds?  If so, you may have a detergent buildup.  Try rinsing until there’s no suds, without adding any detergent.
No suds?  I commonly hear people say to use dish soap to strip diapers (original blue dawn.)  This caused more problems for me.  Lot of people have had luck with soaking diapers with Rockin’ Green, then rinsing a ton.
What worked for me was RLR.  RLR is a laundry treatment that you can use once a month or so to remove buildup for diapers and other laundry.  (Worked wonders on our towels & sheets too!)  I have an HE washer, well water and a softener, so I did not use a whole packet for a load.  You might need to.  Run a heavy duty wash with a soak, then rinse rinse rinse until you don’t see any trace of suds.  Then, I took the diapers out to dry and ran just the inserts through with a dab of bleach, then several extra rinses.  I know a lot of people will not use bleach, but it worked for me!
This really took care of things for me, and now if I start smelling some ammonia, I will use a bit of RLR, some extra rinses and a dab of bleach on the inserts.
Once you get the current issue taken care of, you of course want to keep it at bay as long as possible.  If you have a top loading washer, use the largest load size, regardless of the actual size of the load you’re washing.  Try not to wash more than 20 diapers at a time.  If your issue was detergent buildup, use a little bit less.  If it wasn’t, you may need to use a little more.  If you’re using a detergent that is formulated for cloth diapers, use the recommended amount, not 1/4 or 1/2 like you often hear.  I’ve also found that I need to rotate detergents.  One will work fine for a while, then suddenly doesn’t anymore.
I had such a hard time with this!  I like things organized and I like hard and fast rules (I’m weird.)  So it was hard for me that there wasn’t a list to follow that said use this amount of this type of detergent and do this wash cycle and you’ll be all set.  It depends so much on your water, your washer etc. 
In conclusion, don’t fret! Be patient and you will figure things out.
Next, a question from Alexis:
What do you use at night? Do you change in the middle of the night?
I’m going to answer these in reverse. 
Night time changes
Now, at 14 months, my son sleeps 10-12 hours most nights.  When he occasionally wakes, he has a quick “snack” and goes back to bed without a change.  When he was really little, nights went like they do for most parents of young babies.  Sleep a little while, wake up, nurse, change diaper, then the circus routine of getting him back to sleep, then repeat.  Most of the times he woke, his diaper was changed.
In between there, he started to sleep a bit longer, and I had to up my night time diapering game.  Then came the tricky time period.  My son wasn’t waking as often, and he was starting to drift off to sleep after nursing.  
This won’t win me any mother of the year awards but neither of my children have been great sleepers.  If my son happened to drift off while nursing, I would at least try to lay him back down.  If he stayed asleep, I would sneak out of the room, crawl into bed and pray he would stay asleep for a while!  I suppose I probably should have woken him to change his diaper but uhhh, not gonna happen.  If I tried to change his diaper first, before nursing him, he would have woken the whole household to express his disapproval.
What I use at night
During that in-between stage where my son was really drinking quite a bit at night, but not necessarily being changed every time, he was quite the heavy wetter.  I spent a lot of time and money trying different things, and for a while, I really had no choice but to wake him to change his diaper.
Right now, I wash every other day and I have 4 diapers specifially for night time use.  I’m still stuffing them the same, though I really don’t need as much in them anymore.
Two of my “night time” diapers are Bumgenius 3.0s.  Initially, I had them so overstuffed that I had a leg gap that made the diaper useless if he was on his side!  Now, each one has two full size inserts with a hemp doubler in between.
The third is a combo of two of my night time diapering desperation purchases.  It’s a Dypes by Dixon Sweet Slumber fleece diaper, stuffed with a Knickernappies Superdo insert.  If you are having night time issues, I highly recommend trying a Superdo.  It’s incredibly absorbent, but much thinner than multiple inserts (still thick though!)
The last one in my night time rotation is again a purchase made during my desperate search for a night solution.  It’s a Guerilla Fluff Utilitarian fitted topped with a Mobums night night wool soaker.  My GF diaper has: 3 layers to the diaper, 2 soakers with 3 layers each, a doubler with 2 layers plus a layer of wool and optional zorb added.  That sucker is absorbent!
In the thick (har har) of things, I decided to be redundantly redundant and top even the waterproof diapers with a Kissaluvs Wool Lover soaker, and I favored fleece PJ pants also.
He may have looked a bit like a snowman, but it was worth it!  Just a few hours in a disposable diaper gives my little guy an awful rash, but I know lots of people who use a single disposable at night.  I won’t tell anyone if that’s what you decide works best for you.  😉  We won’t throw you off Fluff Island.

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Maria is an aspiring "fit mom" of 3 children, writing about cloth diapers, going green, and her life as a single mom. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development, and other services.
  • July 27, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    >I agree, I wish there was a one-size fits all wash routine!If you were using the calgon in every wash to soften your water, I would use a tiny, tiny bit. If you're using it in a single wash to strip, I'd use the recommended amount and then rinse until no suds.It might be best to plan to use it once every few weeks if the diapers get stinky. 🙂

  • July 27, 2010 at 4:57 am

    >Yes, our RnG was part of the recall. But even before the recall notice was sent out, we ended up trying a different detergent (Lulu's) b/c the rash wasn't going away or getting better. The rash happened with some samples of RnG we had gotten that weren't in the recalled batch. somedays it's just frustrating…I wish there was one wash routine to follow that would work for everyone. LoLI have some Lulu's left and am waiting on our new RnG to get here. I'm going to give em another try and will just stick with using Calgon each time…wasn't sure if it would damage the dipes as I've seen some say they only use it once in awhile.Thanks so much again! :o)

  • July 27, 2010 at 1:32 am

    >I don't measure, but I just use a dab. I'd say no more than a 1/4 cup of bleach for 15-20 inserts. I do not use any bleach on the diapers themselves. Some people do, but I've heard too many people say they damaged their PUL by bleaching the diapers one too many times!I also follow that with several extra rinsings until I don't smell any bleach!

  • July 27, 2010 at 12:56 am

    >How much bleach do you use per load?

  • July 27, 2010 at 12:45 am


  • July 26, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    >Claire: Is the rash new? Did you maky sure your RnG wasn't affected by the recall? Yes the calgon would be used each time to soften the water, so your detergent could do it's job.When I use the RLR, I do not use any detergent with it.If your washer offers the option to add extra water, use it!Hope that helps!

  • July 26, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    >Thanks for answering that first question. We have horrible ammonia stink – hard well water and a HE front loader. I still can't figure out what the issue is. I've tried a few different detergents, but can't figure out the right amount. No matter how many rinses, there are no residual bubbles so I'm going to guess that rules out too much detergent or detergent build up?My daughter gets (and has at this very moment) the most horrible red rash. 🙁 Anyway, I've been using HR RnG and just started using Calgon. so, I guess after all that rambling, my 2 questions are :(1) Is it safe/okay/should I be using Calgon for every time I wash diapers?(2) I've heard great things about RLR as well. If I get some and use it, do I still use detergent with it?Thanks so much! 🙂

  • July 26, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    >I've used bleach on my hemp inserts with no trouble.Don't tell the detergent police, but I've been using regular Tide on my diapers for a few weeks (after hearing the same thing) and it's wonderful. The stink hasn't come back. It works better than anything else I've tried.I do an extra full wash/rinse now with no detergent, to make sure it all comes out, and I only use maybe a tablespoon in my HE washer. I was worried about the scent/enzymes on his skin but it's been fine.Be careful to follow the manufacturer's instructions though if your diapers are under warranty.

  • July 26, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    >A couple of things: 1. I read on another cloth diaper blog that the only thing that would get rid of ammonia (for her, everybody's different) was to use regular old Tide detergent, even though it sounds completely backward from everything you've ever heard about cloth diapering. 2. Our nighttime diapering solution turned out to be a Bumboo Bamboo/Silk fitted diaper with the doubler and a Disana wool soaker. We live in Florida, so we just pair the Disana with a little tank or tee, and that's perfect for her at night. She's a marathon nurser, too.On a different note, does anyone know whether it's ok to use that touch of bleach on hemp inserts? Will this help with what I've come to think of as "the hemp stinkies"?

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