Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fluff Talk Thursday #9

Got Stink?

If you use cloth diapers, chances are you’ve encountered a stubborn odor at some point. If you don’t use cloth diapers, chances are the reason why is for fear of extra laundry and a stubborn odor. If either of these definitions describes you, you’ll want to read on!

Stinky diapers can be caused by a multitude of things. This is one reason why the stinking problem can be so overwhelming – no pun intended! Stink can be caused from letting your diapers sit too long before washing, washing without using enough detergent, washing using too much detergent (yep, you read that right) or even by things you can’t really change such as the type of washing machine you use or even where you live! So what is a mum supposed to do? If you’ve been bitten by the stink bug you need to don your scientist’s hat and let the experiments begin!

When performing science experiments, it is necessary to only change one thing at time. Think about it, if you changed 5 things and suddenly your diapers didn’t smell anymore, you wouldn’t know what change brought about the good smelling diapers. So, with that in mind, let’s start with the most inexpensive solutions first.

1. Check detergent ingredients. Laundry detergent manufacturers are not required by law to list all the ingredients in their laundry formulas. In addition, detergent “recipes” change frequently – what works for you today may not work next week. Most cloth diaper manufacturers agree that the following ingredients should NOT be found in the detergent you use to wash your cloth diapers: optical brighteners, fabric softeners, fragrances, dyes, enzymes and bleach. The problem with ingredient lists is that they often speak a scientific language. For example, do you know what coco-betaine is? Sounds like a yummy chocolate dessert to me! You can find a list of commonly found ingredients and their definitions here to help you in the search for the perfect detergent for your family. Also, the Diaper Jungle has a helpful detergent chart to get you set in the right direction.

2. Rinse completely. Regardless of the type of detergent, type of water, or the style of diaper you are using, you must look at the final rinse water to be sure there are no suds present. If there are any bubbles in the final rinse, RINSE AGAIN! Rinse until the water runs clear and free from any visible signs of detergent.

3. Find the perfect amount of detergent. How much are you using? Read the directions on your detergent bottle/box carefully as well as the manufacturer’s care instructions. Most manufacturers recommend only using ¼ to ½ the amount recommended on the detergent’s box. If you’re using an HE machine, this may be a bit tricky to discern. To start, try adding about half again as much detergent the next time you wash. Refer to troubleshooting step #1. If your dipes smell good (which really means no smell because you are using a detergent without fragrances, right?) when they come out of the wash but then stink when your baby wets them, it might be time to strip them – more on that later. If you have to rinse your diapers multiple times to get the soap out, you likely need to try adding a little less soap.

4. Find out what kind of water you have. If you have untreated hard water, you may have invisible deposits of minerals on your diapers. This residue can cause repelling and odor issues. If you suspect hard water, try softening your wash and rinse water with a water softener like Calgon. (Hard water can be “diagnosed” by observing mineral deposits around shower heads and faucet openings.)

5. Disinfect. If your child has recently had a bacterial or viral infection, especially of the tummy-kind, you may need to search out a way to disinfect your diapers. Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) is a favorite because of its natural antibacterial and antiviral properties. It is oil-free so it doesn’t clog the fabrics of your diapers, but in some water types it can leave a residue. A second choice would be Tea Tree Oil (TTO) for the same reasons as the GSE, however, it is an oil and should be used quite sparingly. I recommend diluting 1-3 drops of it in an 8 oz. glass and mixing well, then adding it to your wash. A double final rinse would be wise when using TTO to be sure it is truly gone from the diapers.

6. If all else fails, time to strip your diapers. Start with clean diapers. They do not have to be dry, but they do need to be clean. *If you have a front loading washer, consider adding a bucket of hot water (or a towel soaked in hot water) to the diapers before starting the cycle. This will keep the diapers from absorbing the wee bit of water your machine will attempt to use to wash them with and it will weigh the load down a bit. The weight of the additional water tricks some machines into believing they need to add more water to the wash.

a. Step 1. Hot wash, NO detergent.*
b. Step 2. Hot rinse.* Hot rinse.* Hot rinse.* Until all suds are gone.
c. Step 3. Line dry in the sunshine.

Blue Dawn dish soap has been used by many a mum for stripping diapers. It can be scrubbed directly into the diapers for stubborn residue removal (like zinc oxide from an accidental bum rash treatment). Owners of top loading washers are also able to squirt Dawn directly into the wash water and proceed to wash their diapers in the solution. Front loader owners must exercise extreme caution as using an unapproved HE detergent in their washer can not only ruin their machine, but also void the machine’s warranty.

About the author:

Sherrie chooses cloth for her family in Little Rock, Arkansas where she owns and operates Itty Bitty Baby Bunz – a natural parenting business focused on cloth diapers and accessories, child carrying wraps, and breastfeeding supplies.

**Although best efforts have been made to share accurate information, the information contained in this article is put forth without warranty, either expressed or implied. The article’s author cannot be held liable for any damages, direct or indirect, as a result of this information. Please use your own discretion when taking any action based on the information contained herein and always consult with your diaper manufacturer for their recommendations and warranty policies regarding the washing and care of their products.

Your Assignment For Today:

Grab my Fluff Talk Thursday Banner (can be found at the tail end of my blog), write about how you keep the stink away! Then come back and link up your post.

For those of you who don't have any tricks for keeping your diapers smell free...
Link us up to any Cloth Diaper giveaways you may be hosting (or know about) or maybe an old post you wrote on cloth diapering.

Next Week November 19th

Our Topic is:

"Sew Your Own Stash"

Our special guest writer will be Chari from "Take Time To Smell The Rose" blog. She will be giving you tips and tricks on sewing your own fabulous diapers at home.

Your Assignment:

Grab my Fluff Talk Thursday Banner (can be found at the tail end of my blog), write about any experience you may have with sewing your own cloth diapers. Feel free to share pictures of your diapers as we would all love to see them.
Then come back and link up your post on November 19th for all to read.

For those of you who have not tried sewing your own diapers,
Link us up to any Cloth Diaper giveaways you may be hosting (or know about) or maybe an old post you wrote on cloth diapering.

To see last the Fluff Talk Thursday Post click here.
Instructions for Fluff Talk Thursdays, click here.

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Nifty Nappy said...

These are all great ideas for getting smells out! I blogged about making your own detergents! -this way you know what is in them!

Amy said...

I blogged about my own trial and error with the stink battle. Biggest help for me - using natural fibers for inserts!

Chari said...

Thanks Sherrie for such an informative post! I appreciate you adding your suggestion to just change one thing at a time. I have read so many other diapers sites about this long list of things to do to get stink out, but this makes more sense to change one thing at a time.

Yara said...

My dipes never stink... but I did have to strip once (just once, in three years) because of build up. At least, I thought maybe I might be getting build up. Maybe my baby just peed a lot that week. Either way, I stripped and we've been fine again ever since : D
I can't wait for next week. I may go sew just for this post!

Emi said...

I have never had a significant stink problem and have never had to strip my diapers. I avoid stink by sticking to the best CD safe detergents (for hard water and front loaders) and try my best to find a perfect balance of water and detergent. Seems to be working pretty well!

I have had the best luck and my diapers have smelled the freshest with detergents made specifically for cloth diapers and/or made of natural ingredients i.e. Maggie's Soapnuts liquid). I wash every 2 days and make sure my diapers are disinfected. I find it the easiest to use a detergent that also disinfect (i.e. Thirsties).

And just out of curiosity, is Calgon CD-safe? We have very hard water where I live, and although I have never had any issues or had to strip, I am curious about it. Do people notice a significant difference in their laundry using it? :-)

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