If you speak to a cloth diapering convert, you’ll likely hear glowing reviews regarding financial savings, earth care, and benefits to the health and comfort of children. Cloth diapers provide an effective and efficient alternative to disposables, and can even make the diapering experience a pleasant one!
Yet, even with the best reviews and the almost endless list of positive points, there are some issues which can appear within your diapering days. Taking a few simple steps of thought and preparation will enable you to deal with these easily if they appear, or to avoid them altogether.
One issue that can catch parents by surprise is a lingering odor on newly laundered diapers. It doesn’t seem to make sense! Solids have been discarded, soap has been added, what’s the problem? Most often, diapers holding an odor simple need to be ‘stripped’. Perhaps some diaper cream was used, or perhaps diapers sat too long before washing, maybe the load was larger or the contents more acrid than usual. Whatever the reason, there is a simple solution. In our home, we intentionally do a stripping wash about every two weeks. We add some baking soda and vinegar to the first cold rinse*, and then wash with a bit of extra soap in hot water and let them run for a bit of a longer cycle than usual. This seems to meet the needs of our collection of pockets, all-in-one, and prefolds, and leaves them fresh and without any offensive scent at all.
What about stains? It really can’t be possible to use fabric for months on end without some stains and discoloration…right? Well actually, it is possible! We first noticed an issue with staining on a prolonged trip away from home. We had added in some colorful foods (blackberry season!) and were laundering our dipes in a new washer and dryer system. I was displeased to notice stains and marks, and even contemplated bleach. However, upon arriving home I hung all the dipes on the line in full sun. Within hours, every mark had been bleached out by the sun and the diapers looked as white and fresh as their first day of use! Moral of the story? Whenever possible, use a clothes line and get those diapers out into the sun!
The above issue and tip fits perfectly into this next one: the loss of waterproof lining, leading to leaks. While some diapering options don’t come with the PUL inner coating (wool covers, for example), most pocket and all-in-one models do. Last spring, I purchased a couple gorgeous new diapers from our favorite pocket model. We had just moved into a new home with a brand new washer and dryer, and hadn’t had a need for the dryer yet. But, one rainy afternoon I tossed the load in and opened it up to diapers that were much too hot! The waterproof lining of my beautiful new diaper had melted away and I was left with a leaker! I was so disappointed! Moral of the story? Again, line dry whenever possible. Not only does it deal with the stains, it prolongs the life of your diapers. Secondly, if you must use your dryer, be sure it’s set on a low to medium setting and not on high.
With proper care and use, cloth diapers can last through several years and just as many wearers. Be aware of your laundering methods, what fibers and fabrics you’re working with, and what natural care options are available to you for your climate and season. Enjoy your cloth diapering experience!
* check your diaper manufacturer warranty before using any additives such as vinegar, bleach or baking soda.