Monday, August 22, 2011

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Hard Water Heartache

I started cloth diapering my daughter when she was about six weeks old. My husband and I researched, and I talked to a friend of mine that I knew was using cloth diapers. We decided on BumGenius 4.0's and ordered twelve of them. After two days I knew that I loved them and ordered a ton more diapers. This time I decided to get a variety. I suddenly wanted to try every single diaper out there.

Things were going along great for about four weeks, then one day I pulled my diapers out of the drier and they smelled funny. I just thought maybe I put too many diapers in the wash. After about a week they kept getting worse. That's when I started Googling. What was going on with my diapers?

I tried a bunch of different detergents. The top of my drier looks like the laundry aisle at the grocery store. There are six different types of detergent; all half used sadly sitting there. People were talking about hard water and how that can interfere with your diapers getting clean. On top of that my brand new high efficiency washing machine probably wasn't putting enough water in the machine to get the diapers clean enough. I was on a mission to figure this laundry thing out though. I was not going back to disposables.

I called the water company and found out that I have super hard water. Hard water and not enough water were causing my diaper problem. I spent the next three weeks trying every trick I had read on the internet to get these diapers smelling good again. I stripped them and set off to get clean smelling diapers. Stacy from the DiaperShops.com Facebook page posted a great tip to trick my machine into putting more water in the wash cycle. I use the soak option on the machine and after it fills up with water, I turn the wash cycle on.

The machine drains the water out but all of the diapers are soaked and therefore much heavier. High efficiency machines sense how much laundry is in the machine by how heavy it is. The soaking wet diapers tricked it into putting more water in the machine. This helped so much.

After making this adjustment and using Tide Original with Calgon my diapers were finally coming out smelling good. Then after a few weeks the microfiber started to smell again. All of my cotton and hemp smelled fine though. More and more research led me to the microfiber issues with stink. Microfiber is more likely to have problems with detergent build-up which can lead to smelly diapers. I stripped them all again as suggested by the manufacturers, but decided that I'm not up for stripping my diapers every three weeks for the next two years. I'm replacing all of the microfiber with natural fibers like cotton, bamboo and hemp. This is going to cost me a little more, but it's going to save me time. As a working mother with two kids, time is like gold in this house.

The bottom line is that hard water can definitely trip you up while cloth diapering, but it doesn't make it impossible.

My exact wash routine is as follows:

1. Start the soak (cold water), let the machine fill with water then turn it off.
2. Start a regular wash (cold water) with a tablespoon of Tide Original and ½ cap full of Calgon.
3. I try to catch the machine before it spins and turn it off. Then start a heavy duty cycle (hot water) with Tide Original filled up to the #1 line and a ½ cap full of Calgon. If I don't catch it before the spin cycle I do step one again.
4. Two extra rinses. My machine only allows for a warm rinse or cold so I use warm.

Bio: I am a working mother of two. Aiden is two and a half and Meghan is 4 months old. I also have a wondful supportive husband named Mike. Basically, I think that I have the perfect family.

10 comments:

Denae said...

I have been using BG 4.0s for about 2 months with no funk. Knowing I have hard water I started out using Rockin' Green Hard Rock detergent. I swear by the stuff. We have no issues all because of RG.

Braylon & Porter said...

I am new to cloth diapering, literally just got our diapers in the mail today! I have a 3 year old, fully potty trained, an almost 2 year old that in a month will begin potty training and we are expeciting our third in December. I have read so much information about cloth diapering and everything I read says that you shouldn't use Tide when washing cloth diapers. I am a little confused by this post, is it ok to use Tide?

lisa said...

i have only used Rockin Green also on my cloth diapers with no problems. after a change, i rinse the inserts & hang them. when i start a load i run it on a short wash with little/no spin then start the extra sanitary cycle everything is wet/weighs more. hope this helps.

Carolyn said...

I love that you're addressing hard water and admitting to using Tide! So many of the recommended laundry routines are geared for people with soft water, and if the problem is that your water is HARD, those recommendations are only going to make your problems WORSE! (The LAST thing you should do with hard water is use LESS detergent! That's only for soft water! Even the Charlies Soap website says to use extra soap for hard water. I read almost 200 pages about detergent in the diaperswappers.com forums before figuring out a routine that made my prefolds soft again, instead of crunchy from mineral buildup). I've come to believe that water hardness is SUCH an important part of washing diapers that so few people are aware of, so kudos to you for bringing it up!

Jennie said...

We had the same problem after moving in May of this year. My solution works though, without having to replace my stash..... added an extra rinse at the end of the cycle, and use a scoop of Sun Oxygen powder with the detergent at the beginning. No problems, and I am loving line drying in this weather!

Kayz Kreations said...

I have also heard that for front load HE machines you can trick them by putting in a soaking wet bath towel at the begining to add more weight...we have SUPER HARD water in CO and it takes it's toll on all our laundry..takes some getting used to for sure.

Sarah said...

I also have dealt with hard water issues. I switched to RnG Hard Rock, too, and haven't had any problems. The other things that I do that really help with the funk are a wet pail with vinegar water for my inserts (I know it's an extra hassle, but it has saved me so much trouble!) and I add extra water to my cold cycle by pouring it in through the detergent port. Just a different way of "tricking" the machine. :)

beth said...

What inserts do you use now with your BG pocket diapers? I'm having the same problem with the hard water and wondering what inserts I should get to replace the microfiber?

J to the Ill said...

Calgon is SO expensive. Has anyone had any luck with an HE and hard water without having to burn through a cup every other day?

J to the Ill said...

Calgon is SO expensive. Has anyone had any luck with an HE and hard water without having to burn through a cup every other day?