Tuesday, February 5, 2013

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Eeeek! My diapers are Repelling!

So, you think your diapers are repelling? Well, let’s pause for a minute and take a look at the facts.

What is Repelling? Repelling is the term used to describe a cloth diaper that has become water repellant and no longer properly absorbs liquid. A diaper that is truly repelling will be properly fit to your baby. The diaper will leak, however the insert will be nearly dry.

Can I test my diapers to see if they are Repelling? The only way to really know if your diapers are repelling is to use them. Dropping water on the diapers when they are not in use is not an effective way to test for repelling. Some fibers used in cloth diapers require the pressure of baby’s bottom to allow for proper absorption.

What causes Repelling? Repelling can be caused by many things including the following. There are other possibilities that can add to or cause your diapers to repel, but this list covers the main problems.

  • Using too much laundry detergent that allows for detergent to build up and leave residue on the diaper
  • Not using enough laundry detergent to clean the diapers properly.
  • Using laundry detergents that contain perfumes, dyes, softeners, whiteners or brighteners, enzymes, or other fabric enhancers. These ingredients can leave a residue on your diapers that can cause repelling.
  • Using diaper creams that are not approved for cloth diapers, or not using a liner when you do use non cloth diaper safe rash creams.
  • HE (high efficiency) washing machines that only use a small amount of water might not be able to properly rinse the diapers to remove any residue.
  • Washing diapers that haven’t been completely rinsed of the poo.
  • The water in your home is extremely hard or soft. Hard water can leave a build up of residue on your diaper. Extremely soft water, on the other hand, may not be able to rinse the diapers properly, causing build up.
How do I stop my diapers from Repelling liquid? Well, unfortunately, there is no perfect answer to this question. Every situation is different, and depending on the underlying cause, the solutions may differ. You will hear a lot of veteran cloth diaper mama’s referring to ‘stripping’ their diapers. This is when you switch up your normal wash cycle to either prevent your diapers from repelling or to fix diapers that are already repelling. Here is a list of things that you can do to strip your diapers:

  • Try switching up the amount of detergent you are using. Use less detergent and more water in your wash cycles. One exception to this is if your diapers are coming out of the dryer still stinky, you may need to use more detergent to better clean the diapers.
  • Use a product specifically made for stripping diapers. RLR Laundry Treatment is a popular choice to strip diapers. Kelly’s Closet sells RLR in small packets and all you have to do is add the RLR into your hot wash cycle to deep clean your diapers!
  • Dawn Dish Soap (the original Blue kind) works wonders at removing detergent buildup. Try adding one teaspoon (for high efficiency machines) to one tablespoon (for regular machines) to your hot water wash cycle.
  • Add an extra rinse cycle or two. Sometimes the biggest problem with repellant diapers is that not all of the detergent is rinsed off of the diapers. The best way to know if you need an extra rinse is to peak into the washer to check for soap bubbles. If there are lots of bubbles, you probably need an extra rinse.
  • If the buildup on your diaper is really tough, it may help to gently scrub the insides of your diapers a bit with a soft tooth brush while they are wet and soapy.
Remember, every situation of repelling diapers is different, so you may have to try a few of the tips listed above. If you still have problems with your diapers after stripping them, contact the manufacturer for advice. Happy washing and happy stripping! (That is, diaper stripping!)

(It is always recommended that you follow washing guidelines specified on your cloth diaper warranties as well as the usage guidelines in your washing machine warranty.)


Bio: Tara Yousef lives in Michigan with her wonderful husband, silly 17-month old son, and sleepy 2 week old daughter. She enjoys cloth diapering, baking, crafting and everything in between!

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