Category Archives: Cloth Diapering
This is a question I am asked often. “I’m going to switch to (or start with) cloth diapers and I want something that doesn’t leak. What type of cover should I get?”
Let’s start with this: Cloth diapers should not leak. If you are experiencing leaking, you are experiencing a problem. (There are, however, some situations where some wicking or dampness is normal. More on that later.)
MOST leaking can actually be traced back to the diaper, not the cover. The cover’s function is simply to provide a barrier between the wet diaper and the clothes. Once a diaper is completely saturated, or if a diaper isn’t absorbing, the extra liquid is going to have to go somewhere, and the cover can’t prevent that. So if you’re having leaking, start by looking at the diaper.
- Have you washed them? Some diaper materials and some diaper brands need to be washed 1-3 or more times before use to attain full absorbency. Check with the manufacturer of your diapers. It’s always a good idea to wash any diaper before use, just to make sure any dirt from the manufacturing and shipping process has been removed.
- Does the diaper fit right? The elastic around the legs and waist should fit snugly against baby’s skin without cutting in. Gaps will allow urine to run right out, particularly around the legs. Diapers that are too small or too big will tend to leak.
- Is the diaper completely saturated? This is an indication that it is not absorbent enough for your needs (or that you’re not changing often enough).
- Is the diaper repelling? To check, take a clean, dry diaper and pour some water on it. Does the water soak in, or does it bead up and run off? If it beads and runs off, that’s repelling. See Stripping Diapers.
- Is the cover a good cover? Covers tend to wear out more quickly than diapers, and many covers that are purchased second-hand or given as hand-me-downs are at or near the end of their life span. Old covers sometimes just leak and there’s nothing to be done. Sometimes, you can revive an older cover by giving it a good spraying with a waterproofing spray (sold in sporting goods stores for tents).
- Is it a pocket or an all in one? Try running it through the dryer. Needle holes in these diapers can open up over time, causing wicking and leaking. Drying will help seal those holes back up.
- Have you overstuffed your pocket diaper? Overstuffing can actually cause the diaper to fit very oddly – the center of the diaper will be firmly against baby’s bottom, but the leg openings will be kind of hovering just above baby’s legs. This means that urine will tend to run down the baby’s legs and out the diaper.
- And a simple thing: Is the diaper completely inside the cover?
Are you experiencing wicking or dampness? Sometimes with fleece covers, if they’re pressed into clothes or pajamas, or a tight carseat strap, can experience compression wicking. This means that there might be some dampness on the outside of the cover in these situations that is to be expected. (Note: that doesn’t mean they WILL wick in these situations. Just that they might.)
Wool covers also function slightly differently than PUL covers do. Wool WILL feel damp on the outside with a completely saturated diaper. This is how wool works – it absorbs some of the moisture from the diaper, and pulls it to the air to evaporate.
Cloth diapers SHOULD NOT leak. If your diapers are leaking… that’s a problem that needs to be solved, not something you need to learn to live with, or a reason to switch to disposables.
This is a question I get a LOT, and I’m never really sure how to answer. Yes, homemade laundry soap is awesome. And yes, some people really love it for their diapers. At least, they do at first.
Everyone’s experiences may be different, but I personally do not recommend using homemade laundry soap on your diapers. And rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m just going to send you over to a link from Little For Now that does an awesome job of discussing the issue.
Yes, much has been written on the proper care of wool covers. It’s not hard… just special.
You don’t need to wash wool with every wearing – hang it up to dry after each use, and wash once it starts to smell bad. Does your cover smell bad (once dry) after just one use? It might be less than 100% wool, or maybe your kid just has some seriously stinky pee. Consider just a quick rinse rather than a full wash.
You need a good wool soap and probably some lanolin. Good wool soap = Naturally Luxe Wool Ones Wash. Of course. Did you have to ask? In reality, though I love the NL wool wash, there are lots of other good wool washes out there. Choose something with a high lanolin content (which is why I like the NL wash), and avoid Woolite (no lanolin). For lanolin, you can use purchased lanolin (solid or liquid), or you can use the lanolin that’s sold as a nipple cream. You might even have gotten some samples during your pregnancy.
You may wash your wool by hand or in the machine on the Hand Wash cycle. (gasp) Yes, you can use your machine. Probably. If you are very familiar with your machine’s hand wash setting, and you know that it agitates only a very little and only infrequently, and that it spins gently and washes in warm with a cool rinse, you’re good. If you use your machine to wash, add the wool wash, water, and covers in whatever order you use for your other laundry, start the machine, and walk away.
If you wash by hand, fill the sink with warm water, add your wool soap (follow manufacturer instructions for amount, or be like me and just add a squirt that seems sufficient, lol), swish a bit, then add your wool. Get it completely wet, swish a bit, let it sit for a few minutes, swish again, drain. Rinse if your wool soap says to, otherwise, you don’t have to.
Poop and Stains
If you have poop on your covers, or other stains that need extra attention, take care of that by hand. Scrub gently (some people use an old toothbrush, but I’d take care if you’re scrubbing a hand-knit item) with some wool wash over the spot(s) until you get the poop out, or the stain taken care of.
Some people report a strange yellowish staining on lighter colored covers. In my reading and from what other mommies tell me, it’s probably from over-lanolizing and urine, and I am not sure there’s much you can do to remove the stain once it forms. I’ve experienced this myself on an Aristocrats soaker I purchased used – and it never did come out. It didn’t affect the cover’s use, it just looked bad.
Once your wool’s nice and clean, let it dry. If you washed it in the washer, it’s probably nice and wrung out, but might be misshapen. Gently re-shape your covers before drying them. If you washed by hand, you’ll need to squeeze some of that water out of your covers. I prefer to drain the sink and let my covers hang out in the sink for a little while to get some of the water out without any effort on my part. Then pick them up one by one, squeeze gently, and wrap in a towel. Stand on the towel to really squeeze out the extra water. Repeat with each cover.
If you’ve got wool covers that won’t stretch out of shape, hanging them to dry works just fine. You can hang them on a line, obviously, or drape them over the furniture. You can also lay them flat to dry, if you happen to have a sweater drying rack. I sometimes lay my wool covers on top of the dryer if I have other laundry to dry that day. My favorite is laying wool covers on the radiators to dry, and I’m not sure why I like it so much. Something about walking through the house and seeing diaper covers drying on my radiators just makes my heart warm. Most people have forced air heat these days, though, and so, sadly, are lacking beautiful 100 year old radiators on which to dry their wool. Take a moment to feel sad about that…. OK, let’s move on.
You MIGHT be able to machine dry your wool covers, too. (gasp.) I’ve had no problems using the Low or Air Only settings on my dryer with wraps – I have never tried it with hand knits.
Every so often, you might need to lanolize your covers. I rarely lanolize since switching to the Naturally Luxe Wool Ones Wash. How do you know you need to lanolize? When your wool just doesn’t seem to be performing like it should. Lanolin helps make the covers waterproof, so if they’re seeping, you probably need to lanolize.
Fill your sink with warmish water. Get your covers completely wet. Remove them from the sink. If you’re using solid lanolin, melt it in a small amount of hot water, then add it to the water in the sink. If you’re using liquid lanolin, just squirt some in the sink. Swish it around a bit, then put your covers back in and swish them around. Let soak for a few hours. Drain and follow drying instructions above.
Sticky Covers or Sticky Patches
Sometimes, you’ll notice that your wool is sticky or has sticky patches, or even whitish sticky patches. That’s either too much lanolin, or lanolin that got solid again before really soaking into your covers. Use slightly warmer water to soak in next time, and if you think you used too much lanolin altogether, use less next time. In the meantime, it’ll wear off and is not a terribly big deal.
Um… My wool is still seeping
There are several reasons this might happen. (Note: Only number 1 should ever happen with Wallypop Woolies.)
1. You just need more lanolin
2. You’re using hand knits (or, I guess, a machine knit) that’s too loose
3. The wool content in your cover is too low
4. There is not enough absorbency in your diaper
Sometimes, dark colored covers will bleed dye onto the diapers underneath. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. Bizarrely, it seems to happen more with boys than girls. Usually, the dye used on wool really only adheres to wool and silk fibers, and washes right out of cotton, so throw the diaper in the wash like usual and the dye should come out, if not in the first wash, then over time. You can find instructions at various places online for setting the dye in wool covers – generally, these involve a mixture of water and vinegar, the microwave, and the strict instructions to NOT SHOCK YOUR WOOL (by moving it from very hot to very cold).
Yes, it’s doable.
Here was our situation: Family trip (as in, us with DH’s parents and sibs). Cruise ship. No laundry facilities. (Obviously I did not choose the ship.) Genna is pretty much 100% potty trained at home, but she does not always tell us if she needs to pee when we’re not home. Additionally, she will often say “no” in response to “do you need to pee” when what she means is “yes, but I’m busy right now.” And she has a tendency to wait to tell us she needs to pee when she’s got approx. 8 seconds to get to the toilet. She’s dry overnight if she’s sleeping well, but has a tendency to pee in her sleep on nights when she’s restless. So – I had no idea what to expect on this trip from her.
We decided to take flat diapers, since they would wash the easiest and dry the fastest, not to mention that they pack so compactly. I also took several pairs of training pants because those would be easier on the travel days than trying to deal with a diaper and cover in the airplane bathroom. We also decided that we would throw away any poopy diapers, rather than trying to get them clean by hand washing in water of unknown temperature. (I wasn’t sure how hot the water on the boat would get.) I packed enough diapers for two days of full-time diapering, in addition to wipes and a few covers.
I hand-washed wet diapers and training pants in the sink in our bathroom – one at a time – every time we had one in need of washing. I rinsed them out under running cold water, then let them soak in hot soapy water for a few minutes before agitating with my hands for several minutes. I rinsed in hot water, then cold water, until I didn’t see any more bubbles. We hung them to dry using clothes pins and skirt hangers. The bathroom was too humid, so I actually hung them out on our cabin’s deck. Our cabin mates (my MIL, FIL, MIL’s aunt, and MIL’s friend) were not super impressed by this, but *shrug.* There were a few days when we had oily soot from the ship’s smokestacks covering everything on the deck, and on those days, I hung diapers in the closet or in front of the window from the curtain rod. I brought clothesline, but was reluctant to just string it up somewhere.
We didn’t have too many diapers to deal with, fortunately, but I think our system would have still worked out just fine even if she was in dipes full-time. Flats are not hard to wash by hand, they rinse clean fairly easily, and they dry fast.
I used flats that I made from birdseye fabric, in addition to some that I bought on clearance a little while back. We used some liquid laundry soap that I had sitting around the laundry room from our last trip last summer. It was probably Costco brand.
yes, we could have just switched to disposables. but I didn’t want to. (And Genna got a horrible rash the one time she wore a disposable.) Had we been using disposables, I would have had to devote a lot more suitcase room to diapers, since I would have needed to pack enough to last the whole 12 days we were gone. And I would have had to worry about running out! And I’m honestly not sure what I would have done with them on the ship. They don’t have plastic liner bags in the garbage cans, and I wouldn’t have wanted to smell dirty disposable diapers all day, either.
As it turns out, using cloth was not a big deal. It didn’t take up much time. It was no more effort than using cloth at home. It was not a big deal.
And how adorable are these sets? Yes, super adorable. The tops have all been tie dyed by me, and the diapers are all Wallypop diapers – most fitteds, some are AIOs, and the purple Minkee one is just a cover.
The fitted diaper/shirt ensembles will be listed over at Etsy for about $20, the shirt/AIO ensemble will be $22, and the gown/cover set will also be $22. If you are interested in any of these before I go to the time, trouble, and expense of listing at Etsy, you will receive $2 off – just shoot me an email!
Size newborn cardinal and gold shirt and Cyclone size small fitted diaper. This one’s already over at Etsy.
It’s that time again! We are proud to announce our sponsorship of the Eleventh semi-annual Great Cloth Diaper Hunt™!
Join us for fun and frivolity as we search for diapers, chat with other hunters and compete for some awesome prizes!
How does the GCDH work? It’s simple! You register at http://www.diaperdecisions.com/pages/greatclothdiaperhunt.php on or after October 15, 20010. Then you visit all the participating sponsor sites and hunt for the Diaper Decisions™ diaper to earn entries to the 90 random prize drawings, including Two Grand Prizes and one Ultimate Grand Prize!
For more details about this great event, please visit the Rules and FAQ pages at http://www.diaperdecisions.com/pages/greatclothdiaperhunt.php. See you at the hunt!
I was sewing fitted diapers this week for a few orders and for inventory, and decided to go ahead and sew up a dozen new dipes for Genna, too. It’s not like she needs new diapers… but, you know, she’s been in the size Mediums since she was about 5 months old, and that was about 19 months ago. 19 months of looking at the same diapers… I was just ready for some new stuff.
I also made her a Luther Norse diaper from a Tshirt that my friend Abby picked up at a garage sale. My husband went to Luther, and the Tshirt was in a size that neither of us could wear, so of course it’s now a diaper!
I do have one more Luther Norse Tshirt that I can make into either a diaper or a MT style carrier for anyone who wants it – I know there are tons of Lutherites hiding out there!
The WOW Liquid, liquid lanolin, and Spray Lanolin wool care products we carry from Naturally Luxe are our favorite wool care products, and we’re sure they’ll be yours, too. Trust me, I tried many, many brands of wool wash before discovering Naturally Luxe’s awesomeness. Why, you might ask, are they so awesome? OK, I’ll tell you.
1. Absolutely YUMMY scents. Spiced Plum! Summer Fling! Mango Lassi. Black Raspberry and Vanilla. Sandalwood Vanilla. Yuzu. yum yum yum yum yum.
2. Easy to Use. The Liquid wool wash (WOW) is super easy to use – just throw a bit of it in with the wash water, swish, and drain. No rinsing required. Easy peasy. Lanolin Spray doesn’t even require a sink full of water, and the liquid lanolin is so much easier than melting solid lanolin when you need heavy-duty lanolizing.
3. Organic Oils.
4. Handmade. Many other brands of wool care products are made in a factory somewhere. Naturally Luxe is made by Whitney, the owner of Naturally Luxe. (And at Wallypop, we like things that are made by PEOPLE.)
5. High lanolin content. The WOW is 50% pure organically sourced lanolin. It’s not a full lanolizing process, but it really stretches out how often you do need to completely re-lanolize your wool.
Of course, most of us attribute holes in diapers to wear. Fabric eventually wears out and develops holes. Natural fibers can only take so much abuse – the fibers lose bits of their bulk in every laundry cycle, and those fibers eventually just give up the ghost.
But not all holes are from wear.
Not washing your diapers often enough can cause holes. Did you know that?
The picture above is a pair of training pants. Genna pooped in them about 2 weeks ago. I shook out the poop, but there was still obviously residue. And then they got thrown in a wet bag that I forgot about. (This is the problem with having multiple wet bags and not being curious enough about their whereabouts when they’re not in the drawer.)
Three or so weeks later, I found them. A bit moldy. Eww, right?
So I washed them and was surprised to find these holes. The fabric at the edges of the holes is kind of brittle. The stuff that grows on our waste can eat through natural fibers.
(also notable: these are Gerber trainers. the exposed white stuff there? polyfill. nonabsorbent.)
Moral to the story: washing diapers frequently is IMPORTANT. 3 days, max.