Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Don't fall over: I'm blogging again!

I am sitting in the car in my driveway with the engine running, surfing the internet on the laptop because D is asleep in the back and there's not enough time to take him inside for a nap before The Little Gym, but I want him to get as much sleep as possible. I'm curious what the neighbors think.

I wouldn't have been here at all except that a potential host family I spoke with last night asked me to call this morning between 8 and noon. I agreed without thinking about how busy my morning was going to be: drop off Z at school, go to the chiropractor, The Little Gym with D, get some groceries, fit lunch in there somewhere, and pick up Z by 12:30. Crazy! So when D fell asleep I figured I could make the phone call from the car using the laptop because our router is in the front room and we can get internet from the front yard and driveway. I felt rather clever :-) Of course, the guy didn't answer the phone. All that effort to have the materials, the computer to take notes, the sleeping baby who wouldn't interrupt, and no one answers the phone! I left a message, but, honestly, how many of you return sales calls? Yeah, me either.

As it turns out, it's a good thing I came home real quick instead of heading straight to the grocery story or another errand. Apparently it's "that time of the month", early, and without warning. Ugh. Starting back up after baby is the worst. Everything's off-schedule and completely unpredictable. I guess it explains the mood swings earlier this week (Sorry C!).

You didn't really want to know about that, did you?

Let's see, what else? We're enjoying our house very much, though half the bedrooms are being used as storage and we don't have much more livable space than we had in the apartment. It'll be so nice when everything is finally in its place! As soon as we figure out where those places are... We still haven't painted everything we want to paint: the kids' bedrooms, our bathroom, and we've discovered we need to paint the wall near the eating table with something washable (can you imagine??).

If you're wondering about the outcome of my diaper stripping experiment, I was thinking I'd put it in its own post when I had something definitive, but since I'm here I might as well talk about it before I forget what's going on. So I soaked the covers in water and dish soap for 1/2 a day (because we're busy, not because I thought it needed that much time) and then rinsed about 3-4 times (so that's actually 6-8 rinses because I have that "extra rinse" option on the machine), until there were no more bubbles that I could see, then tumble dried on low. Then I didn't think about what I was doing and put all the covers in the basket on the changing table, mixing together the ones I had stripped with the ones that hadn't (it's absolutely impossible to get every single article belonging to a child clean, because they're always using/wearing/playing with at least one or 5). So now I have no idea which ones were stripped and which ones weren't. Some of them are still leaking and some of them aren't, but they weren't all leaking to begin with, so I kinda feel like I'm back to square one except I don't want to strip them all because some of them don't need it. Does your head hurt yet? I explained some of this to Curtis and we traced all the problems back to the covers/pockets I bought off Craigslist. After we had bought them we discovered that 1) we didn't get much of a discount from new 2) all the elastic was shot because 3) they had been stored in the garage. I wish we had just bought new. I probably wouldn't be having all these troubles. So, anyway, that's where I am with those. And Kate - I did get your message about CD and just haven't sat down to write a book back! ;-)

Okay, it's about time for me to head off to our class. Thanks for killing some time with me :-)

graphic signature

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Washing Cloth Diapers

I know I haven't been blogging much, and this really isn't an amazing post to convince any readers to come back, but I'm experimenting and need some place to record what's going on.

The problem: Daniel's cloth diaper covers are retaining odors and not keeping his clothes dry (it's not so much leakage around the sides as that the waterproof barrier is failing).

Probable cause: detergent buildup.

Discussion: I already use very little detergent on the covers, but I'm not sure that it's getting all rinsed out in my high efficiency (HE) front loader (FL). For those familiar with HE FLs, you know that their whole reason for existence is to use less water. This is fine in almost all circumstances, unless you're trying to wash cloth diapers (and, for the record, I'm not talking about prefolds - those I have no trouble with. It's the pockets/covers that have the problems).

Let me run through my normal wash routine real quick (again, for pockets/covers):
  1. Cold rinse, no spin (this means they're good and wet for the next cycle = more water)
  2. Warm wash on delicate (read somewhere that delicate cycles use more water; also, hot water not hot enough to sanitize and is harsher on materials, warm is sufficient), medium spin (no particular reason, not sure what's better), extra rinse on cold
  3. Rinse/spin with extra rinse, cold.
  4. If bubbles are visible, another rinse/spin with extra rinse, cold.
  5. Tumble dry low (if sun is out I'll lay them out in the grass and am looking forward to a laundry line!!)

Steps taken to solve the problem: I add a sopping wet towel to the load to trick the machine into adding more water. I don't know if it's working or not, but it makes me feel better. I did manage to get the odors out by adding baking soda to the wash and vinegar to the rinse. Info I found online said to add 1/4 cup of each. When I went to add the baking soda, 1/4 cup looked like waaaay too much, so I only added about 1/2 of my scoop (for the math-impaired, that would be 1/8 cup). I did add the full 1/4 cup of vinegar. By the way, I love having a spot for fabric softener because it makes adding anything to the rinse so much easier!! The machine I had at the apartment didn't even have a spot for bleach, let alone fabric softener. Note: if your machine does not have these nifty compartments, you can use a Downy ball to add vinegar or fabric softener to the rinse. Haven't tried it myself, but I read that somewhere and thought I should include here.

So now the covers don't smell as soon as D takes care of business, but they're really failing in the waterproof department.

Today's experiment: stripping the diapers. The purpose of stripping is to remove detergent or urine buildup. (In my case, since my covers smell clean when they come out of the wash, I know it's not a urine buildup problem.) According to the mighty internet, there are several products on the market that can be used for this purpose. I have had success in the past with dish soap. Most CDing (cloth diapering) mommas would have said "Dawn" instead of "dish soap" in that last sentence, but I have not found any definitive explanation on why that particular brand. If you know, please fill me in! All I could glean was that you need to use plain soap, without any moisturizers or other additives because they'll just make the problem worse.

How to strip diapers: First, your diapers need to be clean, so wash them as usual first. They don't need to be dry, or even spun out, just clean. Then, wash again without any other detergent and add dish soap (just a couple drops!!) to the wash cycle, then rinse, rinse, rinse, and rinse some more until there are no more bubbles. The last time I stripped the covers, I was using a TL (the one without any extra bells and whistles) and it took 5 rinses on a medium load setting. This time, I have a HE FL. Some things I read online said not to put dish soap in your FL, especially if it's HE. Others have used it to strip diapers without any trouble. I'm actually rather torn on this one. As I type, the covers on their wash cycle, so I haven't stripped them yet. I'm thinking I shouldn't put dish soap in the washer, at least not yet. So I'm going to follow the alternative method: soak the covers in the sink with dish soap for 30-40 minutes, then throw in the machine and rinse, rinse, rinse, and rinse some more until there are no more bubbles.

In case you're wondering, whenever I say "I read online", I mean that I typed some search string into Google and clicked a few links to blogs, forums, detergent companies' websites, CD manufacturers' websites, and who know what else. I cannot tell you where I got a specific piece of information. If you're looking for answers to similar questions I hope this has helped, and if you have a tip to share, please leave a comment!! I will say that one of my favorite places to ask questions are in the forums on, but I do a lot of other searches to try to get as much info as possible. Washing cloth diapers is a pretty broad topic because there are so many different brands and types of diapers, brands and types of detergent (incl. homemade), various additives (baking soda/vinegar, tea tree oil, etc.) and washing machines. So glean what you can from as many sources as you want and put together your own system that works for you.

As I said, this is where I'm recording my notes, so I'll put this post up and will hopefully make time to write a follow-up post when this experiment is done! Thanks for bearing with me :-)

graphic signature