Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wetpail or Drypail? What worked for me.

Retailer Contributed Article by Earth Angels Diaper Co.

This is the story of how I ended up beating the infamous cloth diaper odor issues that plague us all and what worked for me.

Cloth diapering twins was going well for me in the beginning.  At first I didn't have enough diapers to get me through the day so in order to make it I was having to wash the diapers practically right off their bums.  I realize this was a huge waste of water and energy but I was addicted to seeing my little guys in their diapers and I was determined to make cloth diapering work for us full time.

In hindsight I wonder if the fact that the diapers were not sitting at all in a diaper pail or wetbag may have been the reason that we had no odor issues at that time but I can't know for sure.

As my stash slowly grew, primarily pocket diapers and microfiber inserts, I began having the option of whether I wanted to wash every day or every other day, and if I was really feeling like a slacker and they hadn't used all their diapers up then I could even try to go another day without washing.

Our diaper pail was the inside shell of an aluminum pop-top kitchen size garbage can, it had a handle and worked great for for a diaper pail.  Generally I'd keep it in our utility room within our garage and often the strong ammonia odor was "out of sight out of mind" until laundry day.

As you can imagine with the amount of dirty diapers I had to wash with twins and going more than one day, there were a lot to wash and it wasn't long before the dreaded stinkies arrived.  At first I thought, "hmmm that's a weird pee like smell on my clean diapers" and it wouldn't really be noticeable until the diaper was on the babies and began to heat up with their body temp.  It was pretty embarrassing but I started to think maybe it was just normal with cloth diapers because I really didn't know what to expect.

I started troubleshooting.  I read about the magical blue Dawn Dish Soap, the controversial Bac-Out Odor Eliminator, all the various ways to strip diapers, I even read about using your dishwasher to wash them!  I do not recommend that (the dishwasher method), nor did I try it, but it was just an example of the hundreds of methods out there and all the things that we cloth diapering moms have tried to do in order to kill that terrible odor that makes you want to give up cloth diapers all together.  At least I was not alone, I thought to myself.

The most obvious thing to me was that perhaps I was washing way too many diapers at once and they were not washing clean enough?  So I started washing less diapers at a time.  The odor remained.  Then I bought the blue Dawn Dish Soap and tried that, no luck.  Next I wanted to try Bac-Out but couldn't find a local retailer.

Finally, at the end of my rope, tired of being embarrassed when people would hold my sons and smell that funky odor, I decided to go driving around town in search of Bac-Out.  The best I could find was Biokleen Laundry Liquid which contained many of the same ingredients as Bac-Out and was made by the same company.

As each diaper went in the pail I'd make sure to pour about one pitcher of warm/hot water into the pail and with the first diaper I'd add an ounce of the Laundry Liquid.  As the pail got more full of diapers I'd make sure to use a broom handle or my hand and press the diapers down so that all were soaked in the water.  (Using an old broom handle did make me feel like a witch stirring my horrid stinky diaper brew, lol) Then I went back to washing every night.  I made extra sure to not fill the pail with so much water that I couldn't lift it and when I was ready I'd carefully dump it and the diapers into the washer, run a rinse cycle, add another ounce of laundry liquid and then run my regular wash cycle but start by leaving the lid up so they can soak for another half hour.

I must admit, it was a chore, the water was gross when it was ready to wash the diapers, but it was working.  The odor went away and I was one happy mama.  So in the end, using Biokleen Laundry Liquid and the wet pail method are what worked for me.

Thanks for reading my story!  Do you use a wetpail?  Have a trick for battling the stinkies?  We'd love to hear what works for you.

Julia Clark, owner of Earth Angels Diaper Co & the Diaper Discussions Blog

Disclaimer:  Please consult your diaper manufacturers warranty information if you are concerned about voiding your diaper warranty.  Some techniques, detergents, etc. are not recommended by certain diapering manufacturers.

Also, please note that washing and leaving the lid up is a drowing hazard as is using a wet pail with no lid.  Please only try these if you are confident that your laundry and diaper pail are in an area not accessible to small children.


Sarah R said...

I use a dry pail. It's too heavy for me to try and carry a wet pail down our death stairs to the basement. ;)

My method is to rinse out each diaepr and insert before I toss them in the pail.

I use Lulu's Glamour Wash for detergent and I had to play around with the amounts. Using 1 TBSP. as recommended was not enough for our hard water and the diapers would smell (like sauerkraut) out of the washer). I had even been using 1/4 of Calgon water softener with every load.

I upped it to 2 TBSP. of Glamour Wash and they started smelling a little better -- presently we are at 2 1/4 TBSP. and I make sure to wash every other day, instead of every 3 days.

I always hang my diapers out, so I think that helps with odor control as well. The only thing is, I live in Wisconsin, so my line drying days are almost done. From about mid-November - March, I will unfortunately have to use the dryer (just for the inserts though; the covers can dry on my indoor drying rack). :)

T√łybleiemamma? said...

Hi! I am a norwegian cloth diaper mum. I've just started with cloth diapers, and haven`t stripped any diapers yet. But when I am going to, I will do this: Put clean diapers in the washing machine, put one tablesponn of baking soda in the prewash chamber and 1-2 tablespoons of vinegear in where the softener usually is, no soap, wash on 60 or 90 degrees (celsius).
I have a norwegian cloth diaoer blog (written only in norwegian) and I will link to you on my page.

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