Tweaking Our Cloth Routine
Baby Talk

Tweaking Our Cloth Routine

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We have been cloth diapering since Mia was about 4 months old, and I have had multiple posts on cloth diapers:

But, like any part of parenting, using cloth diapers isn’t perfect. As your child changes and grows, so does the cloth routine. In the past couple of months we have been tweaking our cloth routine as we have encountered issues and as I have learned more. I figured I would share these tweaks so they could help others if possible and encourage those who have had troubles. There are solutions, they just aren’t always easy to find! Nevertheless, this process still works for us and I can’t wait to cloth diaper our next baby as well!

Tweaking our Cloth Routine: Compression Leaks

The first big issue that we ran into was compression leaks. This started at about 8 1/2 to 9 months old. Mia would wear a diaper for 30-45 minutes and she would get a moisture leak out a leg hole. Her pants would get wet, or my shirt would as I held her on my hip. I was concerned. Mia was going to be starting daycare soon when I went back to school and I didn’t want them to tell me that I couldn’t use cloth!

It was time to do some research! I went to Fluff Love University and their Facebook group. The group helped me better this time with a bunch of input from other moms. Some of the suggestions included:

  • Flour Sack Towels (fst)
  • Natural Fiber Inserts

I actually did a combination of the two. I bought some charcoal bamboo inserts and flour sack towels. The inserts I got from Amazon, and the towels from Walmart. The towels were the cheaper option and given a chance again, I would probably just go with the towel option for this reason. They both work equally as well.

Charcoal Bamboo Inserts

Charcoal bamboo insert and a microfiber insert
Charcoal bamboo insert and a microfiber insert

The charcoal bamboo inserts were thinner than I thought they would be. This was both a pro and a con. I was planning on just trading them for the microfiber that came with the diapers, but there was no way they were going to hold enough liquid on their own. Instead, after prepping them, I had to double them up with the microfiber inserts I already had. They work great this way and they don’t add a whole lot of bulk.

When I double I put microfiber closest to baby because it absorbs quicker.
When I double, I put microfiber closest to baby because it absorbs quicker.

Flour Sack Towels

Flour Sack towels have been very helpful in tweaking our cloth routine. They were cheap from Walmart and can add a little bulk or a lot. I prepped them like other natural fiber diapers as they are cotton. The flour sack towels are folded around the microfiber inserts and stuffed in the pocket diaper. I use both whole towels and halves, depending on how much bulk I need.

Half a flour sack towel ready to roll up with the insert.
Half a flour sack towel ready to roll up with the insert.
Microfiber insert rolled into half a flour sack towel
Microfiber insert rolled into half a flour sack towel.

To halve the flour sack towels, I did need to hem the cut edge to keep them from fraying. The best part is that I have twice as many towels to bulk with! I cut about half of the package I purchased. The whole towels work well for nap time and just when Mia needs a little more padding if I know it will be longer in between changes.

Folding a microfiber insert into a whole flour sack towel.
Folding a microfiber insert into a whole flour sack towel.
Tweaking Our Cloth Routine: increasing absorbency with flour sack towels
Microfiber wrapped in a whole flour sack towel. Much thicker than only half.

Anyways, both of these options were very useful in stopping compression leaks. They both work well and don’t take a lot of time to add to our routine. Now when Mia leaks it is because she went too long between changes, or I didn’t get the insert stuffed flat, so it bunched up (almost never happens!).

Tweaking our Cloth Routine: Increasing Absorbancy
Stuffed Diapers: Pink has 1/2 fst, Grey has two inserts, Purple has a whole fst

Tweaking our Cloth Routine: Washing Time

The routine I described in my third post on cloth diapers: Washing and Taking Care of Cloth, worked for us for over 8 months. It was easy and fast, but we finally had some issues. Mia was getting rashes. We couldn’t figure out what exactly was causing them, but I was worried it was the diapers, at least a little bit. She had also started formula, different solid foods, different wipes, and daycare, so a lot of changes all at once seemed to have an impact! Regardless, because of the rashes, I reevaluated our washing routine.

Testing the Water

The first thing I did was have our water hardness tested. It is highly recommended, but I hadn’t done it yet. My diapers were coming clean, so I didn’t worry about it! But, I finally took a water sample up to our plumbers and they told me that our water hardness is 17. Seventeen is hard. Very hard. Whoops…

Water hardness can leave mineral build up on diapers, especially synthetic fibers like microfiber. This build up traps ammonia and bacteria, which then causes rashes. Again, whoops.

Stripping and Bleaching the Diapers

The first thing that needed to be done was stripping all the diapers. This wasn’t very hard, especially in my top load washing machine. It would have been a little more inconvenient if I would have had to use the bath tub. The instructions on Fluff Love University for stripping were easy to follow and I used the GroVia Mighty Bubbles option. I also got a bottle of Calgon Liquid Water Softener in the same shipment for my new wash routine.

The one tweak I made to the instructions was that I added my pocket covers to the strip for the last two hours. They have fleece that goes against baby’s bottom so it made sense to me that they could have mineral build up too, and I wanted to make sure it was GONE!

After stripping the diapers, they needed bleached. Bleach kills all the bacteria that was released through stripping. Before I bleached my diapers, I needed to buy new bleach. Did you know that bleach can expire?? I hadn’t ever really thought about it, but it makes sense. Bleach reacts with elements in the air and over time it breaks down. (Hydrogen peroxide does this over time too!) Apparently, after about 9 months, bleach is expired and you need a new bottle if you want to be able to disinfect anything!

Once I bought my new bottle of bleach, following the bleach instructions for diapers was pretty easy to. I threw an old bath towel on top of all the diapers so they were all completely submerged.

New Wash Routine

Now that I had tested my water hardness, stripped, and bleached my diapers, it was time to get a new washing routine. I asked for advice from one of the admins on the Fluff Love Facebook group and they were a lot of help! Here is my new routine:

Pre-Wash with cold water. 15 diapers or less, use small load setting (my washing machine still fills over half full). If I have more diapers I use medium. Add 1-2 lines of Gain powder detergent and 1/2 a capful of Calgon. I might switch to Borax though because there is not much Calgon in that bottle!

When pre-wash is complete, peel all of the diapers off of the side of the drum. Wash on heaviest load setting on hot. If diapers are on a medium load, but do not fill it enough to create a stew consistency, I add small laundry items like hand towels and baby clothes until the desired consistency is reached. Use line 2-3 of detergent and a whole capful of water softener.

Dry on the line or on low in the dryer!

drying cloth diapers inside
You can dry cloth diapers in the dryer, but I opted for line drying this time. It was 40 degrees outside!

Perfect?

Is my new routine perfect? Probably not. Cloth diapering is hard to nail down to a science, just like any other aspect of parenting. If I find future troubles with the diapers, I will try tweaking our cloth routine again. All I know is that I enjoy using the diapers I have and I want to keep using them. I still prefer them over disposables and after I stripped and bleached her diapers, Mia has not had as many rash issues. She actually has more of them when she is in disposables.

What has worked for you in your diapering routine? Any rash creams better than others? We are still working this one out! Why don’t babies just potty train by one?! 😀