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Once my friend A. became more familiar with the cloth diaper options, just like me, she did not think of this system as intimidating anymore and quickly decided to give it a go. We kept in touch on the subject and I thought I’d share a selection of the questions she had immediately AFTER making the transition to cloth diapers.

How can you tell if you have rinsed off all the detergent? I still see suds after the first rinse. Is it mostly trial and error in the beginning? Will my baby get a rash if the detergent has not been fully rinsed off?

Suds are the visible sign for too much detergent. The surface of an insufficiently rinsed cloth diaper also tends to be slippery, due to the clogged fibers of the fabric. If you experience those signs, just reduce the amount  of detergent you are using until they completely disappear, as yes, clogged CD (i.e. the mix of detergent + #1 and/or #2 residue) are indeed more likely to cause rashes to your baby’s skin. Always make sure to use a cloth diaper friendly detergent, and keep in mind that different brands of cloth diapers may work better with different cloth diaper detergents. If problems persist, you may want to give a try to another detergent: Country Save and Rockin’ Green are two of the most often recommended brands in the cloth community.

What if there are night time leaks since my baby sleeps through the night? I already use 2 microfiber inserts and it is pretty bulky.  

Most of the leaks come from one of the below three problems, or from a combination of them. But each and all can be fixed easily!

  1. Clogged cloth diapers: Clogged fibers cannot absorb so liquids slip out and cause leaks; Try adjusting the quantity of detergent you are using
  2. Too few inserts for a heavy-wetter or big sleeper: Add more or change the combination of inserts you are using as different material may work better
  3. Loose fit: Make sure the waist closure is tight enough, and check the legs openings as part of the inside of the diaper may be out

What is the best way to strip your diapers and how often?

Washing with a proper detergent, not using diaper cream/baby powder or any other products that could clog the fabric (and with time ruin it), and rinsing your soiled CD all make stripping a rare necessity. Each brand has its own recipe but stripping, or deep cleaning, usually involves a hot cleansing cycle (with liquid dish soap, or white distilled vinegar, or baking soda, some even use bleach) followed by two hot cycles sans detergent. Note that even without accident, stripping CD once every few months can give them a fresh start.

What can I do about the smell in my microfiber inserts? I can’t wash them in hot water or use enzymes such as Bac Out. The smell isn’t very strong after I wash them but it is still there.

First and foremost, always follow your CD brand’s directions (e.g. hot water is safe to use with some brands but not with others). Second, make sure to well rinse soiled inserts (this should remove odors almost entirely) and third, wring out all the water before storing them. Do not soak dirty cloth diapers. Many inserts-specific stripping recipes exist, and most involve the same white distilled vinegar and baking soda saviors. If needed, a couple tee tree oil drops in the laundry have had proven results.

Also, the smell in the dry diaper pail is strong. Is it caused by ammonia or detergent buildup?

A closed pail will generate heat, smelly condensation (from feces and detergent remnants), mildew could even grow and stain your diapers. To avoid a stinky pail, well rinse your diapers, wring out all water, and store them in open air, or mostly, so odors do not build and remain trapped inside. A basic laundry basin works wonders. You can cover it with another one on top as long as it is not airtight. But with a good rinsing, you will not even need to as odors will be taken care of.

I bought a couple of hemp inserts to use for our night time diapering; what is the best combination, microfiber + hemp or hemp + hemp?

Microfiber is said to absorb fast and hemp to hold a lot, so you can place microfiber on top of hemp. That said, if you use a hemp trifold insert (like Hemp Babies), you can wrap it around your microfiber insert… There are many insert types and all combinations are possible and they are individual choices so the key is to experiment to see what works best for you.

I also cut up a flannel receiving blanket to be made into re-usable cloth wipes. What is the best way to make wipes formula?

Manufacturers created disposable wipes and their wet formula, including the fragrance and possibly toxic or hazardous chemicals. Because children wear diapers, messes can spread inside so a wet cloth wipe is the best duo for a quick efficient cleaning. And for that, water is your safest bet. When you think about it, adults only use toilet paper, and children’s bottoms need nothing different!

Did you face unexpected challenges when you decided to “go cloth” and actually started cloth diapering? If new questions came up, where did you look for help?

Do you need help now?

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