Thursday, March 17, 2011

Laundering Your Cloth Diapers

With ever growing popularity among cloth diapering parents, I have been overwhelmed with the positive feedback that the Laundry Tarts All Natural Detergent has received. Cloth diapering parents deal with some of the worst laundry stains and smells. With only 1-2 tbsp of detergent, the Laundry Tarts will sweeten your foul load leaving them clean, bright, and stink free and won't leave unwanted residues that can hamper your cloth diapers' absorbency! That being said, even the most experienced cloth diapering parent may experience undesired results from their laundry. Common problems include a diaper's sudden loss of absorbency, the inability to wash away ammonia odors trapped between diaper fibers, or the diaper seems to develop a general dinginess that might stir up the question, "why did I decide to do this again"?

Fear not! There is always a solution. Here are a few tips to get the best results from your cloth diaper laundering and prevent future disasters!

  1. The number one laundry sin parents are guilty of is overloading their washing machine. The best front loaders can hold up to 18lbs of clothes, but every machine is different. No matter what style of laundry machine you have, always check the manufacturer's maximum load size to make sure that you aren't overloading your machine. With cloth diapers, you probably don't want to exceed 80% of the max capacity for several reasons.
  • If you exceed the max volume/weight capacity, there won't be enough water to wash the nitty gritty stuff out and away from your diapers.
  • If you exceed the max volume/weight capacity, there won't be enough water to wash and rinse the detergent out of your diapers.
  • If neither the urine/feces nor the detergent are being washed out of the diapers, you will have one heck of a stinky residue caked into/onto your diapers!!!


  1. So long as the manufacturer doesn't specify any contraindications, adding a ¼ – ½ cup of vinegar in the softener slot will improve the water's cleaning ability and it will combat those strong ammonia odours caused by urine trapped in between tight fibres. I do this with all of my laundry and I have noticed that it fibres as tough as denim seem to be coming out softer from the dryer.


  1. If you can, try to always do a rinse and spin with cold water prior to doing a washing cycle. If you can make the adjustment with your machine, try to get a low or medium spin. If managed to loosen particles during your rinse, a low spin will keep those same particles from mashing themselves right back into the fibres.


  2. High Efficiency laundry machines are amazingly efficient, but I find that there are a lot of HE machine owners who forget that one of the reasons they are so popular is that the phrase "Less is More" is critical to the objective of the machine. Less water, less electricity, and less detergent!!!
    I myself have only recently scaled back to 1 tbsp per load because I was accustomed to using more in the standard washer. It's amazing how much better my laundry results have been. They are a lot brighter and softer! With cloth diapers, it's best not to exceed 1 tbsp of Laundry Tarts. I recently had a client tell me she was able to clean 18 diapers with only 1 tbsp!!!


  3. HE laundry machines are not always friendly with powdered detergents. If you have reduced the amount of detergent you are using, and you find that the detergent still isn't completely dissolving, add a ½ cup of warm water to the detergent and let it sit for a minute.


  4. HE machines require maintenance on a bi-monthly basis. Manufacturers recommend running a self clean cycle with a cup of bleach (although using vinegar is just as efficient).This is meant to help breakdown residues that may build up in your machine. Your model may also feature a trap somewhere along the bottom of your machine where debris from pockets detergent and dirt residues will build up. This trap must be cleared out regularly as it can clog and backup much like a sink or a toilet. If it does, dirty water/residues will float back into the machine and onto your clothes/diapers.



Monday, January 31, 2011

A Tart’s Guide to Cloth Diapering

Why are people making the switch back to cloth diapers?

Everyone has their own reasons. Whether it's for the environment, to save money, or for baby's comfort, parents of the new millennium are returning to this traditional diapering method in great numbers. The number of cloth diaper and natural/organic child care boutiques are overwhelming. Just Google cloth diaper stores/boutiques and visit one of the hundreds of little online stores that are flourishing due to its growing popularity among new mothers and fathers. This is in large part due to the fact that cloth diapers have been redesigned and modernized to appeal to the modern parent who is typically drawn to the ease of use of disposables. With a little research and practice, success with cloth diapering doesn't have to entail a lot of work.

Common myths/concerns surrounding cloth diapering

Let me go ahead and help throw out every reason that's caused you to hesitate from trying cloth diapers.

  • They cost more
  • They're old fashioned
  • They're inconvenient
  • They're time consuming
  • They leak
  • They are smelly
  • They're hard to clean
  • They're bad for sensitive skin

I've already discussed how cloth diapering saves you money. Even if you incorporate your laundering costs, you will still save over $1000.00. Cloth diapering may be old fashioned in nature, but the cloth diapers that are available this millennium are beyond convenient. Inspired by both classic and modern design, cloth diapers are easier to use than ever before. The All-In-One diapers in particular are designed to be just as convenient as disposables. Past concerns about leakage and absorbency have been addressed. In regard to being a time consuming task, snaps and Velcro have made getting baby in and out of his/her cloth diaper quick and convenient.

    Cloth diapers are in fact less smelly then disposables. They require you to change baby's diaper regularly, keeping baby smelling fresher all day and preventing diaper rash from becoming a problem for baby's sensitive skin. Cloth diapers require laundering every couple of days. If you leave them any longer, lingering ammonia smells will sour in baby's diaper pail. With proper maintenance, cloth diapers should not retain any smell after laundering (Learn about preventing and treating cloth diaper odours in the Diaper Care and Laundering section of this blog). Always choose all natural fibres whenever possible to keep the stink at bay!

Top 3 Reasons to make the switch

1. Its Environmentally Friendly: Help reduce your waste/chemical output for the sake of our environment

Overflowing landfills have drawn our attention to the excessive amounts of waste humans produce on a weekly basis. Disposable diapers have been the norm since the 1960s. Today, over 4 million disposable diapers are being discarded per day in Canada (1.6 billion per year)It is unsure how long exactly it will take the plastics used to fabricate disposable diapers to decompose. Some say it can be anywhere between 300-500 years, others aren't sure if they ever will!

Some argue that cloth diapers are just as harmful to our planet. They consume a lot of water when laundering, and they pollute our waters with the detergents. Common detergents contain chlorine, phosphates, and EDTA which all contribute to ecological problems in our fresh water sources, as well as the ocean. Chlorine is commonly used to kill unwanted bacteria, when released into oceans, and can kill a large amount of natural bacterias needed for certain aquatic life. An abundance of chlorine has changed the chemical composition of the oceans, which could destroy the symbiotic balance of bacteria in healthy areas of water. Phosphates are used for their superior cleaning power as they eliminate the soap scum residue leftover from cleaning. Excess phosphorus into rivers, lakes and fresh water can offset the delicate balance of biology and produce an excess of algae and bacteria, making water inhabitable for aquatic life, unsuitable for swimming or ingesting. EDTA is used as a preservative in laundry detergents for treating hard water. EDTA is harmful to the environment and can acts as a hormone disrupting agent according to large study groups.Cloth diapering moms have been able to debunk their negative impact on the environment by purchasing High Efficiency laundry machines and all natural detergents (like The Laundry Tarts All Natural Detergent) . HE machines generally use as little as 1/3 of the amount of water that traditional laundry machines use, so even doing a double rinse uses less water than a traditional unit might. Choosing to wash with an all natural detergent like the Laundry Tarts helps to keep unnecessary chemicals out of our waters and off of your baby's skin.

2. Its Economical: Help save yourself thousands if you stick with it!

The average baby will wear diapers for approximately two and a half years. If you have chosen to diaper with disposables, you will spend approximately $2500-$3500 on diapering products. If you have chosen to cloth diaper, you will only spend approximately $650-$950 on your diapering products!!! Your stock supply might cost you a bit, but their are alternatives to allow you to try out cloth diapering before making the plunge. Nearly every cloth diaper boutique that I have come across offers a trial service that allows you to take home 2-3 diapers of each available style for 1-4 weeks for about $20.00/week. With this, you are able to figure out what style suites your lifestyle best and purchase your stock accordingly if you wish to continue with the cloth diapers. You can also try a cloth diaper service. This is great for parents who like the idea of cloth diapering bit who don't have the time for the extra laundering. Most diaper services run for approximately $20-$30 a week. They will supply you with fresh clean diapers on a weekly basis and they will pick up and wash your used supply. If you decide to stick with a cloth diaper service, you won't save much, but it is an alternative method of trying out cloth diapering without taking the plunge.

3. Its comfortable :Keep baby as comfortable as possible

Babies are most comfortable when they are changed often. The less their delicate skin is exposed to ammonia left from urine, the less likely they are to acquire a diaper rash. Regular diaper changes are required when cloth diapering as baby always feels when he is wet. Letting baby sit in his disposable diaper (which is changed less often to save money) can expose him to heat and moisture long enough for bacteria and heat rash to thrive. Cloth diapers are typically made of cotton which is a breathable material which allows air to freely circulate, helping to prevent diaper rash.

Alright, I've convinced you to try them out. What do you need to get started?


It is recommended to have about 24 diapers available for newborn – 6 months olds. If you choose to use diaper wraps as well, 6 wraps are generally recommended. Once baby has reached 6 months, you can scale back to about an 18 diaper supply with 4 wraps. Sizes will vary between brand and style.

There are 4 cloth diaper styles to choose from.

The AIO (All –In-One): This is the easiest diaper to help transition from disposables. It doesn't require a separate cover or soaker. The only disadvantage is that they require longer drying times and are sometimes more difficult to wash effectively. An alternative to this is the AI2 (All-In-2) diapers. A separate cover is not required, but separate soakers are required. The AI2 is a little more expensive, and it does require you to remove and insert a soaker (meaning your hands get a little dirty). They wash and dry more effectively, and are still just as convenient as disposables.

Pocket Diapers: Pocket diapers are simple to use. There is an outer and inner layer with a pocket between for you to stuff your absorbent insert into. The insert absorbs baby's urine and is then easily removed and replaced with a new insert. This system allows you to select the absorbency level of the pocket insert to suit your baby's expulsion. Its easy to clean and can often be less bulky (depending on the absorbency insert selected).

Fitted Diapers: These diapers look and fit like disposables. The are sized to fit snugly around baby, usually with elastic gatherings in the leg and waist. They are often held together with either snaps or Velcro. They require a separate waterproof shell, and there are some designs available where you may also include an absorbent insert. They are easy to clean and can be washed in high temperatures.

Flat and Prefold Diapers: This is the least expensive choice for parents. They require a waterproof cover, and diaper pins or a snappy to hold it together. Flat and prefolds are very absorbent, easy to launder and dry, and have multiple functions as a doubler, pocket stuffer, burp cloth and even as cleaning rags (once baby is finished with them). Word to the wise, this type of diaper can be hard to use on squirmy babies.

Diaper Fibres

Once you choose your diaper style, your diaper's fibre can make all the difference in the world. Common fibres you will come across are organic cotton, hemp, wool, microfleece, and bamboo. Each fibre has its own unique absorbency ability and may require special laundering care.

Always read your cloth diaper manufacturer's laundering instructions to ensure that they maintain their ability to absorb.


Now that you have selected your cloth diapers, you can get the rest of your supplies.

Baby Wipes: You can continue using disposable baby wipes, or you can always opt to use reusable wipes and throw them in with your cloth diaper laundry!

Diaper Pail and liner: You will need to choose between dry pailing, wet pailing, or dry/wet pailing. I will discuss this in greater detail in the Pailing section of this blog.

Cloth Diaper Safe Detergent: It is VERY important to use detergents that are specifically designed for cloth diapers. Using one that is not safe on cloth can ruin your diapers by leaving residues which prevent absorption and trap bacteria and odours.

Cloth Diaper Safe baby care lotions/creams: Just like your detergent, it is critical to use lotions and creams on baby's bottom that are safe for cloth diapers . They can also ruin your diapers by leaving residues which prevent absorption and trap bacteria and odours.

Where do I buy cloth diapers?

Cloth diapers can be purchased from any of the hundreds of online cloth diaper stores, or from a local kids' boutique. You can even try buying used cloth diapers. There is always a score to be made from Craigslist or Kijiji.

Diaper Care and Laundering

Diaper Pails: Dry vs Wet

Dry Pail: This is most common pailing method used with modern cloth diapering. Soiled cloth diapers are thrown into a diaper pail that you can line with either a plastic or a re-usable nylon or polyester bag. The reusable bag is often more practical as you can throw the bag right in the wash without having to handle the diapers. If baby is breast fed, no need to worry about shaking off the mud pie. If baby is older or formula fed, you can shake the pie right in your toilet or you can purchase bioliners that are easily removed from the cloth diaper and may also be tossed straight in the toilet. If you want to mix up your pail as a wet/dry pail, you can rinse off the diapers as you use them and throw them in the dry pail.

Dry pails need to be changed every two days or so to keep odors and stains at bay. To help keep your pail fresh smelling, its often recommended that you sprinkle some baking soda at the bottom of the pail to absorb bad odours. You can also use a little tea tree oil (which smells great and has disinfectant properties), or you may purchase a designated Diaper Pail Freshener. NEVER USE DETERGENTS in your diaper pail. It may cause your cloth diaper fibres to breakdown. Always refer to your cloth diaper manufacturer for specific pre-treatment and washing instructions.

One concern with dry pailing is that diapers often retain stains and odors if they sit in the pail too long. Remember to launder your cloth diapers regularly to prevent odor causing bacteria to grow and flourish.

Wet Pail: Contrary to the dry pail, the wet pail is filled with water rather than a liner. A soiled diaper is tossed into the water filled pail usually after a quick hosing and/or after mud pies are shaken into the toilet. This method is often better at preventing stains from setting into your diapers and some cloth diaper users think that it smells less as well. Often a wet pail water solution is used with a combination of baking soda and essential oils to keep odours at bay. There are a few things to take into consideration before deciding to wet pail. You need a pail that has a lid that secures. As bizarre as it may seem, there have been numerous occasions where babies have drowned in wet pails from falling in (enough that every reference I could find was adamant about this warning). Another consideration is that because the diapers are soaking in water, the opportunity for bacteria to thrive is much greater with a wet pail. Diapers must be washed every couple of days in order to prevent odour causing bacteria to settle in to the diaper fibres. Wet pails are also very heavy because of the water, so it is best to have it as close to your laundry machine as possible. When preparing to launder, you must dump the water and pull apart the diapers before putting them in the washer. A pair of rubber gloves may prove helpful!

If you have opted to launder your own cloth diapers, it is very important to do it correctly. Understanding common laundering issues/concerns will make it easier for you to troubleshoot if you have run into any problems during your cloth diapering experience.

The importance of using a cloth diaper safe detergent vs other detergents and other laundering don'ts

    When using cloth diapers, the number one concern with detergents are the residues they leave behind which prevent absorption and trap bacteria and odours. Many detergents are heavy on oil ingredients which can be therapeutic to the skin, but which also act as a barrier for water causing leaks. Residues are more likely to develop in fabrics made from polyester than in diapers made from natural fibres. Residues are caused by using too much detergent, using a detergent with additives/oils, not using enough water to wash/rinse, not using enough detergent, and dryer sheets. There is a growing concern with HE laundry machine users because there is an increased chance of acquiring a urine residue. This is a result of not using enough detergent and/or not using enough water to wash out and rinse the detergent. You will know if your diaper has a residue if your diapers stink after washing, if your diapers become discoloured, if your diapers stop absorbing liquid, if your diaper cover leaks, or if your baby develops diaper rash. If you suspect your diaper has a residue, check to make sure you are washing the diapers in enough hot water. If you cannot increase the water volume in your washing machine, just throw in fewer diapers with each load, and always do a double rinse.

There is a great debate among cloth diaper users regarding the use of baking soda in cloth diaper detergent and that soda wash based detergents should be used instead. Cloth diapers made from bamboo fibres in particular are subject to this controversy, with manufacturers promoting bamboo specific detergents. The argument against baking soda is if it is not rinsed properly, the detergent will leave a residue and break down fabrics faster. Chemically speaking, soda wash is more acidic than baking soda and is found in the majority of all cloth diaper detergents. After many tests, the Laundry Tarts All Natural Detergent has a tried and true level of baking soda in relation to its other ingredients, harnessing a well balanced blend of odour, stain and bacteria removing ingredients with great cleaning power, naturally.

Why should you launder your cloth diapers with the Laundry Tarts All Natural Detergent?

    Choosing the right detergent will make your cloth diapering experience go along more pleasantly as we have previously discussed with regard to residues. A common misconception is that baby laundry detergent and cloth diaper safe detergent are one and the same. Unfortunately, the pair doesn't go hand in hand as baby laundry detergents are usually filled with oils meant to moisturize baby's skin which will inevitably saturate your diapers with unwanted residue. It will also put your baby in contact with many harmful chemicals that leach onto baby's skin and eventually absorb into the blood stream. Commercial detergents in general are saturated with unnecessary and harmful chemicals that are absorbed by our bodies and the environment. We often take for granted that we can reduce pollutants in our lives and environment by taking the time to notice that we don't have to use them in order to harness the same results, especially with household cleaning.

     Chemical cleaning became the norm during World War II, when natural minerals like Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda) were hard to come by . Strangely North Americans never switched back to their original methods believing that baking soda and vinegar just couldn't cut it anymore. So instead, generations have grown up cleaning their homes and washing their laundry with products containing chlorine, phosphates, Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate (SLS/SLES), parabens, phthalates and EDTA. You read the ingredients on the back of your products all the time, be it on shampoo, toilet cleaner, etc., and I know there has been at least one time when you've wondered to yourself, "what the heck is this?". Many like myself go ahead and wonder about it, but have never taken the time to find out what it is they're exposing their bodies to daily. Please take the time to really take in what these chemicals can do to you and your baby's body, and give baby the healthiest start he/she can have in life.

(information courtesy of Jessy Cooke, owner of The Laundry Tarts All Natural Detergent)

Chlorine: Chlorine is very irritating to the skin. It dries out the skin's natural oils and can cause rashes, hives, soreness and irritation to the eyes, lungs and mucus membranes. Chlorine is mostly found in bleach and many detergents and cleaning products. Commonly used to kill unwanted bacteria, when released into oceans, chlorine can kill a large amount of natural bacterias needed for certain aquatic life. An abundance of chlorine has changed the chemical composition of the oceans, which could destroy the symbiotic balance of bacteria in healthy areas of water. Although it has anti-fungal properties to it, there are much healthier alternatives to your skin and to the environment.

Phosphates: Phosphates are used for their superior cleaning power as they eliminate the soap scum residue leftover from cleaning. Phosphates are made from a phosphorus base, which is a very important mineral for plants and animals. However, the chemical balance of phosphorus is very important to keep in check. Excess phosphorus into rivers, lakes and fresh water can offset the delicate balance of biology and produce an excess of algae and bacteria, making water inhabitable for aquatic life, unsuitable for swimming or ingesting.

Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate (SLS/SLES):
SLS/SLES is commonly used in soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes, dish soap, body wash, facial cleansers, hair mousse and any other products that make a lather. SLS/SLES works very well to dissolve grease and adds that wonderful foam to traditional products. Unfortunately SLS/SLES, is a skin irritant and is absorbed into the skin very easily. Like many other commercial ingredients, it is also a xenoestrogen, making it's way to the bloodstream and causing hormonal imbalances in the body.

Parabens: Parabens are a common preservative, used in thousands of body care and household products and sometimes, even food. Fortunately, many companies are reformulating certain products to eliminate this harmful preservative from being so widely available on store shelves. Parabens are the most well known of xenoestrogens, possibly because it is so commonly used in deodorants, body creams, sun lotions, hair dye, makeups and pretty much anything in your body care regime. The most recent study, done in Texas, has found paraben traces inside of breast tumours, sparking more studies and links related to how the body detoxifies and just how harmful these chemicals really are.

Phthalates: Phthalates are synthetic fragrance enhancers, commonly used in over 70% of scented soaps, candles, perfumes, shampoo's, body washes, deodorants, air fresheners, detergents, dryer sheets, dish soap and anything commercial containing synthetic fragrances or perfum and are also used as a softening agent in plastics. Phthalates can be irritating to asthma sufferers, cause headaches, migraines, dizziness and are being linked to disrupting hormone levels, feminizing males in the womb and blocking natural hormone receptors in females.

EDTA: is used as a preservative in cosmetics, food, chelation therapy, the textile industry and pulp mills as well as in laundry detergents for treating hard water. EDTA is more harmful to the environment and can as a hormone disrupting agent according to large study groups.

Get into the habit of checking labels and you will see just how many products contain these chemicals. Even during this Green/Enviro-Concious product revolution, you will discover how not "green" they really are!

Laundering Instructions for The Laundry Tarts All Natural Detergent

Washing instruction and amounts; for cloth diapers we recommend using half the amount normally used for regular clothing. For small loads in a traditional top loader, use 2 tablespoons and 4 tablespoons for med-large loads. If you wish to use vinegar, we suggest using ¼ cup for small loads and ½ cup for large loads.

Energy Efficient machines and front loaders: Energy efficient machines use 1/3 the amount of water than traditional top loaders making them better for the environment and uses less energy. This means specifically for cloth diaper detergent, less detergent is needed as well. However, less water means that powdered detergents are harder to dissolve and for that reason we suggest mixing our detergent with ¼ cup of warm water to help it along the way. Because most modern washing machines use much less water, this can also unfortunately lead to the common problem of clothing not being properly rinsed and can leave residues. These residues can cause rash, allergic reaction and can aggravate skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Most health websites recommend doing a double rinse, which surprisingly still uses less water than older machines. Use 1 tablespoon for small load and 2 tbsp for a large load.


I hope I have left you with a little insight into cloth diapering of the new millennium! I'd love to get your feedback on anything you may have read or that you think I should include in this guide. Until next time, good luck with the cloth diapers and