Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday Tales: Detergent Dosing

Tuesday Tales is a new segment to Bum Luxury's blog. We all see things on the internet and wonder what is true and what is fiction. Tuesday Tales will point out some of the false information you might come across while reading blogs and online forums. If you've seen something you find is strange or hard to believe, feel free to share it with me so we can find the truths together.

This article from www.wazoodle.com has been going around the internet lately and I want to warn my fellow CDers to be careful of what you read when it comes to washing routines. I have cut and pasted parts of the article to go over. You can see my comments in italics.

I, myself, am not a textile expert or a laundry expert. However, I have done loads of research (and laundry) and use common sense. 

Understanding the wash

When finished, dry your diapers on medium heat or cloths line.  
 If you dry your cloth diapers in the dryer, I would do it on low if any of them have PUL. Most manufacturers refer to this on their care site and tags. Drying your diapers on medium heat can void the warranty. I prefer to use a clothesline which gets out most of the stains the writer says are caused by bad laundering or when using the wrong detergent.

The harder your water, the more likely you'll need a big-brand detergent.  
Later in the article she defines 'big-brand' as a well known detergent. I disagree with her statement.

Selecting Detergents

If in doubt about what works best in your area, visit the biggest grocer in your area and ask which brand of detergent sells best -- chances are the masses have already figured it out for you. 
I think it's important to read reviews on items you buy. What sells best doesn't make it the right choice for you and your family or washing needs. Advertising does a lot for a brand and a better item might not have as much money to advertise. Think of the first time you heard of cloth diapering-you probably heard of Bum Genius or Fuzzibunz, because those are two of the big companies and they have more money to advertise. Great diapers like Knickernappies are still an awesome choice, but you might not have heard about them because it's a smaller company with a smaller budget. Also along these lines are the cheapie diapers-Sunbaby, Kawaii, Alvas, etc.-I would bet a majority of cloth diaper users have tried them because they are cheap, but that doesn't mean they are going to work for you. Make sense?

Detergent Dosing

The practice of low detergent dosing is something that has been created by diaper manufacturers who don't understand how water, detergent and textiles interact in the wash.  There is no good reason for low doses, is simply a bad practice. 

I have to disagree with this. There are many detergents out there that were developed just to be used on cloth diapers. Using the recommended amount of detergent is important. However, when you read most detergent directions, the recommended amount is for a full load. You may not always wash a full load of diapers at one time. Therefore, you need to use less detergent to get the diapers clean.

Most detergents you see everyday in the laundry aisle have items in the ingredient list that can't be used on cloth. Also, many detergents were developed before HE washers came out as well so the recommended amount by the detergent manufacturer may be incorrect. It is important to make sure you use an HE detergent if you have an HE machine.

It is widely known that the makers of laundry detergents and dish washing detergents have recommended the use of more than enough of their product for many years. Why would they do this? More sales! If you are using more, you must need to buy more. Plus, if you use too much, your dishes/clothes may not come out as clean because of all of the residue left behind which leads people to buy more. It's an endless cycle.

The key to detergent is this: if your diapers come out smelling like soap or you see suds in the rinse cycle, you used too much detergent and need to rinse it out. If your diapers come out smelling like funk, you didn't use enough detergent and they aren't clean yet so wash them again with a little more. Next time, you'll know better. :)

Washing and Drying

  • Use the right detergent, in the right dose -- even if your diaper manufacturer recommends otherwise! Only if you don't care about your warranty...I did add a link to a chart for CD safe detergents.
  • Disinfectants are OK - vinegar, small amounts of bleach and other laundry safe sanitizers can be used. Most of the brands I use specifically say not to use bleach. My washer says no vinegar, so I'm going to pass.
  • Double the rinse cycle if your washer has that feature. Yes, rinsing is key to a good wash routine.
  • Tumble or line dry (no drier sheets).  If you line dry it's a good idea to tumble diapers in a drier occasionally to loosen and soften the diaper. I agree. If the diapers stiffen, the dryer can soften the diaper, but it's not necessary. I usually only have trouble with stiff hemp inserts or flannel wipes. Once the wipes are wet though, it's not an issue, and moving the hemp around in my hands a bit softens it just fine.

Special Situations and Remedial Actions

Hemp does not dry sufficiently on a line unless the relative humidity is less than 8% (meaning you live in a desert).   
I do live in the desert, fortunately. My hemp is more than dry even when the humidity reaches 50% or higher-I know that's not very high compared to many other places. I wonder where the writer got this statistic of 8%.) 

If you don't dry hemp diapers completely, trapped moisture is slowly released which enables microbes to feed on the diaper fibers when your diapers are stored.  You'll know is this is a problem as your diapers will develop 'hemp-stink' a persistent odor that is present in clean diapers.  
If they smell, they aren't clean.


Feel free to check the linked article to read her recommendations. I did not want them to clog up my post as I completely disagree.

Where to start? People either love using vinegar or won't go near it. I'm in the latter group-I won't risk ruining my diapers or my washing machine. Did you know using vinegar can ruin the rubber casings in your machine and void your warrant? It can also ruin the elastic and PUL in your diapers. Not worth the risk.  

CLR? I am shocked to see this is a recommended stripping method. Please be aware that the official site for this product says specifically not to use CLR on fabrics. Plus, it is a very corrosive and I wouldn't want it anywhere near my baby's skin. If I'm already having to trouble shoot due to the wrong laundry detergent, I would hate to see the troubleshooting guide for using CLR on diapers.

Persistent Odor:

If you diapers have an ammonia or barn-smell, that means there is poop left in your diapers after washing. 

I believe it is important to make sure you use the right amount of detergent. Ammonia is not caused by poop, however. It is caused from the urea in urine. Kimberly Webb of Rockin Green Detergent wrote a great article on the ammonia stinkies and what causes them. 


The key to a good wash routine is water. A good, cold pre-rinse and if needed a soak, a hot wash and another cold rinse at the end is the simple way to wash your diapers. If you have issues, add more water to your routine first and see if that fixes it. If not, contact a retailer or the manufacturer for help.

1 comment:

  1. that's a crazy article. I use Allen's detergent and it tells me how much to use for a diaper load in my HE. Not a major brand. Major brands are not what I choose because I chose CDing for cost effectiveness. My PUL covers dry on a line. And CLR, really?