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Need some help with prefolds

Forum: Cloth Diapering


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  • 1 Post By ohnicole
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January 5th, 2013, 05:46 AM
bryan and nina's Avatar Love being a mommy!
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Our daughter is 10 weeks old and we've been using GMD prefolds with flips and thirsties duo covers, which has been working well until about 2 weeks ago, when she started developing a rash. I can't seem to figure out how to make it go away.
At this point I don't know what else to do. I'm almost to the point of wanting to quit cloth diapers all together because I don't feel like it's worth it anymore.
I wrote Karen from GMD and she was wonderful in suggesting a few things. First off, Borax because she seemed to think that I was dealing with bacteria. So I added some Borax to the washing machine but now the prefolds came out really rough. Great. I'm not sure if I used too much?! I used maybe 3 tablespoons and it was a good 24-30 diapers probably.
She also said I probably have to use more detergent from now on. I have always been cautious because I read TOO much detergent can cause rashes. But I guess I haven't been using enough. I also think our washing machine, a whirlpool cabrio HE, doesn't have enough water in the load and doesn't get the water hot enough? Here are some stats, hopefully you guys have some suggestions!!

-I wash every 2-3 days and typically spray Charlies pre-wash treatment stuff on the diapers, as I throw them into the pail
-I use Charlie's soap, liquid, about 1/2 of a pump; I think that equates to 1/8 of a cup, approx?
- whirlpool cabrio HE machine; my wash cycles are this: Rinse/Spin cycle with a small amount of detergent first, then heavy duty cycle which uses warm water/cold rinse, then an extra rinse-- still not sure if it gets all the detergent out?
-oh yeah, and we are on well water

I would really appreciate some suggestions, if anyone has any. I feel like there are so many variables that come into play and I'm not sure if our machine is up to the task of getting all the detergent washed out and getting them clean enough. TIA!

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January 5th, 2013, 08:15 AM
ohnicole's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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We had a long term issue with my daughter having a rash when she was a little older than your daughter is now. We also have a HE front loader washer, and I think load size and the amount of water may have been an issue for us. One other thing to keep in mind is that your daughter may have sensitive skin that just isn't a fan of being wet at all. These are the things I have tried over our 14 months of using prefolds that have seemed to help with ammonia stink and/or my daughter's rash.

1. I started letting my daughter go coverless or diaperless whenever I possibly could. This will allow you to keep her dry because you will know immediately when her prefold is wet and can changer her right way. When my daughter's rash was bad, I would let her sleep diaperless at naps and overnight. I would just put a layer of prefolds between her sheet and the crib mattress. I was surprised to find that after most naps, she woke up dry!

2. I started using a microfleece liner on top of her prefolds to help keep her skin feeling dry, especially overnight.

3. I boiled my clean prefolds (a few at a time in a large pot). First I did a boil for 10 minutes in water with a squirt of blue Dawn to strip them. Then I did 3 warm quick wash cycles in my washer, set on heavy wash load, with an extra rinse on each cycle. Then I did another boil for 10 minutes in just water. Then I tossed them in the washer for another 2-3 cold quick wash cycles, set on heavy wash load, with an extra rinse on each cycle. Then I dried them. (This is probably super excessive, but I hate boiling the diapers so I wanted to make sure I didn't have to do it again any time soon. And this really got rid of our TERRIBLE ammonia smell, so something worked!)

4. I switched from washing every 2-3 days to washing every morning. I do a cold quick wash with a heavy wash load, then a hot wash with my detergent and an extra rinse. Then another cold quick wash with a heavy wash load, this time with an extra rinse. I used to use the rinse/spin cycle for the first and last wash, but I think the quick wash with heavy load uses more water.

I have tried lots of other things that didn't really work for us.... bleaching the prefolds, using Oxiclean, using vinegar in the wash, stripping with Dawn in the washer ... I really think every problem is individual and you may have to just troubleshoot your own situation (since your combo of washer, detergent, water type, and baby's skin are unique).

I hope you're able to find something that works! I did reach the end of my rope at one point and use disposables for a little while, but in our case it actually made our daughter's diaper rash worse. So maybe it's worth trying a little longer to find a solution with the cloth diapers?
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January 5th, 2013, 08:42 AM
bryan and nina's Avatar Love being a mommy!
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Wow, thank you SO very much for your detailed post!!!
I will try your solution and see if it works; coincidentally my husband asked me this morning when we were talking about this, if I couldn't just boil them. I didn't know but I figured it wouldn't be good for the cotton. Glad to hear it worked for you; I'll be trying it for sure!
Also, he nonchalantly mentioned this morning that our water heater temp is turned way down; basically as low as it will go. So that is probably part of the problem because in the "hot" wash, it isn't really "hot".
So I will try that this afternoon and hopefully we can figure it out; I really want to keep using them but it breaks my heart to see her get such a bad rash.

Thank you SO much!!

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January 5th, 2013, 02:12 PM
Belita's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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I've also heard of putting a wet towel in the load with the diapers to make the load heavier so the washer will out in more water.
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January 5th, 2013, 02:45 PM
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Nicole has great advice! I have heard the wet towel trick Belita mentioned but it doesn't work on any HE washer I have ever used, the newer ones use dynamic load sensing. You have to find a cycle that uses a lot of water. Sometimes Delicates uses more water, or Heavy Duty or Sanitary. Your washer manual may help.

Since you have well water, I assume your water is quite hard. With very hard water you need to use plenty of detergent, and possibly additives if needed. Hardness in water means that detergents bind to the minerals in the water and cannot effectively do their job of getting soil out. Soft water is tricky too because you can get endless suds and the detergent is hard to rinse thoroughly. But in hard water, you REALLY need to use plenty of detergent!!! And HOT HOT water, which helps keep everything dissolved so the detergent can be more effective. Borax as well as washing soda and oxyclean are great hard water additives that soften the water and boost your detergent.

Don't be afraid to use a plant based fabric softener. Prefolds are tough to mess up, they do not hold buildup and repel the way synthetic materials can. Worry about getting them fully clean and soft, not about buildup. Ecover and 7th Generation and Mrs Meyers and Vaska all are CD safe fabric softeners, fine for natural fibers.

Boiling is definitely an effective stripping method but labor intensive!

My (very hard water) wash routine is to do a Sanitary cycle with prewash and extra rinse, the full recommended amount of detergent for a heavily soiled load, divided about 1/4 to prewash and 3/4 to main wash. Then about 1/3-1/2 cup borax or a scoop of concentrated oxy powder directly into the drum for the prewash. I also usually use 7th gen fabric softener, about 1/2 the recommended amount.

If my diapers are stinky or we have rash or illness, I do a Delicates (warm/warm) cycle with the bleach compartment filled to Max with original unscented Clorox, and a dab of detergent, followed by a Heavy Duty (hot/cold) cycle with extra rinse with a normal load amount of detergent.

I did a lot of experimenting to come up with this solution. I used to be afraid of bleach and of the sanitary cycle and fabric softener but now I lovelovelove them all and my diapers are fine!! I sherpa-ed some bamboo terry but all my cotton stuff and prefolds are fantastic, and so is all my PUL and elastic.

Good luck and hth
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January 6th, 2013, 06:47 AM
bryan and nina's Avatar Love being a mommy!
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Wow you guys are awesome! I can't thank you enough for the detailed descriptions.
We don't have a "sanitary" cycle but I got my husband to turn up the water heater and it's about half way now I guess. We stuck a thermometer in our water in the sink and it's about 120F so that should help disinfect, right??

I am re-washing my stash right now! I did several quick wash cycles already, one with detergent and one without and now I'm about to do a load with the full amount of detergent (I think 1/8 cup is what Charlie's recommends?) and I will put it on delicates in hopes that it uses more water.
I'll add a rinse/spin with a bit of vinegar to that, to make sure all the detergent is out and then another rinse/spin with warm water to make sure all that is out. Phew! I sure hope that will do the trick! I don't have any softener but maybe I'll run to the healthfood store while they are still washing to go get some. I know they carry Mrs Meyers. But won't the scents in those irritate her skin? She is red haired and very fair skinned so I think she is more sensitive than most.

I can't tell you how much I appreciate the help!!

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January 6th, 2013, 07:40 AM
ohnicole's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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I hope you're able to solve the problem quickly! I know it can get frustrating trying to troubleshoot.
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January 6th, 2013, 09:59 AM
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A trick I do with my HE washer is I do two cycles.
1. Quick wash cold, no soap but the trick is to turn off the spin cycle Then they are super heavy and wet next round.
2. Hot wash with my soap and extra rinse. Spin cycle high.

When I started turning off the spin on the first round it helped it a ton! HE's really don't use much water...lol.

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January 7th, 2013, 09:34 AM
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Vinegar can sometimes not mix well with well water, certain trace minerals can react with the vinegar in stinky ways. Just a thought in case you want to tweak that too! A full dose of Charlie's sounds great and I hope it helps!

We are also very sensitive skinned here and fragrances are not okay for us. I use 7th generation fabric softener because it comes in an unscented version, the others don't. But surprisingly, detergents containing enzymes and clorox bleach (unscented original) are GOOD for my platinum blond, super fair DD's bottom, I think because they clean the diapers so well. I can use bleach until it smells like a swimming pool when she pees and her butt will be pristine (though I hate the smell so I switch to oxy powder at that point!! Lol). Someone told me that they sometimes recommend a dash of bleach in the bath water when LO's have eczema and it can really help, so maybe she is just a lot more sensitive to bacteria than to bleach? Anyway. Same with fabric softener, too-rough fabrics will chafe and hurt her but the unscented fabric softener doesn't hurt her at all. I can't say your LO will be exactly the same but it is worth a try!

Let us know how it goes and we can troubleshoot further if you need it, hopefully the extra washes helps a lot though!

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January 9th, 2013, 07:10 PM
bostoncreampie's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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I would personally strip everything with a teaspoon of blue dawn original dish soap and keep rinsing on hot until all the suds are gone, then try a different detergent! My guess is she is reacting to the Charlie's soap. I love it but it has been known to cause terrible chemical burns on some babies. Jillian's Drawers even cautions about it on the ordering page, "If any redness or rash occurs, discontinue use of Charlie's Soap immediately. Some babies have a reaction to Charlie's Soap which can be eliminated by switching detergents." http://www.jilliansdrawers.com/produ...undrydetergent is worth trying, we've used it before and it seemed mild.
mama to 5 yr old DS1 , 3 year old DS2 , and nursling DD .

Last edited by bostoncreampie; January 9th, 2013 at 07:22 PM.
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