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Thursday, 5 March 2015

Help my nappies smell....

I often see people complaining that their nappies smell and don't know what to do about it. I have had issues with smells once or twice and after a bit of trial and  error managed to get rid of them.

This post is going to a be one of a couple related to troubleshooting when you have issues with your nappies. The solutions listed in this post and ones to follow are things to try first before doing a strip wash, that should always be a last resort.

Ok back to smells.

I have found that there are 4 main smells associated with cloth nappies, not including the smell of poop. When I talk about the smells I mean the smell of the nappy as soon as your child pees in it not the smell after it has sat in a bucket or wet bag for a few hours.

Overwhelming Ammonia;
This smell is most common for night nappies. This is because your child is often in the nappy for an extended period of time and their pee has a chance to sit in the nappy and develop into ammonia. Generally speaking this is not really something you can avoid and some mornings your night nappies are going to be eye watering.  Rockin Green has developed an ammonia bouncer called funk rock which is supposed to help however as I have never used it I cannot say for sure whether it has.

The ammonia smell can also be associated with detergent build up from using either the wrong detergent and/or using too much. If your nappy smells of ammonia as soon as your child pees then this could be your issue. When your child pees in the nappy the chemicals in their pee react to the built up detergent and cause the ammonia smell.

I recommend to rinse night nappies as soon as you take them off and wash them as soon as possible. If you think it is a build up issue try the following:
Use a little less detergent.
Add an extra rinse to the end of your wash cycle
Wash more often if possible
Do a long hot wash of no more than 60 degrees celcius and try add a 10-30 minute soak to the hot wash if your machine has that option.

If you are altering your wash cycle to use less detergent or adding an extra rinse, do this for 1-2 weeks. This allows your whole stash to be used, washed and dried at least once allowing you to work out if the change worked for you.

The Zoo Smell...
Sometimes your child's nappy just smells like a zoo. The horrible animal stink. This one is most often caused by not being cleaned properly. After researching for the post I did on care recommendations I noticed that quite often modern cloth nappy companies recommended using 1/4-1/2 the recommended amount of detergent. When you think about how much pee your nappies absorb and soiled they can get, how can 1/4 the recommended amount clean them? Nappies are considered heavily soiled and should be treated as such.

If you find your nappies smell like a zoo then I would try:

  • Use more detergent
  • Adjust the water level.
  • Try a longer wash cycle. 
  • Try washing on warm if you only wash on cold.
  • If you use a powder try dissolving in a little warm water first before adding to the machine.
  • If none of those work with your chosen detergent try another.

The terrible teething pee
Quite often when your child/baby is teething their wee can take on a pungent smell. Each child is different and therefore the smell is different so I cannot give a definitive description of the smell.

If you get the teething smell there isn't really much you can do for this one as your child's pee is just naturally more concentrated and pungent. I generally make no adjustments to my wash cycle if I get this smell, however if it has been quite pungent I will add an extra rinse at the beginning just to make sure that the pee is fully rinsed from my nappies.

The didn't dry fast enough smell.
This one I find occurs most often in the winter when it is hard to dry your nappies in a timely manor. I don't own a drier so am reliant on the sun and my outside washing line to dry my nappies. However where I live winter is often wet and miserable meaning that I have to dry my nappies inside on the clothes horse more often than I like. They can take a good 24-48hrs to dry which allows a musty smell to build up, which to be honest I cannot stand.

Like with the teething smell this cannot be solved by changing detergents, wash cycles or strip washing. Follow these tips to help avoid this issue:

  • Hang outside wherever possible, even if all you do is place the clothes horse outside on the deck.
  • Hang up as soon as the machine has finished its wash cycle, don't leave them in the machine.
  • Don't overload the clothes horse, if you have to wash everyday during winter so that its smaller loads, then just do it. 
  • Allow your nappies space for airflow when hanging up. I like skipping a line on my washing line if I have room.

I have had issues with all 4 smells listed above and after 16 months of using cloth full time I have never strip washed. Here's what I did:
The first smell I ever came across was when my nappies didn't dry fast enough. I just adjusted my wash cycle so that I washed every day rather than every second day during the cooler months. This meant smaller loads and therefore more room on the line for air circulation.

Next I found out all about the Zoo smell.
I opted right from the word go that I would use a supermarket laundry detergent rather than one specifically formulated for modern cloth nappies like Rockin Green. I chose to do that for convenince and to save money. I started with a natural powder as I don't like using too many chemicals. I found that I had to use at least a full scoop of powder. When my son was exclusively breastfed I found this brand worked well at cleaning the nappies, however once he started eating solids more than once a day I found it stopped cleaning them quite as well. I started getting the zoo smell again so changed to a generic brand detergent that didn't contain added fabric softener(a hard thing find). After a bit of trial and error I found that for me using a full scoop gets my nappies clean enough. I also adjusted my wash routine so that I wash my nappies on the heavy duty cycle rather than a shorter gentler one.

I only get the ammonia smell for my sons night nappies and only after he has been in them for a while. I so far haven't had a build up issue. I just give my night nappies an extra rinse by hand and try to wash them as soon as they are taken off.

I found that working on getting a better wash routine and changing laundry detergent has stopped the smells and so far I haven't had to strip.

For those of you who want to know this is my wash routine:

  • Put poop in toilet, nappy in dry bucket
  • Rinse any poop residue off in laundry sink
  • Put nappies into machine
  • Cold rinse on highest water level(2 rinses if son is teething or if I have left for more than 48hrs since last washing)
  • Heavy duty wash with cold water and medium water level(2 days worth of nappies come to approx medium load line on my machine).
  • Dry outside on washing line if possible or on clothes horse inside.
  • I use a full scoop of Cold Power Sensitive Touch powder available from most supermarkets here in New Zealand.

Disclaimer: I have read quite a bit recently about detergent buildup being a made up issue and not something that can happen. I am undecided on this as I do think that it can buildup over time if too much is used and it isn't rinsed out properly, a bit like soap scum on the shower. It is not something that can occur with just one wash and would take many washes to buildup and therefore cause repelling issues. Because I am undecided as to whether I fully believe in detergent buildup I have left it listed as a cause. 

Also I am not an expert on caring for cloth nappies, I just go by what I know works/worked for me. While a supermarket detergent may work for me and the water we have, another person may need to use Rockin' Green to achieve good results. Please do a bit of research and trial and error about this stuff. 

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Strip washing isn't always the answer.

In today's technological world the Internet is full of so much information on how to look after your cloth nappies and what to do when they aren't working that often it becomes very confusing. Strip washing seems to be at the top of the recommendations list when troubleshooting problems.

As a cloth nappy user I belong to many cloth nappy facebook groups. They are wonderful and shocking at the same time. It is great to have a network of like minded parents to chat to and get advice on different brands etc.What I don't like however is how often people recommend strip washing as the first thing to try or how people moan that they seem to be strip washing their nappies every month. It just doesn't sit right with me.

Here in New Zealand there are 3 main ways of strip washing:
The dishwash method,
The Rockin green Method
and the Sodium Percarbonate soak method.

The dishwash method seems to be the one most people try last if other strips don't work and I can fully understand why. To strip your nappies with this method you basically wash inserts on hot with dishwash liquid and then rinse, rinse, rinse until all suds/bubbles are gone. The cheapest nastiest dishwash liquid is recommended as it is least likely to contain moisturisers which can cause build up. I personally wouldn't use this method as some of the chemicals in dishwash liquid can be harsh and would you really want that anywhere near your baby's bum? I am sensitive and allergic to most dishwash detergents on the market so wouldn't trust them not to cause rashes. 

The Rockin' Green method is the most common one I see being mentioned online. There are two ways of doing this one and it all seems dependent on how bad your nappies are and why you are strip washing. The first one is to do a 12-24 hour soak using regular Rockin Green detergent. Then wash on hot with no detergent and rinse, rinse rinse. The second is a bit more in-depth and more suited if you have major issues. You do an overnight(12ish hours) soak in regular Rockin Green then wash, then do a second soak for approx same amount of time in Funk Rock and wash again. 

The third and final method is the one most commonly used by people who use homemade laundry powder or are switching to it and want to strip their nappies first. For this method you soak your nappies in Sodium Percarbonate that has been dissolved in water for 12-24 hours and wash with no detergent then rinse rinse rinse.

Here is why I have never done a "strip wash" as such and believe that strip washing should be your absolute last resort.

Yes I have had smelly nappies, but no I have never stripped them. I found that initially my issue was the way I washed my nappies so altered my regular wash cycle. Then found that I started getting smells again so did a long hot wash with a 20-30 minute soak added to the cycle and they were fine again. When my son is teething I find I start getting smells but a hot wash solves that and to be honest nothing can really stop teething wee from smelling. 

Recently I have been getting leaks on a regular basis. I tried adding more absorbency and have had no problems since. I also had an issue with my night nappies leaking so after someone recommended adjusting the rise of the ones I use, I did it and have had not leaks since. 

So if your nappies smell or if they leak stripping isn't always the answer. Try a long hot wash first, adjust your wash cycle, add more absorbency or adjust the fit. Problem solve first then if absolutely nothing works try a strip. Doing it too often can be harsh on your inserts, elastics and waterproofing and can actually cause more issues.

So please I beg you try other things first.

Friday, 19 September 2014

It's lunch time: Tuna and Tomato Sandwiches.

So now that my prefold tutorial mini series is finished I thought I'd branch away from nappies/diapers temporarily and into sandwich fillings. After getting bored of making ham and cheese sandwiches every night for my partners lunch I challenged myself to get creative. So here is my first recipe:

Tuna & Tomato

1 95g Tin of Tuna
1-2 cherry tomatoes
1 Tbsp of finely diced onion (I used red but Spring onion works just as well)
1-2 Tbsp of aioli or mayonnaise
4 slices of bread

Drain tuna and put into a small bowl. Flavoured tuna works well I used naturally smoked flavour today. Add aioli or mayonnaise.

Finely dice the cherry tomato and add to bowl with the onion.

Stir until combined, add more mayonnaise if required.

Spread onto buttered bread and your done. If your going to be eating it straight away you don't need to butter the bread, however if the sandwiches are going to be sitting in a lunchbox for a couple of hours before being eaten I recommend spreading a little butter or margarine on the bread first. This creates a barrier and stops the bread soaking up as much of the juice from the filling, soggy bread really isn't appealing.

To finish of my partners lunch I always add a piece of fruit, a couple of muesli bars and some home baking. My partner isn't really one to request vegetables in his lunch so I have to get creative. Chopped cherry tomatoes and onions add extra flavour but also extra nutrients.

Stay tuned for more sandwich filler ideas.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Prefold Tutorial: Newspaper Fold

This is one of the slightly and I mean slightly more complex folds for prefold nappies/diapers. It is most commonly used for boys as the bulk layers of absorbency are situated at the front of the nappy/diaper.

Step one: Lay prefold out in front of you.

Fold up the front of the nappy. How much depends on how long your prefold is and how tall you need the rise.

Fold over one side to the middle

Fold over other side to the middle to form a trifold type pad

Fold out the wings at the top.

 Place baby onto the nappy, bring front up between the legs, wings around the waist and fasten on the baby.

Lastly place your choice of cover over the top and you are all go.

Hints: If you find that your wings aren't quite reaching around to meet with the front of the nappy you can fan out the front bit a little to provide more coverage.

Check out my Facebook, Youtube and Instagram for regular updates and more

Prefold Tutorial: Jelly Roll Fold

The following fold is perfect for newborns and any babies still in the explosive liquid poop stage. Be sure to watch the video demonstration at the end and feel free to check out my Check out my Facebook, Youtube and Instagram for regular updates and more.

Step one: Lay prefold out in front of you

 Roll in one side

Roll in other side to form a second protective wall.

Fold over the front to shorten rise if needed

Place baby down on nappy, bring front up between the legs and fasten how you prefer. Here I have used a Snappi.

Hints: For extra protection fold back down to form a barrier for those very explosive liquid poops.

Prefold Tutorial: Diva Fold

This fold is the angel wing fold but in reverse. It is great if you prefer the bulk to be at the back of the nappy and also if you have a child who can get the covers off. It places the Snappi or Boingo at the back so your child cannot reach it to remove.

Step one: Lay prefold out in front of you.

Fold in one side at the front

 Fold in other side at the front, this forms almost a pyramid shape and creates the "wings" at the top of the nappy.

Fold up an extra rise at the bottom.

Place baby onto the nappy face down.

Bring folded bit up between legs

Bring the wings around to the bag and fasten with your choice of fastner, here I have used a Boingo.

Check out my Facebook, Youtube and Instagram for regular updates and more.Links are at the top right of the page.

Prefold Tutorial: Bikini Twist Fold

This is an easy fold that is great for girls and for wriggly babies.

Step one: Lay prefold out in front of you.

  Place baby onto the prefold with the back of the nappy approximately level with the belly button.

As you bring the front up between the legs twist to reduce the bulk and also to create a section with bulk absorbency right between the legs where its most common for girls to pee.

Fold down the rise and tuck the front around the waist

Bring wings around from the back and fasten with your choice of fastner, here I used a Boingo.
Check out my Facebook, Youtube and Instagram for regular updates and more.Links are at the top right of the page.