Monday, September 8, 2014

Trying something sort of crazy...

Remember back when I posted a video on washing cloth diapers? It was roughly a year ago. That cleaning routine was fantastic...until the day it quit working. Right about the time kiddo #2 was born we started getting some issues with ammonia build up. It only seemed to occur in Avery's diapers, and not Jake's so we chalked it up to toddler pee and tried making some small tweaks to the wash routine. Well...Jake is 8 months old now and we're still battling this thing, which has turned into a raging monster. Both kids are getting full-on ammonia burns after putting on 1 cloth diaper, and this is 1 or 2 wash cycles after stripping.  I'm at my wits end!

At one time or another over the past 8 months this is what I've tried:

  • Cutting back on the number of diapers washed at one time
  • Increasing the wash frequency to every day instead of every 2-3 days
  • Eliminating ALL additives from the wash. (For a while I had been adding a few drops of Grapefruit seed extract and tea tree oil after Avery got a yeast rash, so I wanted to make sure I completely killed that too.)
  • Switching to a different cloth-safe detergent, and another one after that
  • Switching to Tide
  • Soaking in Vinegar 
  • Soaking in Bleach
  • Soaking in a Vinegar/Oxi-clean solution
  • Stripping with blue Dawn
  • Stripping with RLR
  • Stripping with just hot water
  • Boiling the inserts using a pot on the stove
  • Adding more detergent to each load (we also tried less at the beginning as I thought our problems might have been from detergent build up and not ammonia)
  • Adding "Funk Rock" to the routine, including do a recommended soak with it
  • Rinsing both wet and dirty diapers before putting them in the diaper pail
  • Leaving the diaper pail lid open to encourage air flow
To a degree, some of these things helped.  It would knock back our problems for a little while, but then they'd come creeping back slightly worse for the next round. I'd say the boiling was the most helpful, but it was a complete PITA and it made me nervous to do it when the kids were awake, so it took forever to get all of our inserts done. I refuse to do it again. I also realize that ammonia in my diapers means they are not getting fully clean in the wash and that a change in my regular wash routine is required. However, nothing I change is ever going to work until I get the ammonia completely out of my diapers for good. I have to get them back to being super clean before I can truly test any changes to my wash routine.

So I went browsing, again, for a solution. This time I found a suggestion for using ammonia remover that is used in aquariums. After a quick google search of "Aquarium Ammonia remover for cloth diapers" the first article came back with a title along the lines of "Ways to ruin your cloth diapers". While this was not a promising start, I read several more articles claiming this actually worked with no ill-effects to the diapers. And now I have 28 microfiber inserts soaking with this stuff in my washer right now. (Here was the article with actual directions.)

Quite frankly, it doesn't matter if the ammonia remover ruins my diapers.  They are already ruined in the sense that I can't put them on my children without causing physical harm. Cloth diapers do not benefit me sitting in a drawer. And I'm dumping cash into disposables while I'm trying to heal their rashes and get the ammonia out of the diapers. This stuff will either be a $5 miracle fix to get rid of ammonia, or I'm dropping a lot more money to find a new solution. That may be in the form of buying cotton prefolds to stuff into my pockets (Supposedly, those are less likely to cause ammonia issues because the fabric washes more easily than microfiber) or giving up cloth completely and switching to disposables. I'll let you know how the experiment turns out...

Here's the verdict.

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