Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Flats Challenge Part 3

Day 4
I just about threw the towel in last night.  It was not a good one.  Mary was crying most of the night with an ear ache and the thought of taking care of a sick toddler while hand washing diapers was not high on my list.  We also have about 20 people coming over on Saturday and my husband is planning to smoke some meat and have a BBQ.  Anyway, since I am literally hand washing my diapers, I wanted to quit.  It didn’t seem worth it to me.  However this morning my tune has changed a bit.  I really felt like I couldn’t quit; almost like morally I couldn’t quit.  I have been cloth diapering for so long that giving up is not an option.  Plus, we are planning to take a family vacation this summer and we will be gone for about 5 days at a camp where there are no laundry facilities.  I refuse to buy a box of diapers when I already have diapers.  So the plan today is to go to the local hardware store and get me a plunger and bucket for my bucket washer.  I need a washing tool.  The diapers that I washed last night were okay.  They didn’t smell strongly, but there was still a faint lake water smell.  I will continue to wash every night, but this time I will use the bucket.  If that works, then I know I will be able to take all my flats and covers with me on vacation.
I didn’t get my bucket washer yet; however I do have a plunger and a 13 gallon trash can so I made my own wash bucket.  The plunger makes a huge difference.  When I put my diapers in (10 flats 2 hemp flats and a handful of wash rags) I could see the soap residue.  Argh!  No wonder my diapers stank.  So, I did a soak with some vinegar and plunged it for a while.  I did a hot wash with detergent and let that soak as well.  Then it was all followed by three cold water rinses.  With each fill I plunged and hand wrung out the diapers.  At the end, there was just a slight (ever so slight) cloudiness to the water and so I called it good.  I’ve been using the diapers from the first wash and though they smelled while drying, after being peed on they don’t have a stench to them.  Ahh, the beauty of flats.  HA!

Day 5
I’m losing steam.  I really enjoy using flats, but I really do not like washing them by hand.  I’m not sure I will be making it to Sunday before quitting.  Here it is at the end of the day and I haven’t washed the diapers.  I have plenty of diapers to get me through Saturday, but then I will be trying to wash 35+ diapers again.  So I’m just tempted to say I’ve tried it and throw all my diapers into the washer Saturday evening.  With all our family coming over I will be wiped and not in the mood to wash diapers by hand.  I will definitely be keeping my flats in my diaper rotation and they are nice to use. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Flats Challenge Part 2

Day 3
This morning it was time to wash the load of diapers.  I soaked them in the pail in cold water with about a tablespoon of detergent.  I’m thinking next time to use a bit more detergent, or even maybe some vinegar and baking soda.  The soak water was pretty icky.  I drained out the bin and rang out the diapers and wipes.  I then filled the tub with hot water and detergent and swished all of them around.  Then with running cool water I began rinsing them all.  The whole process probably took an hour.  My hands were very sore, but I did it.  One thing I have to do the rest of the week is to make sure all diapers are rinsed after use.  Poop needs to be completely rinsed out and give the pee diapers a quick rinse.  This will really help minimize the buildup in the tub and make it easier to get them clean.  Some of my diapers do have stains though.  Most of it is from Michael’s poop.  I have two drying racks in the house for hanging.  I’m really bummed that the sun isn’t out.  So for now I had to fold them in half and hang three per bar.  I’m down to only 8 diapers for the two babies for right now until my diapers dry.  I’m not sure how fast they are going to dry.  So we may have to get creative.  I do have a few prefolds which could be used.  Not sure if that is against the “rules” but I will have to figure something out if they don’t dry in time.  I do have a stand up fan blowing on the bigger rack trying to help them along.  In total, I washed 35 diapers and 13 wash rags.  Okay so that math may not add up, but I must confess that I didn’t use a rag at every diaper change.  So the biggest question remains, “Do I wash every day or stick to every other day.”  I have night diapers for two nights, but as it is now, two of them are in the pail from last night.  I guess I should have washed them this morning.  Hm, I could still wash them this afternoon so that they will be ready for tomorrow.  

I am very upset; my diapers have that lake water fish smell which means only one thing: I failed.  Yup, I failed at washing my diapers.  They did not get clean enough.  The receiving blankets are fine, but the unbleached cotton flats are funky.  I’m not re-washing 33 diapers again at this moment, so maybe I will have to wash every day.  I’m thinking I may wash again tonight to let them dry overnight too.  It was like watching a pot of water boil.  I was so antsy to have those things dry because I was running so low on diapers.    I ended up spreading the diapers apart and had to take some off of the racks.  I took 13 diapers off so that I could open the rest up.  So I had some hanging in the bathroom and on the clothes lines above my washer and dryer.

I put the kids in their night diapers (which hemp does not line dry very well, pretty stiff) then tossed everything into the tub.  I did a hot soak (no cold rinse because I had been rinsing out all the diapers as I changed them) with detergent.  I gave it all a good swish and let it soak.  I’m not really sure how long I let it set; enough time to cuddle the babies in hopes of putting them to bed (yeah didn’t happen).  I went back to the diapers and gave them another good swishing, drained tub and rung out the diapers, wipes and tossed the two covers into the sink.  I filled tub with cold water to rinse, swish and ring again.  Then I had a final cold rinse and tossed the covers back in too. 

So, during my first rinse/ring out session, my husband and I began talking.  He saw me knelt down and bent over the tub with my hands in this mass of diapers and he asked me how I was doing.  It was actually going well.  It was easier than the first time.  Before I had 35 diapers this time it was only 13 diapers, 2 prefolds for night, 2 covers, and 1 fleece liner.  I continued to swish and ring and he asked if I would recommend this to someone who didn’t have a machine and honestly I wouldn’t.  I can’t honestly suggest to someone to hand wash diapers the way I’m doing it.  I have no equipment to aid me.  Already I’m struggling with stink issues.  If you take a look at the progression of washing (and I haven’t done any deep historical background check so take me with a grain of salt) women always had some sort of tool to aid them in cleaning their laundry.  Before running water they used a free flowing river or lake where they never had to replenish their water and used a rock to scrub on.  Then there were washboards and then hand cranked washing machines and ringers which later had motors or some sort of electrical power added on to it.  Then the rest is history.  I was trying to keep it simple, but in fact it is actually making things harder.  So, the only way I can honestly recommend cloth diapering to a family who doesn’t have machines or can’t afford the laundry mat is that along with the diapers they need to have some sort of washing tool whether it be a camping bucket with plunger or a hand cranked machine.

I’m really looking forward to hopefully seeing the sun the rest of the week.  Not only has the rain cancelled the kids’ baseball/softball games, but I have not been able to sun my diapers.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Flats Challenge Part 1

I had decided to participate in the flats hand washing challenge, so through the week, I wrote about my experiences.  Here is how it all went.  

Day 1
It was an easy day for sure.  I had everything prepped and ready to go.  I did have to wash what was sitting in the pail at the time, but I just threw that all in the washer.  I wasn’t about to start washing about 12 pockets by hand, plus inserts.  Anyway, since I only have 6 covers for day and 2 for night I decided to try the coverless on Veronica.  She’s such a busy-body toddler that I figured it would be easy just to keep an eye on her and if she is wet to change her right away.  With covers I tend to go a little too long between changes and then have stinky covers.  So I use the covers on Michael (8 months) all day and let Veronica go coverless.  So it was a really nice day of simple changes.  I use one fold for the both of them.  It maximizes the layers and makes them nice and absorbent.  The receiving blankets are awesome; so totally cute coverless.  Since she is coverless I have pulled out my pins.  Yes, I love those pins.  It really does complete the whole system when coverless.  I don’t trust the snappi especially on the blankets.  The teeth don’t grab the tighter weave.  For night I used a hemp babies flat tri-folded in a flat (and honestly I don’t remember which fold I used for that).

Day 2
It was another easy going day.  Flats really are easy to use.  I’m starting to wonder that I should be using my fleece liners to help catch the toddler poo.  Michael is still breastfeeding so his poop is not hard to clean.  Oh, which reminds me, I really miss my sprayer.  I love my sprayer.  It works so well with the toddler “peanut butter” poop.  All I’ve done has been swishing them in the toilet and I’m not sure that will be enough when it comes time to wash the diapers.  Speaking of which, I haven’t really thought of how I am going to wash them.  I’m thinking of soaking them in the pail (13 gallon trash can) overnight then washing in the bathtub. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bleached or Unbleached.

The modern cloth diaper allows for so many choices.  You can chose from what style you want to use: all-in-one, hybrid (all-in-two), pockets, prefolds (Chinese or Indian), flats, and fitteds.  Then you can chose what kind of fabric you want to use: cotton, bamboo, hemp, microfiber, microfleece, suedecloth, and organic cotton or hemp.  With the prefolds and flats you also have the choice of bleached or unbleached cotton.  Wow, makes your head spin right?  You thought a diaper was a diaper right?  Nope, we mommas like to have a choice!  HA!

 When I first ventured back into the world of cloth diapers, I wanted to go with the cheapest option which was prefolds and covers.  Previously I had used Gerber prefolds with pins and the pull up pants.  I really didn't mind them, and they never bothered the kids even in the hot Florida summer weather.  As I began searching I had to choose between Chinese or Indian cotton and bleached and unbleached.  I didn't look into it too much, but from surface value, choosing between bleached and unbleached didn't seem too tough; choose between a cotton fabric that has or has not been through the bleaching process.  Since no chemicals have stripped the unbleached threads, I decided to go with that.  So, what is the difference?  

I found a great explanation from the OsoCozy website at alltogetherdiaper.com.  For bleached cotton, the cotton yarn goes through a bleaching process to strip the natural oils from the thread before it is woven.  In doing so, the thread is less durable and the strength of the thread is reduced.  Unbleached woven cotton has not been through the bleaching process.  Unbleached cotton threads retain their natural oils and remain durable.  However, because they still have their natural oils on them, they have to go through 2-3 washes (for flats) and about 6-8 (for prefolds) to remove their oils and be at their maximum absorbency.  

I like using unbleached because you are using the natural fabric/material against baby's skin.  Many times little one's have such sensitive skin, so keeping it natural reduces exposure to any remaining chemical residue left on the fabric.  Also, unbleached cotton weave is so super soft.  My Indian unbleached prefolds (which you can find on my website) are the softest prefolds I have ever used. 

Challenge starts tomorrow!

Well tomorrow is the day.  The Flats and Handwashing challenge starts tomorrow.  Now it will sound very silly, but I do have a bit of anxiety.  I think my biggest "fear" is not being able to get the diapers clean enough and having smelly diapers.  However, I will be worrying over nothing since flats are made up of just a single layer of woven cotton.  I'm really hoping the weather will cooperate and that I will have plenty of sunshine to dry my diapers with.  If not, I may just have to pull out the fan to help speed up the process.  Oh, the biggest thing will be to not be tempted to use my pockets and prefolds.  Hmm, to remedy this, I will have to put all my pockets and prefolds away.  Out of sight out of ... uh... mind?  Nah, that little thought will still be dancing around my head that they are still in the house, but if I put them away they will not be readily available to use.  I'm totally not expecting my husband to participate.  I've never sat down and shown him how to fold flats.  We did use prefolds for about a year when I got back into cloth diapering when Mary was a baby.  So, he does know how to use a snappi and cover. 

I frequent a diaper forums called DiaperSwappers and I came across a thread about a new fold for flat diapers.  This fold (some have called it the Airplane Fold) is good for boys because it created the most layers in the front.  I love this fold; it works wonders with my receiving blankets.  There is really no need to add any doubler (unless using this fold for naps or night) because there are lots of layers.  I just need to find a good one like this for girls. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hand Washing Diapers.

Using cloth diapers has always been a bit of a no brainer decision.  I just can't argue against all of the benefits for my baby, finances, and environment.  The one thing that made it such an easy decision for me, though, is that I have all of the modern conveniences to make it possible and easy.  Yes, easy.  I wholeheartedly feel that cloth diapering is easy.  Whether you have one, two or even three in diapers.  After all, I've done it.  A washer and dryer has really made life easy for a cloth diapering mom.

Now I believe there are some moms (and maybe even dads) who would love to use cloth diapers, but just can't seem to make it work because of the lack of proper facilities/equipment.  So I'm sure you have heard now (especially if you are active in the cloth diapering circle) there is a Flats and Handwashing Challenge going on right now.  [click on the link and you can read all the details about it]

At first I wasn't too interested.  As I read more through all of my favorite blogs, I began to ponder it.  Honestly considering joining this challenge.  One reason is that coming up in July we have a family reunion where we will be gone for about 5 days and I decided to use flats and covers.  My decision for this is because I normally use pockets and a few AIO at home and there is no way I felt that I could get them clean by washing by hand.  That's right, I will be on vacation and willingly decided to hand wash my flats.  We will be at a camp and I'm pretty sure there will not be any laundry facilities there.  Anyway, since I was so willing to hand wash them there, why can't I try this at home?  This made me think of a friend of mine who has four kids and lives in an apartment.  She has flats and covers but has not been using them because she has a hard time keeping up with them.  So, here I have a chance to see what it's like.  Plus, as a cloth diaper advocate I want to be confident when I tell some one, "Even if you don't have a washer/dryer, it is still very possible to cloth diaper your baby full time!  After all, I've done it myself."

So, beginning May 23rd, I will be joining moms all over the country (and I'm sure all over the world) in the Flats and Handwashing Challenge.  I will blog and journal about my experiences, and I hope it will encourage you to honestly look into the benefits of cloth diapering.