Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cloth Diapering with a Community Washer/Dryer

In one of my recent private in-home consults I spoke to a lovely couple - the wife really wanted to cloth diaper their baby due in a couple of months, and the husband was a little skeptical, but wanted to support his wife.  They were brand new to cloth diapering so even though the husband kept asking me about laundering, I asked him to be patient as I went through my entire presentation which addresses laundering at the end.  At the end I found out why he was so concerned about laundry - they didn't have a washer/dryer in their condo and had to pay $1.25 per wash and dry cycle in the community washing machine that was at least 20 years old.  For the typical cold pre-rinse, hot wash, cold extra rinse, then dry cycles this meant one load of cloth diapers would cost them $5 each time.  This was an immediate deal breaker. :(  And for good reason.  But this doesn't rule out cloth diapering in a community washer/dryer.  Here are a couple of things that should be evaluated prior to embarking on this.

So, if you're like this couple and have to spend $5 per load then unfortunately, if cost is the driving factor for you using cloth diapers, then this will stop you dead in your tracks.  But, if your laundry facility charges maybe a third of this then cloth diapers still ends up being cheaper than disposables.  A simple Google search on "cost of cloth diapers vs disposables" will yield a variety of cost comparison analyses on the matter, including the cost of additional utilities all yielding the same results - cloth is cheaper than disposables.

Isn't That Inconsiderate for Other Users?
The biggest question I get from people with this problem is they think it inconsiderate to have their child's poopy diapers in the same washing machine as other people's clothes... or vice versa - they don't want to have their child's diapers mixing with whatever stuff might be in other people's clothes.  This is a pretty easy one to address. I liken this to washing clothes in a college dorm laundromat - we all did it and we had no clue what other people were doing in the privacy of their dorm room... I mean, it was college.  So what do you do? May I suggest a little vinegar.  Vinegar is a natural disinfectant.  So try wiping down the inside of the washing machine with a vinegar solution (50/50 vinegar/water solution) prior to, and maybe even after use.

What about Fabric Softeners & Dryer Sheets?
Yes, we all  know that fabric softeners and dryer sheets are a no-no for cloth diapers. And we can't control what others are putting into their wash loads.  This is a tricky one but the answer is simple - vinegar. Thoroughly wipe down the drum of the washer with a vinegar solution, and if the machine has a fabric softener dispenser put some of this solution in the dispenser to help break up any build up in the dispenser.  I would suggest doing this with your own clothes on a regular basis and not just with your baby's diapers.  As for dryer sheets I would so the same thing, wipe down the inside of the dryer prior to placing your clothes or baby's diapers to help eliminate any chemical build up caused by dryer sheets.  And as usual use dryer balls in everyone's clothes.

Here's a tip that will save you money and eliminate the dryer sheet issue - if your condo/apartment gets some sunlight on a balcony, and your neighbors or condo association won't be too annoyed, hang your cloth diapers out to dry.  The sun will dry your diapers for free while removing stains at the same time.

Don't you hate it when people come in and take your clothes out of the washer or dryer because they can't wait?  Cheap fix - Get an egg timer and be sure to beat those folks to the machine!

Diaper laundry service
Here's another option.  If the whole thing is just too much work, but you really want to cloth diaper for all the right reasons, then find a diaper laundry service in your area and get on their program.  Diaper laundry services are highly regulated and are subject to meeting compliance standards. Samples of diapers have to be tested on a regular basis for bacteria and fecal matter and are rated accordingly.

Bottom line, as usual, where there's a will there's a way.  So if you really want to cloth diaper, but don't have the convenience of your own washer & dryer, there is a way to get around that.  Weigh the pros and cons of cost and convenience for your family to see if cloth diapering will work for you.

Friday, August 12, 2011

GroVia Hybrid Diaper Review - Part 2 - The Disposable Option

Last week we had a wedding to attend in Los Angeles so we made a vacation of it and took the week off, went to San Diego and then off to LA with the fam.  I figured this would be the perfect time to finally test out the GroVia Hybrid - disposable option.  The GroVia hybrid diaper consists of a waterproof shell, and the disposable insert known as the Bio-Soaker is flushable, compostable & bio-degradable.  It looks much like its cotton soaker counterpart - contoured with side-walls.  It has short bits of sticky tape on either end to secure the insert to the shell... much like a maxi-pad.

I bought some Green N Pack doggie bags before I left MD so I could dispose of my inserts responsibly, packed 4 GroVia Shells, a 50-pk of the GroVia Bio-Soakers and some extra gDiaper inserts I had left over from my last trip, and set out on vacation.

I used the gDiaper inserts first in the GroVia shell to see how they worked, and they were okay.  They fit fine, but still had the same issue I talked about before of pee being localized to one spot so I never felt like I got my money's worth as half the insert would be dry, and leaking would occur when that front portion was full.

gDiaper insert (top) vs. GroVia insert (bottom)

I was very excited to start using the GroVia inserts, but I must say, I was a little disappointed. At first glance the GroVia insert is clearly smaller than the gDiaper, and a little thinner.  So I was immediately concerned about absorption.  I figured the gDiaper insert is such a waste as it isn't fully utilized, so hopefully pee would wick through this GroVia insert and be able to hold alot of moisture.

I mentioned in Part 1 of this article that my daughter is on a drinking binge right? Not to mention the fact that it was HOT out there... we walked around the San Diego Zoo for hours one day so Becks was downing water and juice like crazy, plus being seated in her stroller the whole time led to compression leaks. She would start to leak after 2 hours of being in the diaper. :(  Another day though, we went to Sea World in the evening so it was cooler, she wasn't drinking that much water - and no leaks.  So, this leads me to believe that if your child isn't a heavy wetter and is drinking moderately you may not have any problem with this insert.  I must say though that the sidewalls in the insert handled poop fabulously!

All-in-all my thoughts are that the GroVia hybrid disposable insert could use a little more cushion, but, for a child who doesn't drink a lot, or isn't a heavy wetter it will be sufficient.  The disposable option is definitely not something I would recommend for an every day use.

After having to wash my shells in the hotel bathroom for a week, and dealing with the leak issues, I was extremely happy to get her back into her faithful cloth diapers when we returned home.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

GroVia Hybrid Diaper Review - Part 1 - The Cloth Option

GroVia is a very popular cloth diapering brand, well known because of its trim fit and for being very cute.  The GroVia hybrid diaper is a one-size-fits-all diaper, that allows the user the option of using a washable cloth insert, or a disposable insert. See part 2 for the disposable insert review.

The shell, as it is called, is the waterproof layer and, according to GroVia, can be used with a prefold as an insert if needs be.  The shell is lined on the inside with mesh, which I believe aids in breathe-ability, as well as helps in catching any stray poop that may have wandered off the soaker insert.  The cotton soaker is contoured with side walls and reminds me very much of a maxi pad.  The soaker has a waterproof backing and a snap at either end which snaps directly into the shell, so no movement allowed.

One really big benefit of the snap-in cotton soaker is a smaller wash load.  Let's say that GroVia hybrid is your main system used at home, then your wash load is cut down to a bunch of maxi pad-sized inserts, with a few shells.  So your load should be lighter and will therefore need a smaller volume of water to wash, and less time to dry.

So how did it work for me? True to form, the diaper is a trim fit - no bubble butt here! And super cute! Absorbency was slightly lacking for my toddler. Fortunately, GroVia sells a stay-dry booster which for us increased the absorbency of the diaper a good 50% - for my kid, without the booster gives her 2 hours of dry time, with it 3-4 hours before leaking occurred.  In all fairness she does drink a lot more than she eats right now, so, she may pee more than the average child. Even with the booster the diaper was still trim, hence there is still room for another booster if really needed.  As for poop, it holds very well - no leakage there!

All in all, I like the GroVia, I like the concept, I like the fit, I would just recommend getting the stay dry boosters as needed for your baby.  Shells are sold separately from inserts.  Cloth inserts and boosters are sold in packs of 2.