Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cloth Diapering with a High Efficiency Washer

Laundering cloth diapers is of utmost concern to anyone who has decided to cloth diaper their child.  Besides the common questions about poop (How do I get it off? Will my clothes have poop on it? Etc.) the biggest question is "What does your wash routine look like?".  In my workshops I tell folks that water is the most important part of the wash routine - it needs to be at the right temperature, pH, and quantity.  By quantity I mean there needs to be a lot of it to properly rid the diapers of detergent that can cause build-up which will eventually lead to a cloth diapering mommy's worst nightmare - ammonia build-up and moisture repelling.

The first 2 years of my cloth diapering journey I had a great top loading machine - no HE here.  And it worked great!  So for those of you that have an old school top loader you're generally in the clear.  Recently I moved to a new home and we had to buy a new washing machine.  I was faced with the decision - do I buy a less efficient top loader just for my cloth diapers? Or, do I buy a high efficiency washer/dryer and get with the times already?  We decided to do the latter since we sure hope to have this washer & dryer for a lot longer than I'll be changing diapers.

First of all for those of you who are still rocking your old school washer and have no idea what the differences are here's a quick lesson.  Non-HE top loader machines can potentially fill the drum to the top with water.  Your clothes are completely submerged in the water and the drum agitates to launder your clothes.  With a front-loading HE machine the drum will never fill to the top so you clothes are never completely submerged.  Instead using smart technology it senses the weight of your laundry load, brings in just enough water such that when the drum spins the clothes passes through the water sufficiently.  That is, the water just sits at the bottom of the drum hence uses significantly less water than its counterpart, the old school top loader.  This can pose a problem to a cloth diaper load if the way this machine works isn't totally understood.

With all this in mind I shopped cautiously for a front loader and found an LG washer/dryer combo.  I checked out the features and spoke with a customer service person online and was thrilled at the features.  First of all, the washer has a "sanitary" pre-set that, no joke, in the manual says, "for washing cloth diapers".  I said, "what?!?!".  This setting automatically does an extra hot wash and a cold rinse.  Then I have the option to add the cold pre-wash and an extra rinse.  Yay!  There's even a dispenser for the pre-wash so if I want to put some vinegar in there to help kill some odors then I can without having to come back and put in detergent.  Also the extra hot wash is awesome because the washer has an internal water heater that boosts the water temperature... so I don't have to mess with my water heater, I'll always be getting extremely hot water in my wash.  The cycle does take about 2 hours though so the water savings, I think, may be negated by the energy usage.  However, because the water uses such little water I have to use much less soap, otherwise I'll get build up.  This translates into a savings on detergent - good stuff!

So I took the plunge and bought this washer/dyer.  I've been using this machine now for 3 months and here's my opinion.  I love the pre-set as I think it's great that someone out there is thinking about us.  I'm thinking that I still haven't figured out the optimum quantity of soap so whenever I think I may be having some build up I do a "rinse + spin" cycle with another extra rinse once the wash is done just to be sure.  The quality of the wash is pretty much the same - diapers still look clean, even when I've put in my newborn's breastfed poopy diapers.  I especially love that the front-loader doesn't have that darned agitator in the middle of the drum that shredded a couple of my shirts in my old washer... I'm thinking that should be less stress on my cloth diapers too.

In summary, I wouldn't be afraid of buying a high-efficiency front-loader washer if you're upgrading.  It can work, and will work. And yes, I would totally recommend buying an LG washer for the awesome cycle pre-sets, especially the cool sanitary cycle.  Thanks for thinking of us LG!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Diaper Sprayer: How do I love thee, let me count the ways...

Most people's biggest concern about using cloth diapers is the poop.  I've discussed previously how to deal with poop using disposable liners and diaper sprayers.  I want to talk more about the diaper sprayer because I firmly believe this is one thing you should definitely invest in. Now remember, the diaper sprayer connects to the domestic water line on your toilet, and typically the toilet is right beside the bath tub.  So stick with me while I recount the many reasons I love my diaper sprayer:

  1. Infant Care: Everybody knows that babies' poop can sometimes be lethal - explosive, mushy and just plain gross.  And sometimes the poop is so lethal that you may just say to yourself, "we need to just hose down this kid".  In comes the diaper sprayer.  Trust me, I've had to do this a couple of times.  This is a two-man job - daddy can hold the baby over the tub while mommy sprays that poopy butt. And yes, the water may be a little cold, but, it's for a short moment in time - they'll survive.  
  2. Getting Poop off the Diaper: The reason you bought the diaper sprayer in the first place, to get the poop off the diaper prior to washing.  This becomes necessary once baby is done with breast milk.  So hold the diaper over the toilet and hit the diaper with the water at an angle.  The key here is to have the right water pressure.  If the pressure isn't high enough nothing is going to happen and you'll get frustrated.  If the pressure is too high you'll have water, and maybe some poop, everywhere.  So turn it up just enough for it to be effective. I usually get asked about the "splash back".  Once again, it's all about the water pressure.  And here's my tip on getting that poop off...if you can just set the poopy diaper aside for maybe half hour giving the poop some time to dry (if it's the mushy peanut-buttery poop) then it will harden up a bit making it much easier to get off.  The water will literally peel the poop off rather than getting even more mushy with the water.
  3. Potty Training: When you're child goes poopy in the potty how do you get it into the toilet? Ding ding ding - the good old diaper sprayer.  Having this thing makes it easy to rinse out the potty after a pee pee and especially after a poopy.
  4. Bidet: Turn down the pressure on the sprayer and it can double as a bidet.  Ladies, who needs it more than we do?
In summary I am really happy I bought my diaper sprayer even though I resisted it initially.  It has served me well for the past two years and I have a few more years to go with these kiddies.  I can't imagine cloth diapering without it, and every cloth diapering mommy that I've met who has bought one says the same thing.  
Click here to buy yours today.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-changes: Eco Babies becomes Lilly's Diaper Pad

I haven't written a post on this blog in 6 months, or done a whole lot with respect to my business for that matter.  I can definitely say that this period has re-affirmed to me the old adage about getting out what you put in - i.e. you reap what you sow.  I haven't been putting in as much time and effort as I had been in the first year, but there is a reason for that, so, here's a window into what has been going on with me, and a little bit of where the biz is headed.

First thing, I was very much pregnant for the first 6 months of 2012.  We welcomed our second beautiful baby girl, ZoĆ« Elizabeth, on June 8.  Meanwhile, back in October 2011 we put an offer on a house and the whole sale was quite a stressful one.  This consumed our lives till March as we had to do renovations, pack, move, find a tenant for our current home, etc,  And let's not forget I am still working my stressful full-time job.  It was as if everything that could happen just decided to happen at one time.  So, Eco Babies had to sit on the back burner for a bit.  During this time also we decided to change the business name so it could stand out from all the other "Eco" and "Baby" businesses out there.  So here I am with all this stuff going on and trying to conjure up a new business name.

Now that things are a little settled I am trying to get this business back on track.  We have a new name and a fancy new logo. We're going to continue doing cloth diapering workshops hosted by Holy Cross Hospital, and will be doing workshops in my home hopefully by next month.  That's right, it is a little weird, but, this new home has afforded me some space that I am going to take advantage of. And let's be real, the best place for a small home-based business to start is at home :)  I remember when I bought my first cloth diaper we went to a workshop at the Owner's home and they seem to be doing really well now.

The DC Metro area still does not have many conveniently located storefronts for cloth diapers.  Though I am not ready to open a storefront yet, I believe that my home in Bowie (15 minutes from Washington, DC), can possibly fill a gap and provide a convenient option for customers to come check out some diapers.

So, look out for Lilly's Diaper Pad. We're coming back HARD!