Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cloth Wipes 101

When I first started cloth diapering, I was totally clueless. I didn’t know anything other than the directions that came on the packaging. No knowledge of cloth wipes, diaper sprayers, liners, or detergents. As I began researching more and more about cloth diapers, I began stumbling across cloth wipes on blogs and online shops. At first I scoffed. I always scoff and resist change. No surprise that once I tried them, I liked them. {Note to self: Change is good!}
Once again, there was so much information and so many choices for something as simple as cloth wipes. I was immediately overwhelmed. After wading through the info, I discovered an easy way to make wipes pop up out of a disposable wipe container. That was the deciding factor. Once I found a way to make cloth wipes easy, I knew I had to give them a try. Plus, I was getting tired of picking disposable wipes out of the diapers before washing. So I knew that cloth wipes would be a nice solution. Everything gets washed at once, and no extra trips to the garbage can with poopy wipes. I couldn’t wait to get started.
 As soon as I got my wipes in the mail, they were promptly folded to pop out of an old disposable wipe container. Next up was making a wipe solution. Ugh. Again I was overwhelmed by the onslaught of wipe solution recipes. Because I like things to be simple, I use 1 cup of water and 1 tsp of Dr. Bronner’s soap in a spray bottle. I don’t bother with any essential oils or things like that. This is something that you’re making a couple of times a week. I don’t have the time to pull out a bunch of bottles and put a lot of effort into a solution to wipe my son’s rear. Keep it simple.
Surprisingly, Mr. GBE took to using cloth wipes without a hitch. No complaints. Remember mamas, if it’s the only option at the changing station, then it must be used. Plus, I think at this point, he’s cool with my “hippie-ness” as he calls it.
Below are pictures to help demonstrate how to make your wipes pop out of a wipe container. It’s pretty easy. These are Thirsties wipes. They are unbelievably soft. Once you feel them, you won’t be able to resist them. No joke! They are perfect for more than wiping bottoms. I can see how they can easily be used as washcloths for the entire family! And bonus…all Thirsties products are USA made. Sweet! You have to try them. They’ll quickly become a fave with every family member, so good luck keeping the wipes next to your changing station! {So that is my brief sales pitch. Buy your Thirsties wipes here.}

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Try it. You'll like it.

I’m not a huge fan of trying new things. I’m a creature of habit, and I don’t deal well with change. My difficulty with change was made evident when I was switching from disposables to cloth diapers. It took me a long time to do it, and I relied on disposables quite a bit. You can read about my transition to cloth here. But once I made the change, I L.O.V.E.D. it! That’s the funny thing about new things.  I have a difficult time getting myself to try something new, and about 99% of the time I end up happy that I did.
So once I made the switch to use only cloth, I was slammed with about a bazillion different types of cloth diapers. It was so overwhelming to decide what diaper to try next. I was happy with what I was using, but felt the need to try other diapers that I was reading about online. I’ve tried about a quarter of a bazillion brands and types of diapers. So what I sell in my store, are all brands and styles that I have used with much success. I want to be able to know firsthand how well a diaper works before I sell it to another mom. It’s important to me to make sure that other moms have a successful cloth diapering experience.
Why do I sell so many brands and types of diapers? Because every baby is unique, every diaper will fit that baby differently. I want to make sure that I carry a diaper that will work for your little one. So in my experience with trying a quarter of a bazillion diapers, I’ve come up with a rule. Buy 2 of a diaper when trying it out. Why two? For some reason, a brand new diaper always relaxes BW, and a poo is made within minutes. I’m not lying! {I hope BW forgives me when he’s older for always talking about his bowel movements!} So when I change his diaper, I have a second one to use. Two diapers also give you more of a feel of how the diaper works in your stash. You get more use out of them, instead of using it once and waiting a day or two before it can be used again. And after you fall in love with the new diaper, buy more! I really think that simplicity is key when cloth diapering. Stick with a brand/style or two. It does make your life easier when it comes to washing and using them. Or what if you decide it’s not for you? Well, that’s not too difficult either. You’re only stuck with 2 and not a whole stash worth, so trade or sell them. Not much money was invested in the 2 you bought, and it’s time to move on to try a different style.
Still stressed about all the different types of diapers and don’t know where to start? Don’t want to spend a lot of $$ trying out different diapers before building up your stash? Green Baby Elephant can help. Local Tucson Mamas can contact GBE to schedule a private consult or host a diaper party with friends. Being able to see & touch diapers before buying will save you countless hours spent researching online. And it will also save you $$ since you’ll have a much better idea of what you’d like to try, instead of buying diapers sight unseen. And if you don’t have the pleasure of living here in Tucson, I’m still more than happy to help you find a diaper that will work for you and your little one. And remember when trying out a new diaper, always get at least two!

It's always good to have a diaper to match your fave pair of cowboy boots. Or is it a good thing to accessorize a fave diaper with a stylish pair of kicks? Whatever the case, it doesn't hurt to accessorize!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Perseverance Pays Off

My garden is showing some progress. And by progress I mean SPROUTS. Yippee!! I have melon sprouts, bean sprouts, squash sprouts, and random old seeds that have decided to sprout. I can almost taste the fruits and vegetables. I’m so excited. I know there is a long way to go before there’s anything to pick, but just seeing green in the brown dirt makes me hopeful. I’m so glad I didn’t give up. Stubborness Perseverance pays off.

Zuni Basin Method...Melon Sprouts in a Ditch

The last 2 posts have been laundry related, and I can’t help but to once again connect my garden to washing diapers. I have experienced setbacks with both my garden and my laundry routine. And I have worked with other moms that have experienced the same thing {laundry issues, not green thumb issues}. The best advice I can give is to not give up. Things change as your baby grows, so flexibility when washing is helpful. Some examples of situations that will change your wash routine are when baby begins to sleep longer at night {more ammonia in the diapers} and when baby begins eating solids {transition between EBF poo and food poo}. More ammonia and more poo will mean rinsing diapers in the toilet is the first step to rinsing away stinkies before the pre-wash cycle. Less urine and poo left after the pre-rinse will allow for the wash cycle to do its purpose…wash with soap. If you are still fighting ammonia {a very common problem for nighttime & toddler dipes} using Funk Rock or Thirsties Pre-Wash in the pre-rinse cycle may be just what you need. It is worth buying either product to help battle the stinkies. Let me tell you from experience, it sucks to have a wash finish and find that there is still stink. Talk about wasteful when you have to rewash the load…waste of water, electricity, soap, and time! A little Funk Rock or Thirsties Pre-Wash is worth using when you know that your diapers are going to come out clean! For any newbies reading this, I hope I’m not making it sound like washing diapers is difficult. It’s easy, and with washing anything sometimes adjustments need to be made. {Think about the stains that didn’t come out of a shirt, so you end up having to rewash.} When it comes to washing diapers, it is as easy as pressing buttons on your machine!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Washing Tips

My last post was about washing routines, care, and instructions. Now I’d like to discuss some tips that I’ve learned when it comes to washing & drying cloth diapers. A common theme that runs through all the tips will be trial and error. It’s normal in the beginning to have washes not turn out clean diapers. Find what works for you! Different machines, water types {hard/soft}, detergents, and diaper brands will all create different wash routines for different people. And from my experience sometimes even a good wash routine may fail. My biggest problem…broccoli. The boys love it, but when served at dinner, I expect horrid diapers in the morning. I now know that a pre-rinse with the sprayer before putting the diapers in the pail does a lot of good. And I also can tell when our water softener needs more salt, because more soap is needed. So be flexible with your wash routine, and hopefully these tips will make wash day so easy it won’t even feel like a chore!
·         Detergent Amount: Use enough detergent. How much is enough? Your diapers should not have any stink smell when coming out of the washing machine. If they smell stinky, re-wash. It’s also a good idea to check if there are any suds in the final rinse cycle. Too many suds means too much soap. Run another rinse cycle, and use less soap next time.
·         Proper load size: Too many dirties and too few diapers will create havoc. Too many and they won’t come clean. Remember, HE machines don’t use a lot of water. Too few diapers, and they can’t “scrub” against each other very well when washing. There isn’t a magic number, but 18 diapers is a good number to work with. Have I washed more than 18 and less than 18 in loads? Yes. It’s all about being flexible. Adjust soap and wash cycles as needed.
·         Rinse: Rinse the poo! A diaper sprayer is a must. Rinse all the poo off that you can. Less poo on the diaper while in the pail, means less poo in the pre-rinse cycle, and hopefully no poo in the wash cycle. {Please note that breastfed poo is exempt. This rinses away without the need to spray in the toilet.} Rinsing also helps to keep staining at bay. {Confession Alert! I rinse during naptime and after bedtime. Too many “helpful” hands and people in the bathroom while I work. I flick what comes off easily into the toilet and close the diaper up until rinse time. Gross, but effective.}
·         Trick your washer: I have read about, but never used the “Towel Trick”. It consists of adding a towel in your load during the sensing part of the cycle {the beginning} and removing it before the water & soap is added. I have often times poured large bowls of water over a load before the pre-rinse to make the diapers heavier. HE machines go by weight to determine how much water to use. My reasoning is that half dry diapers are only half as heavy. So pouring large bowls of water will make them heavier, and then more water will be used by machine. It’s ok if the water drains out, this is just to get your diapers wet and heavy not to add water to the cycle.
·         Hang dry: Hang drying means less wear and tear on your diapers. Lint is the breaking down of fabrics. Anything that is microfiber hang dries in my house. No need for it to be soft and fluffy since it never touches skin. Pockets and covers are also air dried. Anything that is cotton and touches skin gets dried on low heat for 15-20 minutes before hanging out. Or a good shaking out helps soften up the fabric after air drying.
·         Sun: The sun is the best sanitizer and stain remover. Be sure to Practice Safe Sun.
·         Large Stash Size: This is probably the least mentioned and most important tip when it comes to washing diapers. It is essential to have a good size stash {over 24, closer to 36 + diapers} to keep your diapers functional. Repeated washing of a small stash will wear out your diapers faster. I guarantee it! You will not save money by having a small stash, because they will wear out quickly and you will have to buy more. A large amount of diapers will keep them rotating through less frequently, and will make them last longer. The diapers will then wear and tear at a slower rate, and since they will last longer you will get your money’s worth. They’ll be sure to last for more babies or will be acceptable condition to sell to others. As with any fabric, repeated washing & drying will wear out the item. Think of your fav shirt. You’ve probably had it for years and wear it in high rotation in your wardrobe. Does it have holes? Is it frayed? Is it super thin and faded? Yes, yes, and yes. You love it, but it’s not a “functional” shirt to wear outside of the house. At least mine isn’t. The same will happen if you have too few diapers. Be sure to invest in your diapers and make them last through potty learning and then some!


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Wash Routines

Different cloth diapers call for different wash routines. I think the best thing for a cloth diapering mom to do is to stick with one or two brands of diapers. Unfortunately, I can’t follow my own advice. Everything I sell, I use. I have a lot of washing instructions to follow! But here’s my secret to keeping it simple…a cold pre-rinse {to rinse out pee & poo}, a warm/warm wash, and a cold rinse at the end. Why a warm wash and not hot? Well, I recently added GroVia AI2’s and AIO’s back to my stash after passing along my old GroBaby and DreamEze diapers. GroVia doesn’t recommend hot washes, so I wash everything in warm. And it works. The majority of my other diapers can be washed in hot, but why do separate loads when warm does the trick? Everything still comes out clean.
My usual wash cycle is as pictured below. The Bulky Cycle & the Sheets cycle uses a lot of water. Mix it up and try to find the cycle that uses the most water. Every now and then I use a cycle with less water to allow the wash plate {at the bottom of the barrel} to “scrub” my diapers. After I do that, I make sure to rinse a couple of extra times since less water is used. My washer seems to be a rarity, a top loading HE. I love it though, especially after it was fixed.
In addition to working out a good wash routine, it is essential to use the right kind of detergent. Most laundry detergents in the grocery store are either too harsh for cloth diapers or contain additives that can harm your diapers. Free & clear soaps, are often free & clear of scents and dyes. Optical brighteners are in a majority of detergents, and these are made to coat fabrics to make them appear whiter or cleaner. So, these will coat your diapers and cause them to repel liquids, which will lead to leaky diapers. Currently, I am using GroVia’s Tiny Bubbles. It’s made for GroVia diapers. When I had GroVia’s out of rotation, I used Rockin’ Green Detergent with much success. Both detergents work well, but to keep my diapers in good condition I make sure to stick with what is recommended by the manufacturer. Recently, Rockin’ Green came out with a Remix formula. I have heard though the Facebook grapevine, that Grovia will be testing Rockin’ Green to see how well it works on their diapers. Many other cloth diaper companies recommend Rockin’ Green. So be sure to follow what is suggested. Green Baby Elephant carries Tiny Bubbles, Rockin’ Green, and Thirsties Pre-Wash and Super Wash.
You have invested money in your cloth diapers. Make sure to use the correct wash temp and detergent to make them last. I’d hate to see a client buy a stash of diapers and ruin them by using a “bad” detergent or washing improperly.
Since each diaper company has different wash routines, I thought I’d make it easy to find what is recommended in on place. So below are links to each company’s washing instructions.
If you’ve gone through and read all the different washing instructions, you’ll see there are similarities as well as differences. Some say wash hot or warm, others use vinegar or not use vinegar, and baking soda can or can’t be used. So really, I think pick a brand or two and stick to them. Make cloth diapering simple from wash to wear.
If you’re lucky enough to live in the Tucson area, I’m more than happy to meet with you to help you decide on what cloth diapering brand(s) to use. It’s so much easier to look at the diapers in person before you buy. Not only will you save hours of time researching brands online, you’ll will also be more confident in using cloth diapers. I will work with you {even if you don’t live in Tucson} to find the diapering system(s) that will work best for you and your baby. Spend your diapering budget wisely by scheduling your private consult or diaper party with your mommy friends today!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


CW playing in my 1st garden. Yes, I grew that honeydew!
I am currently experiencing a major setback with one of my favorite hobbies, my garden. After two years of successful and productive summer gardens, I have nothing but dirt outside. I won’t get into details about what’s been going on, but I will focus on how disappointed I am. It bothers me so much, that I hate to talk about my garden or anyone else’s garden. I hate taking the trash out, because then I have to walk by the desolate ground. It’s a huge failure, and I hate failing. But it’s time to stop wallowing in my personal pity-party and get back out in the dirt. This past week, I spent time “working the land” as I like to call it. Really, I was just tilling it with a metal rake, and then flooding the garden with a lot of water. I was working to get it back to a good starting point before I begin again. Sunday morning, I replanted. This is my third time planting since March. *sigh* So depressing…so much work and nothing to show for it! Anyways, it’s been replanted, and I’ve been spending a lot of time making sure the ground isn’t drying out. {This may have been one of many problems this season.} Now I’m optimistic. I feel good about this replanting. It’s difficult to pick yourself up after failure and trying again.
BW staring at the 2 lone squash plants.
Cloth diapering for me has been a lot like my garden. I’ve had good experiences and have also faced a setback. My washing machine was broken for quite some time, and it took me and Mr. GBE awhile to figure out what the problem was. While the machine was broken, it took forever to wash diapers. I’m talking 4-5 hours. I dreaded wash day. Some of it was inexperience: not using enough soap, using too much & not rinsing enough, and forgetting to pre-rinse. But the main culprit was not enough water! I would take buckets of water and pour them into the washer during the pre-rinse, wash cycle, and rinse cycle. It was insanely time consuming. It was unbelievably frustrating. *Ack* Looking back, the only thing that kept me going was my stubbornness to make cloth diapers work. I just loved them so much, even with all the work I had to do. Thank goodness Mr. GBE realized this was crazy to spend so much time washing diapers. He watched me do laundry one weekend and called the repair man as soon as they opened on Monday. Once my machine was fixed, my wash routine was so simple. No sitting around and waiting for the right time to add water in the cycles. I felt liberated by my free time! I’m so glad I stuck it out during the rotten time. Wash routines are meant to be simple!
I’ll be discussing wash routines next, as well as keeping you all updated on my garden. For my local followers, we used Authorized Technical Services {520.903.141} to repair our washer. And for my gardening buddies, I’m working with Westwind Seeds to rehab my patch of dirt. Neither one has asked me to pass along word of their businesses. I am just pleased with both, so I thought I’d like to share with you all.