Monday, July 22, 2013

Fix Your Leaks Week- Day 1, Prepping & Repelling

This week we are talking all about LEAKS.. Well cloth diaper leaks that is and how to diagnose your leaking problem and solve it! Everyday this week we will be talking about different culprits of leaky diapers. We know it can be a deal breaker when it comes to constant leaking diapers, that's why we have narrowed down the 5 main reasons diapers leak in plain English. After you read this series of "Fix your Leaks Week" we hope it will give you the confidence to keep cloth diapering as long as your child is in diapers! So lets get into it!

Today is all about leaks caused by repelling either from insufficient prewashing & drying or from other causes.

Leaking from not enough prewashes is very very common. We can't tell you how many people have suffered from leaks, only to have everything resolve on its own mysteriously in a week or 2. It's simply because the diaper wasn't absorbing properly due to the lack of prepping. Prepping simply means washing pods several times before using. This is only necessary when buying new diapers.

SoftBums recommends:  

Prepping Tips:


  • It is best to wash your NEW shells and pods in a separate load from your other diapers when prepping. 
  • Always prep microfiber (DryTouch pods) and bamboo pods separately, the reason for this is natural oils secrete from the bamboo when prepped that can get on the microfiber easily and will cause repelling.  
  • If you only have 1-2 NEW diapers to prep, you can prep them in a load with your bath towels, just be sure to use cloth diaper safe detergent & 1/2 the recommended amount for the load.
  • Cloth diapers are small but highly absorbent. The most important thing is to make sure all your diapers are covered and saturated with water. The more water you have in your washer for them to agitate in, the cleaner they will get. 
  • If you have a top loading washer, this should be easy peasy, just set your washer to water level high! 
  • But if you have a fancy pants front loading washer, or an HE top loader, you may have some trial and error ahead of you to get things just right. Any issues you've heard of with front loaders, all stems from just trying to trick the washer into adding more water! Most people find adding wet towels to the washer helps or pouring tap water in with a bucket into the drum with your cloth diapers (making them feel heavier.)
  • These settings are for the "LG Front Loader" : First Cycle: Cold Speedwash no detergent - no spin - heavy soil. Second Cycle: - BULKY - stain cycle  hot- EXTRA rinse with 1/2- 3/4 tbsp. detergent. (Having it not "spin" out also makes the load heavier and gets the washer to add more water than usual to the main wash!)
Disclaimer: Always check your washer manufacturer's washing recommendations to avoid voiding your warranty.

Prepping Testimonial: 

We were having leaking issues with our 3 month old. First we loosened up the legs, but we were still having some leaks. For us it turned out to be that they were leaking through the seams. I threw the shells in the dryer on high for 20 minutes...I had to do it twice...and we haven't had a leak since! Thought I would share in hopes that it would help...I know its frustrating! ~Mallory C.

2) Repelling due to wrong detergent or fabric softeners.

SoftBums' Diaper Detergents recommendations:
  • Eco Sprout
  • Lulu in the Fluff
  • Rockin' Green Soap
  • Country Save
  • Purex Free and Clear
(Please note babies with sensitive skin will also want to avoid optical brighteners and enzymes.)
Natural detergents may seem like a good idea but they often contain softeners or oils which leave a coating on fabrics and may impede the absorbency of diapers.
Detergents to avoid for these reasons include:

      • Dreft
      • Planet
      • ECOS
      • Seventh Generation
      • Ecover
      • Bio-kleen

      Note: Homemade detergent is a great solution for your family's clothes but it is not recommended for cloth diapers.

        Using fabric softeners can cause repelling. In the cloth diaper world using fabric softeners on your diapers is a big no-no, but what a lot of people don't realize is there is a chance if you use fabric softeners with your clothes the softener can get backed up in the washer and continue to add softener into every wash including your diaper wash causing repelling. Sometimes its better just not to use fabric softener at all in your washer or use it very infrequently.

        How to fix your repelling problem: You need to strip your pods to remove any buildup of detergent/ softener or non cloth diaper safe creams. In order to do this you need to send them through the washer several times with and without detergent to get them stripped of the residue that is stuck in between the layers of material preventing them from absorbing.
        • Hot Water Strip: So, lets assume the shells & pods are dirty and you are going to start the stripping process.  
          1. Load washer with dirty diapers, shells, pods, wipes, pail liner
          2. Wash on Hot and Water Level HIGH with 3/4 the recommended amount of detergent
          3. Wash on Hot and Water Level HIGH with NO Detergent
          4. Wash on Hot and Water Level HIGH with NO detergent
          5.  Pull wet diapers from washer, and sniff them.  They should smell fresh and clean.  (if they still smell a bit fishy, repeat #1 - 3, but only use 1/4 the recommended amount of Detergent. Rinse an additional 1-2 times.
        • Stripping with Bleach
          1.  Fill washer with DryTouch pods only with Hot and 1 cup of bleach (if you do not want to use bleach, use 1-2 Tablespoons of baking soda), let agitate to mix and then stop for 2-4 hours and let soak
          2.  Wash on Hot and High water level 1-2 times
                 3. Line dry in the sun if possible.

          DO NOT BLEACH YOUR SHELLS NOR YOUR NATURAL FIBER PODS. Bleach will breakdown the materials on your shells and bamboo pods too easily cutting the life of use in half.

          Note:  You can use Dawn original blue dish soap 1-2 tablespoons (for a top load washer, 1T for front loader) instead of Detergent to strip.  (Dawn does void most washer's warranties, so if you don't want to void your warranty, you could handwash your pods with blue dawn in the bathtub, rinse a few times and then send them through a couple hot washes in your washing machine.)

        • Another Stripping Method: Send your pods (not shells) to a local diaper service to be professionally stripped/cleaned.

        Wrong Detergent Repelling Testimonial
        My son leaked out of his SoftBums constantly.  It seemed like the leaks were going straight through the PUL, as if it wasn't waterproof. I knew I had the fit right, and I couldn't identify anything in my wash routine that could cause repelling. I decided to take a look at the detergent I was using. It turns out that the formula had a fabric softener built in. I realized that maybe the liquid wasn't getting absorbed quickly enough, causing leaks. Simply changing to a different detergent resolved the leaks immediately. Now his clothes always stay dry and everyone is happy :)  ~Megan

        Fabric Softener Testimonial

        We recently had our dryer die on us, and our washer was not that far behind so we decided to replace them both. I found a great deal on a used Fisher Paykel on Craigslist. It's a cool HE top loader that you can program everything on, including your water level! Perfect for cloth diapers!

        Well, we thought it was perfect until I started getting leaks!!

        The first time my baby's diaper leaked, I thought it was a fluke. She's 4mo old now and we've fixed all the kinks out of our diapering system so that we haven't gotten a single leak in months. So, I was shocked to find her sitting in a puddle when she woke up one morning! And then, it happened a second time, and immediately knew it had to be build up in my new/used washer.

        We had smelled a stinky sweet smell upon inspection of the new/used washer when we first got it, and guessed it was softener or detergent build up. So we did 2 HOT washes with dawn and bleach and no clothes. Then we did a diaper load. It seemed to work great. And it was so fun to program new washes we kept washing more diapers!  Then I got a bit worried about the still faint smell of something and washed only clothes instead. But, it was too late for those 2 loads of diapers. We had inadvertently added someone else's left over fabric softener onto our precious diapers!!!!!

        Once I figured out the culprit from the bad leaks, me and the hubby set apart to opening up the washer and cleaning every part, even the drum inside. It was kind of fun to take it all apart and put it back together. lol

        The rest of those softener caked diapers we tried to use before we stripped them, but one after the other leaked in mysterious ways.

        One time, she was laying slightly on her side and her outfit, and my leg got so wet but when I took her diaper off, the pod inside was only half saturated, and the shell looked like the wetness just seeped right through the fabric. Now I know this is not the case because 2 days ago I used that same exact shell on her at night with zero leaks.

        Another time, the diaper felt totally wet on the back like it just poured pee right out the back of the diaper and the back elastic was doing nothing to stop it. And when I examined the shell after I got it off of her, the seam was all wet.  If I didn't know any better I'd have guessed it was leaking right out the seams!!!  This shell too was used previously with absolutely no leaks.

        Now I've been successfully using cloth diapers on 5 babies now for a span of over 16yrs. I've tried every diaper, detergent, and method there is, all for the name of research. I've also helped thousands of parents successfully use cloth diapers on their little ones and my advice is always;
        Leaks are normal at first  and cloth diapers are a learning curve. Keep trying! Your baby is worth it!

        In conclusion. If you have unexplained leaks, please consider the fact that your washing machine has softener residue that got on your diapers. Please strip your diapers very very well and try NOT using softener or dryer sheets on your clothes.

        Owner of SoftBums

        Check back tomorrow to read all about what may be causing leaks based on the fit of the diaper shell.

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        1. So helpful, thank you! For the prepping, when you say use 1/2 the recommended amount of detergent, that's only if you're using a non-CD specific detergent like Tide, right? If you're using Lulu's or RnG, etc., then you would use the full recommended amount?

        2. Super helpful. Question... most other diaper washes put the detergent in the hot wash but Softbums is in the cold first wash. What is the reasoning for that?

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