Monday, February 24, 2014

Vaseline, cloth diapers, and repelling? Cloth Diaper Case Files

Cloth Diaper Troubleshooting is one of my favorite things about being a blogger.  I love helping people and I love getting questions from cloth diapering newcomers.  However, during a recent inquiry I was almost stumped. This episode of the Cloth Diaper Case Files contains some information from recent conversations and was modified to protect the privacy of the inquiring party.

The Case of the greasy diaper:

"OK, so I'm about to give up cloth diapering completely and I used to be a huge fan! I have 22 diapers in my stash (Pocket diapers from Rumparooz and Fuzzibunz, and All-in-Ones from BumGenius) and I have been exclusively using these diapers for over 5 months. Each diaper gets washed every 1-2 days. They are stored in a wet bag prior to washing. I washed them with Tide Free and Clear, then line-dried the BumGenius and machine dried the Rumparooz and Fuzzibunz. Now here's where I committed a cloth diaper crime: I used Vaseline with the cloth diapers. For the past month I am getting constant leaks and I have to change her clothes and bed sheets as often as her diapers. I have tried stripping the diapers five times! I've used hot water and scrubbed with dawn and a toothbrush twice (inside and outside of the fleece) followed by many machine washes and rinses. I have soaked in the tub in Calgon and hot water followed by many washes and rinses. I even ordered RLR online and stripped them twice with that. Finally I also switched detergents and now use Nelly's Laundry Soda. The diapers are still leaking, but only when she is lying down. When she's sitting up they soak right through. I have checked and double checked the fit and that's not the issue. So, this is my last call for advice before I burn my stash and turn to disposables...."
~ Frustrated Reader

The issues:
  • Vaseline stuck on diapers
  • Leaks
  • Diapers still repelling?

Upon further communication, I referred the reader to this article about getting a good fit.  Although she mentioned she had adjusted the fit, I wanted to first rule out any fit issues that could be easily resolved.  Her child was around six months old: a stage where children are adding new skills (such as sitting and moving around). Poor fit could contribute to the leaks for a newly-mobile baby. After a day of adjusting the sizing, she was still having leak issues.  She mentioned that the diapers were mostly dry when she noticed the leaks: this was not an issue with the amount of absorbancy or an overly saturated diaper.

Next I suggested that she strip the diapers using Oxiclean. The fact that the BumGenius Elementals were leaking was concerning.  These diapers have natural cotton fabric and do not have synthetic materials that would be more prone to repelling.  I think that the reader did the right thing in stripping the diapers with Dawn dish soap, but (from my past experience) I had better luck with Oxiclean.  Oxiclean eliminated an oily feeling on my pocket diaper covers and stripping with Oxiclean is not labor-intensive.

The solution:
After stripping the diapers with Oxiclean, the reader did notice an improvement with the diapers.  She also ordered a few new flat diapers and was having leak issues with these diapers as well.  Since the new diapers were not exposed to Vaseline, we finally figured out that she was having a fit issue and that was resulting in leaks.  The diapers were gaping around the leg openings and moisture was sneaking out.  The combination of washing the diapers in Oxiclean and adjusting the fit around the legs seemed to help, but she still had occasional leaks with her pocket diapers (usually around naptime).  The reader ultimately decided to take a break from cloth diapering because she didn't like folding flat diapers and did not feel like she was able to get a great fit because of her baby's thin, skinny legs.

Additional Thoughts:
This was an unusual and difficult cloth diapering problem.  It is always recommended to avoid creams that are not recommended for use with cloth diapers (or use a disposable diaper liner if you must use them).  While the Vasaline was probably not the complete cause of the problem (fit seemed to be the underlying culprit), it created a lot of confusion and extra work for this mom.  The reader was sad about taking a break from cloth diapering, but sometimes a short break is OK (mental sanity is important too).  She is going to revisit cloth diapering when her baby is a little older.

What are your thoughts on this tough case?

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