Sometimes it happens. You thought you had a great cloth diaper care routine going, and then suddenly you have a problem with stinky cloth diapers. Who do you turn to?
Many of us turn to cloth diaper discussion forums for answers. It sounds like a great idea – hundreds of other cloth diapering moms gather there – someone’s bound to have the answer to your question!
However, there’s this thing about people. Have you ever found yourself in a (real-life) conversation where another person is talking and you don’t even hear her because you’re too busy mulling over what you’re going to say next? That’s me more often than I’d like to admit! It’s human nature. We’re kind of self-centered like that.
So what I often see happening in cloth diaper discussion forums is that someone poses a vague-yet-urgent question such as, “Help! My diapers stink! What do I do to fix them?”
Next thing you know, tens or even hundreds of responses flood in. All of them are from well-meaning fellow cloth diaperers, of course, but they are all over the place:
- Use a different detergent!
- Use more detergent!
- Use less detergent!
- Try oxygen bleach!
- A vinegar rinse worked wonders for me!
- Strip the diapers with Dawn!
- You need RLR!
- Chlorine bleach is what you need!
- Soak them in Funk Rock!
- Get some essential oils!
- All you need are a few extra hot rinses!
I can imagine it’s a little overwhelming for the person seeking advice to be inundated with so many different options. So how can you phrase your troubleshooting questions in such a manner that you’ll get quality responses that are the most likely to apply to your exact situation?
It’s as simple as this: You just need to be very specific in the question you pose. Make sure you hit three topics – your water, your wash routine, and the problem that led you to ask for help.
First, it’s important to know some basics about the hardness of water you have. Hardness simply refers to the mineral content of your water. If you have hard water, then some of the laundry treatments that others use (such as vinegar) won’t work for you and could even exacerbate the problem. Here are some ways to figure out your water hardness:
- Use a water quality test strip.
- Call your local pool supply store and ask.
- Check out your city’s most recent water quality report.
Secondly, provide a thorough description of your regular wash routine. If you’re experiencing any kind of problem, that’s an indication that your regular laundry routine isn’t cutting it. Not only do you need to take a few extra steps to deep-clean your diapers immediately, but you also need to tweak your laundry routine going forward – otherwise, your problem will be a recurring one!
Finally, try to be as descriptive as possible about the problem. “The diapers stink” doesn’t cut it! Do your cloth diapers have a “barnyard” or an ammonia smell? Do they seem less absorbent than they were at first, or are you experiencing frequent leaks? Do they seem to be irritating baby’s bottom at all? This information can help people pinpoint the cause of your problem, whether it be ammonia build-up, detergent build-up, hard water build-up, etc.
Showing an awareness of these three areas when you ask for help will (hopefully) weed out the responses that don’t apply to your situation! Have you ever been burned by taking laundry advice that didn’t really apply to your problem? How did it turn out? Leave a comment!