All Prefolds Are Not Created Equal

Whenever I hear someone say, “I’m not really sure if I’m going to like cloth diapers, so I’ll just start out with some inexpensive Gerber prefolds…” I cringe and think “…then you’re not going to like cloth diapers.” For some reason, Gerber prefolds are on the shelves in Targets and Walmarts galore; I’m sure it’s mainly because people use them as burp cloths.

So what’s the Diaper Wrecker to do? Waste $17 at Target on these “premium” Gerber prefolds to prove my point, that’s what!

Prefold Cover Image

Contents: cotton and polyester. Meh.

Gerber Prefold Packaging

After washing them up a few times with my regular diaper laundry they became pilly and not even a tiny bit softer than the way they felt straight out of the package. Plus, the fibers seemed pretty loosely woven, which seems contrary to their claim that these are “premium”. Premium compared to what? Leaves?

Gerber Prefold Close Up

I have, use, and love two different kinds of (real) prefolds – GroVia’s bamboo/organic cotton prefolds and the BabyKicks hemp/organic cotton prefolds. The GroVia prefolds are thick and super-soft and a little bulky. The BabyKicks are less bulky and they don’t look as pretty, but they have this awesome stretchiness that makes them so much easier to fasten on a baby. So I was curious how the three brands compare.

I present our contestants:

Prefold Absorbency Test

I did some quick absorbency testing to see how Gerber stacked up. Each prefold weighed dry, submerged in water until fully saturated, hung to drip off for 20 minutes, and then weighed wet. The difference between the dry weight and wet weight was calculated as the diaper’s absorbency. Now, this is only what I’d call “theoretical absorbency”. In reality, when worn by a baby, the diapers would leak at that capacity, due to the shifting pressure of baby’s weight. However, this theoretical absorbency is fine to use for comparison purposes since they’re all being tested the same way.

However, it’s not fair to compare the results of the straight-up absorbency of each prefold, because they’re all different sizes – and the Gerber was the smallest. Instead, you get a better understanding by looking at the ratio of absorbency (in grams) to area (in square inches). Gerber’s absorbency by area was almost half of BabyKicks’ and GroVia’s!

Comparison of Prefold Absorbency

And it’s not as if Gerber prefolds are so dirt cheap that the price justifies the limited absorbency. At $1.79 each, they’re only slightly cheaper than Cloth-Eez (a brand I used on my son as a newborn). GroVia prefolds range from $2.67 each to $5.33 each depending on size; BabyKicks start at $6.59 up to $8.79. However, those are just what I had on hand and use for my child. There are plenty of other quality prefolds available – what’s your favorite brand?

Earth Mama Angel Baby Helps Celebrate the Diaper Wrecker Debut!

EMAB title pic

Remember how bad Desitin is for cloth diapers? Turns out it’s also not so great for baby, either. Earth Mama Angel Baby’s Bottom Balm is gentle, all-natural, and won’t cause cloth diapers to repel.

And remember how you can make your own baby wipe solution with other ingredients you already have? Earth Mama Angel Baby’s calming lavender shampoo would make your wipe solution smell amazing!

What if I told you you could win these things? It’s true. Earth Mama Angel Baby is generously giving away three awesome prize bundles, each one with an adorable reusable tote bag, to celebrate the launch of Diaper Wrecker!

The wonderful thing about Earth Mama Angel Baby is that their products are as safe as mama’s arms, made with certified organic ingredients – no toxins EVER! – and truly honest labels. While Johnson & Johnson is dilly-dallying around, promising to remove carcinogenic chemicals and other harmful substances from baby products by the year 2015, Earth Mama Angel Baby has always been committed to doing things the right way, holding themselves to the highest standards of product safety. Every Earth Mama Angel Baby product is made with only pure, natural, worry-free ingredients. It’s time to experience this goodness for yourself!

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So You’ve Got Repelling Cloth Diapers

Repelling cloth diapers (and how to fix them) are a hot topic in discussion forums. As the Diaper Wrecker, I felt it was my duty to investigate this problem and see whether it’s really so angst-worthy. After slathering this poor diaper with Desitin and soaking it in a Downy bath for 24 hours, I was pretty sure I had successfully created a repelling problem. I hung it up to dry, and I was haunted by two thoughts: (1) Downy has a way strong smell, and (2) ohhh emm geee how am I ever going to remove all of that smeared-on, greasy Desitin?!

Repelling Cloth Diaper

Before I describe how I went about excorcising this diaper of its evil, greasy build-up, I have a word of caution for you. This is an extreme example of a repelling diaper. If you have a problem with persistent leaks and think your diapers might be repelling, check a few other things first. It may just be that the diaper is fully saturated or not fitting properly on your baby.

Now let’s talk about stripping. It’s a word I hear waaaaaay too often in cloth diapering discussion forums and it usually makes me cringe. Why? Because if you have to strip (i.e. deep-clean) your cloth diapers on a regular basis, it means something about your regular wash routine is out of whack. There are many different ways to strip cloth diapers, and the method you choose should depend on what kind of build-up (detergent, ammonia, ointment, etc.) is present:

  • For detergent build-up, a few extra hot washes with RLR Laundry Treatment
    will generally do the trick, and then you need to reduce the amount of detergent in your usual wash routine.
  • For ammonia build-up, a soak in Rockin Green Funk Rock Ammonia Bouncer
    followed by a hot wash with detergent usually does it for me.
  • For serious greasiness, unfortunately, laundry products don’t usually help, and we turn to a product made for de-greasing dishes – Dawn.

Blue Dawn is a de-greaser, which can help your repelling cloth diapers

This was actually my first time to use Dawn for diapers and I wanted to be careful. Dawn generates some pretty intense suds, which can overwhelm the pump and motor of your washing machine if you use too much. We had to replace the pump of our washing machine a few years ago and it cost about $300 when it was all said and done, so I’m not interested in risking that for the sake of one cloth diaper. This is a job that requires scrubbing by hand.

I added this much Dawn. It made me laugh because it made me think of a Smurf skid mark.

9_Dawn application

Anyway, then I started scrubbing it with hot water and a toothbrush. It didn’t seem to be doing much – I could still feel the Desitin clinging to the fleece. Out of frustration, I threw it in the soaking bucket, added 2 more drops of Dawn, filled it with hot water, and left it for a few hours.

10_Dawn Soak

After the soak, I rinsed it with hot water until most of the suds were gone, and then tossed it into the washing machine and did a hot rinse.

After the pocket and insert had dried, I re-tested to determine the time it would to absorb 50 ml of water under pressure. (Before the experiment, it only took 8 seconds.) I was pleasantly surprised to find that although now it took 13 seconds to absorb the same amount, the water did go through. I was really expecting it to just sit there on top of the fleece.

I was doing diaper laundry anyway, so my next step was to throw it in the pre-wash with my other diapers. I added a scoop of Country Save oxygen bleach in the pre-wash just for the heck of it, and then did my normal hot wash with Country Save detergent followed by a final rinse. After everything had dried, I noticed that the “wrecked” diaper no longer smelled much like Downy. There was just a faint hint of it.

I laid the “wrecked” diaper next to its twin (which been cared for properly and never exposed to the Downy, Desitin, or dryer sheets) and poured a little water on both of them. I let them sit this way for 15 minutes, but neither one of them absorbed the water. As I’ve explained before, this is normal behavior. I bet you can’t even tell which diaper is which:

Side by Side Comparison

Ok, ok, I’ll tell you. The diaper on the left is the one that went through the gauntlet. After this photo, it absorbed 50 ml in 10.5 seconds, while the diaper on the right did it in 8 seconds.

Based on my experience, it wasn’t too hard to bring the diaper back to decent performance. I was actually hoping that it would be harder, because I wanted to share an idea for what you could do as a last-ditch effort to prevent repelling.



Snip, snip.

13_Snip Snip

Ha ha! Just did. Ok, I don’t actually recommend this. I suppose if  you were at the end of your rope, without a warranty, and just seriously pissed off a diaper, you could do it. It might feel liberating.

(But it only improved the time to 9.5 seconds, which wasn’t too impressive.)

Celebrating the Diaper Wrecker Debut with Awesome Prizes from GroVia!

I’m so excited. Not only am I finally unveiling the Diaper Wrecker site after months of planning, but I’m also teaming up with GroVia to shower some lucky readers with awesome prizes!

GroVia giveaway title image2

GroVia has been one of my personal favorite cloth diaper brands since the day I slapped the “Robots” AI2 on my baby’s little bottom. (Don’t freak out. There was no actual slapping.) Thankfully, I’ve never actually wrecked a GroVia diaper. I don’t know if I could do it, even for educational purposes. They’re far too wonderful for such treatment.

One of the awesome things about GroVia’s diapers is that none of them rely on microfiber for absorbency. It’s important to read and follow the care instructions before use – they do require more than one washing before use. The natural fibers in their diapers – including cotton, hemp, and bamboo – take a little more loving care at first, but it’s worth the extra time because they are highly absorbent and less prone to build-up issues over time. (See the Cloth Diaper Care page for more about the differences in caring for synthetic versus natural fibers.)

Whether you’ve never tried GroVia before or you have a lot of their products like me, I’m sure you’ll be excited about the chance to win one of the four awesome prize packages they’ve generously offered! This giveaway is open to residents of the US ages 18 and older; full terms and conditions can be read in the Rafflecopter entry form below. Ready…. set…. get those entries in!

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Diaper Wrecking: Repelling Diapers

1_Repelling cloth diapers

One of the fun things about being the Diaper Wrecker is that I get to experiment with all the things you’re not supposed to do to cloth diapers. After all, what better way to explain what actually happens and how to fix it? Oftentimes people jump to the assumption that they have repelling diapers when leaks occur. This post will help you understand what can cause repelling (hint: any of the products pictured above). In the next post, we’ll talk about what true repelling looks like and how to fix it.

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you our brave contender, hailing from China, the Sunbaby pocket diaper. I decided to do this experiment with a Sunbaby diaper because they’re dirt cheap. In my experience with Sunbabies, the inserts are very thin and the snaps fall off after just a month or two of light use. However, fleece is fleece and that’s the subject of this experiment. I wanted two identical diapers – one to wreck and one to use as a “before” example – and I didn’t want to break the bank or shed any tears over ruining a really good diaper. So Sunbaby got the job.

2_The Contenders

My first order of business (after washing them) was to test how long it would take the diapers to absorb 50 ml of water under pressure to simulate a baby wearing the diaper. I did this test on both diapers, once in front and once in back, and the average time to absorb the 50 ml was approximately 8 seconds.

3_Speed of Absorption Test

The party really got going when I busted out a couple of Desitin samples I had received as a part of a baby shower gift about a year and a half ago. I’m not sure why I saved them, but I’m glad I didn’t have to buy Desitin just for this occasion. The samples were perfect. I slathered them all over that Sunbaby. I got a bad feeling about it when I tried to wash the cream off my fingers. My prediction is that it’s not going to be an easy task to remove the Desitin build-up from this diaper.

4_Desitin Application

Next it was time to prepare the cauldron. I mean, the bucket of water with a little Downy. I haven’t used Downy in a long time, but I have a big Costco-size jug of it sitting in my laundry room that’s mostly full so I haven’t wanted to throw it away. (Is this a theme with me? Am I at risk of becoming a hoarder?)

Pretty swirls! It also smelled nice. I must admit, I kind of miss that smell.

5_Downy Bath

And then it was time for Sunbaby to take a little bath. As I dropped it in, I sang to myself “Quel dommage, what a loss! Here we go in the sauce!” (Name that Disney movie.)

6_Here We Go

And here she rested for 24 hours. If that doesn’t cause repelling diapers, I don’t know what will!

Check out part 2 of the repelling experiment for how to fix this kind of a mess!