Tag Archives: cleaning

Soap. It explains everything.

So after our initial post-use wash with the new diapers, I was a little disappointed when we dried them and they smelled better, but still not completely like fresh, clean laundry.

It was definitely better though and when they were dry they didn’t stink.

So anyway I was looking around again for answers and someone recommended this cloth diapering detergent called Rockin’ Green. She said she uses the Hard Rock as well as the Funk Rock Ammonia Bouncer for combating ammonia in her diapers.

The website doesn’t really have an about section or a huge amount of information. It is mostly just a store front with some reviews, but there are a couple youTube videos that they put up about soap buildup in diapers and how they compare to other brands.

After watching the videos I decided to pay attention to the rinse and agitation part of our wash cycle and see if we had soap bubbles.

Well, I have been running back-to-back soap-free wash cycles since 7:30am. I have listened dutifully to the machine and checked in on every rinse/agitation portion of the cycle.

Sooo much soap!

This picture was taken two hours ago. And these are the new diapers, mind you.

It is now 1:30pm and I just checked in again and saw the same thing. Lots of soap bubbles on the surface of the water.

It completely explains everything. No wonder the old diapers stunk. They probably had so much soap in them after two and a half years of washing like I used to wash.

Then I got to thinking about our clothes and how much soap is probably on them too. No wonder Stephen and the kids battle with eczema even though we use a free and clear detergent!

I never really trusted the diaper sites before when they would say that most detergent manufacturers recommend that you use 2-3 times the amount of soap that you really need. I had tried to use less a couple times, but felt like things didn’t get as clean. So I have to figure out a balance now between too much and too little soap.

Edited to add: As of 4:30pm we are still seeing soap bubbles! Ahhh! When will this end?

Second edit and update: I stopped around 10:30pm that first night and picked up again sometime the next morning. I did more washes as I could, but had a lot going on that day with the crazy injured child and grocery shopping that needed to get done. I did my last wash around 5:30pm. I was still getting bubbles on the surface when I checked in, but they were dissipating pretty quickly so I decided to give it up and put them in the dryer. Good news is they did not stink in the dryer and the fabric felt super clean when I pulled it out. Think squeeky clean, but with fabric.

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My paperless kitchen

Aside from pregnancy updates, you may have noticed that blog content around here is a little low lately. Well, I got a little inspiration this morning thanks to Morgan sharing this little gem in my Google Reader: How to Create a Paperless Kitchen.

Stephen and I (Actually, he was the main proponent behind it. What? My formerly registered Republican husband an environmentalist? Huh?), just implemented this in our kitchen not too long ago. I was so excited that I was about to leave the longest comment ever on Morgan’s shared items and then I decided that it would probably just be better if I wrote up a post.

Now the original poster does a very good job of explaining the whys and hows (so you should really go check that out), but I just wanted to talk about how we make this work for us so if any of you are thinking about doing this you can maybe get some more ideas.

When we first started feeding Bean solid foods I set out to just use washcloths to clean her up after meals. This was easy when we lived in a one story house and getting a washcloth just meant a quick trip down the hall to her bedroom. When we moved to TO, however, I got in a really bad habit of using disposable wipes after her meals because going upstairs to get a clean washcloth after a meal (or remembering to bring some down beforehand) and then taking it back up to dispose of in the diaper pail seemed like such a pain, especially after I got pregnant again. I also kept running out of washcloths before it was time to do a load of diapers.

When we sat down to talk about creating a paperless kitchen in our house the solutions to this problem were obvious and simple. I bought a few more packs of washcloths so we wouldn’t run out all the time and started keeping a stack of clean cloths in the drawer where we keep Bean’s bibs. So now I always have some clean cloths handy to clean up with after meal time.


Burp cloths, bibs and wash cloths. This is Bean’s drawer. Sprout has a similar drawer next to it with his stuff.

We were also really bad about using paper for meal times and cleanup. The thing is, we already had plenty of kitchen towels, napkins and other cloth cleaning products, but we were just really bad about using them when a paper towel was right there and so handy. So not having a roll of paper towels out all the time has also help force us to grab the cloth stuff.


My kitchen towel and hot pad drawer.


Microfiber cleaning cloths for heavy duty stuff.


I found these super absorbant cloths at Trader Joe’s. I haven’t really found a use for them yet, but they are there.


These are my somewhat boring collection of cloth napkins that we’ve had ever since we got married. I wish I had some in much more fun prints. I’ll hopefully make/buy some more eventually, but these work for now.

I guess the other big key for us in creating a paperless kitchen was designating a space to put the dirty stuff. Maybe this isn’t such a big deal when you live in a place that is only one story, but it was a big deal in our two story apartment. I did not want to be going up and down the stairs several times a day with dirty dish towels, wash cloths, napkins, etc. Nor did I want these items piled on my small amount of kitchen counter space to be taken up in one big load. I actually stole the solution to this problem from my sister-in-law. When we watched her girls during their Norway vacation I noticed she kept a little laundry basket under the sink for kitchen laundry. Brilliant! I already had a perfect sized basket. It was just a matter of organizing under the sink a little to make room.

I usually grab whatever is in the basket when I am getting ready to do a load of Bean’s diapers and wash it all together. I guess it might seem gross to some people that I’m washing kitchen laundry with diaper laundry, but it IS clean in the end and I don’t really see it as a big deal. So that’s what we do. Plus, I don’t want greasy and food covered laundry getting washed in with the rest of my stuff.

One thing we still use paper for is the occasional big Saturday morning breakfast in order to drain the grease off meat, but other than that I’m proud to say we’ve been happily paper free in our kitchen for a few months now. Hopefully this inspires some of you to do the same.

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Thankful.

Sorry I’ve been a bit absent. Then again it seems the rest of the blog community has as well so I don’t feel so bad.

Usually this happens to me when I get wrapped up in a project or a book. Both are happening right now. Can’t really blog the projects because they are Christmas presents. And I’m sure you’d get sick of me quoting passages from the book I’m reading.

I’ve also been experiencing some “false” labor freakouts since Sunday and so I’ve been technically on bedrest. The best way to make this work with Bean when I am home alone with her is to hole ourselves up in our guestroom with some of her toys where she really can’t get into anything, can’t go running off into places she isn’t allowed and so I don’t have to go up and down the stairs 50 times a day for diaper changes, naps, etc.

So because of that it seems our decision this year not to go anywhere for Thanksgiving was a good one. Though it has made for the most different and quiet Thanksgiving we’ve had since we were dating. I actually wondered if we’d even have a traditional feast at several points or just wind up eating leftovers because nearly every activity starts me feeling like I’m about to go into labor. Not fun.

But I managed to save up most of my energy and pull off a little mini-feast for our three person family.


Herb roasted turkey half breast on a bed of brown and wild rice stuffing.


The feast, clockwise from top: rice stuffing, herb roasted turkey, cheater Trader Joe’s gravy (I’m terrible at making gravy and theirs is pretty good), mashed potatoes, and cranberry orange sauce (not from a can, once you do it homemade you’ll never go back).


This was the first Thanksgiving where it was possible for Bean to eat the food, but she just played with it instead. Gotta love my picky little eater.

So anyway I am thankful for many things today. Among them:
-Not actually going into labor yet. I am hoping to at least make it to 36 weeks (Monday) and even better would be 37 weeks so that I can still have the labor/birth experience I want and have him at home with my midwife. Before Monday and we’ll be making a not-so-fun emergency trip to the hospital.
-My sister, Andrea. She dropped everything she was doing on Tuesday to help me out. She drove down here, purchased some of my homebirth supplies, went grocery shopping for me, helped me do a bunch of laundry, clean, entertained Bean and so much more. And on top of it all she’s 29 weeks pregnant. Seriously, the girl is a superstar.
-My husband. Tuesday after work he went to Target and got the rest of our homebirth supplies, some of which include items that are quite embarassing for him to purchase, I’m sure. He got up this morning with Bean, let me rest and relax pretty much the whole day and has been rocking the deep cleaning of our house and still is as I type this. He is awesome.


The giant to-do list he made today and has nearly completed!

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I love cloth diapering, part 7: The diaper funk

So I have to be honest here, while I was writing my cloth diapering series I was really questioning my resolve to cloth diaper. You see, after we moved into our apartment and began washing our clothes with the new HE front loader washing machine, my diapers started to get a stinky funk.

I tried stripping them with Dawn. The first few times I did this it did seem to work for one or two washes. Eventually though even Dawn didn’t help. I tried switching to a homemade detergent. It did not help either. In fact, the problem got worse.

The last few weeks the funk has been so bad I can smell it when I pull the diapers out of the dryer and when I pull a clean diaper out of my baskets to put on Bean. It wasn’t horrible. I would just get this whiff of something funky. It did get horrible though after Bean would wet her diapers. It seemed to activate the smell, whatever it was, and make it about 20 times more potent.

I finally decided to do some research on the subject to see if anyone had experienced this before and what they had done about it.

First strike against me was the diapers I had chosen. Not necessarily just the bumGenius brand, but the microfiber inserts. Admittedly this kind of ticked me off. One of the things I absolutely loved about the microfiber inserts is that they are super absorbant and they wick away the moisture from my daughter’s skin. I guess the microfiber is more prone to buildup though and the same great absorbtion powers it has tend to make it hold onto smells.

Second strike against me was my homemade detergent. Since the detergent recipe I was using was soap based and actually a laundry soap not a detergent, that was causing buildup and soap scum in my diapers.

The third strike against me was the HE washing machine. Tons of people had complained on message boards about how the low use of water that these machines are prided on just wasn’t rinsing their diapers effectively. That seemed to make sense to me since I never had much of a diaper funk problem with our old machines and when I did, a wash in Dawn took care of it for at least a couple months.

So what to do? Most of the recommendations I saw explicitly went against the manufacturers guidelines for my diapers. I was frustrated. I didn’t want to risk ruining my diapers, but I also wanted to get rid of the funk.

The detergent problem was the easiest to fix, I just switched to a store bought HE free and clear detergent. While it meant no longer spending pennies per load, I decided it was worth it not to have stinky diapers. However, a detergent switch alone was not enough to get rid of the built up funk smell that had accumulated over the past three months since our move.

Another suggestion was to rinse the diaper inserts out in the sink prior to loading them in the washing machine. This seemed like it would probably help over the long term once I got rid of the initial funk, but it wouldn’t do anything to get rid of the current smell. I was right. I noticed that I was able to rinse quite a bit out of my diapers in the sink, but the funk remained after a wash.

Since several people had tried some of the things that went against the manufacturer’s guidelines with success, I definitely felt more confident about trying them. It meant that I was voiding the warranty, but I had already tried all the things that the manufacturer recommended without success. These suggestions were to add vinegar in a Downy ball to the wash, add bleach to the wash, and soak the diapers in an enzyme cleaner like Bac-Out. Two of these suggestions I was not even willing to try: bleach seemed like it would be too harsh for the diapers and I was afraid that the rinse problem I was having with my front loader would not get the bleach or the enzyme cleaner completely out of the diapers which meant that it could cause burns on Bean’s skin. That left the vinegar.

For those of you that are curious, there is actual science behind the vinegar. The thing about urine that stinks is amonia, which is likely part of the diaper funk smell I was experiencing. Amonia is a base, vinegar is an acid. Mix the two and they neutralize. Unfortunately though while it did seem to improve things, it didn’t completely get rid of the funk.

What I really needed was something that would strip my diapers so they would be like new again so I could put into place all the newfound suggestions that would prevent the diaper funk. One of the many suggestions I saw was to use blueing instead of bleach to do this. Once again the area that I live in, while very nice, failed me. I went to four different grocery stores looking for blueing and was unable to locate it. I don’t think I ever went to a grocery store in Bakersfield without seeing that stuff in the laundry isle. It is a bit of an old fashioned laundry trick though, so I guess not so many people use it anymore.

During the process of my research I also found out that OxyClean has a ton of fillers in it that cause buildup on the diapers too. Thankfully I was able to find another oxygen cleaner that has simple ingredients called OxoBrite and it was available at my local grocery store. I decided that I would try soaking my next batch of dirty diapers in a strong soak solution of OxoBrite and if that didn’t work I would order some blueing online.

First I washed the diapers one time in the washing machine with my HE detergent and a Downey ball of vinegar to get rid of most of the dirtyness. Then I filled my 5 gallon former laundry detergent making bucket with 2 gallons of really hot water and 8 scoops of OxoBrite. I put all the diaper inserts into the bucket and filled it with more hot water. I stirred it from time to time. The inserts blew up like balloons as they soaked up all the liquid in the bucket. I left them to sit for several hours yesterday while we were out at the Dodger game.

When I came back the first thing I noticed was just how bright white the inserts were. I rung them out and tossed them back in the washing machine for two more rinse washes. When I opened up the washing machine door I immediately noticed that I didn’t get that slight funk whiff that I normally got. When I dried them it was the same thing. I just smelled hot fabric.

So I think I have finally solved my problem. I don’t think I’ll have to do this every time I wash my diapers, but maybe every once and awhile when and if the funk returns. Anyway, I share this in case any of you converts run into the same problem.

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