Euphoria’s Blog for Green Mamas

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Washing Cloth Diapers in a Front Load Washing Machine July 23, 2009

bg basketEveryone knows that front loading washing machines are more efficient, using less water and less detergent to do the job.  So, if you plan to use cloth diapers (and wash them at home) you’ll want a front loader, right?

Maybe not.

While some mamas manage to make front loaders work, everyone seems to agree that they make washing diapers a bit more challenging – precisely because they use less water.  Think about it: you’re washing something lightweight that’s highly absorbent.  The machine automatically gives the load little water, and the diapers suck it up, with only a bit left over in the wash.  This can lead to stinky diapers, that aren’t fully clean, and detergent build-up, because of incomplete rinsing. 

I cloth diapered with BumGenius Pocket Diapers for about 6 months, washing in a top loading machine.  Then, I had to switch to a fancy, top-of-the-line front loader for about 9 months.  I immediately smelled a difference!  I tried using less detergent.  I also changed from doing a pre-rinse before my full hot/cold wash to doing a full cold wash before my hot/cold wash.  Neither change seemed to really make a difference.  When I was able to switch back to my top-loader, the smell significantly subsided. 

Well, I wondered if it was just me until I received an email from a customer who experienced the same smell-issue when she got a new front loading washing machine.  After some research online at DiaperSwappers.com, here are some tips for washing cloth diapers successfully with a front load machine:

  • Don’t use too much detergent – 1 tbsp is a standard, though you may need less
  • Switch to Tide HE powder detergent – mom’s with top loading machines say they see an immediate improvement when they switch to this product (especially an improvement over natural detergent brands)
  • Use options for extra rinse, extra water and presoak whenever possible.  Anything that puts more water in the load will help avoid the stinkies.
  • Do at least 2 full cycles (one cold, one hot – both with extra rinses).  If you’re still having troubles, try adding a 3rd cycle.  This can make a load take 3 hours to wash… which is why a top loader is more convenient.
  • Tricks for “tricking” the machine to put more water in each load
    • Use delicate or hand wash cycles, which automatically use more water
    • Manually shorten the spin between cycles (and never use spin max extract), because the water left in will make the diapers seem heavier to the machine.  The machine will respond by adding more water to the next cycle.
    • Pour a few gallons of water into the machine through the soap dispenser during the wash cycle.  This seems to be the last resort for those that are desperate!

If you have any tips to add, please share!

 

Diaper Creams: What Can You Use with Cloth Diapers? May 4, 2009

Filed under: Baby & Toddler — Rachel @ 2:13 pm
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Q:  I just bought some BumGenius cloth diapers for my 13 month old son from Euphoria Baby, and I received them yesterday. I am a little concerned about not being able to use diaper creams with these diapers since my son has a sensitive little tush, and is rash-prone. I have been told I can use Vaseline to help protect his skin. Is that true?

A:  It’s true that using diaper creams will stain your diapers (best case scenario) or stick to them, causing them to leak (worst case scenario).  That’s why many manufactures, such as BumGenius, strongly discourage the use of diaper creams.  But, every baby still needs to use creams from time to time, so I recommend having liners on hand. 

A liner is a small piece of fabric that is placed inside a cloth diaper on occasions when your baby needs a diaper cream.  Apply the cream to the child, and then place the liner so that any extra cream will get on the liner, instead of the diaper.  Wash the liners with your diapers – no need to wash separately.

Some cloth diaper stores sell cloth diaper liners, but I don’t because they’re just too easy to make!  Use any old polyester fleece pjs that your child has outgrown or buy some polyester fleece from the store.  Why this fabric?  Use polyester because it will still create a stay-dry barrier for your son, and fleece because it’s not too thin that it’ll bunch up and it doesn’t require any sewing.  Cut the polyester fleece to shape to fit in the diapers.  A small rectangle will usually do.  You don’t have to sew fleece to keep it from unraveling, so this is super easy.  Voila – place them in the diaper when you need to use a diaper cream, and you’re good to go!

Oh, and I wouldn’t use Vaseline.   Because it’s petroleum based, it’s not eco-friendly and probably somewhat toxic.  I’d go for a natural, safe cream like our Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm.  Desitin, Balmex and the like are completely unsafe, containing chemicals that health organizations have declared “Not safe for use on infant skin”.  You can read more about checking the safety of your cosmetics and the evils of Balmex at  My Cosmetic Purge.  Also see Desitin – Safe or Toxic? .

 

Top 5 Eco-Switches that SAVE MONEY! October 25, 2008

Filed under: Eco-Friendly Living — Rachel @ 6:53 pm
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With the economic uncertainty we’re all facing today, it’s time to adopt new habits that prevent wasted money and wasted resources.  Some folks feel that “going green” is for the wealthy.  Actually, many environmentally responsible practices are thrifty as well.  Here are my favorite changes I’ve made in the last year that have definitely saved my family money:

1. Glass Storage Containers:  What’s with ziplock bags?  Why not use something reusable and washable to store your leftovers?  I mean, sure, you can fit more into the fridge with ziplocks, but do you really want that many leftovers stuck in the fridge?  Are you really going to eat them before they go bad?  Using glass storage containers makes leftovers look appetizing.  In lieu of plastic storage containers, which leach toxins and get those ugly food stains, glass is eco-friendly, safe to microwave in and pretty too.  We stopped using plastic bags and started buying glass containers here and there.  Now we’re stocked with glass and saving money too!

2. Cleaning with Vinegar & Baking Soda:  When I first had that “aha” moment in which I realized that using conventional cleaning supplies was leaving a trail of toxins around my sparkling “clean” home, I started using Method cleaning products.  They say they’re safe and they’re packaged so nicely.  Well, cleaning with home-mixed vinegar and baking soda based products is really the way to go.  It’s easy and so, so, so cheap.  Learn how to Make Your Own Household Cleaners and start saving.

3.  side standing closeCloth Diapers:  It was about this time last year that I switched from disposables to cloth diapers.  My husband and I took a lot of convincing, but once we tried them, we never looked back.  Diapering with cloth is nicer, cheaper and not much more work.  Once you get in the habit of pushing that washing machine button a few more times a week, you wonder why it ever seemed to make sense to drive to the store and fork over hard-earned cash.  Check it out at Cloth Diapers Explained.

4.  Cloth Pads:  Alright, I’m coming out of the closet… I switched to cloth pads.  Ewwww… I know, I know, it sounds awful.  It’s not.  It’s nice.  Softer than paper, not scratchy like disposable pads.  Really, a lot more like underwear!  I was a tampon-only girl, but now I’m happier with cloth.  After all, if I’m going to wash diapers, why not pads?  My menstrual blood is natural, not some nasty abhorrent substance.  Anyhow, they’re cheap (about $10-12 each) or you can make your own so easily.  My mom and I made them with some old cotton flannel shirts.  Recycled and reusable.  Just think how much I’ll save on disposable menstrual products throughout my life!

5.  Oil Cleansing Method:  This is my latest switch.  I put aside my arsenal of facial products (cleanser, scrub, mask, toner, moisturizer, serum) for one little bottle of my homemade oil mix.  I use 20% castor oil and 80% sunflower seed oil to cleanse my face once per day or less.  Now my skin is balanced – not too oily, not too dry – and I’ve had annoying combination skin for ages.  It’s one less thing to do in the morning and it’s saving me oodles of money on cosmetics, which are so often of questionable safety (see Skin Deep: Cosmetic Database to check the safety rating on your cosmetics).

 

Cloth Diapering Must-haves vs. Nice Extras August 12, 2008

Filed under: Baby & Toddler — Rachel @ 2:24 pm
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Our baby boutique sells lots of cloth diapers.  But, half the time, new parents just buy the diapers themselves, and I’m left scratching my head, wondering what they’ll do about the rest.  So what do you NEED and what items are optional?  Let’s talk accessories:

Absolute Must-haves:

  1. Pail Liner – a pail liner is a large washable, waterproof bag that you place inside a clean diaper pail.  The dirty nappies go in the pail liner, so that the pail itself stays clean.  I aim to keep cloth diapering as yuck-free as possible, so it’s ideal to NEVER have to clean that pail.  And, if you’re thinking you’ll rough it and clean the pail by hand, remember that you have to get the dirty diapers to the laundry room in something.  Are you going to lug a rigid diaper pail or carry a much more manageable diaper pail liner?  That’s what I thought.  Toss the liner in with the diapers and leave all the dirty work to your machine.
  2. Extra Inserts – most cloth diapers, including BumGenius One-size Pocket Diapers, include absorbent inserts sufficient for day-time wetting.  If you’re diapering a baby over 2-3 months old, you need to purchase a few extra inserts (4-6) for overnight use or anytime your baby goes longer than usual between changes.  When prepping a diaper that your child will wear overnight, put two inserts in the diaper to ensure a dry morning.
  3. Cloth Wipes – if you’re going to use cloth diapers, you should be using cloth wipes.  After you think about it, you’ll realize this is fairly obvious.  Besides the fact that disposable wipes contain harsh chemicals and aren’t eco-friendly, they would also require a trash can by your changing area, in addition to your diaper pail.  Using cloth wipes means one less stinky trash can in your life.  It also means that you never run out and you can use as many as you like without feeling wasteful.

Nice Extras:

  1. Wetbag:  A wetbag is a washable, waterproof little bag that is used for storing dirty diapers when you’re out and about.  I always keep a small wetbag in my purse.  When Liam’s at grandmas, I send along a large wetbag to stash a full day of diapers.  Now, you can use plastic grocery bags instead of a wetbag.  But, hopefully you don’t have too many of those around because you use a reusable shopping bag and donate your extra plastic bags to farmers markets and the like.  Truth is, a wetbag is just so  much cuter than a plastic bag.  I’ll take what I can get to make diaper-changing more enjoyable!  Plus, ours have zipper closure, which is so easy and contains smells wonderfully. 
  2. Cloth Wipes spray or solution – Many stores offer a cloth wipes wetting solution with natural essential oils designed to freshen and clean baby’s bottom.  Our BumGenius Bottom Spray is quite popular!  These solutions are nice for you (fresh scent) and baby (healing ingredients).  However, you can get by with plain water to wetten your wipes. 
  3. Diaper Sprayer – Ah, the diaper sprayer – queen of cloth diapering accessories.  This smart contraption connects a spray nozzle to your toilet plumbing so you can rinse off soiled diapers with clean water right into your toilet.  If you try a diaper sprayer you’ll never go back.  Diapers get cleaner with less “yuck” factor in no time flat.  Clearly, though, people have been cloth diapering without a diaper sprayer for quite some time.  Whether you shake that diaper or do the dunk (ewww, not recommended), you can get a diaper ready for the diaper pail without a diaper sprayer. 
 

Cloth Diapering 101 July 29, 2008

Filed under: Baby & Toddler — Rachel @ 3:07 pm
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Want to use cloth diapers, but don’t know where to start? Confused by your options? Let’s make this simple:

Prefolds
This is the “old-fashioned” cloth diaper: flat, rectangular, with more absorbency in the center. You would fold this diaper and secure it with pins or a snappi. Since a prefold is absorbent, but not waterproof, you would have to add a waterproof layer – a diaper cover.

  • Pros: Cheapest option. Fast drying.  Can be used as burp cloths, diaper inserts, rags, etc.
  • Cons: Requires folding and some practice – not good for babysitters, etc. Requires a diaper cover – more to organize and creates a slower diaper change. Absorbent layer is against baby’s skin – baby feels wet, can cause diaper rash, and absorbent layer will get stained.

Fitted or Contour Diapers
This type of diaper is like a prefold, but does not need to be folded. It is already contoured or “fitted” like a diaper. It closes with snaps or velcro. Since a fitted diaper is absorbent, but not waterproof, you would have to add a waterproof layer – a diaper cover.

  • Pros: Cheaper than all-in-one diapers or pocket diapers. Easier than prefolds.
  • Cons: Requires a diaper cover – more to organize and creates a slower diaper change. Absorbent layer is against baby’s skin – baby feels wet, can cause diaper rash, and absorbent layer will get stained.

Diaper Covers
A waterproof covering of plastic (PUL) or wool that goes over a prefold or fitted cloth diaper. Closes with velcro or snaps. Elastic at the waist and legs.

  • Pros: Holds in messes very well.
  • Cons: Slows down the diaper change. Wool covers must be washed separately from your diapers.

All-in-One Diapers
This type of cloth diaper has absorbent and waterproof layers sewn together into one fitted shape. Usually has a microfleece lining against baby’s skin. Microfleece allows urine to pass-through to an absorbent center, so baby feels dry. Closes with velcro or snaps.

  • Pros: No separate parts to organize. Fast diaper change. Microfleece lining – baby feels dry, helps prevent diaper rash, stain-resistant.
  • Cons: Harder to sanitize when washing because the absorbent layers are sewn flat, limiting agitation and waterflow to the absorbent center. Takes a long time to dry. Not very absorbent – may leak frequently.

Pocket Diapers
Pocket diapers are my favorite type of diaper. They balance my needs for convenience, savings, reliability, and ease-of-care. Pocket Diapers have a fitted shape, just like disposables, and close with snaps or velcro. They have a waterproof outer, sewn together with a stain-resistant microfleece or microsuede interior so baby will feel dry.

Pocket Diapers are different from all-in-ones because the absorbent layer is not sewn into the diaper. Instead, there is an opening at the back of the diaper so that you can slide in an absorbent core. This design allows you to add extra absorbency when you need it, such as overnight. Plus, the absorbent core can be removed for washing and drying purposes for a more sanitary, fast-drying cloth diaper.

  • Pros: Fast diaper change. Microfleece or Microsuede lining – baby feels dry, helps prevent diaper rash, stain-resistant. Adjustable absorbency – the most absorbent, reliable cloth diaper option. More sanitary than an all-in-one. Dries faster than an all-in-one.
  • Cons: Adds one step to you washing routine – you must pre-stuff each diaper with an absorbent insert.

Here’s how I see it
If you want the cheapest options, choose prefolds and diaper covers. But keep in mind that your baby will not be as comfortable without a moisture-barrier, these methods aren’t very babysitter-friendly, and you’ll have to organize/put-on separate pieces.  All-in-one diapers appear to be the most convenient option, but when you consider problems with sanitizing, increased drying time, and the tendency to leak, they really aren’t a good solution at all. Pocket Diapers like BumGenius One-Size Cloth Diapers meet my need for convenience, while protecting my child’s health and delivering huge savings for my pocketbook and the environment over time.

 

Cloth diapers are Green June 10, 2008

Filed under: Baby & Toddler,Eco-Friendly Living — Rachel @ 1:41 pm
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It comes up over and over again, “Are cloth diapers really better for the environment than disposables?”  Popular magazines, newspapers and disposable diaper manufacturers often come to the conclusion that it’s a toss up, environmentally, between cloth and disposable diapers.  I think this is laughable!  Here’s a link to Green Baby Diapers, in which one of my favorite bloggers quite succinctly explains why cloth is sooooooo much greener.

Now don’t get overwhelmed at the end of Tiffany’s blog post, when she starts listing and recommending different cloth diapers.  I know that the challenge of choosing a cloth diaper can be quite paralizing.  Just go with BumGenius One-Size diapers.  You won’t be sorry.  I explain why they’re best here.  It’s found in part of my website called “Cloth Diapers Explained”.

 

Five Favorite “Green” Tips April 22, 2008

Filed under: Eco-Friendly Living — Rachel @ 8:18 pm
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On earth day there is no limit to those inspiring “go green” lists.  Lists of 100, 50, or even 25 ideas tend to leave my mind reeling with the possibilities.   It’s important to take steps to live lighter on the planet, year by year.  Ready for something more manageable? Here are five of my favorite ways to go green this year:

  1. Line-dry Laundry:  The dryer is the single biggest consumer of electricity in your house.  Line drying is a lifestyle change that will force me to spend more time outside, possibly in quiet contemplation (doesn’t that sound nice?).  As an added bonus, it’ll make my clothes last longer too.
  2. Reduce Errands:  I hate running to the store for one thing.  Talk about a time-sucker!  Reducing and combining errands will make an impact on the air quality in my community and on my bank account, considering gas prices today.  I want to learn to wait longer between errands and plan ahead better to get everything in one outing.  My kids will be glad too!
  3. Choose Cloth: I switched to cloth diapers last year.  I could never imagine going back!  Now it’s time to switch to reusable cloth anywhere and everywhere else: shopping bags, napkins, towels, even menstrual products.  I’ve tried cloth products in all these areas.  Turns, out cloth is actually NICER to use.  The disposable product category is such a marketing gimmick!
  4. Eliminate Junk Mail:  It’s as easy as writing to Mail Preference Service, c/o Direct Marketing Association, PO Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008 (include date, name, address, signature, and the message “Please register my name with the Mail Preference Service”).  I’ll also call catalogs that I don’t want to receive and ask to be removed from their mailing list. 
  5. Shop Smart:  I want to continue to think long-term about the products I buy.  Is it high quality?  Will I still love it next year?  Was it manufactured safely, without dangerous chemicals?  I hope to consume less by re-purposing items I already own, borrowing when possible, and only buying real quality that is meant to last.  It’s shopping with an eco-conscience.