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Archive for the ‘Diaper Product Reviews’ Category

This is a somewhat embarrassing post to write–I am tempted to preface it by saying, “Now don’t YOU do this!” But I think it merits full disclosure.

Our 3.5 year old daughter is not the most reliable of children when it comes to announcing an imminent call of nature. So, not surprisingly this particular call went unanswered in time and my husband came in with her from outside with the “message” already left in her underwear. And he put the underwear, which had been spoken to in a very disagreeable way, in the sink for me to deal with. It was some time before I discovered them and the message had really sunken in by that time, I can tell you.

Now what I should have done was to rinse the message thoroughly and then launder the poor underwear by hand or maybe taken them to a laundromat in a different town or even buried them in the yard. But I did not. I confess now that I picked them up by one tiny corner and carried them to the washing machine and put them on top of the already full load of clothes in there and then I dumped 2 tsp of Lulu’s Glamour Wash (Zippity Doo Dah occupies its own little shrine by the washer) directly on the offending underwear. Note well: I did not rub it in or spread it around or mix or soak or trouble myself in any way to properly prepare the underwear for washing. I just closed the lid, turned the water setting to hot, pushed the ON button, mumbled a little prayer and then I walked away.

And so it was that I returned 2 hours later with some trepidation to open the washer and fish out the underwear anticipating that AT LEAST the underwear (but most likely the entire washload) was going to smell like a barnyard animal. But, no, that’s odd, the other clothes didn’t smell like anything. So I held the underwear about 2 feet away and waved them in the air and sniffed. Nothing. I held the underwear a little closer. Sniff. Nothing. I held the underwear right next to my nose and inhaled deeply. Absolutely nothing. There was no smell at all. A single wash got them completely clean. Try this at home at your own peril, but it sure worked for me.

I stand revealed before you, a bona fide Lulu’s Disciple.

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Merciful heavens, what is that stink? Sniffing suspiciously, I give the dog a stern look and she sidles away. No, it couldn’t be Molly; the stale, unwashed smell is as strong as ever, coming from the direction of…ah, yes, the clothes hamper.

Oh goody, time to do laundry. And what a treat it is, sorting through crusty socks (great for wearing around the house AND in the sandbox!) and mysteriously streaked white shirts (no napkin for me, I’m fine, thanks!) Really, shouldn’t doing laundry be less glum and a little more *Glam*??

Enter Lulu and her glorious Glamour Wash to the rescue! Lulu was kind enough to send some Glamour Wash my way to bring out my inner laundry queen and let me tell you, Lulu’s Glamour Wash is divinity for diapers.

I compared Glamour Wash to the competition in several key laundry categories that are especially relevant to cleaning cloth diapers: stain removal (with and without presoaking), odor removal, fabric brightening/whitening, and likeliness to leave detergent residue. Several detergents were tested: BioKleen Free and Clear powdered, Tide Free unscented powdered, Rockin Green (Fresh Linen scent-original version), and Glamour Wash (Zippity Doo Dah scent). I also tested RLR laundry treatment (not a detergent) to see how it fared with removing stains.

First, the stain removal test.

To see how well the detergents remove stains that go along with cloth diapers, I stained several squares of bamboo fleece with the most sanitary substitutes for poop I could think of: melted chocolate, make-up, squashed blueberries and spaghetti sauce.

I washed the stained fleece both with and without an overnight presoak with the detergents.

I noticed that both the Glamour Wash and RockinGreen soak solution became clear during the soak, while all the other detergents tested (Tide, RLR and BioKleen) looked dirty and took on the color of the stains. This may be due to the sodium percarbonate in both GW and RNG, which forms hydrogen peroxide in water. Hydrogen peroxide has long been used as a stain remover, especially for biological stains like blood.

Results: It was pretty obvious that soaking the  stained fabric before washing helped a lot with stain removal. The soaked fleece was much cleaner looking across the board. Of the detergents tested (Tide, BioKleen, Glamour Wash and RockinGreen), Lulu’s Glamour Wash consistently removed the stains most completely. All the detergents failed to remove the make-up stain (note: if it’s this hard to get off the fabric, I have wonder how hard it is to get it off your face). But Glamour Wash was the only one that really got rid of the spaghetti sauce stain, while all the other detergents left a trace of the tough stain, even with soaking. Interestingly, RLR appeared to remove stains as well or better than most of the tested detergents, but at $2 per washload, RLR is best saved for truly distressed diapers.

I also noticed that Tide was better than Glamour Wash and Rockin Green at removing dried-on stains (melted/hardened chocolate) without pre-soaking. This may be because Tide contains synthetic surfactants, which help water penetrate into the stain. Rockin Green contains “bio-degradable surfactants,” which probably differ from those in Tide.
A little info about surfactants. A surfactant is basically soap, and it penetrates the stains in your laundry to make the dirt and oil soluble so they can be washed away. Natural soaps (like the kind you bathe with) react with calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) ions  in water (Ca and Mg give hardness to the water–the more Ca and Mg, the harder the water ) to form a greasy, insoluble, curd-like precipitate that settles on what ever is being washed, i.e. “soap scum”.

The synthetic surfactants in modern laundry detergents do not react with Ca and Mg in water like natural soap, although there is still a potential for the surfactant residue to be left in fabric. And cloth diapers + detergent residue = stink, rashes and repellency issues. From the American Scouting Digest (http://www.scoutingdigest.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=120): “The enemy of every fabric is contamination. Air pollution, dirt of all kinds, chemicals, hard water, and especially the surfactant residue from soaps, detergents, fabric softeners, and dry cleaning all compromise the life of the fabric and the features you paid for. Residue affects water repellency, breathability, wicking, and moisture transfer.”

Are surfactants necessary for an effective detergent? An all-purpose detergent may require the use of surfactants to remove dried on stains without pre-soaking. However, I am not convinced that washing cloth diapers requires the use of a detergent with surfactants. Simply rinsing the dirty diapers before putting them in the diaper bucket will help prevent stains and may eliminate the need for detergent surfactants that can be left in the diaper fabric as residue. And using a product like BacOut (which contains vegetable surfactants) to spray the diapers before washing, will also help remove and prevent stains and odors.

Rockin Green has achieved a fair amount of fame in its ability to get rid of detergent residue and suds in a wash load. I compared the wash water of Rockin Green to Glamour Wash with similar wash loads (some old prefolds I had that had been washed in Tide Free for the duration of their diapering career) and really didn’t see a difference in the wash water.

Ok, but how do the detergents stack up against dingy-looking clothes?

Going up against Tide, the Glamour Wash, BioKleen and RockinGreen were not as effective at visibly whitening fabric. Glamour Wash does not contain the optical brighteners found in Tide and other detergents. Are optical brighteners a good idea? Check this link for more info about optical brighteners, but the short answer is no, probably not as far as the environment and the health of your baby’s skin. And they don’t really make your clothes cleaner; the brighteners just bind to the fabric and affect the way light reflects off the fabric. A better way to brighten/whiten is to use RLR once a month. RLR actually removes the contaminants and residue that make clothes dingy instead of disguising them.

I didn’t have stinky diapers to test (having recently potty trained our daughter, but I was able to test for odors in a pair of training pants that had suffered in the training process, so to speak. And the dirt and stains in our regular laundry were nasty enough to provide a before and after dinginess comparison. Two tsp of Glamour Wash and one wash later, the training pants smelled like (insert nose here and breathe deeeeeply) absolutely nothing. The clothes looked to my eye to be perfectly acceptable for visiting a dirt-detective Grandmother’s house. Note: the color differences in the fabric were due to the time of day that the before/after pictures were taken, not from washing the clothes.

I do love yummy smells (Zippity Doo Dah is my favorite of the Glamour Wash scents–it’s just so fresh and the lemongrass reminds me of laundry dried on a windswept exotic beach) but Glamour Wash is not a strongly scented detergent. The scented versions (Dimpled Booty and Zippety Doo Dah) are very pleasant, but LIGHT scents. If you want something to perfume your whole house on laundry day, this may not be the detergent for you. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that several incidents of cloth diaper rashes have been linked to the perfuming agents (essential oils or fragrances) that make detergents smell good, and a heavily scented detergent can be a recipe for a rash.

What about hard water washing? Hard water is noticeable as mineral deposits around your taps and drains. Water hardness varies depending on what part of the country you live in, and if you have untreated well water, you’re more likely to have issues with water hardness. If you have hard water, you’re not alone:  “more than 85% of American homes have hard water.[30] The softest waters occur in parts of the New England, South Atlantic-Gulf, Pacific Northwest, and Hawaii regions. Moderately hard waters are common in many of the rivers of the Tennessee, Great Lakes, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska regions. Hard and very hard waters are found in some of the streams in most of the regions throughout the country. Hardest waters are in streams in Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona, and southern California. ” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_water

The reason that hard water is “hard” to wash with, if you’ll pardon the pun, is because the more minerals in your water, the more mineral and detergent residues are likely to be left in your laundry. The way to deal with hard water washing is to add a softening agent to the detergent. Softening agents include chelators (which bind to the metal minerals in water) and salts (which exchange the less soluble minerals in the water for the more soluble minerals in the salt so the minerals can be rinsed away). Both Lulu’s Glamour Wash regular and Hard Water versions are formulated with sodium carbonate, which is a safe, effective, eco-friendly water softener.

In summary, Lulu’s Glamour Wash is a simple, lightly scented detergent that is effective for cloth diaper washing and won’t aggravate problems with detergent residue and hard water. I especially like that only one or two teaspoons of Lulu’s is required per washload, making Lulu’s cost effective compared to RockinGreen.

Lulu’s Glamour Wash 35 cents per washload including shipping (OtterBlotters.com)

RockinGreen 46 cents per washload including shipping (GadBaby.com)

Lulu’s Regular Glamour Wash is available in your choice of 3 scintillating scents (Zippity Doo Dah, Dimpled Booty and Lavender Vanilla) or unscented (Naked Booty). Hard Water Glamour Wash is available in Naked Booty scent only.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer of Lulu’s Glamour Wash provided me with sufficient detergent to evaluate its performance. All other detergent was purchased by me for testing purposes.

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The Diaper Troll has a deep dark secret that she can no longer suppress… and which will certainly earn her an entire chapter in Tiger Wood’s forthcoming book Now That You Know This About Me, Can I Still Come to Your House for Dinner Next Tuesday? Really, she has struggled with it, but is finally at peace with her public confession: Diaper Troll Had a G-Diaper Fling Which Ended Badly.

The doomed affair started innocently enough, a chance encounter at the health food store a couple years ago, when she was still a comely she-Troll, not yet so warty. An attractively dressed “package” caught her eye, and she moved closer to get a better look…yes, this was promising! Cloth diapers, but somehow, not cloth diapers! Intriguing, a little mysterious… and a bit of a foray into disposables, the forbidden fruit….oh, tempting, very tempting. Perhaps the girls at the daycare would like this “package” too!

And so, the Troll’s new romance unfolded in short but predictable order:

  • the tender, getting-aquainted period (back fastening velcro, how dear!)
  • the passionate spend-every-minute-together period (how much longer must this washer spin?!!)
  • the overlooking-each-other’s-obvious-flaws period (a little leaking around the crotch area is attractive in a diaper, honestly, darling!)
  • the slightly-impatient-but-offering-loving-suggestions-for-improvement period (I know it’s not your fault, dear, but do you suppose you could let me rip open your flushable pad without spraying crystallized urine all over the commode? And I know you said I was supposed to “swish” the pad in the water or it might clog the plumbing and require plunging the toilet, but I didn’t realize you were serious, love!)
  • the ever-so-faintly-testy-but-mostly-good-natured period (It’s a good thing I enjoy snapping together diaper parts and wrestling large papery pads in place for 15 minutes every morning at the daycare center when I’m late for work, ha ha!)

and finally,

  • the bitter-and-resentful-acceptance-of-the-inevitable-end period (Biodegradable, my left butt cheek!! Do you really think everyone throws these pads in with their worm farm?? Or isn’t it more likely they go directly in a plastic grocery bag and get perfectly preserved into poop fossils to inspire archaeologists to cloth diaper their children in 4000 years? And what is up with that stupid backwards velcro? Do you know how many times Troll-lina has come home from the daycare center with a diaper on backwards? How the hello are you supposed to wrap velcro around behind someone when they’re lying on their back, anyway?! I can’t even give you to Goodwill–it’s like passing on a curse! Just take your snap-together plastic parts and go!!)

And so, with a brave smile to hide the pain, Diaper Troll soldiers on G-Diaperless, wounded, but wiser in her quest for consummate diaper passion. Disheartened, and yet still hopeful, for, inasmuch as “one fire burns out another’s burning, one pain is lessened by another’s anguish,” (Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Sc. 2), surely Diaper Prince awaits…

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A couple years ago, I joined several online diapering communities.  For a while I just lurked and listened and marveled that here were all these people cloth diapering their babies. Back when the first two otter pups were wee, the only people I knew that cloth diapered were me and my Earth Goddess friend Kathleen. We used prefolds and pins but our diaper covers were cutting edge–they came in COLORS.

Cloth diapers have evolved a bit since then, it’s fair to say. One thing that I noticed from the posts on the diaper boards that hasn’t changed though, is that just like me and Kathleen, people to love to hate their diapers. Kathleen and I didn’t have a lot of diapers to dis, but we made do by complaining about what we had.

And so in the spirit of kindred diaper loathing, I will now assume my alter ego as “Diaper Troll, Extraordinaire,” leaving no topstitch unturned in my quest to root out diaper evil. Since it would hardly be fair to point my gnarled, warty, clawed finger at other diaper brands while conveniently overlooking my own, Otter Blotters™ will be included in the lineup (as soon as I can find some flaws in them).

The diaper that immediately springs to mind as a standout in the multitude of diapers I have despaired of is the Under the Nile organic cotton fitted. Dear God, the stink of that fitted. And the time it took to dry. I think our oldest she-Troll learned to walk during the entire afternoon and evening the UTN was in the dryer. Sadly, back then I was not the diaper-wise and wary, crusty old Troll I am now and my ENTIRE stash consisted of them. “What do you want for Christmas?” my mother would ask. “More of those diapers,” I would say. “You mean the ones that cost like $12 each?!” my mother would ask in a strained voice, not having been introduced to Goodmama and bamboo velour. But whatever the reason, the damp or the funk, I stood there on Christmas Eve, with diapers that stunk. They were ripe as sauerkraut, even fresh from the dryer. I read all about detergent residue and rinsing and vinegar and borax and Dawn dish soap and top loaders and front loaders and curdled bat milk (I had to find THAT online) but what it boiled down to (oh, yeah, boiling, too) was that our little Trolls have some sort of mystical ability to make cotton diapers stink. Not just any cotton diapers; they have to be cotton diapers with about 16 layers of cotton sewn together, that take forever to dry. UTNs, to be exact. Did I mention these diapers lasted 4 months absolutely tops, then developed cotton disintegration disorder (CDD)? Also, they’re not turned and topstitched, so the serged edges chafe nicely on baby’s inner thighs, but this is fairly typical of fitteds, so I was not unduly put out. The velcro was another story, the masterwork of a truly evil diaper genius, impossible to pry apart from the laundry tab or even from the diaper front. Nighttime diapering was accompanied by fiercely whispered commands in the dark, “open! Open, dammit!” (no, not in reference to contraceptive packaging, that’s our next review).

Every diaper does have its virtues, though. Aside from the organic cotton, the UTN is noteworthy in a singular respect: that puppy can soak up some serious pee. In it’s 2-3 month heyday, it was the Sponge of Gibraltar, then it disintegrated and sank (and stank).

Diaper Troll’s “bottom” line: sorry UTN, but 2 warty claws down.

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