Monday, June 24, 2013

Those stubborn stains!

I have heard SO many times about people trying to figure out the best way to get pesky stains out of their cloth diapers.  There are just as many suggestions as there are types and styles of diapers.....SO, I figured I would put my two cents in.

Now, I'm going to review a few basics of laundering practically anything.  Because, sometimes we miss the basics.  This comes from laundering techniques that our Grandma's Grandmas used and I tell you, you just can't go wrong.  AND, always look at the manufacturer's directions for temperature and type of washing instructions too.
  • Rinse stains in the same temperature that they are made in.  If it's ice cream, use cold water; coffee, use hot water; body fluids, use 98.6 (or "warm") water.
  • Use lemon juice sparingly if you feel you have to use it.  Lemon juice is good for whitening, but it's also a harsh acid, so it will break down your fabrics quickly.  Faster if they are natural fabrics (like cotton, bamboo, and hemp).  So, those pesky holes are usually caused by too much acid.
  • Sun to get out stains, but only for short periods.  Sun can also cause fabrics to break down.  So, if you use the sun for your "whitening", do it in one hour periods.
  • Make sure that if you are just rinsing, you have a lot of water.  When you wash, only have as much water as you need for the items to move freely, yet rub against each other.  (Think like washing your hands.  You have to rub your hands to get the soap to work.)  Too little water and your items will be stuck and not move.  Too much water and they won't agitate against each other, making it impossible for your soap to work.
  • If you "spot treat" items with set in stains, make sure that they are clean and dry before you start.  (Don't try to spot treat really dirty or wet clothes.)  If you are "spot treating" a new spot, then do it before you rinse the item.  Let "spot treated" clothes sit for at least 20 minutes (you can go as long as overnight) before rinsing and washing to give the "spot treater" time to work.
Now on to a few basics specifically about cloth diapers.  
  • If you find your cloth diapers are retaining smells, increasing stains, or less absorbent, try stripping them first. 
    • To Strip:  It works best to start with dry clean diapers (do not try to strip freshly soiled diapers).  If your diapers are soiled, then do a full wash cycle with ONLY warm water and no detergent to make sure that they are well rinsed.  
    • Put your diapers in the washer and fill with as much really hot water as you can get into your washer (HE machines, add a soaked wet bath towel to the load to weigh it down.)  Add twice as much of your detergent as you usually use (usually about 2-3 tbsp of powdered detergent.)  Then let them sit for 4-6 hours or overnight.  After time has passed, run the full wash cycle.
      • You can also use your bathtub for this step.  Fill it full of really hot water and then when you're done, drain the tub and step on the diapers with clean bare feet to squish out the water.  If you do this, make sure that the kids can't get near the tub (because it's a drowning hazard.)
    • Continue with hot water wash cycles until there are no bubbles in the water during rinse. (Usually around 2-4 wash cycles.)
    • You should only need to strip once every few months (if even that much) or when you switch detergents.  Always strip with a new detergent to get the old detergent build up out of the diapers.  If you feel you need to strip more often (or use additives) then maybe it's time to change up your wash routine and/or detergent that you use.
  • If you still have pesky stains after stripping, then use my "Super Duper Spot Treater".  (This stuff works really well on most Koolaid stained kitchen rugs, grass stains that have been there for 3 months, baby clothes that were stained years ago, etc.)
    • Start with clean and dry items.
    • Put 2-3 tbsp of baking soda in a bowl.  Add equal amounts of hydrogen peroxide.  Then add a tsp of Blue Dawn dishsoap (the regular stuff).  Mix well.
    • Use a soft cloth or soft bristled toothbrush to apply the mixture to the spot in small circular motions.  Use as much as you need to start seeing the spot get lighter.
    • Let the items sit for 20 minutes or longer (even overnight if they are very dark stains.)
    • Put them into a hot wash cycle with detergent.  Then follow with hot wash cycles with no detergent until there are no bubbles in the water at rinse.  (You can also do a rinse before the first wash with detergent if you's up to you.  Play around with the wash routine.)
    • Dry like normal and your spots should be magically gone. Once in a while, you'll have a REALLY stubborn stain and you might have to repeat the process.  If this happens, let the item sit longer than you let it sit the first time with the mixture on it.  (Twice as long if it was under an hour the first time.)
And viola!  You have clean, unstained diapers.  This spot treater is very safe on most fabrics and won't break down fibers like lemon and sun can.


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