Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to Clean Cloth Training Pants and Diapers

Do you rinse and wash your cloth training pants and diapers only to find that they have an ammonia smell? Has your little one developed a skin rash or sensitivity to cloth diapers that he/she didn't have before? It might be due to the laundry process. Let's do a little microbiology refresher: some bacteria thrive in conditions where there's no oxygen such as a wet bag, sealed plastic pails, etc. E.coli, streptococcus, and staphylococcus just to name a few. But let me not get bogged down with name dropping here. Some skin infections, such as staph infections and impetigo are caused by these lovely microbes. "Ok, mother-nerd, how do I prevent this?", you're thinking that right now, aren't ya? 1. Shake off all solid waste 2. Rinse, rinse, rinse. Spray them down or just run them under a stream of cold water and rinse them well. 3. Store your cloth diapers or training pants in a ventilated container until wash day. That could be in a Rubbermaid container with holes punched in the lid, or an open pail. 4. Ensure that you're using enough laundry detergent. Sometimes the old eyeballing it technique isn't adequate. 5. Use the extra rinse cycle on your machine. If you're doing all of the above and still have ammonia odor try adding a little laundry detergent to your storage pail as a presoak while they await wash day. Try using one third to half of the amount that you would normally launder them with. 6. Add a cup of white vinegar in the washer. This won't work if you have really hard water, but does fine otherwise. I don't have a front loading machine, so make sure there's no contraindication to doing so if you have one of those fancy-schmancy models. Remember that fabric softeners decrease absorbency, so avoid using them when laundering diapers or training pants.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

"How Absorbent Are Your Cotton Training Pants?" With Video Update

I was recently asked this question in an email inquiry and decided to do a little test and see. The average 2-3 year old has a bladder capacity of anywhere from 3-7.5 ounces (90-225 ml). I tested 4 pair of cotton training pants (2T). I purchased Gerber, Hanna Andersson Training Unders, and Okie Dokie (JC Penney brand) to compare to my BubbyBums training pants. The priciest and heaviest pants were the Hanna Andersson pants. They weighed 2.2 ounces and have 4 layers of organic cotton that go up the entire center panel. All of the other pants have the absorbent layer in the crotch area only. The Okie Dokie and Gerber pants weighed 1.2 ounces per pair and the BubbyBums pants weighed 1.6 ounces.
Gerber Cotton Training Pants-Made in India.

BubbyBums Cotton Training Pants-Made in the USA.

Hanna Andersson Training Unders-Made in India

Okie Dokie Cotton Training Pants-Made in Thailand

My hypothesis was that the Hanna Andersson training pants would absorb the greatest amount of liquid since they had extra layers extending completely up the center panel. Here's what happened:
Okie Dokie pants absorbed 38 ml of water; Gerber pants absorbed 46 ml of water, BubbyBums pants absorbed 110 ml of water; and the Hanna Andersson pants absorbed 105 ml of water. Since 5 ml is not statistically significant, the absorbencies of the latter two pair are very similar.

I attempted to videotape the testing process but needed a helping hand to do so, therefore it is somewhat incomplete. After washing and drying the pants I compared them to a new pair of each brand to assess how much they would shrink. That might be helpful to view. Take a look.

Remember that the point of training pants is that the child will "feel wet" so they are more absorbent than regular underwear. If your child is a heavy wetter, say at the 7,5 ounces end of normal, you might opt for waterproof or partially waterproof training pants no matter what brand you choose.

Next week's blog entry will be on laundering cloth training pants and diapers.
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