Sunday, October 25, 2009

Got guck?

From time to time, we get customer calls about leaks. Usually (more often than not) this is an easy problem to solve. We have a pretty fabulous troubleshooting guide on our website, it does a good job of identifying leak problems and solutions. One cause of leaks is repelling caused by diaper cream build-up. In general, you should avoid using zinc-based creams, or creams that contain fish oils. You should only use cream to *treat* rash (not prevent it), you should use a small amount, and you should use a paper liner to prevent the cream from touching your diapers.

How do you know if you have a repelling issue? The diaper will leak, but it will not feel wet. If you pour water onto the diaper to test it, it will likely bead up and roll off the diaper. In the case of a pocket diaper, you need to apply pressure to the fleece or microsuede lining to check for repelling. If you the water pools, stick your finger in the puddle, and it should go through the lining into the insert -- if nothing happens, you've got a repelling pocket diaper.

We recently had a customer complaining of repelling issues with her bumGenius pocket diapers. Initially, she was quite sure she was dealing with a product defect, however, she left some diapers at the store, and it was quite evident that the repelling was caused by the use of a zinc-based diaper cream. Although the care instruction label clearly indicates 'no rash creams', she has been using Desitin diaper cream on an ongoing basis, resulting in a very severe repelling issue -- what good is a cloth diaper if it doesn't absorb? Unfortunately, using rash creams voids the Cotton Babies warranty, in fact, most (if not all) cloth diaper manufacturers recommend against using barrier creams with their diapers.

Understandably, this customer was upset that she has hundreds of dollars worth of diapers that no longer work. She had been advised by Cotton Babies to strip her diapers using 'blue' Dawn dishwashing detergent, however, we are in Canada, Cotton Babies customer service is in the US, and it would seem that 'blue' Dawn down there is something entirely different than 'blue' Dawn up here. The only 'blue' Dawn available to Canadians is 'Dawn PLUS with power scrubbers', which is labelled as containing 'enzymes and surfactants', which most cloth diaper manufacturers recommend against. In place of Dawn Original, you'll need to find a dishsoap that cuts grease, I used the generic Sobey's brand Our Compliments grease-fighting detergent (it's green, if you care!).

Before stripping the diapers, I checked the inserts to see if they still absorbed -- they sucked up water, so I didn't need to strip the inserts (phew!). I wet the pocket shells and squirted dishsoap directly onto the affected areas. It can be tough to see the zinc cream against white microsuede, holding the shells up to the sun made the cream obvious, or looking at the underside of the microsuede revealed the problem areas. I used a toothbrush to scrub the dishsoap into the affected areas, then I used both hands to scrub the microsuede together. I left the pocket shell folded in half for an hour or so, rinsed it out, and scrubbed it down a second time with dishsoap and a toothbrush, focusing on the affected areas again. At this point I put the diapers into an overnight soak with dishsoap and Rockin' Green Soap (if you've seen their Youtube video on diaper residue, you'd understand why!). In the morning, I rinsed the pocket shells and washed them in our frontloader with extra water, on a hot wash cycle with a double rinse, again using the Rockin' Green Soap.

When all is said and done, there are still stains left on the pocket shells (albeit fainter), but (but!) they are absorbing now. If I hadn't been able to strip the pockets successfully, the diapers wouldn't have been a write-off, the customer could have worked around the repelling issue by using the pocket shells like covers, and simply laying the inserts on top of the microsuede lining. She would lose the stay-dry effect of the microsuede, but the diapers would at least work.

I will be returning the diapers to the customer tomorrow, along with a free pack of RLR (it would be wise to strip the diapers after using scrubbing them with dishsoap) and the remainder of the dishsoap and Rockin' Green Soap (she still has to fix the remainder of her diapers, and I want her to be successful at it!). If you experience leaks with your diapers, it's more than likely a fixable problem, and if you adhere to the manufacturers' recommended care instructions, you won't run the risk of voiding their warranty if you do run into problems down the road. Treat your diapers well, and they'll treat you well right back!


  1. Re: 'Blue' Dawn in Canada

    That's not true. Regular 'blue' dawn is what I use for stripping gunk and lanolin from sheep fleece and it's quite easy to find at the Dollar Store ($1 a bottle!) or the hardware store. Loblaws, etc only carry the "enhanced" Dawn liquids, though.

    Dawn Original (blue) is also great for stripping wool covers that have become sticky with old lanolin. Just add a squirt to a dish of warm water, swish it through with your fingers, then leave the cover to soak for 5-10 minutes. After soaking, take the cover out and give it a good squeeze (but don't wring it!) and either lay it flat on a towel to dry or invert it over the open top of a bottle. This will get out any lanolin in the fabric, so it's important to remember to relanolize before using! :)

    Glad you found something that worked for her, Susie!

  2. I found the original blue Dawn at the dollar store too!

  3. You may very well be able to purchase Dawn Original at a dollar store, b/c the buy the ends of inventory, but it's not listed as a product on the Canadian corporate site, whereas it is still listed on the US corporoate site. Point is you don't want to kill yourself looking for 'blue Dawn' b/c it may be the wrong thing, or you likely won't find it at major stores. Just look for something that cuts grease, that's what's going to cut through the diaper cream.

  4. I had the same problem with my diapers. The insert and the shells were pretty bad. I did the same thing using dishwashing soap but I was not able to take care of the shells. I ended up sewing a piece of flannel on top of the inserts and I use them on top. It's been a year since and they are still working great. I think that the main issue was the use of diaper rash cream without a liner and bad bad evil detergent!!!!

  5. Blue Dawn made our ammonia stinkies worse - diaper cream wasn't our challenge. Rockin' Green detergent soaks sorted us right out. I'm so glad to know you stock RLR for the really tough ones!

  6. I have just downloaded iStripper, and now I can watch the best virtual strippers on my desktop.