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Problems with detergent and limescale buildup are probably the most common cause of cloth diaper damage and complaints.
We got a diaper that had severe detergent buildup at a first glance. The buildup is caused by detergent residues, limescale and other minerals from water. Most noticeable was the velcro that looked dusty and tangled, stiff to the touch and almost non functional.
On the video below, you can see how the the solution begins to fizz after immersing the diaper in warm water with citric acid (about a tablespoon for 2 liters of water). This is a manifestation of the acid reacting with the mineral deposits in the diaper.
What causes the buildup?
- Poorly dosed washing detergent (too little or too much) - it is necessary to dose the detergent according to the hardness of the water in your area, always follow the information on the detergent packaging.
- Too little water in the washing cycle - cloth diapers are very absorbent compared to regular laundry, but the machine does not know this. It uses a standard amount of water, the diapers absorb most of it and there is too little water left for the actual washing process. The solution is to fill the washing machine less, add "more water" option if the washing machine allows, or at least add extra rinses. Definitely do not use "ECO" washing programs that use less water (and compensate with a longer wash time which damages the diapers even more).
- Some washing detergents tend to cause buildup more than others. You need to experiment. In addition, homemade “soap slime”, which is literally alchemy, is very dangerous in both preparation and use.
What's wrong about the buildup?
- Laundry is gray, hard, color maps may appear.
- Especially in cloth diapers, bacteria thrive well in deposits. It is often the case that a seemingly well-washed diaper smells badly (like a "wet rag") immediately after the first peeing or even straight from the washing machine.
- Lifespan of diapers is reduced - hardened fibers break more, the fabric becomes prone to tearing and wears out much sooner. Hook and loop fasteners do not hold well.
How to get rid of the buildup?
First of all, it is necessary to remove the causes, i.e. to adjust your washing routine. Read our article Washing cloth diapers.
There are more ways to get rid of the existing buildup:
- Wash the diapers at 60 degrees in clean water without any detergent, maybe several times in succession.
- Immerse the diapers in warm (= does not burn your hand) water with citric acid. Dissolve about 1 tablespoon of citric acid per every 2 liters of water. Stir well and immerse the diapers, squeeze and allow to rest for several minutes until the fizzing ceases. The diapers should not lie in the solution for a longer period of time, they might get damaged! Then squeeze the diapers, transfer them to the washer and rinse thoroughly. See the video for details about How to remove buildup.
- For even better cleaning, diapers can be washed with the addition of a disinfectant, e.g., Sanytol or Dettol. We recommend adding it to the main cycle, not in the fabric softener compartment as stated by the manufacturer. This ensures that the disinfectant rinses out thoroughly from the laundry and does not come into contact with the baby's skin.