About six months into cloth diapering my son, out of nowhere, his Fuzzibunz and BumGenius started leaking. Everywhere. Detergent buildup? You might think so, but we were using Crunchy Clean at the time, a detergent with no soaps that doesn't tend to leave residue. Just in case, I did a Dawn strip. No improvement. What was going on?
The answer came to us when I noticed a chalky white residue on our showerhead. Yup, we had hard water. We hadn't known this because our town's water department website actually claimed we had soft water, but then when I did some more research, comparing the actual numbers they gave to a water hardness chart, I found that claim to be an outright lie.
We didn't even meet the criteria for "moderately hard," we were in "very hard" territory.After doing some research, I ordered some RLR laundry additive. I'm always hesitant to try anything with proprietary ingredients, but desperate times call for desperate measures! I had to do about six or seven rinses to get the suds out (whatever is in it has a powerful foaming agent), but it worked. The cloth diapers stopped leaking!
My next plan of attack was to try a new hard water detergent to keep the mineral buildup from returning. I decided to try Rockin Green Hard Rock formula. Again, this has proprietary ingredients, but the owner, Kim, assured me they were eco-friendly and baby safe. So I gave it a shot. The diapers remained leak free for the remainder of our stay in that town.Five months later, we moved to another town. I contacted the water department and found we now had only somewhat hard water.
Since most CD detergents are now formulated to handle moderately hard water, I decided to try a new detergent, Lulu's in the Fluff. It worked great! At first. Until I started to realize we had another water problem: we couldn't control our water temperature. Because we live in an apartment community, each water heater in the building is under lock and key: keys we don't have access to. As a result, our water heater tends to fluctuate between "lukewarm" and "hot enough for a comfortable shower."
There is no really hot water to be found in our apartment complex, unless you want to take the time to boil a couple gallons of hot water for every wash cycle.This meant I had to start being much more careful about what I put onto my baby's bum at diaper changes. If I wanted to use coconut oil, vitamin E oil, or our beloved CJ's Spritz o' Butter Plus, I absolutely had to use a liner. Even these cloth diaper friendly oils require very hot water to rinse out properly, and our water temperature didn't cut it.I am pleased to say this has started to help us keep the worst of the stinkies at bay.
We have had one other water related problem in our cloth diapering adventures: ammonia. How is ammonia a water problem? Well, first of all, your baby needs to be properly hydrated, or his/her urine will be much more prone to strong smelling ammonia odor. This has been a struggle for us in the summer, having a 15 month old who often turns his nose up at water, but we've been watering down his milk and it's helped tremendously.
The other way we've found water can keep ammonia at bay is by rinsing and wringing each diaper before it goes in our dry pail. This rinses out the uric acid from the diapers, preventing it from turning into ammonia while it sits in the pail waiting for wash day.As you can see, finding the right wash routine with your particular water isn't always easy, but it's essential! I wish you all luck with whatever water woes you may run into, and encourage you to keep at it: whatever the problem, there is a solution!