Caring for Wickeez
Wickeez are made from a specialized fabric that has been designed to wick moisture away from your baby. Wickeez fibers are more absorbent than cotton and they act to quickly transport liquid away from your baby. It is important to avoid detergents and diaper rash creams that leave residue on these fibers. Once coated with this type of residue, your wickeez may not perform as they should. By considering the following recommendations, you will preserve your wickeez fibers and maintain fabulous absorbency and wickablity.
At Wickeez, our favorite wash routine is as follows:
Avoiding Detergent / Fabric Softener Build Up
- Store dirty diapers in a dry pail. Knock off any solids into toilet before storing diapers in your dry pail.
- On wash day, set your washer to the highest water level and the fastest agitation.
Washing dirty diapers would be considered a heavy duty job, so set your washer for such.
- First, run your Wickeez through a COLD water rinse. This will remove the bulk of urine and poop residue from your Wickeez. The cold water also helps ensure that you don't "cook" any smells into the fibers.
- Follow this cold rinse with a HOT wash. Add your detergent in this step. We caution against using too much detergent, which can lead to resudue build up. Make sure you have set your washer to the hottest setting, the highest wash load, and the fastest agitation.
- Rinse on COLD. We recommend two rinses to ensure that you rinse out all of the detergent from your Wickeez. If you still see suds in the rinse water, then you need to rinse again. This is why we strongly recommend not overusing detergents.
- You will find that after the final spin of your wash, your Wickeez will emerge from the washer nearly dry. Many people prefer to just air dry their Wickeez in order to save money and electricy. Also, there is the advantage of solar bleaching if you choose to hang your Wickeez to dry in the sun. Nevertheless, you might prefer to dry your wickeez in the dryer. We have tested them in our dryer to withstand our hottest setting.
By nature, cloth diapers are VERY absorbent. Therefore, when they are wahsed, they absorb more detergent into their fibers than you might expect. Therefore, it is critical that you use very little detergent in your wash cycle. You know you have used too much detergent if you still see suds in your second rinse cycle. I have found that you can use about 1/4 or less of the amount suggested on the detergent label. Depending upon where you live, your water may be harder/softer than average. So, you might have to experiment with the amount of detergent that works for you.
Another point to keep in mind is that many of the detergents that are available have ingredients that coat fabric fibers. You want to avoid such detergents as they will gradually leave behind residue that will cause detergent build up, and consequently reduce the performance of your Wickeez.
Here are some detergents to avoid:
- Detergents that have "built-in" fabric softeners WILL leave residue behind.
- Baby detergnets, such as Dreft and Baby All, have fabric softeners in them, which will leave residue.
- Many "FREE and CLEAR" detergents, those that claim to be free of fragrance and other harmful subtances, DO LEAVE RESIDUE on diaper fibers.
- Some of the natural detergents have oils in them, such as citrus oil. Since oils do leave residue on fabric fibers, we recommend avoiding detergents that list any type of oil as an ingredient.
- AVOID using fabric softener dryer sheets in your dryer if you plan to machine dry your diapers. This is because the fabric softener sheets coat the inside of your drying machine, which in turn can transfer to your diapers. If you plan to air dry your diapers, then this precaution is not needed. Although, you might want to consider keeping fabric softener away from your baby's skin by not using dryer sheets, anyway.
- Finally, we recommend avoiding pure soap on your diapers. If you have ever removed soap scum from your shower or tub, then you will understand why we don't recommned pure soap for your Wickeez.
So, what kind of detergent should you use on your diapers?
Charlie's Soap is the number one detergent that we recommend for washing your Wickeez. This detergent is fragrance free and it leaves behind no residue. Plus it is an excellnet detergent to use if you ever need to strip your diapers. We also find that using the "original" or "regular" form of any store bought detergent to be an acceptable substitute for Charlie's Soap. For example, we have used regular old Tide, the original formula, with success. But only use a tiny amount.
Diaper Rash Creams
Diaper rash creams will leave residue on your diapers. Very few babies experience diaper rash when using Wickeez diapers. However, we recognize that diaper rash creams will be necessary from time to time. So there are two options that we can suggest.
- One is to use a liner between your baby and the diaper. Often, a wash cloth, cloth wipe, or paper towel works fine.
- Your second option is to allow the diaper rash cream to coat your diapers and then strip your diapers. We have found an excellent way to remove diaper rash cream from Wickeez diaper through our Wickeez StripTeez regimine. Some people will reserve a few diapers from their stash and only use those for diaper rash cream. That way, there are only a few diapers to strip, rather than the whole bunch.
TROUBLE SHOOTING DIAPER PROBLEMS
Wickeez are very absorbent and should not leak. If you experience leaks, you either have an ill-fitting cover, or your diapers are repelling. The only reason for Wickeez to repel is a buildup of either detergent or diaper rash cream. What happens is that the fabric fibers get "clogged" by residual detergent/diaper rash cream. In the event that you experience repelling, you will need to strip your Wickeez in order to restore their proper funtion. Read about the Wickeez StripTeez below.
Stripping Your Diapers
Stripping is the process of removing any unwanted materials from your diapers.
Stripping cloth diapers usually becomes necessary for one reason: Build Up. There are a few different kinds of cloth diaper build-up, which we will describe here:
- Detergent Build Up- As described above, detergents can build up on your diapers. This can happen if you use too much detergent, if you don't completely rinse the detergent out of your diaper load, or if you are using a detergent that coats the fibers (such as those with fabric softeners, those that claim to be "Free and Clear", or pure soap products).
- Diaper Rash Cream Build Up- All diaper rash creams will coat your cloth diapers. They will also leave behind stains. Whether you use vegetable oil or mineral oil based diaper rash creams, you will leave a residue on your diapers. The most difficult to remove are those creams that contain zinc oxide, a very common ingredient in diaper rash creams. However, we have found a way to do that which we once thought impossible: DIAPER RASH CREAM RESIDUE CAN EASILY BE REMOVED FROM YOUR WICKEEZ DIAPERS by performing the Wickeez StripTeez.
- Urine/Ammonia Build Up- If you are not following the suggested wash routine, it is possible to experience a build up of urine and/or ammonia within the diaper fibers. This is why we reccommend a cold water pre-rinse before you even add your detergent. This removes excess urine and debris before you do the actual wash. It is equally important to make sure your final rinse is a clean rinse, meaning that there are no suds forming in the rinse water. Any detergent left behind can cause urine/ammonia to build up in your diapers.
- Odor Build Up- Also called smelly diaper syndrome, odor build up oocassionally afflicts cloth diapers. This odor builds up within the fibers of cloth diapers. This is most likely the result of some other type of build up, whether it be detergent, diaper rash cream, or urine. Another culprit for smelly diapers is bacteria build up. Fortunately, smelly diaper syndrome can be treated by stripping your diapers.
The Wickeez StripTeez
So, here it is. This is how we have successfully stripped just about anything you can think of out of our Wickeez Diapers. It is for the StripTeez alone that we deviate from our general rule about using very small amounts of detergent. The process of stripping requires several rinses, so the extra detergent will rinse out. For stripping, our favorite detergent is Charlie's Soap, because it rinses so well.
- We start our StripTeez with clean diapers. So, perform the regular recommended wash routine. Don't dry the diapers, just clean them.
Now, we pretreat the diapers with Charlie's Soap.
- For diapers that are repeling or that are stained, especially those nasty zinc oxide diaper rash cream stains, apply Charile's Soap directly to the stain. If you are using powdered Charlie's, make sure your diapers are moist. If they are not, then you should premoisten the stained area so that the powder will dissolve into the stain.
- If you don't have stains, you will soak your diapers in the washer for at least one hour. For this soak, add twice the amount of detergent you would normally use. (NOTE: IF you pretreated stains with Charlie's, you don't need to double up on the detergent, but you do need to soak your diapers.)
- After soaking, wash on the fastest agitation possible, for the longest amount of time.
- Now you are going to rinse until the water runs clean. That is, keep rinsing until there are no more suds. Depending upon your washer and water type, this can take several rinses.
Stripping is a wonderful way to resolve many cloth diapering problems. It is a wonderful thing to be able to restore your diapers back to normal. However, our best advise is to try to prevent problems by maintaining proper wash routines.