Cloth Diaper Podcast – Show 91
Washing Diapers in Hard Water (Rock Hard Water)
Miranda, formally from Kansas, shares her experience learning to wash cloth diapers in water as hard rocks. This family now has a water softener, but over the past few years cloth diapering three boys, she’s learned a few tricks to experimenting and finding her grove in wash routines.
Bailey Bouwman 00:00
To show 91 of the cloth diaper podcast and today I’m joined with a cloth diaper parent Miranda, and we’re going to talk about how she navigated and found her wash routine with hardest rock water.
Bailey Bouwman 00:19
Welcome back to the cloth diaper podcast, a regular show where we share stories of cloth diapering from parents, brands, retailers, and more.
Bailey Bouwman 00:27
Today I’m really excited to share a parent’s story. What is a parent’s story? Well, a parent’s story is when a cloth diaper mom or dad comes on the show and tells you how and why they caught the bird and how they overcame any of the obstacles. Because there are obstacles that happen. I was on Tik Tok, and was talking about different types of wash routines and kind of skipping through the rules. I asked for parents to share their stories with me and if they wanted to, to share this around a podcast.
Bailey Bouwman 00:57
So I got some really great parent stories and the guest section on my blog. So if you go to cloth diaper podcast.com You can read stories from other parents. You can also submit your own story. The cloth diaper podcast is a space for sharing in the lived experience of diapering. So if you have a weird routine or you don’t want to come on the podcast, you can just email me and we can write it out and publish it for the world to see. I also sometimes sit down with parents. So today I’m sitting down with Miranda, who is a US based cloth diaper parent who has hard as rock water. She’s talking about how she found an answer without necessarily relying on Facebook groups or bloggers to find that answer. I love stories like her because it reminds us and it reminds all of us that cloth diapering can really be intuitive and easy and just problem solving. So here is today’s episode.
Bailey Bouwman 01:53
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So I am a mom to three little boys. Re Yes. I started cloth diapering. It’ll be four years in December is when our oldest turned four. We I was in college, freshly married. And we were not expecting to have a baby. He was kind of our surprise, baby. And we really didn’t have a whole lot of money because of college and jobs and situation and
Bailey Bouwman 03:12
you weren’t expecting to have a baby. I mean, a lot of us who are expecting to have babies, we put certain things in place to feel a certain ways. So here you are now with four years later with three babies. So it was pretty fast. But
yes, it’s been a crazy ride. I looked in the cloth because I had a cousin in law. She’s like, well, I’ve got some cloth diapers that I can give you guys to kind of help you get on your feet. She goes I know, babies are expensive. And here’s just one less thing to have to worry about. Getting going in your parenting journey. She was really amazing and nice to get help us get going.
Bailey Bouwman 03:55
So this is a story of her law is having that one person who can support you through it. Did she really introduce you all to cloth diapering and help you figure out what to do and how to wash them and answer all your questions.
She really did. Because I was like way in diapers are gonna be expensive, because at that time, we were living in western Kansas. And we were about an hour away from any local Walmart. And we either had to go an hour to get supplies or we had to order it in. And where we were living is also known as the desert of the Great Plains. So there’s lots of flat areas. Not a lot there. And so we would regulate our our route to get to Walmart would be regularly closed in the winter.
Bailey Bouwman 04:50
So that was just another big hang up for us. Besides the price was well what do we do if we run out at something, you know?
Bailey Bouwman 04:59
Yeah, I think we don’t Talk about that nearly enough is like access to supply chains can be really hard for some people and cloth can be like one last thing. Like, you literally just can’t You can’t run, I can run to the corner store because I live in a city, but you can’t run to the corner store or it or it might be close. Yeah.
So we those were the two big factors for us starting cloth. And with the help of a cousin who guided us a lot the first probably three to four months and trying to find something that worked well for us. And help us get a good stash going.
Bailey Bouwman 05:39
So what what does your What did she give you and what does your stash look like? How has it evolved?
So starting out, we started with the best bottoms all into system.
Bailey Bouwman 05:52
Oh yeah, that’s a simple system to get it to system.
And we also did a lot of like flour sack towel flat, receiving blankets flat, that sort of stuff. That was my original stash 95% of it except for the covers were thrifted from thrift stores that were in the little town we were in or given to us. With the I’ve got the baby in my hand teeth, trying to play with everything.
Bailey Bouwman 06:26
Are you are you diapering three babies right now or?
So I have my oldest is starting to potty train. So he has he wears cloth at naps and bedtime. And then the middle child he’s kind of nice, too. So we’re just starting to explore potty training kind of ways cloth more than he doesn’t. Baby is eight months old. So he’s still in cloth full time.
Bailey Bouwman 06:59
So you got a lot of diapering bottoms.
Yes. So our stash evolved down into pockets. And all in ones I use a lot of either. There’s several different WAHM companies work at home moms that I work from that do like pre orders and different things. So that’s what most of my stash is. And then I found a couple of all in ones that just kind of work for us there from the heavy wetters from this squishy tushy here and
Bailey Bouwman 07:34
I think yes, I have her in my email today actually. So yes, I’ve heard of that. So you’ve you’ve pivoted a little bit from like a cover all into system into a pocket all in one as you find something that’s working for you and I just pulled up your original email Miranda, I had, I apologize. Lots of brain thoughts. It’s funny to hear you go into pockets and on ones when you’re, you’re talking about having this part as rocks, water and on a septic system. So let’s talk about that experience and learning to wash diapers and then wash what people would I sometimes I tend to shy away from all the ones because gonna be difficult to watch. But you’re you’re obviously doing it.
Bailey Bouwman 08:16
So how are you? How did you figure that out? What does your wash routine look like today? Three babies and the diapers of your choice really.
So all of my diapers are natural fibers. Okay. Any microfiber. Well, there’s microfiber in house, but I now use them as rags to clean up messes toddlers, which they work really well if anybody needs to repurchase a whole bunch of microfiber inserts just keep them and use them for the toddler stages. It’s worth it.
Bailey Bouwman 08:50
I mean, I use my prefolds almost every day with a 46 year old, everything, everything ends up on the floor all the time.
So the only thing that would have a little bit of microfiber that I still use would be some of the layers in my all in one has some microfibers but not a lot. So I use mostly bamboo and hemp inserts. And because I found that those have held up the best to hardwater for us personally. And so what I usually use is we actually use gained detergent, liquid gain and then some like half a cup of Borax, usually in a wash. And that seems to do pretty well. So pretty
Bailey Bouwman 09:43
Well, the big thing is supply sometimes we don’t have more X even here we actually have moved to Iowa. And we still don’t always get supplies in that we think we’re going to have. So I have found that consistently gain has given me the best wash. Because I know everybody. Yeah, everybody loves tide, but that that’s actually been my worst experience using tide.
Bailey Bouwman 10:20
Well, no, but one of the things that I’d like do you have, do you have a few friends locally who have cloth diapers, but they also have gain experiences. Sometimes we see like regional bubbles where certain detergent works better. I know my mom and I, we can’t use the same dish for the dishwasher. She uses the green package and if I use that at my house, it does not work. So as soon as we see a little regional bubbles,
it can be I know that was one of the purchase that my cousin originally suggested to us. When we first heard diapering was she goes a tie doesn’t seem to work. Switch over to game stuff works well on diapers. So in usually, I’ve had very consistent results with using liquid game in some borax in with this.
Bailey Bouwman 11:15
What do you do? What do you do if you’re out of Borax?
So I have I keep washing soda around with a little bit different than baking soda. And I use a half a cup to a full cup just depends on the load size.
Bailey Bouwman 11:33
I keep washing soda around.
Well, I use that to scrub a lot of things. I kind of use it as a stain treatment on for my husband, dirty farm clothes that he brings in it oh, I can make a paste with it. And it seems to help clear out what needs to be picked up and pulled out of like denim.
Bailey Bouwman 11:56
There’s a fun tip of the day. Okay.
It’s either it’s usually borax And Gain
Bailey Bouwman 12:06
okay, I haven’t heard gain in a long time, which is really awesome. I mean, when I first started diapering four or five years ago, people love gain and then it kind of fell off. You’ve got like really hard water if you had any. Have you had any hiccups or any troubles that you’ve had to navigate through? And if so, how did you kind of problem solve that?
We had a lot of problems starting. Oh, no. A lot. Oh, the first two years I was probably stripping every six months.
Bailey Bouwman 12:44
Oh, I mean, it’s not too bad. But it’s a little bit a lot of work.
Yeah, it was every Yeah, it seemed like it was every four to six months I was sitting trying to shovel troubleshoot what was going on? Lots of barnyard Funk You know, stuff like that. Just lots of mineral buildup. And it wasn’t until somebody was like well I know this was in a mainstream cloth group they were like well you need to test your water and when the test came back to a point of this scale wouldn’t underside of that container wouldn’t even read how hard my water was I realized that was probably why none of our clothes was getting clean. Oh
Bailey Bouwman 13:32
you Well you definitely like if you are experiencing and I was My other question was gonna be or is your regular clothes getting clean? Because of that that hardness you’d most likely or having struggled trouble.
Oh, we were Yeah, it was a struggle to get clothes clean. And I never really I had never washed with water that hard to fork because I grew up on a well and well in septic. And our water it was marginally hard. Like it would leave hard water spots on stuff. But it wasn’t like so crazy hard that it wasn’t clean. It’s got clothes and stuff. If that makes sense. So Oh,
Bailey Bouwman 14:14
it does is that is that when you decided to kind of go into adding an additive to your routine once you kind of had it tested and realize what you’re dealing with?
Yeah, that’s so I found that out probably my first within the first year I’m trying to think back. So within about my first year I figured out where I was as far as the water hardness and so adding the borax in or any water softeners into the into the washing machine while I was washing clothes that really started making a difference. And then that was and then it’s started having issues with stuff wasn’t getting cleaned again. And so I was like, well, let’s try switching detergents because I started out with pide and hard water. And then we switched to gain in the water added the water softener additives. And it worked well ever since we have not had any issues. I probably haven’t stripped diapers in several years just because they’ve stayed clean and haven’t had any problems.
Bailey Bouwman 15:30
It’s a hard water is such a challenge. How do we navigating through that and when you needed did you start adding the borax and softness to your regular clothes to get some better cleaning?
Yep, so everything gets washed with some a little bit of Borax. Of course, depending on load size. Typically though, it’s probably a quarter to half a cup of borax for anything that gets ran through the washer. Any thought about
Bailey Bouwman 15:59
putting in a home water softener instead?
Oh, we just got one in about two months ago, three months ago, something like that. And that has really started changing a lot of stuff I’ve had to here within the past month or so I’ve had to not completely revamp but I’ve had to really rework
Bailey Bouwman 16:24
how does your hair feel I’ve heard that can make a difference on your hair as well.
It feels much cleaner.
Bailey Bouwman 16:34
It’s so funny how like hardness impacts all these things about soap, all this?
Yeah. It’s one of the things that I never really realized this until we ran out of salt last week in our software. That was a complete fluke, we have been busy with corn and soybean harvest and we forgot to check. I was like, Man, my hair is really kind of heavy and greasy and nasty. So I opened up to the salt container for the water softener. And it was empty. I was like, Oh, that would explain why my hair.
Bailey Bouwman 17:15
So you’ve gone now. So now you’ve been you’ve been dealing with your hard water and now you’re adjusting into a water softener? And how is that kind of going for your laundry? A lot of people have different experiences with water softeners. So people get frustrated that they over soften? Are you finding that at all?
I haven’t found that I’ve actually found we thankfully, were were able to find a company that was really great about helping us fine tune into a system that wasn’t going to completely over soften everything, but it was still going to bring the water hardness within a reasonable level.
Bailey Bouwman 17:59
Oh, that’s really good. So you’ve been working really closely with the company that installs water softeners to make sure that you have a positive experience.
Yes, I have noticed I here probably within the last month or so I’ve really started to slow down on how much borax I’ve been using and the clothes are still coming out clothes and diapers and everything has still come out in great shape. So it’s definitely changing. A lot of things having to use a little I’ve noticed I’ve had to use a little less detergent recently, you know, stuff like that just just
Bailey Bouwman 18:41
Oh, I was gonna say but you’ve been doing this for four years, and you’ve been adjusting along the way. So you are perfectly capable of this right? Of making the changes recognizing what needs to happen. And knowing what to do if goodness forbid it falls apart on you. I mean,
yeah, I, I’m sitting here, two or three months into this. And I was watching my diapers this morning. I was like me and there’s a lot of suds in my rinse cycle. Because I had there for a long time I had to do to wash cycles and little rinse just to make them sure it sounds crazy with hard water. But it was so hard that it wasn’t completely washing the soap out of everything all the time. And so having to do it a very short rinse. I mean it’s like it was like maybe 10 minutes long. In I was watching this morning. I was doing diaper laundry. I was like man, there’s a lot of soaps that’s still in the fridge. Please don’t let there be detergent build up. I don’t have the brain. I don’t have the brainpower to deal with the detergent buildup issue right now.
Bailey Bouwman 19:48
Oh, just remember that’s not too big of an issue. You’re just rinse of it until it’s
clear. It’s really not. It’s one of those deals though. We are in the throes of corn The corn harvest soybean harvest, bringing livestock home house renovation in about 16,000 Other things all up in the air. And it’s like, I don’t have the brainpower to deal with it.
Bailey Bouwman 20:12
For laundry work for me. Yeah, it sounds like and I’m Canadian, and I am in northern BC. And I mentioned the snow day this morning because it dropped to 25 Fahrenheit last night and every sheet sheet of ice. So the idea that you’re harvesting right now I can’t even imagine. But I also went to school in Missouri, so I have a little bit of an idea. Or what would you say is your piece of advice to encourage parents to be their own problem solving advocate, as a cloth diaper parent, I’m listening to your story about how you’ve made changes you’ve, you’ve taken advice from your sister, you’ve taken advice from mainstream groups, and you’re making all these little changes to be find a routine that works for you. How could we How could we bundle that up and to share with a new parent listening?
Honestly, the one thing that I don’t remember who told me this, but it’s been a while back, somebody told me to not be afraid of your laundry. And all you are is another load of laundry, especially with natural fibers, she was like they tend to be a little more forgiving. As far as if you mess something up one routine, you can go back in and take care of it. And you’re not going to completely ruin everything and spend hours working through it. Again, it’s been
Bailey Bouwman 21:31
something I’ve been working with the Oklahoma diaper bank is they deal with a lot of really hard water in the Oklahoma area as well. And she’s found that kind of encouraging this shift back to natural fibers, whether it’s just a flour sack towel, or receiving blanket has been kind of a complete game changer for their community, it’s been so much easier to navigate wash routines, it’s just like, because microfibers job is to like, hold on to dirt. It really loves to hold on to dirt in a wash routine. And it could be such a pain.
And that’s that’s my, that’s my other piece of advice that I tell a lot of people that are looking at cloth diapers. And I tell them, I’ve been there where we couldn’t afford natural fibers. We started out all microfiber unless it was a flour sack towel. But if you can afford it, take the splurge and make the extra investment into a natural fiber. Whether that a lot of cotton or some bamboo enhance. It’s going to be worth it in the long run. To do that.
Bailey Bouwman 22:37
Yeah, it can definitely be hard to see that long run game, but it can be worth it like your mental health sanity and figuring out a wash routine as well. And it doesn’t always have to be expensive. Or you said flour sack towels. I use receiving blankets with my toddlers. I love receiving blankets with my big kids because they’re massive and the kid is massive. Are you how many diapers? Are you washing a day right now, Miranda? Or how often you walk every few days? Three kids.
So we I was at a weekly for a long time. Up until probably until we had our third back in February. I was washing once a week roughly. Now that we’ve added the third baby full time I go every two to three days probably.
Bailey Bouwman 23:26
Yeah, you have so many diapers.
Well, yeah, he goes through a lot. And he has we had lots of Gi problems with him. So it just seems like we’re constantly changing diapers to keep track of stuff. So I probably wash 25 to 30 Diapers every two days. And that is 35 ish is like the most my washer and dryer want the handle.
Bailey Bouwman 24:02
Yeah, that was my experience too. As I can’t really get more than I had to in cloth. I didn’t have three. But yeah, about 30 I could squeeze maybe 30 to 34 in there. But any more than that. It was like oh, you’re really now stop doing this to me.
Yeah, yep. It feels like you’re if I go much over that 30-35 range. It feels like I’m cramming them in and I I’ve noticed they don’t get as clean when they’re that tightly packed.
Bailey Bouwman 24:34
Yes. They definitely need some room to dance. I think I was on the phone with Stephanie the day she kept talking about the dance party in her washing machine. Yeah, there’s definitely needs to be some sort of dance party. Can’t be too close. Need some room to wiggle? Well, thank you, Miranda for taking the time out of your busy farm life schedule to share with me how you’ve kind of made this journey in cloth diapering. work. I’m so happy because I haven’t actually talked to a parent in a while. I’ve just been sharing brand stories for a while. So I get love sitting down and listening to your problem solving skills and what’s working for you. Man hardwater though you got like rocks, and I’m glad that you’ve gotten a water softener. I’m sure that has been huge and like dishwashing Did you see that tick tock
Professional Cloth Diaper Educator
Bailey brings 5+ years of cloth diapering experience and conversation to the cloth diaper space. She's not just your every day mom blogger sharing her experience - Bailey is immersed in the cloth diaper community learning from other parents and growing as an individual. She wants to find the cloth diaper solution that truly works for you.
Bailey believes we need to stop and listen to cloth diapering parents. We need to recognize our own bias and preferences and focus on solutions that work for you, not us. The Cloth Diaper community needs to recognize the privilege of being able to cloth diaper, and provide spaces for more conversations and stories.
Cloth diapering is not about rules but about our own strength as parents to do the best we can for our children with the resources available.
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The Cloth Diaper Podcast is a regular podcast sharing stories from cloth diaper parents, brands and retailers from around the world.
The Cloth Diaper Podcast is not affiliated with any school of thought of diaper laundry but instead focus on the power of peer-to-peer story telling to empower you to make your own cloth diaper journey.
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