Last year, the Real Diaper Association released our evidence-based recommendations for laundering cloth diapers. For our many volunteers and constituents supporting friends and family in using cloth diapers, the one-page Cloth Diaper Laundering Guide made it very easy. (In fact, the guide has even been condensed into a smaller magnet image that cloth diapers users can put directly on their machines or that you can use as a graphic on your website to link to the guide!)
While the Laundry Science that we published to support our basic 5-step approach has helped many people customize their routine to meet their needs, one missing piece was a set of specific recommendations for laundering cloth diapers in the presence of a yeast infection. Now, with the assistance of a wonderful group of microbiologists and mycologists at several universities and biotechnology firms, we are embarking on on an evidence-based experimental approach to this problem.
1. “Spike” some used cloth diapers with c. albicans in a marked area of the diaper.
2. Launder them separately in the varying tests – regular RDA process, with chlorine bleach, and with other laundry additives:
- Tea Tree Oil
- Grapefruit Seed Extract
(All diapers will come from the same person, be laundered in the same machine, at the same temperature and water quality, and with the same detergent to minimize confounding factors.)
3. Test the diapers for remaining c. albicans in the marked areas.
A subset of the equipment needed to conduct these tests is being lent to us by the expert volunteers guiding the tests. In the first round of testing alone, however, there is still a significant portion of the materials that we’ll need to purchase, including petri dishes, chromagar plates, alcohol, etc. We will be raising the funds to cover these costs through our website.
Follow up on above treatments: It may be advantageous to try differing amounts of any of the above additives, depending on results from the first study.
Follow up on above test structure: We may want to confirm results by testing for yeast levels in a natural diaper environment, i.e. deposited in feces by an infected baby. In this situation, we would also like to test diaper covers to see if yeast travels through the diaper into the PUL layer.
Treatment changes by fiber: It would be useful to test artificial fibers such as microfleece and microfiber, both commonly used in cloth diapering, to see how the additive efficacy changes between hydrophilic and hydrophobic fibers. If the PUL layer is affected in natural diapering situations, tests should also be done on that fabric to determine appropriate treatment levels (extreme heat options might not be desirable).
Treatment changes by washing machine type: It would be useful to determine proper additive amounts for different washing machines and water levels. Can also investigate cycles on other machines (steam and sanitize) and water temp settings.
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
If you’ve experienced a yeast infection while cloth diapering, you know how difficult it is to sift through all the conflicting information about laundry additives to find the wash routine that works to support your baby’s health. In our 2012 Great Cloth Diaper Survey of over 6500 current cloth diapering parents, more than 31% of respondents reported difficulty using cloth diapers in the presence of a yeast infection. As the organization supporting the cloth diaper movement, we want to smooth the way for parents to use cloth diapers in any situation. Please help us remove this obstacle to cloth diapering.
Executive Director, Real Diaper Association