Wash routines and bleaching diapers

For diaper chatter this week, I wanted to address some concerns I have seen about using bleach with dirty diapers, for the concern that mixing bleach and ammonia can be very toxic in producing chlorine gas.

Now, indeed if you bought a gallon of cleaning ammonia and clorox bleach, proceeded to mix the two together and use it to clean, you would not be doing your body any favors, as the result is highly toxic. I honestly can’t think of anyone I know who uses ammonia to clean anymore. However, sitting soiled diapers will have very small trace amounts of ammonia in them.

Here is our take on it. Urine is 99 and some percent water. Ammonia cannot be tolerated in our bodies (broken down by amino acids internally), so fresh urine actually has no ammonia. This is why fresh soiled diapers don’t stink nearly as bad as the morning diaper on a toddler who slept for 12 hours. Once urine is out of our bodies, the urea will break down again and produce tiny amounts of ammonia. These amounts, truly, are really small. Even though morning diapers stink to high heaven, the amounts present are very minute. Now, is it our advice to pour clorox in your pail and let it sit? Absolutely not. Not only a health issue, but it would kill your diapers and not do its job.

In the rare case bleach is needed for disinfecting or stripping, we recommend it be used in two ways:
-First, in the case of disinfecting due to staph or yeast, the diapers will have already been washed and are just sitting there to be collected all at one time and be bleached. Sometimes some dirty stragglers will get tossed in, and since you are pouring the bleach into the dispenser cup in your wash to mix after you have filled the machine, no mixing of the two happens until you close that lid and walk away from the machine, and the bleach is added after the wash cycle has started, so it has been diluted in the water.
-In the case of detergent stripping, again most of our customers get to this step with already laundered diapers that will be running through a bleach cycle only, so the same scenario applies as above.
-We do have customers who will tell us they add a capful of bleach in every load. Do we recommend it? No, because daily use will wear and tear your diapers just like any other fabric, and I would rather tweak your wash routine to have it be bleach-free and still effective. However, knowing that it happens, I still feel tossing in a capful even if directly on the diapers when the water has been added is diluted enough and minute enough, that mixing with those tiny amounts of ammonia on the soiled diapers isn’t going to be harmful while you are closing the machine and walking away.

If you have concerns about this, please let us know, in my mother’s days the common practice was to actually soak the diapers in a wet pail full of a bleach solution. Of course between this and using a play pen as a carseat, it is a miracle any of us survived, right?

For the customers who are using GSE or TTO as a disinfectant, of course this issue doesn’t come into play, but sometimes in the cases of a bacterial infection, the only 100% proven disinfectant strong enough to completely kill it without the chance of recurrence is the clorox itself.

Bleach should not be a part of a daily or even weekly wash routine, if this applies to you, I would love to troubleshoot to be able to reduce the amount you are using~

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June 16, 2010. Tags: . cloth diapers, Diaper Chatter, Q & A, Wash routines.

One Comment

  1. cloth diapers & dealing with yeast « It's The Cloth That Counts. replied:

    […] We go over some bleaching advice here. […]

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