Monday, December 24, 2012

Ambushed by Ignorance


When making certain choices that I knew were less than mainstream, I knew certain people would judge. I knew they would not be supportive. However, I didn't realize they would be deliberately ignorant or malicious. Let me throw plain stupid out there, as well.

As you likely gathered from the picture, this post (or should I say rant) is about cloth diapering. Although we cloth diaper mostly during the day only, I consider cloth diapering an important part of our lifestyle and how we're raising our child. When someone insults or disrupt my lifestyle choice, particularly out of ignorance (though possibly not spite), I feel hurt and more than a little angry. I've never been insulted for breastfeeding in public or asked/told not to do so, but I imagine my reaction would be similar as it was in this case. What happened concerned an issue that matters that much to me even if it involves poop.

Today I was told I could not wash my baby's diapers in the home where we're spending the holidays because it was distasteful--because the members of the household launder their clothes in the same machine I would be using to wash diapers. I was told it would be a sufficient alternative to have the diapers professionally cleaned. The latter statement is blatantly false and the former arises out of ignorance. What's worse is that they waited until we arrived to spring this on us--again out of ignorance or something more malicious, I don't know.

I do not write this because I believe I have a chance in hell at altering their mindsets. Doing so is not worth my time even assuming it were possible. Nor do I particularly wish to hurt them as they have me. I simply wish to clarify certain misconceptions about cloth diapering and possibly about me.

First, the ick factor. Breastfed poop is 100% water soluble. Urine is sterile. Until a baby begins solids, the diapers go in the wash without any pre-washing, dunking or other treatment required. The recommended cleaning process is as follows: cold rinse, hot wash with manufacturer-approved detergent, extra rinse, and air dry. The first rinse removes the superficial waste and urine. After this step, the diapers will look clean and the urine diapers will probably be nearly clean. The hot wash plus detergent removes bacteria and odors. The extra rinse removes lingering detergent which could negatively impact its absorbency. Air drying prolongs the lifespan of the diaper and, if done in the sun, removes stains naturally.

Second, commercial cleaning is an unacceptable alternative. A KEY benefit of cloth diapering is control over the laundering process. Specifically, home laundering involves control over which detergents are used, as well the manner in which the diapers are washed and dried. Though diaper services may still exist and were once incredibly popular, they serve no use in my cloth diapering world. Moreover, such services specialize in what are known as prefold diapers, not pocket diapers as I use. A prefold is a big rectangle of white cloth--probably what you think of a cloth diaper if your last experience with them was in the 1980s or earlier. A pocket diaper (pictured above) is a wondrous invention that consists of a waterproof shell lined with a soft microsuede or fleece material that touches baby's bottom. A large maxi-pad like insert, generally made of cotton, is stuffed in the "pocket" of the diaper for absorbency. For additional absorbency, multiple or thicker inserts are used. The liner wicks moisture away from baby's skin to the absorbent insert. When you wash pocket diapers, the insert is removed from the shell for more efficient cleaning. Many shells per their manufacturer must be air-dried to avoid damage to the waterproof material by the heat of a drier.

Lastly, and this goes to why I was so hurt, do I strike you as someone who would happily wash my family's clothes in a dirty washer? Written hype is one thing and the facts I spout admittedly appear on the websites of cloth diaper fans and companies. Do you, dear family members who know me in real life, take me for a naive fool? WE HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN DOING THIS for a couple of months now and near-daily for the last month. I would know by now if our clothes weren't clean. I would know by now if there was a negative impact upon my machine.

The truly sad thing is that the effect of poop on the washing machine may become a legitimate an issue when the Blueberry begins solids. At that point, the poop will no longer be safe to go down the drain. When that time comes, again modern innovation will come to the rescue. However, my dear extended family didn't give a rat's ass about that. They just thought "ick" and out of unyielding ignorance suggested a non-viable alternative. Further, they also apparently thought me stupid enough to make a choice so disgusting. Well, that's just fine and dandy.


  1. Aww. I'm sorry you had a bad experience with the in laws about it but hopefully it wasn't malicious. I don't think most people would purposely try to insult someone over your choice. I can understand that those who haven't researched cloth diapering can be icked out. Maybe they thought they were offering a reasonable solution since they didn't say to use disposables instead?. Hopefully you guys can to a reasonable solution amongst everyone!

    1. Yes, we'll be leaving a week early and not coming back anytime soon if I can help it. The most hurtful thing was not to tell us in advance--there was apparently a meeting where they agreed to ambush us.

      My FIL who doesn't read my blog likely thought only of the big white handkerchief cloth dipes of his generation for which professional cleaning was acceptable but the rest have no excuse. Oh, did I mention that my BIL and SIL frequently do these triathlon events that deliberately take place in the mud? They also apparently love living in squalor as their lounge room is a pit--dozens of dirty dishes, cups or mugs with liquid in them, beer bottles and cans. Add to that an inch of dust and dog hair. It seems more than a little hypocritical in my opinion.

      Our assurances that the waste would completely be washed away should have been sufficient, but given that they weren't the price is less time with the Blueberry.

  2. :( That is sad that they agreed to ambush you. Glad you got through it though.