Category Archives: Work

Yeast (Candida Albicans) and Cloth Diapers

There’s a lingering recommendation in the cloth diaper community that a few drops of tea tree oil will remove yeast in cloth diapers.  We are not aware of any study showing that tea tree oil is effective in removing yeast from cloth diapers when used in a washing machine in very low concentrations.

We do know that tea tree oil has been studied as an effective remedy for a few common human ailments including acne and athletes foot.  In the published studies I uncovered, effective treatment involved a concentrated topical solution ranging from 5-100% concentration.  To achieve this concentration in a laundry environment might require anywhere from 2 cups – 1 gallon of tea tree oil depending on the size of your washing machine.  The health of your washing machine aside, tea tree oil costs approximately $200 / gallon, rendering high concentrations in your laundry neither affordable or practical.  Oils can be challenging to remove from fabrics. Lingering residue from tea tree oil in your cloth diapers may cause contact dermatitis in your baby’s skin and may also create repelling or absorbency issues with your cloth diapers.

My own babies have had several rounds with yeast.  Elsie had it when she was a newborn and then got it again when she was two.  When she was two, her rash cultured positive for both yeast and strep and required treatment with antibiotics and Nystatin before her skin returned to normal.  In both cases, the rash was severe enough that I chose to use disposables until the rash was gone.  Based on the advice of my pediatrician, before we started using cloth diapers again, I washed my clean diapers in a normal wash cycle and added 1/4 cup of bleach; making sure to rinse well.  In our home, this was effective.

If your child has a yeast-related rash and you’re wondering how to launder your cloth diapers to effectively remove yeast, please seek the advice of your child’s medical care provider.  If you’d like to follow the recommendation that we give to parents when they call Cotton Babies Customer Service, you may find this blog post (published by Cotton Babies staff) helpful.


“Image of Candida albicans from Public Health Image Library – Encyclopedia of Life.” Encyclopedia of Life. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2014. <>.

“Jedwards International, Inc.. purchase organic tea tree oil, wholesale supplier, buy tea tree oil.” Jedwards International, Inc.. purchase organic tea tree oil, wholesale supplier, buy tea tree oil. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2014. <>.

“Tea Tree Oil for Acne, Fungal Infections, Vaginal Infections, Dandruff, Gum Disease.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 5 May 2014. <>.

“Allergic Contact Dermatitis From Tea Tree Oil.” Consultant360. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2014. <>.

Seven Steps to Avoid Becoming A Victim of Mommy Fraud

The rise of the Facebook group (and the ease at which they are created / joined) has provided a fertile ground for fraudsters to play in the cloth diaper world.  Women tend to trust each other and, assuming the best in each other, readily step into traps laid by those who prey on the gullibility of those new to the cloth diaper arena.  New Facebook groups make it easy for scam artists to jump from group to group.  This post will give you sevent steps for identifying and avoiding Mommy Fraud.

A diaper that was loaned to someone as part of the Share The Love cloth diaper bank program is marked with a heart on the tag. A diaper with these markings was donated for the purpose of being loaned out to a family in need. When the family is finished with the diapers, they are required to return them to the Share The Love program host in their area for use by another family.

1.  Do some research in the media to verify a story before you believe stories of family crisis accompanied by requests for donations.  If you think you should help, whenever possible, send your gift through a credible organization.  This may seem unnecessary, but unfortunately, one of the more common fraudulent patterns of behavior involves a masterfully crafted personal crisis involving children combined with a requests for donations of cash or household items.  Often, once gifts are received, the items are sold for cash.

2.  When buying diapers through a private party, always request photos of the inside of a diaper (check for staining), the outside of the diaper (check for holes), the front and back of the label (look for special marks* and ask for details), and the inside of the PUL layer.  If you’re purchasing a Cotton Babies product from a private party and don’t understand the markings on the product you’re purchasing, feel free to call Cotton Babies with any questions.

3.  PayPal protects buyers.  Generally speaking, almost anyone is able to send and receive money via PayPal. Always request a detailed PayPal invoice that describes the condition of the product you’re purchasing.  Once you’ve received the invoice, Click “Pay Invoice” to send money.

4.  Never send money as a gift.  If you send money as a gift through PayPal, and the diapers don’t show up or aren’t as described, you have no recourse.

5.  When doing a trade, swap PayPal funds (using an invoice) that match the value of the trade before sending your package.

6.  Ask the person for links to public feedback about her previous business transactions.

7.  If you still have doubts, don’t go through with the transaction.

Are you experienced in buying and selling through Facebook groups?  Your pointers are welcome in the comments.

This diaper has a hole punch inside, marking it as a donated product that is part of the Share The Love Cloth Diaper Bank. It is not eligible for resale. If you find a diaper with this marking on the inside for sale anywhere, please take a screen shot and notify Cotton Babies immediately.
This diaper has a slit on the inside flap, marking it as a donated product that is part of the Share The Love Cloth Diaper Bank. It is not eligible for resale. If you find a diaper with this marking on the inside for sale anywhere, please take a screen shot a notify Cotton Babies immediately.

Powdered Dishwasher Detergent (like Cascade) is NOT SAFE for Cloth Diapers

A few years ago, we started to realize that our dishwasher wasn’t getting our dishes clean.  The glasses were hazy.  The silverware looked spotty.  Things just weren’t coming clean.  Then, the dishwasher broke.  My thrifty husband did some reading, took it apart, fixed it, and put it back together again.  Inside he found a mess of calcified detergent build-up that was clogging our pipes.

Some research quickly turned up some interesting information.  In 2011, detergent manufacturers quietly removed TSP (trisodium phosphate) from dishwasher detergent.  According to an NPR article on the issue, they did this because 17 states passed laws requiring the removal of phosphates from detergents. The article reads,  “Phosphates pollute lakes, bays, and streams. They create algae blooms and starve fish of oxygen”.

The detergent industry is waiting on innovations leading to improved, environmentally safe detergents.  Until that happens, our dishwashers aren’t working as well because those phosphates actually helped prevent food and other chemical particles from reattaching to everything inside the dishwasher.

delaminated diaper
Photo from The Cloth Diaper Compendium on Facebook. For privacy reasons, names and comments were redacted. Other than redacting names and comments, this photo was not edited.  This photo is representative of other, similar, photos showing degradation of PUL caused by Cascade soaks.  

Enter a new player.  The Cloth Diaper Compendium and the group’s founder, Kate Shabanov.  The Compendium seeks to help parents with washing cloth diapers and in their group description claims “16,000 strong can’t be wrong”. Documents written by Shabonov and previously published on her group called “The Cloth Diaper Compendium” advise cloth diaper users to use a product called RLR to strip their diapers of residue and dinginess. Shabanov writes, “I’ve often told people they could make their own RLR at home by mixing Calgon, washing soda and Borax.  I still stand by that, but if you don’t want to buy all those ingredients to mix, you could also use some dishwasher detergent powder in a pinch.” Shabanov adds this statement: “RLR is, fundamentally, dishwasher detergent powder [emphasis hers]”. Furthermore, in online conversations with inquiring parents on her Facebook group, members of the Compendium repeatedly recommend the use of Cascade, a specific brand of dishwasher detergent, to soak cloth diapers, giving families the impression that Cascade would leave their diapers residue free and safe for a baby to wear because it is, again, “chemically similar to RLR”.

If dishes and dishwashers both show signs of residue left by dishwasher detergents, we’re not sure how it stands to reason that dishwasher detergent wouldn’t also leave a residue on cloth diapers.

Powdered dishwasher detergents are made up of a long list of ingredients, many of those ingredients are proprietary information closely held by their manufacturers.  These detergents were chemically formulated for removing dried food and grease from non-absorbent surfaces, but most certainly not designed or tested for safety when used on laundry.

Knowing that our company has heard from many customers with complaints resulting from following the Compendium’s instructions, I put out a public request for reports from parents who had problems following the washing or stripping directions offered by The Cloth Diaper Compendium. My goal was to learn from what we heard to allow us to form a better response as a company.  My one sentence question read: “Have you had your cloth diapers ruined, or, has your baby experienced a serious skin reaction, after following washing instructions provided by The Cloth Diaper Compendium?”

That single sentence provoked hundreds of two different types of  responses.   One type of response came from individuals who are faithful Compendium fans.  The other responses were more urgent from parents using words like “I didn’t want to respond publicly because I was ashamed that I had used something on my diapers that ended up hurting my baby.” A few sent photos showing terrible rashes.  One parent described scars.

When bad advice causes a delaminated cloth diapers like the one in the photo above, you can buy a new diaper and not make the same mistake again.  However, as we all know, one baby harmed by bad advice is one too many.   I don’t need to be a chemist.  I don’t need to be a doctor.  I only need to be a mom with some common sense to know that action must be taken.

Parents, think carefully about what you use to wash your cloth diapers.  Use common sense.  You ONLY need water, an appropriate amount of laundry detergent, and occasionally bleach.  If you need help, please call our customer service line (888-332-2243) and ask.

You are in control of what you use in your home and what your baby is exposed to as a result. Do  not create dangerous chemical experiments in your washing machine.  The results of your experiment will be unpredictable effects on the components in your cloth diapers, most notably your elastic and the waterproof layer in the diapers. Diaper area wetness activates chemical residues. Those residues may cause a painful reaction in your baby’s skin.



It might hurt your baby.

Gisele Bundchen is a breastfeeding mom… who also works.

Laughing as I watch the mothering world engage in a debate over Gisele Bundchen’s breastfeeding photo. Of course most women aren’t feeding their baby while they simultaneously get their hair styled, nails manicured, and makeup done, but many of us ARE feeding our babies while we are also working our own jobs.

Gisele is a model. She gets to go to work with her baby. Her baby needed to eat. She had to nurse her baby while she was getting ready to work. It was a moment that she chose to share with the rest of the world. I’m so glad she did. More moms who work need to share these types of photos! It’s this kind of transparency that makes breastfeeding seem possible for moms who work outside of the home.

Respect her. She’s a good mom. So are you.


Cloth Diaper Co-ops – Are your cloth diapers legal?

Heard from a friend about a great deal you can get by placing a co-op order for cloth diapers, toys, baby carriers, or other “OEM” products for your baby that are made in China?

It might sound like the price is right, but there are some things you should know before you buy:

  1. There are consumer product safety laws that apply to all products sold in the United States that intended for children 12 and under. Some products are more likely to cause injury than others.  Incurred risk varies based on the type of product being purchased. Co-ops are required to comply with these laws. Ask the co-op host to provide you with a general certificate of conformity (a GCC) for the products you purchased.
  2. Imported knock-off or “OEM” products may be manufactured, imported, and sold in violation of intellectual property laws.  Importation, sale, or distribution of these products is illegal.  The resale of unlicensed product by individuals is illegal.
  3. Products must be labeled correctly.
  4. Duties must be paid on imported goods.  The duty rate on a cloth diaper or an insert with a synthetic absorbent inner is approximately 17%. The duty rate on a cloth diaper with a cotton absorbent inner or insert is approximately 9%.
  5. If you do not receive product from the co-op you bought into, you may have no refund recourse.

Co-op hosts are running a business, even if they aren’t making a profit.  Laws govern trade practices for everyone doing business in the United States and apply to individuals, sole-proprietors, corporations, and co-ops, including those operating “under the table”.  Laws are public record and information regarding compliance is easily researchable.  While opinions on business-related laws vary, disagreement with a law does not invalidate the law or negate the risk of it’s consequences.

This list outlines some important issues that co-op hosts and the buyer should be aware of:

  1. As the importer of record, they can be held criminally liable in the event an injury occurs while a parent is using a product that they were responsible for importing. Laws and relevant penalties for breaking those laws apply to all children’s products, including baby carriers.
  2. A co-op host is responsible to know and is legally liable for significant penalties related to importation of products protected by patents, trademarks, or other intellectual property laws.
  3. A co-op host is responsible to correctly classify goods and pay the correct duty amount.  There are fines for failure to correctly classify and declare product coming into the United States.
  4. A co-op host is also responsible to ensure that products are labeled in accordance with federal labeling laws.
  5. Certain health care devices (like reusable menstrual pads) may also be required to comply with FDA registration or testing requirements before they are legal to be advertised or sale in the United States.

To ensure that you’re buying legally manufactured and imported products, ask questions about legalities before you buy.

Good co-ops will deliver product in a timely fashion, be responsive to questions, be respectful to trade, import, taxation, and product safety laws and will be prepared with answers to your questions.  Keep in mind, being identified as a “good” co-op by a website does not necessarily mean that the co-op is operating legally.

Bad co-ops may discuss ways to evade paying duty on an order. They might ask you to send funds as a “gift” or without specific protective wording that would protect you in the event they don’t ship your product in a timely fashion.  Bad co-ops cannot provide you with proper GCCs.  Bad co-ops may fail to collect and pay sales tax where appropriate. Bad co-ops may dismiss your concerns as irrelevant.

If you are involved in a co-op and have concerns regarding legal compliance, I suggest that you privately email the host for clarification regarding your concerns. Insisting on legal business operations is the right thing to do.  It only takes a minute to ask the right questions.   If their answer isn’t satisfactory and your concerns remain unresolved, you are well within your rights to  report the co-op to the FBI and to US Customs and Border Patrol (look for the button that says “Trade Violations”).

Other sites with helpful information:


Hiding that diaper?

A mom recently introduced me to a friend as the owner of a cloth diaper company. The friend said, “You probably won’t like me then. I used disposables.”

Lets get this out of the way. I make a great product line. It fits. It absorbs well. It’s easy to use. It’s flexible. It can work for nearly every baby and every family out there. I love it when people choose to cloth diaper with my brands, but you should never, not today, not ever, believe that I think any less or more of you because of the diaper your baby is or isn’t wearing. If you ever choose to cloth diaper, I know you’ll find something to love in our brand family. And if you don’t, I bet you’ll find something else to love about Cotton Babies.

In the meantime, stop hiding the diaper your baby is wearing and let’s be friends. I believe you’re a good mom. Promise.

How do you do it all?

I can’t even count how many times people have asked me this question.  How do you do it all?  There are many assumptions built into that questions.  “All” gets defined differently by different people.  Some assume that I have an organic garden that I farm myself, chickens in the backyard in a coop, homeschooled children, an immaculate house, give birth in the fog in the woods while also running a business.

I work hard at juggling lots of balls, but just to clear the fog… none of the most common assumptions are true.  Not even one.

First of all, I didn’t give birth in the woods and don’t want to – now or ever.

We eat real food, but we buy it at the grocery store.

The breadmaker gives birth to a loaf of bread every few days.

My idea of cooking is opening various cans of food, dumping them in a pot and using spices to be sure the result doesn’t taste disgusting. It usually burns.  Jimmy likes to eat more than burned canned food, so he took over the stove not too long after we got married.

I have an amazing friend who is literally the only reason there isn’t pink stuff growing in my toilet and a mushroom farm in the closet.

No pets allowed.  Period.  Not even fish. We have pondered a worm farm under the sink.  So far, all attempts at worm survival have failed.

We eat take-out more than I care to admit.

My kids are in school.  If I could add one more thing to our plate, we would homeschool our oldest son, a brilliant kid who loves math and science and thinks history, English, and vocabulary are a complete waste of time.  Why do our kids have to suffer through getting D’s in subjects they aren’t mature enough to care about?  Why can’t school be about teaching kids the things they love and molding them towards a broader understanding of life as they gradually grow up?   Andrew would be learning about electronics and building robots.  He would be analyzing meteorological models and shadowing the weatherman. He’d be building an eBay business around Pokemon cards and creating modular video games so kids can customize their Mario gaming experience.

If I could figure out how to homeschool him without dropping some other gigantic ball we are juggling, I would.  As I’m sitting here preparing for a week of travel covering a different major city every single day next week, I’m also pondering how to creatively drop a ball. We all have “grass is greener” syndrome about something… this is mine.

Cloth Diaper Trash Talk?

We frequently engage in new projects that require fun, new names. I’ve covered walls with brainstorming ideas, searched odd dictionaries, turned to Scrabble cheater websites, thesauruses… any tool is fair game when you’re trying to find something fun.

As we research, we’ve also learned the importance of using tools like Google and Urban Dictionary to see if the cool, new word could possibly be interpreted as offensive or off color.

Ever wonder why your friends at Cotton Babies work extra hard not to use “fluff” in a sentence? Take a wild guess.

What’s next for Cotton Babies.

2012-12-05 21.42.34

I got very quiet on the blog almost a year ago after we found out we were expecting our fourth child. Pregnancy and me aren’t close friends, for good reasons. I get grumpy – to the point where my Facebook posts go viral because people think my lovely perspective on life is entertaining (see image on the right for an example).  As the pregnancy progresses, more filters come off and I tend to get very straightforward about what I *really* think. By the end, I am barely able to walk, certain organs stop working right, and I am sporting a lovely set of four wheels to get around when we’re out.

In spite of all the adventure of getting a baby here, we still managed to fill the last month before Louis was born with a great deal of change for Cotton Babies.  I thought I’d recap some of what’s going on for my friends here who have waited so patiently for me to come back to the blog.

bumGenius Elemental Launch
The week before Louis was born, we launched the new bumGenius Elemental design to the world as I was in the doctor’s office hooked up to monitors checking to be sure that my baby was doing ok.  At 36, apparently I’m an “aging” mom and at risk for all manner of nightmarish things.  That day, I had to close my eyes, put my phone down, and force myself not to watch.  That day (and everyday), my baby was more important than anything else.

Warehouse and Office Move
That same week, we started finalizing negotiations to move Cotton Babies operations into a new, much larger warehouse and office space. Jimmy was pushing me around in a wheelchair as we looked at this gigantic, concrete, cavernous space while discussing whether or not the baby would arrive in the next day or two… and if we could get a lease signed before then. After what feels like years of waiting for our current lease to end, we’re finally going to be in space this summer that allows us to spread our wings.  I have had product ready to go, production planned, but no room in the warehouse to accommodate operational changes that have to happen when you begin to enter new markets.  That’s changing.  Soon.


As usual, post-partum isn’t much easier for me than being pregnant.  When Louis was two days old, I started experiencing severe back pain just before we were going home from the hospital.  Rather than go home, I had an emergency MRI of my back with dye contrast the day before my milk came in.  We left with no explanation for the pain.  Then, at four days postpartum, I developed double mastitis.  At six days postpartum, I started running a fever again.  Four days later, I finally called my doctor and ended up back in the hospital on IV antibiotics.

New Prints (Irwin / Maathai)
By the time Louis was two weeks old, I was walking better again, the fever was gone, and I needed out of the house, so, like all good business owners, I went back to work –  just in time to shoot some photos of Louis and his friend Norah in new prints so we could launch the next two limited editions of our Genius Series. Irwin and Maathai debuted to pleasant applause on both sides of the globe a few days later.  As expected, rest was essential after a few days up and around.  And I did rest.  Mostly. When there are big chess pieces moving, there are things that only I can do… and, any way you look at it, a three month maternity leave is a pipe dream when your job title is CEO.

Refocusing on Special Projects
We spent spring break holed up in a cabin.  I sat on the couch in front of a fire nursing a baby and working on getting special projects pushed forward while Jimmy played at the pool with the bigger kids.  I’m back now, rested and ready to hit the ground running.  The warehouse is moving.  Our business is growing. Once again, there is plenty moving and shaking in the Cotton Babies world. We have our eyes set on some new markets, new concepts, and new products.  I can’t go into details, but can promise that you’ll hear more from me along those lines soon.

In the meantime, here’s my view of someone special. Thankfully, Jimmy and I are pretty good at making cute babies.

2013-03-25 20.06.18