Question: What exactly is a surfactant? And is it on the detergent no-no list?
The Geek's Answer: Surfactant is short for "surface-active-agent." They help reduce the surface tension of a liquid (like water) allowing items in the laundry to more easily become "wet" and they also makes organic matter more soluble in water which makes them essential to detergents.
From what I've found in my research, surfactants are vital to most detergents, making them more effective and actually classifying them as a detergent. It's the other additives you have to watch out for, the one's specifically intended to coat your laundry with fragrance, fabric softener, starch, stain guards, etc.
For this question I even consulted with Taylor, the owner of Charlies Soap, and he assured me that surfactants ARE detergents.
So, FINAL ANSWER, surfactants are ok for your diapers, they're what get your diapers clean, and naturally produced surfactants are better than synthetic man made ones.
Question: I am in need of some help. I have cloth diapered for 5 years and am totally addicted to it, plus I believe cloth is the BEST. However, my 3rd little boy is getting some serious diaper rash. It has become so bad that to get rid of a rash, twice now I have had to use disposables for a week each time. I mainly do a prefold with a cover, and I have a few old fuzzibunz. But I don't know what to do. I need some help knowing how to wick the moisture away from his bottom to prevent the rash/thrush. Are my diapers not clean enough? What am I doing wrong? I've done this for 5 years--what is my problem. Thanks!
The Geek's Answer: There are many ways to troubleshoot this problem. First I would suggest changing detergents, preferably to Charlies Soap, a gentle yet effective detergent that you can use on both your diapers and the rest of your laundry. If you don't want to change detergents yet, I would suggest changing him more frequently until the rash goes away and also use powder or cornstarch at diaper changes and then on a regular basis to keep him dry. You may also want to try some fleece liners. They serve as a stay dry barrier between your babes skin and the cotton prefold. They can help, and would definitely be worth a try.
Also, not sure on your washing routine but sometimes you need an extra rinse before your wash cycle to ensure that you're rinsing them enough. Ammonia can build up and essentially reactivate when the baby pees in the diaper causing a rash. It's also important to make sure you aren't washing too many diapers at once.
Do you have a laundry related or cloth diaper related question? Post your question as a comment and we'll try our best to find you the answers you need!