Monday, August 15, 2011

The Vinegar Pre-Soak

I've previously written about using Bac-Out as a pre-soak additive to combat ammonia or general diaper stink and discoloration.  I still love Bac-Out, since it is a pretty earth-friendly laundry option.  Today I want to tell you about how trying vinegar in my pre-soak has helped improve the condition of my diapers.
A big jug will increase your savings!

Vinegar is rather acidic, with a pH of about 3.  Ammonia is a base with a pH level of around 11.  When allowed to sit and work its magic in a pre-wash soak, vinegar is capable of breaking down the ammonia salts trapped in your diapers.  The regular wash cycle that follows, along with detergent, can whisk away your ammonia woes.  As an added bonus, vinegar is cheap and works wonders as a cleaner all over your home.

The following details how I've been using vinegar, but as always you may need to adjust things to work with your diapers and your washing machine situation.  It is important to note that adding the vinegar later in the washing cycle won't do much good, as there won't be sufficient opportunity for the ammonia salts to be neutralized and whisked away.  Use vinegar in your pre-soak for the best results!

  • I have an old top-loader machine.  I fill it with hot water to the highest setting to make sure I've got plenty of water to wash away any schmutz left on the dirty diapers.  
  • I separate my inserts from the covers for this pre-soak.  I don't want to find any negative effects on my PUL covers.
  • I add 1 Cup of white vinegar to the water and allow the machine to agitate for about a minute.  
  • With the top up, my machine will sit as long as I want it to- I let the inserts soak for 1 hour if they are smelly.  Thirty minutes will do if the load isn't too large.  (Rockin' Green can also be used for this type of soak, but I'll talk about that more in an upcoming post!)
  • I force the machine to skip to the spin-out at the end of the cycle.  Once the dirty water, full of yucky ammonia salts has left the machine, I add my covers and continue with my normal detergent cycle routine.  
The differences I've noticed between using Bac-Out and vinegar are scent and appearance.  The vinegar doesn't leave the diapers with the pleasant, faint lingering scent of Bac-Out.  It also doesn't do as much to combat staining.  I have found that a few hours on the laundry line in the sun will leave my diapers smelling fresh and looking better than Bac-Out and the dryer can do.

If you want an affordable, simple way to keep your diapers from problems with ammonia or buildup, try the vinegar pre-soak!

Thanks to Your Mother Was a Chemist for some cool facts on acids and bases.

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