Cloth Diaper Resources


How do I wash my cloth Diapers?

  • Step 1: Start with a cold water rinse/wash with no detergent. This will rinse out any urine and solid residue.
  • Step 2: Next perform a hot water wash cycle with detergent. Do NOT use the sanitary cycle and be sure your water heater is not set above 40 degrees as temperatures hotter than that can damage your cloth diapers.
  • Step 3: Now do second cold or warm rinse, optionally you can add 3-4 drops of Lavender Essential Oil a natural antiseptic.
  • Step 4: Hang out in the sun to dry or toss in the dryer on tumble/low – Tip: adding a dry towel or wool dryer balls can lessen the dry time.  Cover and pocket diapers outers should be hung dry. 

Important Information before washing your cloth diapers

Each diaper manufacturer has its own guidelines for care and use, including detergent recommendations. Please check with your manufacturer to avoid problems with warranties! Always use the highest water level setting that your washer allows. Water is your friend when cleaning cloth diapers!

A few cloth diaper washing tips…

  • Dump any solids (use flushable liners to make it even easier!) before putting in dry pail, wet bag, or hanging wet bag. Breastfed newborn poop is water-soluble and can be put directly into the washer.
  • Attach hook & loop closures to laundry tabs before washing to prevent snagging.
  • Add a wet towel to your washer to “trick” it into adding more water.
  • Line/air drying diaper covers and pocket shells can help extend the life of the hook & loop closures as well as the elastic (bonus- saves energy!).

How many times do I need to wash my new diapers before using them?

Diapers containing synthetic fabrics only need to be washed once before using them on your baby! Any diapers with natural fibers such as hemp, bamboo, or cotton will need to be washed and dried 5-6 times before use to strip the natural oils and reach full absorbency.

How often should I wash the diapers?

We recommend washing your diapers every 1-3 day s to help prevent any smell issues or staining.

We suggest storing your soiled cloth diapers in an open pail or wetbag slightly open, where there is adequate airflow.

What type of detergent should I use on my cloth diapers?

Every manufacturer has different washing directions and warranties for their diapers, including which detergents are allowed and recommended so always consult that information first.

The general rule of thumb is to use a detergent that is free of any bleach or fabric softener. “Free and Clear” detergents are generally not recommended, as they often have additional cleaning agents in them that can cause buildup.

If you have hard water, we suggest using a liquid water softener.

How do I strip my cloth diapers?

There are a few methods that can be used and we always recommend starting with the least severe.

  • First Try: Run several hot washes without any detergent
  • Then Try: Use Sunlight Gel (see below) to hand wash your diapers in your bathtub (instead of your regular detergent) and run extra rinses to get rid of any suds
  • Lastly Try: Use a soft toothbrush and some dish soap to gently scrub the diaper if you notice that there is build up on your diapers

How do I remove the poop stains from my cloth diapers?

Good news! With proper care, your diapers should have minimal staining. Some people prefer to use a liner to help prevent stains, but washing diapers every 1-3 days and removing solid waste before washing (if baby is not exclusively breastfed) works well to prevent stains.

The sun is also your best friend when it comes to stain fighting! After washing, simply lay or hang your clean, but still wet, diapers in the sun for a great whitening effect – a 100% natural bleach.

We DO NOT recommend using bleach, stain removers or borax, as they may damage your diapers.

My cloth diapers smell…what do I do?

You may not be using enough detergent and you have urine buildup because your diapers are not getting clean. Add more detergent and make sure your washer’s water level is set to the highest setting. You may also find it helpful to start your wash routing with a quick cold wash to ensure all urine and solid matter is flushed out prior to your full wash with detergent.

My cloth diapers smell and they are leaking

You may have some buildup from minerals, creams or laundry additives. First do a deep cleaning of your diapers. Start with clean diapers and run several hot washes with 2x the amount of detergent you’d normally use. Follow with 2-3 hot wash cycles without detergent. We also do not suggest using any additives like fabric softeners, vinegar, or dryer sheets.

Help! My babysitter/grandma/mother-in-law/husband used diaper cream on my diapers!

The best way to remove diaper cream mishaps is to use a soft toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of dish soap to gently scrub it out with warm water. This will remove the majority of the cream, although some staining may occur depending on how much got on the diaper.

My natural fiber diapers are crunchy and scratchy.

Mineral or urine buildup can often cause diapers to become stiff and crunchy. If you have hard water, try adding a water softening agent to your wash cycle. Check with your diaper manufacturer first. You may also need to increase the amount of detergent you are using. It is also possible that your diapers are crunchy from line or rack drying. Tumble dry your diapers for 10-15 minutes with a damp towel after removing them from the line or rack to “fluff” them.

How to make Sunlight Gel

Sunlight gel is made from Sunlight bar soap and can be used to clean your laundry (including cloth nappies) as an alternative to store bought detergent. 


  • If using sunlight gel it is important to add an extra rinse after your wash cycle to ensure all the soap is rinsed out of your nappies.
  • To avoid potential soap build-up on your inlet pipe, add the gel directly to the drum instead of via the detergent tray.


1 250g bar sunlight laundry soap (any colour)

2 litres boiling water

2 tbsp lemon juice

optional: few drops essential oils for fragrance (lavender or tea tree are good options)


Grate the sunlight bar in a big enough container and pour over the boiling water, lemon juice and optional essential oils. Stir to dissolve the soap and leave for a few hours to set. 

When the mixture has solidified, squish it between your fingers/use a hand blender to break it up and form a gel-like texture. 

Your gel is now ready to use. For regular laundry you can use 1/2 cup of gel, for nappies use 3/4 cup. This is based on a 7kg front loader machine. If your machine has a bigger capacity, use more gel. Top loaders typically also require you to use a little more detergent.

Diaper Definitions

Get a cup of coffee, put the baby on the boob, put your feet up – this is a long one! Abbreviations are listed alphabetically under the relevant departments for convenience
Most Frequently Used Abbreviations

AIO: All-in-One
AI2: All-in-Two
Fluff: Nickname for cloth nappies
Fluffmail: Receiving cloth nappies you ordered online eg: I have fluffmail!
FOTW: Fluff on the way
MCN: Modern cloth nappy
NB: Newborn
NIP: New in Package
OSFA: One Size fits all (usually actually OSFM)
OSFM: One Size fits most
OTB: On the bum
PIF: Pay it forward
RAOK: Random Act of Kindness
WAHM: Work at Home Mom

All Abbreviations and Definitions

AIO: All-in-One
AI2: All-in-Two
Aplix (Also known as hook & loop): It’s just the type of closure method and refers to nappies that fasten with velcro
AWJ: Athletic wicking jersey, a type of fabric (used as stay-dry layer in some nappies)
Booster: Any extra insert/fabric added to a cloth nappy for additional absorbency
Boingo: A type of snappy, it’s used with a flat, prefold or fitted to fasten the nappy on to baby
CD: Cloth diaper/nappy
Cloth wipes: Washable alternative to disposable wipes (aka wetwipes)
Cloth wipe solution: Can be as simple as plain water or water with a little baby wash and a few drops of oil added
Contour: Similar to a fitted nappy, but with no attached fasteners (ie snaps or velcro). Can be with or without leg and waist elastics. Requires a fastener (snappy/boingo/pins) and a waterproof cover
Cover: Waterproof layer, shaped like a nappy to go over an absorbent nappy like a prefold, flat, fitted. Can also be used with an insert laid in, similar to an AI2
CV: Cotton velour, a type of fabric typically used against the skin in fitteds/hybrid fitteds
Delaminating: When the plastic coating on PUL or TPU covers separates from the fabric. This can happen due to an incorrect washing routine (temperatures over 60C, repeated soaking) or a manufacturing fault (in which case it will delaminate quite soon and needs to be replaced by the retailer)
De-NIP: Put a new nappy on baby for the first time, ie the nappy is no longer NIP (New in Package)
Diaper pail: Nappy bucket used to store soiled nappies
Diaper sprayer: Sprayer attachment connected to your toilet, used to spray poop off nappies (bidet sprayer)
Double leg gusset: Double row of elastics around the legs, most often found on covers
Dry bucket/pail: Bucket to store nappies in until wash day. Dry bucket refers to the fact that there is no soaking of nappies involved
Dunk & swish: Getting rid of the poop in/on a cloth nappy by swirling it around in the toilet bowl before putting it in your dry bucket
EBF: Exclusively Breast Fed (normally used to refer to runny newborn poop)
EC: Elimination Communication
FDR: Fold down rise (used on fitteds/hybrid fitteds to adjust the size of the nappy)
Fluff: Nickname for cloth nappies
Fluffmail: Receiving cloth nappies you ordered online eg: I have fluffmail!
FOE: Fold over elastic
FOTW: Fluff on the way
Hook & loop: The generic name for what we commonly refer to as Velcro (which is actually a brandname)
Insert: Absorbent part (usually rectangle shaped and consisting of a few layers) of a pocket nappy. Also sometimes used interchangeably with booster
Lanolise: The process to make a wool soaker water repellant
Laundry tabs: Little squares of fabric on the inside top of a nappy with velcro/hook & loop fastening which enables you to fasten the velcro to it so that the velcro doesn’t hook on other items in the wash.
LG: Little girl
LB: Little boy
Liner: Cloth (fleece) or disposable liner placed inside a cloth nappy (closest to the skin) to help catch poop, protect your nappy from cloth-unsafe bumcreams or stains or as a stay-dry layer to keep baby’s skin dry
LO: Little one
Longies: Nappy cover/soaker made of wool, in the shape of long pants. For use over fitteds
Loones: Cloth nappy friendly pants made from stretchy cotton knit/lycra, featuring a bum circle on the back. Available as shorts (shortiloones), long pants (maxaloones) or with a skirt attachment (skirtiloones)
MCN: Modern cloth nappy
MF: Microfibre. A type of fabric mostly used in inserts, usually for pocket nappies
Microsuede: Type of fabric typically used as interior lining in pockets, provides a stay-dry effect (refer “stay-dry)
Natural fibres: Fabric made from naturally occurring resources – eg cotton, hemp. Natural fibres require prepping in order to reach maximum absorbency (see “prepping”)
NB: Newborn
OBV: Organic Bamboo Velour
OBF: Organic Bamboo Fleece
OS: One Size
OSFA: One Size fits all (usually actually OSFM)
OSFM: One Size fits most
OTB: On the bum
Padfolded: A type of flat/prefold fold. A flat/prefold is fold into an insert-sized rectangle in order to stuff it into a pocket, lay it in a cover or add it to any other nappy for extra absorbency. This is done by folding the flat in half (top to bottom, in half again (left to right), and finally into thirds
Pail liner: A waterproof bag used as lining in your nappy bucket. This bag can be washed with your cloth nappies
PIF: Pay it forward
PL: Potty Learning – Similar to potty training, but the emphasis is on the child playing an active or leading role in becoming independent in the bathroom (so no active potty teaching)
PT: Potty Training
Prepping: The process of washing and drying natural fibres several times in order to increase absorbency. Natural fibres are considered fully prepped after 6 – 8 washes. The nappy can be worn in between washes during the prepping stage, just be aware that you will need to change it sooner due to the absorbency not being at maximum yet
PUL: Polyurethane Laminate – an outer waterproof fabric
RAOK: Random Act of Kindness
Repelling: Instead of absorbing liquid, the fabric pushes liquid away, leading to leaks. This is usually caused by using non-cloth safe bum creams and/or using softener on your nappies
SAHM: Stay at home mom
SDR: Snap-down rise. This is commonly found on OSFM nappies and consists of 3 or 4 rows of snaps on the front of the nappy which can be snapped down to adjust the rise/size
Serged: Overlocked edging on a nappy, usually found on fitteds/hybrid fitteds
Shell: See cover and AI2. Usually used to refer to the cover part of an AI2
Shorties: Nappy cover/soaker made of wool, with short legs (ie shaped like shorts). For use over fitteds
SIO: Similar to an AIO, but with an insert that snaps in instead of being sewn in
Snappi: A fastener with three legs and hooks on each end, used in place of pins to fasten a prefold/flat or snapless fitted onto baby
Sposie: Disposable nappy
Stash: Collection of cloth nappies
Stay-dry: Refers to the fabric touching baby’s skin wicking moisture away from baby’s bum to provide a stay-dry effect. Examples of stay-dry fabrics are microsuede, fleece and athletic wicking jersey. Commonly used as the interior lining in pockets or for reusable liners
Stripping: Getting rid of ammoniah/softener build-up on a cloth nappy –> refer to the “how to strip my nappies” page under the “Washing” tab
Stuff: Placing an insert inside the pocket opening of a pocket nappy
Sun/Sunning: Hanging nappies in direct sunlight to get rid of stains
TPU: Thermoplastic Polyurethane – waterproof layer, similar to PUL (the process of manufacturing is just a little different)
Trifold: Folding a prefold into thirds, lengthways. The trifolded prefold can now be simply placed in a cover (this functions similarly to an AI2 system), stuffed into a pocket or used to add additional absorbency to any nappy.
TTO: Tea-tree oil
Turned and topstitched (T&T): The edges of the nappy are hemmed in such a way that the raw edges are hidden inside
WAHM: Work at Home Mom
Wet bucket/pail: Bucket with water in which nappies are soaked before wash day. This is NOT recommended for modern cloth nappies
Wet bag: Waterproof bag used to store dirty nappies while out and about
Wicking: Wetness from inside the cloth nappy seeps out to the outside of the nappy. This is more common with nappies that have hidden PUL and an outer layer of absorbent fabric eg cotton
WOHM: Work out of home mom

Buy/Sell/Trade Related Abbreviations

BST: Buy/sell/trade
DISO: Desperately in search of
EUC: E xcellent Used Condition
FROR: First right of refusal
FSO: For sale only
FSOT: For sale or trade
GUC: Good used condition
ISO: In Search of
MMARO: Make me a reasonable offer
NIP: New in Package
NOOP: New out of packaging
NWT: New with tag
NWOT: New without tag
Play condition: still usable, well used, may need some repair like replacing elastics
PPD: Postage paid (usually US)
VGUC: Very good used condition

What does the term “Score” mean?
To “Score” a nappy you have either purchased a much desired and or rare nappy in a pre-loved state or you have managed to purchase a brand new limited edition nappy on a Stocking through FB, Hyenacart or other online portals by yourself or with help from friends who are “stalking” for you

What does the term “Stalking” mean?
To ‘Stalk” simply means you have either been requested by another to assist in the possible scoring of a nappy on a stocking, or you have requested the help of another in your own quest. The stalker can be extra hands to try land a nappy into the shopping cart before they all disappear within seconds. It is then up to the purchaser to put the payment through asap to ensure the purchase

What is a “Stocking”?
A “stocking” is when a retailer/wahm has stocked their store with products to buy. Normally WAHMs sew a lot of nappies for a stocking. Once they have made several products to sell they will announce on their store’s page (website or Facebook page) when the next stocking will be. At the time of the stocking all products goes live on the website or Facebook page. On a website it will be products that have been added to the site and on a Facebook page it is normally a photo album with details on each photo about the specific product. Interested parties then can add the products to their cart to purchase (online store) or comment on the photo (Facebook page) to score the product. Popular brands are normally sold out in minutes.

Folding Instruction


1. Lay prefold diaper the long way and fold one section over on crease.
2. Fold other section on crease.
3. Lay folded prefold diaper onto open diaper cover so folds are facing down.
4. Since boys wet more in the front, fold the prefold diaper under in the front of the cloth diaper (bottom of picture) so cloth diaper fits in the diaper cover. Also unfold the back of the cloth diaper (top of the picture) creating “wings”.


1. Lay prefold diaper the short way and fold one section over.
2. Fold other section over so prefold diaer is folded into thirds.
3. Lay folded prefold diaper onto open diaper cover so folds are facing down.
4. Unfold the top of the cloth diaper creating “wings”.

Health Concerns

If you have time to read…please check out the following articles. They raise some interesting questions!
Study: Disposable Diapers Could Cause Male Infertility
New Tests Confirm TBT Poison in Proctor & Gamble Pampers
Chemicals In Diapers Cited As Possible Asthma Trigger
Disposable Diapers Linked to Asthma

Study: Disposable Diapers Could Cause Male Infertility
• By Anthony Browne
• London Observer Service
• September 26, 2000
Disposable diapers could be the cause of the sharp rise in male infertility over the past 25 years, according to an authoritative scientific study to be published this week. It is thought that disposable diapers heat up baby boys’ testicles to such a degree that it stops them developing normally. Diapers lined with plastic raise the temperature of the scrotum far above body temperature and can lead to a total breakdown of normal cooling mechanisms, according to the study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. Doctors in Kiel, Germany, started the study after being alarmed at the temperature of the testicles of infant boys who were brought into hospitals with infections. The cells supporting sperm production are laid down in the first two years of life. However, their development and sperm production in later life is very dependent on temperature. Testicles need to be cooler than the rest of the body, which is why they are external.
Boys whose testicles descend too late in adolescence are often infertile because they have been kept warm for too long. In adults, exposure to high temperatures, during a fever or while in a sauna, can dramatically reduce sperm count. Tight jeans can also lead to higher testicular temperatures, possibly causing a reduction in sperm count. Dr. Wolfgang Sippell, professor of pediatrics at the University of Kiel, monitored the scrotal temperature of 48 healthy boys, from birth up to 4 years old, using a tiny thermal probe. His team tested the temperatures when boys wore disposable diapers and when they wore re-usable cotton diapers, both during waking and sleeping hours. The temperature was consistently higher when the disposable diapers were worn, with the highest temperatures recorded in the youngest babies. Scrotal temperatures were the same as rectal temperatures when cotton diapers were worn, but far higher when disposable diapers were worn.
They concluded that the insulation properties of the disposable diapers impaired the normal cooling mechanisms of the testicles. They found that in 13 boys, the cooling mechanism failed altogether. Sippell concluded: “A prolonged increase in scrotal temperature in early childhood may have an important role in subsequent testicular health and function, with implications for male fertility.” Repeated studies have shown that average sperm counts have fallen by almost half from 1938 levels and are continuing to decline as fast as 2 percent a year. The Absorbent Hygiene Products Manufacturers Association, which represents makers of disposable diapers, said the study had dubious methodology. Association spokesman Peter Stephenson said: “There is no evidence to support the assertions made by this study, which would appear to be implausible. The safety of our products is of paramount importance. Disposable diapers are, and remain, safe.”

New Tests Confirm TBT Poison in Proctor & Gamble Pampers
• Greenpeace Demands Worldwide Ban of Organotins in All Products
• May 15, 2000
HAMBURG — New tests carried out by Greenpeace found the hormone pollutant TBT (tributyl tin) in “Pampers® Baby Dry Mini” babies’ nappies sold in Germany by the company Procter & Gamble. Last Friday, Greenpeace uncovered that TBT and other organotin compounds were found in Procter & Gamble’s Pampers® “Baby Dry”, in the Paul Hartmann company’s “Fixies Ultra Dry”, and in LedysanSpa’s “United Colours of Benetton® Junior unisex”. All tests were proven by scientific analyses made on Greenpeace’s behalf.
The new test, during which several parts of “Pampers® Baby Dry Mini” were analyzed, found the highest contamination in the belt section of these nappies. “Pampers® Baby Dry Mini” contained up to 38.4 micrograms of TBT per kilogram, a much higher level then in the first tests of a pool sample published last Friday. (1) Furthermore the inner and outer layer were found to be contaminated. Greenpeace also found other organotin compounds in the Pampers®, including DBT and MBT. If all discovered organotin compounds were added, a total of 53.2 micrograms per kilogram were found.
Greenpeace’s scientific test results contradict a statement by Procter & Gamble, in which the company last Friday denied that its nappies were contaminated with organotin compounds. Greenpeace toxics expert Thilo Maack said: “The reaction of Procter & Gamble is a scandal. The company is downplaying the danger instead of actively searching for the source of TBT in Pampers®. It is absolutely irresponsible to expose babies to these extremely toxic substances”.

"Fact is that TBT is one of the most toxic substances ever made, and it is being spread through the skin and contaminates the environment as well as people," he noted.

This environmental pollutant, which has been in the headlines for months because of its extremely high toxicity, has a hormone-like effect. The smallest concentrations of TBT can harm people’s immune systems and impair their hormonal system. “The German government must ban this toxin in all areas of use immediately,” says Thilo Maack.
Greenpeace last January found TBT in fish for human consumption, and in March detected TBT in football shirts despite textile manufacturers declaring them safe again. TBT has furthermore recently been found in plastic PVC floorings. Witco, a company in Bergkamen/Germany, produces 80 per cent of the TBT used in the world. The smallest quantities of TBT kill algae and mussels and for that reason it is used in ships’ paints to stop their growth on hulls.
Greenpeace has been calling on the chemical and ship industries to ban its production or application. There are less harmful alternatives to TBT in all the spheres in which organotin compounds are used. Greenpeace is at present analyzing other brands of nappies on sale in Germany. Its findings will be available by the end of this week.

Chemicals In Diapers Cited As Possible Asthma Trigger
• Penny Stern, MD
• October 6, 1999
• link:
NEW YORK, Oct 06 (Reuters Health) — Childhood respiratory problems, including asthma, may be linked to inhaling the mixture of chemicals emitted from disposable diapers, researchers write in the September/October issue of Archives of Environmental Health.
Lead author Dr. Rosalind C. Anderson, of Anderson Laboratories in West Hartford, Vermont, told Reuters Health that chemical emissions of some disposable diapers have immediate health effects in animals breathing the diluted chemical mixtures. ”Upon analysis, the diaper emissions were found to include several chemicals with documented respiratory toxicity,” according to the paper.
“Mice were used in this study because of their general physiological and biochemical similarity to humans”, Anderson explained, “adding that both humans and mice develop bronchoconstriction as a response to certain (odors and substances)”. Bronchoconstriction refers to a narrowing of air passages in the lungs that is associated with respiratory difficulties.
“Upon exposing the mice to various brands of disposable diapers, a decrease (was observed) in the ability of (the) animals to move air during exhalation”, Anderson said. Noting that this finding accurately describes asthma or an asthma-like reaction, she added “that if mice and humans respond in a similar manner to diaper emissions, disposable diapers could be important with respect to the worldwide asthma epidemic.”
In contrast to the results obtained with disposables, new cloth diapers produced very little respiratory effects and appeared to be the least toxic choice for a consumer, the researchers write.
“Though the disposable effect was noted even when the emissions of a single diaper are diluted in the air of a small room,” Anderson said, she cautions that it is too early to indict diaper chemicals. “Whether the diaper chemicals initiate clinical disease, simply trigger an asthma-like response or are not implicated (at all) in human disease will not be known until after a vast amount of human data has been accumulated,” she commented.
Therefore, Anderson believes that formal epidemiological investigations must be extended to infant products in order to evaluate these items’ possible role in triggering or aggravating asthmatic conditions. She and her co-author, Dr. Julius Anderson, have (previously) published similar findings associated with other products used in infants’ environments. “A number of these manufactured materials — air fresheners, mattress covers, fabric softeners — have many rapid-onset toxic effects in common,” she pointed out.
In Anderson’s view, the current epidemic in childhood asthma cannot be explained solely on the basis of what she termed, ”the usual suspects: dust mites, cockroaches, maternal smoking”. Maybe child-care products (such as) plastic diapers… plastic baby bottles, and plastic toys are important factors (through the release of) chemicals with toxic effects.”
Until such time as this asthma-inducing effect can be confirmed in humans, Anderson reminds parents and healthcare professionals that precaution costs nothing. When you are dealing with a toxic chemical or chemicals, avoidance is the only proper action. ”She suggests that (parents) and doctors… believe themselves if they think a product is harming the breathing of the mother or the baby.”
SOURCE: Archives of Environmental Medicine September/October 1999.

Disposable Diapers Linked to Asthma
• January/February 2000
Harsh perfumes and chemical emissions have long been known to induce asthma-like symptoms in children and adults. Now, researchers have found that disposable diapers might be a trigger for asthma.

A study published in the October, 1999 issue of the Archives of Environmental Health found that laboratory mice exposed to various brands of disposable diapers suffered increased eye, nose, and throat irritation, including bronchoconstriction similar to that of an asthma attack. Six leading cotton and disposable diaper brands were tested; cloth diapers were not found to cause respiratory problems among the lab mice.

Dr. Rosalind C. Anderson, lead author of the report, "Acute Respiratory Effects of Diaper Emissions," explains that the diapers were tested right out of the package, and one at a time. Even in a mid-sized room, the emissions from one diaper were high enough to produce asthma-like symptoms. Solvents and other substances are typically added to products during the manufacturing process in order to affect malleability and other properties, Dr. Anderson explains. "Even if you don’t want these chemicals in the final product, it’s hard to take them out. We are finding chemical off-gasses in all sorts of baby products besides diapers, including baby mattresses and mattress covers," she says.

What chemicals were released from the diapers? Tolune, xylene, ethylbenzene, styrene, and isopropylbenzene, among others. Dr. Anderson says these, like certain scents, are bronchial irritants. "It’s similar to when asthmatics smell perfume and all of a sudden their chests get tight." Although mice are much smaller than humans, they were chosen for the study because their physiology and biochemistry are similar to that of humans. Of the brands tested, three diaper brands were found not to affect the breathing of the lab mice: American Fiber and Finishing Co., Gladrags organic cotton diapers, and Tender Care disposable diapers.

Further study is needed to determine what level of diaper chemical emission triggers infant respiratory distress. In the meantime, Dr. Anderson advises asthmatic mothers to avoid exposure to these chemicals, and to be mindful of the fact that their children may be sensitive to these and other asthma antagonists such as dust mites, roaches, and smoking. Asthma rates are on a sharp incline in the US and worldwide, particularly among poor and inner-city children.

Anderson, Rosalind, and Julius Anderson. “Acute Respiratory Effects of Diaper Emissions,” Archives of Environmental Health, 54, October 1999.
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