I think this is probably the most common question we receive in our inboxes here at Smart Bottoms: "I prepped my new 3.1's about eight times and the second my child pees his entire pants are soaked. What is wrong with them?"
Here's how you Prep Your Smart Bottoms the Smart Way
1. Because Smart Bottoms uses certified organic cotton, there are natural oils in the fabric. Those oils need to be rinsed out before it can be used as a diaper. What do we all know about oil and cloth diapers? Oil repels water! The organic cotton in our diapers do not go through any kind of processing which is why you have to wash them eight to ten times (sometimes more) before they are fully absorbent.
2. We recommend washing your new Smart Bottoms cloth diapers with a load of clothes or towels. This aids in the towels or clothes giving the natural oils something to cling to during the washing process. Remember my first prepping session? The one with ten brand spanking new 3.1s? Think of it as a giant bath of natural oils just swirling around with nothing to hold onto except the diapers. No wonder the diapers couldn't hold anything in them.
3. No, you don't need to dry between washes. When I'm prepping my Smart Bottoms diapers I typically throw them in with my regular laundry. And let's be honest, I'm not doing laundry everyday all day long (although it definitely feels like it some days). Between washing, I let the diapers air dry but if I have a few loads going I just keep putting them in the wash with the other loads.
4. Do not load your washer up with tons of new Smart Bottoms to prep together. Think of it as a creating this giant bath of organic cotton oils to just swirl around and around together; if you've bought upwards of five to six diapers that need to be prepped split them up into smaller loads. This will take care of the potential oil bath you may give your need-to-be-prepped diapers.
5. If the diaper is leaking after washing the recommended number of times, do the warm water test. Pour warm water on the dry and clean diaper. If the water is not immediately absorbed it needs more prepping. We say to use warm water because that most closely mimics urine.
Tip: Use a detergent that has petroleum based surfactants in it. This isn't a must but it will speed up your prepping, which means the diapers will be ready to be worn faster. Surfactant compounds are molecules (linked groups of atoms) attracted to the boundary between two liquids that normally do not dissolve in each other, such as oil and water. One end of the surfactant molecule is attracted to water but not oil, and the other end is attracted to oil but not to water.
Cloth diaper detergents use plant-based surfactants in them which is why prepping will take about 15 - 20 washes for the diaper to be fully prepped. Using a petroleum-based surfactant such as Tide, Gain, All, etc. will speed up the prepping process. Again, this is not a must do; if you use a natural detergent with plant-based surfactants in it you will need to wash the diaper more than six to eight washes.
There ya go, try prepping your Smart One 3.1 cloth diapers the Smart Way and tell us how it worked!