In our 2013 Great Cloth Diaper Survey, 31% of cloth diapering parents had struggled with a yeast infection. To determine the best recommendations for laundering cloth diapers in the presence of a yeast infection, we're launching a new scientific study.
Yeast and Cloth Diaper Laundry Experiment
Goal: To determine the efficacy of various laundering options in disinfecting reusable cloth diapers.
1. "Spike" some used cloth diapers with c. albicans in a marked area of the diaper.
2. Launder them separately in the varying tests, which include: regular RDA process; with chlorine bleach; and with other laundry additives. (All diapers will come from the same person, be laundered in the same machine, at the same temperature and water quality, and with the same detergent to minimize confounding factors.)
Tea Tree Oil
Grapefruit Seed Extract
3. Test the diapers for remaining c. albicans in the marked areas.
A subset of the equipment needed to conduct these tests is being lent to us by the expert volunteers guiding the tests. In the first round of testing alone, however, there is still a significant portion of the materials that we will need to purchase, including petri dishes, chromagar plates, alcohol, etc. We will be raising the funds to cover these costs through our website.
Follow up on above treatments. It may be advantageous to try differing amounts of any of the above additives, depending on the results of the first study.
Follow up on above test structure. We may want to confirm results by testing for yeast levels in a natural diaper environment, i.e. deposited in feces by an infected baby. In this situation, we would also like to test diaper covers to see if yeast travels through the diaper into the non-absorbent layer.
Treatment changes by fiber. It would also be useful to test artificial fibers, such as microfleece and microfiber, both commonly used in cloth diapering, to see how the additive efficacy changes between hydrophilic (water-loving) and hydrophobic (water-avoiding) fibers. If the non-absorbent layer is affected by the natural diapering situations, tests should also be done on that fabric to determine appropriate treatment levels (extreme heat options might not be desirable).
Treatment changes by washing machine type. It would be useful to determine proper additive amounts for different washing machines and water levels. We can also investigate cycles on other machines (steam and sanitize) and water temperature settings.