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Neighbor concerned about bacteria in the shared washer. What do I do?

post #1 of 75
Thread Starter 
One of my neighbors has a newborn and my boys are 2 and 3 mos. Ds1 is mostly out of diapers, but his occasional misses and ds2's diapers are washed in a machine that is shared by 5 families. My neighbor is concerned about health issues related to sharing a washer with a cding family. She asked her pediatrician, who said that bacteria could be transferred through residue in the machine if we're not using bleach (we're not). A friend of hers who cd's suggested that I could soak the diapers with bleach first and then the bleach would come out in the wash. I'm not willing to do this and am somewhat adverse to the idea of using bleach at all. She is currently washing her baby's clothes with bleach to kill any possible bacteria, and I don't want her to have to do this either. Does anyone know of a natural way to disinfect the machine that is friendly to baby's skin and clothing fibers? I think it should be safe if we're both doing a hot wash, but I don't think I can assuage her concern. We are practicing ec with ds2, though we use a lot of diaper back up. I'm thinking I may need to be more attentive to taking him to pee and wash the diapers by hand if no one has any ideas.

My neighbor is genuinely worried about her baby's safety. While it's unfounded worry according to my way of seeing things, I need to be flexible enough to make some kind of compromise. She spoke to the women in charge of faculty housing and we received an email stating that diapers should be soaked in bleach before being washed in the machine. My husband spoke with this family today and both their ob and their ped. have now told them that there is a risk of e. coli infection. They believe this is greater than the risk from other kids' and adults' vomit, underwear, etc. They are okay with us using a natural alternative to bleach in the diapers if their ped okays it (I'm thinking this isn't likely ). I was looking at the bac-out and oxygen bleach from the biokleen website, but nowhere does it say that it kills bacteria. Is there anywhere I kind find information about the effectiveness of these kinds of products for a purpose like this?
Right now she is washing a bleach load empty before her clothes, but she thinks this should really be our responsibility. DH mentioned the idea of wiping the machine with bleach, but that didn't really take off for some reason. He'll mention it again when he sees them next. Running an empty load is really too wasteful (energy, water, and $1.15 each time). I think if we pushed it, the company that owns the machines would say that no one can dictate what we wash or how we wash it so long as it is not flammable. What can we do from here???????
post #2 of 75
Is this a coin operated machine? If so, have her pour some bleach and run a hot wash before she does her laundry. If you dont have to pay to use it, you can clean the machine when you're done.
post #3 of 75
I'm not one to be dishonest - but I cant help but suggest telling her you are soaking them in bleach first. Then dont.

I agree that the hot washes would suffice.
post #4 of 75
when my son was newborn, and I was using disposables, I had leaks all the time where pee or poop got onto his clothing. I don't really se the difference between washing the clothing and washing diapers. I'm sorry, but someone who is that much of a germ freakprobably shouldn't be using a shared washer (there are much scarier things out there then baby diapers!)
post #5 of 75
I actually think the idea is absurd & wouldn't hesitate to tell her so.
post #6 of 75
Thread Starter 
We pay to use the machine with a prepaid card. I don't want her to have to run an empty load, as it seems wasteful to me. Maybe I could just rub down the machine with some diluted bleach. Anything natural I could use instead?
post #7 of 75
Originally Posted by Erinok View Post
when my son was newborn, and I was using disposables, I had leaks all the time where pee or poop got onto his clothing. I don't really se the difference between washing the clothing and washing diapers.
Yeah, if she has a baby, she will eventually have pee leaks or a blow out where pee or poo gets on baby clothes. While she may feel good about using bleach, I don't think that you should HAVE to.

Unless there is a rule that you may NOT wash cloth diapers or any urine/poo clothes (even older kids accidents) then I would say that your Hot cycle system is fine. If she chooses to wipe it with bleach or use bleach in the wash, it is her decision.

I would just tell her that your system gets the diapers very clean and does NOT contaminate the washers, but if she would like to, she can still bleach.
post #8 of 75
Originally Posted by rmzbm View Post
I actually think the idea is absurd & wouldn't hesitate to tell her so.
Umm this... and if shes using bleach HERSELF anyways then why is she worried that you are not??
post #9 of 75
Peroxide and vinegar with some TTO.
post #10 of 75
vinegar in the first rinse and tto in the wash should kill any bacteria.
post #11 of 75
the load that is done after diapers is probably the cleanest load that goes through the machine LOL. the hot water should kill anything that might be considered a bacteria.

if you are getting rid of most of the poop before they go into the machine, there isn't too much to worry about. urine is sterile and the dipes shouldn't hold onto anything, even if your child had a bacterial infection that was shed via eliminated waste.

i wonder who her ped is. i'm from newark, de. you could always use bac out on your dipes before they go into the washer. you can also tell her that a nurse from christiana (used to work there) who has used cloth diapers, and washed them, for over 5 yrs now says that her newborn will not get bacteria from you washing your dipes in the same machine. and she can email me if she doesn't believe it
post #12 of 75
How about taking an old bleach bottle, rinsing it really well and pouring some water in it and then you can act like you're bleaching if she sees you?

But really, what is she going to do with the clothing from blowouts and accidents?
post #13 of 75
She is currently washing her baby's clothes with bleach to kill any possible bacteria, and I don't want her to have to do this either.
You are a good friend that you're willing to make her problem (paranoias about germs) your problem too. I don't know as I would be so generous (i.e. I'd just let her wash in bleach if it bothers her); good for you.

Maybe get a can of Lysol spray that says clearly on the label "antibacterial" and just spray the inside of the machine for her. She'd not claiming there's smears of feces or anything left in there (ludicrous), right? If it's just the "bacteria" then something like that should put her mind at ease.

As far as the ped goes,

a.) I knew some pretty freaky strange people that were pre-med when I was in college. The person that barely scrapes by gets the exact same degree as the person that graduates at the top of the class.

b.) Interpretation goes a long ways, and I've seen people pump/twist/present facts to pressure others into giving the answer they are hoping to get.
post #14 of 75
Perhaps this study is why the ped believes there is bacteria? http://www.laundry-alternative.com/lurking.htm
post #15 of 75
I agree with a pp that you could supply the laundry room with either lysol, or some of those "wipes" that have lysol or clorox on them. That way, if she is concerned about the machine's interior, she can wipe/spray it down, leaving your chemical contact at a minimum, and her fears assuaged.
post #16 of 75
I think it's nice that you are concerned for her but since it is a shared washer, there is no reason that you should have to go to a lot of extra trouble just because she's paranoid about it....you have just as much right to use the machine for your needs as she does...and definitely don't start hand washing your dipes because of this....maybe try to find some online articles that help explain to her that the washing machine should be okay assuming you use the proper techniques....I would assure her that you rinse the dipes out before throwing them in the wash and that the hot water will kill the bacteria.....what you are throwing in there really isn't much worse than when her baby has blowouts on his/her clothing (or when she washes her own or her hubby or her kids undies in there). I can't believe she would rather bleach her baby's clothing though...I could not imagine bleaching my baby's clothes and then putting them on him! I would maybe explain that if she's still worried, the best thing would be to run a hot water cycle with just bleach before she uses the machine....I know it seems wasteful but it should put her mind at ease and that way she wouldn't be bleaching her baby's clothing and you won't be bleaching your dipes (definitely don't do that). Or get some TTO and wipe the machine out when you're done (or tell her that she can)...it has natural antibacterial properties and is much more gentle than bleach is.
post #17 of 75
Does she use bleach when she washes her underwear?
post #18 of 75
My little one's not born yet, but I share a washer/dryer with 2 other apts. and both neighbours are like, really weird and anal about stuff (many examples), so I have been concerned about having similar problems, except neither of them have any kids, so I can only imagine they'll be even less sympathetic than your neighbour.

I basically agree with everything Amandapanda said just before me... Those are all things that I'll keep in mind, too. And I also agree that they're public machines and you can wash whatever you want in them. Does she not realize that if she's using public machines, you never know WHAT has been in it? An adult could have "soiled" himself and then washed his clothes in there - IMO, way grosser than baby poop. Unless she checks everyones laundry before they put it in, how would she know? That being said, I totally empathize with not wanting to cause trouble - I know some neighbours can be such a pain in the butt that they'd tell the landlord or something and that would suck.

Personally, I believe 100% that the chlorine bleach she's dousing the kids clothes in is far worse for the kid than the minute potential for exposure to bacteria from the machine.

Hey, do you know any science geeks that could do a bacterial swab of the machine after you wash diapers; and after she does her laundry to prove that there's no more bacteria after you use it than her? That would be super cool.
post #19 of 75
great article. show it to her. so, while even if YOU are washing dipes, it states that SHE has bacteria from her UNDERWEAR. so, if she is concerned about your dipes then she needs to be bleaching her underwear.

it is probably best for HER to continue using bleach on HER clothes then. it seems as though that is what the article is suggesting too. either using more hot water, or running bleach through your washer or clothes. so, i would tell her to continue using it on ALL of her clothes because HER underwear has bacteria too.
post #20 of 75
Add a 1/4 cup of Borax to your wash. The following explains what it does for your laundry.

Many different forms of borates are used to produce laundry detergents, household or industrial cleaners and personal care products. In these applications, borates' unique properties serve to enhance stain removal and bleaching, stabilize enzymes, provide alkaline buffering, soften water and boost surfactant performance.
Because borates act as a biostat, they also serve to control bacteria and fungi in personal care products.

The vast majority of clothes worn in the world are still washed by hand. New trials on laundry soap bars demonstrate that borates significantly improve the cleaning action, and reduce levels of dirt redeposition, leading to brighter, cleaner clothes.

Copied from http://www.borax.com/borates2c.html
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