Frequently Asked Questions
Do Firefly Diapers require a diaper cover? Yes, all Firefly Diapers require a cover. This is just the absorbent, organic cotton part of the diaper equation. A moisture resistant layer is still needed to prevent leaks. We sell Easy Wool covers, but any diaper cover should work.
Do you make all-in-one diapers, so I don't have to use a cover? We don't make all-in-one diapers, cloth diapers that include moisture absorbent and moisture repellant materials in the same diaper, because our favorite diaper material (organic cotton) requires different care than our favorite diaper cover material (wool). We recommend wool diaper covers because wool is breathable, which is healthier for the baby, and renewable, which is sustainable.
What is the naturally luminescent material in the polyester thread and the snaps in your glow-in-the-dark diapers? Does it come from an animal, a vegetable, or a mineral? Mineral. There are many non-radioactive mineral activators of fluorescence. These are added to polymers as dyes or fillers. Photoluminescence is the mechanism by which the fluorescence is activated. In glowing diapers, we see the afterglow or phosphorescence. You can find out more about flourescence at the Thomas S. Warren Museum of Fluorescence. http://www.sterlinghill.org/warren/index.htm
What size do I need for a newborn? That depends on your baby. Your 6lb baby might need Extra Small for a while, but my 9lb baby started off in Small. If you don’t want to start with Extra Small, since it is difficult to predict how long you will need that size, for a tiny baby try using cloths or flat diapers that will remain useful as your baby grows.
Do you make adult sizes? No.
The waist is too high and the legs sag open. Then your baby needs to use the next size down. Remember that the measurements given tell you only the size of the diaper or cover, not which size will fit your baby perfectly. Most babies will fit best higher in the measurement range.
My baby fits in the range of two sizes. Which size should I choose? Choose the smaller size for a better fit. If you can stand a little sagging, choose the larger size for longer use.
Why aren't the flat diapers a conventional size? Firefly Flat Diapers are two layers of French terry knit, a much heavier weight fabric than woven gauze or muslin used in traditional flat diapers, which are made of lightweight, gauzy fabrics. Firefly Flat Diapers are much closer to prefolds in weight and can be folded in all of the ways prefolds can be. The sizes also fit together well with smaller flat diapers as doublers for the larger diapers. When we began making these many years ago, flat diapers like these were more common and these were the standards sizes, which probably follows from the sizes of prefolds.
What fiber are your diapers made from? The body of our diapers are made with 100% organic cotton fiber -- grown and sewn in the USA.
What fiber are your diaper covers made from? Wool, renewable wool. We offer both organic wool and conventional wool (dyed and undyed).
What are your diapers really made of? The website says organic cotton but it also says fleece. Which is it? Both. One describes what the fabric is made of (100% organic cotton) and the other describes how that same fabric is constructed (fleece).
All of our diapers are made from 100% organic cotton. The word "fleece" describes the construction of the fabric not a particular fiber, like cotton or wool. In this case, fleece is french terry, a knit fabric with loops on one side. The loopy side is then brushed to make that side fluffy and more absorbent. The fluffy side is inside the diaper. Fleece is the type of fabric often used to make sweatshirts. Think of the fabric used to make a 100% cotton sweatshirt.
So, the fiber is organic cotton, and the type of fabric is called fleece.
Why don't you use bamboo? It's natural. We don't use bamboo for a couple of reasons. First is the processing required. Bamboo is an extruded fiber. The cellulose is partially broken down on a molecular level then chemically reacted and processed to make a new fiber. It's like rayon, which is also a cellulose fabric. It may be better for the field than some other natural fibers, but the processing is far from natural.
Also, bamboo is grown and produced outside the U.S. We have been concerned in the past about using fibers grown overseas because of fair labor and shipping, both costs and carbon miles.
We know there are trade offs for all fibers. Cotton requires a lot of water to grow, but we're happier knowing that the fibers were grown in the U.S. organically. We use only U.S.-grown and processed organic cotton for our diapers at this time -- less processing, less travel, great function. We try to keep up with what is happening in natural fibers, and we would be happy to use other natural fibers in the future.
What kind of dyes do you use? Fiber reactive dyes.
Why don’t you use natural dyes? Many natural dyes require mordents that are not environmentally friendly. On the scale we are dyeing, fiber reactive dyes give us the overall lowest impact. But we experiment with natural dyes often, mostly just staining rather than dyeing with mordents, to see what happens. Try it. Boil a diaper in beet juice or in a tea of turmeric. The colors are beautiful, and they fade naturally.
Will you dye a specific color for me? Probably not, but we’re open to suggestions. We like to try new colors.
Will the dyes bleed? They shouldn’t. All of our dyed fabrics are fixed, rinsed, and rinsed again to ensure that there are no free dyes hiding out in the fibers.
But what if the colors on my wool cover do bleed? The dyes on your wool covers should not bleed. We deliberately do not use dark and saturated colors. Rarely, though, some colors bleed. We've been putting together the pieces of this puzzle over time, and every time that I know of this happening, the baby has been a boy. Did you know that, historically, urea was used as a carrier in the dyeing process--specifically urea from pre-adolescent boys? I don't know the science of why this is, but if you do and you want to explain this to me, please write (because my dye guy doesn’t seem to know the why of this, either). In the meantime, we can fix the dyes again easily. These are the suggestions of our resident dye scientist. "A wool cover bleeding is not normal, and we should be able to prevent it happening again. The dye should be fixed to the fibers on a molecular level. If there is free dye floating around in there, we want it out. These dyes are fixed to protein in an acid environment. [Please note: colors on vegetable fibers like diapers are fixed differently.] You need to give the cover a bath in vinegar. You can make a strong solution with water, or use straight, white vinegar. If you warm it a little on the stove, it will stink, but that will be most effective. Five minutes should fix the dye, but it wouldn't hurt if you left it all day. If dye is coming out, rinse until there is no more dye. This is similar to the method we use to fix the dyes, but we using boiling water, which you don't want to do with a finished cover. After the vinegar bath, rinse under flowing, warm water. You can wash in woolwash (like Eucalan) at that point, if you like, to keep the fibers in good condition." The best solution? Natural wool diaper covers.
What if the colors on my diapers bleed? The dyes on your diapers should not bleed. When we find a color that bleeds, we don't use it. If we find a color that bled for customers, we retire that as well. After many years, we have a good idea which colors to avoid, so bleeding diapers are a very rare occurrence. Dyes on vegetable fibers are fixed by a alkaline bath. We don't recommend that you introduce soda ash to your diapers, which is what we use on fabric, so soap and water will be the best solution. Baking soda is also alkaline, but you shouldn’t need to go that far. Vigorously handwash the diaper in soapy water that is as hot as you can bear. Rinse until the water is clear of soap and of color. The good news is that even with our retired temperamental colors, the fabric will stop releasing dyes, much like new jeans tend to give up dye but stop after several washings. The best solution? Natural organic cotton diapers.
After I started drying my Sleep Tight diapers in the sun, the glowing snaps stopped glowing. What happened? UV light from the sun can degrade plastic. This (so the in-house polymer scientist tells me) is why outdoor plastics, like chairs and umbrellas, have fillers to retard the effect. The snaps don't have such fillers. So, DON'T dry Sleep Tights in direct sunlight. We're experimenting to see how much sun the glowing snaps will take (if any), so stay posted.
Are your wool covers shipped pre-lanolized? Easy Wool covers are not treated with lanolin before shipping. The wool is washed in the dye process, but all natural oils have been removed. We do ship the covers with a sample of Eucalan, which contains a small amount of lanolin, so you can wash the cover before use.
I should also mention that you don't necessarily need to use lanolin. I spent years beating up wool covers just to see what they can take, and they work fine without any added lanolin at all. I know many people like to use a lot of lanolin as a moisture barrier, but this can even inhibit wool's natural ability to absorb moisture to its core (gumming down the scales of the fibers). On the other hand, replacing some of those natural oils can keep your wool cover softer, similar to the way conditioner can keep our hair softer.
I recommend that you start with the least amount of lanolin (Eucalan or another wool wash). If you find that you want to try more, add slowly and be sure that the lanolin you use is evenly dispersed in the wash water. If the cover starts to feel at all gummy, reduce the amount of lanolin you use. After you've had a bit of experience, you will find a balance that works for you and your baby.
My wool cover is stiff. How do I fix it? If your soft wool diaper cover starts to feel crunchy and stiff, it may be that urine has crystallized in the wool fibers. This may or may not be reversible. We believe the following is your best chance to reverse the damage. First you need to remove all traces of lanolin left by the Eucalan. Do this by handwashing the cover in lukewarm to warm, soapy water. Use a mild soap and massage the cover gently, then rinse thoroughly. (If the massage is too vigorous or the water hot, you could full the fabric further, stiffening it. Just be gentle, and the cover will be fine.) This may be enough that you notice the fibers have softened again. If not, soak the cover for 24 hours in a solution of 25% white vinegar. This will dissolve any crystals of urea more quickly than would plain water. After soaking the cover for a day, repeat the handwashing, being sure to rinse away all traces of soap. This should leave the cover softer than before. At this point, you may want to wash with Eucalan, since the lanolin will keep the protein fibers softer. In order to prevent crystallization in fibers of other covers, if the cover becomes saturated, rinse thoroughly. You may want to handwash with soap as above if the cover becomes saturated often. If the cover has not been saturated but has become no more than slightly damp, the Eucalan is an excellent way to care for the cover. Use the Eucalan when the fibers are generally clean. If the fibers become crystallized, however, the lanolin can seal that in.
My diapers feel stiff. Is there anything I can do? If you dry diapers in the sun, they aren't getting the agitation they would get in a dryer. By rolling them between your hands you will flex the fibers, helping the diaper feel softer. If you are using a dryer, don't be tempted to use commercial softeners. These could inhibit the absorbency of your diapers. An easy way to agitate the fibers and help them remain soft is to put in the dryer a hockey puck or a rubber ring inside a thick sock, tying off the end. As the diapers are tumbling dry, the hockey puck will flex the fibers for you.
My Firefly Sleep Tight Diapers smell. Can I make that smell go away? Probably. The smell is probably coming from residual urine that has crystallized between the fibers due to insufficient rinsing. A good first step would be an extended presoak in white vinegar (25% in water) or Bac Out (as recommended on the bottle). To follow this up, do a regular machine wash with environmentally friendly detergent followed by an extended rinse cycle. To prevent this happening in the future, especially with the heavier nighttime diapers, put the wet diapers into a soak (preferably with Bac Out) immediately rather than a dry pail.
How can I get rid of stains? If you put diapers in the pail with Biokleen Bac Out, a live enzyme cleaner, the enzymes will begin to break down the organic materials before they can stain. If you do end up with stains, you can try Biokleen Oxygen Bleach in the wash. For natural stain fading, try hanging the diapers in direct sunlight (except Sleep Tight diapers, in order to protect the glow of the glowing snaps). Adding a bit of lemon juice over the stain before hanging the diaper outside will speed up the process.
I heard vinegar neutralizes the pH of urine. It that right? Not exactly. A lot of parents know vinegar helps when they wash diapers, but why? I asked my in-house scientist about the effect of vinegar as it relates to washing diapers. He says:
The pH of urine is close to neutral, but when urea is exposed to air it begins to convert to ammonia, which is very alkaline. Vinegar would neutralize this. Detergents work better close to neutral, so the sooner you wash diapers after a change, the better your detergent will work. For a longer answer full of science-speak, see our article "Vinegar and Diaper Care."
Why is adding vinegar also helping with hard water? More from the diaper scientist:
Vinegar is an acid. Ammonia is an alkali. Acids and alkalis are measured on the pH scale. The pH scale runs from 1 (the most acidic) through 7 (perfectly neutral, neither acid nor alkaline) to 14 (the most alkaline).
If you add an acid to an alkali they will tend to neutralize one another, depending on how strong an acid or alkali you have. Adding vinegar to an ammonia solution will pull the pH back towards neutral. Hard water is slightly alkaline, so adding vinegar will neutralize the alkalinity.
The diaper I bought last year has developed a hole. Will you replace it? No. Materials are guaranteed for 45 days from shipment if our recommended care instructions have been followed. Natural materials wear. That is a lot of the reason we like natural materials. They won’t leave a trace in 500 years like some so-called diapers may. See our guarantee for details.
Will you fix it, then? No. We don't offer repair service. If you would rather not do basic repairs yourself, perhaps you can find a tailoring service locally.
A snap popped off. Will you fix it? Yes. For normal wear on diapers, such as holes that develop over time, you should certainly make repairs yourself. We know that most people don't have a snap press handy, though, so we offer to make those repairs for you. See our guarantee for details.
Will you mark a package to Canada as a gift? No. While it's possible that I would like you very much if I met you, and I might even want to send you a gift, the fact is that the diapers you pay for are not a gift. We run a serious business, and we won't lie about it.
Then will you mark a package to Canada as worth $10? No. I have to sign a customs declaration form certifying that the information is correct, and it will be. It's a federal felony charge under 18 USC 1001, false statement made to the government. I don't want to take that risk, and I'm sure you don't want me to either.
Why does shipping cost so much? First, we don't make money on shipping. We do charge small handling fees to cover costs of boxes, tape, and other packing materials. Then, the shipping itself is not inexpensive. I think that the best solution to shipping costs is to buy local and pay no shipping at all. If you find a diaper manufacturer locally, perhaps you could meet face to face.
Will you ship by UPS? Yes, we will. But, please note, if you request shipping by UPS, we will add a minimum $10 fee to the shipping estimate by USPS. That is just the reality of the cost to us of UPS shipping.
Do you take custom orders? No. We do try to keep most items in stock at all times, though, and we are happy to hear suggestions.
Where does your fabric come from? The United States. We use only domestic fabric sources for our products, which are Made in USA.
Will you sell me fabric or send me to your sources? No and no. We are very happy to make suggestions for organic fabrics for home sewers, though. Our friends at PM Organics are our favorites.
When will you be stocking diapers? We are in a constant state of restocking diapers. Our production is just about in balance with demand -- usually. If demand speeds up, you may find items out of stock. We're on it, and we will restock as soon as we can. We try to keep the natural diapers and covers in stock at all times, so they will be restocked first.
Do you have any diapers that aren’t listed on the website? No, not unless they arrived a few minutes ago. If they did, you’ll find them on the website a few minutes from now.
I want to review your diapers. It's free publicity for you, and I promise a positive review. Will you send me a free sample? No. We encourage you to buy a diaper to review. None of the reviews of Firefly Diapers that you find has ever resulted from giving away the diapers or buying the review. The reviewers who liked the diapers, really liked the diapers. We didn't influence the review in any way.
I am entering a contest. It's free publicity for you. Will you sponsor me and send me a free sample? No. We wish you luck with the contest, and you are welcome to buy a diaper to use.
I want to show people your diapers at a baby fair. It's free publicity for you. Will you send me a free sample? No. We encourage you to buy a diaper to use as a sample.
I want to sell your diapers. Will you send me a free sample? No. We do not offer our products wholesale.
I can't afford your diapers. Will you send me a free sample? No. There are many simple, inexpensive ways to diaper a baby. Look at a few of our suggestions.
Don't you ever give away diapers? Generally, no. We give away diapers locally through nonprofits set up to handle distribution, and we participate in industry promotions, but we don't give diapers to individuals. We think there are better ways to distribute diapers to people who need and want them.
Why do your diapers cost so much? Are you serious? We keep prices low. Consider costs of the best organic materials, fair labor, and the basic costs of doing business. Firefly Diapers products are a very good deal.
Do you offer wholesale? No.
If I sell your diapers from my website, will you drop ship? No.
May I buy your diaper bags wholesale? Not from us because we are not the manufacturers of the great diaper bags we carry. Please contact the manufacturer.
May I work for you? Probably not. We are a very small company, and we like it that way.
I heard you do business consulting. That’s right. I do small business consulting. If you are interested, write and tell me what you are looking for and I’ll let you know if I can help.
Can I buy your company? I don’t know. Make me an offer.
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