New Waterproofing Material
The time has come to introduce a new waterproofing material. But first, the background story.
I've been using leftover PUL scraps from diaper makers and other pad makers who are de-stashing. Lately my PUL stock levels have been a little precarious. I've had to turn down some people who asked for PUL in their bigger pads because I didn't have enough or I didn't have big enough pieces. The diaper makers do send a lot of nice pieces my way, but I also end up throwing a lot away because many of the scraps come in odd, scraggly little shapes that aren't big enough to cover a pad. It seems wasteful to ask people to send me things in the mail that I can only throw away.
So I started researching and experimenting, looking for second-hand or recycled alternatives to PUL for trim, secure waterproofing that can be sewn into the pads as a hidden layer. (Please let me know if you can think of any!)
One thing I tried was fusing plastic bags. They came out very stiff. Basically, the result was Tyvek. You know, the stuff that the floor of a tent is made out of. I tried softening them up in the dryer with a dryer ball, but the pieces were too small so they just stuck to the wall of the dryer as it went around. I looked for a way to soften it with chemicals and found nothing. (Is there a chemist in the house?)
At this point I started to consider buying PUL new. But I couldn't bring myself to it because there would be scraps to throw away and I'm trying to throw away as little as possible. My city takes all of my cotton, hemp, silk and wool scraps and mixes them in to the yard waste compost bin, so there's no throwing anything away there.
And then! I took a close look at my shower curtain. Last summer I replaced my vinyl shower curtain with one that is made of a very soft, thin layer of #2 plastic. It feels like fabric, doesn't make a crinkling noise when you crumple it, and is so breathable that you can actually breathe through it. It's a very stable plastic so it won't off-gas. And it's recyclable. And it holds water. It's not perfectly waterproof, but it does hold water better than synthetic fleece does, and synthetic fleece is adequate waterproofing for most cloth pad users. So, in other words, a light came on.
I emailed the makers of my shower curtain and asked if they could spare any scrap material. They said they have their materials manufactured to the exact size they need, so they don't have much scrap. They suggested Fed-Ex envelopes, which are also a form of Tyvek. But Fed-Ex envelopes feel like stiff paper. Nobody wants that in their pads.
Wait a minute. I hadn't realized that my shower curtain was Tyvek! Weird, because it was so soft. It turns out that soft structure Tyvek is made of very fine high density fibers so it behaves like poly fleece, which is also made of plastic, except that soft structure Tyvek is smaller and more dense so it's thinner, tighter, and more water resistant.
What I did next was I tracked down a distributor and ordered a roll of soft structure Tyvek. On one hand, I'm pretty excited about it because it's recyclable and it's more durable, less noisy, softer, and more breathable than PUL.
On the other hand, I finally had to break down and buy a new material, which was a little depressing. I had to change the "made of reclaimed and second-hand" in my tag line to "made of mostly reclaimed and second-hand." But at least I won't have to throw any of it away!
- Machine wash in cold or warm water with gentle detergent. Do not use any fabric softeners except for vinegar. Vinegar works great.
- Hang it up to dry. Pads with soft structure Tyvek dry very quickly.