When I first heard about stripping cloth diapers I pictured a dancing diaper. Later, when I developed ammonia in my cloth diapers I knew it was time to look into this practice. So, what is stripping cloth diapers? Basically something is in your diapers that shouldn’t be there. A build up can occur from many sources, and while the topic continues to be debated in the cloth community, I know what has personally occurred and worked for me. There are several sources of unwanted gunk in cloth diapers and different ways to remove it.
It was a hot summer and I simply left the diapers in the pail too long. Four days passed instead of my usual two. When I walked into the bathroom I could smell a strong odor. It reminded me of a dirty litter box and stung my nose quite a bit. I knew we had ammonia. I set to work “stripping” our cloth diapers by giving them a soak in sodium carbonate, also known as RLR and Washing soda. It worked so well that I started cleaning other things in the house with the product!
In addition to ammonia, which is a build up of particles from urine, other gunk can get into your cloth diapers. They include a generally poor wash job, perhaps not enough soap, high enough water temp or length of washing time. This build up of well, poop and pee, can be remedied by a good wash or two. Have you ever taken diapers out of the wash, smelled them while still wet and noticed that they didn’t smell clean? Ever thought your diapers were clean and then noticed they stunk like garbage when baby peed? Yeah, I toss those right back into the wash and know my crappy HE frontloader is to blame.
While it can be common to generally not get diapers clean via wash cycle, there are other organisms that can build up in cloth diapers. These include bacteria and fungal culprits. While some people claim that there are natural solutions, I don’t mess with bacteria and fungi. I treat diapers with a bleach soak in the bath tub and then a hot water wash in the machine. While I generally am not a proponent of chemicals, I do believe in the germ-killing power of bleach and hot water to keep germs from baby. If you have developed a bacterial infection or fungi such as a yeast rash, it’s important to kill the germs in the diapers and clear up the infection on baby before starting cloth again.
Stripping cloth diapers is a generally simple process. It simply means removing things from the diaper that shouldn’t be there. I see lots of talk about detergent build up, some believe it doesn’t exist, but we have all pulled out laundry with bubbles still present in the fabric. Simply re-washing without soap, or tossing it for an extra rinse can help remove detergent. In addition to regular detergent, fabric softener should never be used on cloth. As the Proctor and Gamble rep told me, it coats fibers and repels liquid. To remove it, should it get on cloth, simply wash in regular detergent until it’s gone to return fabric to it’s regular absorbency.
I hope this has shed some simplicity onto the practice of stripping cloth diapers and hope you always have a fresh batch! In the nearly 4 years I have been using cloth diapers, I have maybe had to strip them half a dozen times. A good regular wash routine is key, not letting diapers sit and pre-rinsing if necessary will help keep diapers pristine. (Pinnable Image Below)
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