Stripping Cloth Diapers - What Is It? And When Do You Need To Do It?

To be honest, stripping diapers is not something I would consider myself and expert in, at all.

For good reason.

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Stripping cloth diapers is extremely harsh on diaper components (and time consuming, and annoying, and really wasteful of water), and should only be done in necessary circumstances.
With a good wash routine, you should never have to strip your diapers.

I think I stripped diapers once, shortly after beginning, when I realized the "cloth diaper detergent" I was using was not actually cleaning them.

Since using real detergent, properly softening my water, and having a solid wash routine, I have not had any need to strip diapers in the last two and a half years.
Psst... wondering HOW to properly wash diapers?

Being that I am not super experienced in it, I still wanted to lend my advice.

I have been asked a few times A LOT, because the topic of stripping diapers is something that is still obsessed over in parts of the cloth community.

It goes hand-in-hand with the myths of old, and unfortunately, there is some ca-razy information out there when it comes to stripping diapers.

I wanted to clear out some of those crazies right here:

1.  Dawn (or any dish soap) should stay out of your washing machine. It is an extremely effective de-greaser, which can break down the working components of your washing machine. It is also full of sudsing agents that can make a disastrous mess of your laundry room. It is great to use to spot treat grease (like "unsafe" diaper creams), but should be rinsed off before going into the machine. Other than spot treating (or washing by hand, I suppose), it should stay in the kitchen.


2. You cannot strip diapers in a dishwasher. That's insane. That too, should be used strictly for dishes.

3. Just stop mixing things with bleach. It shouldn't be used with anything but laundry detergent, AND, more importantly, most of these concoctions aren't even stripping diapers. They're just doing some kind of crazy disinfection, but putting your health and safety at risk by using something beyond just bleach.

What does it mean to strip diapers?

Stripping diapers removes buildup on diapers from insufficient washing, like washing in untreated hard water or from using soap (vs detergent).

Soap doesn't wash away in machines (it needs more agitation, which you could only get from hand washing), so it slowly coats up on the fabric.
 Just the same, if you do not properly soften your hard water, the minerals will build up on the fabric.
Both will prevent the diapers from being properly cleaned, trap bacteria, and cause stink issues.

When should you strip?

As I have mentioned in a few other posts, STINK ISSUES DO NOT CALL FOR AN AUTOMATIC STRIP.

Most stink issues can be resolved by a few back-to-back washes with proper detergent, then tweaking your wash routine.

Generally, at most, a bleach wash may be needed to disinfect and kill the trapped bacteria, then tweaks to your wash routine to ensure it doesn't happen again.

IF you have been washing in untreated hard water, or with soap or fabric softener, and THEN you are having stink issues, and/or your diapers are repelling liquid, that is when you know you need to strip.

How to strip diapers

Always start with clean diapers. Only absorbent parts can obtain buildup, so leave covers and other non-absorbent diaper components out.

Stripping diapers can be kept extremely simple with these methods (choose one):

1. RLR- This product is specifically made for treating buildup on laundry

2. Grovia Mighty Bubbles- A laundry treatment from GroVia

3. Water Softeners- The mighty trio: Calgon, borax, and washing soda are all water softeners that help break down minerals in hard water. Use a couple tablespoons of each, if you have them all.

Mix one of the above choices with hot water in your machine (or bathtub, if you have an HE machine), and soak diapers for a couple hours. Agitate a couple times during the soak.

Run through a hot, water-only wash .

Follow up with a bleach wash (1/2 cup of bleach added to the load) to kill any bacteria that was trapped from the buildup.

Wash again with hot water only.

Then change your wash routine so you never have to do this again. 

1 comment:

  1. I bought some used cloth diapers and when my baby wets the diaper, they instantly smell like ammonia! Do I need to strip them?