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STRIPPING – A Beginner’s Guide on How to Strip Cloth Diapers
It seems every cloth diapering parent I know eventually finds themselves asking other parents about “stripping”. Now, before you get the wrong idea here, we are not talking about the parents but the diapers themselves. Stripping, as in removing built-up detergent, minerals, ammonia, perhaps even a certain barnyard aroma. The most common culprit is hard water leaving minerals and detergent residue in the diapers which in turn can irritate sensitive bums. Synthetic fibers, great for absorption, seem to be especially prone to this type of build-up. Other times, it could be hot weather which converts urine to ammonia at a faster than normal rate. But whatever it is causing that rash or that funk, it needs to go, go, go and desperate parents find themselves googling “stripping” in ways they never imagined before baby arrived!
So before you give up on that adorable diaper fluff, try out some of these stripping remedies.
Toss all your clean diapers in the washer, turn the setting to HOT water and rinse the H-E- double hockey-sticks out of them. Do NOT, add any detergent or anything else. Remember, we are s-t-r-i-p-p-i-n-g (cue the corny music). So we are removing not adding things to the mix. At first you will see a lot of bubbles when thw wash agitates. Keep rinsing, maybe 4 or 5 times until you do not see any more bubbles. Do not confuse soap bubbles with agitation bubbles. Soap bubbles are big, white, foamy and linger like uninvited mother-in-laws (I jest, love you mama). Agitation bubbles are smaller, pop quickly and will disappear into the water once the agitation stops like your partner on a bad day.
With Blue Dawn
Toss clean diapers in washer, turn on hot water setting, add a squirt of blue dawn (just a squirt). Do not add detergent. You will notice a lot of bubbles. Rinse, Rinse, Rinse – all with hot water until you no longer see soap bubbles lingering.
Toss clean diapers in washer, turn on hot water setting, depending on the size of your diaper load, add a scoop or two of oxiclean. Do not add detergent. Allow the washer to fill and agitate for a few minutes. Stop the wash mid-cycle and allow it to soak for an hour if you have a top-loader. If you have a front loader, use your “soak” settings or set your machine to longest wash setting. After the hour, do the rinse, rinse, rinse, in hot water routine…until, you guessed it, no more bubbles.
Sometimes lingering mineral deposits can be the problem. In this case, pick up some Calgon water softener in the laundry aisle. Most supermarkets or major retailers like Target & Walmart carry it. Toss clean diapers in washer, turn on hot water setting, fill to the appropriate line on the Calgon cap for the size of your wash laod. Do not add detergent. You should notice a lot of bubbles in the agitation mode as the Calgon allows, trapped minerals and detergent to be released from the fabric’s fibers. Continue your hot water rinse, rinse, rinse routine water until there are no more bubbles.
With Rockin Green
Rockin Green makes several cloth diaper specific detergent formulations, soft, hard and classic as well as their Ammonia Bounce version. Depending on your issue, non-cloth diaper detergent build-up versus ammonia build-up, and your water type, select the appropriate product. You can buy small sample sizes of the hard, soft and classic versions for about a buck to try them out or see which yummy fragrance you like the best before committing to a larger size. Depending on the size of your load, add 2-4 tbsp (and nothting else) and fill your washer, then allow to soak at least an hour. Personally, I suggest a good overnight soak for this stuff to really work its magic. Then, just as before, rinse, rinse, rinse in hot water.
RLR is a laundry treatment that is intended to be used to removed hard water minerals and detergent build-up from fibers. It works by suspending the particles in the water until they can be washed away. Add 1 pre-measured packet without any other additives to your diaper wash and wash in hot water. Then rinse, rinse, rinse until all the bubbles are gone. If you are not using a diaper detergent, expect to see a LOT of suds from this treatment. Continue rinsing until you have no soap bubbles and your water is rinsing clear.
Warning this is only applicable to NON-PUL, NON-ELASTIC items. It is customarily used for inserts only but it can be very effective. It is also very stinky!! Grab your inserts, (FYI - microfiber inserts tend to be a big culprit for harboring funk-stink), toss them into a large soup pot and fill with water. Place the pot on your stove and boil for 30 mins. You may want to have a nice candle going at the same time so your kitchen doesn’t smell like something died in it. Because "diaper soup" smells just as nice as you imagine it will. After you are done boiling, toss them in the washer with no detergent and rinse on hot to rinse out any remaining residue coating the inserts. You can add 1 cup of white vinegar for further bacteria killing and fabric softening. It will rinse out completely and not leave your inserts smelling like vinegar.
With Bleach (LAST RESORT)
If all else fails or you have a situation that you need to sanitize your diapers, maybe yeast, you can strip your diapers with regular bleach. Keep in mind that bleach weakens the fibers of a fabric over time and can, if too much is used, discolor fabrics. Warnings aside, there are times when bleach may be the solution. If so, add 1/4 cup per load of clean diapers and if you have a top loader, make sure you water fills before adding the bleach. If you have a front loader, add to the bleach compartment and add a large old towel to make sure you have an adequate amount of water filling your drum. Some HE front loaders do recommend using bleach, refer to your manual. Wash on a COLD or WARM water setting while you are running the bleach for maximimum effectiveness. Hot water actually deactivates some of the bleach by converting it into a gas rendering it less effective. After that, do the HOT water rinse, rinse, rinse until no more bleach smell is present.