How to strip cloth diapers?

Cloth diapers are not only an environment-friendly option but are also budget-friendly. Plus cloth diaper cleaning is as simple as your other clothes. In order to avoid stubborn stains and mineral build-up, experts recommend washing the cloth diapers every 2 to 3 days. However, over time the cloth diapers start giving out stinky smells right after washing or upon wetting that make them unbearable. Moreover, they become less absorbent and hence creating leakage problems. If you are facing such a problem related to cloth diapers, then this article is for you. Let’s learn what is stripping and how to do it in the right way.

What is the stripping cloth diapers?

As the name implies, stripping means the cleaning up of all the mineral buildup on the cloth diaper using special cleaning agents. But don’t make it a regular part of your washing routine. Diapers shouldn’t need to be stripped more than 2-3 times a year.

Before starting to strip the cloth diapers, make sure the diapers are cleaned in the right way.

strip the cloth diapers

Flush the solid waste out of cloth diapers and rinse them

  • After changing the dirty diaper, don’t throw them right into the washer for cleaning. Rather, follow the following steps.
  • Use toilet paper to wipe solid residues from the cloth diapers.
  • Then by using diaper spray, wash away the leftover solid waste and put them in the washing machine.
  • If you don’t plan on washing your cloth diapers right away, then consider rinsing them thoroughly with water before storing them in a diaper pail.

Put the cloth diapers into the washing machine 

Toss all the diapers into the washing machine and run the machine on a cold cycle to avoid stubborn poop stains. As soon as the cold rinse cycle finishes up, add mild laundry detergent and run your washer on a full hot water cycle. Avoid excess usage of detergent, as that can scratch your baby’s skin.

At last, give your cloth diapers one last rinse to remove leftover detergent residue. As babies have sensitive skin and any detergent leftover on your cloth diaper could cause skin irritation and lead to rashes.

Check the freshly washed diaper for any oil buildup

Using the wrong kind of diaper cream that is not cloth diaper-friendly causes oil buildup on the surface of the diaper causing them to leak earlier. If you spot the sticky film of nappy cream on the diapers that is hard to remove then you need a dishwashing liquid to treat them. However, it’s not recommended to add dishwashing detergent to the washer as it can deteriorate your washer.

Soak in dish soap 

  • Fill the sink or tub with hot water, and add one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid of your choice to the water. 
  • Stir the water to mix the liquid in the water. 
  • Then add a batch of your freshly washed diapers into the soapy solution. Consider adding cloth diaper inserts and covers separately. 
  • Soak the diaper’s insert for two hours and cover for one hour. Then use a toothbrush to remove the oily residues.

Next, rinse the diapers with cold water to remove as much residue of dish liquid. Then put them in the washer with a washing detergent of your choice and run them on a hot cycle to get a fresh-looking batch of cloth diapers.

A barnyard smell in freshly cleaned diapers 

It is caused by diapers that are not getting clean enough. The reason you usually smell it when the diapers come out of the dryer is that the heat has warmed up the microscopic particles of pee and poop still present in the diaper. Here is when you need to strip your cloth diapers right away.

A foul smell that comes out of diaper when your baby pee in them

This distinct ammonia smell is easily recognized as a hair dye smell and is only noticeable as soon as the baby wets the diaper. Leaving cloth diapers unwashed for too long or not cleaning the diapers properly, causes the urea on the diapers to convert into ammonia. This ammonia build-up on the cloth diapers needs stripping with special cleaning agents. Otherwise, it can cause rashes and chemical burns to your baby’s skin. Moreover, make the cloth diaper less absorbent.

Hard water is the root cause of the smells in cloth diapers.

Hard water is water with high mineral content. If you wash your diapers often in hard water, the minerals collect in your diapers and cause them to repel, or leak, and start to smell bad even after they are washed. Find out if you have hard water by adding soap to a bottle of water, shaking it up, and checking for bubbles. To treat water hardness, add one-fourth cup of borax directly into the washer for your pre-wash cycle and half a cup during the main wash. Or you can also use water softeners to avoid mineral buildup on cloth diapers. So the cloth diaper striping too.

Ways to strip the cloth diaper

Sometimes, even after using water softener, your diapers start repelling urine or are still stinky even straight out of the wash, you will need to strip them. You’ll also need to strip your diapers if they were pre-owned.

Let’s know how to strip the cloth diapers in the right way.

Half-fill the bathtub or washer with hot water (50°C)

Hot water is necessary to effectively strip the cloth diapers. As hot water helps the striping agents to work their best.

Add striping agent to the hot water

Pour the recommended amount of stripping agent of your choice into hot water and stir the water to make a homogeneous mixture. You can use any of the following striping agents.

RLR laundry additive: 

It binds to the buildup in your diapers and pulls it out. You will need one packet of RLR for every 30 diapers.

Mighty Bubbles: 

It is a laundry treatment that comes in pod form. You will need one mighty Bubbles pod for every 24 diapers.

Homemade stripping agent: 

To make the homemade stripping agent, place 3 tablespoons each of washing soda, borax, and Calgon detergent into hot water.

Note: You can also add half a cup of laundry detergent into the stripping solution for added strength.

Soaking in hot water plus striping agent solution

Soak the cloth diapers in the water for roughly 6 hours and agitate occasionally to ensure the minerals are being removed. You will see the water gets darker on every agitation. It’s natural. Don’t worry.

Note: Consider soaking the diaper cover and insert separately. The inserts are dirtier as compared to the outer of the cloth diaper. 

Drain the water and wring the diaper to remove the striping solution. 

Remove the cloth diapers from the bathtub or washer and wring them individually to remove excess water.

Rinse the cloth diapers in the washer on a cold cycle

Don’t add any detergent or stripping agent to the washer. Once the cycle is finished, check the washer for any soap bubbles. If you do see bubbles, continue with another cycle to rinse them out.

After stripping and rinsing, dry the cloth diapers outside 

It’s best to hang the inserts and outers of cloth diapers on a clothesline outside to dry them quickly and efficiently.

Ways to avoid recurrent stripping of cloth diapers 

Stripping agents are hard on your cloth diapers and should not be done regularly. So figure out a good wash routine to avoid recurring problems of mineral buildup and smells. 

  • Don’t leave the dirty diapers in for more than 3 days in the diaper pail.
  • Make sure to rinse the cloth diapers thoroughly with water before storing them.
  • Avoid nappy creams that are not cloth diaper friendly.
  • Do not use fabric softener on cloth diapers. As they lead to build-up and cause you to strip your diapers more frequently.
  • If you have a hard water problem in your area, use water softeners. So, the detergents work best to clean cloth diapers effectively.

By following the above-mentioned steps, there is a chance you might never need to strip your diapers again.

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