It can be frustrating to take extra steps in the care of cloth diapers. Our clothes hardly ever require anything outside the normal detergent. Cloth diapers, however, consist of several layers of fabric and are always being peed and pooped in.
What exactly is stripping?
Stripping your diapers means you are removing residue from:
- Hard water minerals that have built up
- Detergent that has built up
- A non-cloth diaper safe rash cream
And yes, detergent CAN buildup. It is designed to rinse out when appropriate amounts are used. When too much is used, excess suds are created. The extra suds prevent your diapers from rubbing together and that is a crucial part on how laundry gets clean. Excess suds can also prevent some of the impurities from being completely rinsed out of the machine properly. This means they are redeposited back on your diapers for next time. And so the problem snowballs. This information comes from Tide, you can see more details here.
How do you know if you need to strip your cloth diapers?
- They smell out of the wash, after drying or immediately after a pee. Always try to adjust your wash routine first as no matter how you strip, if the issue with your routine isn’t fixed, the smell will just come right back.
- They are leaking and you’ve already checked for a good fit and that you have enough absorbency. Leaking from hard water mineral build-up often presents itself with the insert still being dry in spots when it leaks. If it’s fully saturated then you need more absorbency.
How to Strip Hard Water Mineral Buildup
- Please make sure you actually have hard water before doing this. If you have soft water and use these methods you will end up with suds for days!
- Do your soak on CLEAN cloth diapers.
- You only need to soak the absorbent parts. You may leave any PUL/TPU waterproof covers out.
- Fill your basin with HOT water (120° to 125°).
- Add your stripping agent.
- Add your cloth diapers.
- Agitate (If using a top loader let the cycle run a few minutes. If you are soaking in the tub then mix everything around using a big spoon or spatula, one from the Dollar Store is great for this, because the water is HOT!
- Soak at least six hours or overnight.
- Drain water out and either spin water out (washer) or wring it out (tub).
- Run through HOT rinses or washes with no detergent until most of the bubbles have rinsed away. A few air bubbles are fine and totally normal. If the water is still sudsy, keep rinsing.
GroVia Mighty Bubbles are my favorite way to strip or deep clean cloth diapers. It is made in the USA and not tested on animals. The ingredients listed are: Sodium carbonate, Sodium percarbonate, Sodium polyitaconate, Surfactants, Enzymes, Oxygen bleach activator, Sodium silicate. If you can get your hands on it, this is what I recommend to use to strip.
- One packet of RLR is sufficient to do up to 30 diapers. If you are doing more, use more RLR.
- If you have a top loading washing machine that you are able to fill with water and then stop, soaking can be done right in the washer. This makes it easy to proceed into the hot rinses when the soak is done.
- If you have a front loading machine or a top loader that doesn’t allow you to stop cycles, the bathtub (or a bucket) is where you can soak your diapers.