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 a non-cloth diaper safe rash cream, hard water minerals that have built up, ammonia trapped in the fibers, or detergent that has built up.
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. I have taken this information directly 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 that isn’t corrected the issue will just keep coming 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.
I personally recommend either using RLR or Grovia Mighty Bubbles. You can make a DIY version that you use to strip, but I’ve found that RLR or Mighty Bubbles seem to work better.
One packet of RLR is sufficient to do a large load. If you are doing more use more RLR. I personally soak overnight because it is just easier. But if you are doing this during the day, soak for a minimum of 6 hours.
If you have a top loading washing machine soaking can be done by filling the basin and stopping the machine. This makes it easy to proceed into the washing cycle when the soak is done.
If you have a front loading machine the bathtub (or a bucket) is where you can soak your diapers. Just cover clean diapers with HOT water and add packet of RLR. Stir around to distribute powder. Once you have your diapers rinsed out after the soak. You can either wring out by hand or transfer to a bucket. Then take everything back to your washer.
Run them through a normal cycle with your detergent (use a smaller amount than you would normally use on your cloth as these are already clean. If you use too much you will have suds issues). I suggest using hot water for this cycle. If it’s still really soapy looking or feeling after the wash you can do one more hot rinse.