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.
How do you know if you need to strip your diapers and what exactly is stripping?
Stripping simply means removing the detergent, rash cream, ammonia crystals, minerals or other yuckies that have built up over months of using and washing your cloth diapers.
I say “simply” but there are times when this process is anything but simple.
How do you know if your cloth diapers need to be stripped? If they smell like an animal died, ammonia that burns your nose hairs, leak suddenly and furiously or don’t appear clean through other signs then you should consider stripping.
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If you have hard water (like me) RLR is my go-to option. RLR is designed to remove the hard water mineral buildup from diapers. (You know you have mineral buildup when a diaper leaks and you go to change it and it still has dry spots. If the whole insert is soaked that means you need more absorbency.)
What is RLR?
RLR is a laundry additive, not a detergent. It is phosphate and perfume free and helps to bind to the buildup in your diapers (minerals, detergent or ammonia gunk) and strip them. After using RLR you will notice your cloth diapers are remarkably different, mostly in the odor department.
But, what IS RLR Laundry Treatment? What’s it made of?
Well, call me sheltered or naive, but I had NO IDEA that RLR is mostly washing soda. Shocking, I know.
RLR is not just washing soda. There are other additives that cause it to suds heavily.
What is washing soda? Washing soda is sodium carbonate. What is sodium carbonate?
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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 it. 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.