Stripping (Your Diapers): When, Why, and How

happybabyIf you’ve ever hunted for information about cloth diapering, you’ve likely run across the instruction to “strip your diapers.” Some sources make this sound like a dire emergency, while other sources ignore it completely. So we thought we’d take a quick look at what stripping is and when it’s useful.

What is Stripping?

“Stripping” merely refers to an easy process that strips any lingering residues from the surface of your diapers.  Residues can build up if you use a detergent that has additives or fabric softeners, if diapers aren’t fully rinsed after each wash, or if you have hard water in your area.

Why Should I Strip? (And How Often?)

Stripping isn’t a routine maintenance sort of thing – it’s only something you need to do if your normally soft and absorbent diapers are suddenly leaking or if there’s an undesirable odor that lingers in your diapers even after they’ve been washed and dried.

So, HOW Do I Strip?

There are various methods for stripping your diapers depending on your type of machine. And obviously, regardless of method, start with non-dirty diapers or you’ll have a whole new set of problems to deal with!

HOT water with no detergent (top-loader): Wash your diapers in the longest cycle your machine will allow using the HOT wash cycle and either HOT or WARM rinse. Lift the lid every once in a while to check for soap bubbles –  you need to rinse until you no longer see soap bubbles or a film on top of the water during the rinse, which may take as many as 3-4 rinses. But once the soap bubbles no longer appear, your diapers are fresh and fully stripped!

Rock-a-Soak (top-loader & HE): This is a super-super-effective way to get rid of lingering funk and residues. In a top-loader, fill the tub with hot water, add 3-4 tablespoons of Funk Rock Ammonia Bouncer, toss in your diapers, and let them sit for an hour or so. After the soak, run them through a hot wash and rinse cycle 2-3 times.

In a front-loader, add your diapers to the basket and put 3-4 tablespoons of Funk Rock in the detergent area of the detergent drawer. Start a quick wash cycle and hit “stop” or “pause” as soon as you notice that the Funk Rock has been washed into the basket and the water has been added in the cycle. Let this sit for an hour or so, then start a long, hot wash and rinse without adding anything else. You will likely need to wash and rinse 2-3 times.

Vinegar (top-loader & HE): You can also add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of vinegar to one of the rinse cycles. This is a gentle way to neutralize the acids and odors lingering on your diapers and it will help lift away the residues. You can add this via the detergent drawer or if you have a Downy ball, just place the vinegar inside and toss it in on top of the diapers.

Dawn dishwashing liquid (top-loader only): In a top-loader, you may also add one squirt of Original Dawn dishwashing liquid to the wash cycle. Dawn has been formulated as a degreaser, so it does very well in lifting off oily residues. (If your child has recently discovered Vaseline or petroleum-based diaper creams and smeared them all over his or her diapers, Dawn is also a very effective way to deal with that laundry issue!) Dawn creates lots of suds, however, so if you want to use this method with a front-loader, you’ll need to scrub the diapers with Dawn by hand and rinse them out before putting them into the washer. As with all the other methods, once the diapers are in the machine, wash on hot and – you guessed it – rinse, rinse, rinse.

So, as you can see, stripping your diapers doesn’t take much more effort than a regular load of laundry and doesn’t need to happen often. The best way to prevent needing to strip in the first place is just to make sure you’re using a long rinse in your normal wash routine or by occasionally adding a second rinse to your routine.

Happy diapering!

Photo Credit – iandeth

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