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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

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Stripping Diapers

In the cloth world, we see a lot of mention of "stripping" diapers. To new cloth users, the term and the process look very intimidating and may even be enough to turn a family away from cloth -- no one wants to create more work for themselves, especially when it comes to diapering!

Why do we strip diapers?

Stripping diapers becomes necessary when issues arise. It isn't something that has to be done as part of a regular care routine. So when would you actually NEED to strip your diapers?

- Smell
The type of smell lingering on your diapers and when it occurs are usually indicators of what type of stripping method you should use. The two most common smells described are barnyard and ammonia, and each requires a different treatment. It's important to not mistake barnyard for ammonia (which may happen if you have never actually smelled a barnyard!) or vice versa as the methods for stripping are very different and can make the issue worse if it isn't handled properly.

- Fungal and Bacterial Problems
If your baby has a fungal or bacterial infection, you may need to strip your diapers. Infections like yeast will thrive in a diaper even after washing and will be reintroduced, causing the infection to seem impossible to beat.

- Mineral buildup
Those with untreated hard water will notice their diapers (and regular clothes) look dingy and possibly have spots of rust or are turning orange due to rust in the water. Although this issue is mostly cosmetic, excessive mineral buildup can cause diapers to feel scratchy/rough and may reduce absorbency.

- Buildup of diaper creams, fabric softener, stains/marks unrelated to regular use
Unforunately many big brand diaper rash creams do not wash out of cloth diapers and using them without a liner can leave an oily residue on the inner of your diaper. More often than not, that residue will cause repelling (urine will bead up instead of being absorbed). Fabric softener will also build up on diapers and cause them to repel, which is why manufacturers warn against the use of softeners. And because babies and toddlers have a knack for getting into things they shouldn't, you may find pen marks, makeup, crayon, and various other stains on your diapers. These marks are generally cosmetic but there are things you can do to remove the stains.

How do we do it?

ALWAYS START WITH CLEAN DIAPERS!

- Hot Water Wash (no detergent) to tackle Ammonia
If your diapers smell like ammonia after washing or immediately after your baby pees during regular use (not nighttime diapers -- sorry, but they're going to stink in the morning!), put your clean diapers in a hot wash without detergent. Check for bubbles. If there are suds (not agitation bubbles), you will need to continue rinsing until there are little to no detergent bubbles left. Your diapers should not stink after stripping them of the extra detergent that has built up over time. For future washes, you will need to reduce the amount of detergent or increase the amount of water used.
**a note about "rinsing" -- rinsing does not necessarily mean you are using the RINSE cycle on your washing machine. If you cannot set a hot rinse cycle, use the wash cycle on hot/cold**

- Re-wash with more detergent to tackle Barnyard
Clean diapers that smell like a barnyard are not actually clean. The simplest solution to dealing with barnyard smell is washing again with more detergent.

- Bleach for fungal and bacterial infections
For infections that require santizing diapers, do NOT use the sanitize feature of your washer. Simply place your clean diapers in for a hot wash with bleach. Use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of bleach, depending on the hardness of your water and number of diapers to be stripped. Rinse until the diapers no longer smell like bleach. Some essential oils can also be used instead of bleach, but please research carefully to be sure of the amount needed to truly disinfect the diapers. Although you may feel that your stinky diapers (whether it's ammonia, barnyard or something else) need to be bleached, this is not usually the case. The less often you use bleach, the longer the life of your diapers will be, especially with natural fiber diapers.

- RLR for mineral buildup
If your diapers are full of rust, there are not many solutions that can be safely used. RLR is a product that is said to help remove mineral buildup, but I have never had luck with truly removing rust or other minerals with "safe" products. It is important to remember that bleach and vinegar will not help with hard water stains or buildup and can actually make your problems worse. If you choose to strip with RLR, add it to a hot wash without detergent and let the diapers soak as directed on the packet. Rinse thoroughly. Do not expect sparkly white diapers, but you should notice an improvement in the way your diapers feel.

- Original Dawn dish soap for oils, creams, and other oddities
If you get one of the non-cloth friendly diaper creams or another oily substance on your diapers, especially the inner, Original Blue Dawn dish soap can be used to help remove it. For the best results, use the Dawn directly on the spot and scrub. Rinse before placing your diaper in the washer. Although some manufacturers say it's ok to use Dawn in your washer, dish soap is not designed for use in the washer and can cause damage to the machine. I prefer to wash my diapers following the regular cold rinse, hot wash cycle, extra cold rinse routine after using Dawn. Check to be sure there are little to no bubbles in the rinse cycle. Removing built up diaper cream and other oily substances can take a few scrubs and washes but the Dawn will help -- after all it is designed to cut grease!

Although there are other methods to stripping diapers, these are the most recognized, straight-forward and accepted ways to do so. If you follow a good wash routine and stay away from products that are known to cause issues, you should not need to strip your diapers. The less you have to do to your diapers, the longer they will hold up and the less work you have for yourself!

By Lauryn


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3 comments:

Heather N Hess said...

I am new to cloth diapering, as my first was born 2 weeks ago. This was a very helpful article for me. Thank you!

summer said...

ok. hot cold cycle with bigger load size than actual amount of diapers. Free and clear sun liquid laundry detergent, use over half the clear cap full and i have hard water. charlie banana diapers, microfiber inserts and a couple kanga something pocket diapers also. A kanga diaper hanging pail, i do not close, but put a little bit of baking soda in bottom to help absorb moisture. Diapers smell and look clean and i hang dry the diapers and lately have been machine drying inserts with other clothes because they dont fit on the drying rack. I leave diapers in pail approx three days and wash on third night or 4th morning. Lately after he pees some of the diapers have a horrid farm fish smell though. Its kind of hard to describe and before i wash them the pail and dirty diapers have this smell also. Again diapers come out smelling and looking clean. approx once every few weeks i wash all diapers with a little vinegar and Clorox two.

Anonymous said...

ok. hot cold cycle with bigger load size than actual amount of diapers. Free and clear sun liquid laundry detergent, use over half the clear cap full and i have hard water. charlie banana diapers, microfiber inserts and a couple kanga something pocjet diapers also. A kanga diaper hanging pail, i do not close, but put a little bit of baking soda in bottom to help absorb moisture. Diapers smell and look clean and i hang dry the diapers and lately have been machine drying inserts with other clothes because they dont fit on the drying rack. I leave diapers in pail approx three days and wash on third night or 4th morning. Lately after he pees some of the diapers have a horrid farm fish smell though. Its kind of hard to describe and before i wash them the pail and dirty diapers have this smell also. Again diapers come out smelling and looking clean. approx once every few weeks i wash all diapers with a little vinegar and Clorox two.