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When I originally wrote this post, I had recently become a cloth diaper user, but the thought of stripping my cloth diapers terrified me. I pictured myself hanging over my bathtub, scrubbing my diapers clean, as sweat beads trickled off my brow. When I hit my seventh month mark in use with some of my cloth diapers and five months with the rest of my stash, I noticed that all the diapers smelled clean, but my daughter Ayla’s diapers leaked more than normal. Soon I learned how to strip cloth diapers with only one ingredient!
When I researched cloth diapers, several diaper sites recommended that all diaper stashes be stripped every six months to remove any build up. This “build up” is caused by oils, fats, and other materials that the child passes after digestion. These materials can literally build up over time, causing the cloth diapers to bear an invisible liquid-resistant layer.
Considering the amount of leaking I was experiencing with Ayla’s diapers, I figured it was time to give my stash their first stripping, but I was honestly—and irrationally—terrified of doing it! Initially, I was afraid that something would go wrong and I’d end up ruining the cloth diapers altogether—and you know how pricey it can be to start from scratch! Fortunately, after learning the ins and outs, I can proudly say that stripping is as easy as 1-2-3!
If you’re a little worried yourself about it, don’t be. It’s not as complicated as it sounds! In fact, I’ll tell you exactly what you need to know.
How to Strip Cloth Diapers
First, decide what your options are. I have a front-loading washing machine and one of the stipulations of its warranty is that I can’t use dish soap in it. If I take the risk and something does go wrong with the liner or anything else because of the dish soap, I lose my warranty and all repair costs come out of my pocket. I’m definitely not in the position to cover costly washing machine repairs, so I opted to use my bath tub for the first step in the stripping process. I imagine you’re not in the mood for a gamble either, so it’s best to play it safe and do as I did.
Cloth Diaper Stripping in the Bathtub or On the Stovetop
- To start the process, make sure all your diapers are clean and free of pee and poo.
- If using your bathtub, turn your water heater up as high as it will go for thirty minutes before you start.
- Fill your bathtub full of the hottest water you can run (or boil a big pot of water on the stove).
- Add in 2 to 3 tablespoons of liquid green Dawn dish soap into the bathtub or the boiled pot and mix it around with a spoon.
- Once the tub is full (or the pot reaches boiling), turn your water heater back down to normal (or turn off the stove).
- Throw ONLY YOUR INSERTS into the water (because your PUL pockets could get damaged from the intense heat). Use a spoon or other object to stir your inserts around.
- When the water is safe enough to barely touch, throw in the pockets as well and mix those around submerging them in hot soapy water. (I let my stash soak in the bathtub for around three to four hours.)
- When the time is up, drain the bathtub (or pot) and add in cold water to rinse the soap out. (Whenever I reach this step, I make sure to rinse thoroughly because I don’t want to ruin my front loader.)
- Once the soap is rinsed out, squeeze out some of the excess water from the stash—to avoid giving yourself a puddle to clean up—and toss them in your washer.
- I highly suggest you do at least two washings without added soap. (I wash my diapers three times on a heavy-duty hot wash cycle with no soap to make sure all the Dawn washes out.)
- Run your diapers through one cold rinse.
- Once the diapers are thoroughly washed and rinsed, I suggest you hang them to dry on the line. (I never dry my diapers in my dryer because I believe it shortens the life of the fabric and PUL.)
Cloth Diaper Stripping in Compatible Top-Loader Washing Machine
If you have a top-loading washing machine, you might be able to use it for the stripping—it depends on what type it is. Be sure it’s not one of those newer top loaders that require HE detergent. One reader has informed me that she tried it, but that the consistency of the dish soap caused the machine’s water sensor to miscalculate somehow and her laundry room was flooded.
If your top loader doesn’t require HE detergent, you can do the entire stripping process in your machine. Fill your washer with hot water, add in the dish soap, throw in your diapers, soak them, wash hot two times, rinse cold one time, and hang to dry! Easy!
(Note: Even if you have an older model, you could run the risk of the dish soap bubbling out the top. You’re a busy mom! The last thing you need is another mess.)
1-2-3 and Done! Learning How to Strip Cloth Diapers Really IS Easy
Once dry, your diaper stash is ready for use! See? Stripping your diapers is easier than either one of us thought! It only takes a little time and patience. We’re moms—we’ve got plenty of both, right?!
If you still have leaks—which is highly unlikely—I suggest trying a product called RLR, which eliminates the build up of minerals from your water.
Happy Stripping and may there be no smelly or leaky diapers in your immediate future! I’d love to read about your successes and feedback in the comments below! Please tell me any other methods for how to strip cloth diapers effectively.