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October 25, 2010

Stripping the Gunk and the Funk

If you’ve been in the cloth diaper world any amount of time, there is a good chance you’ve heard the term “stripping” in reference to your diapers. You are probably wondering why? How? What?!

Let’s start with the WHAT. Stripping diapers is basically what it sounds like: removing something. Here, we are talking about removing the gunk and the funk that has built up either due to detergent or diaper creams.

WHY do we need to remove these things? This gunk and funk can leave your diapers stinky and, even worse, leaky! If you are experiencing either of these issues, then it is time to strip those diapers. You don’t want to remain so frustrated with your stinky, leaky diapers that you stop using them altogether.

But, HOW, you ask? Place your diapers in your washer and run a cold rinse as normal to clean off your diapers. Next, fill up your washer with hot water. Your water needs to be very hot for this, so turn up the hot water heater (and make a note of this so no one gets burned the next time they jump in the shower!) or boil some water to pour in your washer while it is filling. Note: Do not add detergent, just water. Finally, rinse your diapers over and over and over (and over...and over...) with hot water. You want to continue rinsing until there are no more bubbles remaining in your water. When the bubbles are gone, your diapers are stripped! Bleach does not produce suds but can cause a nasty chemical burn if not rinsed out. Dawn also can cause a chemical burn if not rinsed well.

Plain water may not help your stinks, though, and you may have to resort to some additives. One product you probably already have on hand can strip diapers easily: Baking Soda (add 1/2 to 1 Cup to your hot water and rinse, rinse, rinse until all bubbles are gone). Original (blue) Dawn dish soap is another great solution for stripping diapers that many people have in their kitchens (add a couple of squirts and rinse, rinse, rinse). If neither of these products help, there are others that you could try: Bac-Out, OxyClean and RLR are the most popular - add any of these to your wash and, you guessed it, rinse, rinse, rinse!

What if you try this and your diapers are still stinky? It could be that build-up isn’t your problem. It could be that you aren’t using enough detergent. Try adding more detergent to your wash load and see if that helps the stink disappear. Problems can also arise if you have heard that vinegar is good for cleaning diapers and you live in a hard water area. While vinegar is great for cleaning diapers, it does not mix well with hard water. If you desire to continue using vinegar in your wash, you should add some Calgon to soften your water, or just discontinue using the vinegar altogether.

On the Bummis web site you can find some more great information about what they suggest for cleaning your diapers. If you go to any of the Major cloth diapering companies pages you can find great tips for washing and caring as well.

Terra did a strip with some Rockin' Green and here is what she found:

This was a rinse on cold and then 16 hours and 45 minute soak in hot water and 3Tbsp. of Hard Rock Smashing Watermelons.

Started soak at 315pm
First picture at 330pm
Second picture at 640pm, after 30 seconds of agitation
Final picture at 8am, after 30 seconds of agitation (normally, I'd close the lid and just let it do its thing, but I had to get a picture!!)

Pretty gross what you can get out of what you thought were clean diapers right?

Here is what I am currently doing:
My diapers are reaking big time. My boys would pee in them and instant stench. After doing a wash on Saturday I smelled my diapers and I about fell over on the floor. I had just finished doing my normal washing routine and they smelt so nasty! So frustrating. So today I am stripping them. I did a full rinse cycle in cold water to clean out the yuck. Then I added Blue Dawn dish detergent. This is great for helping remove build up residue from your diapers. Then I am rinsing, rinsing, rinsing on HOT water over and over again until there is no more suds left in the water. After that I will rinse a couple more times just to be sure. Then I will smell one or two, yes, feel free to call me strange but I want to make sure the smell is gone! I will then throw them out on the line if its nice out or else toss them in the dryer. I always hang dry my covers and shells. It saves on the velcro and elastic.

I will also use this method when stripping my diapers if they are not as bad but need something to help with the stench:
-rinse in cold water, wash in HOT water with 1/2 cup soda, wash with regular detergent. (my main detergent is Allen's).Then I will do a rinse with some vinegar. Then into the dryer or on the line they go.

There are so many different ways to take care of your diapers and everyone has their own ideas and methods that work best for them. We would love to hear what you do to strip your diapers! Post your suggestions in the comments below please!


MDock said...

Great post! Just a note on the baking soda though. It deteriorates bamboo fibers REALLY fast so if your dipes are made of bamboo, it's not reccomended. Thanks for the info!

Kristina said...

Thanks for sharing Melina! Does washing soda do the same thing?

Rebecca said...

I just need to whine ... I have an HE washer that only gives me 2 hr maximum soak :-(

I did call Whirpool to complain that there is not an override & they said they do submit all feedback... anybody else with this problem please call your washer manufacturer so maybe future models will have an override or customizable cycle!

Kristina said...

Yeah that stinks! I have a regular machine so I dont have to worry about that. I did do an overnight RnG soak in my bathtub, so if you wanted to do a good soak you could try that!

Jen "Clarksgirl" said...

What about with HE front loaders that don't hold water to soak? Than what do you recommend for a stripping method? I am a first time clothing mama who could really use the help as my little one has what I think may be an ammonia burn.

Julie Rosinski said...

Someone told me vinegar is not safe for diapers with PUL. Is this true?

Kristina said...

if you have a HE machine you can fill your bathtub or a plastic storage tote to soak in.

Some people use vinegar in the rinse cycle but there has always been a big debate surrounding vinegar and pul. Can the pul be damaged by vinegar? Nobody really knows for sure so many people just take out their pul covers and aio's then add vinegar to the final rinse. I only use it every once and a while to help get rid of the stink. I know if you have hard water the vinegar sort of acts like a counter part and off sets the chemicals in hard water.

Here is a great article by diaper pin to check out about vinegar:

MDock said...

Kristina, do you mean baking soda when you say "washing soda"? And yes, it does also deteriorate bamboo fibers quickly. Works great on prefolds though :)

danamarie said...

I agree with you Rebecca, I also have an HE washing machine and I hate it for diapers but everything else I love it! I can not do a soak either and there is no rinse cycle just a drain and spin cycle so yes it does suck for washing them! I have been told to put 2 heavy wet towels in my machine to trick the machine into thinking it needs more water! I have also done it when it gets into the cycle and the water is in there before it does its thing to pause the machine and let it soak. I had better luck with stripping in the bathtub!!

Lori C said...

Agree with danamarie... I have a HE front loader and have yet to get it to do a proper soak for me. I just did a soak in the bathtub today (3 tbsp rockin green, hot water) and let them sit while I went out all day. Think it worked!

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