Last week I had trouble with my diapers. I had a very big leaky diaper in the middle of the night. We had to change the sheets, the mattress pad, and the baby. I have never stripped my diapers before, so I had to do some research on the process. This post is the result of my study and the things that I have learned. Feel free to chime in with your experience by leaving a comment!
Why Do I Need to Strip My Diapers?
If your diapers are leaking, or if they are stinky (even after just being washed) then you probably need to strip your diapers. Your diapers may have build-up or residue for several reasons. First, it depends on your water type. Those with hard water will liekly have to strip their diapers more frequently. Everyone’s water composition is a little different, so some people may never have to strip diapers. (I was hoping to be one of those people!).
The type of detergent you use also contributes to build-up. Dyes, fragrances, softeners, brighteners, and other laundry additives can leave behind a residue on your diapers. This residue prevents your diapers from absorbing the pee.
Microfiber inserts can be espeically prone to build-up because of the micro-size of the fabric pores. It doesn’t take much to clog those tiny holes, preventing the microfiber from absorbing liquid.
You should not use fabric softeners, dryer sheets, or stain removers on your diapers. Also avoid using rash cream if it will directly touch your diaper. Try to use a liner – either stay-dry, or flushable – to protect the lining of your diaper from buildup.
How Do I Know if I Have Build-up?
One indicator is the stinkies. If you just can’t get your diapers to smell fresh, there is probably some build-up issues.
Many times your diapers will not get the stinkies until your baby begins solid food. Then there is a change in the urine, and you might get a strong ammonia smell from your diapers. My diapers have this smell when I open the diaper pail, but it usually washes out in the wash cycle. If the stench remains, then you need to strip your diapers.
I saw one video demonstrating a test for build-up. Using an eye-dropper, place a few beads of water on your insert. If they soak in right away, your diapers are fine. If the water just beads up and does not absorb into the insert, then there is a residue on your insert.
I had problems with the test…I’m not sure if I did it correctly. To begin with, my inserts were fine. It was the inner lining of my pockets that was repelling (or so I thought). When I used the test at first I used cold water. My husband reminded me that it should be warm, because the pee will be warm. I still feel like the water is beading up slightly on the fleece lining, but my diapers are now functioning properly.
Methods to Strip Your Diapers
There are several methods that you can use to strip your diapers. Everyone seems to have a preference and strong opinion about the best method. I tried all of them, but since I think I was testing the diapers wrong, I’m not sure which method ended up being the most successful. I do know that I now have clean, nice-smelling, residue free diapers!
- Dawn – this mehtod is one of the most inexpensive, but it takes a lot of time. Start with clean diapers. In a hot wash, squirt a little bit of original dawn dish washing liquid. Follow with several rinses (preferably hot) until there are no more soap suds when the machine is aggitating. I learned about this method here.
- Boil – this method involves boiling your inserts (3-4 at a time) for about 15 minutes. This method is time consuming as you need to boil a pot of water for every 3-4 inserts, and then boil for 15 minutes each cycle.
- Rockin’ A Soak – this method involves using Rockin’ Green Detergent and soaking your inserts for several hours, or overnight. Then follow with several hot rinses to ensure everything is rinsed away. It is not recommended that your soak your pockets or covers that contain PUL (I did soak mine for a few hours because the problem was in my pockets).
- Vinegar – You can add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of vinegar to your wash cycle. Vinegar is a natural softener, and it also helps to eliminate residue and build-up. Some people say to add it to the wash cycle (hot water), and some people say to add it to the beginning of the final rinse. You can also use this method as a preventative measure against build-up by using vinegar in a load every so often (like every month).
Some Things I Learned
I have never lived in an area with hard water, and I have never had to strip my diapers in the 10 months that I have been cloth diaepring. So I’m sure I made some mistakes at this first attempt!
I think that I have determined the reason for my build-up. A couple of weeks ago I dropped the hot curling iron, and it burned my daughter’s arm. She had to use an anti-biotic cream, Silverdine, on her burn. I had to clean the wound twice daily. I used my cloth wipes to clean it, and without thinking I threw them in the diaper pail with everything else. I think that for two week I was washing Sivlerdine into my diapers!
I am not always very careful to remove the Downy ball from the washer before doing my diapers. I don’t have a dryer, so I use liquid fabric softener on all of my other cltohes (this is a new development in the last three months). It could be leaving a residue in my washer. And many times I have found teh Downy ball when removing my cloth diapers from the wash. Ooops!
I am also wondering if wipe solution can lead to build-up over time. I use a minimal amount of baby wash and baby oil in my wipe solution, but perhaps it is enough to spread to my diapers and cause repelling. I would love to hear if anyone else has ideas or experience with this!
In the end, I ended up Rockin’ a Soak, doing a Dawn strip cycle, two vinegar strip cycles, and another Dawn cycle. My diapers smell really good now! I also wonder if I had a freak issue, beacuse the diaper that initally leaked was new. It was only the third wash cycle for this diaper, so it hasn’t been getting build-up slowly over a long period of time. That’s another reason why I think it was the Sivlerdin!
This concludes my limited knowledge on teh process of stripping diapers. What are your thoughts? Do you have to strip your diapers often? What method do you use? What is the reason for your build-up?