Monday, September 20, 2010

Stripping Your Diapers

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.  Rockin' a SoakYour 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!

  1. Dawn – this mehtod is one of the most inexpensive, but it takes a lot ofStripping diapers 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.
  2. 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.
  3. I recently read this post at the Knickernappies blog indicating that you can use Bac-Out or RLR to pull all of the junk out of your diapers.  These products usually need to be special ordered, but you might find them at your grocery store.  I did not use either of these methods.
  4. Rockin’ A Soak – this method involves using Rockin’ Green Detergent and soaking your inserts for several hours, or overnight.  Then follow withStripping diapers 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).
  5. 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).

Rockin' a SoakI “rocked a soak” using Rockin’ Green detergent.  My water was not black and filled with ‘ickies’ as some others have reported. 

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?


Less Stress Mama said...

We've only NEEDED a strip once, but I've done it several times. I do it pre-emptively sometimes, when I think the stinkies aren't getting out well or they've sat a little longer. Though I've only done a massive strip once.

We tend to rock a soak about once every two-three weeks for about 30-60 minutes, pocket covers and all. Sometimes I put them in the dryer for a short cycle after (to reseal the PUL) and sometimes I don't. We have not had a problem with PUL quality following this method yet. I also do use vinegar occasionally in the prerinse, which is the only place I've heard to do vinegar.

For my massive strip, I soaked for about 6 hours in Rockin Green, and then put the soggy inserts and covers outside to sun. The sun kills a lot of bacteria, and can take the stinks out quickly, along with any stains.

Come to think of it, I did use Dawn to strip some inserts I bought used once. I don't know their quality before because I did it before using them. I was instructed to use bleach on the inserts (never ever bleach PUL) but I opted for vinegar instead. Haven't had a problem with the inserts, but that could be because they were in just fine shape before.

Also, boiling is great for inserts and prefolds. Perhaps the best option that exists. (especially if you sun them to dry) But it's a really, really bad idea for PUL. So that's important to note, too.

Anonymous said...

I did a blog about stripping a while back. I had heard you could use a scoop of Oxy Clean. Then rinse till no more bubbles are in the rinse cycle. I tried it, but started worring it might not work so toward the end I added vinegar to the rinse cycle. It ended up taking 7 rinse cycles till all the oxy clean got washed out. So I don't think I would recommend trying it.

My diapers were great afterwards. It might have been the oxy clean maybe the vinegar or even all the rinse cycles I had to run. But something worked LOL.

I'm a new follower.

Life of this SAHM

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