Stripping Your Diapers
(to get rid of ammonia, ammonia burns, and diaper stink)
Over time you may notice that your cloth diapers no longer smell April fresh, even right after laundering. You may also notice an extremely strong (stronger than normal) urine smell in baby’s diaper after peeing in them. Both are signs that your diapers are not clean and need to be ‘stripped’. Stripping is the process of removing detergent build up and/or odors from your diapers in order to eliminate stink, prevent diaper rash, and improve absorbency.
How do I know if my cloth diapers need to be stripped?
- Are your diapers leaking but the inserts aren't fully soaked?
- When you sprinkle water on top of your diaper, does it bead up instead of soaking into the diaper?
- Does your baby get a rash every time you put a cloth diaper on, but the rash immediately disapears if she wears a disposable diaper?
- Have your diapers changed color (e.g. turning yellow or gray)?
- Do your diapers still stink or smell of urine AFTER they’ve been washed
- During diaper changes, do your diapers have a really strong ammonia smell that could burn your nose or make your eyes water?
What causes them to stink?
How do I strip my cloth diapers?There are several ways you can strip your diapers and I've tried just about all of them with mixed results. You can use baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, grapefruit seed extract, tea tree oil, etc. The steps below, however, have always worked for me though and that's why I recommend them. This is my tried and true method for easily stripping diapers.
1. Add diapers and 2 tbsp of detergent (I prefer Tide Powder or Country Save powder detergent)
2. Add 1/4 cup of bleach, distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar to the washer.
*Note: Do not use vinegar if you have hard water. Use apple cider vinegar or bleach if your baby has a yeast rash at the time you're stripping your diapers.
3. Fill the washer with HOT water and let the load agitate for a few minutes. Then stop the washer.
*Note: The water should cover your diapers. If you have an top-loading HE washer, you may need to more water to the washing machine. If you have a front-laoding HE washer, I recommend doing this in the tub.
4. Let the diapers sit overnight in the solution.
5. In the morning, follow with 3 wash cycles on hot with NO DETERGENT. While the load is agitating, check the washer for soap bubbles. If you still see soap bubbles after the 3 wash cycles, continue washing with no detergent until you no longer see the soap bubbles.
How often should I strip?Only when you need to. But if you find yourself stripping often (e.g. once a month) then you probably need to change something in your wash routine. Here are some things you should check.
(*Note: creams with zinc oxide and cod liver oil are not good for cloth diapers)