Are you new to cloth diapers? We know that you’ve probably been reading lots of blog, websites, and listening to moms in forums talking about stripping. It’s a little intimidating and scary isn’t it? We’re here to help take the fear out of cloth diapering for you.
You don’t have to strip brand new diapers!! Brand new diapers should always be washed (often referred to as prepped) to remove dirt and dust from manufacturing and shipping. Natural fibers (like cotton, hemp, and bamboo) become more absorbent after a few washes, this is why most directions say “Wash 3-6 times” before using. You should NEVER have to strip brand new diapers. You may want to strip pre-loved diapers.
If you have a good wash routine, you may never have to strip your diapers. This one gets a little trickier because you may not know what a good wash routine looks like, or you haven’t found YOUR perfect wash routine. If you’re using a good detergent (no brighteners, no colors, no fragrances, and no fabric softeners) and enough detergent (follow the directions on the package), then you should have clean diapers and no need to strip. Always refer to the manufacturer’s washing instructions; after all they are the product experts. If you can’t find their washing instructions, a commonly accepted wash routine should look like this:
- Wash every 2-3 days for best results.
- Pre-rinse all diapers, inserts, and/or covers with cool water. Detergent is not needed in the pre-rinse cycle, but won’t hurt if you add it. Cool water is preferred and hot water should be avoided since it may set stains.
- Hot water wash with detergent (use amount suggested by brand). Every machine is a different size and has slightly different recommendations for detergent. Generally speaking about 1/4-1/2 cup of detergent may be needed unless your detergent is highly concentrated (many current brands are concentrated). Don’t be afraid of detergent, it’s what gets your diapers clean!
- Hard water? No water softener installed on your home? You may want to add Calgon to prevent hard water minerals from depositing in your diapers. You may need to add Calgon to the wash cycle or with every cycle depending on how hard your water is. Learn more: Hard water can be a stinky subject!
- Final rinse (may not always be necessary) will help rinse away any left over detergent that didn’t rinse clean in the wash cycle.
- Dry diapers according to manufacturer’s directions. Low heat and/or air drying is typically preferred over high heat. Heat is one contributing factor that can weaken elastics and cause damage to the fabric.
Just because your diapers leak, doesn’t mean you have to strip them! Diapers can leak for any number of reasons. They may leak because you had a poor fit. They may leak because they are too large. They may leak because they are too small. They may leak because they need more inserts. They may leak because your baby peed a LOT!! These are all reasons when you don’t need to strip your diapers to fix the problem. For advice on fixing these problems please read: My diapers are leaking!! Now, you may need to strip if you’ve used a detergent with fabric softeners or fragrances, or if you’ve used a non-cloth diaper friendly diaper cream (especially those thick pasty ones). To learn more: How to strip your diapers.
Just because your diapers stink, doesn’t mean you have to strip them! Guess what else? Dirty diapers STINK! Cloth diapers don’t mask odors like disposable diapers do. You may notice a stronger or more pungent smell in overnight diapers, when your child starts eating solids, or if they are sick and/or on medication. Dirty diapers can smell even worse the longer they sit in a diaper pail. Your diapers shouldn’t stink when they come out of the washer or dryer. Assuming you’ve used enough detergent and your detergent doesn’t contain fragrances; your clean diapers shouldn’t smell like anything. They may not smell as fresh and crisp as they day you bought them, but they shouldn’t stink when they are clean. If you have clean diapers that stink or if they stink AND cause a rash, you may need to strip your diapers and modify your wash routine.To learn more: How to strip your diapers. To read more on ammonia: Understanding ammonia and cloth diapers.
Yes, there are times when you may need to strip your diapers. When that time comes, please review “How to Strip Your Diapers” and contact the manufacturer or retailer if you have specific questions. Remember that everyone has different circumstances, different water types, different wash routine, different detergents, and different diapers. There isn’t only one correct way to strip your diapers.
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