Our Customer Service department fields at least 5 "stripping" questions per day. The term, stripping, pops up daily on cloth diaper forums and manufacturer's Facebook walls. I've cloth diapered 5 babies (since 2003) and this term was nonexistent when I started cloth diapering.
As pocket diapers and other polyester cloth diapers became popular, a new generation of washing instructions was marketed alongside these products. Washing instructions that told customers to use 1/2 (or less) of the recommended dose of detergent. The result: unclean diapers, ammonia issues, diaper rashes, and ultimately unusable cloth diapers. This was then followed by a whole host of "stripping" processes and customers who think that this is normal for cloth diapers. It isn't.
Common sense tells me this: I wouldn't wash a load of my own towels with half of the detergent. Why in the world would I do this with soiled diapers and expect them to get clean?
Here's what you need to know:
Stripping- Today, this term is overused. Stripping is the removal of OILS left behind from fabric softeners and diaper balms. It is achieved by washing your diapers with blue Dawn dish soap to strip the oils off of your diaper fibers. If properly cared for, you should never need to strip your diapers.
RLR- A laundry treatment that is for the removal of MINERAL deposits on clothing. It would be useful for people with extremely hard water (think well water) whose clothing gets dingy from mineral residue. RLR is not a soap or detergent. You use this with detergent and only if your diapers are dingy from your home's hard water.
Bleach- Not normally recommended by cloth diaper manufacturers. If you are consistently getting your diapers clean you should never need to bleach them. The exception to this is if your baby has a diagnosed yeast or bacterial infection. You can safely bleach your diapers with 1/8 cup of bleach in a cool or warm wash. Make sure to rinse well to remove any remaining bleach.
Aquarium Descalers, Boiling, Dishwashing Detergents, Microwaving etc- NO, NO, NO, NO
With so many diaper laundry challenges, false information, and crazy wash routines, it is a wonder that anybody chooses to cloth diaper anymore. It must be insanely overwhelming to newcomers, when it doesn't need to be.
This is a care label from a popular brand of cloth diaper from 2008.
The science behind clean diapers is easy. Think SUDS!
S - Simple wash routine. Wash every two days with a hot or warm wash and an extra rinse. No soaking or watching for bubbles during the rinse cycle. Just throw them in and go play with your kiddo!
U - Use enough detergent. Use the FULL amount of detergent recommended on your detergent packaging. Eco friendly detergents are great but don't always clean really well. If you go with an eco friendly detergent pick a salt based one (not one with coconut or other plant oils as a main ingredient), and use enough. In fact, you may need to use a bit more than recommended.
D - Duration. Your diapers must be exposed to the proper concentration of detergent for at least 45 minutes to get fully clean. A 15 minute wash cycle won't cut it!
S - Stay away from additives. Baking soda, vinegar, boosters, essential oils etc. While when used seldomly won't harm your diapers, they are not good to use constantly. They can impede your detergent's cleaning ability, can cause rashes, and can ultimately ruin elastic and laminates. If you are adamant about using them, check with the manufacturer of your diaper first.
We hope that you will find this article useful and can help us in spreading GOOD information about how easy diaper laundry can be!! Don't waste time contemplating extreme diaper care.....Life's too short to worry about an extra rinse cycle :-)