Saturday, May 31, 2014

How to Naturally Strip Your Cloth Diapers

For any of you who know me in real life, it's old news that I cloth diaper, but if you only know me through my blog...SURPRISE I'm a cloth diaper momma! I didn't originally start out using cloth diapers, I was your regular first time mom, using disposables just like everybody else.  I had played with the idea of cloth diapers but the very thought intimidated me so much I didn't even both researching because I figured it would be too difficult.  Fast forward to my daughter being two years old and fully potty trained during the day, I was sick of wasting money and creating so much waste with pull-ups.  I had worked with some kids who wore cloth diapers, and a couple of my friends started to talk to me about how easy it was (even compared to disposables, because these were converts) and I decided to give it a try.  I mean, what could it hurt, it was only for night time.  So I started researching online and talking to people and picked a few pocket insert diapers and purchased some extra inserts.  Since I was only using them at night I didn't want to run through the shells so quickly so I decided to layer my inserts outside of the pocket rather than stuff the diapers.  This lets me use one shell for 2-3 days which really cuts down my laundry.  However, I think with this new baby, I will stuff the inserts and also use all-in-ones just to make it a little easier since he will be using them all the time.

Anyway, as I embarked on my cloth diaper journey I soon found out something unexpected...cloth diapers can develop a...funk...and leak! I was shocked! No one had told me this, I didn't read anything about this in any forum! So in a relative panic I messaged my other cloth diapering mommas and was informed about stripping my diapers! So after some explaining and a little research, I found that stripping your cloth diapers is basically removing all of the soap, hard water, rash cream, yucky build-up that develops inside your inserts which makes them not smell all that nice and repel water.  However, to my relief I learned that you do NOT need to chuck all of your inserts but simply wash them in a special way every so often, usually every 6-8 weeks but since mine are only used at night I can get away with 8-12 weeks without any issues.  Since one of my main reasons for switching to cloth diapers was to get away from all of the chemicals in the diapers I wanted an all natural way to safely strip my diapers.  I did in the beginning use the Dawn dish soap and Bleach mixture recommended by the diaper manufacturer, but I wasn't comfortable using such harsh chemicals on something that was going straight on my daughter's skin.  So after a lot of researching I discovered that you can strip your cloth diapers NATURALLY using distilled white vinegar and baking soda!  I wasn't able to find an actual tutorial on how to do this, so I kind of created my own by combining online research and suggestions from other mommies.  I have created a tutorial below to hopefully help any other stressed out mommies out there looking for natural solutions. I also have a YouTube video showing you how to do this stripping routine. If you would like to check that out you can click here.


Materials Needed

1) Your choice of cloth diaper detergent: Only use cloth diaper approved detergent to insure a long life for your inserts.

2) 1/2 Cup Baking Soda

3) 1/2 Cup Distilled White Vinegar: It MUST be DISTILLED WHITE VINEGAR, any other type of vinegar will ruin your diapers.  I also purchase organic for extra reassurance that there are no chemicals.

4) 1 Cup Calgon (or other hard water softener) split into two equal parts.  This is only if you have hard water and don't have a build in water softener.

Step 1: Wash you diapers as usual. This is important, especially if you haven't cleaned your diapers yet because you want to make sure you're stripping all of the build up not just cleaning the yuckies that are currently on your diaper.  So run a normal wash cycle like it was a regular wash day.

        Note: A trick for new cloth mommies out there, that I didn't get the privilege of hearing in time is when washing your diapers first do a cold rinse.  This will help get rid of any stains and make sure they do not set in.  I learned this too late, but will be using this with my son.

Step 2: After the entire regular cleaning cycle is done, put your washer back to the beginning of the original clean setting (for me that would be redoing an entire white cycle).  Now we can start stripping! During the wash cycle you will add your 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of Calgon (or other water softener) if you have hard water.  This will prevent your baking soda from reacting to the minerals in the hard water and creating more build up.

Step 3: During the rinse cycle you will add your 1/2 cup of DISTILLED WHITE VINEGAR along with your last 1/2 cup of Calgon.  Again, you add the Calgon only if you have hard water.  This is to prevent the vinegar from reacting to the minerals in the rinse water and creating more build up...remember we are getting rid of build up.

Step 4: After the regular wash cycle, I always run an extra rinse cycle without anything added to the water (if you have extremely hard water you can add Calgon but I don't find it necessary). I do this to make sure that all of the vinegar, baking soda, Calgon, and any left over detergent is rinsed all the way out of the diapers.  I mean, after all, I am trying to minimize the stuff in my daughter's diapers and even though vinegar is natural it can become an irritant.  While the extra rinse is going I open the washer door and look in.  If there aren't any bubbles I know everything is rinsed out, if not I know I need another rinse.  Usually I only need one rinse, but if you put too much of anything you might need another rinse. You can tell the difference from the regular agitation bubbles and bubbles caused by residual products, because the bubbles from any of the additives will fizz, while the agitation bubbles will not.

Not the best picture since it was an action shot, but you can see that there aren't any fizzy suds present, that's how you know everything is rinsed out.

Step 5: Dry your diapers.  Normally I just throw the inserts in the dryer (NEVER PUT YOUR SHELLS OR WET BAGS IN THE DRYER, ALWAYS HANG THEM) but when I'm stripping them I like to hang them on the line outside.  I do this for a couple of reasons, first the sun is the best and most natural bleach and disinfectant. I find that any stains still on the diapers are faded a lot after hanging them, and they feel more sterile and clean.  Second, the smells from all the flowers and trees get pushed through the inserts by the breeze making them smell so nice! Before I hang them, I will throw the inserts in the dryer on "fluff" just to get the drip out and it helps keep the inserts fluffy after the vinegar.

And that is your simple tutorial on how to strip diapers.  The entire thing, including the initial cleaning took about an hour, which is the same amount of time that it takes to strip them using Dawn and Bleach.

If you want to know about how we did our sand pit click here.

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