You wanna know something? I can handle the pee. I can handle to poop. I can handle the spraying. I can handle the process of regular laundering. But what really gets me, is stripping the diapers. It is a time consuming pain in the behind and seems (to me anyways) to completely offset the balance of making cloth diapering kind to the environment.
If you don’t know what stripping diapers is let me enlighten you. Basically it is a process of repeatedly washing and rinsing your cloth diapers with a WIDE variety of cleaning agents or household items. I’ve done some investigative googling and have found that everything under the sun (or your sink) can be recommended. Here is a list of the few things I have read that are supposedly good to strip your diapers with: Blue Dawn, Bleach, RLR, Calgon, Vinegar, Baking Soda, Oxy Clean, Funk Rock.............................
To accompany this fine array of diaper stripping agents are a few different methods of getting these suckers clean. You can boil them in a pot on the stove (yes, really). You can put them in your dishwasher (yes, really, again). You can soak them in your tub. You could use the machine at the laundromat. And obviously you can certainly use your own washing machine. If you are really desperate (or stuck in the 1800s) you can even strip by hand. Now, what seems to be the trick with the boiling water and the dishwasher is the heat. That hot water can help with blasting the nasties out. In other processes hot water seems to be a key element as well so you will often see turning the hot water tank right up as a recommendation.
Another important step in stripping is to RINSE! You have to rinse like crazy. The reason is that in most cases detergent build up or that of other cleaners, and even what you use to strip your diapers with, can be a culprit and therefore lead to more stripping. You need to rinse and rinse and rinse until there are no bubbles left or no more smell of bleach or vinegar or evidence of any kind of what you used. Then just to be safe you should rinse and rinse again.
Now that I've said all that keep in mind that all over the internet you will find different recommendations for laundering and stripping your diapers. Some of it will outright contradict itself (such as differing opinions of bleach). Some of it will make you go “ah ha” (when you learn about hard versus soft water and how mineral buildup is involved). Some will leave you scratching your head yet adding Blue Dawn dish soap to your shopping list. It is important to do a little bit of research but I have found that experimentation is really the only way to figure out what works best with your diapers and water.
WHY on earth does one want to strip a diaper? Well that happens to be a simple answer. To get rid of buildup. What kind of buildup? That isn’t so simple. Buildup can be caused by minerals, enzymes, ammonia (from pee), bacteria (from poop), oils from diaper cream and anything else that comes into contact with that diaper. What is causing your buildup seems to also be key in how you go about stripping the diapers. If you have hard water and need to get those minerals out then using vinegar is going to just set you back time and water but if you have soft water vinegar away. Vice versa could be said for Calgon.
How do you know if you need to strip your diapers? Oh believe me. You will know. If it’s ammonia your eyes will water and your nose will burn (I’m a tad dramatic but really not that far off). I’m guessing the awful poop smell when I open the dryer door is possibly related to bacteria buildup (which could be a water temperature issue). If your diapers are leaking then possibly there is buildup preventing absorption or you have a repelling problem. Or if your baby suddenly develops a horrible looking bum out of the blue it is quite possible a diaper strip is in your future.
So in case you are wondering, yes, I am stripping diapers today. Yes, that is what brought me to this post today. I am in fact mid strip. While stripping your diapers is part of regular cloth diaper maintenance the strip I am currently doing is a heavy duty one. My poor dear Evelyn developed the saddest little red bum (rash/ammonia burn, very very sad). And people when you’re baby’s bum makes you go weak in the knees (and not in an awe cute kind of way) it strikes out any cute factor of a fluffy bum and has me ready to start collecting those dang Pampers Points again.
To be honest the only reason I am stripping today is because the pack of ‘sposies I was working through while helping her get over her rash (so I could slather on the zincofax) is almost finished. I could either buy another pack of diapers or strip my fluff and give them another try. I am not giving up on cloth yet. Yet. I’m a few more red bums away from that. But just a few.
At this point I am only stripping inserts. I have been focusing on my regular detergent (Purex Free and Clear), Blue Dawn and Bleach. I am part way through the “rinse the hell out of them process”. Once they are done I will be moving on to the covers. I’m not sure how extensively I will wash those yet. They seem benign enough, like how much can a pocket cover buildup HOWEVER I have read that sometimes it is the pockets that can give you the most trouble. I’m leaning towards some strictly detergent washes for those with the multiple rinses.
By tomorrow morning Miss E should be back in cloth. I am crossing my fingers that we don’t have anymore stinkies (ammonia and poopy). There also certainly had better not be a red bum either. I’m also thinking of adjusting my wash routine up a bit. I’m questioning the water temp and will fiddle with that slightly. I way to get some Rock N Green in Hard Rock as well because I have been using the Classic Rock and where we live has hard water so I should account for that. Once I have them in good shape then regular mild stripping and adding an extra rinse to every wash routine should keep me from having to go heavy duty. Right??? RIGHT???
While the cute fluffy bum makes me happy the work involved is a bit draining. A bit daunting. And a bit annoying. Nevertheless I do what I do and I will continue to do just that and I'll just have to be happy about it (dammit).