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How To Strip Cloth Diapers For A Deep Clean

What does it mean to 'strip' cloth diapers? How do you strip cloth diapers?  Is it really necessary?  Do you need to do it?

Basically 'stripping' just means removing any build up in your diapers which might be causing repelling, smells, leaking, rashes etc.  Stripping your diapers is not necessary unless you are having issues.

Long story short, there are a number of ways to do it, but here is a few of the best ways in order of preference. You can also do one of these periodically as part of your regular diaper maintenance to prevent problems as well and prolong the life of your diapers (aprox. every few months or even monthly if desired).

To strip and deep clean your diapers, pick an option below:

Option #1 - Hot Rinses
This is great overall, especially good for excessive detergent residue or rashes due to detergent build up or detergent sensitivities. You can soak your diapers in hot water for an hour or so then put them in hot heavy duty wash with NO detergent. Or, place clean diapers in the washing machine and run several HOT washes with NO detergent.  Simple, easy and effective. 

Option #2 - An RLR Strip 
Also great for an overall clean.  RLR is especially good at getting rid of mineral deposit residue due to hard water conditions or for ammonia smells and will improve dingy diapers too. 
- Place about 12-16 clean diapers in the bathtub
- Fill the tub with hot water until the diapers are just covered
- Add a package of RLR and swish it around until it's dissolved and the diapers have soaked it up (1 package of RLR for up to about 15 diapers with inserts)
- Leave them to soak 2-3 hours; squish them around intermittently
- Place the heavy wet diapers in the washing machine (try not to wring them out too much)
- Run 2 hot washes (no detergent)
- Dry as usual and Ta-Da, your diapers will be sparkling clean.  RLR is like magic for cloth diapers.

* The quick method for this is to just put clean diapers in the washing machine and add a pack of RLR instead of detergent followed by an extra rinse at the end*.  If your washer has a 'soak before washing' kind of function, even better. 

Option #3 - Chlorine Bleach
Bleach is best used for bacterial buildup/persistent smell, ammonia troubles, mold etc.
- Sometimes this option will void warranties (so check with the diaper's manufacturer if you're unsure), however, some diaper brands like Esembly recommend bleach in the wash when you're having issues.  Make sure to use real simple chlorine bleach, not color safe bleach or splash-less bleach etc. and that it's fresh, not stale or old (it loses potency after opening). If you're using bleach for a quick refresh, 1/4 to 1/2 a cup in the rinse cycle using the bleach tray of your machine will do it. 

However, if you are troubleshooting bigger wash routine issues and you need a more thorough solution to reset your diaperes while you fix your underlying wash routine then HERE ARE THE INSTRUCTIONS for sanitizing with bleach.

Bleach will not fade the colors of PUL or TPU and is fine for use on synthetic fabrics such as microfibre, microfleece or microsuede.  Natural fabrics should be bleached sparingly if at all.  It's possible for some fading to occur on natural fabrics, dyed cotton prints etc. But clean diapers are more important than a bit of fading if it gets to that.

If you are avoiding bleach because you think it's a harsh or harmful chemical to the environment, read this.

If you need help tweaking your wash routine to prevent future problems, or if you're having reoccurring issues, contact the customer service of the brand of diapers you have.  Most manufacturers have a wash specialist/customer service pro on staff to help and they can work with you and your specific washing machine to come up with a routine that works for you. 

How Not To Strip Cloth Diapers
- Do not use the dishwasher.  Yes there are people who suggest this and no it is not a good idea.  

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