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g-rated stripping.

October 7, 2011
photo by Allison Hanlon Peterson
photo by Allison Hanlon Peterson

Stripping? Umm, what? Simply put, stripping (in this sense) means you’re removing the buildup of detergent or diaper creams from the fibers of your cloth inserts. With time, despite your best intentions and care, you may find that your cloth inserts aren’t absorbing as well as they once were. The culprit is most likely detergent build up, or diaper creams, if you’ve been using them (which really, you should not be with any cloth diaper). This happens with all cloth diapers and is easily remedied by stripping your cloth diapers. Stripping also helps when cloth begins to take on an ammonia smell. An easy test to see if your inserts need to be stripped: put the cloth insert into the little gPant pouch and slowly add a cup of warm water. Let it rest for at least one minute. Gently place the palm of your hand on the water (to simulate the flesh contact from baby). If the water pools on top and doesn’t absorb even with the pressure from your hand, it needs stripping. Here’s one method on how to strip your cloth:

  • Before stripping, you may need to pull apart the 4 layers of fabric, as they may have become stuck together with detergent.
  • Boil on the stovetop for 30 minutes, then wash without detergent after boiling.
  • Check your laundry rinse cycle. If there are suds in the rinse, then the diapers still have build up. Repeat boil until a rinse cycle runs clear of suds.

For thicker buildup you may want to add a bit of a de-greasing agent to your strip routine. Good old fashioned Dawn dish soap (the blue stuff) is great at tackling stubborn build up on cloth. Hand-agitate the de-greaser directly into the cloth inserts and then wash on hot (no other detergent). Check your rinse cycle for suds. Once the cloth is free of suds, you should be free of build up and back to peak performance.

Do you have hard water? Hard water makes laundering difficult in general, but can be particularly troublesome for cloth diapering, since it’s hard to wash out detergent with hard water. You may want to add a water softener to the hot part of the wash, to keep your diapers soft and absorbent.

*tip* If you want to use a diaper cream, use flushable gCloth liners on top of your cloth inserts. Not only will the liners prevent the cream from caking to the cloth fibers, but they’ll also do the dirty work of catching the bulk of baby’s solid messes (aka, poop). Check out the video to see gCloth liners at work.


53 thoughts on “g-rated stripping.”

  1. What about bleach? I understand chlorine isn’t best for delicate bottoms and that it can also break down fabrics quickly. Is bleaching ever recommended with gCloth or not? I can’t find the “official” word. I throw a little bit in each wash (less that the bottle recommends by about half). Is this a no-no? I don’t do this with the liners or pants, just the cloths. So to bleach or not to bleach?

  2. Well, first I want ask you why you want to use bleach? Is it to kill bacteria? Or to keep materials looking clean & white?
    For germs & bacteria, hot water is key. If you still get an odor perhaps just a touch of ammonia can neutralize odors-whether this is recommended by gdiapers-I don’t know.
    If you are wanting to keep the cloths looking clean & white I would highly recommend adding Borox to you wash.

  3. I emailed and asked that, too. I believe it was either Gillian or Heather replied and said that non-chlorine bleach is okay, but not necessary.

  4. I’ve found the best bleach is the sun….just hang wet diapers or inserts in the sun. After a few hours, stains and stinkies are gone! It even works inside through a glass window for those that live in cold weather.

  5. When doing a normal wash with these diaper cloths, which “diaper friendly” detergent should i be using? any recommendations on which one?

  6. Is it OK to use Borax to help strip the diapers if they smell like ammonia? If so, how often should I use it? Or, does Dawn do the trick just fine on it’s own?

    1. I know this question is old, but I want to help anyone, like me, reading through these comments for help. DO NOT USE BORAX. I spoke with a representative today who said that borax breaks down the hemp/cotton blend, which is the part of the cloth insert responsible for absorption. Also, she told me that vinegar is great for the cloth inserts to help soften the water, but don’t use vinegar for the pouches, as it reduces their waterproofness.

  7. This seems like a silly question but I have to ask.

    I was attempting to strip my gCloth by boiling them. I have been using them for 9 months and they smell like ammonia really bad when wet. I put 24 of my 60 gcloth into 2 of my largest stock pots, filled them with water, and put on the stove to boil for 30 minutes. The problem I had is that they float to the top and I doubt those ones sitting above the water are getting stripped. Am I doing something wrong? I filled the pot about 3/4 full with diapers and covered with water – I have 60 gCloth to strip and it would take me about 3 cycles of boiling to get them all done. Do I have to put fewer diapers in each pot? Am I missing something obvious about this process?


    1. I have the same question. Mine are floating too. I did try putting a lid on the pot to see if it would help keep them in the water, but that didn’t help. Would love to know what I am missing here.

      1. Based on everyone’s comments, I tried the following, which seemed to help reduce the puffiness / floating issue :
        — I filled the pot 1/2 full with water, boiled it, and then added diapers so that the pot was 3/4 full after adding diapers
        — I found that when I partially covered the pot (leaving a crack for steam to escape) and turned down the heat (but still allowing the water to boil), the inserts had less air and more diapers were submerged in the water.
        — I still stirred the pot a few times just to make sure all parts of the diapers were submerged at some point
        — I also boiled the diapers a bit longer than 30 minutes (about 45) just in case it needed it

        Hope this helps! I know I’ve learned a lot from reading through everyone’s entries.

    2. I am stripping my diapers again at this very moment. I have had this problem (floating) in the past…so this time I filled a smaller pot 1/2 with water, a double handled pot that sat on the edge of the larger pot, to weigh them down. Seems to be working plus I only did 6 diapers per pot, it is annoying to do them in such small batches but mine dont ever seem to “strip”!!! Then I will use dawn and a run thru the machine on hot and we will see. I hope it works this time because I am sick of doing all of this and it not working. I have changed detergents and stop using diaper creams so fingers crossed!!!

      1. Regarding the floating issue, if you run your inserts on a cold rinse cycle in your washing machine first and be sure to spin it well, then the inserts will sink no problem!

    3. I read a few places that you have to bpil the water and then add yhem one at a time to keep from boiling over or floating. This isnt my personal experience but again is something I have reaf anf will consider when stripping outs today…

    4. Stack them on your counter, turn the stack sideways, and put the whole stack into the pot. I have found that they start to bubble up after about 20/25 minutes instead of 5/10.

    5. I have been using gCloth for almost a year and I haven’t had any problems.
      This is what I do: After each use, I rinse and ring out each cloth insert 3 or 4 times with warm running water. I have a bucket with 3 gallons of warm water mixed with just 3 tablespoons of All Free & Clear laundry soap. I put all of my cloth inserts in this bucket to soak AFTER I have rinsed the inserts out. After the bucket is full (or I see I’m running out of inserts) I empty the water out of the bucket and rinse each insert a few times before putting them in the wash machine. I use a minimum amount of laundry soap in the wash machine and I use the hottest water my machine has.

      As far as boiling is concerned, have you tried getting the inserts soaking wet BEFORE putting them in the boiling water. Getting them soaking wet will add weight to them so they should sink better. Also, have you tried using a large cooking spoon to push them down into the water? Push the diapers down with the spoon and hold them there for a few seconds to allow the inserts to absorb more water and push all the air out. That way they will sink and stay down.

  8. We’re in the process of stripping our g clothes right now. We’re now on our second boiling cycle since the first didn’t get all of the buildup. Our son has been getting rashes from what our pediatrician believes is ammonia buildup in the inserts so we’re hoping this takes care of it. Has anyone else had to strip their inserts more than once?

    1. I have Jim. I also have hard water and the inserts are not very soft and are stained. any suggestions on how to remove the stains and make the inserts soft again?

    2. I have been using gCloth for almost a year and I haven’t had any problems.
      This is what I do: After each use, I rinse and ring out each cloth insert 3 or 4 times with warm running water. I have a bucket with 3 gallons of warm water mixed with just 3 tablespoons of All Free & Clear laundry soap. I put all of my cloth inserts in this bucket to soak AFTER I have rinsed the inserts out. After the bucket is full (or I see I’m running out of inserts) I empty the water out of the bucket and rinse each insert a few times before putting them in the wash machine. I use a minimum amount of laundry soap in the wash machine and I use the hottest water my machine has.

  9. How about getting the odor out of the liner? I am going to begin stripping the liners, but I’ve noticed the plastic liners are retaining some of the smell, too.

    1. Kim, are you washing the liners with the cloth inserts? I was doing that for a while and they had the stink problem. When I stopped washing them with the cloth inserts, the problem resolved itself.

      1. can you direct me in how you wash? Are you washing your liners solo? and shells solo? I have noticed my shells even stinking now. Have I gone too long?

        1. Did you ever get a reply to your question? I have always washed all three together and I am just starting to have the ammonia smell problem with all three. I am curious the best way to wash the shells and the plastic part.

  10. I’ve recently had very stinky diapers in the morning. Overnight, my son wears a gcloth and grefill combo. We stripped the cloths just 2 weeks ago, but the smell has come back even worse. I don’t have the time to strip them every couple of weeks. Is there any other solution?

    1. I also had a problem with stinky cloth inserts and just did not have the energy to do the boiling. I would even notice a subtle lingering odor when taking my diapers out of the washing machine. My HE front loader has a sanitary/stain setting that uses “extra hot” water. I tried that today after doing a regular load of all my cloth inserts and didn’t use any detergent. My washer also allows me to add extra water to a load and I did an extra rinse as well. And I waited an hour between my regular load and sanitary load just to make sure I had enough hot water. They came out fabulously and stink-free! So much easier than boiling! I do prefer good ol’ sunshine in the summer an plan on using this method only when I start to notice the lingering odor. Hope this helps!

    2. I used a product called Laundry Tarts Strip It. Removed all odour completely AND stripped my diapers (which had significant residue build up due to my error with my HE machine and concentrated detergent). Another product to use is Funk Rock by Rockin’ Green, which eliminates all ammonia issues (but does not strip residue, from what I gather). Hope this helps!

  11. I recently had a problem with my cloth diapers and was trying to figure out why. I used to use Country Save to wash my cloth but then decided to start using my homemade laundry soap to save some money. Well, after doing this for about a month and a half they all of a sudden started leaking everywhere. I couldn’t figure it out. So after searching the web, I found a wonderful blog call where she talks about not using regular detergent because the soap is the usual cause of buildup. She has come up with a homemade cloth diaper mixture to put in when washing cloths. I’ve used it and I’ve got to say NO MORE BUILDUP which means NO MORE STRIPPING unless they start smelling like amonia. I learned in the summer that hanging them out to dry and then fluffing in the dryer for 10-15 minutes was great. No smell and no stains. But alas it is now winter and my dryer does all the drying. Hope some of this info has helped:)

  12. Hello I am new to g diapers and was wondering how to clean the plastic snap liners and cotton gpants. are they safe to use in the regular wash with regular detergent and fabric softener? with the cloth liners I use a chemical free detergent. thanks for your help.

    1. Yes, you can use “regular” detergent and fabric softener on both the cloth covers and plastic liners. I keep mine in a separate hamper and always toss then in whenever I do a cold or warm wash of clothes. Just be sure to hang dry the plastic liners and dry the cloth covers on low. Save your more expensive “free” detergent for the cloth inserts!

  13. I’ve stripped my cloth inserts but they are still leaking. There was no detergent residue after I boiled them or in the hot wash. They still aren’t absorbing any pee at all. They are only 2 months old. I use borax and baking soda to wash them. Any suggestions?

  14. We just recently started using gcloth and I can’t seem to get the snap-in pouches clean enough. They still stink after being washed several times. I don’t want to go too hot with them, but what else can I do to get the stink out?

    1. I would try oxygen bleach such as oxy clean. A better detergent might also be the answer. Something like tide powder. Vinegar and chlorine bleach will break down the water proof ness of the pouches. Which kinda sucks but good to know if you use vinegar in every load like I do.

  15. Just want to give a suggestion for ammonia build up. I noticed this after a month or so of using gcloths, and my son was getting terrible rashes. Even a freshly wet diaper would reek of ammonia. I googled it, and found that adding a 1/2 cup of vinegar can be used in the prewash cycle to neutralize the ammonia. Vinegar is an acid, and ammonia is a base, so chemically, it makes sense. It also worked! I made a custom cloth diaper cycle now on my HE washer to add as much water throughout the process as possible (HE washers typically don’t use enough water for cloth diapers), to really rinse the pee (source of urea, which the bacteria turn into ammonia) out as much as possible. I do a cold rinse first, then use my custom cycle that has a prewash, extra wash, and extra rinse. The washes are in hot water. The vingar seems to help keep them white, which is also a bonus. I don’t use the vinegar every time, just once in a while. I think it can be hard on the rubber seals etc. in the washer, so I try not to get carried away. I’ve never done the boiling thing.

  16. I’ve noticed a few people ask about the liners, and haven’t seen a response for it…
    How do you get the yellow staining out of the liners? I’ve been using them for 3 months now and even with sunning, I can’t get the yellow out of spots. It there a trick to this? I’m worried that boiling them will melt them.

    1. When our plastic pouches turn yellow, we simply hang them out to dry directly under the sun. The sun bleaches out the stains AND removes lingering odor.

  17. Sorry if this is a stupid question, but I’m completely new to this! My grandmother sent me all of my old diapers (and they were all folded and ironed, in perfect grandma style). We’ve been using them as burp cloths, but a friend of mine recently informed me that I can fold them up and use them in gPants, which is incredibly exciting to me because we’re on a super tight budget, and while I understand that in the long run we’ll save money by buying cloth inserts we don’t have the money up front to purchase enough to make everyday use practical. Since they’re 28 years old and I’ve been washing them normally I’m assuming I have to strip them. Am I correct in assuming I would use the same process to strip them as for the cloth inserts? I’m hoping despite their age and recent regular washing they’ll be absorbent enough!

    1. I would go ahead and strip them.. Since they have been washed with regular detergent there may be buildup, which could cause leaks. Also- when you put them into your waterproof liner make sure they are not too thick. – If it is too thick and causes the waterproof liner to lift off of the baby’s skin you will have leaks. I have found that I can use some of my inserts that are not specifically for Gs.. but some of them are too bulky and cause leaks!

  18. I just attempted to strip my gcloth. I’ve faint smell issues with the 18 cloth I have for several months. I ended up just putting them aside. I used some today and they left a rash on dd so I knew I had to do something. I sort of followed the ruby moon instructions I’ve come across for buildup and instructions from various HE front loader users. I started with the “clean” inserts only on a normal wash on hot/cold with 4tbsp of ruby mood cd detergent (On a normal diaper laundry day I only use 1tbsp or 2). Then I repeated the wash but without detergent. And then again a 3rd time. I dried them on high for 40 min. I was so happy when I smelled NOTHING as I pulled them out of the dryer!! I haven’t used them on dd yet, so we will see what happens tomorrow. But I’m very optimistic! :)

  19. Hi! I tried using this method the other weekend, and I was very disappointed when I pulled my diapers out of the pot and the elastic waistband and aplix were dyed PURPLE on all of my diapers. The dye ran, I guess and now everything is discolored and I am pretty sad about it. My cute diapers are all splotchy. :( Any tips?

    1. Boiling is used on the cloth inserts only. The covers should just be washed in the washing machine. I prefer cold water cycles myself.

  20. I hate boiling and found it was a hassle and didn’t strip the inserts well. I found that good old fashion baking soda and vinegar work best. Every other week I add 1cup baking soda with my power detergent. I use the heavy duty wash setting with hot water, and option steam setting as well. After the wash is complete I then sprinkle 1 cup vinegar directly on the inserts while in the drum. I then run a rinse and spin cycle. This is AMAZING! Inserts were back to absorbing like new, all odors removed, and they were back to being super white. Out of all the methods I tried this was the only one that worked and didn’t leave me frustrated.

  21. My LO has a yeast infection. Everything about cloth diapering with yeast infections that I can find says to strip cloth diapers with chlorine bleach and teatree or grapefruit seed extract. Everything about gDiapers I can find says specifically to not use bleach but says nothing about how to deal with yeast. Advice?

  22. Since we shouldn’t be using borax or bleach, I have never used bleach. But have noticed my diapers are super funky and in need of stripping. I generally put a few drops of lavender oil in the wash. Is that okay? I also have always used my homemade laundry detergent which contains borax. What other homemade options can you suggest or a link that is safe for G’s? I do use vinegar during the rinse cycle. but still funky. I will be stripping this week and just want all the tips I can prior to making more detergent and stripping.

  23. I have been using gDiapers for over six months now. I am stripping them for the first time due to the ammonia smell that has recently started. Just wanted to share the washing technique that I stumbled across that has been awesome and I believe has saved me from having to strip sooner. Can’t remember where I found it so I apologize I cannot give credit to the right person. I have an HE front loading washer. Never wash less than 12 items and never more than 20. Place the diapers in the washer and soak two large bath towels with water and place them in the wash with the diapers.(I use a 5 gallon bucket to catch the shower water as it warms up and then soak the towels in the bucket. Makes me feel a little better about all the water I am wasting) First do a delicate cycle–with extra rinse, heavy soiled setting (if you have it), and cold water. NO SOAP (Delicate cycle uses more water and the soaked towels both adds water and tricks the washer into thinking there is a heavier load which in turn adds more water). Resoak the towels and place them back in the washer. Then do a normal wash– extra rinse, heavy soiled, and hottest setting. Now add a tablespoon of soap, no more. For stains on both the diaper liners and the plastic I place them in the sun and let the sun bleach them. I have been rinsing the poop diapers and throwing everything in the same hamper and doing laundry every few days, but I think I am going to start using the suggestion to wash the diaper liners separate from the plastic and the covers. As far as the stripping has gone I have found that these two suggestions have worked the best to keep them from floating to the top as fast–Place a small stack in sideways once the water has come to a boil and then place a small towel on top to help weight them down. They eventually do float up but not as fast. Then I just start stirring them occasionally. Hope this helps someone!

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