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.