Friday, March 16, 2012

Strip or not to Strip?

Tis the question.  And it's not always an easy question to answer when discussing somebody else's stash, that you don't have your hands or nose on.

So, I'll tell you what I do.

Let it be known that I use SoftBums.  That's it.  Just because I found them I loved them, I didn't look any further.  So, know, when I discuss this, it only refers to SoftBums and how I do it.  I do consult Sarah with issues if I have them but I also tend to "wing it" when needed.  If there were fine print here, I'd say, I am not responsible for any damage to diapers.

So we are all on the same page.  The basics of cloth diaper laundry are:
4. Use LOTS of water
5. Use little detergent
6. When in doubt, wash again

P.S.  Detergents you might find at the health food stores like, Planet, Ecover, ECOS, Seventh Generation, or Bio-kleen have natural oils in them and will cause buildup in your diapers like a softener over time, especially the fleece topped Dry-Touch diapers.
In my house (these are pics from my house btw), we use Purex Free and Clear, hypoallergenic, you know...that one in the white bottle.  It is JUST soap, no softener, no fragrance.  I love it, it's cheap, it works, and I can buy it anywhere.  Also, I believe that Bleach has a purpose.  I use it sparingly in my diapers maybe 1-2 times a year.  I have 2 kids, one who is potty trained during the day and naps and sleeps in cloth, and one who is in cloth full time.  The diapers in this house get used.  Hard.  I have a top load washer that I bought at a used appliance place for $100 and it is huge, and great!  I have softened water and do not use a sprayer, nor rise, nor dunk and swish.

So that's where I am coming from.

Now, I am not one that does a lot of work before my cloth makes it into the washer.  I'm not lazy, I just don't have time to dunk and soak everything, are you kidding me?!  If its not poopy into the pail it goes, and it sits there until the bag is full.
If it's poopy, maybe I'll fling the poo right away, maybe it will sit for a couple days.  Depends.  Truth.  Sometimes those really runny poops, if you let them sit for a day or so I've found they will roll right off and you don't have to get as messy trying to fling it.  I've never had an issue with it, and have zero staining.  Once they are cleaned, they go in the pail too.  No rinsing.  I think I've rinsed maybe 5 diapers in the nearly 3 years diapering.  

I have stripped my diapers 3 times.  I know because it is a process to do it yourself.  The last time I did it I sent them out to a company in Minneapolis called Do Good Diaper Service.  They charged me around $30 to come get the diapers, strip them, and return them.  It was a great investment.  They will also leave you prefolds to use while they are washing your diapers if you want!

If you're not from Minnesota the RDIA list of Diaper Services may be able to help you.  The list isn't 100% complete but it may be a place to start if you're looking for a diaper service.

If the thought of sending your diapers away makes you anxious, don't worry, I had a super hard time handing them off.  My daughter started having skin breakdown issues, and I had switched to almost all sposies.  After talking to SoftBums about my issues, Sarah said to try stripping them.  So I sucked it up made an appointment and  I almost cried when I was packing my beloved SoftBums up!  Well, I got them back, all of them.  I was so excited when I opened the bag and jammed my face into them.  But.  They still had a little smell to them.  Not repulsive, but a smell.  I was disappointed, thinking I just wasted $30.  But, I had faith and started using them again on my daughter....!!!VIOLA!!!  Rash free!  Her skin is better and we have no issues with her being in cloth 100% of the time!  I am happy to say it worked, great!   I will do it again when I need to strip.  

Anyways, I know it's time to strip my stash when they smell after the normal washing.  Not like...I can smell something if I JAM my face into them, but like a "I'm going to run screaming from the laundry room because I think my kid pooped in the dryer, lit it on fire, and roasted a rotten fish" smell.  Yuck.  For me it seems like it would happen at once, no real gradual increase to that, but just one day it was repulsive.  I never had repelling issues, but if you do, that is a good time to set up a stripping also.

Don't try to strip your whole stash at once if you have a lot of diapers.  Maybe 20-25 pods/inserts at a time?  And I do my dry touch and bamboo separate--mainly because I will use bleach on my dry touch and not my bamboo--other than that treat them the same.  If you don't want to go the bleach route, go the baking soda route and you can put your bamboo and dry touch together.  

So, lets assume the inserts are dirty and I am going to start the stripping process.  

1. Load washer with dirty diapers, shells, pods, wipes, pail liner (pick out toys my daughter had put in the pail).
2. Wash on Hot and Water Level HIGH with 3/4 the recommended amount of Purex (free)
3. Wash on Hot and Water Level HIGH with NO Detergent
4. Wash on Hot and Water Level HIGH with NO detergent
5.  Pull wet diapers from washer, and sniff them.  They should smell fresh and clean.  (if they still smell a bit fishy, repeat #1 - #3, but only use 1/4 the recommended amount of Detergent.
6. Remove the shells and pail liner
7.  Fill washer with Hot and 1 cup of bleach (if you do not want to use bleach, use 1-2 Tablespoons of baking soda), let agitate to mix and then stop for 2-4 hours and let soak
8.  Wash on Hot and Large 1-2 times


Its a personal choice to use bleach, I use it 1-2 times a year and think that it has a purpose and my pods come out so white!  Its amazing!  If it scares you, use a half cup of it on a small number of pods to see what you think, or go with the baking soda it works great too.  If your baby is having sensitivity issues with detergent, try using only baking soda for the next couple weeks when washing your diapers.  No detergent.  

Note:  You can use Dawn original blue dish detergent 1-3 Tablespoons (for a top load washer, 1T for front loader) instead of Detergent to strip.  You'd especially want to use Dawn for stripping if you have had issues with repelling due to softeners, too much rash cream, or using the wrong detergent.

If your diapers aren't dirty when you start this process I would still do the same steps, but just put inserts in no covers.  I have never stripped my covers, even when I sent my stash to "Do Good" I kept my covers.

If you're washing your diapers correctly with the right detergents, stripping will be a rare occasion.  We are pretty ruthless on our cloth around here, and I can't imagine anybody being harder on them than us.  I baby the babies, not the diapers. StumbleUpon
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  1. I use the same Purex and occasionally strip my diapers with baking soda. I never thought to take out the covers though! Thanks!

    1. FYI, I also use Softbums and am in the Twin Cities. I have never wanted to use another diaper over Softbums!!!

  2. I love my front loader for my lother laundry, but I HATE HATE HATE it for my diapers!! Anymore specific tips on stripping them with a frontloader that you know of? And I thought the softbums site said not to use bleach? I'd like to, but I don't want to ruin my dipes. My daughter has a rash that won't go away, and I know I need to strip, but a little anxious about doing it for the first time in a front loader, Help!

    1. I have washed my inserts in bleach several times with no issues.

  3. Would the occasional scoop of "funk rock" prevent or possibly solve this problem? Also, about how long does it take for dipes to become ready for a good stripping? Would it be a good idea to do it twice or three times a year--or less? Honestly, I'd rather learn effective ways to prevent the rashies and stinkies in the first place!!

  4. Heidi-do not use bleach on your covers or your bamboos pods. Bleach and things like are ok on them if you're only using it every once in a while. Like my post says once or twice a YEAR.

    1. OK-- they are in the washer now with some dawn. I'll plan on taking the covers, pail liner, and bamboo ones out before I bleach. We'll see how this goes-- thanks a bunch :)

  5. I have never had to strip my softbums but my pockets get a little funky every now and then, I have used RLR once every 6-9 months and that seems to do the trick.

  6. I hand wash my covers so I have no worries as to damage them! The DTP can take alot!

  7. I use Softbums and I think I need to strip my shells, anyone have a problem with them? I used to be able to use them 2-3 times but now just once and they smell like ammonia. I usually do little detergent with cold, then a hot with no detergent. I fluff in dryer then hang dry when sunny. Any suggestions?

  8. Someone askeda question about funk rock. I use Hard Rock by Rockin' Green on all of my laundry I like it so much! For diapers, I have a front loader and hard water. We use 2 scoops of Hard Rock on the stain wash setting wiht an extra rinse and a pre-wash. I put in a scoop of funk rock in the pre-wash. My LG HE front loader has a programmable setting for "my cycle" and a delay timer. I set it up at bedtime to go off 3 hours before we get up as it takes 3 hours to load. I live in Phoenix, so in the morning we hang the diapers to dry in the sun. The bamboo pods come out a little crunchy like a line dried towel, but I have zero stains, my diapers look almost new (bit of pilling on the velcro), and they always smell fresh and clean after a year of constant use. Never stripped yet!

    1. Lucky! Wish we had lots of warm sun here. The long winter is hard on our softbums :(

  9. just wondered if ecosprout would be ok? it seems it has softeners?