A Comprehensive Guide to Stripping Cloth Diapers

Disclaimer: When it comes to detergents touching diapers, opinions bounce all over the place on what you should and shouldn’t be doing. This post is based on my personal experience and information I have collected from lots of research while trying to solve the Repelling and Stink issues my diapers used to have. Please do not hold me responsible for any issues that may happen to your diapers. I hope to make this guide as informative as possible, so as I receive more information, I will add it to this. Bookmark it!

Stripping Cloth Diapers

As exciting as its title may sound, stripping diapers is NO fun. This is definitely one of the downsides to cloth diapering.  If you have to strip diapers, then that means that your diapers have some kind of buildup on it that requires lots of water to flush through them to get rid of the bad stuff. Many would argue that if you are stripping diapers, then you still haven’t found your washing machine/detergent/washing routine soul mates. Such a statement is difficult to prove, given the many water type/washing machine/detergent combos that we have out there. One could definitely argue that some detergents may decrease the amount of stripping that someone would have to do, and we will learn more about that as the Cloth Diaper Washing database rolls out later this month here at Padded Tush Stats.

But I want to give you some basics on stripping diapers:

Cause

1) Diaper creams – if you use a diaper cream that is not cloth diaper safe, it creates a nasty film in it that needs a labor of love to get it off. Try cloth diaper safe creams like CJ’s BUTTer or Grandma El’s. If you have a machine that is a front loader that doesn’t get much water running through it, you may still have some repelling issues. In that case, use a liner whenever you use a cloth diaper safe cream, just for extra protection (uh-oh, did an unknowing friend use Desitin on your baby? First off, SORRY, second, you may need to give it a gentle scrub with an old toothbrush).

2) Detergent buildup – This is one of the most common causes for a needed diaper strip. Basically layers of detergent develop on top of the diaper and without adequate amounts of water washing through it, detergent slowly (or quickly) builds up and begins to repel any liquid that touches it (i.e. pee).  This can be very common if you have a pocket or all in one diaper with a stay dry top. Many people say to flick some water at it and see if it beads up, but these stay dry fabrics need a little compression on them to truly test to see if repelling is happening. So just pour a little trickle of water on it and then put something waterproof (like a balloon or plastic toy) on it  (making sure there are no gaps anywhere) and see if the insert  under the stay dry top gets wet. If it is not wet, then it is likely that you have repelling.

3) Not enough hot water/not enough detergent: If your diapers start to smell like ammonia or barn, then you are in need of a good strip. This is because bacteria is building up and you either don’t have hot enough water to kill the bacteria or you aren’t using enough detergent. Basically bacteria is not getting killed quickly enough, and so when your detergent hits that bacteria, a funky chemistry experiment happens that results in either knocking people out when they enter their baby’s rooms in the morning, or making Moms look creepy for sticking their nose in a diaper to get a good whiff of it as it comes out of the dryer. The bacteria happens most often in night diapers, since the baby sleeps in them overnight and the moisture+heat can be prime advertisements for a bacteria bash (most often the bacteria throw their frat parties in the wet bag). Diapers that are VERY absorbent (i.e. very thick inserts or fitteds) are most susceptible to this since it is difficult for water to flush through the very inner fibers of the fabric. The best tip to avoid this is to rinse out the morning diaper. (Warning: some diapers come with instructions to NOT use hot water and if you do so, you void the warranty. If you have hard water and a front loader and you want the comfort of a diaper warranty, then make sure that the diaper you are buying does not have that policy).

How to strip

There are a few methods that people use. But first of all, clean the diapers with detergent FIRST. Some even do this with just a little extra detergent than what they normally use, just to ensure that the diapers are clean enough (kind of counter-intuitive if you think you have detergent buildup-I know, but it is worth it to ensure that the issue isn’t that the diapers have a bacteria+detergent buildup).

1) Boiling: This is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to strip, but ONLY if a diaper is not made of a waterproof fabric like PUL or TPU. If you stick either of those materials in there, it melts like the Wicked Witch of the West. You also should not boil anything with snaps, fasteners, or elastic as the heat will damage them. (So you can basically boil fabric – flats, prefolds, plain inserts, etc.). You can boil the inserts for about 5-10 minutes.

2) Soak: If you have a top loader, hats off to you, just throw the stuff in for a good overnight soak with a little bit of vinegar or oxyclean and that should help. If you have a front loader, then soak them in the bathtub overnight (but make sure the door is closed so a baby or child can’t get in there and fall in a full tub).

3) Wash wash wash - Wash your diapers several times in hot water without detergent. The more water getting through the diapers, the merrier. Keep looking in at the last rinse cycle for suds. SOME suds are OK, but there shouldn’t be many. Keep rinsing until almost all suds are gone.

Additives

Some items can be helpful in stripping, but beware, as excessive use of these can hurt your diapers and could void warranties:

1) Vinegar - if you have hard water, it’s best not to use this, it actually might backfire on you and make your problem worse. 1/2 a cup should be good if you don’t have hard water.

2) Bacout – This helps kill bacteria. Some people even spray the morning diapers with this before putting it in the wet bag, others put a little squirt in with the detergent every time they wash their diapers. About 1 teaspoon is good. Some babies are sensitive to the enzymes in this, so if your baby is sensitive to enzymes, you may want to steer clear of it.

3) Oxyclean – this stuff is magic to diapers. It is gentle on them, helps with stains, and helps with the stripping process. 1 scoop is good.

4) Blue Dawn – Second to breast milk, many people would argue this is liquid gold. Not pink dawn, green dawn, or yellow dawn, but for some freakish reason, BLUE DAWN does the trick. Just ONE LITTLE DROP, that’s it. It helps strip the diapers of residue. If you have a front loader, it may be easy for you to just wash them by hand with blue dawn, so you can run it under your bathroom faucet to get a bunch of water through it (since front loaders essentially spit water on the diapers).

5) Water Softener – A water softener such as Calgon may help you hard water people. This will help with the buildup that occurs because of hard water

6) Washing soda – this stuff is like a therapist for pH balance and gets it stabilized a bit. This is especially helpful if you have odor issues with your diapers. 1-2 tablespoons is good.

7) GroVia Mighty Bubbles Laundry Treatment – this is currently my favorite way to strip my diapers. It works perfectly in my water conditions. You can see my complete review of the GroVia Mighty Bubbles Laundry Treatment in this post.

New to diapering and freaked out by this? Don’t worry, once you figure out your best routine, you won’t be stripping your diapers that much. The results of the Washing Diapers survey should help you out a bit. But think of it this way, you are still saving money with cloth diapers, helping the environment, putting fewer chemicals against your baby’s skin than disposables, and so much more.

And, of course, let me know if you have questions. I ended up having to strip diapers the day little man came home from the hospital (GRRR!) and I have the unlucky combo of hard water + front loader + terrible machine, so I have been through it all. In case you are wondering: the answer to all my issues came with adding 1 scoop of oxyclean and 1 tablespoon of washing soda to every load.

I want to hear from you now…how do you strip your diapers? How often? 

Special thanks to Michelle at Green Diaper Demos for editing this document.

Tara Porter

Tara Porter began using cloth diapers in 2011 when she felt that using disposable diapers was costing too much money. The problem was, a lot of the highly recommended diapers weren’t working for her baby. What she finally discovered was that her baby was skinny and a heavy wetter, and that diapers worked differently for those baby types. Because of her professional work with survey design and statistics, she designed Padded Tush Stats as a way to determine how different cloth diapers worked on different babies.

Tara moved on to other career endeavors in 2014 but can still be found online blogging about health and fitness at Fit Baby Steps.
  • Katie

    Great article! I wish the old me could have seen this when I first tried and ultimately gave up on cloth for a few months! Now I am obsessed!

    • Tara

      Thank you. And I am glad you are back to cloth! It really is cuter, isn’t it?

  • cassy

    Ok my question is.. if you have hard water- wouldn’t the several hot rinses method make the situation worse or not better?

    • Tara

      Yes and no. You need to do something to get the buildup out of the diaper, so that is where you definitely need an additive.

    • Delice

      I want to know this, too! :(

    • kenner82

      That’s an interesting point, but usually when people are stripping it is because of detergent buildup and not mineral buildup. In the case of detergent buildup, I think the hot rinses would still work. If your problem is mineral buildup, then adding a water softener would be helpful.

  • Megan

    I have heard that RLR is the magic product for stripping diapers. Any thoughts on it?

    • Tara

      I wish I had thoughts on it! Not enough respondents have tried it. But I will update this when there are enough.

    • kenner82

      Some people swear by it, some people don’t. RLR is hesitant to disclose their ingredient list, but I’ve heard that it’s simply very strong washing soda (which helps soften water and make detergent more effective).

  • http://www.pinstripesandpolkadots.com Krista Cardona

    We’ve found that in hard water areas, almost always a Calgon strip will work wonderfully to get rid of any ammonia smells from the hard water deposits or detergent build-up.

    We also find that the Dawn method works best, and I recommend mostly for, stripping diapers from the use of a diaper rash cream. It essentially helps “cut” the grease like it would on a dirty pan. I haven’t had success using Dawn to strip my diapers because of ammonia smell.

  • Megan

    I’ve heard that RLR is the magic product for stripping diapers. Any thoughts on it?

  • Jennifer

    Please help!! I am new to CDing and I really, really don’t want to give up. I am having a huge problem with my washing routine. I have an old TL washer that does a pretty good job of getting our clothes clean using Kirkland Free & Clear deterg & a full scoop of Oxyclean. While researching CD I realized I shouldn’t use too much detergent and no oxyclean at all. I have new prefolds & used pockets that are washed almost every day (I have 2 under 2 :)) I bought some Mountain Green detergent and generic water softener because our water is extremely hard. So between detergent, vinegar and baking soda I can usually get the stink out and get them clean. Ok – here’s my problem…I have to run a cold prewash, hot/cold heavy wash w/ detergent, warm/warm regular wash no detergent, and at least 3 warm rinses and I STILL have suds. We are spending a fortune in water and electricity to clean these diapers that are supposed to be saving us money!!! Please help I really don’t know what to do and I don’t have the time/money to try every CD detergent out there. I was going to order some RLR treatment but then I read that I’ll have to run even more rinses just to get out the suds, I feel like I’m already wasting so much water! I live in a small rural area so anything I try I’ll have to buy online so there’s the added cost of shipping. I’m willing to do what I need to but with so much advice and so many opinions out there I don’t know where to start. Thanks

    • Tara

      I am so sorry to hear you are going through all of that! One of the biggest things is how many suds you have. You may actually get a few suds and that is fine. Are you using a powdered detergent? I find that powdered detergents get fewer suds. Although some companies may void their warranties with the use of Oxyclean, it actually is safe for the diapers from what I have heard and it is GREAT at fighting many issues you may have. I also recommend adding a scoop of washing soda, that really does the trick for me.

      And, before giving up, I have one word for you: TIDE (confession: I use it and once I started using it, ALL problems went away. I just use the amount up to the “1” line)

      Please keep me posted, I want to help.

    • Jen

      Did you ever figure anything out? I don’t know what exactly to suggest besides use less detergent. I had to play with the amount for weeks or maybe months before I figured out I was still using too much. I hope it all got worked out! =)

    • Lauren Salazar

      I use Arm and Hammer hypoallergenic dye and perfume free detergent and only a very little like enough to cover the bottom plus a tiny bit more and I use the largest cycle of water with hot water each time. Then I do a second wash with no detergent. My machine also has an extra rinse cycle so I do that on both washed too. Try that and it should be less washes than you do now and will keep you diapers clean and buildup free!

    • kenner82

      There are a LOT of opinions and “rules” about washing diapers, but my personal philosophy is this – your goal is to get the diapers clean. If you find a routine that gets them clean and you don’t have any complaints, then just ignore what everyone says and stick with that! (The caveat is that this may void the diaper warranty, but I’m personally okay with that if it means I can have a simple time washing the diapers. I also have 2 under 2, and there’s only so much time in the day to do laundry!) I’m a huge fan of Tide ultra (I even use more of it than most people do, *gasp*!) and a scoop of washing soda to help soften the water. So if you use your Kirkland F&C and some oxy on your diapers and aren’t having any leaking or stink issues, I’d leave well enough alone ;) If that stops working, then you can worry about the next step when you get to that point!

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  • Chelsea

    Thank you so very much for such a clear layout of the different stripping methods! Using method #3, with no additives right now. :)

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  • Claude Campeau

    Thanks for this article! I have a smell in my diapers; not amonia, just not-so-clean smell. I tried different variations of soap/cycles in my front-loader, it hasn’t helped. I’d like to try Tide + Oxyclean. Which Tide do you use? Thanks!

    • Tara

      Thanks for the compliment! I use Tide Ultra. Make sure you are using the required amount of detergent. The liquid tide does not work well at all. Let me know if I can help more!

    • kenner82

      Tide Ultra powder is the one most people use (or the HE version, if you have an HE machine!)

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  • http://MySister2.com Paula Devore

    Tara,
    The answer to many laundry problems can be found in natural laundry soap, not in detergents. Detergents are synthetic compounds and can cause breakdown of the fibers in fabrics which leads to degradation of the fabric and fading of colors. The synthetics can also be hard on our skin. Many people who have skin breakouts can trace their problem back to the detergent they use.

    Of course, I could be a bit prejudiced on the subject … I make a very fine all natural laundry soap (not detergent). I have made all natural soaps, lotions, creams and deodorant for many years. I am adamant about the content of my products and closely guard the ingredients I use to be sure they are natural and beneficial for our bodies.

    My friends and customers have had excellent results in using my laundry soap for all types of fabrics, stains and machines. One friend used it to remove the smell of cigarette smoke from the clothes of a son who moved back into her house for a while.

    My natural laundry soap is a powdered soap that dissolves quickly and completely and rinses out, regardless of the type of machine (this makes it great for high efficiency machines). Clothes will not smell musty, even if they sit in the machine through the next day (or sometimes 2 days). Less and less lint collects in the lint trap of the dryer; a visible sign that My Sister 2 laundry soap does not break down the fibers of your fabrics or fade colors. Another benefit is that you do not need extra additives like softener. This is a money saver! Any additive may be used, but you will not need them! I do often use about 1/4 cup of white vinegar, especially when washing jeans, but this is my personal choice; many people do not even use that.

    I would be most happy to send, FREE of charge – even shipping, to your readers, enough laundry soap to do 12 loads of laundry. Since you only use one tablespoon per load, regardless of the size of the load, it will not be a big quantity, but I have been using it for over 5 years and I can personally attest to it’s effectiveness at this amount.

    The one caveat is that I will have to limit the offer to the first 200 people who email me … it could get very expensive for my “Gram’s home business” if there is no limit. All of my products are made in the USA – right in my home workshop, by hand and with love for the products, the customer and our planet. My email is pdevore34@yahoo.com . Please put “Free sample offer” in the subject line so I can spot the requests easily.

    I will not bug the people who request the samples, except to send and email advising them when the sample is shipped. I do not share information with anyone else! There is more information available on my website.

  • Jill

    We cannot use detergents or fragrances at all, and have hard water so I use borax a lot to soften the water. I try to alternate between homemade laundry soap (made with cold-process soap) with a tablespoon of vinegar, or soap nuts, or washing soda or borax…or a mixture :) Some of the best advice I received was to mix up my diaper routine :)
    Then, for stripping in a front loader: one hot wash cycle with a half cup or so of soap (not detergent) and I add extra water to the machine while it’s filling up, then a second hot wash cycle with a cup of washing soda and a half cup of borax. Then maybe an extra rinse cycle with a dash of vinegar. This has worked well for me in the past as I have an HE front loader that seems to be a bit stingy with water…adding extra water is key!

    BTW, RLR is the same as pH Up (for pools) : they are both washing soda. Borax is also a good water softener and forms hydrogen peroxide at high temperatures, which is a mild oxygen bleach and helps keep diapers fresh and clean.

  • http://www.facebook.com/caramaea Maggie

    I have only ever tried oxyclean once. I have always stripped with blue dawn, but now I am fairly certain that my diapers are just not getting clean enough. I’ve been so afraid of residue, I have been using about half the recommended amount of Charlie’s. I didn’t have issues with Rockin’ Green, so I think I am going to do this… switch soap, wash the diapers, boild and strip with blue dawn and then use bacout. I am almost 100% sure my daughter’s rash is from staph. It leaves pits in her skin and is absolutely horrible. The diapers stink of ammonia after she’s wet or soiled them and the pail would just about knock you off your feet. We did not always have these problems. Only for the past 3 months or so. She’s 18 months now. I just need to rehab my diaps!!! Thanks so much Tara!!

    • kenner82

      Toddler pee is definitely stronger than baby pee, so ammonia issues are more common as your baby gets older! Hope you were able to solve your issues! :)

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  • Jenrose

    I’m in love with Bambino Mio Fresh at this point. Blue dawn was a nightmare for us, causing inflamed red rash all over my boy’s bum. Poor kid. I rinsed a zillion times, too. I mostly don’t HAVE to strip, because we have soft water, and because I rinse the worst diapers very thoroughly with a pressure massage handheld shower. I was doing up to four heavy duty washes with Ecos Free and Clear in my front loader, but have since dropped down to a preliminary rinse, then a wash with country save and bambino mio, then a wash with no detergent at all. The diapers have never been cleaner. They smell like absolutely nothing, and may smell like ammonia after a full night, but not after one or two pees.

    I won’t boil anything, most of my inserts are microfiber or microfiber/bamboo blends, my covers are all PUL pockets, so we just wash a LOT. The bambino mio is so, so amazing. Half a scoop cuts my wash time in half…and when you’re talking heavy duty warm/warm/prewash/2nd rinse 3 hour cycles in a front loader, that’s 6 HOURS less on the wash cycle.

  • Karmalife

    Thanks so much for all the info. I’ve had ammonia issues from day 1 and just tested my water, finally. It’s moderately hard. I am going to strip tomorrow. You say one of the stripping methods is to soak overnight in a TL machine with “a little bit” of Oxyclean. how much is a little bit?

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      Start with a scoop and see how it goes :)

      • Anne Marie

        How much is a scoop? The scoop that came with my bucket is about half a cup. Probably an obvious answer, but I’m that mom that read “add blue dawn” and put in a four second squirt.

        • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

          Hahaha, not a dumb question! Your Oxy scoop is 1/2 cup? Do you have normal Oxyclean (as opposed to some kind of detergent with Oxy in it, or something?) The scoop that came with mine looks like it’s maybe a tablespoon or 2, but definitely not as big as yours! Alright, then I’d say to start with 1 tablespoon, and if that doesn’t do anything, try 2 ;)

  • Karmalife

    I tried the soaking method last night (no additives, just water) and it didn’t work. I soaked overnight, then washed on cold, then a hot cycle with 2 rinses. Tried a diaper out and it has major ammonia stink. What do I do next?? This is so frustrating!
    Thanks for any input..

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      The directions say to soak with an additive, so that would be something you could easily try. Did you soak in hot water? Also, what kinds of diapers are you having the stink problems in? (Are they diapers with a waterproof component, like AIOs? Or is it just inserts or prefolds, that would be safe to boil?)

      Here is Tara’s flowchart for combating stink issues (because it sounds like that is what you really need – stripping is going to be a good first step in battling ammonia, but it’s only part of the puzzle!) http://paddedtushstats.com/2012/03/06/help-my-diapers-stink-tips-resolving-whiffing-woes/

  • Laine

    I have ammonia buildup, an front loading HE machine and hard water, it’s
    like the trifecta of diaper suck-land. I’ve also tried so many washing routines, additives and different detergents that my head is spinning..
    Nothing gets the stink out. Can you please tell me what the best way to
    strip the ammonia for from my AIOs? I’m going to boil the prefolds and
    fitted. I didn’t see bleach mentioned here anywhere. I suspect my
    problem is bacterial. After more than a month of the blue dawn, rlr,
    rocking’ green, oxyclean, soap nut, tide ultra, calgon, washing soda
    and babysitting the washing machine for days at a time we’re now in disposables and
    will be until the damn things don’t cause a rash. No matter how much I
    love CDing I won’t cause him uneccessary pain. If I can get them clean
    and kill the bacteria I’m thinking I’ll have to start using an enzyme
    additive in the prewash. But I need help to get back to square one!

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      I’ve shared your issue on the Facebook page, but you might want to head to the forums to get more help from people who have been there before! I hope someone can come offer advice!

    • http://www.facebook.com/jessica.m.grimm Jessica Mullins Grimm

      What is your actual wash routine?

    • Lindsy S

      Were you ever able to get them un-stinky after any of your stripping methods? I mean did they at least come out of the wash smelling clean and then just get stinky again after the next use?

      I wouldn’t boil your fitteds because that could potentially ruin the elastic.

      Some diaper manufacturers actually recommend periodic bleaching (ie bumgenius). I have never used it so I can’t help on that, but it could be something to try especially if you think you are dealing with a bacterial buildup.

      Is this just an issue with overnight diapers or all of your diapers?

    • http://www.facebook.com/deb.cyrier Deb Cyrier

      If you are still having problems try FUNK ROCK from Rockin’ Green…took care of it for us and we use their maintenance routine on the package and don’t have problems if we stick to it. We are lazy diaper washers so they tend to only get washed once maybe twice a week.

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  • Emmy

    After purchasing some used hemp prefold I did lots of research on stripping (since I wanted to make sure what I was putting on my baby was “clean”) I ended up combining two! Boiling them in blue dawn water!!!! I knew that boiling would kill any cooties and the dawn would help with any possible residue! Result: amazing! I can know use them with a “clean” conscious! (yes pun intended)

  • Steph Adams

    Thanks for this! I’m still trying to find a good routine!

  • ginger g.

    I haven’t had to do this yet, but I know this info will come in handy!…And it does not sound like fun! haha

  • http://twitter.com/mleerx Michelle Lee

    I’ve only ever had to strip my diapers once, thank goodness. It was shortly after I moved (different water, I guess). They suddenly started repelling like crazy. I ended up switching to Tide and no problems so far. I’m definitely bookmarking this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000025247277 Stephanie Svejda

    I have a frontloader (uggh!) and I like your wording that it just “spits” on the diapers. It’s impossible to get a good clean! I might try oxyclean that’s a good idea.

  • http://profiles.google.com/dragonflii Tara Lenoir

    Just posted this on my cloth diapering FB group for a momma in need! Thanks! =)

  • http://www.facebook.com/Masonsmomma1 Carissa Joslyn

    This was really helpful! I don’t have a washer or dryer, so i have to go to my step moms once in a while and use hers! because washing by hand..I’m sure it’s not as good as a machine!

  • Loren Soltish

    I have an HE front loader and moderately hard water and saw that you reccomend oxy clean and washing soda in the load. Can you elaborate on that? at what point do I put everything in? I also just bought Calgon when do I put that in and where should I put it into the machine?

    • loren soltish

      Also my diapers are not stinky but they were starting to leave a little rash on my son. I’m not sure what that was all about.

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      I don’t know about Calgon, but oxy and washing soda you put in wherever you put your powdered laundry detergent (so if you have a dispenser in your machine, you put it all in the same area at the same time). If you use liquid detergent in a dispenser, then you’d put the Oxy and washing soda directly into the drum of the machine. If you don’t have a dispenser, then I think it all just goes into the drum together! (there are instructions for use on the boxes, basically, so you just modify if for your machine type!)

  • Rachel Allen

    This is great information! Thank you!

  • Haley Hill

    Thanks for this information! One question-when you say you add oxyclean and washing soda to every load, is that in addition to 1 scoop of Tide? Or do you just use the oxyclean and washing soda every time you wash? Thanks again!

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      It’s definitely in addition to the Tide (or whatever detergent you use!) :)

  • Cynthia F

    What about the PUL diaper covers? Do they need to be stripped? How? With the blue Dawn? What do you think of the homemade liquid diaper detergent made with blue dawn, borax and washing soda? I’ve never tried it on diapers, but it works great for the rest of the laundry. Wondering if or how well it would work for everyday diaper washing. We have horrible hard water. Hot tea has a thick film on top and water boiled in a pan on the stove leaves thick white to yellowish buildup. My daughter was so disgusted with the pocket diapers with microfiber inserts and trying to get them clean and smelling good that she gave up and just threw them all in the garbage.

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      When you strip diapers, it’s for the purpose of getting them really clean. PUL covers can’t retain anything since they’re usually just a plastic like layer ;) Even covers with a lining don’t usually need to be stripped, since their purpose isn’t to absorb (so there probably isn’t much being retained in the fabric, like there is with microfiber!)

  • Linda G.

    I made my own diapers and use homemade detergent, and all has been well until recently. I was sorta new to cloth diapers when I made them. Anyway, I ca,e across your site while researching how to get them cleaner. I stripped them with blue dawn, added water softener and now things are great! Thanks for the great cloth diapering info!

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      Oh hooray! So glad it helped! :)

  • Lindsay C.

    I need to strip my diapers this weekend. Such a “fun” activity! What should I use to strip them with hard water & a top loader washer?

  • Laura P

    Thanks for this article! I just bought some used cloth diapers and was planning on stripping them before I use them. I think I’m going to try boiling the inserts and then washing the entire load with a bit of Blue Dawn!

  • Sunnyview

    Very helpful. Thank you.

  • Amanda Duke

    On Cloth Diaper Chat on FB I swear every other question is about stripping diapers. So much bad information is floating around on the internet that everyone thinks Dawn is the solution to every problem. Drives me crazy!

  • Laurie Skiles

    The blue dawn is WONDERFUL! It amazes me how well this works. I also swear by bacout. I used some of this on some used baby clothes I purchased too that had some stains in them. It got them out! I tried washing these clothes 2x and the stains went nowhere, used bacout (per instructions on the bottle) and it got them out in 1 wash!!

  • heidi langley

    This was very helpful. We’re just getting into some stink issues and I’ve been trying to remedy it. Hope stripping helps.

  • Vanessa V.

    Thank you so much for the helpful information! We’ve had some stink issues in the past and I haven’t known how to quite get them out other than to just keep rinsing and trying a little more detergent. Now I know for next time :)

  • Shannon

    What about the covers? I assume they don’t go through this stripping procedure?

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      Since there’s little to no absorbent part of a diaper cover, it wouldn’t be necessary :) The exception would be wool, but you wouldn’t want to do an intense stripping on that, anyhow! :)

  • Nic4

    I just made my own detergent with borax, washing soda,baking soda, and Fels-naptha. Is this affective fot cleaning cloth diapers? I have hard water and been having horrible stink and ammonia issues.

    • Britt

      I would steer clear of using fels naphtha on your diapers if you’re using synthetic diapers (pockets, aios, etc). There’s actually a baby detergent out there you can make and I think it’s just Oxyclean, baking soda or washing soda, and borax maybe??? I tried the fels naphtha version on my clothes and it caused a reaction on me. Check out Pinterest or google the baby detergent…I think it’s safer for LO skin. HTH! ;)

  • Julie

    I need help! I have a front loader, med hard water and prefolds. They stink so bad! When you say you found one scoop of oxiclean and washing soda, what are your washer settings! I am about ready to stop using they stink so bad! I have tried several methods, including using atop loader to soak with oxi clean, Calgone and washing soda, sun drying, etc. please help!

  • Sharon

    This seems like a great resource to have when I start using cloth diapers on my LO. I can’t wait!

  • Jaimie Ohu

    I’ve seen RLR suggested on other sites, and it is difficult but not impossible to find- is it worth the hassle of finding? Does it work better than oxyclean?

    • Heather

      I experimented with RLR and found that it didn’t really strip the diapers. I thought it had because the ammonia smell was gone, but then it came back within a week. I think it’s good to use once in a while (maybe as a monthly treatment to remove build-up) but it’s mostly just ‘meh’ for stripping.

  • Tannis W

    I’m hoping to cloth diaper yet, and all the information definitely is overwhelming. Thanks for the great info on stripping. I’ll be bookmarking this article!

  • Michelle Lee

    I just used this article to strip my diapers. Thanks for the info!

  • Vanessa Coker

    I’m pulling out the cloth diapers I used for my two year old to use on the new baby due in December. They definitely need to be washed a lot! and I think I’ll try the blue dawn method too.

  • Allison Hunter

    I am having a problem with what you described as barn smell right out of the dryer- so sounds like I may be using too much detergent and causing a buildup? I use either Rockin Green or Nellies Laundry Soda. I always rinse first than run a heavy duty load with an extra rinse. I’ve tried soaking in Funk Rock for 30min-1hr and it seems to help until the next wash cycle. I live in an area with hard water but we have a water softener- not sure if this means I have soft water or normal water or what?? I think I have soft water as a result. What are your thoughts/recommendations? I was going to try the vinegar but was worried about hard water vs soft water.

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      Nope nope nope! What we call “barn” smell is really “poop particle” smell. Anytime you have barnyard stink, the problem is that the diapers aren’t getting clean enough (so you definitely need MORE detergent! Don’t listen to all the internet advice that keeps telling you to use less, like I did! It just makes things worse!) :) A lot of times things smell clean coming out of the wash, but it isn’t until they’ve been heated up by the dryer or by being worn that you start to smell it. If you have a water softener that you keep maintained and refreshed (or however you care for it!) then you should have soft water (you can buy test strips to check, though!) If I were you I’d incrementally increase the amount of detergent you use until the barnyard stink goes away. (Keep everything else about your wash routine the same, though. There’s no need to start throwing in extra rinses and wasting water and energy until a problem crops up! And this way you’ll know for sure what has caused the problem, if one occurs). :)

      • Allison Hunter

        Hmmm ok….I already use more than what the package recommends. I should keep increasing it anyway?

        • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

          You might want to buy some water test strips (you can buy them at pool supply or hardware stores I believe, but I just ordered mine from Dearest Diapers. There are some other cloth diaper retailers who carry them for cheap, I just don’t know off hand who they are!) because it kind of sounds like you might have hard water (in which case yes, you’ll probably need more than the recommended amount of detergent. When I tried Charlies and Country Save I was using about twice the amount PLUS washing soda, and still things weren’t entirely clean. Tide was much better for us as it’s stronger and has more water softeners already in it). But yes, I personally would keep increasing it. The absolute worst case scenario is you end up with crazy detergent buildup and have to do a bunch of rinses to get it out – you aren’t going to break your diapers by using too much soap ;) So I’d just slowly increase the amount of soap until the smell goes away.

      • Allison Hunter

        Oh also- I usually use the largest wash setting bc I wa told to do this to allow for better rinsing- maybe that’s part of my problem?

        • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

          That does allow for more water in the machine usually, but you can run into problems if there aren’t enough diapers in the wash (the agitation of the diapers against one another is part of what gets them clean. If there are too few, they don’t rub against each other enough). So depending on how full it looks, you could try increasing the load size or using a smaller setting on the machine.

  • Jeannette

    This is such a wonderful comprehensive resource!! Thank you for putting this how-to together. I will be implementing a lot of these tips!!

  • Kim

    I bookmarked this for future reference! It is great to see a bunch of ideas in one spot rather than searching and finding bits and pieces of info from different sources. Thanks!!

  • Nicole Oertmann Manbeck

    I have an ammonia smell. I can tell my LO peed by smelling his diaper. My wash routine:
    Quick Wash Warm, Heavy Duty or Bulky Wash Hot adding in towels w/ 2 T Tide. Originally, I had been using EcoSprout when I got the ammonia smell. I did a Rockin Green soak & switched to RG, but it still smelled, so I soaked them in hot water in my bathtub. Now I use Tide, but they are starting to smell again:-( I have a HE top loader. We originally had hard water but we have a water softener, which we maintain. I was going to try the Dawn or another bathtub soak. I think the washer doesn’t fill up w/ enough water & I can’t control that except by adding the towels to make it bulkier. I even add a wet one or 2 so they are heavier. I have mainly bamboo & hemp inserts w/ covers & 5-10 AIO’s. Any recommendations? Thanks!

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      Have you started having the ammonia issues recently? Did you see our recent article about Tide having changed their formula again? http://paddedtushstats.com/2013/08/26/tide-new-formula-possible-diaper-washing-issues/

      • Nicole Oertmann Manbeck

        Hmmm, ammonia started about 2-3 months ago. Its gotten better w/ the Tide, but I can smell when he pees again. Its not as much ammonia now as just an odor.

        • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

          Oh. Hmm. Well, you could certainly do another bathtub soak. You might want to also try the GroVia Mighty Bubbles Laundry Treatment that Tara now swears by (http://paddedtushstats.com/2013/08/15/grovia-mighty-bubbles-laundry-treatment-review/) Tide might not be as effective with the new formula, but it still could help. You could also try using more detergent for a while or some bleach.

          • Nicole Oertmann Manbeck

            I just checked & I have Tide Ultra w/ the blue Acti-Lift dots. Can I wash all the inserts & covers in the Mighty Bubbles?

          • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

            Yup! It’s meant to be used in place of detergent (not continuously, it’s an “every once in a while” treatment) so you just throw it in the washer and use it instead of your usual detergent. I know Dearest Diapers sells samples of it, if you want to try a small amount and see if it helps!

          • Nicole Oertmann Manbeck

            So, I’ve used the GroVia Treatment for a few washes & the smell is still there:-( Do you recommend trying Dawn or vinegar or something else? I’m so disgusted! There’s the ammonia smell & leaking diapers. We’ve switched to disposables at night. I’m so annoyed w/ changing the sheets in the middle of the night! TIA!

          • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

            Hmm, well, my instinct is to tell you to use more detergent (since ammonia usually means that they aren’t getting clean enough) but since I don’t have soft water I can’t attest to how well that would work. You could certainly TRY it, though (I mean, at this point, what is the worst that can happen? You already have ammonia and leaks!) Did you try bleach at all? Or oxy? (I was having trouble with Tide so switched to the Costco generic version, which still wasn’t working well. Things have definitely improved now that I’m adding a scoop of oxy to each load, though we’ll see how it does over time!)

          • Nicole Oertmann Manbeck

            I tried bleach & I think it helped temporarily. Never tried Oxy. I’ll try more detergent tonight.

          • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

            Yeah, if more detergent doesn’t help, then give the oxy a try! That’s easier on your diapers than chlorine bleach so you can use it regularly, but you get a bit of benefit from the bleaching part :)

  • Danielle D

    This is such a great reference!!

  • Kelly Lewis

    This article is very helpful, thank you! We live on a well so try.not.to over use water, so stripping.can be a tricky thing. I’ve had to strip about four times ( diapers lol) and these diapers are on baby # 2. I will try the.blue.dawn trick. We use various combinations of baking soda, vinegar, borax and sun bleaching ( based on the need of.the load )
    Thanks again!

  • Sandra Rowe

    Thanks! I read this article a long time ago and tried the blue dawn. It helped a lot.

  • Blythe S.

    So glad I read this. I recently bought some used diapers for my little guy due in November and had heard vinegar was a good option. Since I have hard water that could’ve been a disaster!

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  • mannakitty

    In option #6 you listed Baking Soda, but then you mentioned Washing Soda in your routine. Did you mean to mention both?

    • Tara at Padded Tush Stats

      Thanks for pointing that out. Yes, we mean washing soda. I just fixed it. Thank you!

      • Rachael

        what is washing soda?

        • Tara at Padded Tush Stats

          Hi Rachael,
          Washing Soda is sodium carbonate. Basically it is a water softener. It prevents the calcium and magnesium ions (found in hard water) from bonding with the detergent.

  • amac

    This has been really helpful–thanks

  • nurseyk

    So much good information! Thank you!

  • sherry moore

    This what extremely informative and very helpful.

  • <3 my kids

    Thank you so much for posting this. It was very helpful. I actually saw you post a diaper stripping article a couple years ago (with a diaper on a stripper pole) but luckily haven’t needed it until recently. I read your article and was able to do so successfully without too much headache and a little confidence. I also liked your table for stink issues. I found I need to use MORE detergent now since I moved and have harder water. (By the way I used a Tbsp of Blue Dawn and stink is gone)

  • Daisy Lestari

    This post was so helpful. I’ve always been intimidated by the concept of stripping my diapers but you’ve really broken it down… going to try it out this weekend!

  • erin

    Haven’t had to strip diapers yet- but will probably try laundry tarts strip it, as their detergent had been fantastic

  • Reena

    Stripping is a necessary step to detoxify radical elements on your diaper.

  • Meghan B.

    So needed this, I’ve been having trouble with mine so I’m excited to try!

  • Sarah B

    Let me just tell you, this read was awesome!

    When I first started Cloth Diapering, my sister recommended Rockin Green. She only had awesome things to say about it. Of course, the price tag was less than appealing, and I would have to order it online since it isn’t available where I live. I decided to make my own! Basically just baking soda, washing soda, and oxiclean. However, when it got to be the time to add an actual soap, I freaked because “soap isn’t good for CDs.” So my mixture sat on a shelf in the laundry room, unused, and I began to use Country Save.

    Country Save worked great! Until we moved and had to buy a new washer. I opted for an HE top loader. Everything seemed alright, until a few weeks ago when ammonia set in. It was a constant battle. Stripping every few day, rashes on the babies, disposables, etc. I tried everything: sunning, bleach, boiling, blue dawn. I was about to give up cloth diapering altogether.

    And then I stumbled upon your post. And I realized I had everything you suggested. And then I thought: my failed “RG mixture!” So I grabbed up my my diapers (the overnights had such a strong smell it literally made me tear up) tossed them in the washer with Country Save and a spoonful of my mixture, did a heavy duty hot wash, followed by a “bulky” hot wash for rinsing, followed by a rinse, and hung them in the sun.

    Last night, I put them in the freshly washed diapers, put them to bed, and hoped. I didn’t sleep at all, and even woke the kids up early. NO AMMONIA SMELL!!!! I am so excited. Of course, it’s just this morning, and could totally be a fluke, but I’m using this additive from now on!!

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      Oh yay, that is great to hear! :) Getting a good wash routine down is the WORST part of cloth diapering (as far as I’m concerned) so it’s always wonderful to get that figured out :)

    • Karen B

      What was the ratio of your mixture, Sarah? I have all of those ingredients around the house and would love to make a miracle diaper wash too!

  • Scianda

    I’m glad to read this. I haven’t had to do this yet, but I’m sure I will soon. I also like the bit of advice in the comments about using baking soda.

  • Lindsay

    Help! My diapers still stink after trying lots of different things. I’ve washed them with tide, multiple hot rinses. Soaked in the tub for a day. Hand scrubbed with dawn on each insert, then soaked in the tub for another day. Did two more rinses in the washer no detergent and they still smell when used. They have a very subtle barn smell out of the dryer but smell fine after washing. I’ve tried using lots of detergent and a little detergent, nothing is seeming to fix them. We are using disposables until I can get this resolved. It started with the overnights, STRONG ammonia smell in the morning. I use the best bottom microfiber inserts and I’ve talked to there help desk and they say use more detergent (tide) and then follow with hot washes. That doesn’t seem to be working. We have soft water and an LG HE FL washer. Would my next step be trying to boil them? I’m not sure if the snap on the back would melt or not though.

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      Oh man, that sounds like you’ve tried a lot already, how frustrating! Boiling isn’t really recommended for things with snaps on them (otherwise I’d say yes, to try that!) I take it they get a barnyard smell when they’ve been peed in? How much Tide have you tried using? And how many diapers are you using in one load? (Too many or too few can cause problems!) What about water temperature, are you using hot water? (And if so, are you sure the water getting to the machine actually IS hot?) Have you tried a little bit of bleach, or any other additives?

      • Lindsay

        Yes! they smell after peeing, it’s bad. I was using liquid tide and I would fill it just below the normal level in the detergent tray of the washer. Then I found this post and switched to tide powder and used a full scoop set on bulky and hot/cold water followed by 4 hot/cold speed washes and 1tub soak and then dawn and a tub soak and then 2 hot/cold speed washes. I have about 16 diaper inserts and 4 overnights, 20 total. I’ve been throwing in 2 to 3 wet towels and setting to a water plus level and the load sense registers to the max. I haven’t checked the water temp I’ll do that next time. I had tried vinegar a couple months back and that helped for a little bit and now it doesn’t do anything.

        • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

          Rather than taking up a whole thread, do you want to continue this discussion either in our Discussion Board (where we can get input from other soft water people, since I only have experience with hard water: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PTSDiscussionBoard/) or you can email me directly and we can take it from there! (carolyn@paddedtushstats.com)

    • SE

      I don’t know if it will help with your stink problems, but I can tell you that I boiled all my Best Bottom hemp inserts when I prepped them. I tried one first and thought “what have I got to lose? One insert? No problem.” When that was fine I went ahead and boiled the others. The snaps have never given us any problems.

      Good luck with your detective work! Stink issues stink!!

  • Jessica

    Hi, I have been using Sunbabies for ~9 months and recently started having issues with them. In the past couple months my son has been having raw places on his delicate parts. I have stripped my diapers a couple times using Rockin’ Green Ammonia Bouncer, but to no avail. He was in disposables for a day while I was stripping and the spots completely cleared up. I LOVE cloth. But I need to figure out why they are all of a sudden irritating my son’s skin. I currently use ECOS Laundry soap to wash my diapers. I wash every other day: a cold rinse, hot wash and second hot rinse.

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      Hi there! Were there any changes made before the issue began? (And what do you think it is? Is it a rash? Could it be chafing? Is it after he poops or pees or all the time?) And do you have any stink issues with your diapers?

    • Amy

      My son has this same problem. He has been to the Dr. for it a couple of times. It was very scary when all of the skin in his diaper area started sloughing off. Most recently, he had blisters and was put on antibiotics. I’m hoping a good stripping of his diapers will help. I use ECOS on our cloths but I switched to Eco Sprouts detergent for my diapers as it is designed for them. I’m considering trying ECOS’ dish detergent in lieu of Dawn as that’s what I have in the house.

      • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

        That kind of reaction sounds frightening! I do find it intriguing that you’re having similar reactions and using the same detergent – maybe a switch is all you need! I hope you’ll come back and let us know if it helps!

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  • Ani W

    thanks for this. I did the dawn strip to some used diapers that were very stained and needed a good cleaning.

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  • Hillary H

    Oh man. I needed this article! My MF inserts are getting grosss!

  • Nicole

    Thank you for this, I haven’t seen many clear instructions for those who own a front loader.

  • Jennifer Nutter

    great article, theres one i havent heard of, like the bacout, interesting. I have heard the others luckily we havent done alot of stripping, just a non chlorine bleach as they were seconds… going on 4 months wish us luck?

  • rebecca

    I accidently added downy and my sons diapers are leaking I need to strip them right?

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      Yes, that would be how you’d fix the problem :( Are you sure that the leaking was because of the Downy, though? Could you son have just had more fluid to drink than usual? :)

    • Chantal M

      All fabric softeners (to my knowledge) leave a film on cloth that decreases its absorbency, so I would advise not using it after you strip and see how that works out. Also, I would strongly advise not using any fabric softener at all (liquid, dryer sheets, etc.), as the ingredients are toxic. They are banned in Europe, and here’s a link that may be of interest. http://www.ehaontario.ca/help-with.htm

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  • Jenn

    Ok so I have hard as rocks water +HE front loader.. Just curious EXACTLY :) what your routine is!

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      A lot of things changed for both Tara and I when Tide changed their formulation. Right now I’m using powdered Gain and a scoop of Oxy (the small scoop they provide in their small containers, not the giant laundry detergent sized scoop that comes in the Costco sized container!) in every load and that is working well for us (with hard water and an HE front loader). But there’s definitely some trial and error involved!

  • Christina

    This is super helpful and I can’t wait to try it!! Thanks!

  • Rachel N

    Helpful article, any resources on using RLR to strip diapers? When would you need to use that and how to do it?

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      RLR is frequently recommended for mineral buildup on diapers, and you use it “as needed” and following the directions on the packet (I believe it’s one packet in a load of laundry without detergent, but it’s been years so I used it so I can’t be certain!) If you wanted to join our Facebook Discussion Board (https://www.facebook.com/groups/PTSDiscussionBoard/) there might be more mamas there who have used it and could give their feedback on it! Good luck!

  • Stephanie

    I am so happy I stumbled upon this. I’ve been cloth diapering my two boys for two years and last time I needed to strip (a year and a half ago) I could NOT find any direction for someone with super hard water AND a HE front loader. Unfortunately the only thing that has worked for us is Tide. Recently I’ve heard rave reviews for Nellie’s all natural washing soda. Have you used this? I wasn’t clear if people were using it as their detergent or in combination with detergent or just for stripping.

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      You can see our results for Nellie’s at http://paddedtushstats.com/detergent-statistics/. Neither Tara or I have tried it, though, so we aren’t any personal help on that one :( Sorry!

    • Melody B.

      I use Nellie’s as my cloth diapering detergent and all our laundry. We love that its natural, works well and is so inexpensive.

  • Jennifer H

    Thanks for the tips!

  • Jenni

    Unfortunately, I’m basically stripping my diapers after every wash cycle. We have soft water here, so it takes several rinses to get all the detergent out. Otherwise, my kids’ diapers have a slight, unpleasant odor the second they pee. Tried backing down on the amount of detergent, but then they just don’t all get clean. I end up with at least 5 rinses after the wash cycle, sometimes more. :( That would make my stripping method the wash, wash, wash method, or as I call it, the rinse, rinse, rinse+ method. The upside of soft water is I can get away with Ecos f&c which is pretty inexpensive. I would love to find something that cleans well and rinses out better so I’m stripping less (not sure if that’s possible with soft water), but it’s hard to try something new once you find a routine that works (even if it’s somewhat complicated).

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      Have you tried eliminating all the extra rinses (is that when you end up with the stink when they pee?) Otherwise, you might want to try Country Save. It’s a clean rinsing detergent that gets the best scores from soft water users at http://paddedtushstats.com/detergent-statistics/ (though we admittedly don’t have a ton of information from people with soft water – make sure you fill out the survey for your current wash routine!) :) I’d usually tell people not to mess with something that is working fine, but if you’re doing 5 rinses, that doesn’t sound like it’s working fine :

      • Jenni

        Yeah, not a lot of info on the Internet on washing diapers with soft water, except that it’s easier to clean, but doesn’t rinse out easy. Believe me, I’ve searched! Thought about trying Country Save, but Eco Sprout does not get my diapers clean, and that’s one that I’ve heard works well with soft water. Makes me hesitant to try anything else. I end up having to use almost 5-6 Tbsp of Eco Sprout before it gets them clean (no thanks!). However, even after that much detergent, it did seem to rinse out better. I do want to change detergents. Just trying to get the courage to try something new without knowing if it will work. And like I said, Ecos does get them clean, which is the ultimate goal, right? Might just have to give it a shot! I have heard that Charlie’s Soap has been known to cause burns on some kids. Do you know if Country Save does as well? My youngest does seem to have slightly sensitive skin? Oh, and for the record, I’m using a top loading HE machine. It does have a cycle though that fills the water all the way up. Thanks for the link! That survey is helpful.

        • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

          Hmm, well, I think some of the burns stuff I’ve heard about had to do with RnG and that was a few years back. I don’t recall hearing anything about that recently (but I don’t have my fingers on the pulse of the CD detergent world or anything!) I’ve definitely never heard anything like that about Country Save, though. If I were you I’d probably try the Country Save – that is one of those detergents that works for quite a few people in different water conditions and is relatively easy to get (depending on where you live) and isn’t the most expensive option, either ;) It’s usually a good blend of being clean rinsing but being able to get things clean. It isn’t the TOP performing detergent across the board, but a lot of people do like it, and it is our top performing SOFT water detergent, so that would be my recommendation ;) And you could always try some but keep your Ecos on hand, just in case it doesn’t work and you need to quickly go back to your old system!

        • Traci

          I’ve only been CD for a month and a half, but we have soft water and are using Charlies soap. So far I love it. We ordered a sample from Kelly’s first. We washed about half of our diapers in it and made sure that LO didn’t have a reaction. I went to the website for Charlies soap and read up on their info first and it seems like the issue is fixed.

  • Amanda

    When u say one scoop of oxyclean is that one full scoop the oxyclean comes with? That seems like a lot too me. Also if using vinegar do u use white or apple cider? I think mb my water doesn’t get hot enough is this a major problem? I’m not sure how to make it hotter I tried boiling water one day and it took forever to fill the machine and didn’t help with my stink issues. Thanks for your help

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      Oxy used to always come with a fairly small scoop (it looks like maybe a tablespoon or two?) but when I bought the giant container of Oxy at Costco it came with a scoop the size of a powdered laundry scoop. I still use the small scoop for my diaper laundry, though. But you can read the directions and use however much you think might help. As for vinegar, most people use white vinegar, but I believe you can use apple cider vinegar if you want (not sure if it’ll leave a lingering smell, but you can always try and find out!) :) And this is a great article from Bummis about the different components of a wash routine: http://blog.bummis.com/2011/10/laundry-science.html It’s ideal if you can get hot water into your machine (can you turn your water heater up, at all?) but if that’s just not possible then you might need to adjust the other factors to compensate. Unfortunately, it just takes a lot of trial and error! Good luck! :)

      • Amanda

        Thank you! Great article I’ll just keep trying. I love using cloth diapers I just hate the smell. I wash every other day so they don’t sit for too long. I made homemade detergent and tried that last night and then let them soak overnight in oxyclean. Hopefully this will help. If not I’ll try something like grovia bubbles or trl. My diapers never stink when I switch them from wash to dryer or get them out of dryer only after my baby goes to the bathroom in it. This makes me think bacteria? I have a top load machine is a front load better for diapers? I feel like it takes forever to wash the diapers too because I am always doing lots of rinse cycles. Just to make sure the soap is all out. Frustrating but hopefully I’ll figure it out. Thanks again!

        • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

          If they stink after they’ve been peed in, then that essentially means that they haven’t gotten clean enough. You’d probably have better luck worrying less about doing a ton of extra rinses, and just using more (or a different, perhaps stronger) detergent. The GroVia Mighty Bubbles treatment is great as a temporary fix, but for a long term solution you’ll need to find a way to get the diapers cleaner.

  • Caitlyn Victoria Nave

    Oh my gosh I have the same terrible combination and actually had to stop using my cloth diapers because I couldn’t get them stripped. They were giving my daughter this horrible rash :( I am definitely going to give some of your tips a try and hopefully they will be stripped and usable for whenever I have another baby. May I ask what kind of detergent you choose to use?

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      Tara used Tide until they changed their formula, and her kids potty trained before she found another solution. I’ve been using Gain and Oxy (the Oxy is key, without it the diapers were mostly clean, but the Oxy helped remove the last traces of stink!)

      • Rawria

        Tide changed its formula? Is it not recommended now ?

        • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

          Tide changed their formula a bit over a year ago I believe (it’s when they started to include the Acti-lift crystals) and when the change happened some people reported issues but plenty of other people didn’t notice a difference. So if it is working for you or you want to try it, go for it! It’s still a great option!

  • Kaytia Castillo

    Hi, so I’ve been cloth diapering for 10months now and only have problems with the nighty diapers. one set has a built in super pad and the others are a charcoal bamboo insert. To keep my day time insert diapers from stinking up I use a homemade detergent of borax and superwash soda. To destench the night time inserts, the only thing that has worked for me is to dry them in the sun. I’m surprised I didn’t find that on the site. Sun drying bleaches out stains and kills bacteria naturally and great! I have the added benefit of living in the desert so my diapers dry quick and I can do this most of the year. During the winter months when my diapers need to be dryed inside, I soak them all in vinegar water about once every three days. and sometimes need to sprinkle the nighty diapers with baking soda. Did everyone forget about baking soda? Also and old remedy for curing stench.

  • Kaytia Castillo

    I almost forgot , this site was very insightfull and looks like a lot of good research and time went into it. Thank you! I appreciate that I could find this kind of information to take better care of the diapers I have and learn what I may have done wrong as well as confirm all the things I’ve been doing right. good job.

  • mackenzie

    I have the problem where once my baby pees in the diaper, it smells a little stinky. I make my own detergent made with borax, oxiclean, baking soda, washing soda and Dr. Bronners grated tea tree oil soap. Could the soap be building up? Do I just need to strip them? She does have rashes sometimes. Could I just try something simpler like just oxiclean or would that not do the job?

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      There are lots of people who use homemade detergent with success, but there are also lots of resources that can tell you why homemade detergents won’t be a great option. Soap (as opposed to laundry surfactants) are said to build up, which could cause stink issues. I personally wouldn’t use Oxiclean on it’s own, because it’s a laundry additive, not a laundry substitute and I haven’t personally had success with any detergent that doesn’t have a surfactant in it. Stripping could help if the problem is buildup, though you’ll still need to find a better solution to keep the buildup from happening again.

  • Kim

    Cloth diapering is driving me crazy! My diapers (pocket diapers- kawaii) have been leaking off and on! I’ve tried to target the leaky diapers and strip those but now every one is causing issues. She pees straight out the legs of the diapers! I go through bedding daily, and at least 3 pants! It’s so frustrating. I’ve stripped using vinegar and then banking soda to soften them up again. I’ve done the inserts in hot hot water and I feel like nothing is working! I have another baby due in three months and can’t imagine using leaky cloth diapers during this busy time! I use nellies natural laundry soda so I know it’s not my detergent and I do have a front loader but didn’t have an issue for 5 months until now!

    Please any suggestions? Is it a lost cause?

    • Kip

      Heya – Check the PUL on your Kawaii’s. After 7 months continual use, 1/2 of mine had perforations in the PUL :)

    • Mamaof2girls

      Oh man, my Kawaiis are doing the same thing! My 2 yo leaks through the legs in less than an hour. I’m not sure if it’s that she’s active and can’t get a good fit, of if the diapers are faulty. I stripped about 2 months ago. Any suggestions welcomed!

      • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

        Check out the reply I just typed out for Kim, too :) With a toddler and leaking legs I think the problem is more likely absorbency or fit related than anything that needs stripping!

    • megan

      I use blue dawn and oxiclean. You should hot wash no detergents, hot wash 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of blue dawn(depending on how many diapers you have) and 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon oxyclean (depending on how many diapers you have), hot wash no detergents, warm or cold rinse 2-4 times to make sure all the soap is out it causes repelling when you have any residue so rinse until you see no bubbles. I Dry inserts on high til dry to sterilize. I also dry covers flat then stick in drier on high 5 mins to sterilize and fluff up not enough time to damage them.

      My washing routine is medium load of diapers with high water cold soak/wash (delicate cycle) quarter cap all free and clear oxi, hot wash high water 1/2 teaspoon blue dawn 1/2 teaspoon oxyclean, cold rinse 2 or 3 times.
      I never get stink and I’ve never had to strip. I also rinse out all my diapers and inserts with water in the bathroom sink and ring out well before they go in my diaper pail so they dont fester in there. Hope that helps! Good luck!

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      So leaking out the legs most commonly is going to be a fit or absorbency issue – you’ll want to look and make sure there’s no leg gaping, and if that’s not the problem, chances are that you just need more absorbency (how soaked are the inserts when you remove the diaper? Your child might just be going through a heavy wetting phase, or they might pee too quickly for the diaper to absorb!) If you’re already using multiple microfiber inserts, you might want to try pairing a microfiber and hemp insert (the microfiber will absorb quickly, and the hemp will hold more fluid than the microfiber can). If your child is getting older, you might also be having compression leaks (if the baby is larger/heavier, when they sit down they could essentially be squeezing the pee out of the insert!) When my son was about 18 months he started having TERRIBLE leaks (even with the MF/hemp combo). We eventually switched to using padfolded flats as inserts because I was having trouble keeping the MF clean, and the leaks were much reduced. He might have just stopped drinking as much, but I think the compression leaks were probably a bigger factor than I’d realized. So you might want to buy some flour sack towels (you can get them in packs of 5 at Walmart for $1, so if it doesn’t work you haven’t lost much money!) and see if that makes a difference, too. I hope that helps! I really think troubleshooting the absorbency or fit issues will make a bigger difference than worrying about stripping :)

    • amanda

      If she’s leaking out the legs it may be that the legs are not snug enough? We have the same issue with my daughter whenever she hits a growth spurt so we readjust how we’re fastening them and that usually does the trick

    • Lydia

      I have two Kawaiis and they always leak! I double up her inserts in them, but I still tend to have more leaks if I don’t change her quick enough. I never use them at night time.

    • carrie

      Hi Kim,
      Any luck? I’m having the same exact problem, and also just had our second baby 2 weeks ago. The leaking diapers for our toddler are yes — driving me NUTS! Changing so many full outfits everyday! Please tell me you found a magic solution!

      • Kim

        No magic solution! Tried every type of washing and soaking I could think of! Leaking improved sometimes but not all! I potty trained my toddler I was so sick of the diapers! Now she’s partly potty trained but we kind of did it too early so we’re now in pull ups! Hoping she’ll transition completely soon! Or I might pick up some cloth training pants!

        And once I run out of disposables for my new one I’m switching her to the cloth! Hoping they won’t leak for her and that it was just a fit issue for my oldest! Fingers crossed!

      • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

        Hi guys! In my experience the leaks you are describing most likely aren’t caused by anything that needs stripping. Are the inserts totally saturated? Diapers can only contain so much fluid before it will find an exit (and legholes are an easy way out!) If you’re using microfiber inserts, a lot of times toddlers will have compression leaks (you don’t have that problem with babies because they usually don’t weigh as much, but once the baby gets big enough the weight of their body alone is enough sometimes to squeeze the moisture back out of the insert – and once again the leghole is a common escape route!) If the diapers aren’t totally saturated then it’s probably a fit issue. If you want to email me or join us on Facebook we could all help you troubleshoot!

  • Katie Townsend

    What do u put in the wash with your diapers? What is your whole routine? I have the same conditions as you, hard water,front loading He machine. Thank you so much for your help!

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      The most common routine to start with is a pre-rinse (a lot of people do cold to help avoid setting in the stains, but warm or hot is recommended to better rinse out all the initial mess), a long hot wash (whatever is most thorough on your machine) with the usual rinse including in the cycle, and then an extra rinse (hot or warm if your machine lets you choose, though most newer machines only do cold rinses). And the scented Tide almost always does better than the Free and Gentle versions, so that’s what most people are referring to when they say they use Tide :) http://paddedtushstats.com/detergent-statistics/

  • Jenn Gonzalez

    I have been exclusively using the flip stay dry inserts on my 5 month old son. Just recently I started getting a fishy smell when he’d pee on them and also a small bumpy red rash along his waistline and leg creases where the diaper sat. I decided to strip my diapers since I had not done that yet. Unfortunately, I have a samsung frontloading he machine :-P I used a tsp of blue dawn and LOTS of hot/cold rinses until no suds, then two warm/warm rinses with the delicate setting since that apparently adds the most water. The stink is gone now but the rash is just as bad. I’ve narrowed it down to either bacteria still in the stay dry inserts or an allergy (though I would think an allergy would be everywhere the insert touches?)

    I’ve always used the bumgenius detergent – 1 scoop for he loaders as it suggests. Do you think that there may be too much detergent and not enough water? I’m going to strip again (pre-soaking the diapers by hand as you suggested to make sure they’re thoroughly wet!) but I’m unsure if I should start by using more detergent or less! LOL this is tough! Any suggestions?

    • JessicaAdam Lager

      Just started cloth diapering and my 15 month old is getting a bad rash, you haven’t happened to figure what was causing yours have you? Im getting very discouraged…

    • Jessica Balmer

      We used to use Rockin Green, with no issues. We switched to bumgenius detergent and I’m stripping today for the second time in two months. I think it’s the detergent, because we haven’t done anything different. No smell, but tons of repelling/no absorbency.

  • Sara Keeler

    This is so helpful! Thank you!

  • Ekaterina

    Please help!
    I’d been using pockets and all in ones with no apparent issue until our recent holiday where we used an HE machine for the first time. I didn’t know what it was and put my regular amount of detergent. Of course the smell, leaking and all that nice stuff happened. So now I don’t know what to do. I have hard water, top loader, but a very old machine that has only warm and cold cycles, not even a delicate regime… I rinsed the diapers twice just to make them less smelly, and they are hanging around waiting… I bought white vinegar. Would you recommend soaking them overnight in the tub with vinegar or something else? What temperature of water? I am open to suggestions.
    Thank you!

  • Erika Summers

    great article! I like how you broke it down into each section and type of stripping with pros and cons. Already bookmarked and will forward to cloth newbie friends. Thanks!

  • Kelly

    Thank you! I am just starting to cloth diaper and this is extremely helpful to me!!

  • Julie

    I have never heard of stripping cloth diapers up until a couple months ago. I have been doing research on stripping since then and have tried numerous methods, so I am going to try this method and see if it helps! This article has some really great tips.

  • Melissa Morgan

    It’s nice when stripping can be as simple as using your dish soap!

  • Lisa Denby

    If I strip my diapers with a combination of oxyclean and washing soda, do I also add detergent?

    Can I use home made laundry detergent for my cloth diapers: bar soap, washing soda and borax with water?

  • Kate

    I love love love this! So helpful, thank you!! I have a couple of questions. What is washing soda?? As the size of my little guy’s diapers are getting bigger, they are almost constantly stinking and you mentioned the washing soda helps with stink so I’d love to start using this!
    And do you use a full scoop of oxy clean? It seems like a lot to put in there… But if you say it works I’ll do it! :)

    • http://www.makingitworkblog.com/ Carolyn Russell

      Washing soda is a water softening agent that is already in most laundry detergents, but people with hard water can benefit by adding more of it to counteract the additional minerals in their water. You can find it at stores in the laundry aisle by the Oxyclean or other additives (in my area only Walmart carries it, so you might need to go to a few stores to find it!) It’s not the same thing as baking soda, even though the brand you usually see is also made by Arm & Hammer ;)

      As for the oxy, they seem to have changed the amount of product you are supposed to use and the scoop that they sell with it. (A few years ago it was sold with a tiny scoop and that was all that was needed, but now it is sold with a giant laundry-detergent-sized-scoop and I believe most people use to the line 1). There’s definitely some trial and error involved, though, so you might need to choose an amount to start with, give it a try, and then use more if that doesn’t seem to be working.

      I hope that helps! :)

  • Kim Moore

    This is easily the most definitive and easy to use guide on diaper stripping!!! Thank you for the well written article! How often have you had to do this? I am hoping that with a homemade minimalistic detergent I won’t have to do this often!

  • stinie18287

    Super helpful! Never knew that you could use blue dawn!

  • Kim

    I received my cloth diapers in the mail earlier today. They are second hand from a mom on diaperswappers .com. They smell like ethnic food. I have them soaking but I’m kind of freaking out because I’m afraid the smell won’t come out. They are PUL covers.

  • trinity62486

    I am new to cloth diapers and I am wondering if using liquid Tide that is scented is okay? Is it bad for the diapers or bad for baby to use scented detergent. I have read different things and my friends that use cloth diapers use homemade detergents. I have not had any luck with homemade detergents on my clothes and am not sure it would work for my diapers. I looked through the comments but I haven’t found an answer yet. Thanks