I’ve been using cloth diapers since Gibs was born. And I have only ever used Rockin Green detergent. I think it’s serving its purpose well. But despite using the special detergent and avoiding diaper creams with cloth diapers (I use liners if he needs diaper rash cream to keep the diapers from getting covered in junk) six months of constant use and my diapers were starting to smell a bit…off. Even fresh from the wash.
I guess that’s because of baby powder. (No worries, our baby powder is made of corn starch not talc.) Another theory is that starting baby on solids changes the pH of his/her waste and that can lead to diapers needing deep cleaning. Even though I’ve taken all the proper precautions, eventually our diapers were in need of a strip.
There are LOTS of ways to do this. KawaiiBaby recommends you simply wash the diapers without detergent and check the water for suds. Keep washing and rinsing them until the water runs completely clear. I felt my diapers might need a little more help. But there’s so much contradictory information out there. And some of it can lead to terrible things like causing a diaper rash so bad it blisters baby thanks to ammonia buildup!
My friend is a garment-industry insider (if she told me exactly what she does, she’d have to kill me) and has access to all the cool kids with knowledge of cleaners and detergents. She gave me the scoop on how to deep clean diapers after having run-ins with misinformation on the internet. According to her, the waterproof fabric my diapers are made of is colorfast. So no worries about using a special color safe bleach. Just plain old bleach will do. (And she’s right! No loss of color on our diapers.)
So for Labor Day, I gave my diapers the spa treatment with a bleach soak. First I filled my washer full of cold water and added 1/2 cup of bleach to the mix. After making sure the bleach was thoroughly stirred in, I threw in all my microfiber inserts. You can do this for as short a time as 30 minutes, but I let the inserts soak for a full hour. Then I rinsed and began my normal three part wash cycle.
The only other change was that I added two tablespoons of Rockin’ Green’s Funk Rock Ammonia Bouncer. The instructions call for four tablespoons per load of up to 20 diapers. But I thought, with the bleach soak, I didn’t need to use quite that much. I will however be adding it to my diapers pre-wash on a more regularly basis now to keep the funk at bay. Maybe that will extend the time between required diaper stripping.
So once the diapers were soaked, rinsed, rinsed again with Funk Rock, washed with Rocking Green and then rinsed one more time- I decided to rinse just once more for good measure. If you can still smell bleach on your diapers, you don’t want them to go on your baby’s bottom. Could cause issues. Even though water isn’t something to be wasted, you should still take the extra step to ensure all of the bleach is removed.
While the inserts were in the dryer, I did the exact same process with all 36 of my pocket diapers.
Once the diapers were pulled from the wash, The Man brought one to his nose and declared them “hotel clean.” That mysterious scent that only hotels seem to manage. At least good hotels. The sheets and towels are soft, but you just know they are super clean too. That kind of clean. And that’s a good feeling when you’ve been pulling diapers off your baby that smell like a barn.
How do you know if your diapers need to be stripped? Well- the barn smell is a huge clue. But also, is your baby getting diaper rash more often lately? And have you had to use diaper creams or ointments on his/her bottom that might have coated the diapers? Has he/she started eating some solid foods or otherwise had a recent change in diet? If you answered yes to any of those questions, there’s a chance it’s time to strip those diapers.
Some folks strip as often as monthly. Others (like me apparently) might wait six months. Really, only you know when your diapers are in need of deep cleaning. Just like anything else in life, you sometimes just have to follow your gut. Or in my case, my nose.