Friday, March 1, 2013

In Which I Conquer my Fear of Diaper Stripping

You may recall that I'm terrified of having to strip diapers. Well you know what happens when you announce something like that publicly? Yep. I had to strip diapers last week.

Apparently you're supposed to strip diapers from time to time to help get rid of any mineral/ammonia/detergent that has built up in the diapers over time. We were over five months in and I had never stripped them. It was a good run.

If you Google stripping diapers, you will see that there are a million different ways it can be done. What works for one person may yield dismal results for another person. There are many factors to consider when figuring out how best to strip your diapers. Do you have hard or soft water? A traditional or HE washing machine? Do your diapers smell funny straight out of the wash? Do they smell poopy/fishy/ammonia-y?

I mean they're diapers. A care routine shouldn't be this complicated.

I wasn't really sure what I was dealing with, but The Baby Fish was starting to get some red patches in his diaper area, there was a weird smell that I just couldn't put my finger on (not poopy, not ammonia-y, just kind of moldy) when I took the diapers out of the washer, and his first diapers in the morning could fell a horse. I figured the morning diaper thing was just because he sleeps for 12 hours at night (please don't let me jinx myself) and nothing about 12 hour old warm pee SHOULD smell good, but the other issues were nagging at me.

I called my trusty diaper store and they suggested these two products:

The Bac-Out has live enzymes that eat up organic matter that is in the diaper and the Funk Rock is a natural ammonia bouncer.

Before I used those things, I attempted stripping them with blue Dawn dish soap. I was a little scared that I would come back to suds cascading out of the machine and down the stairs, so I didn't use very much.

I didn't notice any difference in the diapers after using it.

Then I tried the Funk Rock. Still no difference.

Then I tried the Bac-Out. I tried it once in the washer and didn't notice a difference. Then I dumped all of the diapers in the bathtub and soaked them in hot water with a good amount of Bac-Out overnight. In the morning, I washed them as usual (you really want to make sure you've rinsed all of the Bac-Out from the diapers before putting them on the baby so the enzymes don't attack the baby's skin). Still stinky.

So I did what I've heard you're never supposed to do.

I used bleach.

Bleach will void some diaper warranties, so I don't necessarily suggest it, but I did remove all of my diapers that have PUL before using bleach, so I was left with prefolds and a few fitteds. Then I rinsed, rinsed, rinsed.

It did the trick! Even that strong early morning pee smell is GONE. (I seriously stuck my head in the diaper pail the other morning to make sure and I couldn't smell anything! Ha!)

I've since read that using up to 1/4 cup of bleach in the wash once a month or so will not void most warranties, so I may do it every now and then just to keep them fresh.

In the meantime, I am going to try using the Bac-Out and the Funk Rock occasionally to try to keep buildup down.

I will say that we turned to disposables for a few days while I experimented with all of these stripping techniques and I was so glad to be back in cloth when it was all over. If you've only ever used 'sposies, you probably don't notice the chemical + pee smell, but I challenge you to use cloth for a little bit and then go back to disposables. It really is a strong chemical odor. The little trashbag of wet disposables that had only been sitting for one day was almost nauseating. His newly stripped diapers could sit wet in his room for two days and you wouldn't even know they were there.

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  1. I have never stripped my diapers... am I supposed to? :) I do use baking soda and vinegar from time to time (soda in the wash, vinegar in the first rinse) and it seems to freshen them up.

    1. What kind of detergent do you use? And what kind of washer/water do you have?

      I have a HE washer, so I think part of the problem is trying to force it to use enough water to wash out the detergent. I have tweaked my washing routine a little bit, so I think that's going to help me out. Time will tell. :)