Detergent, Wash Routine & Stripping

Posted on Friday, December 25, 2009 in Cloth Diaper

After trying countless types of detergent from different price range, I came to learn that all detergent are made with some amount of oil. So eventually they will all cause detergent build-up regardless if they said or claim they are “designed” for washing cloth diapers or not. Proper methods can be adapted to ensure all detergent is rinsed out completely from your diapers. Detergent build up are terrifying because they can lead to some really nasty fungus infection. Not to mention, really smelly diapers!

The detergents that I highly recommend would be Charlie’s soap, Country Save and Might Environmentally Safe detergent. All these detergent are good for both adults and babies so you would not need to buy separate detergent for adult. Having a separate detergent for adult is usually not a good idea as adult detergent mostly contains a small amount of fabric softener. Fabric softeners are a big no no for cloth diapers because it will coat the diaper with a layer of wax which will affect the absorbency of the diaper. Moreover, adult detergent contains substances which are too strong and are not recommended for baby skin. Residue of Adult detergent can always be found in the washing machine after a wash so this will definitely affect your next load of baby clothes and diapers.

If your baby has sensitive skin, the tiniest bit of adult detergent would trigger a bad eczema rash.

Hand washing is not recommended for cloth diapers as I personally feel that our hands do not rinse them thorough enough for the detergent to be completely washed out of the diaper.

Please do take note that fitted diapers with a lot of layers like Graham Bear Wear and Poverty Jane would require extra care as the build up would be more “potent”. It is very important to follow the routine strictly. If needed, do the stripping as often as 2-3 weeks instead of every month.

All newly bought diapers and soaker/inserts should be washed at least 3 times before the first use. You should prewash them separately from baby clothes and diapers. Bamboo and Hemp when brand new has a lot of oil in them, so it is best to use your hand to wash them first for about 2-3 times. Soaking them in boiling water is an effective way to remove the oil. Make sure your final round of rinsing is with the washing machine to ensure all the detergent used during the hand wash is thoroughly removed. The use of washing machine is important to ensure all detergent is rinsed out and they are free of any industrial waste and particals. After that, they are safe to be washed in the washing machine with your other diapers. We do not recommend the use of any other detergent except those which are safe for babies and our Mother Earth.

All my washing methods are for Dry-Pailing only. I do not recommend Wet-Pailing as I feel that it uses too much water and allows build up to happen more efficiently. For those who uses Microfiber soakers have higher chances of bacteria manifestation if you soak your diapers in water. Water Pail is also dangerous for wandering toddlers.

A normal routine for every diaper wash cycle should be:

  1. Prewash your diapers on cold/room temperature water, this keeps the stains from setting in.
  2. A. For washing machines which cannot choose high level water settings, you should choose the highest water temperature like 90 degree celcius. Then pour in as much tap water as possible into the machine while it is washing, this should bring the temperature down to 60-70 degrees. You can use 1/2 spoon of detergent this way.
  3. B. If you are lazy and do not want to spend time pouring water into the machine, then you should set the temperature to 60-70 degrees and use only 1/4 spoon, however bear in mind that this method will not be as effective.
  4. I find that using “Cotton” setting in your machine which has the most “agitation” is most effective compared to the other options.
  5. Run another wash cycle either A. or B. mentioned above but without detergent. Peak to see if you see bubbles in water, if you do means there are still detergent left in the diapers, do another round of wash cycle or if you don’t have enough time, a rinse cycle will do. Just make sure you keep looking for bubbles in water, that is a sign to say that they are not clean enough.
  6. Dry diapers on the sun, its the best way to remove stains and they last much longer.

Every 1 month or so or when your diaper smells like ammonia as soon as your baby pees in it, it is time to strip your diapers of build up. I have tried countless way but I found the below the most effective and easy. The method used below is for 10 diapers and 15-25 soakers/inserts. You should adjust the detergent based on your load but I would not wash more than 10 diapers for stripping process.

  1. Rinse your diapers in cold/normal temperature water to remove the urine.
  2. Boil a BIG tub of HOT BOILING water, please watch out for the kids. Make sure they are enough to soak all the diapers and inserts/soakers ENTIRELY.
  3. Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into hot water and mix it in before you put the diapers and inserts/soakers in. Leave it to soak for at least 1 hour or until the water is not hot anymore to the touch.
  4. Put the diapers in the washing machine and put in 2 FULL tablespoon of Sunlight Dish Detergent. It is found in major departmental store, you can use the lime one if you like.
  5. Start the wash cycle by choosing the most “agitation” option which is usually the “Cotton” option. Choose the highest temperature setting usually 90 degrees celcius. Once it starts washing, pour in the earlier soaking water mixed with baking soda just now to the washing cycle. You need not pour everything, just enough water to soak the diapers in the machine, you can peek through the window to check if there are sloshing sound and if there are a lot of water in the machine. This is mandatory, you cannot choose to be lazy and not add water in. HE machines especially do not have enough of water to totally remove detergent build up. Do this wash cycle at least 3-4 times. To save time, you can restart your wash cycle as soon as your current cycle turns to spin drying. It is not important for your initial wash cycles since you would be washing them again. Peak through the window occasionally to see if there are still bubbles in the water, once it is clear, you can let the cycle complete with spin drying. Add 2 tablespoon of Bleach to the second wash cycle (since the first wash cycle has Sunlight Dish Detergent in them) if your diapers are very very smelly and if you have tried many many ways to remove the build up but in vain. Bleach are not good for your diapers but it does help kill bacteria and smell so use it only when its absolutely necessary, you need not use this for every stripping.
  6. Occasionally you get a lot of suds coming out of the machine if there is too much Sunlight used, turn it off and scoop the suds out and continue washing again. It doesn’t harm the machine. :)
  7. For the third wash cycle, use a 1/2 cup of distilled vinegar over the diapers.
  8. You can me washing all night long. I highly suggest you put one day aside to do this stripping process.
  9. Make sure you use up all your earlier soaking water mixed with baking soda on all your wash cycles, don’t waste it and it is MANDATORY that you add water for HE machines.
  10. Dry in the sun.

I recommend the use of Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda found in Cold Storage. You know for sure there isn’t starch in this baking soda.

Goog Luck, please email me for help.

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