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When your diapers begin to leak or smell that means it’s time to strip. There are various philosophies on this both what to use and how often to do it. I will share with you how I do it, but here is a link to a much more extensive list of suggestions.
I’ve been told that ideally you shouldn’t need to regularly strip your diapers. I agree with this with one exception: all night nighttime diapers. My kids were both heavy wetters during the toddler years, meaning they generated large amounts of urine fairly quickly. Their diapers were sopping in the morning. If they used disposables they would be drenched from crotch to chin. With my son we have had to resort to wool covers for the first time to keep him dry. The overnight diapers we used always stunk. Nothing I could do prevented that. But when the ammonia would sting my eyes as I changed them or if they got rashes, then I knew it was time to strip the diapers. I usually strip night time diapers around once a month. Otherwise, strip your diapers only as needed.
Start with clean diapers. Wash your diapers as usual, perhaps modifying your routine slightly if you think the wash routine is the problem.
This should preferably be plain, blue non-ultra dawn. (Though I have used ultra in a pinch but only in miniscule amounts) Most methods recommend a tsp for front loaders. Then rinse, rinse, rinse. I usually run the longest possible hot cycle with an extra rinse, followed by two quick cycles with extra rinses hot or warm. If the diapers smell clean then you are probably done. Another recommended clue is that you should make sure you don’t see any suds left from the Dawn. However, if it doesn’t work, you can proceed further.
Using Tea Tree Oil or Grapefruit Seed Extract
I love these two for stripping. Don’t use too much or it can leave residue on your diapers. I find that just a few drops of each works fine. Run the longest, hottest load with the largest amount of water. Then same as above, run additional wash cycles or rinse and spin cycles until they smell clean.
When I have ongoing stink issues I will soak the offending diapers in a bucket with cold water and oxyclean overnight and then put them in the washer to rinse for multiple cycles in the morning.
Bleach- the last ditch effort
Chlorine Bleach is a huge no-no. But sometimes it’s the only thing that works. (bumGenius is one of the only brands that recommends the regular use of bleach on their inserts. ¼ cup in the front loading washer once a month.) I don’t recommend bleaching natural fiber diapers. I did once, years ago. I had an ongoing yeast issue and I was desperate. So I bleached my prefolds. They took a beating. They lasted me through the rest of my daughter’s diapering years but when it came around to my son they developed large holes and I eventually had to downgrade them to burb clothes and cleaning clothes. Use bleach at your own risk, but if it’s this or giving up, give it a try. Don’t use too much and make sure you rinse until you can’t smell bleach anymore.