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Six Ways to Strip Your Cloth Diapers

by julie on November 12, 2012

Stripping Cloth Diapers

We have all heard the term “strip your cloth diapers” before, but what does it actually mean. When I first learned about stripping my diapers, I was told that you just wash the diapers several times on hot with no detergent. But then friends began to tell me how they stripped their cloth diapers using bleach. So much for just using one method. I hope this post shows that there are different ways to strip your cloth diapers and that some ways may work better for different people depending on their resources, or the type of diapers they use.

Six Ways to Strip Your Cloth Diapers

No Detergent

This was the first way I started stripping my diapers. Simply wash your cloth diapers as you normally would. For me this is a cold rinse, hot wash, and hot rinse. After your normal cycle, run 3-5 more hot washes with no detergent. This method seemed to work very well for me until my son reach 1 year, and his urine started to become stronger.

Dawn Original

Dawn, the original blue liquid formula is often used to strip your cloth diapers. First, wash your diapers as you normally would. Then start with a hot rinse, followed by a long hot wash with 1 tablespoon of dawn for a regular washer, and 1 teaspoon for a HE washing machine. Follow the dawn by 2-3 rinse cycles. You will know the diapers are done when there are no more suds. Dawn helps to remove any grease or oils on your diapers. I have even heard of people scrubbing down into the microfleece parts of their diapers to remove residues as well. One reader even used a toothbrush with dawn. Please beware of how much dawn you use and how much you scrub it in. The more scrubbing, the more rinses. Always rinse until there are no more bubbles.


Bleach is NOT something to be scared of if used properly. I have friends that use bleach all the time on their cloth diapers and have never had a problem with it being too harsh on their baby’s bottoms! But remember that every baby’s sensitivity level is different. Also remember when using bleach that it may void some cloth diaper manufacturer’s warranties. Personally I use a lot of Flip cloth diapers. The manufacturer of the Flip recommends using 1/2 cup of bleach during the wash cycle. Please be sure not to put the bleach directly on the cloth diapers, but in the liquid bleach compartment. Go HERE to see a picture of what I am talking about. Remember that after using bleach, do a couple of rinses to be sure all of the bleach is removed.


RLR by Cadie is a well know laundry agent that helps to get rid of the stink and any detergent or residue build-up on cloth diapers. RLR is not bleach, a detergent, or a soap. Many people use RLR to help remove the “ammonia” smell in their diapers. RLR is phosphate and perfume FREE and completely biodegradable. It is safe on all fabrics including PUL and TPU. Some people use RLR monthly to keep the stink at bay. To use, simply add one packet into a HOT wash cycle with nothing else (no detergent, no softeners, no dawn, NOTHING). Follow the wash with a few rinses, or until the water is clear of suds.

Bac Out

Bac-Out is an all natural cleaning solutions that has live enzyme cultures which help to eat away at organic waste and bacteria found in cloth diapers. Many people use Bac-Out by Biokleen as a way to strip their cloth diapers. Not only does it help with stains, but the live enzymes also fight against odors. Bac-Out is also safe for septic systems. Biokleen also makes a foaming spray that can be used once a dirty diaper is taken off the baby and thrown into the diaper pail. If you want to add Bac-Out to your wash routine, simply add it in during the wash cycle, following the directions on the bottle. Please note that I have not yet tried this product, but with all the good reviews, I will be purchasing some shortly. The nice thing about Bac-Out is that it can often be found in health food stores such as Whole Foods!

Specialty Stripping Formula

Many cloth diaper detergent manufacturers make specialty products made specifically for “stripping cloth diapers.” Each formula comes with specific instructions on the use. Some popular brands are Rockin’ Green’s Funk Rock, Laundry Tarts Strip It, and Penguin Sport WashA lot of these brands sell sample size packets as well for you to try it out.

**As I mentioned before, please be sure to check your manufacturer’s instructions before using any of the above methods for stripping your cloth diapers. Improper use may void the warranty of you cloth diapers**

Looking for more information on this topic? Check out these resources:

I Bleached My Diapers!!!!

Poll: How often do you strip your cloth diapers?

Let the Stripping begin, Cloth Diapers that is!


Have you ever stripped your cloth diapers before?

Which method do you use for stripping your cloth diapers?


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Thinking About Cloth Diapers November 12, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Some great suggestions, Julie! We usually did the Dawn thing or lots of hot water rinses, but I just ordered some RLR and am looking forward to trying it on some of my inserts that I’ve taken out of our rotation and would like to put away for awhile. I didn’t realize that Flip allowed Bleach – that’s good to know since so many manufacturers do not!


kristi Balibrera November 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm

RLR is the best hands down! for stink, repelling issues and even gets out rash creams!


J January 19, 2013 at 10:36 am

What about OxyClean? I had read about people using a couple scoops to strip clean diapers…any thoughts on this? Thanks!


Sierra April 15, 2013 at 9:13 am

I would recommend oxygen bleach, I use the the biokleen brand (makers of bac-out). I think it would be good to note that with a proper wash cycle your diapers should rarely, if ever be “stripped”. If there is detergent build up than you need to adjust your detergent or increase your rinses. If there is Ammonia build up than your diapers are not getting clean and you need to increase your detergent amount or otherwise change your wash cycle to get your diapers clean!

Generally I only need to add oxygen bleach when I let the diapers sit too long, when dealing with yeast, or after purchasing used diapers. If I need it at another time, especially at any frequency, I evaluate my wash cycle (and I have been there!). Even so adding 1oz of Oxygen bleach to the prerinse barely seems worth giving a title like “striping” but it’s what people relate to.

Be wary of people who say they have a great wash routine, they just have to “strip” every 6 weeks. Think about it…


Ophelia June 27, 2014 at 1:26 pm

AMEN!!!!! I am always baffled when I read that someone says something they do is “working well”, yet they are stripping pretty regularly. I know the type of diaper you are using can make it tricky – as I have had to strip twice now since trying out fitteds whereas I used flats for YEARS without ever stripping…..but even so, I am learning how to handle fitteds still & I KNOW there is a problem with my wash routine that I am having to strip at all. I will figure it out & when I get it right, I don’t expect to be stripping at all.


gina June 2, 2013 at 6:04 pm

so the would it be ok use Dawn dish soap in the,washing machine? and if ok how much?


Natalie Jones August 26, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Do you add the dawn directly in the wash or in the detergent compartment? I have a HE front loader?


julie August 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I don’t have a HE machine, so I put it in directly with the diapers. I also mixed it up with hot water and then poured the hot water into the washer. Hope this helps!


rachel September 15, 2013 at 11:46 am

I do not have my own washer and dryer so I have strictly used the laundromat. I do put a little more effort into my wash routine but its been 6 months and I am about to strip my diapers for the first time. They do not smell but they do leak a little bit now. I looked online and it said I cam purchase the Bac-Out at walgreens so I will be adding that to my load today along with a few extra washes.

the key for me is to use a lot of water for your wash routine…too much of anything can cause build up. Does anyone else use the laundromat for their diapers?


Jenny October 14, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I am new to cloth diapering, and every day I learn something new. It’s really helpful to know that I can use bleach and Dawn if I really need to.


Tannis W October 15, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Thanks for the stripping tips! I’m hoping all goes well when I start cloth, but glad to have resources like this if I start having issues.


Melissa October 18, 2013 at 11:56 am

Thanks for the tips., I think we are going to go the OxyClean route after a few hot water wash rinse cycles. We have a front loader, sweet pea trifolds and my son is 17 months… this is our first foray into stripping cause he has gotten a yeast diaper rash and the doc said to be sure to strip so as not to reinfect/contaminate.
Our normal wash routine is no more than 15 trifolds in hot with warm rinse, mountain green detergent filled to second line (I used to LOVE thirstys until they discontinued it!). So far no issues with repelling or stink.


katie January 1, 2014 at 7:37 pm

I just to a prewash with vinegar and it works great! Also works on athletic cloths that like to cling to stink.


Emily March 3, 2014 at 10:48 am

I had trouble getting my diapers stripped the basic hot-water wash way. Even after five cycles I was still getting suds!

I finally stuck my finger into the washer’s water and found that “hot” wasn’t all that hot and that my grandmother (we live in her basement apartment) had turned down the heat on the water heater in order to protect the baby from some unforeseen water accident.

(I’m thinking that change may have affected my routine enough to warrant the sudden need to strip the diapers).

Once I got the water hotter, smooth sailing.


Erin March 27, 2014 at 2:50 pm

I was always told to use white vinegar. It gets rid of smells he leaves behind. If they get real bad (Has only happened once) I soak them overnight in white vinegar. It works quite well.


Amber May 5, 2014 at 10:20 am

My boy has some super ammonia smells coming from his diapers, definitely time to do a bit of work. Thanks for all the advice :)


Tyler July 26, 2014 at 11:46 pm

Dawn inside a washing machine is detrimental. It will remove the grease from the bearings and damage the machine while also causing grease stains. Also stripping with plain water? Makes no sense, especially if you have hard water. You’re just asking for mineral deposits to build up in your dipes and cause barnyard stink. You’d be better off doing an RLR strip followed by bleach soak.


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