Getting the Stink Out by Stripping Cloth Diapers

The time comes for nearly every cloth diapering mama to get the dreaded stink from her stash. Stripping cloth diapers is the part they don’t tell you about… but fortunately it’s not that hard and by taking good care of your diapers you won’t have to do it all that often. Read on to find out why stripping your cloth diapers every now and again is needed and how to go about it.

Why Strip Cloth Diapers?

The reason it’s sometimes necessary to strip cloth diapers is thanks to build-up of detergent and oils. Stripping is simply the process of removing this build-up. Using a detergent that isn’t cloth diaper friendly is a common cause, though even the best detergents can build up over time as well.

What baby’s eating seems to have an effect as well. Exclusively breast fed babies tend to have poop that rinses away much more easily, while on the flip side, toddler diapers can turn stinky much more often.

Signs You Need to Strip Your Stash

If you’re not sure whether you need to strip your diapers, look for the following signs. Hint: If you’re asking, it’s probably worth a try!

  • Diapers smell funky, even when you just washed them.
  • Diapers aren’t as absorbent anymore, and you notice more leaks and blowouts.
  • Increase in frequency of diaper rash.

How to Strip Cloth Diapers

Stripping cloth diapers is simple, though it does take quite a bit of time. You’ll want to do it when you’re going to be home all day and able to check on the diapers.

There are several methods of stripping cloth diapers; one of the most popular and effective is to use blue Dawn dish soap, so that is the one covered here. You’ll want to make sure it’s the original blue Dawn (either concentrated or unconcentrated)- not one of the new funky scented ones, since those fragrances will just cause more buildup.

  1. Start with freshly washed diapers that have been rinsed in a cold cycle.
  2. Add 1 Tablespoon of blue Dawn dish soap to the washer, or 2-3 tablespoons if you’re using the unconcentrated version.
  3. Wash your diapers once on the hottest setting your washer has. Repeat, without using any detergent whatsoever the second time.
  4. Switch to cold water and run your diapers through another complete wash cycle.
  5. Repeat the cold rinse cycle over and over again until you no longer see any suds in the washer. It will probably take 2-3 rinses, but maybe even a few more if there was a lot of detergent build-up in your diapers.

That’s all there is to it! Some find that they will have to strip their diapers like this once a month, while others can go much longer between strips. A lot of it depends on the water in your area as well as your normal wash routine. Which leads us into the next point…

Preventing Build-up

Having a good wash routine can drastically reduce how often you’ll need to strip your cloth diapers. We talk about how to wash cloth diapers on our store website, so do check that out (and just ask if you have any questions!), but here are a few key points to keep in mind:

  • Wash every 2-3 days. Letting them sit longer can worsen odours.
  • Use a cloth diaper friendly detergent and avoid fabric softener.
  • Sun your cloth diapers when you can.
  • Minimize the use of creams and lotions, especially those not formulated for use with cloth diapers.
  • Try using more detergent when you wash if you find that you’re having to strip your dipes often.


We know that there are more ways than one to go about stripping cloth diapers – what’s the best way you’ve found to get rid of the stinkies?

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