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Published on March 11th, 2013 | by Heather Vaughn


How to strip cloth diapers

I'm pretty sure the first time someone new to cloth diapers hears the words "strip your diapers", they don't think of the washing machine. Those of us who have cloth diapered for a while sometimes forget what a strange phrase it is when you first encounter it.

Merriam-Webster defines strip as a verb that means "to remove clothing, covering, or surface matter from". Since cloth diapers are also an article of clothing, it can be easy to see why this is such a confusing phrase.

However, when we recommend stripping your cloth diapers, we mean to 'remove surface matter from' the fabric of your cloth diapers. Laundry detergents can leave a bit of residue behind and, over time, this can create a buildup that can lead to leaks. It's sort of like removing the paint from a piece of old furniture.

So how often do you need to strip your cloth diapers? There is no specific rule, because it can vary from situation to situation. There are a few common issues where stripping your cloth diapers could be the solution to your problem:

  • You need to switch laundry detergents. Maybe you've discovered your child's skin is sensitive to a particular brand, in which case you want to remove all residue and start with a clean slate.
  • A caregiver accidentally used diaper cream without a fabric barrier. No, it's not the end of the world, but yes, it can be somewhat stubborn to remove.
  • You're beginning to experience leaks and there is no change in your child's diet or input.
  • You've used a detergent that has enzymes, scents or brighteners. These ingredients are more likely to build up in the fibers of your cloth diapers, which can lead to leaks. You can prevent this issue by using a cloth diaper safe detergent found here.
  • You're having trouble with stinky smells in your diapers, even after washing.
  • Your cloth diapers were accidentally washed in fabric softener, dried with a dryer sheet or your toddler found a bottle of oil from your pantry. Hey, life happens and we totally understand. 
So, if you have one of the above issues, how do you strip your cloth diapers? Here is our recommended method of stripping your bumGenius, Flip and Econobum cloth diapers:
  1. Wash once in hot water with one teaspoon (for high efficiency machines) to one tablespoon (for regular washing machines) with original liquid Dawn (blue formula). 
  2. Do two additional hot water washes with no detergent to completely rinse the diapers clean. If you still see suds, keep rinsing until the diapers are rinsed clean.
If you have further questions about how to strip your cloth diapers, or any other aspect of cloth diapering laundry, please give us a call at 1-888-332-2243 or email us at We're always glad to assist you with personalized troubleshooting tips.

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About the Author

Heather is mom to four, born within 40 months (single, twins, single). She writes transparently about her chaotic household to encourage others through the twists and turns of parenting.

2 Responses to How to strip cloth diapers

  1. Annie says:

    All I could find at the store was the ultra concentrate blue dawn. Is that okay to use?

    • Anonymous says:

      I think it’s fine although I’m not the expert. I’ve used the concentrated one twice now with no problems! Good luck, it really goes take 2-3 extra hot washes to get all the suds out!! :/

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