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How To Strip Cloth Diapers


I don’t feel very smart right now. We all know that you have to “strip” cloth diapers every once in a while, but for some reason, I guess I just had a brain glitch in that area.

Image shows a toddler wearing a cloth diaper with text that reads "How to Strip Cloth Diapers"

Garrett’s diapers, the ones we’ve been using for most of his life, were giving him terrible rashes. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. At first, it was just if we used them overnight. I assumed that was because of the lack of breathability in the PUL covers. Then he started getting a rash after several days of day-time cloth diapering… then it turned into a rash after one day. We used paper diapers along with various rash creams to clear things up each time, and I was ready to give up cloth diapering altogether.

I decided that Garrett must be allergic to the micro-suede diaper liner because he does have sensitive skin. Now why I would think that he’d develop a sudden allergy after nearly two years of using these same diapers, I have no idea. I guess I’ve become a little jumpy about allergies.

I had always avoided the idea of stripping my diapers. Surely if I was careful to wash them properly, they’d be fine, right? Stripping sounded so… involved. The instructions I’d read went something like, “lay them inside-down on the top rack of your dishwasher…” What?! I don’t have a dishwasher.

Finally, though, I got desperate. Something had to be done, so I went and looked up a bunch of different methods and chose the one I liked the best. Honestly, I was very skeptical, but hey, it was worth a try.

Turns out, it was ridiculously easy and had nearly miraculous results. we haven’t had a rash since. Not one. Except for on his inner thighs the day I let him wade around in the creek. Apparently, wet PUL can give you quite a rug burn.

How to Strip Cloth Diapers

Now, I’m not saying it’s good for the diapers, but I’d rather be a little hard on the fabric once in a while than not be able to use them at all, so here it is.

You’ll need:

  1. Dawn Dish liquid – original formula  (the blue stuff)
  2. Bleach (I’ve heard that store brands don’t work as well as Clorox)
  3. Vinegar
  4. A Washing Machine

Place all of your diapers in the washing machine, and set it to the largest load possible using hot water.


1 Tablespoon of Dawn

1/4-1/2 cup bleach

Let the diapers wash, then add 1 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.

Rinse at least twice more (Note: you can use cold water for subsequent rinses), and continue rinsing the diapers until there are absolutely no more suds coming out.

Dry as normal.

It works! And my diapers didn’t even come out of the wash with holes or bleach spots in them.

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  1. please be careful using dawn in the washing machine! Dawn is a degreaser and can ruin your washing machine by degreasing its parts! A diluted 30 minute bleach soak on smelly diapers should do the trick without needing dawn. Save dawn for the kitchen!

  2. You actually don’t have to strip your diapers every so often if you have a good wash routine. Check out fluffloveuinversity.com. They have a lot of great tips on how to wash cloth diapers. They also have other great info about cloth diapers, in general.

  3. I haven’t had to strip my diapers at all in the nearly two years I’be been CDing my child. I’ve had zero issues with rashes of any kind, save yeast from antibiotics, and a bleach soak sterilized the diapers quite nicely.

    It will void your warranty if you use Dawn, or any dish soap, in your washer, by the way, and can destroy your machine. Also, Dawn is a degreaser, and is useless with cloth diapers except to remove non CD safe diaper creams (in the kitchen sink). The only reason your “strip” worked is because you used bleach… and I’must shocked that even helped, because hot water neutralizes bleach.

    Please do more research into the science behind laundry in general and cloth diaper washing in particular before giving advice online!

  4. I had never heard of stripping diapers until I read this. Other than using Dawn, this is just the way we used to wash diapers: mild detergent, Clorox, vinegar for rinse, hot water. My children were born in 1967 and 1972. Interesting post.

    1. Interesting to know! I think the Dawn is mainly to help get rid of potential grease from diaper rash cream, which usually contains fish oil if I remember correctly.

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