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How to Strip Cloth Diapers with Dawn Dish Soap

How To Strip Cloth Diapers With Dawn Dish Soap

You can strip your cloth diapers with Dawn dish soap by adding it to hot water and using it to scrub the diapers. Dawn is an excellent degreaser and is particularly effective against oil buildup. Strip your cloth diapers when you notice they no longer absorb efficiently. Sometimes buildups trap bacteria and cause an odor. A Dawn stripping process should effectively take care of a buildup and odor issue, but you may need to repeat the process a couple of times.

Do not use bleach for buildup or odor, but use it to treat yeast. For bleach and yeast treatment routines, please reach out to

Why Do I Need to Strip My Cloth Diapers?

Depending on your detergent and wash routine, you may need to strip your diapers to remove the buildup of residue that can accumulate in the diaper fabric over time.

Your cloth diaper builds up residue from the following sources:

  • Using too much detergent, which leaves soap residue that doesn't rinse away
  • Using too little detergent, which leaves a waste residue (this is what causes odor)
  • Using a detergent that does not have enzymes
  • Lotions and creams that are not "cloth diaper safe," meaning the detergent cannot wash them out of the diaper fabrics
  • Other substances

These buildups reduce the diaper's absorbency and cause leakage, make the diaper fabric stiff and abrasive on the baby's skin, trap harmful bacteria and germs, and give off an unpleasant odor that doesn't go away with washing.
You also need to strip and disinfect the cloth diapers before putting them on your baby if they have come to you pre-used. This should be the only other occasion, besides treating for yeast, where a bleach treatment would be appropriate.

Also Read: How to Wash and Care for Your Kanga Care Items

Can I Use Dawn Dish Soap to Strip My Cloth Diapers?

Dawn dish soap is a superb degreasing agent and is particularly effective against oil buildup on your cloth diapers. Besides, Dawn dish soap contains few chemical additives and is gentle to the fabric of your diaper and your baby's skin. It is also easy to find and affordable.

How Do I Strip My Cloth Diapers with Dawn Dish Soap?

You can strip your cloth diapers easily by following this process:

  • Wash your cloth diapers and rinse in the usual way first, especially if they are soiled. Some methods suggest that you dry them, but it is not necessary.
  • Be sure you put enough hot water in the sink to submerge your cloth diapers. The water shouldn't be too hot to handle. Squish the diapers around so that they are completely wet.
  • Drizzle a bit of Dawn on the inner fabric of each diaper.
  • Scrub by rubbing the diaper against itself or gently with a toothbrush. Work the entire surface of the diaper but pay particular attention to areas with heavy buildup and residue.
  • Once you have worked through all the diapers, drain the sink and rinse each diaper individually until the water is clear and you can see no more suds. The rinsing process is important, so don't skip it!
  • Place the diapers into the washing machine and use hot water without detergent. Then cold rinse the diapers.
  • Tumble dry low in a dryer.

You don't have to strip diaper covers. Only pocket diaper shells and the absorbent parts of cloth diapers need stripping. These include flats, prefolds, fitted cloth diapers, all-in-ones, and inserts.

Can I Use Dawn Dish Soap to Strip My Cloth Diapers in the Washing Machine?

Do not use Dawn dish soap in your washing machine. You should NEVER put Dawn or any type of liquid dish soap in your washing machine. Dawn dish soap will cause a bubble mess of epic proportions and will likely cause a suds lock. If your machine locks, it will mean costly repairs and will almost certainly void your warranty, ruining your machine. Therefore, you must rinse all the Dawn out of your diapers after the stripping process before putting them into the washing machine for the final wash.

How Frequently Should I Strip My Cloth Diapers?

With a good wash routine, you will never have to strip your diapers. However, you should always strip any used diapers you purchase or that someone gave you that their baby used previously.

Use softeners for hard water to increase the quality of your water and the effectiveness of getting the soap to lather and rinse away completely. This will help you get the cleanest possible diapers. If the buildup comes from the detergent, a water softener can be a great solution because it cleans in cold, warm, and hot water, which means it will continue to rinse away the residue during all cycles of the wash. Use a liner to protect your cloth diapers if the residue is from the use of lotions or diaper creams.

Will Stripping With Dawn Dish Soap Rid My Cloth Diapers of the Ammonia Stink and Other Odors?

Dawn dish soap will effectively strip the ammonia smell from your diapers (don't forget to strip the inserts, too), but it is important to understand what is causing ammonia to prevent it from recurring. There are three main causes for ammonia in diapers: wash routine (detergent buildup), dirty diaper storage (low ventilation, stored too long between washes), or the urine concentration coming from baby (medications, change in diet, and heavy-saturated overnight diapers).

Having a well-ventilated diaper pail is important for dirty diaper storage. Urine naturally converts to ammonia after 24 hours. If your pail has the right type of liner, your soiled diapers will get enough airflow and shouldn't smell strongly of ammonia unless you are up close. During warmer months, particularly if you live in humid conditions, you may experience an increase in ammonia. Try washing your diapers a day sooner than you have been.

Sometimes an ammonia smell is not in your diaper routine, and these are harder to troubleshoot. Older babies tend to have a higher concentration of urine in their diapers because they are sleeping longer stretches at night, which is also the longest diaper they wear. Older babies also drink less formula or breastmilk, making their urine more concentrated. Often, only the night diaper will be affected by the ammonia smell for this reason. If you notice only the nighttime diapers are smelling of ammonia, you can try diluting them by spraying them off in the morning with a diaper sprayer before placing them in the diaper pail.

There are some medical reasons why your baby's diaper would smell of ammonia. Some other causes for ammonia are as simple as a change in your baby's diet. If you have stripped your diapers, have well-ventilated diaper storage, and the ammonia is not just coming from the overnight diapers, please discuss medical advice with your pediatrician.

What Else Can I Use to Strip My Cloth Diapers?

The original blue Dawn dish soap is the only safe and effective recommendation by Kanga Care and Rumparooz for stripping its diaper products.