Monday, February 11, 2013

Using RLR to strip cloth diapers

If you have stinky, or repelling diapers it may be time to give them a good stripping.  Stripping diapers removes built-up minerals, dirt and other unpleasantries that can cause the diapers to function at less than optimal levels.  We recently decided to do some maintenance stripping of our diapers.  Maintenance stripping is something done when there is not an obvious problem with the diapers, however it is done to prevent any problems from cropping-up in the near future. In our case, we are preparing to store our cloth diapers in between children.  We wanted to make sure that stored diapers were fully cleaned and would be ready for use when the time came.

RLR is available from a variety of retailers, and runs about $3 per package.  Most retailers recommend using an entire packet of RLR per load of diapers.

How to use RLR to strip diapers:

  1. Make sure diapers are clean before stripping (if necessary, wash first in your normal cloth diaper safe detergent).
  2. Load your washer with clean diapers and hot water.  Add in 1 package of RLR for a top loading washing machine, 1/4 a packet for a front loader.
  3. Rinse Diapers in warm or cool water until no bubbles are visible in the water
  4. Dry diapers and use

Our experience:

1. Adjust RLR amount as necessary

We have fairly neutral water (neither hard, nor soft), and we experienced quite a bit of foaming during the RLR stripping process.  Foaming is the result of detergent residue being removed from the diapers, and it's a good thing. However, for our water conditions a full packet of RLR seemed to be excessive, and 1/2 a packet would have been more than enough to do the job.  Some other users of RLR have mentioned that they like to scoop off as much foam as possible to reduce the amount of rinsing they need to do.

2. Stains will be lightened, but don't expect a miracle

Some of our diapers had light staining, and others had darker stains prior to the RLR stripping process.  While many of the lighter stains were removed and darker stains were lightened, we still had some stained inserts after using the treatment.  These diapers will probably need some "sunning" outside.  Since we live in a cold climate, sunning isn't seasonably practical for us year-round and I had hoped for an "RLR miracle" that could prove to be helpful during the winter months.  Even after 3 rounds of RLR stripping, some stains remained but they had been lightened.

3. Noticeable build-up removed

We noticed an immediate difference in the softness of some of our older fleece-lined pocket diapers.  The fleece seemed to perk-up a bit, and looked much newer and brighter.  There was a great clean odor with all of the diapers, and the stripping process was very simple.

Although RLR was more expensive than other methods I've used to strip diapers (Dawn, Hot water washes, or Oxiclean Versatile), I was satisfied with the results of our maintenance stripping procedure.  I also found RLR treatment to be much easier and more effective than other methods.  I think RLR is a great tool for maintaining cloth diapers, and treating build-up woes.

Have you used RLR?  What was your experience with it?

*Please consult the manufacturers' recommended guidelines for stripping cloth diapers.  Some varieties of diaper covers or shells may require special methods for removing build-up.
  Cloth Diaper Guru can not be held responsible for any damage that occurs as a result of stripping procedures.

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