In today's technological world the Internet is full of so much information on how to look after your cloth nappies and what to do when they aren't working that often it becomes very confusing. Strip washing seems to be at the top of the recommendations list when troubleshooting problems.
As a cloth nappy user I belong to many cloth nappy facebook groups. They are wonderful and shocking at the same time. It is great to have a network of like minded parents to chat to and get advice on different brands etc.What I don't like however is how often people recommend strip washing as the first thing to try or how people moan that they seem to be strip washing their nappies every month. It just doesn't sit right with me.
Here in New Zealand there are 3 main ways of strip washing:
The dishwash method,
The Rockin green Method
and the Sodium Percarbonate soak method.
The dishwash method seems to be the one most people try last if other strips don't work and I can fully understand why. To strip your nappies with this method you basically wash inserts on hot with dishwash liquid and then rinse, rinse, rinse until all suds/bubbles are gone. The cheapest nastiest dishwash liquid is recommended as it is least likely to contain moisturisers which can cause build up. I personally wouldn't use this method as some of the chemicals in dishwash liquid can be harsh and would you really want that anywhere near your baby's bum? I am sensitive and allergic to most dishwash detergents on the market so wouldn't trust them not to cause rashes.
The Rockin' Green method is the most common one I see being mentioned online. There are two ways of doing this one and it all seems dependent on how bad your nappies are and why you are strip washing. The first one is to do a 12-24 hour soak using regular Rockin Green detergent. Then wash on hot with no detergent and rinse, rinse rinse. The second is a bit more in-depth and more suited if you have major issues. You do an overnight(12ish hours) soak in regular Rockin Green then wash, then do a second soak for approx same amount of time in Funk Rock and wash again.
The third and final method is the one most commonly used by people who use homemade laundry powder or are switching to it and want to strip their nappies first. For this method you soak your nappies in Sodium Percarbonate that has been dissolved in water for 12-24 hours and wash with no detergent then rinse rinse rinse.
Here is why I have never done a "strip wash" as such and believe that strip washing should be your absolute last resort.
Yes I have had smelly nappies, but no I have never stripped them. I found that initially my issue was the way I washed my nappies so altered my regular wash cycle. Then found that I started getting smells again so did a long hot wash with a 20-30 minute soak added to the cycle and they were fine again. When my son is teething I find I start getting smells but a hot wash solves that and to be honest nothing can really stop teething wee from smelling.
Recently I have been getting leaks on a regular basis. I tried adding more absorbency and have had no problems since. I also had an issue with my night nappies leaking so after someone recommended adjusting the rise of the ones I use, I did it and have had not leaks since.
So if your nappies smell or if they leak stripping isn't always the answer. Try a long hot wash first, adjust your wash cycle, add more absorbency or adjust the fit. Problem solve first then if absolutely nothing works try a strip. Doing it too often can be harsh on your inserts, elastics and waterproofing and can actually cause more issues.
So please I beg you try other things first.