** This week we have our special guest blogger, Jess, back again! She has been using cloth nappies full time for nearly two years. And after a prolonged period of sub-standard washing decided it was time to learn how to strip! **
You may have come here for a raunchy story about a mum-turned-dancer, but you’ll stay for the exciting story of a first-time Strip and Sanitise on a modern cloth nappy stash.
There are many reasons to strip and/or sanitise your cloth nappies. Inadequate wash routine, holiday, broken washing machine, mould, or if you’ve bought second-hand nappies. Many people stop using reusable nappies due to rash issues, trouble getting nappies clean or nappies degrading quickly. A correct wash routine will always minimise, if not eliminate, these issues. If you’ve had some wash troubles in the past, a strip and sanitise might be in your future and it’s really not as hard as you might think.
What is a strip and sanitise you ask? It is an intensive series of soaks and washes that effectively “resets” your reusable nappies to their original, first purchased glory. This type of wash is safe to do occasionally, but should not be part of a regular routine.
Why was I doing a strip and sanitise you ask? Our life is a little… topsy turvy… in relation to where we live. Since I got pregnant just over 2 years ago I’ve lived in Brisbane (while my husband lived in Canberra), lived in Canberra, lived in Katherine, lived in Brisbane while my husband lived in Katherine, and for now, we are currently in Toowoomba together. We had a broken machine for a while. Then we had an unbalanced top loader in our serviced apartment that they wouldn’t fix. Then I had a leaking hot water valve which meant only cold water washing. Throw in many overseas trips as well as trips back and forth to Brisbane and, let’s just say, I wasn’t always nice to my nappies. Finally, we purchased a brand new front loader and we’re settled for at least a year. So, I thought it was time to reset my nappies with a strip and sanitise. To work out what you need to strip and/or sanitise, see the Clean Cloth Nappies site.
First we filled the bath. When it comes to doing an entire stash of nappies, you really need something large. We did 1.5 times the recommended amounts due to the number of nappies we were cleaning. So we filled the bath to about 75% capacity and used Omo Ultimate and Napisan. For the detailed instructions and amounts to use (and other options for doing your strip) please see the CCN website here. You need to use a high-quality detergent for this to be effective. Check out the Detergent Index on the CCN website for further details. Then we added the nappies and used a dedicated Nappy Stirrer (otherwise known as a pasta server) to make sure they were evenly distributed and all covered. Note: this step is started with clean nappies. We left them for four hours (don’t do this over bath time as we learned the hard way), stirring every hour or so.
Your shells do not need to be stripped so leave them out of this step. If for some reason your brain stops functioning (baby brain, mum-fog, sleep deprivation) and you put them in, don’t worry, it won’t damage them but pull them out and rinse them as soon as possible. We definitely did not do this…
We then transferred the nappies to the washing machine to rinse out the strip mixture. Due to the number of nappies, we had to do two loads. We used a regular cycle at 40º to do this step. Most front loader machines will run for 1.5 to 2 hours for a regular cycle. So take note that we are up to around 8 hours now. So don’t start this before bed. It is definitely a long process but it’s not a lot of hands-on work.
Next is the sanitise. We chose the diluted bleach option as this is the most effective at killing any nasties hidden in your nappies and really is the only option for neutralising built up ammonia in nappies. It is not dangerous to your nappies and will not strip any colour from your shells if measured correctly. It is also the most clean-rinsing option which is good for bub. After adding the bleach, stir, add all your nappies (including shells this time), stir again and push them down with you Nappy Stirrer (AKA pasta ladle) and cover with an old white towel. This will keep everything submerged for the duration. For detailed amounts, instructions and other options see the CCN website.
This step you only let sit for 30 minutes and you don’t stir them periodically. Once the time is up, rinse them in the tub in hot water and transfer to the machine for a long hot wash (60°) with no detergent. We then followed with two long, hot washes with detergent to fully remove any of the strip and sanitise solution. We did this overnight and completed it the next day which is fine to do.
Now this may seem like a long process, and it was, but the amount of work involved is minimal. You just need to time your day or days, so that you don’t need to do other washing or use your tub during the soaks.
One of the biggest issues with doing your whole stash is what you’ll use while your nappies are being cleaned. You could go nappy-free and risk a few messes, you could do your stash in halves over two days so that you are using one half then the other, or you could have a great friend who has WAY too many nappies (just like you) who lets you use their nappies while yours are being cleaned. You just need to work out what works best for your family.
Finally, don’t be afraid. Just do your research, make sure of the amounts you're using and ensure you have enough time. It’s not hard or scary and it may be necessary to keep your nappies in pristine condition.
Unsure about stripping and sanitising? Contact us here and we can tell you if it's something you need to do and help guide you if you do need to do it..