This last month has been one long cloth diapering conversation between me and about fifteen other mothers. Several of the mothers talked about their experiences with stripping their diapers. I have never stripped my diapers, and my daughter is 11 months old. I never really felt the need, since she doesn’t have problems with leaking and most things that line dry are just a touch stiff. This is how the inserts for The Bump’s diapers have been for a little while. So last week, I got the sudden urge to see how they would fair if I boiled them to remove any potential residues or buildup.
It wasn’t as though I woke up one morning and said, “Hey, I’m going to boil my diapers today for no reason and with no provocation.” I got the idea from my friend, Mamas and Babies who had mentioned boiling diapers as a way of stripping them. All diapers leak if you leave them on too long. It’s like saying that eventually everyone is going to die. Eventually, all diapers leak. She had me wondering if maybe I had trained myself to change The Bump’s diapers before I might otherwise need to though. If there was buildup on the inserts, it would explain why, and I might be able to return them to their former absorbency. Since this is a problem that could happen gradually, I might have trained myself to respond accordingly and just be changing her more frequently, rather than dealing with the residue. I figured boiling them once couldn’t hurt, so I gave it a shot.
I put one of my largest pots on the stove a little more than half full of water and put four clean inserts in to boil. I took them out after several minutes and put the next four inserts in. I repeated this process for all of the inserts. I wasn’t able to do it in one swoop, since she was wearing a diaper, and some needed to be washed anyway, but over the course of the day, allowing the first batch to dry and washing the others, I got to all of them. After the first batch, the smell of ammonia was over powering. My kids were gagging because they thought I was cooking it. I’ve never made any food that smelled inedible, but the benefit of the doubt is beyond kids under the age of ten. I wound up using a cinnamon scented essential oil in a diffuser to deal with the smell, and repeated this process again to deal with the same smell after the second batch.
After boiling the inserts, I washed them and ran them through an extra rinse. I then dried them in the sun. My results were astonishing.
After only boiling and washing and before they were even dried, the inserts FELT more absorbent. The process of the boiling actually removed a lot of dinginess and staining that I had thought was permanent. Obviously, that meant that there was stuff left in my pot, so I washed that on the sanitizing cycle so food could reasonably be cooked in it again, without making me gag from the thought. Once they had dried, the inserts felt soft and spongy again and after using them for a week, the mild diaper rash that nothing was fixing, is gone. I’m guessing the buildup was causing the problem there.
My conclusion with regard to boiling prefolds or inserts for diapers is that you should do it once in awhile. I’m thinking probably every few months is sufficient, so long as your detergent is gentle but strong. I suspect this is the boat I am in. If you have a more stringent or less effective detergent, you probably need to strip more frequently. Thus endeth the lesson. Happy cloth diapering!