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Ask Erika: Help! My Cloth Diapers Have Gotten Hard!

Help! My Cloth Diapers Have Gotten Hard!

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Q:

I’m using some well used ME nappies but they have become really hard recently. I’ve tried putting white vinegar in the rinse cycle and that didn’t help. I’m now soaking them in a 1/3 vinegar 2/3 water solution, can you recommend anything else I can do?

A:

This is a great question, as there are a few reasons cloth diapers can become ‘hard’ or stiff.

The first cause is line drying. If you line dry your cloth diapers exclusively, they will have some stiffness to them once they’re dry. The same thing would happen to the rest of your clothing. To fix this issue, you can toss your cloth diapers into the tumble dryer for 5 minutes afterward to fluff them up.

Another reason for stiffness is mineral build up. If you are washing in hard water, the final rinse of your wash cycle could be causing minerals to slowly build up over time on your cloth diapers, and cause them to become stiffer and stiffer.

Finally, detergent residue could be causing your diapers to stiffen up. If the detergent isn’t getting fully rinsed out of your cloth diapers, you could have detergent residue building up on them.

If your issue is mineral or detergent residue build up, you will want to strip your diapers to get all the residue out of them. This is done in a two-step process as follows:

Stripping is a process that removes buildup and residues from fabrics. If you have a good wash routine and you have matched your detergent to your water hardness you should never need to strip a cloth diaper. If you’re low dosing, using essential oils or fabric softeners, or boutique brand detergents in hard water, stripping is inevitable!

Stripping is best done in 2 stages, the first to remove residues and hardened solids, the second to remove mineral buildup.

Stage 1: Remove residues. Pre-soak your cloth diapers for 45 minutes in a laundry tub/sink using hot water mixed with 1/8 cup of good grease cutting dishwasher detergent (Dawn). Now send your diapers to the washer, wash HOT without using detergent, double rinse. Do not dry.

Stage 2: Removing minerals. There are a few options for removing minerals. You can use off-the-shelf demineralizers like CLR or simpler solutions like vinegar (acetic acid) or lemon juice (citric acid). In either case, you’re adding a slight acid to dissolve minerals. Add 1 cup of CLR together with a half-load size (top load washing machine) or mix together in your laundry sink. If using vinegar or citric acid, you’ll need 4-8 cups per load. Let your diaper soak in this solution for an hour, then send them for another detergent-free wash cycle, again doubling the rinse at the end. 

Tumble dry on warm.

Your cloth diapers should be good after this process. If you detect any residual smell from the detergents, CLR, vinegar, etc. run them through a regular wash cycle again.

Feel a need to brush up on our full washing instructions? Click to read our Cloth Diaper Washing 101. Maybe even pin it to your web browser! If you build your wash routine around these instructions, you will have no problems with your cloth diapers!

So, if your diapers begin to stiffen, don’t fret! Rest assured that there is a solution to return them to the soft, fluffy diapers that you love wrapping around your little ones!

If you have a question you want answered, contact us. We are always happy to help!

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