Updated: Nov 20, 2020
Deep cleaning of cloth diapers is what is meant by stripping. This can be necessary when you use a cloth diaper unfriendly cream on your baby, your little one has a fungus or some other infection or when you use a suboptimal washing routine. Using the wrong washing routine can result in the build-up of residues in the diapers causing them to smell and affecting the absorbency. It can also cause a rash (ammonia burn) on your babies skin. In short, if you have a good washing routine, stripping of cloth diapers should not be necessary. It is an emergency solution and should not be done regularly. I only did it with cloth diapers I bought second hand to make sure they were properly clean.
There are several methods for stripping cloth diapers. This method works best for me.
Start with freshly washed cloth diapers following a good washing routine. Fill half a bathtub (a baby bathtub or a few buckets work as well) with hot water. Do not use dishwashing soap. This only works superficially and does not deep clean your diapers. It is also unsuitable for fabrics, not nice for baby skin and unsuitable for a washing machine. Add 3 tablespoons of Calgon (or a different water softener) to the bathtub. Use a little more when you live in an area with very hard water. Add 3 tablespoons of washing soda (Sodium Carbonate). As an option, you could add 3 tablespoons of Borax. Where I live this is not available so I have never used it. It is an extra water softener. Lastly, add 1 tablespoon of good laundry detergent. Mix well and make sure everything is dissolved.
Add the cloth diaper to the bathtub. Stir the diaper and let them soak for 4 to 6 hours. Stir the diapers about once an hour. Stripping causes the release of all filth deep within the cloth diapers. This can cause the water to discolor and start to smell but this doesn’t have to happen. There is enough dirtiness that is not visible.
After the soak, the diapers can go into the washing machine. The diapers need to be disinfected from all the dirt that has come loose. This can be done by washing the diapers on the hottest temperature possible on your washing machine. There is no need to add a laundry detergent as the diaper absorbed enough water softener and detergent during soaking. After the hot wash, wash the diapers again on a normal cloth diaper wash so they are nice and fresh again.
This procedure should have completely reset your cloth diapers and should benefit the absorption.
PS: Stains in cloth diapers does not mean that the diapers are dirty. Stubborn stains caused by the pigments in baby poop will attach themselves to the fibers of the cloth diaper. This causes discoloration but it does not mean the diapers are still dirty. After washing multiple times, this will wear off (if no new stains are formed). A day of bleaching in the sun can also do wonders on your diapers.