Mailbox Mondays Stripping

Cloth Diaper Advice Mailbox Monday 2/17/14 – Stripping & Septic Tanks

Septic tanks & stripping #clothdiapers via @chgdiapers

On Mondays, I answer a reader question, if there has been a submission. Don’t miss any posts! Subscribe to our new RSS Feed or subscribe via email.

Questions don’t have to be cloth diaper related, just email maria at with “Mailbox Mondays” in the subject, or fill out my contact form for readers, which you will always be able to find on my Contact Page.

Liz wants to know:

What is the best way to strip cloth diapers when you have a septic tank.

I’d first ask why you feel the need to strip. Often adding things to your wash in order to “strip” can make things worse rather than better. The reason Liz mentions the septic tank is that septic systems rely on bacteria to break down organic material. Generally it is recommended that tanks are pumped every 3-5 years but with good maintenance and practices, pumping may be required less often.

Talk to your septic professional for their recommendations, but in general it is advised to use phosphate-free detergent, and avoid large amounts of chemical cleaners or excessive water consumption. Of course there are many other recommendations such as not allowing grease to go down your drains, but I am specifically talking about laundry related recommendations.

My first suggestion when dealing with diaper laundry issues is to try increasing the amount of detergent you’d normally use, and add extra rinses, rather than add things to your wash to “strip.” However, there is no one-size-fits all method. With hard water, additional rinses without adding detergent can lead to mineral buildup on your diapers. If you are experiencing stink or repelling, you most likely need to take a look at your wash routine including what settings you use, how much water & how many diapers, what detergent & how much etc.

Some manufacturers recommend periodic bleaching, or you may want to sanitize used diapers with bleach. You may find some resources that say never to use bleach with a septic however, it is my opinion that properly diluted bleach, used every so often will not cause issues with a septic. Clorox says “As long as you use the recommended amount […], the bulk of the sodium hypochlorite active will be broken down to salt and water while attacking the stains, soils and germs in the wash load. Any un-reacted hypochlorite will find lots of ‘things’ to react with going down the pipes before it enters your septic tank field to be converted into salt and water.”

Follow your diaper manufacturer’s recommendations for washing and maintenance in order to preserve your warranty, but don’t worry too much about your septic. If you have a good wash routine, you should rarely, if ever, need to strip your diapers.

Do you have a septic tank? How do you strip diapers?

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Maria Moser
Maria is the mother of 3, writing about cloth diapers & going green. You'll often find her juggling her preschooler and typing 1-handed in between sips of cold coffee. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development and other services.
  • Amye k
    February 18, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Most laundry products are labeled safe for septic tanks somewhere on the bottle

  • Jutta P.
    February 17, 2014 at 11:55 am

    I never thought of having to do something different with a septic tank. These are great tips! I have always been pleased with Rockin’ Green Funk Rock for stripping. Their detergent doesn’t work for me. But the Funk Rock is a great product.

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