Dreaded Build-up Caused by Hard Water

Around 85% of homes in the U.S. have hard water.  Hard water is basically water that contains too much of dissolved minerals like magnesium and/or calcium and these minerals can build up in your diapers, hair, clothing, pipes, etc.  Clues that you have hard water are those pesky spots all over your dishes, your soap won’t suds up, you get that gross ring in your toliet bowl or your clothes and hair get that rusty tint to them.

If you suspect that you have hard water and you don’t have a softener unit or the one that you have is out dated I urge you to contact a company like Culligan for a free water analysis.  We found out that our well water had toxic levels of iron  after having Culligan come out to service our old softener and filtration unit!

If you’re already having an issue with build-up I suggest that you strip your diapers.  Personally, I really recommend getting some Rockin’ Green Hard Rock Formula (which is also available in sample form) to strip your diapers.  Make sure that your hot water heater is turned up to 130-140 degrees which is the temprature that most bacteria dies at and if you have diapers with PUL this is a safe temperature to avoid melting/overheating.

To strip your diapers using Rockin’ Green Hard Rock fill your washer with hot water and 3 Tbsp of Rockin’ Green, along with your diapers.  Let that soak for a good 30-60 minutes. Then run a regular hot wash several times skipping the soap. If you have a HE machine, you may have to consult your manual but you can usually do a soak by pausing the machine.  If your diapers have excessive buildup or residue, it may take a few soaks to get them back to fresh fluff.

Others swear by using Dawn to strip their diapers but this is best used for oil and wax build-up.  Great cases where Dawn could be used is if you accidentally use fabric softener or rash creams on your diapers. But, a word of caution when using Dawn – dish detergent is not formulated for washing fabrics or for washing easily out of fabrics. It has been specially formulated to wash hard, non-porous surfaces making it extremely difficult to rinse Dawn from the fabric when you use a sufficient amount.  The extra rinses needed when using dish detergent have the potential to waste time, money, and water which by using cloth diapers you’re obviously trying to avoid said issues.  Dawn is also not the most natual product as it contains enzymes, dyes and fragrance which have their own issues when washing diapers.

If you have an build-up or stink issues ask them here.  We’ll be glad to help!

Disclaimer: Please refer to washer manual before using any of the suggested washing methods. Always check with your diaper manufacturer regarding recommended wash procedure and temperature thresholds.


  1. Nikki


    I have a question…I need to strip my diapers as they smell strongly of ammonia when he wets his diapers. I am relatively new to CDing and I was going to strip them using Dawn and then rinsing them a few times. However, I’d like your opinion on what I should do. (I am currently using Charlie’s Soap.)


    • I personally don’t like Charlie’s with diapers. My very favorite WOULD be RnG, except that my new baby is allergic to it. If you can’t do RnG, which almost everybody can…Allen’s Naturally is a good alternative https://www.allensnaturally.com/

      When you strip them, Dawn works good. The most important part though is to make sure the water is HOT. Like, check your hot water heater and turn it all the way up hot. Do like three washes with no detergent after the Dawn.

      And last but not least, I feel very strongly that you are using TOO much detergent. That’s usually why you get build up and always why you get the ammonia smell. How much do you use? What kind of water do you have and what kind of washer?

      • Nikki

        I have to wash my diapers at a laundromat using a top loader, so I don’t know how hot the water is. I use 1-2 TBS of detergent and rinse 2x. I believe I have harder water, not super hard, but not “classic” water either.

        I just bought some RnG, so I’m excited to use it! =) As far as stripping, what would you suggest besides using Dawn?

        Clove oil?

        Thanks a million!

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