This week we are finalizing our washing series by wrapping up with one of the hottest topics in cloth diapering…which detergent to use? By far this is our longest article with regards to washing, but good info if you are having problems~
All of our past washing articles can be reviewed here:
I will reference what we specifically suggest for detergent, with some extra information below:
- Powders generally rinse out easier than liquid
- The more natural the detergent, generally the less effective it will be with very few exceptions
- Free and clears, especially liquid ones, can be notorious for buildup.
- Mainstream powders and liquids are *fine* to use, you do not have to use a cloth diaper detergent to get your diapers clean.
What Detergent should you use?
Over 9 years of troubleshooting wash issues with thousands of clients, and our own 6 babies, we find one detergent leading the pack over and over again. Tide.
Tide? Before you shoot the idea down completely, take a peek at who else recommends Tide:
Happy Heinys (over 10 years in the business):
Fuzzi Bunz (recommends Tide Free, over 10 years in the business):
Tiny Tush (over 10 years in the business):
Rumparooz (over 5 years in the business):
GroVia (over 10+ years in the business):
And for giggles, back when we opened in 2004 we started to advise Tide:
That being said, if you hate the idea of Tide, try another mainstream store powder, even a generic one if it fits the budget better. Worst case scenario, you strip and start over.
How much detergent should you use?
The second part of this equation is using enough detergent. Unless you are using Rockin Green or Thirsties Super Wash, 1-2 tablespoons will not cut it. You have to use enough detergent to get them clean ( I use to the 3 line on my Tide powder ultra scoop for two children in diapers).
On January 24th of this year, Bummis (over 20 years in the biz) had on their Facebook page:
Had a wonderful discussion with Steve “the detergent guru” again. We discussed how many people recommend using so little detergent and recommend Dawn to strip detergent residues from “suede cloth”, microfiber and other synthetics.
He does not believe it is a “detergent” residue that is causing repelling or stink in these synthetics. He believes what is really happening is that consumers are crea…ting a self-filling prophecy by not using enough detergent. This leads to microscopic soil being left behind. In fecal matter there are oils/fats from digestion. Polyester loves fats and oils and forms a chemical bond with them. If you are using too little detergent to release this soil, you will then get a microscopic build up of oils on the surface of the fabric eventually causing it to repel or stink.
While great at releasing grease on solid surfaces (think dishes) Dawn is not super effective on fabric. Hence it would work with a mild build up of oils causing repelling/stink but not on all cases. Best to avoid oily build up by using enough detergent to release oils from synthetics and enough rinsing/water to get rid of all detergent/soils left behind in the wash cycle.
-End of Bummis Article-
Make sure you are using enough, remember that seeing suds does not mean you are using too much. Some detergents are more sudsy than others, unless you have odors with the diapers out of the dryer or once freshly peed in, don’t sweat the suds! Really, if you don’t smell anything, don’t lift the lid, don’t even peek at the rinse cycle. If they smell great out of the dryer, and once freshly peed in, don’t worry about suds.
Now, all that being said, I realize (as many customers have emailed us over the years), that Tide does not get any awards for being “green”. If your natural detergent works for your diapers, then keep using it, and yes, it can seem odd to choose a less-than-eco-friendly detergent to wash your cloth diapers. However, working with many more customers who are not getting their diapers clean with earth-friendly detergent, we have concluded that these customers either have to change their detergent brands, or switch to disposables. It simply is not safe to put stinky diapers on your baby. Stink=bacteria, and you just don’t want bacteria pressed up against their genitals 24 hours a day. Between the evils of disposables and Tide, I say go with Tide, as water is a renewable resource, and landfills are not.
Do some babies react to Tide? Of course, but we don’t see any more reactions to Tide than other detergents, and we see far more babies reacting to bacterial rashes and skin issues from unclean diapers. Tide has enzymes, which eat organic matter. Great for diapers, and when rinsed properly does not pose a problem to the skin. That being said, any product used on children has the potential to cause a reaction, typically a reaction to detergent will be wherever the diaper touches, and quick to show up.
ALTERNATIVES TO TIDE:
-If your baby is sensitive to fragrance, Tide Free and Gentle is a great “free” detergent that works well for diapers. In HE formula, it only comes in liquid, which we see working well for customers.
-Planet is a “green” detergent we see working well, is available in most grocery stores, and is very eco-friendly
-Country Save can be found inexpensively on Amazon, and works well, too.
For our customers with hard water, you need more detergent. For soft water, generally a little less detergent. For those with *really* soft water, even if you have a regular machine, use an HE detergent. They are formulated to be easier to rinse out, and will not harm your machine. You can regular detergent only in a regular machine, HE detergent can be used in either type of machine. HE users also make sure you have your water level as high as you can go, but do not add it manually as it can throw off your drum.
Questions? Email me at AbbysLane@aol.com, we will work through it together 🙂