Choosing a laundry detergent for washing cloth diapers can be tricky because there can be so many variables that affect how clean the diapers will get and whether you will continue to have a warranty.
In general, most laundry detergents will be fine for washing cloth diapers.
Most baby detergents like Deft and Ivory Snow include fabric softener which can significantly reduce the absorbency of the cloth diapers over time.
Our top three recommended detergents are Original Tide (liquid), Rockin’ Green and The Laundry Tarts.
Many moms in soft to average water are able to successfully use Nellies All Natural to wash cloth diapers. Bummis has produced a pretty good document about what detergents they recommend and why called “Detergent Information.”
Things to Remember When Choosing a Laundry Detergent
- Quantity and quality of detergent are very important.
- Powder detergent generally washes out easier than liquid detergents.
- Do not use a laundry detergent that contains fabric softener. Many baby brands include fabric softener which will cause repelling with cloth diapers. Many moms use wool dryer balls instead of fabric softener.
- “Free and clear”, especially liquid ones, can be notorious for buildup. “Free and clear” means free of perfumes and dyes and that doesn’t necessarily mean free of chemicals.
- You do not have to use a cloth diaper detergent to get your diapers clean; many manufacturers are now recommending washing cloth diapers with Tide or other mainstream laundry detergents.
How Much Laundry Detergent Should I use?
The “proper” amount varies based on your water, machine, and how many diapers you are washing.
You need to use enough laundry detergent that the cloth diapers will be clean and ideally have absolutely no smell. We recommend trying the same amount you use for washing clothing.
If you use too little detergent the cloth diapers will generally stink coming out of the wash, and if you have used too much they may stink immediately after they have been peed in.
When Your Cloth Diapers Are No Longer Getting Clean Enough…
Sometimes, detergents seem to lose effectiveness over time and this can be partly because of the changes babies go through or a detergent building up in the fabric of the cloth diapers.
In cases, where using a little bit more detergent doesn’t seem to help we recommend stripping the cloth diapers and then maybe trying another detergent. For more information about stripping diapers, check out our Ultimate Guide to Stripping Cloth Diapers for tips and tricks.
Very hard and very soft water can make a huge difference in how well cloth diapers are getting cleaned.
And, of course, you should always check with the manufacturer about which detergents are recommend and what they recommend for dosage.