photo by Surely Sweet Photography

Changing Diapers: the Hip Mom's Guide to Modern Cloth Diapering

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tidal Wave

This is the first of several detergent reviews for cloth diaper laundry.  Stay tuned in the coming months for reviews on Lulu's in the Fluff, Rockin' Green, EcoNuts, and Country Save

First, I'll let you know how I'm testing.  I will test each detergent for 1 month, unless I start having build-up and/or any other issues before that time.  In between testings, I will strip all of the diapers in RLR Laundry Treatment so there is no residue of the former detergent.  My review of Tide original powder is a little different, though, since that is what I started with a year ago when we started CDing.  I will also review Tide Free & Gentle, since I used that for about a month recently. 

I have an older top loader, with normal water.  I have a mix of natural and synthetic materials.  My normal wash routine is: Cold rinse.  Long hot wash plus detergent, followed by one cold rinse.  I typically wash every 3 days.

I know, I know....Tide is NOT a recommended detergent for cloth diapers.  It has enzymes, brightners, dyes, fragrances...alll the bad stuff for cloth diapers.  However, when I was researching cloth diapers and what detergent to use, I had on overwhelming response suggesting Tide.  Somehow, despite all the bad ingredients, Tide worked for so many.  I wanted something cheap, that I could pick up at the store while doing my weekly grocery shopping.  My kids do not have sensitive skin, and I wasn't as concerned about using an all natural or organic detergent, so I decided to give it a try.

Not once did I deal with stink or repelling issues.  Well, the only time I ever smelled ammonia was after a long weekend trip where the dirty diapers went unwashed for 5 days.  But a soak in white vinegar, then the normal wash routine, plus one extra rinse, cleared it right up.   

With Tide, I use 1/2 the recommended amount, less if it's a smaller load.  Despite not having stink issues, I will add about 1/4 cup white vinegar to the pre-rinse to help keep the diapers (especially the natural fibers) soft and squishy.  Stains are never much of an issue, and they are very faint if there were any.  They sun out easily and quickly.  Maybe once every 4-5 weeks I will do a soak in Oxyclean if I felt they needed it, but I don't really think it's necessary.  I don't do this as often now that I'm not as paranoid about mild staining like I was in the beginning.  Tide worked so well that I started using it on all of our laundry.

A few months ago I decided on a whim to try Tide Free & Gentle.  Don't ask me why, I just wanted to try it.  At first, it was fine, and I didn't have any problems.  But after about a month, I noticed E's diapers were leaking often and I noticed a mild ammonia smell.  This can be a common problem with many free & clear detergents, though some have no problems.

As soon as I noticed a problem, I went to the store and bought Tide original.  I stripped the diapers by first doing a soak in white vinegar, then a hot wash with Tide original, and multiple hot washes after that.  No more stink or repelling issues.  Lesson learned.

What detergent to use is, in my opinion, the hardest thing to recommend for cloth diapers since there are so many factors. Detergent success depends on what washer and what type of water you have, as well as any skin sensitivities your child may have. This is why I suggest to do your research, then pick a detergent you think will work, and try it out. If it doesn't work, then try another. I know it seems daunting, but it's really not. I got lucky, and the first detergent I tried worked great!

In case you are new to the cloth diaper world, fabric softener of any kind (alone, in detergents, or dryer sheets) should never be used on cloth diapers.  It causes build up, which is the culprit behind stink and repelling issues.  As an alternative, white vinegar is a natural softener.  Using wool dryer balls (2-4) can not only soften clothes, but also cut down on drying time! 

In early March I will have my next detergent review, EcoNuts!  In the meantime, I will be reviewing several cloth diapers.

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