Choosing A Detergent For Cloth Diapers

Choosing a detergent is one of the most important parts of cloth diapering. It took me over two years to realize how important it really is to find a cloth diaper safe detergent. Without the proper care, your cloth diapers can get major detergent build up, causing odor, ammonia stink, chemical burns, rashes and blistering, repelling and leaking. I cannot tell you how many times I've seen a mama desperate to figure out why her child's diapers were having problems or causing pain to her baby, not realizing it was the detergent. And I was one of them.

My Journey

When I first started using cloth diapers, I have to admit I didn't do much research on choosing a detergent. I was using All Free & Clear on my clothes, so I just used them on my diapers too. I had read a little about using choosing detergent for cloth diapers, but there was also a lot of conflicting advice as well. So until I started to have a full time stash of cloth I didn't worry about using anything else.

Once I built my stash up and was totally in love with my diapers I wanted to make sure I used the best detergent for them. I looked around a found a list of all the safe detergents and picked one - Country Save. They just happen to sell it at the local Natural Foods Co-Op so I was set. I started washing my diapers with it and they smelled fresh and clean - or so I thought. My diapers seemed cleaner than every and I was happy.

After using Country Save for several months I noticed the diapers started to get an awful smell every time he peed. I mean it was gross! I never once thought it was the detergent. I mean why would I? It was one of the cloth diaper safe detergents. So I tried every solution I could find to try to get rid of the odor. I tried stripping, soaking in Bac-Out, and other things to no avail. I could not get rid of the stink! I think I soaked them in Bac-Out so many times I actually contributed to the detergent build up. I *almost* stopped using cloth.

Finally someone suggested something that I hadn't tried - changing my detergent. So I made the switch. I bought some Tide, after all moms were raving about it. I stripped my diapers and did a long vinegar soak on my fitteds and a bleach soak on my microfiber. It was like magic - the stink was gone! I was a believer in Tide. It was a life saver!

Or so I thought. I was on the Tide bandwagon and loving it. Tide saved me from my build up problems. Then after months of using Tide my son started to have horrible ammonia stink in his morning diapers. It was some of the worst stench ever. It could knock you out, seriously. Then came the redness. I would change his diaper in the morning and his crotch area would be bright red. It would clear up by the next change, but something just wasn't right. Another mystery problem...Couldn't be the Tide could it?

I tried cutting back on how much detergent I was using and it didn't help. I did some research and realized the moms who didn't like Tide complained of chemical burn and detergent build up. It sounded like what I was experiencing. I started looking around at the new detergents coming out that were made specifically for cloth. That's when I came to the eye opening video made by the owner of Rockin Green

What To Look For When Choosing A Detergent

I highly recommend choosing a detergent made specifically for cloth diapers. These products are made just to deal with the problems that can happen when washing cloth diapers. However, you do not have to use these. If you choose not to, here are some things to look for when choosing cloth diaper safe detergent.

* Most common laundry detergents contain "optical brighteners" - tiny particles that stick to the surface of your clothes, giving the effect of brighter colors. What does this mean for your diapers? Chemical residue is being left behind which can cause you diapers to repel or cause skin irritation.

* Enzymes in your laundry detergent are made to degrade protein molecules. This can be good for removing stains, but when the enzymes are not properly rinsed from diapers (or clothing), they will actually "eat" away at skin.

* Most don't know this, but artificial fragrances are made from petroleum.

* While chlorine bleach is great for killing germs, you won't want to use it on your cloth diapers. Not only decrease their durability and absorbency, but it will also eat away at the fibers of your diapers.

* When buying detergent, keep in mind that liquid requires more additives than powder to keep it in liquid suspension.

* Avoid any detergent that contains actual soap. It will leave a residue on your diapers that can cause them to repel moisture.

* Detergents that commonly known to cause problems for cloth diapers are: Arm & Hammer Fabricare, Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin, Cheer, Gain, Melaluca MelaPower, Nature Clean, SA8, The Laudress, Tide HE.

Be wary of lists telling you what detergents are safe and not safe. Not all these lists are current and up to date. Do your research on the detergents yourself. Read the ingredients and make sure there is nothing in them that is bad for your diapers.

If you have been using a detergent that has caused build up and then switch to another detergent that is good for cloth, then you may have issues. You need to do a good stripping on the diapers to remove all of the build up. Other wise you may find your diapers becoming stinky or start to repel.

The Final Scoop

I'm not an expert on choosing a detergent nor do I claim to be, but I want to help save other mamas from all the trouble I went through. I know there are mamas who have had to quite cloth diapering because of issues caused by build up because they never figured out what the problem was. I want to get families started on the right track with cloth diapering so they can enjoy it.

Hopefully my story and the information I have shared with you helps you out in choosing a detergent - I wish someone had shared this with me years ago!

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