Detergents are a topic of discussion that causes some anxiety for families new to cloth. What detergents are safe to use with cloth diapers? Do I have to buy a separate detergent to use only for my cloth diapers? Although the detergent you choose is a personal decision, there are some basic guidelines for what to look for in a detergent:

*No dyes
*No bleach
*No perfumes
*No enzymes (there is some debate here as they can help with stains and odor)
*No fabric softeners
*No optical brighteners.

The theory behind these restrictions is that, just as you select delicate detergents for your baby’s clothes, you want a cloth diaper detergent that is going to be gentle on baby’s skin. Think about it. You baby wears diapers for an average of 2.5 years and the fabrics are against their skin 24/7. You don’t want anything that could potentially irritate their skin. Keep in mind, however, that cloth diapers also have additional requirements in addition to baby-sensitive formulas to avoid build up in your diaper fabrics. Free & Clear detergents, which are popular for baby clothes can still have enzymes or other additives in them that would not be suitable for your baby’s bottom or cloth diaper fabrics.

Build up, which can be caused by a number of things in addition to detergents with additives, can affect their absorption or function of your cloth diapers. Build up can also affect your baby’s skin and cause rashes or irritation. Why are other detergents safe on your other laundry? Well I don’t know about you, but I typically don’t buy clothing according to their ability to absorb moisture, so perfumes, additives and other gunk that may get trapped in the fabric are not as much of an issue. Odds are once you start using a cloth diaper approved detergent that you will use it on all your laundry, so all of your clothing can enjoy this build-up free luxury as well.

With all of these “restrictions” what detergent do you choose? Sometimes it’s better to just state what detergents you CAN use, although there are many options that fit that category as well. There a many cloth diaper specific detergents now on the market as well as other cloth diaper safe detergents. The effectiveness of the detergent with your diapers is going to depend on two main factors:
1) The style of washer you use (HE or non-HE)
2) The type of water you have (Harder or Softer)

Visit my detergent reviews, washing instruction and other laundry articles for more information concerning recommendations and to find a detergent that best fits your needs or budget.

{If you enjoyed reading Detergents I would be tickled pink if you left a comment. To read more about my green(er) parenting aspirations, advice and adventures be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed or get updates via email.}


By Emi Stapler. I am a cloth diaper advocate, green parenting blogger, mother of three and a military wife who enjoys sharing my motherhood adventures and advice. Follow me at The Cloth Diaper Report on Facebook, Twitter @TheCDReport , Google +, Pinterest and Instagram.

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  1. What is the free shipping offer on the Tiny Bubbles? I want to buy some, but the shipping is just as expensive as the product.

  2. The Natural Baby Co. offers free shipping with minimum purchase ($100) so if this is a detergent you use fo your CDs and laundry (or think you'd want to use), I'd recommend buying in bulk for the free shipping. 8 boxes would be $103.60 and would qualify for free shipping. Rope some mamas in and split an order!

  3. Rebecca Kenwick says:

    We sell Tiny Bubbles locally in Rolla, Mo …. Not sure where you are at.

    I was wondering about the maggies liquid? Has it been tested as far as residue? I know sometimes more "natural" types of soaps have residue problems. I LOVE the fact that it has the oils in it to disinfect.It smells soooo good. Although I guess I could just add them to my laundry liquid it's much easier if it's already in :)

    Bum Genius is coming out with their own detergent in a month so be on the look out for that.

  4. Maggie's Soapnuts leave NO residue and actually helps strip diapers that already have residue in them. Different product that Charlie Soap, for example which is made from a combo of natural ingredients. Soapnuts are soapnuts, no fillers or extras.

    Curious to hear about bG's detergent!

  5. Jackie at 3littleones says:

    I have been wanting to try charlies or maggie's – this post just reminded me that when I run out of what i'm using, I think I need to splurge and try one of these. Thanks for sharing!

  6. The only one I've tried is the tiny bubbles.. I like it to. I might just have to try a few others now.

  7. I've used both Rockin' Green & Tiny Bubbles. They are BOTH fantastic products. However, Rockin' Green has YUMMMY smells to choose from which is a bonus! 😀

  8. MamaSquirrel says:

    it says allen's doesn't disinfect, is that true? that's what i've been using, but am thinking of getting some rockin' green

  9. Whoa, this is an amazing chart. How does Country Save compare? I used Country Save for a long time (with great results) until I switched to BumGenius and Rockin' Green. However, Country Save seemed just as good and is way cheaper, so I'm thinking of switching back. But I wonder if it really is as good. Any idea?

  10. Wow, sweet! I won some Yoreganics & Soapnuts on two different giveaways and I can't wait to use them!! Thanks for the comparison chart!

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