Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What detergent should you use to wash your cloth diapers?

If you already use cloth diapers, you know that how well your diapers wash largely depends on the type of detergent you use to wash them. If you use a HE washing machine, the type of detergent you use is even more important. For this reason, we offer the most comprehensive of detergents approved for use with cloth diapers in Canada. When selecting what detergent you will use, it's important to realize that different people will have different results dependent on the type of machine they use, and the quality of water used to wash the diapers. As a result, it may take some trial and error to figure out a detergent and washing routine that suits your needs, however, it's worth the effort -- a good washing routine will ensure clean, fresh-smelling diapers.

Often times, when we talk to customers about detergent, I can't help but feel like we're trying to upsell to the customer, and I think a lot of people assume that anything 'natural' comes with a hefty pricetag. However, if you look at the cost/load breakdown below, you'll see that most of our detergents actually cost *less* than what you can purchase at the grocery store. For example, a box of "Tide HE Powder 80 use" costs $15.97 at http://www.wal-mart.ca/, which works out to 20 cents/load for HE machines.

$22.00/120 loads
18 cents/load

At this point, Nellies is the hands-down favourite amongst out customers, many of whom have found it ideal for washing with a frontloader. It is our most cost-effective option for people who have standard top-loading washers. Nellies is hypoallergenic, and it leaves your clothes soft, fresh, and residue free. Its concentrated formula only one tablespoon per wash is needed, even in large loads. If you're concerned about using a powder, rest-assured its fine texture washes completely out, it's not thick and clumpy like typical powdered detergents.

$8.00/36 loads
22 cents/load

In an effort to conserve packaging, and to lower your costs, we purchase Wonderwash powder in bulk, and repackage it for you in kraft paper bags. Yes, it's a little more work for us, but it shaves off about 10 cents/load for you. This detergent has undergone lab testing to establish that it washes out of laundry completely, leaving no residue behind.

$26.00/67 loads
39 cents/load

Same as above, but in liquid form. You'll notice the jump in cost/load, we can't repackage liquid, sorry!

$20.00/90 loads (HE) or 45 loads (standard top-loader)
22 cents/load (HE machine) 44 cents/load (standard top-loader)

Rockin' Green Soap is the only detergent we sell that has been specifically formulated for cloth diapers. The 'soft rock' formula is suitable for those with sensitive skin, and it's recommended if you have soft/medium-hard water. Rockin' Green soap is scednted with a mixture of synthetic and essential oils -- there are approximately 10 drops of fragrance oil per 45 load batch so the amount of oil in each load is negligible. When you wash your cloth diapers in Rockin' Green Soap, they will not hold the scent of the detergent because it is made to wash away completely.

$17.oo/128 loads (HE) or 32 loads (standard top-loader)
13 cents/load (HE machine) 53 cents/load (standard top-loader)

For years, Allens Naturally has been lauded by Mother of Eden, the manufacturers behind Fuzzibunz diapers, as the best detergent for washing their pocket diapers. With an endorsement like that, how could we not sell it?

$10.99/80 loads (HE) or 40 loads (standard top-loader)
14 cents/load (HE machine) 27 cents/load (standard top-loader)

Like Wonderwash, Countrysave detergent has also undergone lab testing to prove that it washes away completely. Countrysave detegent contains borax, a natural water softener, so if you have hard water, it may be a good detergent for you.

$18.00/500 grams

Soapnuts are a fruit grown on the Rittha Tree; when the fruit ripens and falls from the tree, local families harvest them and remove the inner fruit from the outer shell. The shell is then dried in the sun, using no chemical or manufacturing processes. The shell of the fruit has a protective waxy coating which contains saponin. When the soapnut is used to wash clothes, the saponin acts as a water surfactant reducing the surface tension of the water and freeing the dirt, grime and oils from the clothing, leaving your clothes clean and fresh without the use of any harmful synthetic products.The locals of India have been using the soap nuts for centuries as a safe and effective way to clean their clothes. Kaley's Soap Nuts are ethically sourced from India.

Regardless of what detergent you use, please keep in mind the old adage 'less is more' -- don't throw in three times the recommended amount of detergent in an effort to get your diapers 'extra' clean. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that, you will only cause yourself a headache down the road, detergent residue build-up is often a culprit of smelly diapers, reduced absorbency, and diaper rash. Use 1/4 to 1/2 the recommended amount of detergent.

If you have a 5-gallon jug of detergent sitting on your laundry room shelf, and you're unsure of whether or not it's safe to use with cloth diapers, please refer to the Diaper Jungle's list of recommended detergents, they list many brands. Bummis also regularly tests detergents, they have a list of recommended detergents that is regularly updated.

If you are unsure, you should err on the side of caution and purchase a cloth diaper-friendly detergent. As much as it sucks not to use that $30 jug of store-bought detergent that may or may not be good for cloth diapers, it sucks even more to ruin your $300 stash of Fuzzibunz! All of the detergents we sell are suitable for use with cloth diapers as well as your regular laundry.


  1. You should consider carrying Claudia's Choices. It's a Canadian product (Alberta) and fan-frickin'-tastic LOL. I find it way better than Nellie's. I was getting stinky diaper covers very quickly when using Nellie's, I'd use them once or twice, then STINK!(oddly, not the diapers themselves). Since using Claudia's Choices, no stink, and I strip much less often. I would buy it from you if you carried it. I usually order direct from CC, but their shipping is crazy expensive.

  2. This might seem like a silly question but how do you use the Nellies powder in a front loader machine? Where do you put it?

  3. We recently cancelled our diaper service in favour of washing our own. We purchased Mother-Ease one-size-fits-all (terry) and are using Wonder Wash in our top loading washer. The diapers have a "burnt poop" smell after they come out of the dryer and when you sniff the clean ones, there is a strange yet gross smell. Not ammonia (pee), not poop - just yuck. Am I using too much detergent? Not enough? Other ideas?

  4. Anonymous #1: we have a drawer where you put the detergent (liquid or powder), it has a lever that you pull up for powder, or push down for liquid. At the start of the wash cycle, I hear it shoot water into the detergent drawer (to get the powder out). If you don't have a place to put powder, I would think you'd be OK to sprinkle it directly on the clothing/diapers...

    susie ;)

  5. Anonymous #2: do you have a baby who's eating solids? How many days do you go between laundry? Do you set the machine to use more water than it needs (ie, if you're washing a 'medium' load of diapers, do you set the machine's load size to 'large'?). There's no such thing as too much water! How much detergent do you use?

    susie ;)