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How do I know which Cloth Diaper Detergent to use?

by julie on October 18, 2012

"washing cloth diapers" and "cloth diaper detergents"

Have you ever thought about why there are so many different types or styles of cloth diapers out there? It is most likely because many people have different preferences, budgets, and even ideas about what will work for their family and babies! Cloth Diaper Detergents are the same way. Every detergent works in a different way for each individual family. There are so many choices out there, so how do you know which is the best for you? Remember that half the battle in using cloth diapers (in my opinion) is successfully developing a routine for washing your cloth diapers! I want to give you some tips on how to choose the best cloth diaper safe detergent for you and your little ones.

Type of Water

According to the U.S. Geological Survey Office, nearly 85% of American homes have problems with hard water. Hard water makes a huge difference in the way you wash your cloth diapers. Better yet, in the latest Pulse Survey put out by Diapershops, only 42% of respondents acknowledged that they had hard water.That is a big gap in the actual vs. perception of what type of water people  think they have! Could your water type help you determine the best detergent to use? The answer is yes. Here is a great post to help you determine which type of water you have. Once you have determined the type of water you have, this will help you to further choose the best detergent to use.

Certain detergents are better formulated for specific water types. For instance Rockin’ Green has a laundry formula for hard, normal, and soft water. You can choose which formula best suits your household. (Not to mention they have great scents too). I also have a few friends who have hard water and they love Ruby Moon detergent. Unfortunately choosing a detergent can sometimes be a trial and error process, but once you find something that works, stick with it! If you have friends who cloth diaper, and live in your area, you may want to check with them and see what they use as their water may be similar to yours.

Side by Side Comparison

Detergent charts like Diaper Jungle and PinStrips & Polkadots are a great way to  compare side by side the different brands based on overall rating, cost, and amount/type of additives in the detergent. I like the breakdown as it allows for a more in-depth analysis of each brand. I would love to see these charts also includes which brands are best for specific water types as well. Maybe one day:-)

Budget & Accessibility

If you have a budget to stick to, then you want to check out the cost per load. The cheaper the cost per load, the less money you are spending. This is why I initially chose my detergent. Country Save averages $0.16/load while Allen’s and Rockin’ Green average $0.25-$0.30 a load. I also purchased mine in bulk on Amazon to save a little more as well. I bought a 10 lb box for only $20 that I have not even gone through yet and it has nearly been 1 year of cloth diapering! Some people also choose to make their own cloth diaper detergents to save even more money and monitor exactly what goes into the detergent.

You may be limited on your choice of detergents if you choose to purchase in-store. Purchasing online will give you a better variety of brands that often come with Free Shipping! But remember if purchasing online, you need to have a good amount of detergent on hand so you don’t run out. Take the shipping time into consideration when ordering online as well.


If you know that your baby is very sensitive or has allergies to specific enzymes, brighteners, dyes, etc, you will want to choose very carefully which detergent to use. I know a few people who use Tide on their cloth diapers and love it, their little one’s have no problem with rashes or sensitivities either. But I also know some people who have used Tide and it made their child break out in a rash. Again, every baby is different, what works for one may not work for another. If your baby is very sensitive, you also might want to try the unscented version of a particular detergent if available.

How I picked my detergent?

Personally, I had no idea what kind of detergent to use on my cloth diapers when I first started. I did a ton of research and listened to advice from people who lived near me! I had a lot of friends who used Tide Free and Clear or All Free and Clear. I was a little hesitant to use something that had brighteners in it so I kept looking. After lots of research I stumbled on to Diaper Jungle’s Detergent Chart and picked out the cheapest detergent with the best ratings which happened to be Country Save!

How has it worked for me? Cloth Diaper Safe Detergent

I had absolutely no problems with the detergent for the first year! It worked great and I only had to strip my diapers a handful of times, (and once was because they got…shall we say…a little moldy….gross I know!!!!) Not moldy as in dots everywhere, but just the smell of mold. I think I let them sit a tad too long in the pail:-( That was another adventure I entitled I Bleached My Diapers. I have recently noticed that over the past few months my diapers have begun to smell like ammonia after my son pees in them. I have been experimenting with a new detergents and my wash routine to see if I can fix the problem…STAY TUNED!

Some Popular Cloth Diaper Detergents

  • Allen’s
  • Bumgenius Laundry Detergent
  • Charlie’s Soap
  • Country Save
  • EcoSprout
  • Laundry Tarts
  • Nellie’s Laundry Soap
  • Rockin’ Green
  • Ruby Moon
  • Tide
  • Tiny Bubbles


Cloth Diaper Detergent Determinator from RDA (
Diaper Jungle Detergent Chart (
What’s in Your Water (
Pin Strips and Polka Dots Detergent Chart (
Well Water and Cloth Diaper (
Rockin’ Green Hard Water Map (

What about You?

What kind of detergent do you use on your cloth diapers?

What made you choose the particular brand of detergent you use?

Is there anything else you took into consideration when deciding which detergent to purchase?


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