Karen’s Cloth Diapering Site

Main page | Types of cloth diapers and covers | My search for the perfect cover | A note on detergents | My repelling fleece saga | Pics of Isaac in cloth dipes | Pics of Julia in cloth dipes | My experiences with diapering a newborn | Nighttime diapering | Diapering on the go | Prefold folds | My recommendations for getting started | Step-by-step diaper change pictorial | Knitting soakers | Trimming prefolds | Homemade pockets | Other eco-friendly choices

A note on laundry detergent

The deeper you get into the cloth diapering underworld, the more things that used to be meaningless become of the utmost importance. A perfect example of this is laundry detergent. Before I started cloth diapering, I happily used my laundry detergent of choice, never asking whether I was damaging the environment by using petroleum based detergents, whether I was experiencing build-up by using too much detergent or not rinsing enough, or whether I was causing skin sensitivities in members of my family from the dyes and perfumes. My clothes were clean, I was satisfied. Then I started reading cloth diapering message boards and was impressed by glowing descriptions of products I'd never heard of before. I became convinced that I had to try Dr. Bronner's soap because it smelled so wonderful and it would make my diapers so soft. Then again, I decided I should use a dye- and fragrance-free detergent to avoid possible allergies. I never did try Biokleen, which is another cloth diaperer favorite, but only because I couldn't buy it locally. I did try Country Save, which I picked up at the local health food store, and a generic powdered detergent that was about $8 for a huge 30 lb. bucket. Now I've come full circle and decided to keep things simple by just using my regular, liquid detergent, perfume and all.

Here's my recommendation to you. Start by washing your dipes in whatever detergent you've been using so far. Just use a lot less than you normally would. Try doing a cold soak and prewash with a ¼ capful, then a hot wash with another ¼ capful. If that works, stick with it. If you have problems with lingering odors, or persistent rashes, then you can try switching to a "free and clear" detergent, adding baking soda to the cold soak, and/or adding vinegar to the final rinse. Just don't use bleach (it wears your diapers down much faster), and skip the fabric softener (it can coat your diapers, leaving them less absorbant).

Added 2/5/04

I've learned a couple new laundry tricks, so just wanted to add them in. First of all, I was having some trouble with my nighttime hemp diapers. They would get soooo stinky when they were peed in and sometimes got a strong ammonia smell with an accompanying nasty diaper rash. I tried a few different things, but the most effective substance in this instance is bleach. I know, I said not to use bleach, but if you use it just once in a while, it shouldn't have a huge effect on the life of your diapers. I use it maybe once a month, just to freshen everything up. About 1/4-1/2 cup for a full load of diapers.

My other big discovery is Calgon water softener. It's in the laundry aisle by the Borax and other laundry additives. This is only helpful to those of you with really hard water. I add a capful of this to the hot part of the wash and it's been extremely helpful in keeping my prefolds soft and absorbant, and also preventing repelling fleece. It's fairly expensive, but well worth it, in my opinion.

Main page | Types of cloth diapers and covers | My search for the perfect cover | A note on detergents | My repelling fleece saga | Pics of Isaac in cloth dipes | Pics of Julia in cloth dipes | My experiences with diapering a newborn | Nighttime diapering | Diapering on the go | Prefold folds | My recommendations for getting started | Step-by-step diaper change pictorial | Knitting soakers | Trimming prefolds | Homemade pockets | Other earth-friendly choices

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This site was created on March 9, 2003.

Last updated June 13, 2006