Often one of the first questions we get from new Moms considering cloth is, “Someone told me you have to use special, cloth diaper detergent”. Now, while there are certainly very good reasons to choose a zero-residue, hypoallergenic, biodegradable detergent made to work with cloth diapers as outlined here, many people choose to use a store bought detergent on the down-low, secretly not telling anyone and wondering whether they’ll burn in Laundry-You-Know-Where.
Okay then, let’s clear this up. Most detergents, when used in moderation with lots of water for rinsing out residue (preferably in powder form) won’t cause an issue on good quality diapers (wait, did I just say that out-loud?). Now, I must say, if you care at all about your diaper’s warranty (if applicable), check the manufacturers detergent recommendations as some commercial detergents will void warranties).
HOWEVER, in a nutshell, you want to stay away from super cheap detergents that have lots of wax and fillers and those that have excessive fragrance, whiteners, optical brighteners, enzymes or anything else that’s designed to be left on the fabric after washing. Reside = buildup = leaky/smelly diapers. Period.
This is when the issue of Tide tends to come up. Tide is not an amazing cure-all detergent, but yes, it is a commercial detergent that we do recommend on occasion (so no shame using it). Tide is sometimes the solution for those with ammonia or smell issues that couldn’t be combated any other way and can work really well in many water types. Some manufacturers like FuzziBunz even have Tide listed as one of their recommended detergents. Therefore, if you’re going to go with a commercial detergent, Tide is what you should try. Look for Tide Ultra Original or Tide Free in the powder form (not liquid) and only use 1/4 of the amount recommended on the package for your diapers.
Now, keep in mind that since Tide is a mainstream brand it is not specifically made for cloth diapers and does not disclose all of it’s ingredients on the label. It is not hypoallergenic and some babies will get a rash/allergic reaction from it being in close proximity to the very delicate diaper area. This is one of the reasons why we don’t recommend it to everyone all the time. However, it is considered a zero-residue detergent and works for lots of Moms and their little ones.
So, if you’re a Tide using Mama, hold your head up high. Heck I even use Tide Free on my diapers when I run out of Charlie’s Soap…and I own a diaper store lol.