The Scoop on Detergent Use with Cloth Diapers

This morning, I washed my hair, but one of the little goblins must’ve gotten to the shampoo lid, because a great deal of shampoo came out into my hand.  I didn’t want to waste it, so I got as much as I could and put it on my head.

And then I rinsed.

And rinsed.

And rinsed.

And rinsed.

Apparently I didn’t rinse enough, because now my hair looks weighed down, like I never washed it at all.  You see, cleaners like shampoo require only enough of a quantity to break the surface tension of the water.  A little bit goes a long way. When you use too much, it’s hard to rinse it all out. Then you’re left with residue.

If you cloth diaper, this story is pertinent.

If only I had a dollar for every time someone told me that their diapers smelled and when questioned, admitted to using a full scoop of detergent on their diapers. I’d be able to afford that high efficiency washer I’ve been wanting. (Of course, then, I’d need to use even LESS detergent than I already do on my diapers.)

When people purchase their diapers, the manufacturer’s instructions point out that you should only use a very small amount of detergent, just enough to break the surface tension of the water.  It’s usually stated as “about ½ to ¼ of the amount of detergent you’d normally use on clothes.” I think that starting up with cloth may seem overwhelming at first and so, some of the details may get over looked.

This is an important detail not to overlook, and that’s why I’m blogging about it. If you are using store bought detergent, please only use about a ¼ to ½ of the normal scoop of detergent.

Luckily no one pees on my head, so there were no smells to get trapped in my hair this morning. When you’re washing diapers, there’s all sorts of smells that can get trapped inside of detergent build up. This doesn’t mean the diapers are germy, it just means that the detergent has taken on the lovely aromatics of the diaper, intending to wash them away. Unfortunately, when you use too much detergent, the rinse cycle doesn’t know to repeat itself over and over. Then, the diapers dry, and everything seems fine, until a liquid (urine) comes along and the detergent tries to “break the surface tension” of that liquid and the detergent becomes recharged and then the diaper starts smelling rank.

If you’ve already done this, don’t worry, three or four hot washes with no detergent will probably get rid of all of the detergent (and stink.) Then, you can start over and follow the care instructions.

Now, if you want to avoid all of this thinking, you could also just purchase a detergent that is made specifically for diapers. It will extend the life of your diapers. It will improve their resale value. It will be completely non-irritating on your baby’s butt. You’ll be supporting a smaller, more worthy manufacturer. It’s a win-win-win-win situation.

-Dawn Papple

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One Response

  1. I love using my detergent that is made specifically for diapers. My two favorites are Rockin’ Green and Nellie’s Laundry Soda and after switching with my cloth diapers I have slowly switched with all my clothes. I love that when my clothes are clean they smell like clothes, not flowers, breezes or whatever those chemicals are, just clothes. I love that with Rockin’ Green if your clothes are especially gross or diapers… You can rock a soak. You will be amazed at the color of the water and when I switched it took a few rinses to make all my ‘Tide’ bubbles go away. My favorite thing with my ‘diaper detergent’ is it’s ability to wash my mechanic husband’s clothes. I have found Tide can’t actually and yes I will say it ~Tide can not remove all the stains! My Rockin’ Green actually seems to be able to break down the gunk, funk and grime from sweaty nasty greasy clothes. After washing twice, cause they are gross! I can actually see clean water and they smell like clothes again. Tide can’t do that, maybe it smells like a greasy flower or a sweaty brezze with Tide, but only Rockin’ Green makes it smell like clothes again. Oh and it eliminates the smoke smell too :~) So ditch your Tide and start smelling clothes again.

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