Homemade is Not Always Best

Now, if I saw that headline, I would be like, “What? Of course it is!”.  But in the case of using homemade laundry detergents, it is not always best for your diapering products. Below is a list of typical ingredients found in homemade laundry detergents: Bar soap Fels Naptha Soap Liquid castile soap Borax Oxygen Bleach Vinegar Washing Soda Now, you say, those are all natural ingredients. Yes, we love natural ingredients, but these may not be recommended for good reasons. What diapering products you are washing will determine which ingredient cannot be used. Pure Soap: Bar soap, grated soap, Fels Naptha soap, Castile soap: Pure soaps can deteriorate lamination, creating tiny pinholes and rendering the waterproofing useless. Pure soaps can also coat diapers, making them repel rather than absorb.
  • Do not use on any diapering product.
Borax: Borax, or Sodium Borate, is a wonderful cleanser, but can be caustic to components.
  • Do not use on covers, or diapers with components such as elastic - especially hook and loop fasteners. May be used on prefolds and inserts without elastic.
Oxygen Bleach: Oxygen bleach is a combination of hydrogen peroxide, and Sodium Carbonate - each very useful ingredients. When combined, it creates an oxygenating liquid or powder used to clean, brighten, and bleach away stains. Although it is biodegradeable and natural, it can be harsh on fibers and components.
  • May be used sparingly on diapering products, but not recommended for every wash as it is harsh. Thirsties recommends a treatment not more than once a month to preserve your diapering items.
Vinegar: Oh, wonderful vinegar! You can always find a bottle in my home. Vinegar has so many uses, and is great for neutralizing high alkaline levels in wash water. But, vinegar is not good for diapering components. Vinegar is an acid, and can eat away at lamination and elastic.
  • Do not use on diaper covers, pail liners, diaper duffles, or any diaper with lamination or elastic.
  • May be used on prefolds and inserts without elastic.
Washing Soda: Washing soda, or Sodium Carbonate, is the main ingredient in most powder detergents. It is highly alkaline, but is said to be safe when used in detergents. The wash water neutralizes the alkalinity, so please make sure to use the highest water level possible with powder detergents.
  • We do not recommend adding Washing Soda along with a detergent as an additive.
So although I believe that homemade detergent is great for regular laundry, it will most likely not be an option for cloth diapering products. Here are some great laundry detergents that can be purchased, and are safe for cloth diapers:
  • Allens Naturally Liquid*
  • Arm and Hammer Essentials
  • Country Save Liquid
  • Mountain Green Ultra Baby *
  • Planet Delicate Laundry Wash Liquid
  • Thirsties Pre-Wash and Super Wash *
  • Vaska
*HE compatible Liquid detergents are generally less harsh on diapering products. For Hard Water, we recommend either a powder detergent or adding a water softener. Calgon Water Softener may be added to the wash load if using a liquid detergent. Here are some recommended powder detergents:
  • Allen’s Naturally Powder*
  • Country Save Powder*
  • Planet Powder*
  • Rockin Green: Soft Rock, Classic Rock, Hard Rock, or Funk Rock *
*HE compatible Please send any questions you may have to me at support@thirstiesbaby.com! ~Sonya
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50 comments

  • I have been using homemade detergent for over 3 years on my diapers now – I have never had leaks, stinkies, or any ill effects whatsoever. My newborn is still using diapers that my 3.5 year old used, and they are in wonderful shape.

    Lisa on
  • I currently use RnG but I noticed that the first 2 ingredients in there were the same as my oxygen bleach. I wonder just how bad it could really be for diapers if they have the same ingredients.

    Ashley B on
  • I echo the previous posters’ comments, especially the ones pointing out that many of these “recommended” detergents actually contain the ingredients we are being told to avoid. I think a lot of this is just marketing (if we all made our own detergent, all the cloth diaper detergent companies would be out of business!). Another option is to wash your covers and your inserts separately, and use something more delicate on the covers. I have a mix (I have Rockin’ Green, Borax, Oxiclean, Washing Soda, and Soap Nuts on standby) and just use whatever yanks my chain that day – ironically, the biggest improvement I had in fighting hard water / ammonia / stink issues was just from presoaking them (pee inserts, not poo, although it helped them too). It added weight and water to my HE washer and everything was good after that! Even Calgon was useless, although we have hard water from iron, which is even more of a mess. Just my thoughts!

    Lisa P on
  • is hydrogen peroxide stable in synthetic detergent bar if addded while manufacturing.

    rk on
  • Great information. :) Thanks for sharing this!

    Sheila on

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