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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 hear that homemade detergent will cause diaper damage quite frequently, but no one has told me they actually experienced diaper damage. We have insanely hard water, and our Oxyclean, borax, and washing soda mix has been the first winning detergent for us. I would love to hear from someone who has had damage and might be able to share how they first noticed….

    Ashley Templeman on
  • I’ve been using homemade laundry soap on my diapers for six months now with no ill effects. I’ve never even needed to strip them! Not yet anyway. I always just use a tiny amount in the load. Now this article has me worried!! Ive loved saving money by doing homemade but if course cost savings are out the window if I have to replace ruined diapers. Hmm…

    Oh and I have pockets (sunbaby and BG), prefolds and Thirsties covers (snaps, duo wrap).

    Rachael on
  • I used my homemade laundry detergent on my diapers (the typical Fels, Washing Soda and Borax) and ended up with a mess. While it didn’t haem my diapers, I only used it for about 4 weeks before the ammonia was so bad it was leaving burns on my ds overnight. :( I had previousl only used Thirsties pre-wash and Super-wash and had never had to even strip my diapers, but I had run out…so I resorted to my homemade thinking it would be fine. Boy was I worng! I stripped, stripped, and stripped, and still couldn’t get the ammonia out. I ended up having to boil…ALL of my diapers…what a pain! Never again, I will stick with my tried and true Thirsties washes!

    Marisa on
  • This is super helpful! I always read about people making their own detergent for diapers and have thought about trying it myself. Good to know what’s comparable to home-made and what not to use!

    Felicia R on
  • I have use every item listed for 13 years of cloth diapering and NEVER had one of the problems listed.

    Brittany on

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