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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

  • This is such an interesting debate. I used to make my own detergent but I am too worried to try it on my cloth diapers, as another poster pointed out these are an investment for sure and I don’t want to chance it. I currently use Arm & Hammer and while I think it would be a great detergent for clothing I’m just not finding it very effective on the cloth diapers. I am still getting the “stink” factor and have to wash more than once which seems to be quite counter-productive since I cloth diaper for environmental reasons. I am almost done with this particular bottle of detergent and will begin experimenting with the others on your list. :)

    Nedra M on
  • I’m with the people that want to hear from people who’ve had damage from homemade detergent…mostly because I’ve heard of several people who make their own and say that it works better than the brand name detergents they’ve bought.

    Annie on
  • WOW! THanks for the info. and loved reading all the comments too. Lots to think about. I use homemade detergent on my cloth diapers but without the soap.

    Leigh Baker on
  • Thanks so much for this post. Very informational. I’m new to cloth and still figuring out the do’s and don’ts.

    leah on
  • Good stuff, however I would argue with recommending powder detergent for hard water. Powder dissolves a lot harder in hard water, and there always seems some residue left on our diapers and clothes whenever I attempt to wash with powder. Especially, as I prefer to wash on lower, ecofriendly temperatures. And dissolving the powder first in hot water is just such a mess and an inconvenience. So fr hard water I would recommend liquid detergents.

    Sweet Trix on

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