Oh, cloth diaper laundry… You are a cruel and confusing mistress. You confound even the most seasoned of cloth diaper addicts, particularly when one starts getting into the more mainstream detergents.
We already know that there are so many variables that impact which detergent will be kindest to your cloth diaper laundry. While I’m a diehard Rockin Green user, not everyone loves my favorite detergent. Some actually hate it and find that it causes irritation, build up, or any other evil that one does not want to experience when using cloth diapers.
In my local cloth diaper group, we discussed the advice that a mom had received from a diaper company on cleaning her diapers to resolve the leaking issues that she’d had. This diaper company actually told her that Tide Free was the best to use on their products. While I wasn’t surprised that Tide Free was considered safe, I was surprised that it was considered to be a “best” option. FuzziBunz lists it as a safer (but not a first choice) detergent.
Another local mom was surprised by that suggestion. She had come across some articles lately that said that Tide Free wasn’t the best way to go when it came to cloth diaper laundry. She’d read that plain old Tide powder was the way to go and she’d used it herself for dealing with the occasional build up issue. Then I’d learned that the mom who runs a co-op that I’m in uses plain old Tide powder exclusively.
I was actually kind of surprised by that. I’d heard of someone periodically using the old fashioned orange box Tide on her cloth diaper laundry to resolve build up issues, but to use it all the time?
Tide Free is a liquid detergent that’s free of fragrances and dyes. Those things are very good for cloth diaper laundry. However, it has brighteners and enzymes. Enzymes, while not necessarily a bad thing for the diapers, can be unpleasant on your baby’s bottom if the diapers are not rinsed perfectly clear. Enzymes work by attacking organic matter (like fecal matter) when wet… but our babies are also organic, so this can cause irritation when they wet the diaper. Brighteners are actually a chemical residue left behind on diapers. Residue can lead to build up, which can lead to stink or reduced absorbency.
The good old fashioned Tide powder has enzymes, brighteners, dyes, and fragrances. There are those that use it and swear by it. There are even diaper manufacturers that recommend it and specifically say not to use Tide Free.
My personal cloth diaper laundry experience
All that I can tell you is that I used Tide Free, a detergent that’s on the “it’s okay to use” list at FuzziBunz, and experienced such a stink that I nearly gave up on using cloth diapers all together. But again, that’s my experience, which will be influenced by a whole bunch of factors.
No wonder cloth diaper laundry can be so confusing. At the end of the day, though, all you can do is figure out what works best for you, your diapers, and your baby (not necessarily in that order).
Have you used either Tide detergents on your cloth diaper laundry? How did it work for you?