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Published on January 28th, 2013 | by Heather Vaughn


What detergent do I use on my cloth diapers?

Did you know it's important to wash your cloth diapers in a laundry detergent that is free from dyes, perfumes or fragrance, enzymes and optical brighteners? Detergents that are free of these ingredients are often referred to as "cloth diaper safe" detergents. Curious why we suggest avoiding these additives in laundry detergents? This post is for you!

Perfumes and fragrances are oil based, which means they can remain in the fabric, even after your diapers are rinsed. Dyes can also leave behind residue in your diapers after rinsing. Both fragrance and dye reside could cause skin sensitivities (aka diaper rash) or buildup in your cloth diapers.

Optical brighteners are ingredients that make your colors brighter and whites whiter, which you often see as a selling point for laundry detergents. These additives are specifically designed to remain in your clothing and "bend the light" so you see the colors brighter or whiter. They do nothing to extend the life of your clothing and can also cause buildup. Detergent buildup can lead to smell issues or leaks.

Enzymes are in some types of laundry detergents because they remove certain kinds of stains easily, specifically protein-based stains. Those same enzymes that remove stains can react with your baby's skin and cause a mild rash.

Reading labels, knowing and understanding all the different types of fragrances, brighteners, dyes and enzymes can be tough. So we've decided to make it easy on you! Any of the natural laundry detergents available online at Cotton Babies are free of the additives. Not only are they safe for cloth diapers, they are great for your entire family's laundry! Don't forget, Cotton Babies offers free economy shipping on all items, including detergent, with no minimum purchase.

We're moms too, and we know that sometimes you get distracted before you can place that online order. So if you run out before your order arrives or prefer to shop in a local store, we also have a list of cloth diaper safe detergents. You can download the file, save to your computer or print it out to toss in your diaper bag before your next shopping trip. We know it's not easy to read labels with a baby in the shopping cart, so our recently updated list includes the brands and specific formulations that are free of those unnecessary additives.

If you have further questions about our laundry recommendations or need help troubleshooting your own laundry routine, give us a call at 1-888-332-2243 or email us at

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About the Author

Heather is mom to four, born within 40 months (single, twins, single). She writes transparently about her chaotic household to encourage others through the twists and turns of parenting.

3 Responses to What detergent do I use on my cloth diapers?

  1. jhonsun says:

    Both fragrance and dye reside could cause skin sensitivities (aka diaper rash) or buildup in your cloth diapers.

  2. Cheryl says:

    I just recently switched to making my own laundry soap. Would that be okay to use on the cloth diapers? It’s a powder, containing washing soda, borax and a grated bar of castile soap. I’d love to use it on our diapers to save a bunch of money.

  3. AmyM says:

    What a great resource! Thanks for posting. I didn’t see soap nuts mentioned. Do they work for washing cloth diapers?

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