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Published on June 24th, 2013 | by Brittney French


Cloth 101: Choosing the Right Detergent

What kind of detergent do you use to wash your cloth diapers?  Is it one free of dyes, perfumes, fragrances, enzymes, and optical brighteners?  If so, good!  If not, switch to one that is! BGDetergentPouch400x400

Using a laundry detergent that is not specifically designed for cloth diapers may cause more harm than good — though you may not think or know it!

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

Optical brighteners are ingredients that make your brights 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.  This additive does nothing to extend the life of your clothing and can also cause buildup, which can also create odors or leaks.

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

Before choosing any detergent, especially one for cloth diapers, it's important to know about the additives.  However, 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!  All of the natural laundry detergents available online at Cotton Babies are free of these additives and recommended for use with cloth diapers.  These additive-free detergents can also be used on your entire family's laundry! 

To see a list of cloth diaper safe detergents, click here

For questions about laundry detergents or washing routines, give us a call at 1-888-332-2243 or email us at

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About the Author

Brittney is a social media coordinator for Cotton Babies. She has three sisters, loves pizza and enjoys listening to obscure bands no one has heard of. Outside of posting on the Cotton Babies Facebook page, she babysits a few cloth diaper-wearing kids and cheers for her favorite sports team.

5 Responses to Cloth 101: Choosing the Right Detergent

  1. Reviews says:

    I can tell that you really understand this subject quite well.
    Good highlights!

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  4. Jessica says:

    We used the Bum Genius detergent and our cloth diapers continued to smell like urine…everytime. Even after stripping them, hanging them in the sun to dry…everything! We recently switched to Hard Rock…the green stuff for hard water and are having the same problem, just not as intense. But with that faint smell there, and then our 7 month old peeing, his whole room will smell bad in the morning…and he will smell bad during the day. We can’t seem to figure it out and we have tried all of the tricks that have been posted. We like the cloth diapering system, but it seems so smelly. Something isn’t working as it should. I am thinking I should try just some regular, cheaper laundry detergent next! Any advice/tips would be great! We have a HE front loader as well. Thanks!

    • Andrea says:

      Do you bleach monthly? Seems like no one wants to use the monthly bleaching routine,,,,but honestly, I works wonders for preventing build up and keeping thing from getting stinky! Also, try calgon if you have hard water.

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