Cloth Diaper Detergent Chart - Best Detergent for Diapers

Detergents and Cloth Diapering

Washing Cloth Diapers

Having fun washing cloth diapersWhat detergent works best for washing cloth diapers? This is a loaded question since different detergents will work or not work to your satisfaction dependent on many different factors.  What works for one person's diaper laundry will not necessarily work for you and yours.

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This chart analyzes many different detergent choices and rates them so that you can find the best cloth diaper detergent for your diaper laundering needs. We also pinpoint detergents that work well with HE or High Efficiency washing machines and they have a page of their own as well. See how our rating system works below the chart. The percentages under the rating represents the results of our running poll, and how many moms use each detergent.

Want to leave a review for a detergent - send us an email. We also have a diaper laundry glossary and Detergent Ingredients Glossary.

= Do Not Use for Cloth Diapers
= Uses fragrance/dyes/enzymes/brighteners
= Pretty Good
= Thumbs up!

Remember that even the detergents that have been given four stars will work differently based on the water, washing conditions, and individual children. Do some experimentation and find the option that works best for your family and your routine.



Rating Image Detergent
Brand and Name
Cost Per Load Enzymes Brighteners Dyes Fragrances Softeners Bleach

Ruby Moon
Purchase
N/A No No No Some varieties No No

Charlie's Soap
Purchase
 
$0.19 No No No No No ?

Charlie's Soap
Purchase
 
$0.19 ? No No No No ?

*Mountain Green
Free and Clear
Purchase
 
N/A No No No No No ?

*Mountain Green
Baby Detergent

A PETA acceptable product
N/A No No No Yes No ?

 
Mollie's Suds Laundry Power
 
? No No No No No No

 
Honest Company Laundry Detergent
 
? No No No No No No

 
20 Mule Team
Borax
 
$0.25 No No No No No ?

 
All
Free and Clear
 
$0.18 No Yes No No No ?

 
All
Baby Care Plus
 
N/A No Yes No Yes No ?
Rating Image Detergent
Brand and Name
Cost Per Load Enzymes Brighteners Dyes Fragrances Softeners Bleach

All
Small and Mighty
 
$0.23 No Yes No Yes No ?

 
Allens
Naturally Powdered and Liquid Laundry Detergents
 
$0.26 No No No No No ?


Arm & Hammer
FabriCare
 
$0.23 Yes Yes No Yes Yes ?

 
Arm & Hammer
FabriCare Free
 
N/A Yes Yes No No No ?

 
Arm & Hammer
Essentials Free

Note: The Mountain Rain edition has fragrance and dyes
N/A No No No No No ?
Rating Image Detergent
Brand and Name
Cost Per Load Enzymes Brighteners Dyes Fragrances Softeners Bleach

 
Arm & Hammer
Sensitive Skin
 
$0.20 No Yes No No No ?

 
Bio-O-Kleen
Laundry Powder
 
$0.20 No No No No No ?

 
Bio-O-Kleen Free & Clear Powder

 
$0.24 Yes No No No No ?

 
Bio-O-Kleen
Premium Plus Laundry Powder
 
$0.22 Yes Yes No No No ?

 
Bio-O-Kleen
Liquid Laundry Detergent
 
$0.20 No No No No No ?

Caldrea
Sweet Pea Laundry Detergent

Note: Contains plant-derived surfactants, Borax and essential oils of Geranium, Orange, Jasmine, Coriander, Rose and Bergamot. HE (front loader) compatible
$0.50 No No No Yes No ?


Cheer
Cheer
 
N/A Yes No Yes Yes No ?

 
Cheer
Free and Gentle
 
N/A Yes No No No ? ?

 
Country Save
Country Save Liquid
 
$0.19 No No No No No ?
Rating Image Detergent
Brand and Name
Cost Per Load Enzymes Brighteners Dyes Fragrances Softeners Bleach

Country Save
Country Save Powdered Detergent
 
$0.16 No No No No No ?

 
Dreft
Dreft
 
$0.27 Yes Yes No No ? ?

Dropps
Liquid Laundry Pacs
 
$0.31 No No No No No ?

 
Earth Friendly Products
Baby Hypoallergenic Laundry Soap

Vegetable & Coconut Based Soap...may not be strong enough to launder cloth diapers
N/A No No No No Yes ?

Ecos
Free and Clear Liquid
 
N/A No No No No No ?

Ecos
Magnolia & Lillies, Lavendar & Lemongrass Scents

Note: scented Ecos contains coconut based surfactants and softeners as well as essential oils
 
$0.22 No No No Yes No ?
Rating Image Detergent
Brand and Name
Cost Per Load Enzymes Brighteners Dyes Fragrances Softeners Bleach

 
Ecos
Powdered Laundry Deteregent
 
N/A No No No No Yes ?

 
Ecover
Non Bio Laundry

Vegan Approved
$0.47 No No No Yes No ?

 
EnviroRite
Laundry Detergent

Ingredients: Deionized Water, Vegetable-Based Cleaning Agents, Surfactacts, Microbiostat
$0.19 No No No No No ?


GAIN
GAIN
 
$0.45 Yes Yes No Yes Yes ?


GAIN
GAIN HE Powder
 
N/A Yes Yes No Yes Yes ?
Rating Image Detergent
Brand and Name
Cost Per Load Enzymes Brighteners Dyes Fragrances Softeners Bleach

 
Ivory
Snow

may not be strong enough to launder cloth diapers
$1.20 Yes Yes No No No ?

 
Kirkland's
Kirkland's Signature (Costco brand)

This product is nearly identical to Tide
N/A Yes Yes No Yes No ?

 
  Kirkland's Signature
Environmentally Friendly

contains vegetable based surfactants including those derived from coconuts
N/A Yes No No Yes No No

Kirkland's Free and Clear (HE)
Costco brand
 
$0.15 Yes Yes No No No ?

 
Lifekind
Naturally Safer Triple Concentrated

Note: contains Seed & Pulp Extracts, Orange Peel Extracts, Surfactants from Coconuts.
$0.23 No No No No No ?

Maggie's Soap Nuts
Maggie's Soap Nuts

Note: 100% natural - Grows on Trees!!!
N/A No No No No No ?
Rating Image Detergent
Brand and Name
Cost Per Load Enzymes Brighteners Dyes Fragrances Softeners Bleach


Melaleuca
MelaPower
 
N/A Yes Yes Yes Yes No ?

 
Melaleuca
MelaPower Scent Free
 
N/A Yes Yes No No No ?

Method
HE Laundry Detergent
 
N/A Yes Yes No Yes No ?

 
Method
Baby Laundry Detergent
 
N/A Yes Yes No No No ?

Method
Free and Clear
 
N/A Yes Yes No No No ?
Rating Image Detergent
Brand and Name
Cost Per Load Enzymes Brighteners Dyes Fragrances Softeners Bleach

Mountain Green
Original Citrus

A PETA acceptable product
N/A No No No Yes No ?

 
Nature Clean
All Natural Laundry Liquid
 
N/A No No No No No No

Nellie's
Nellie's Laundry Soda

contains coconut oil based ingredients.
N/A No No No No No ?

 
OXY-PRIME
OXY-PRIME Powder
 
N/A No No No No No ?

 
Penguin
Sport-Wash

Restores factory applied waterproofing (DWR). Contains biodegradable vegetable surfactants
N/A No No No No No ?
Pink Solution

 
$0.12 Yes No No No No No
Rating Image Detergent
Brand and Name
Cost Per Load Enzymes Brighteners Dyes Fragrances Softeners Bleach

 
Planet
Ultra Powder
 
N/A No No No No No ?

 
Purex
Purex
 
N/A No Yes Yes Yes No ?

 
Purex
Baby
 
N/A No Yes ? Yes No ?

 
Purex
Free and Clear

Note: Many moms have expressed satisfaction with this detergent.
N/A No Yes No No No ?

Rockin Green
Soft, Classic & Hard
 
$0.25-.30 No No No Optional No ?


SA8
Sensitive
 
N/A Yes Yes No Yes Yes ?
Rating Image Detergent
Brand and Name
Cost Per Load Enzymes Brighteners Dyes Fragrances Softeners Bleach


SA8
BioQuest Concentrated
 
N/A Yes Yes No Yes Yes ?

 
SensiClean
SensiClean

Note: Some burns and rashes have been reported by users of this detergent.
N/A No No No No ? ?

 
Seventh Generation
Natural Laundry Baby
 
$0.53 Yes No No No Yes ?

 
Seventh Generation
Free and Clear

contains vegetable based surfactants and enzymes including those derived from coconuts
$0.53 Yes No No No Yes ?

 
Seventh Generation
Natural Laundry
 
$0.46 Yes No No Yes No ?
Rating Image Detergent
Brand and Name
Cost Per Load Enzymes Brighteners Dyes Fragrances Softeners Bleach

 
Shaklee
Liquid-L
Note: HE version has been linked with rashes
 
$0.38 Yes Yes ? Yes No ?

 
Sport-Wash
Residue Free

Note: Some burns and rashes have been reported by users of this detergent.
$0.59 No No No No No ?

 
Sun
Free

Note: Many moms have expressed satisfaction with this detergent.
N/A No Yes No No No ?

Sun and Earth
Deep Cleaning
 
$0.24 No No No No No ?

 
Sunlight
Ultra Sensitive Skin
 
N/A No Yes No No No ?
Rating Image Detergent
Brand and Name
Cost Per Load Enzymes Brighteners Dyes Fragrances Softeners Bleach

Sunlight
Ultra Sensitive Skin HE
 
N/A No Yes No No No ?

 
Surf
Surf
 
N/A Yes No Yes Yes No ?

 
Surf
Aloha Splash
 
N/A Yes No Yes Yes No ?

 
The Laundress
The Laundress Baby Detergent
 
$1.21 No Yes No Yes Yes ?


Tide
Tide
 
$0.25 Yes Yes Yes Yes ? ?
Rating Image Detergent
Brand and Name
Cost Per Load Enzymes Brighteners Dyes Fragrances Softeners Bleach

 
Tide
Free
 
N/A Yes Yes No No ? ?


Tide
HE
 
$0.33 Yes Yes No Yes ? ?

 
  Trader Joe's
Cleanliness is Next to Godliness
 
N/A No No No No No ?
/
 
Vaska
Herbatergent Lavendar and Non Scented

Note: Contains plant based surfactants and lavendar contains essential oils
$0.32 No No No optional No ?

 
Wisk
Free Clear Ultra
 
N/A Yes Yes No No No ?

Woolite
HE

Note: Woolite has an alkaline pH that may strip wool fibers so wool users should use caution.
$0.25 No No No ? No ?


How we rated the detergents:

Detergents received one or two stars based upon the amount of non-ideal ingredients they contain. Detergents that received three stars are mostly good but may contain at least one of the non-ideal ingredients, which means a little caution may be warranted when trying them. Detergents that received four stars have none of the non-ideal ingredients and should be a good place to start experimentation in finding the diaper detergent that will work best for you! If the YES/NO section for a particular ingredient has been left blank it is because we just don't know yet.
 

Are you wondering about a detergent that is not seen here? Email us If possible, please include any known ingredients in the detergent of question.

Want more information on HE or High Efficiency washing machines and a condensed list of HE detergents?

We are currently researching these detergents:

Bio Pac
Melaleuca HE
Kirkland HE
Kirkland Free and Clear
Kirkland Free and Clear Ultra
Wonder Wash Artic Power
Shaklee HE
Shaklee fragrance free liquid
Ecos in Magnolia Lily
Natures Miracle pet and allergy
SA8
Sears Free
Arm & Hammer So Clean
Borax Natures Freshener Detergent booster
Planet Ultra
Oxyclean versatile
Seventh Generation delicate care
President’s Choice PC 2x Ultra free
Tide FREE - Sensitive Skin

Why Avoid these Ingredients?

Pure Soap: Pure soaps are the more natural choice in the world of cleaners, but soaps will leave a residue on yourDiaper Detergent Bottle diapers and covers – similar to the soap scum you find in your tub. Soap scum on diapers makes them repel moisture rather than absorb it and it is also harsh on the laminates used in your diaper covers, making them absorb rather than repel water. The best choice for washing your diapers is to use detergent on them. To combat build-up though, Annie Berthold-Bond, author of Better Basics for the Home, recommends adding baking soda. “Start out with 1/4 cup of baking soda, and increase to 1/2 cup if you have very hard water,†she advises. Leave the soda in the water for ten minutes, then add the soap and clothes.

Enzymes: Enzymes attack organic matter and help dissolve stains when activated with water or moisture. Sweat, urine, and feces are all organic matter so there is a risk that these substances that are lingering on baby's skin will be a target for these enzymes. In particularly sensitive children, these enzymes can cause blistering, bleeding, sores and rashes.

Fragrances and Dyes: These are harsh and unnecessary chemicals for a baby's laundry. It is best to avoid them. Artificial fragrances are often made from petroleum. Many do not degrade in the environment, and may have toxic effects on both fish and mammals. Additionally, they often can cause allergies and skin or eye irritation.

Optical Brighteners: These are actually tiny particles that stick to the surface of your clothes after washing. These particles make colors appear to be brighter by absorbing invisible ultraviolet light and re-emitting it as blue light. If you want to see if your detergent has these brighteners, simply look at the detergent under a black light. Although these optical brighteners may make your clothes appear brighter, they are chemical residues that are intentionally left behind on your clothes and may cause skin irritation or other allergic reactions.

Fabric Softeners: Fabric softener, either in liquid or sheet form – leaves a water-repelling residue on your laundry. When left on your cloth diapers (and towels), this residue makes them less absorbent and useful in the very purpose that they serve. It also coats your diaper covers and can deteriorate their water-proof laminate. If your diapers NEED softening add 1/2 cup baking soda to the rinse cycle of your wash. You can also try a commercial green fabric softener like Natural Choices Home Safe Product’s Safe ‘N Soft, Ecover’s Natural Fabric Softener, or Sun & Earth’s Ultra Fabric Softener. Dryer Balls also help soften laundry. One of our new favorite products is The Static Eliminator Re-Usable Dryer Sheets. These sheets contain no chemicals and are hypoallergenic. In addition, they don't affect the flame resistance of clothing. Want to know the best part? They are safe for cloth diapers!

Do Detergents Disinfect?

Many people believe that a detergent is supposed to disinfect clothing or diapers but this is just not the case with most detergents. Detergents that contain something like chlorine bleach, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, will kill bacteria/viruses/fungi present in the laundry but detergents without these ingredients will clean only...not disinfect. Most cloth diaper users avoid the above mentioned ingredients because they are harsh on clothing and skin. When searching for the perfect diaper detergent for your family please keep in mind that most of the higher ranked detergents for diaper laundry will NOT disinfect diapers and it would unreasonable to expect such.

What Is Detergent Residue?

Detergent Residue is a film that is left behind on clothing or in this case, cloth diapers. Why is this a problem? Detergent build-up and residue can lead to repelling or beading of liquid; leaks and wicking; skin rashes and irritation; stinky diapers and diaper covers; dulling of colors in fabric. These all present problems for cloth diaper users so it is best to try and avoid detergent build-up and residue. Residue problems are usually caused by additives in your detergent such as brighteners, fabric softeners, natural additives like citrus extract or grapeseed extract, soaps, and stain guards. Well, what if it is too late and you have a build-up problem? The most common method for removing residue is to strip diapers. A study on detergent residues that compares ecover, biokleen, country save, and others can be found here.

Still Not Sure?
Make your own detergent!

Disclaimer:
Best efforts have been made in the preparation of this information. The Diaper Jungle has made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information herein. However, the information contained within this site is given without warranty, either expressed or implied. The Diaper Jungle cannot be held liable for any damages caused directly or indirectly by the links and information on this site. In addition, changes and improvements to the information provided herein may be made at any time.

 

 

 

 

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