DETERGENT CHOICES

Detergents abound on the supermarket shelf, but none have a bright, bold, beautiful cloth diaper on them to let you know that they are the product of choice for your cloth diapering laundry needs.

This page is a compilation of information regarding well-known name brand detergents, lesser-known environmentally friendly detergents and newer detergents from specific cloth diapering manufacturers. Compare your choices to determine which product is best for your baby's cloth diapers.

If you are just starting your cloth diapering journey, I can not emphasize enough how advantageous it is to choose a really good detergent. Remove as many obstacles as you can at the beginning to ensure your success. If you want to experiment with your favorite detergent down the road, do so, but only after you are successfully cloth diapering so you know what normal is.

Recognize that washing conditions, such as machine and water supply, do vary from person to person. However, by eliminating known problems you should find success in washing your diapers more easily.

For information on HE detergent recommendations click here.

KEY TO DETERGENT CHART

Considered a great choice for diaper laundry.

Easy Tip:

A green background highlights detergents that are recommended; an orange background highlights detergents to avoid.

A good choice for cloth diaper laundry.

An average detergent. Not the best for cloth diaper laundry.

Not recommended for diaper laundry.


Detergent does NOT have this offending ingredient

Should not be used for cloth diaper laundry.


Detergent does have this offending ingredient

Detergent Chart for diaper laundry success

information updated June 2010; images may be older

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Rating
Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

Ajax 2x Ultra

all®

-Free & Clear Liquid

-Ultra Free & Clear 2x

-Free & Clear 3x

Personal Note: Some people use All Free and Clear for their diaper laundry and swear they have had no problems (many are prefold users, I wonder how many are military?). My understanding is that the problems come long-term and then they are unaware of what could be causing the diapers to leak. The optical brighteners in All Free and Clear have been noted for causing problems with pocket diapers and Bummis diaper covers.


all®

Free and Clear Liquid - Military

This detergent will only be available from a military commissary, but it does have a bright red label on it stating that it does not have optical brighteners.

all® Small & Mighty®

Free & Clear

all® Small & Mighty®

-Snuggle

all® Small & Mighty®

-Stainlifter

-Fresh Rain

-Wild Fresh

-with Bleach Alternative

-Relax & Refresh

all®

Free & Clear Powder

all®

-Baby

-2x Ultra Baby

all®

-with Stain Lifters 2x

-Ultra 2x

-Ultra 2x with Bleach Alternative

-Fresh Rain 2x

-Secret Garden 2x

-Dancing in the Tropics 2x

-Floral Melody 2x

-Sunshine Energy 2x

-Wandering Through the Wildflowers 2x

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

Allens Naturally Laundry Detergent

-Liquid

-Ultra Concentrated Powder

Standard and HE compatible

Arm & HammerFabricare

Personal Note: This detergent has caused severe reactions among too many babies to recommend.


Arm & HammerFabriCare Free

Personal Note: This detergent has caused severe reactions among too many babies to recommend.


Arm & HammerEssentials

-Mountain Rain

Personal Note: This detergent contains baking soda which may not be compatible for use with some diapers.

Arm & Hammer

-Regular

-with Color Safe Beach Alternative

-Clean Burst 2x

-Clean Mountain

-Spring Breeze

-Tropical Burst

Arm & Hammer

Plus the Power of OxiClean

-Clean Meadow

- Fresh Scent

-Fresh Scent Powder

Arm & Hammer

Plus A touch of Fabric Softener

Arm & Hammer

for Sensitive Skin

Attitude

-Baby

-Fragrance Free

Standard and HE compatible

Attitude

-Lavender & Grapefruit

-Ylang-Ylang & Lime

Standard and HE compatible

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

BabyGanicsLoads of Love 3X

-Fragrance Free

Standard and HE compatible

Bi-O-Kleen Laundry Powder

-Free & Clear

Standard and HE compatible

Personal Note: This brand of detergent has repeatedly caused repellency issues with pocket diapers.

Bi-O-KleenPremium Plus Laundry Powder

Standard and HE compatible

Personal Note: This brand of detergent has repeatedly caused repellency issues with pocket diapers.

Bi-O-KleenLaundry Liquid

Standard and HE compatible

Personal Note: This brand of detergent has repeatedly caused repellency issues with pocket diapers.

Bio-Vert

Bio-Vert

-with no perfume

Bold 2 in 1

Liquid

-Lavender & Camomile

-Blossom & Lime Zest

-Refreshing Water& Spa

-Crushed Silk & Jasmine

Bold 2 in 1

Powder

-Lavender & Camomile

-Blossom & Lime Zest

-Refreshing Water& Spa

-Crushed Silk & Jasmine

BumGenius Diaper Detergent
Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

Caldrea Laundry Detergent

-Basil Blue Sage

-Ginger Pomelo

-Lavender Pine

-Sweet Pea

-Sea Salt Neroli

-Sandalwood Riceflower

Standard & HE compatible


natural essential oils

Charlie's Soap

Powder

Personal Note: There is great controversy over this detergent. Fact is: some (not all) babies have a severe skin reaction to this detergent.

Manufacturers Note: "We have found that by following proper procedures with our detergents... we have remedied nearly all the problems. We know there can be a problem with hard water with our detergents" -Charlie Sutherland

Charlie's Soap

Liquid

Personal Note: There is great controversy over this detergent. Fact is: some (not all) babies have a severe skin reaction to this detergent.

Manufacturers Note: "We have found that by following proper procedures with our detergents...we have remedied nearly all the problems." "We know there can be a problem with hard water with our detergents" -Charlie Sutherland

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

Cheer BrightClean

-Original

-Colorguard

-BrightClean

-Dark

-Fresh Clean Scent

-Bleach Alternative

Cheer BrightClean

-Bounce Fresh Linen Scent

Cheer BrightClean

-Free & Gentle Liquid

-Free & Gentle Liquid

Citra Suds

- Liquid 2x

Citra Suds

-Powder

Claudia's Choices

Clorox 2 Stain Fighter & Color Booster

-Liquid

Clorox 2 Stain Fighter & Color Booster

-Free Liquid

-Free Powder

Country SavePowder Laundry Detergent

Standard and HE compatible

Manufacturers Note: Independent lab results for this producthttp://countrysave.com/announce.php


Country SaveLiquid Laundry Detergent

Manufacturers Note: Independent lab results for this producthttp://countrysave.com/announce.php

Crunchy Clean

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

Dreft

-Liquid 2x

-Powder

Dropps Baby

These are pre-measured capsules so check with diaper manufacturer to determine if the dosage would be acceptable. Wouldn't be suitable for variable laundry load sizes.

Dropps Scent & Dye Free

These are pre-measured capsules so check with diaper manufacturer to determine if the dosage would be acceptable. Wouldn't be suitable for variable laundry load sizes.

Dropps Fresh Scent

These are pre-measured capsules so check with diaper manufacturer to determine if the dosage would be acceptable. Wouldn't be suitable for variable laundry load sizes.

Dynamo 2x Ultra

-Sunrise Fresh

-Waterfall Fresh

Standard and HE compatible

Dynamo 2x Ultra

-Free and Clear

Standard and HE compatible

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

Earth Friendly Products Baby Hypoallergenic Laundry Soap

ECOS Baby


natural essential oils


Eco-Max

-Liquid

Standard and HE compatible

Eco-Max

-Powder

Standard and HE compatible

ECOS

Free and Clear

ECOS Laundry Detergent with Coconut Based Fabric Softener

-powder

-magnolia and lillies

-lemongrass

-lavender

Standard and HE compatible


not present in powder

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

Ecover

Liquid

Standard and HE compatible


Ecover

Powder

Standard and HE compatible

Equator


Era

-Ultra

-Ultra with Oxibooster

-Ultra Crystal Springs


Era

-Ultra Free 2x

Fab Ultra 2x

-Ocean Breeze

- Rain Forest

-Sun Shower Fresh

-Spring Magic

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid


Gain

-Original

-Ultra

-Fresh Awakenings

-Island Fresh

-Outdoor Sunshine with Bleach Alternative

-Joyful

-Baking Soda Fresh Water Sparkle

Expressions

-Soothing Sensations

-Apple Mango Tango

-Spring Lavender

-Floral Fusion

Gain

-Touch of Softness Simply Fresh

-Touch of Softness Cotton Fresh

Green Works

-Free and Clear

Standard and HE compatible

Green Works

-Original Scent

-Lavender

Standard and HE compatible


Ivory Snow -Powder

-Liquid 2x

Personal Note: Not considered strong enough for cloth diapers

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

Kirkland Signature Free & Clear

Kirkland Signature

-Ultra Liquid 2x

-Powder with Bleach Alternative

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

MelalucaMelaPower 6x Fresh Scent


MelalucaMelaPower 6x Scent Free


Method

-Fresh Air

-Lily and Aloe

-Sweet Water

-Peony Blossom

Standard and HE certified

Method

-Free and Clear

Standard and HE certified

Method

-Squeaky Green

Standard and HE certified

Method

Baby

Standard and HE certified

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

Mountain Green

Free & Clear

Standard and HE certified

Mountain Green

Free & Clear Baby

Standard and HE certified

Mountain Green

Original Citrus

Standard and HE certified


natural citrus

Mountain Green

Ultra Baby

Standard and HE certified


natural essential oils

Mrs. Meyer's Laundry Detergent

-Basil

-Lavender

-Lemon Verbena

-Geranium

-Baby Blossom


natural essential oils

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

Nature CleanAll Natural Laundry Liquid

-3x

-Refill

Standard and HE compatible

Nature Clean3x

-Citrus Blossom

Standard and HE compatible

Nature CleanAll Natural Laundry Powder

Standard and HE compatible


Natural Value

- Naturally Gentle

Personal Note: This product contains coconut diethanolamide. (CDEA, cocomide) which may cause contact dermatitis for some people with prolonged exposure.

Nellie's

-All natural Laundry Soda

-Laundry Nuggets

Standard and HE certified

Personal Note: The Laundry Nuggets are an easy way to take a good detergent with you when traveling.
Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid


OXY-PRIMEPowdered Laundry Detergent

Planet

2x Ultra Liquid Laundry Detergent

Standard and HE certified

Personal Note: This hypoallergenic detergent has been independently certified by Scientific Certification Systems for biodegradability. The liquid detergent is a better choice for use in hard water conditions.

Planet

Ultra Liquid Laundry Detergent

Personal Note: This hypoallergenic detergent has been independently certified by Scientific Certification Systems for biodegradability. The liquid detergent is a better choice for use in hard water conditions.


Planet

Ultra Powdered Laundry Detergent

Standard and HE compatible

Personal Note: This hypoallergenic detergent has been independently certified by Scientific Certification Systems for biodegradability. The powdered detergent is a bit stronger than the liquid detergent and may be suitable for tougher stains.

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

Publix

Free and Clear

Personal Note: This detergent is another cheap detergent and is available only from Publix Grocers.

Purex Ultra Liquid

-Original Fresh Scent

-Mountain Breeze

-Lavender Fresh

-After the Rain

-Renuzit Fresh Scent

-Color Safe Bleach Alternative, Original Fresh,

Mountain Fresh

Purex Ultra Powder

-Original Fresh

-After the Rain

-Mountain Fresh with Renuzit

Purex Ultra

with Fabric Softener

-Seaside Escape

Purex Ultra Natural Elements

-Linen & Lillies

-Blossoms & Vanilla

-Apple & Melon


Purex Ultra Hypoallergenic

-Free & Clear

-Free & Clear 2x

Personal Note: This detergent is easier to find. However, often people are using too much and end up with stink issues.

Purex Ultra Baby®

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

Rockin' GreenUnscented Cloth Diaper Detergent

Rockin' Green Cloth Diaper Detergent

-various scents

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

SA8 Legacy of Clean Liquid 3x

-Floral Scent

Standard and HE compatible


SA8 Legacy of Clean SA8 + BioQuest

Concentrated Powder

Standard and HE compatible

Product Note: Enzyme used is Amylase which won't be a problem for cloth diaper laundry.

SA8 Legacy of Clean Liquid 3x

-Light Scent

Standard and HE compatible

SA8 Legacy of Clean

-Delicate Fine Fabric

Standard and HE compatible

Sears

-Stain Fighting

-with Oxi Clean

-with Bleach Alternative

Standard and HE certified


Sears

Ultra Plus Detergent Dye and Perfume Free

Standard and HE certified

SensiClean

Personal Note: This detergent works well for many people. However some babies will develop severe rash to this detergent. The manufacturer has been reluctant to investigate what could cause these problems.

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

Seventh Generation

-Baby Laundry

-2x Concentrate Free and Clear

Standard and HE certified


Seventh Generation 2x Liquid or Powder

-Blue Eucalyptus & Lavender

-White Flower & Bergamot Citrus

Standard and HE certified


Seventh Generation

Delicate Care

Standard and HE certified

Shaklee Fresh Laundry Concentrate Powder Fragrance Free

Shaklee Fresh Laundry Liquid Fragrance Free

Standard and HE compatible

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

Sportwash*

Personal Note: This detergent works well for many people. However some babies will develop severe rash to this detergent. The manufacturer has been reluctant to investigate what could cause these problems.

Sun

-Clean & Fresh

-Mountain Breeze

-Vanilla Lavender

-Wildflowers

Sun

-Clean & Fresh with Cuddlesoft

Sun Free & Clear

Personal Note: Sun Free does not have the odd scent of Sun. Interestingly enough this detergent is made with plant-based vs. petroleum based surfactants.


Sun and Earth

Standard and HE compatible

Personal Note: Ingredients in this detergent are problematic for build-up/repellency issues with cloth diapers.


Surf

-Lavender & Oriental Blossom

-Sunshine Lemons and Bergamot

-Tropical Flowers and Ylang-Ylang

-Cool Fresh

-Power Fresh

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

Thirsties Super Wash
Personal Note: This detergent is highly suitable for cloth diapering. Enzymes it contains are not the problematic type. This detergent actually contains probiotics in its formula which is cutting edge in the realm of detergent manufacture. Pair with Thirsties Pre-wash for maximum results.

Tide

-Original

-Clean Breeze

-Mountain Spring

-Tropical Clean

-Spring & Renewal

-Meadows & Rain

-Citrus & Light

-Fresh Scent

-Glacier

-April Fresh

-Soft Ocean Mist

-Vanilla & Lavender

-Water Lily & Jasmine

-Rose & Violet

-Whitewater -Clean

Simple Pleasures

-with Dawn Stain Scrubbers

-with Febreeze Freshness

-Coldwater

-with Bleach

-with Alternative Bleach


Tide

-with a Touch of Downy

Tide

-Free & Gentle

-Coldwater Free

Personal Note: We used this detergent back in the first year of diapering. It did an excellent job of cleaning the diapers. However, when we switched I realized that my eldest child was sensitive to enzymes. The redness that only came when we were out and about for the day or visiting the grandma's never came back when we switched to an enzyme free detergent. Enzymes seem to effect skin the longer a wet diaper is on. If you change frequently like I did, skin damage from enzymes can go undetected.

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

Tiny Bubbles

Trader Joe'sCleanliness is Next to Godliness Liquid

Standard and HE certified


soy based


lavender oil

Trader Joe'sCleanliness is Next to Godliness Powder

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

Vaska

-Light Lavender Scent

Standard and HE certified

Vaska

-Scent Free

-Diaper Detergent

Standard and HE certified

VIP

Deep Cleaning


VIP

Hypo-Allergenic

Sam's

Wind Fresh


Wisk

-Original Scent 1x, 2x, & 3x

-Citrus Clean 1x, 2x, & 3x

Wisk Free

Wonderwash

Rating Detergent Image Detergent Brand Enzymes Fabric Softener Brighteners Scents Dyes

good average avoid

XTRA

Perfume and Dye Free

XTRA

-Mountain Rain

-Tropical Passion

-Summer Breeze

-Floral Garden

-Sparkling Fresh

-Lemon

-Fresh Cotton Breeze

-Apple Citrus

-Spring Sunshine

-Mountain Lavender

-Summer Fiesta

-Calypso Fresh

XTRA plus Softener

-Lavender & Sweet Vanilla

Data for evaluation detergents for cloth diaper compatibility has been gathered from various sources including manufacturer websites, msds sheets, and http://www.goodguide.com

The "Detergent Chart for diaper laundry success" is under copyright to Krista Cardona and may not be used in part or whole without written consent from same person. Images used in the "Detergent Chart for diaper laundry success" may be under copyright and should not be used without expressed permission. 2005, 2008, 2010


Detergent Choices for The Modern Cloth Diaper

Many of the modern diapers such as pocket diapers, all-in-one diapers, and some fitted diapers are designed with a synthetic stay-dry fabric for their inner layer. These synthetic fabrics are more sensitive to detergent buildup than standard fitted diapers or prefold diapers. Your choice of laundry detergent will determine not only how easy it is to care for your diapers but how well your diapers will perform. The best detergents for the modern cloth diapers need to rinse completely clean out of your diapers leaving no residues or fabric enhancers behind.

Laundry detergents that contain fragrance/scent, fabric softeners, and brightening agents/optical brighteners are not suitable because these fabric enhancers are designed to leave chemicalson your diapers to make the diapers "appear" cleaner or better through your senses of touch, smell and sight. These components of the detergent will buildup on your diapers over time and may lead to diaper failure. The diapers could retain unnecessary odors and they could even have repellency issues so that the moisture will escape out the side of the diaper rather than being absorbed by the absorbent part of the diaper.

A few more natural ingredient detergents that are derived from plant oils or have essential oils in them are not recommended for the modern diapers. We have made note of these detergents in the detergent chart above. Some of them seem to work fine in naturally soft water, but with 80% of the United States dealing with hard water it is easier just to point out that they may cause trouble.

Soaps should never be used for washing diapers in general. Dr Bronners and Fels Naptha are two that come quickly to mind. Also, I haven't seen a recipe for making your own detergent yet that would be suitable for washing cloth diapers in.

You may want to choose a detergent brand made specificially for the cloth diapering industry. Look for these brands: BumGenius, Crunchy Clean, Rockin' Green, Thirsties Super Wash, Tiny Bubbles, and Vaska. Of course even these detergents can vary in efficacy.

Learn more about washing pocket diapers...

Detergent Choices for Prefold Diapers, Fitted Diapers, and Covers
Choosing a detergent without additives would be the best choice even for use with prefolds and covers. However, as long as you don't choose a really bad detergent rated with either 1 or 2 red stars you should be ok. Realize that some diaper covers will end up leaking if washed repeatedly in a detergent with optical brighteners.