Can you wash cloth diapers with natural detergents?

Many people are turned off from cloth diapers thinking they have to wash them with specifically formulated detergents. Maybe you prefer an all natural detergent but aren’t sure if you can get your diapers properly clean that way.

Through years of feedback/ trials & errors, we have found that commercially available detergents like Tide original work best to clean cloth diapers. In fact, we recommend Tide because of its super powers to remove the "ickies" (aka human waste aka POOP) from your Lil Helper cloth diapers.

That being said, we are often asked if Lil Helpers can be washed with more natural detergents. To this, we say - YES! You can absolutely wash cloth diapers with natural detergents.

Families may choose to use special detergents for many different reasons. Allergies, sensitivities, and/or a desire to be environmentally friendly are all valid reasons for wanting to use a more natural detergent.

Before you zero in on a detergent, let me warn you that not all natural or gentle detergents are created equally. We have to make sure that the detergent you end up using leaves your diapers clean while maintaining the absorbency of your diapers.

Also, we would like to acknowledge that most (99%) of the information in this blog post is from Fluff Love and Cloth Diaper Science's Fluff Love University. We trust in the research they have done on the subject of Cloth Diaper laundry. They are a fabulous resource for cloth diapering information, so make sure you check them out!

Recommended Plant-based/Natural Detergents for Cloth Diapers

  • Biokleen Free & Clear * Not HE safe  (plant based detergent rules need to be followed.)
  • Method Free & Clear *HE safe (plant based detergent rules need to be followed.)
  • Seventh Generation 4X Concentrated Free & Clear *HE safe (plant based detergent rules need to be followed.)
  • Kirkland Signature Environmentally Responsible *HE Safe
  • Sun *HE safe (if you would like to avoid synthetic fragrances, opt for their Free & Clear version)
  • Purex Naturals *HE SAFE (scented)
  • Tide Free & Gentle LIQUID *HE safe<
  • Tide Free & Gentle POWDER *Not HE safe
  • Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin *HE safe
  • Purex Free & Clear Liquid *HE Safe
  • Cheer Free & Gentle Liquid *Not HE safe

     *Please Note: There ARE other plant-based detergents that CAN work. Fluff Love simply recommends these because they have very high success rates.

Detergents/Soaps to Avoid for Cloth Diapers

  • Molly’s Suds
  • Ecos
  • Nellie’s
  • Crunchy Clean
  • Honest Co
  • Tiny Bubbles
  • BumGenius
  • Rock n Green
  • Soap Nuts
  • Eco Nuts
  • Soap Berries
  • Charlie’s Soap
  • Country Save
  • Ecosprout
  • Allen's Naturally

How to Wash Cloth Diapers with Natural Detergents

It is important to keep in mind that natural detergents tend to be weaker than their full-formula versions. (e.g. All Free & Clear is weaker than regular All) For this reason, we recommend using a little more than the recommended manufacturer amount. This is to ensure that all human waste is removed.

The rule of thumb for free and clear detergents is:

-use 1-2x the recommended amount in your prewash
-use 1.5x the recommended amount in your main wash
-make sure to use a water softener

Want to know more about why we suggest you don't wash cloth diapers with natural detergents? Our CEO, Mohammed, explains in this short video:

Have a look at our washing instructions for our recommended wash routine and when in doubt, use wash routine app to help you get the perfect routine down.

Thank you to the team at Fluff Love and Cloth Diaper Science for all of their hard work and dedication to Fluff Love University.

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