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Soap or Detergent

Which works best for cloth diapers, soap or detergent?

To keep your cloth diapers clean and functioning well, you need to use a good cleaning agent.

Soaps and Detergents will both clean diapers.

Soap for Cloth Diapers

Soap is a mild cleaning agent made from natural materials. The drawbacks of using soap to clean cloth diapers are that, because of its mild attributes, it may not thoroughly clean your diapers, and soap reacts with minerals in hard water that can leave a residue on the diapers causing them to be less absorbent.

Detergent for Cloth Diapers

Detergent is a synthetic cleaning product. Detergent has more cleaning power than natural soap, and it will clean cloth diapers thoroughly and should not leave a build-up on the diapers that takes away from their absorbency as long as you don't use too much. You may want to look for detergents made from renewable resources rather than petro-chemicals. Many detergents are available with no dyes and natural fragrances.

NO Fabric Softener for Cloth Diapers

Do not use fabric softener on your cloth diapers because it coats the fabric fibers in the diapers, which reduces absorbency of the diapers.

Don't Use Too Much

Especially if you have a high efficiency washing machine, don't use too much soap or detergent on your cloth diapers. If you use too much, your washing machine will have a difficult time rinsing the diapers adequately, leaving a detergent build up that can result in leaking diapers.

Avoid Free and Clear

For best results with cloth diapers, avoid detergents that are marked Free & Clear, for baby, or detergents with oil surfactants. For more information about detergent ingredients and cloth diapers, see the Detergent Determinator.