First, most people are told when having their first child to use those lovely baby laundry detergents packaged in the white, pink or blue bottles with images of sleeping babies on them. Dreft, Ivory Snow and even store brand 'baby detergents' are common recommendations. What many new parents don't realize is that these detergents often have added scents and fabric softeners in them. We always recommend using a laundry detergent that is free of scents and fabric softeners because these additives can cause issues. They may be fine for your baby's sensitive skin when washing regular clothes. However, when these detergents are used on cloth diapers, those laundry additives can be left behind in the fabric. Once soiled, the urine can mix with those ingredients which could result in irritation or rash on your little one's sensitive skin.
Secondly, many modern laundry detergents have fabric softeners or optical brighteners added to them to make your laundry softer and retain vibrant colors longer. These additives can, over time, clog the fibers of your cloth diapers. This can lead to buildup which can cause leaks. That is why if you call our customer service team experiencing leaks, one of our first questions is "What is your laundry routine?" or "Have you tried stripping your cloth diapers?" Even cloth diaper safe detergents can have buildup over time, especially if you live in an area with hard water and have to use a bit more detergent in each load. Stripping the diapers is an easy way to deal with this issue.
The third reason we don't recommend most mainstream laundry detergents is because many have enzymes. If your laundry detergent has phrases like "stain-fighting" on the label, this is a clue it likely has enzymes. Enzymes themselves aren't a bad thing, they are great for removing most stains from laundry. However, like fabric softeners and scents, when mixed with urine, they can irritate sensitive baby skin for some little ones.
So what is a cloth diaper safe laundry detergent? Simply put, we recommend you always use a detergent free of perfumes, dyes, whiteners, brighteners, softeners, enzymes, or other fabric enhancers to wash your cloth diapers. You can read more details about these additives in our previous post. Want an easy way to choose a cloth diaper safe detergent? Check out our natural laundry category. Many of our detergents are specially created for cloth diapers, meaning they do not have these additives and are specifically formulated to rinse more cleanly than mainstream diapers. That means you are less likely to experience issues from detergent buildup.
If you have more questions about finding the perfect detergent or laundry routine for your family, give us a call at 1-888-332-2243. The moms on staff at Cotton Babies think you have enough other stuff going on with a new infant, we'd like to save you some trouble and help you learn from our own experiences. It's never fun trying to deal with a little one with irritated skin or dealing with leaking diapers. Avoiding enzymes, softeners, scents, optical brighteners and other additives now may save you some trouble and time down the road.