Best Cloth Diaper Detergent + Cloth Diaper Wash Routine

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Choosing to use Tide has proven to be the best cloth diaper detergent I’ve tried. No stains, no stink, only clean diapers in this cloth diaper wash routine!

Best Cloth Diaper Detergent

Overwhelmed by the number of articles on washing cloth diapers? Do you think there has to be a simpler way to wash cloth diapers than to have 3 different kinds of laundry detergent, dryer sheets for some, dryer balls for others?! There is. Let me let you in on a little secret…

Washing Cloth Diapers

Yes, they really do. I’ve been using Tide on all of our laundry for almost a year now, including our cloth diapers, and I’ve only stripped them once. Once. Because I wanted to.

Tide 8317 High Efficiency Laundry DetergentTide 8317 High Efficiency Laundry DetergentFor the first year that I used cloth diapers, I made my own Cloth Diaper Detergent. I made it out of the want to DIY and because it was relatively inexpensive. While the homemade detergent worked, I still struggled with stink issues. But I thought that was normal since I kept reading about how to strip cloth diapers. I just deep cleaned them every month or so to really get the funky smell out – extra work is always fun, huh?

The thing is – other detergents do work. You don’t automatically have to go for Tide [the best cloth diaper detergent in my opinion]. I’ve had personal experience with most of the cloth diaper safe detergents on the market and really liked most of them. Detergents made for cloth diapers are wonderful for diapers, but as a Mom of 2, I’m just trying to really simplify some things in life. Buying an extra type of detergent is a small act, but by cutting it out, I feel like I have simplified my laundry room a bit. Besides, it’s just too expensive in most cases to wash all of my laundry in CD detergent.

Cloth Diaper Laundry PIle

Tide is actually recommended by quite a few cloth diapering geniuses out there other than me. It’s also recommended by Stephanie, the lady behind Abby’s Lane, Rumparooz, and Jillian’s Drawers – just to name a few.

We have a Front Loader and the detergent has helped me deter stains, stink, and any issues with PUL/elastic, etc. And before you say it, I know that not everyone wants to use Tide and that’s ok, but it works for my family and if it works for yours – good! Simplify your routine with what works for YOU!

How to Use Cloth Diapers at Home: CD Laundry

Thankfully laundry, of any kind, is actually my favorite chore. I mean, it’s my favorite chore, not something I enjoy doing in my free time, but I don’t mind it. Why? Because it’s super easy.  Don’t let thoughts of like these deter you from using cloth diapers…

“What will I do with the dirty ones?”

“How many extra loads a week will cloth diapers give me?”

“What kind of special detergent will I have to buy”

Washing cloth diapers is really just as simple as washing any other laundry in your house. I promise. Especially when you only use one detergent!

Washing Cloth Diapers – My Routine

Cloth Diaper Wash Routine

I recently got an email from a reader asking my Cloth Diaper Wash Routine, so Antonella this post is for you! The last time I shared my cloth diaper wash routine was on a Fluffy Friday back in October 2011!  Things have changed in our house, for the better and washing cloth diapers is a lot more simple these days.

By switching to Tide, I’ve been able to eliminate the second wash cycle – so now my routine looks like this:

Warm Rinse, no Spin, no Detergent.

Warm/Warm Wash with Tide & Extra Rinse.

Cold Rinse w/ no Detergent.

While Tide comes in many different forms, I’ve found that liquid is the best cloth diaper detergent for us now. It seems to dissolve easier in our front loader and handle cleaning the best in all types of laundry for my family.

  1. I see a lot of comments about this working on front loader washers. How well does this work for top loading machines? Does anyone know how much to use for a medium load? Also do you still set your washer to the biggest load or can you dial down to a smaller load as to not use so much water?
  2. Hey there! I just came across your blog, (I'm a cloth diapering newbie) and am definitely feeling a bit of relief! I have a few questions though if you don't mind? I'm planning on getting my diapers ready to go this weekend and starting next week. I have 18 BG 4.0s (with the BG inserts), 5 Flip covers and around 30 prefolds I planned on using for the flips. I'm assuming that they will need to be prepared for first use seperately, but once I get going, can I wash all the different types together? Thanks!!
  3. Lindsey, I just ordered my cloth diapers for my son who is 3 months. I am very nervous because I am now realizing the challenging things that can come with CDing. This is my first baby and I only know one person who CD, besides my grandmothers lol. I am starting to freak out a little that I took on something that is going to be too much. I am all for using one detergent for my family and I have always used tide for my husband and self. I am nervous that my son will have a reaction to the tide. I have only used All free and clear on his clothes. Have you had any problems like that? Do you recommend spraying the diapers off before washing them? My son is a frequent soaker and I am starting to think i will not be able to keep up with him. I want to CD to save money but I am staring to think it is going to be too much. -help please!
    1. Oh Brooke - you're not alone! Please don't overthinking get you down because that's what happens so much in the CD community sometimes. I never had any problems with my girls when washing their diapers in Tide. That's not to say you won't, of course, but I would definitely try if you're wanting to keep things simple and Tide cleans the diapers well. Just make sure that you're using the recommended amount and rinsing the diapers well [I always add in that last rinse cycle]. As far as your son being a frequent soaker, you may want to look into adding a hemp insert in the diaper. That helped with my girls tremendously! If you ever have any questions, you can always email me at too!
  4. Thanks for your reply! Did you ever use prefolds as inserts in your pockets? That's what I meant. I have pockets and AIOs as well. I think I have ammonia build up, and I'm hoping that the stripping+ Tide works, but I'm also thinking of getting prefolds to use to stuff my pockets with. We have hard water and a HE washer, so I know that complicates things as well!
    1. Oh, I never did that because I didn't have an issue, really, once switching to Tide. I would think it would work well, though! I'm not sure about the hard water issue, no personal experience there either. Once you get a good routine down, you'll be good, it's just finding what works with what you have that can be a bit frustrating at first. My best piece of advice is to not over complicate things - which it doesn't sound like you're doing at all!
  5. Lindsey, I've recently come across your blog, and I've spent a lot of time reading past posts! Anyway, I was having problems with my cloth diapers, and I couldn't nail it down to one thing. For awhile I thought it was yeast (though it didn't seem like what others had described as yeast) and then I thought it was ammonia build up in my microfiber. I stripped my diapers and I switched to Tide. I'm hoping this solves the problem, but we'll see. I was so fed up with cloth diapering, so I'm hoping this solves my problem! Have you ever experimented with using prefolds? I'm thinking of switching out my microfiber inserts with prefolds for my BG 4.0s. Thanks for such an awesome blog!
    1. Rachel - Thanks for the kind words! I used prefolds for both my girls when they were newborns and tiny infants and they worked great. I just preferred the simple use of pockets and AIOs [I'm lazy!]. Once you start adding in different fabrics, washing gets a little more complicated, which is why you often hear of the "barnyard stink" mainly in synthetic fabrics like microfiber. I would about guarantee that going with a simple cotton prefold routine would get rid of stink problems too!
  6. My one concern with Tide, not so much the green nature, or lack thereof in the ingredients, is that it is made by Proctor & Gamble. They have been testing Tide on animals for years. It's very sad. I have used Ecos for our regular detergent and was not super pleased. We started using the Kirklands Eco detergent for front loaders and it washes very well, however.. Once we cloth diaper I have the impression that we cannot use it due to the ingredients according to some boards I read impacting cloth diapers in some negative way. Was it the enzymes? Phosphates? So Ecos keeps the stink at bay? I think that will be most important and I know it's reasonable at Costco. I don't mind having 2 detergents around. Tide, I just can't, due to the inhumane animal treatment. It's inexcusable.
  7. I feel dumb asking this but I'm thinking of switching to tide powder from liquid for our cloth but have hesitated due to my he front loader. Do you just throw the powder directly in with the diapers after your first rinse cycle?
  8. I just bought cloth diapers for my 1 year old (I know I'm late to the game.) I didn't realize you had to have a specific laundry detergent! I was just going to wash them normally! Now I'm super nervous cause I read this blog horror story about her daughter who got blisters from the ammonia or something! I don't really have a budget for fancy detergent. I'm just feeling super overwhelmed by taking on cloth diapering, I think I bit off more than I can chew! I'm going to start with Tide and hopefully all goes well :)
    1. Darcee, it's worked for me for almost 2 years now! Try it - just remember don't use too much [you'll know if you use too much because you'll have a washer FULL of suds] and if you do, just rinse, rinse, rinse. But don't use too little either - a little less than you use on your clothes will be perfect. I use to about the 1 line with normal amounts of diapers [about 12-15]. Good luck! I know what it feels like when you think you're going to HAVE to buy another detergent, but it usually turns out you don't. ;)
    2. And the blister horror story could be caused from either not washing the diapers good enough [not enough detergent] or not rinsing the diapers enough. Just make sure you don't see any suds in your last wash cycle. Of course, the baby could be allergic to the detergent too, but if you've been using it on your clothes, that probably won't be the case.
  9. I never realised washing cloth diapers was such an issue! I've cloth diapered both my babies, and just washed them like my usual laundry, sometimes with an extra rinse cycle, but always with vinegar instead of fabric softener (which I never use, btw). I've never stripped them - don't know how! I've only had smell issues once or twice and just washed them again, which solved everything. It's been very interesting reading this post and the comments.
    1. Louise - me TOO! Well, except for when I was using a certain CD detergent {a couple years ago} and also when I tried to make my own. That's the ONLY time I ever had smell issues. I think we tend to over complicate things sometimes, don't you? Thanks for your comment!
  10. I'm having issues with funky smells after he pees in his cloth diapers. I have used a few different detergents and have stripped twice with the Rockin Green funk rock. I've also used color safe bleach a few times... The diapers smell fine after the wash, but when he pees, it kind of smells like mushrooms. I have not tried the dish soap to strip because I have a front loader and don't want to deal with the suds causing a problem in my HE front loader. Does the vinegar help with this funk? How do you use the vinegar and how much? I'm going to try your recommendation to switch to Tide. Do you recommend stripping first before moving to the Tide? If so, please tell me any secrets you have to help me get rid of this funk. I'm getting to the point I may quit the cloth diapering if I can't resolve the stink after he pees. please help!
    1. Honestly, after reading some articles that talk about that issue {smelling fine after dryer but as soon as they are peed in}, definitely looks like an AMMONIA build-up issue - meaning, you need to strip, but not because of detergent, but because ammonia has built up in your diapers. You're using Rockin Green - how much do you use? And truthfully, I would switch. I have had No problems since switching. I would do a regular wash with Tide and add in the bleach to the loads. I would split your covers and inserts into two separate loads so you can put a little more bleach on PLAIN microfiber inserts {this totally depends on what type of diapers you use mainly}. Be sure to rinse, rinse, rinse those diapers after you do the bleach wash. I use about 1/4 cup on covers and fitteds and maybe 1/2 cup on inserts. Just be careful because the bleach can ruin your fitteds, so make sure that your washer dispenses the bleach safely! You can use vinegar, but I haven't found that it helps the funk. It mainly acts as a water/fabric softener in place of a chemical fabric softener. Let me know if you have any other questions!
  11. Is your washer he? I just bought some Tide powder to try (baby #2 coming in two weeks so I'm pulling diapers out of storage to prep) but I bought the tide powder for he washers. Will that work?
  12. Just curious, has anyone made homemade laundry detergent? I found a recipe and it looks like it would work and be alot cheaper than the store detergent. -Juan's Mommy
    1. Hello, thank you for stopping by! I did make my own detergent for about 1.5 years, not this recipe though. I don't know if it was that I wasn't using enough or it just didn't work well for me, but I dealt with LOTS of stink issues which is what prompted me to find something else. Homemade detergents work VERY well for others though, so it's worth a try! :)
  13. Ahh... this helped me to breathe a sigh of relief.  I have been using Charlie's on my clothes, but I felt like it was making me a bit itchy and read some pretty scary accounts of it causing some blistery diaper rash, so I was trying to figure out what I could use, and soon, since I just got our cloth diapers in the mail today :).  Simple is better in this case... otherwise cloth diapering may not happen at all!
    1. YES!  That's EXACTLY why I finally tried Tide because I wanted to simplify cloth diapering and cloth diaper laundry.  It has been working GREAT for us for many, many months now!  Hope you have the same result!

  14. We took the leap and bought some Tide (Ultra Original Powder) tonight. I'm so excited but nervous. Thanks for this post! It helped me get the guts to try something different!
      1. Hi Lindsey, I am brand new to cloth diapering and am trying to find my wash routine groove. I hear such good things about Tide powder. I see that you have a HE front loader. Do you buy the HE version of Tide powder or just the normal stuff? I am afraid to use non HE detergent in my front loader as the manufacturer recommends against it. Thanks for any info you can give me on the type of Tide you use in your Samsung HE front loader.
        1. Hi again, I just read further down in the comments and see that you posted that you use Tide powder that is HE machine safe. My apologies, I did not see HE on the picture of the Tide box.
        2. Yes ma'am, Meghan. The HE logo is tiny on that box, I believe. I use from the 1 - 2 line, depending on how full my machine is and then rinse until all the suds are gone! Let me know if you have any other questions!
  15. How much Tide do you use per load? I am currently using Ecos Free & Clear with a little Borax on my cloth diapers, and then Purex Free & Clear on our regular clothes. We haven't had any stink issues, but I would like to be able to use only one detergent on everything. But we have hard water, so I'm not sure if I should continue to use Calgon water softener or Borax (since that's supposed to help soften your water). Thank you for your blog; I love it! Very helpful!
    1. Mary, I use to the "2" line on the measuring cup that comes in the box of Tide.  We have "normal" water, so I'm really not much help on that, but you could always experiment with not using the Calgon or Borax at first?  Maybe?

      And yes - that's the reason I finally bit the bullet and tried Tide, other than the fact I was having to strip my diapers so often.  I like making things easy and it's MUCH easier to use one product for everything rather than different ones for everything!  Good luck!

  16. I'm enjoying reading your blog posts! My baby is due in October and lately I've become obssessed with reading articles about cloth diaper washing routines.  Yours is one of the only ones who mentions a warm rinse and a warm/warm wash, but that really makes sense to me since it seems like hot could void the bumgenius warranty.  Unfortunately, my washer won't let me do a rinse without a spin unless I stop the washer manually. Would doing a rinse and spin in the first step be less effective? Thanks for this clear info!
  17. I found a website, When they have 20% off coupons you can buy 7 different "diaper safe" brands for reasonable price, free shipping. (No coupon, enh, you are paying more.) I bought a year of detergent, 7 types the other day, $70 for a year of soap. I am due any minute now. Even if none work, I can can always use the soap on the regular clothes.
  18. I recently switched to Tide after having tried numerous other CD detergents. So far, my prefolds come out whiter, everything smells much better, and I'm really quite happy with it. My wash routine's similar to yours, but here in Costa Rica we don't have hot water pipes flowing into washing machines (or sinks, or showers, in most cases) so I deal with cold water. We do a short pre-soak with Tide & then let the washer cycle through the longest cycle. Then I do a wash cycle with no detergent & an extra rinse, if necessary.
    1. That is awesome to hear! I agree - after switching my diapers are definitely cleaner and that's so good to know that it works well with cold water too!
  19. I just switched to Tide from Rockin' Green. It took me a while to make the jump I had a hard time believing everyone that said it was safe. I can not believe the difference it has made for our diapers!! I am SOOO happy with how well it cleans. The diapers smell better and are actually a lot softer/fluffier! We haven't had any issues with the diapers thus far so I'm pretty happy.
    1. It took me a good while too, Kristina! I had quite the stash of RnG and I now just use it on our towels and clothes and Tide exclusively on my diapers. So glad you're happy with the switch!
  20. Hi there, Thanks for your article! After reading lot of articles online I was left pretty confused, until I read yours. Makes sense to keep it simple! I'm just wondering if it would be the same to use the HE Tide and how much would I need to use? I have a front loader also, not sure if that makes a difference.
  21. Hello, thank you for great article. Have you tried to use wool dryer balls in your laundry? I'm asking this because I'm also interested in "greening" my laundry. I heard that cloth diapers and wool dryer balls are working great together.
  22. We used RnG when we CD'ed in Kentucky, but when we moved to Maryland the water was different and we had to switched. Tried many different kinds, but Tide was the only one that worked well!
    1. Thanks for sharing, Erica! It does seem like different types of water respond to different detergents. I had success with other CD safe detergents, but I've had LONG term success with this current routine.
  23. Tara at has said the same thing about Tide. She also has user stats to back up her findings. Here are a couple of her links: and
      1. Thanks for sharing those posts, Trisha! It's the ingredients in the product - just like most non-green products. A lot of people also say that they have a reaction to Tide.
  24. So happy to hear this! We're considering doing CD's for our second baby, and probably last...having to buy/order online a special detergent was one of the biggest things holding me back...if I can just buy tide at the store, definitely makes me want to do it!
  25. When we used CD's we used Ecos laundry detergent and found it had fantastic results. It also helps that in our area it is readily available and comparable in price to the non-green brands. We continue to use it now for all of our laundry.
    1. Jen - I think that's one of the biggest issues with CD safe detergents - they're not always readily available for people. Where I can go buy a large box of Tide at Sam's Club, I can't purchase RnG or EcoSprout at my local store. I haven't tried Ecos!
  26. I'm thankful I found this post! I use tide and have been since I started cding my newborn back in October. I only used tide because I didn't feel like buy laundry detergent online and I was excited to get my diapers cleaned and ready for my baby, thus I did not want to wait for laundry detergent to be shipped to me! I have had no problems with using tide but I still wondered occasionally if I was using the best detergent for my diapers. So, thanks for the wonderful post and helping me feel confident in my choice of detergent for my cloth diapers! :)
  27. I use Tide too only because it's more economical than buying a separate detergent just for the diapers. I do pretty much the same, hot pre-wash, then hot wash, double rinse. Occationally I add vineger to the wash just to help with the residual smell
    1. Thanks for sharing your routine too, Winnie! I forgot about Vinegar - I always keep a bottle in my laundry room and will use it on both our clothes and the cloth diapers occasionally, just like you do!
  28. I have never heard of Tide as an option. Granted I was cloth diapering 4yearsago, but still we felt like Publix free & clear was our best option. We used it for all our clothes though, so simple is definitely better!
    1. Michelle, some might say it's wrong and you shouldn't use the detergent at all, but I say if it successfully helps ANYONE use cloth diapers and makes the job easier, you do what YOU want to do. No judgement here! :)
  29. I seriously love Tide- it's the only detergent that didn't give me issues with stink, rash, or repelling. Plus, it's easy to find. :) @Beth Rees- I switched to the powder about 5 months ago and found that it works even better than the liquid! (Never had problems with the liquid- everything just looks and smells a little bit cleaner now.)
  30. Do you notice that the powder works better than the liquid. We have an HE front loader too and I was wondering if we should go with powder or liquid and about how much detergent are you using?
    1. Before I tried Tide, I read a couple of places that said they recommended the powder over the liquid - that it dissolved and rinsed out of the diapers better, so I've only used the powder. I use about 1/2 a scoop, whatever is recommended for a regular load of laundry.
    1. I warm rinse {cycle is very short since I don't spin the diapers}. Wash w/ Extra Rinse and then do another short rinse cycle. Even in that last rinse I sometimes see a few suds - this is what you want to make sure you do - get ALL of the detergent out of your diapers!
    1. I knew I would get a comment like this. Although, I'm not sure what you're shocked about. Is it because Tide isn't considered "green"? As I stated above, there will be people who think you shouldn't use Tide, and YOU shouldn't, but it works for my family. Also, if it helps a family successfully cloth diaper instead of throwing their hands up because of issues that cd detergents sometimes give people, that's a win! Here's an article that explains exactly who I am and what my blog is about -
      1. Well you know, it is nice to see green living bloggers be open and honest about what they use. Some come across as "I never break the rules of green living " and you don't do that. This is why I like your blog!
    1. I resisted for quite awhile and then finally just tried it. I'm now using my RnG stockpile on regular clothes and Tide on diapers, until the Rockin' Green is gone! ;)

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