Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Homemade Laundry Detergent - My Favorite For Cloth Diapers!

Many of you have asked since my last laundry detergent recipe that I had posted, if I had one that was cloth diaper safe. I wouldn't recommend the previous one because it included soap, which can leave build up on cloth diapers and cause them to leak.

Well, after much testing, I have found (and perfected) a recipe that I LOVE!

Homemade Laundry Detergent #2

1 cup washing soda (sodium carbonate)
1 cup baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
1 cup oxy booster (make sure that it is fragrance free and only contains sodium percarbonate & sodium carbonate. My favorite is Whole Food's 365 oxygen whitening powder)
1/2 cup epsom salt (natural surfactant)
2 tablespoon sea salt
4-6 drops of tea tree oil

Add all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until well combined. Store your detergent in an airtight container or mason jar. Use 1/4 cup or the detergent for large loads. For smaller loads or HE machines, only use 1/8 cup.

So here's the deal with homemade cloth diaper detergent...

Many cloth diaper manufacturers advise not to use homemade detergents when washing diapers. Washing soda is quite often listed as one of the items not to use on that list. While washing soda does bind calcium and magnesium deposits in water, if not properly rinsed, it could cause skin irritation and destroy cloth. Baking soda is often times on the list because it can also damage cloth if it "clumps" and does not dissolve completely.

However, the ingredients listed above are listed in a number of "cloth friendly" detergents. I am also not a chemist, but after much trial and error, and trying out various DIY cloth diaper detergents and tweaking them a bit, this recipe well for me. After many uses, I have yet to see any damage to my son's cloth diapers (which consist of a pockets, all-in-ones, all-in-twos, covers, prefolds, cotton, bamboo, and microfiber). Since very little of the "ingredients in question" are being used (so they easily dissolve in the water, especially if it is warm) and by using the washing method listed below, this may explain why my son's diapers have been coming out clean and with no signs of material damage.

Wash routine :

1) Cold rinse - to remove urine & "mess"
2) Full hot/cold cycle - adding 1 tablespoon of detergent with hot water (make sure temperature does not exceed 100°F or 60°C as it may void some manufacturer warranties)
3) Extra rinse - cold is usually fine

Every now and then, because we deal with extremely hard water, a little build up occurs, so I simply run the diapers on an extra hot wash without detergent to help remove any residue. Also, "sunning" your diapers (lying them out in the sunshine...but not too long!) is a great way to disinfect and remove remaining smell from cloth.

Whether you decide to use this recipe on your cloth diapers is up to you. Feel free to test it on other loads just to be sure. At first, I was reluctant to try it on my boy's cloth diapers because of all of the warnings from cloth manufacturers and his skin sensitivity. Since I did not have any diapers that were under warranty, I thought, "well, why not?" And went ahead and used this detergent anyway. So far, I have been quite impressed and his diapers have come out of the wash smelling fresh.

Be sure to check out my Recipes For A Toxin Free Home post for instructions on how to make other detergent, handsoap, disinfectant wipes, and all purpose cleaners!

Have you used your own homemade cloth diaper detergent? How did it work for you?


  1. My son is now almost 6 months old and we use them every day (we use something else at night.) The two rows of snaps make the diaper fit well around the waist and around his legs (and he has some chunky thighs!) He only rarely has any leaks and he doesn't get the ugly red marks on his thighs that some diapers leave.

  2. I haven't used my own homemade cloth diaper laundry detergent but I still have some ruby moon cloth diaper detergent left and I believe it has a few of the ingredients you listed. When I build up my stash again and start washing cloth again, I think I am going to try your recipe out when I'm done with the ruby moon :) My washing routine is the same as yours-cold rinse, full hot/cold cycle, and extra cold rinse. It works great for me.

  3. courtney hennagirJuly 4, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    this is a lot easier than i had imagined. i will definitely be trying it out! thanks for the recipe!

  4. I've never made my own detergent or any other cleaning products I'm gonna try it now that I know how though.
    I use Country save right now and I've been having some issues with stains. Sometimes my covers retain odors as well.

  5. This is one of my favorite DIY detergents for cloth diapers.

  6. This looks really easy. Do you know how much it works out to per load? I think I want to start making my own laundry detergent.

  7. I've been thinking about making my own detergent- this seems easy!

  8. I have tried the very popular recipe that is out there (the one that uses borax and fels naptha or simular soap) for my regular laundry and I really didn't like it. I may try this. Do you only use it for your CD or for you regular laundry as well?

  9. This sounds like a super easy recipe. I may try it for my cloth diapers.

  10. Alana - Fractured Fairy TalesFebruary 10, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    Thumbs up to home made cloth diaper detergent! I have a recipe out there on my blog too, I love it. I just wanted to give you an internet high five for your awesome recipe.

  11. I bought detergent for my first (he's potty trained now), but I'm considering making my own detergent for baby #2 due in March.
    Do you use this for your regular laundry too?


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