Homemade All-natural Cloth Diaper Detergent

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homemade cloth diaper detergent

I love and adore my homemade all-natural castile laundry soap. However, as good as it is for regular laundry, it is not good for cloth diapers. The castile soap, which helps to remove dirt from clothes, is bad on cloth diapers because it eventually builds up and causes it to repel.

As a result, I began researching which ingredients would be good for formulating my own homemade all-natural cloth diaper detergent. This recipe is the result of that research.

Here’s a break down of the ingredients and why I selected them:

  • Epsom Salt. This ingredient is great especially for people with hard water (such as us) because it helps to soften it, preventing excess mineral build-up on the diapers (which can also cause it to eventually repel). If you’d like, you could substitute this with kosher salt.
  • Baking Soda and Washing Soda. Both do well to gently loosen and lift poo off the diapers.
  • Baby OxiClean. This helps to sterilize, remove most odors, and keep the colors and white brighter.

You can mix in some essential oils as well for scent. Doing this makes the soap itself smell amazing, but it tends to wash off and the clean diapers do not smell like the essential oil. I’m not sure, however, if utilizing essential oil is necessarily all that good for the diapers in the long run (I typically just leave it out–one less thing to mix in).

And yes, you can in fact use this detergent on your regular laundry as well. I prefer my homemade laundry soap specifically because of the dirt-removing action of the castile soap, but this soap should work as well. If you’d like, you could add some grated bar castile soap to this recipe then you’d get the best of both worlds!

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Like my set up? I use a gallon size Anchor Hocking jar and a Joseph Joseph magnetic measuring spoon. The measuring spoon is really neat–it’s magnetic so it can stick to the side of the washer or dryer!

Want to learn more about washing your cloth diapers? Check out my post entitled (get ready for this title, it’s really clever) How to Wash Cloth Diapers. Also be sure to check out my recipe for cloth diaper safe diaper rash cream.

A word of caution: Please read your manufacturer’s washing directions to ensure that all of these ingredients are okay to use on each diaper.

Homemade All-natural Cloth Diaper Detergent
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 to 1 c. epsom salt (the harder the water, the more salt)
  2. 1/2 c. washing soda
  3. 1/2 c. baking soda
  4. 1/2 c. baby OxiClean
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a container.
  2. To use, add 1 tablespoon (more for heavily soiled items) to the wash.
Notes
  1. About Clumping: Depending on the humidity of where you live, sometimes this recipe will clump. This can be alleviated by pulsing the powder in a blender or food processor.
Measuring Flower http://www.measuringflower.com/
TJ

TJ

Editor/Contributor at Measuring Flower
TJ is a former chef with a Bachelor of Science degree in writing turned stay-at-home wife to a loving, hard-working husband and mom to two very active, adorable little boys.
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Comments

  1. 2

    Miranda says

    Thank you for this! I was wanting a homemade cloth detergent and I was going to try the castile version but learning that it can repel over time has made me re-think! :)

  2. 3

    Sarah says

    Thank you so much!! Ive been searching for a good detergent for over a year now. I didnt like the price of some of the natural detergents on the market and I have never really liked using Tide even though I know it gets the diapers nice and clean. Im really hoping this will work for us! Ive heard of ppl using something like the one you posted but was a little scared to try it on diapers but since you mentioned it and gave the recipe I will def use it!

    • 9

      says

      Yep, that’ll be fine if you don’t mind using the borax (EWG.org gives it a bad rating, so I personally avoid it). You could try omitting instead. Let me know how it goes. Have a blessed day!

    • 11

      says

      I didn’t even know scented epsom salt existed, lol! I’d stay away from it for this though because the scent could cause the diapers to repel.

  3. 12

    Sheila says

    I cannot find Baby Oxiclean anywhere! Is it OK to use Oxiclean Free (no dye, perfume, chlorine) instead?

    • 13

      says

      I get mine via Amazon.com. But, yep, regular OxiClean free should work. It’s not as gentle, but as long as baby doesn’t have any reactions, it’ll work just as well. :-)

  4. 14

    Lacy v V says

    I use flats and covers and wash them with just baking soda. The diapers come out looking and smelling clean except for stains here and there. I buy ‘sodium bicarbonate’ from the local farmer’s co-op in a 50lb bag. I think it was about $12 last time I bought it, but it’s been a while! I keep it in a plastic bucket with a tightly closing lid and use 2 tablespoons per load of diapers. I use it for laundry only, not human consumption, in case of contaminants in ‘feed grade’ sodium bicarbonate.

    • 17

      says

      Hi, Dayna! This lasts me about 32 loads. I usually quadruple the recipe so it lasts even longer. It costs me about $2.00 per batch ($8.00 when I quadruple it) which is about 6 cents per load. :-)

    • 21

      Sarah says

      Also wondering if you know if Biokleen Oxygen bleach plus could be used instead of the baby oxiclean. Sorry for all the questions :p

      • 22

        says

        I’m not too familiar with Biokleen’s oxygen bleach. It would depend on its ingredients and whether they deem it safe to use in washing children’s items. You might want to shoot them an email to make sure (or send them a message via their Facebook page, sometimes that’s a faster way to get in touch). :-)

  5. 24

    Samantha says

    Just wondering what type of cloth diapers you use, how exactly do they get clean without any type of soap?

    I’ve made my own detergent for 7 years with great success, however I’ve never omitted a cleaning agent whether it be Fels or Dr. B’s Sal Suds.

    • 25

      says

      Hi, Samantha! I use a wide variety of different brands of cloth diapers from Thirsties and Smart Bottoms to Sunbaby and Diaper Rite. They all fare very well using this detergent and I do maintain them by stripping them every 6 months or so (whenever they start to annoyingly repel). The warm water combined with the germ-killing action of the Baby OxiClean are how they get clean without a lye-based soap. Lye-based soaps, which are also made with animals or vegetable fats, are not good for cloth diapers because the fat builds up on them over time, causing them to repel (fats that come out with baby’s poo also build up, hence the reason for stripping upon occasion, but by avoiding soaps made with fat, you avoid stripping as often, thereby lengthening the “life” of your CDs). Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any further questions. :-D

  6. 26

    Lauren says

    Hi, thanks for such a great post! I would like to use this for cloth diapers, but I’m wondering if it would also work well on regular clothes? Or, should I make the homemade castile soap recipe you shared instead? Would the castile soap clean better?

    Thanks in advance!

    • 27

      says

      Hi, Lauren! This works great on regular clothes, too! :-) If you have troubles with lots of dirt/mud (i.e. you have little boys and/or tomgirls), then I’d recommend the castile version. :-)

  7. 28

    Sheital Barreto-Xavier says

    I put Borax, baking soda, epsom salt and washing soda and skipped the oxy. what are your thoughts?!? Im going to try it and see how it goes.

    • 29

      says

      Hi, Sheital! In my recipe, I avoided Borax because it is considered toxic, but I know plenty of people who do use it. :-) I also had added the OxiClean because it helps to sterilize the diapers and prevent them from getting dingy. But do let me know how your alteration work. Have a great day!

  8. 30

    chris says

    Borax is toxic????!!!! I make my own as well and I use borax, washing soda, baking soda and oxi clean and it seems to work ok….Although any suggestions on how to strip diapers?? A friend of mine trips by washing with original blue dawn soap and I’ve tried it and it just seems to build up in the inserts for me even after 3 rinses… :-( open for any suvgestions

    • 31

      says

      Yep, according to EWG (love the EWG, they work hard to provide up-to-date information to help people stay healthy) and many other sources. I have a post on washing cloth diapers here: http://mflwr.co/1dTciQI and it includes how to strip. When I need to strip my diapers, I first wash the diapers like normal then I fill the bathtub with hot water, mix in a small container of RLR, and add the diapers. I leave them in there all day, stirring them around every once in a while. Then I drain the water and let the diapers drain overnight. In the morning, I wash them about with warm water in the washing machine 3 or 4 times (no detergent, just plain water) to get all the RLR off. This system seems to work pretty well. Hope this helps!

  9. 32

    wes frye says

    Nice article! We’ve been cloth diapering since our twins arrived. We make our own detergent as well minus the salt ( BTW, brilliant idea). I plan on adding salt this next batch to see how that goes. Question regarding your other post (your regular laundry recipe), have you ever used Kirk’s Castile? I’m thinking of adding to our laundry detergent recipe. We can buy Kirk’s at our local grocery store for a little over a dollar per bar. Just curious. Thanks!

  10. 34

    Jaime says

    Hi TJ,

    I was just wondering if you have to use Baby Oxyclean, or is there a substitute? Baby Oxyclean contains Ethoxylated Alcohol C12-C16, and if you research the process of ethoxylation, it gets pretty involved and scary concerning chemicals and toxicity.

    Thank you for listening, and thanks so much for your blog :)
    Jaime

    • 35

      says

      Hi, Jaime! Sorry for the late response–just found your comment in the spam box (le sigh). According to all the sources I have found, Baby Oxiclean contains two ingredients: Sodium Carbonate Peroxide and Sodium Carbonate. I have not been able to find anything that says it has Ethoxylaed Alcohol. I also checked EWG (it’s my go-to source for these things because they test and deeply research everything then rate it according to toxicity) and it received an A rating which is the best they assign (you can see it here: http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/190-OxiCleanLaundryBabyStainSoaker). Where did you see that it contains Ethoxylated Alcohol?

      Anyway, if you don’t wish to use it, go ahead and remove it. :-) You may have to strip your diapers more often, but do let me know how it goes if you choose to use it without the Baby Oxiclean. :-)

    • 37

      says

      It does, but it works. :-) You might have to experiment a bit to find out how much is best for you, but thus far everyone I know who’s used my recipe continues to use 1 tablespoon. :-)

  11. 38

    Elizabeth W. says

    Hi, I was just wondering how the baby oxyclean has affected your diapers? I have been cloth diapering for two years and recently I ruined all of my diapers because I used regular oxyclean on them and it ate the pul fabric(the waterproof layer) part of all of my diapers. When I got on-line and did researched I found that you are not suppose to use oxyclean, or bleach products because it will ruin the pul fabric. So I was wondering if you have had any problems with your diapers cracking or leaking and how long have you been using your recipe?

    • 39

      says

      Hi, Elizabeth! Thanks for the question. :-) I and a bunch of my friends who have been using this recipe regularly for probably about 2 years have had no problems whatsoever. The thing with cloth diapers is that chlorinated bleach is very bad for them; OxiClean is oxygenated bleach, which is very gentle and just fine. Using Baby OxiClean makes it a step more gentle. Be sure to read the cleaning directions on your cloth diaper (or contact the manufacturer) in case they say not to use it. And if you’re concerned, you could just omit it. Just because we haven’t had problems doesn’t mean there aren’t diapers that are affected by it (or the chemistry of the water with the addition of the Oxiclean).

  12. 40

    Kellie Smith says

    Hello,

    I’ve been using this for a couple weeks and LOVE it! I just ordered and HE washer, I see that you say it works the well with them, but do you use the same amount? 1 tbs?

    Thanks!

  13. 43

    Jessica says

    Hi!
    I’m about to try this recipe on my cloth diapers.
    I have a top loader not an HE washer.
    Do I use 2 Tablespoons of this detergent or just the 1?
    Has anyone had any experience with this?